ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge - Days 25 & 26

Day 25 – Drink & Book(s)

Today I decided to take a picture of one of my favorite mugs (New Orleans – Bourbon St. mug) and a nice chunk of my ReadSoulLit shelves.  It always makes me very happy to drink a great cup of tea and to read a good book.  Nothing can beat that.  This last week has been colder and raining and being sick hasn’t helped.  If anything I’ve definitely got the reading in.  February is coming to a quick close and hopefully ReadSoulLit books will continue to remain in our minds for the rest of 2020.  What do you like to drink while you’re reading?

 

Day 26 – Happy Feet & a Book

I couldn’t resist. I had to take a picture of some great books, my J. California Cooper collection, and my Dr. Marten dupes.  Those books are so underrated. If you haven’t read a short story collection from Cooper, what rock have you been living under. Go out right now and get your hands on one of her brilliant short story collections.  You won’t be disappointed.  I recommend Homemade Love. It’s one of my favorites.

 

ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 23 & 24

Day 23 – Eternally Classic 

Phenomenal Woman Four Poems Celebrating Women is definitely eternally classic….. The video below is of Maya Angelou reciting Phenomenal Woman.  It’s hard to believe she isn’t here anymore.                                                 img_2258

Phenomenal Woman

By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

 

Day 24 – Starts with the First Letter of your name

img_2266Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore  is not one of the titles I hear readers speak about from Walter Mosley.  Released in 2014, its provocative cover attracted me immediately.  I was curious and even more intrigued about reading it.  Debbie a famous porn star tries to change her life, after her husband is found dead in a hot tub at their home.  The novel revolves around her attempts to change what is expected if her and how the adult industry and fans react to her change.  Mosley really tries to put himself in a woman’s shoes.  It’s an interesting exploration on life change and how difficult that can be to succeed.  This is one that flew under the radar but that was a lot better than I thought. I rated it a 3,5 stars and am anxious to read more books by Mosley with female main characters in stand alone novels. Great video below of Mosley talking about Debbie Doesn’t Do it Anymore. Excellent!

 

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 17 & 18

 

Day 17 – A 2010s Classic

I couldn’t resist choosing Lighthead by Terrance Hayes. This was the first collection I read. Y him which wasn’t suggested to me by Danielle from Dani! Dany! Danie! On Instagram. I was not disappointed. His poetry is meaningful, intentional, and creative. I know poetry can often times turn readers off, but Hayes’ poetry is not at difficult to understand or appreciate. Some of my favorite poems from this collection are Lighthead’s Guide to Addiction, Fish Head for Katrina, and Twenty-six Imaginary T-shirts. His poems come to life when spoken aloud. Not only do these poems have deep meaning but they also have beautiful flow and rhythm that you can appreciate in the video just below. Enjoy!

 

Day 18 – Musical Youth YA

m

I don’t often read YA novels but this category immediately made me think about On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. This second novel is even better than her first The Hate U Give. She really pulled out all the stops with characters that feel like real people, a more complex storyline, and a bit of rap to top it all off. I listened to it on audiobook and found that it was read to perfection. I highly recommend it. I can say I was genuinely invested in Bri’s story. I can’t wait to see what Angie Thomas writes next. You can check her out in the video below talking about this hit second book.

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 13 & 14

Day 13 – Biography or Memoir

img_2118I chose the memoir by Michaela De Prince called Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.  After hearing her story on television many years ago, I was motivated to read her story.  I haven’t yet read this one but I have a feeling it’s going to be very interesting.  After living in an orphanage in Sierre Leone where she was badly treated because she suffers from vitiligo and was called the devil’s child because she was the least favorite, she was motivated by a picture she saw in a magazine of a ballerina en pointe that she found outside the orphanage.  That picture gave her something positive to focus on.  She was eventually adopted by the De Prince family and she’s become an excellent dance with hard work and dedication.  She currently dances in a Dutch company.

I’ve always loved ballet and did ballet from age 5 to 17 years old.  Back in the day thereimg_3574 weren’t any black ballerina’s.  I would have liked to be inspired by a black ballerina, so it’s nice to see there are more of them today.  It would be nice to have even more of them, especially in the States.  The picture on the right is me in my ballet class.  I must have been about 12 years old there.  Click on the video below to see Michaela De Prince dancing.  It’s absolutely beautiful!

 

Day 14 – Black Love

Today is Valentine’s Day!  So I went rummaging for a title of a black love story that maybe wouldn’t come up on the Instagram feed.  Something different.  I found quite a few obvious ones like An American Marriage and Loving Donovan, but in the end I decided to go with another TBR book, a romance called Zachary’s Wings by Rosemarie Robotham.  This is the story of Zachary and Korie who have a passionate love affair despite their different upbringings.  Zachary is a social worker from a working-class family and Korie is an Ivy-league-educated reporter and Jamaican born.  Clearly there relationship will be tested but hopefully it will survive.  The story covers themes of race, class, and sexuality, so it sounds right up my alley.  This book was published in 1998 and was Robotham’s debut novel.  So let me know down below if you’ve read this one or anything else by her and what you thought of it.  It would be nice to read this one after a heavy read.

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 11 & 12

Day 11 – 2020 Newbie

As every year there are so many new releases and new authors appearing on the scene img_2113and 2020 is no different.  I decided to go with Stateway’s Garden by Jasmon Drain, gifted to me by Penguin Random House.  This debut work is a memoir of connected short stories that take the reader into a housing project on Chicago’s South Side.  For the moment I’m finding it very interesting but will be back with a review once I’m done.  Jasmon Drain grew up in Chicago in the Englewood neighborhood.  He was a Pushcart Prize Nominee in 2010 and 2011.  Having never heard of this literary prize I want to their website to find out more about the prize. The Pushcart Prize is an American literary prize which honors the best “poetry, short fiction, essays, memoirs published in the small presses over the previous year. “They welcome up to six nominations (print or online) from little magazine and small book press editors throughout the world.  They welcome translations, reprints and both traditional and experimental writing.  The nominations are accepted between October 1 – December 1.” (pushcart prize.com)

 

Day 12 – Musical Genius took me a little more effort to find a title.  I originally thought of James McBride’s Kill ‘Em and Leave:  Searching for James Brown and the American Soul, however it was impossible to find it among my books. Trying to combing throughimg_6439 when you have as many books as I do, you find forgotten treasures.  That’s when I fell upon Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which is #3 in The Century Cycle by August Wilson.  Now I really want to read all 10 plays in order but sadly I only own this one and the first play of the series called Gem of the Ocean which I read and enjoyed a few years ago.  I think I gave it 3 stars.  Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is about a legendary blues singer so fits the photo challenge perfectly.  Just from reading what this play is about I’m sure it would be fantastic to see at the theatre.  It covers themes of self-hate and racism. Check out the videos below where you can see a few scenes being performed.

 

 

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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Read Soul Lit Photo Challenge – Day 7 & 8

Day 7 – Current Read

My current reads are keeping me glued to the pages.  The Last Thing You Surrender byimg_2064 Leonard Pitts, Jr is the Read Soul Lit 2020 Read Along pick.  It is captivating everybody.  So glad to discover another interesting black American writer that I hadn’t read before.  I’ll definitely be combing the rest of his backlist, starting with Freeman which I’ve heard a lot of good about.  It’s not too late to join us in reading and discussing it on Goodreads  It’s called ReadSoulLit Readalong 2020 – The Last Thing You Surrender. Those first fifty-five pages knocked me on my ass! The accuracy of his descriptions are downright accurate and undeniably moving.  It’s as if the reader is there.  It’s a 500-page novel that reads very quickly, so those that have difficulty reading long books you won’t have any trouble getting through this one. I’ve already started trying to cast the characters in my mind for a movie or a Netflix series.  Who do you see playing Luther?  How about Kofi Siriboe from Queen Sugar?

The second book I’ve just started is called Seeds of Deception by Arlene L. Walker.  This book came across my Instagram timeline last year and its cover attracted me immediately.  With it’s striking cover and storyline pitch I was sure this one would be for me.  I’ve only just started but it’s promising first line has got me very curious.  “If poverty was slavery, then wisdom was wealth.” (Seeds of Deception, p. 1). This book contains a family secret, Cherokee Indians and their former African slaves, and a protagonist called Spit Louie McClendon.  Sounds like a winner to me.  Will keep you posted on what I think about this one.  Check out the video below of Leonard Pitts, Jr talking about race and The Last Thing You Surrender.

 

Day 8 – Delightful Dish & Book

img_2069Today’s book post was Tar Baby by the Queen Toni Morrison who I still can’t believe is gone.  Tar Baby was one of the first few novels I read by Morrison and one that I remember sparked much conversation in my college course on black women writers.  Tar Baby was our 2018 ReadSoulLit Readalong.  And our live discussion was lit.  We had so many ideas about the ending, discussing the characters, the setting, etc. For such a short book Tar Baby is dense with ideas and meaning.  One of the best scenes in this novel is the dinner scene.  Morrison really said a lot in that scene and it’s one I could read over and over.  As for the food in the picture, it’s a simplistic meal, a bit of grilled chicken and some Swiss chard and mushrooms cooked in garlic and olive oil – a sain meal low in calories.  I’m trying to eat healthier in 2020 and beyond…..

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge 2020: Day 1 & 2

Black History Month is finally here and has taken off with a blast!  Here’s where the photo challenge is at the moment for me:

Day 1: ReadSoulLit TBR

I’m a Booktube Prize judge this year and will be judging the first round which is happening this month.  This won’t deter me from picking up these three novels I’ve chosen to honor reading black American authors during Black History Month.  The Last Thing You Surrender is by seasoned writer Leonard Pitts, Jr.  This is the ReadSoulLit Readalong pick for February.  This is the first book I’ll be reading by Pitts, Jr.  I’m really looking forward to it.   This time period (the 1940s specifically World War II era) is one I find most interesting to read about in fiction novels.  If you’re still interested in joining the read along group on Goodreads click this link to join us.  It’s not too late.  I’m sure the reading is going to be engrossing and the discussions thought-provoking.

The second book on my TBR is a debut called Stateway’s Garden by Jasmon Drain. IMG_1989 Gifted to me by Penguin Random House, whom I thank graciously, I look forward to seeing how this memoir compares to the poignant, unforgettable, and brilliantly written Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon that was my first read of 2020.  Stateway’s Garden takes place in a housing project on the south side of Chicago.  It’s set in the mid-eighties and is a collection of linked short stories.

The third book in my stack is called Seeds of Deception by Arlene L. Walker.  This is another debut novel which was released last summer.  I don’t remember hearing a thing about it but after I caught a glimpse of the cover on the author’s Instagram page I was immediately interested.  “A clash between Cherokee Indians and their former African slaves come to a head in the tribal town of Feather Falls.” (back cover Seeds of Deception).  How could I pass on a story like this.  I’ll be keeping you informed once I’m finished on what I think about Seeds of Deception in an upcoming review.

 

Day 2:  Sci-fi High

If you’ve been following me for a while you all know that me and sci-fi just don’t get along when it comes to reading. I’m fine with it if it’s a film but for some reason I have IMG_2002-1trouble absorbing all the world building that goes along with the enjoyment of complex sci-fi stories.  In spite of this, last year I had the pleasure of reading the Xenogenesis series by Octavia E. Butler and really enjoyed it.  In particular I enjoyed Dawn which is the first book of the trilogy.  Dawn was mysterious, psychological, and sociological with just the right amount of science fiction to keep me interested throughout.  Lilith is a character that the reader can immediately relate to and root for.  The mystery in Dawn is at an all time high and will keep you riveted to the pages.  I highly recommend it.  Check out the video below of N.K. Jemisin talking about Dawn and her reactions to reading it for the first time.

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

ReadSoulLit 2020

Black History month is nearing and I’m writing today to let you know about what I have planned to celebrate it literarily.  Of course I’ll be hosting the 2020 #ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge over on Instagram.  Get your books and picture ideas ready.  This is one of the best moments to get book recommendations of black American authors.  It’s a blast and it promises to be very Lit!  Check out the monthly challenge below.  If you don’t have Instagram don’t worry you can follow what I post over there here on the blog as well.

 

ReadSoulLit2020

 

Next I want to mention the ReadSoulLit 2020 Readalong.  This February we’ll have the honor of reading The Last Thing I Surrender by Leonard Pitts, Jr.  I can’t wait!  I’ve wanted to check out a book by this author for a while now.  It’s great giving attention to an author that seems to have been unnoticed by the book blogger community.   the lastHopefully this read along will get people interested in Leonard Pitts, Jr’s backlist.  If you’re interested in reading with us you can join the Goodreads reading group, under the rubric Community, called ReadSoulLit Readalong 2020 – The Last Thing You Surrender.  You just have to request to join and I’ll confirm you.

There’s also another group you can join over on Goodreads called ReadSoulLit 2020.  This group operates all year long where people can exchange over books from the diaspora. #ReadSoulLit focuses on black American authors in February, black British writers in October, and the entire diaspora the rest of the year.

Hopefully this February you’ll enjoy the videos, photo challenge, and discussions in the reading groups on books by African-American authors.  There will surely be more surprises so I urge to follow me closely on here, on YouTube, and Instagram.   Let’s have fun!

 

 

24 Books to Christmas – Day 5

baublesThis year I chose this next 24 Books to Christmas book for the February ReadSoulLit Readalong in honor of Black history Month – Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott.  Wow! This was such an interesting modern retelling of the 18th century French classic novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

Scott did an excellent job by placing this modern day retelling in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance with all black characters.  As the original classic is written in epistolary format, Scott chose to write it in prose/novel format.  That was not an easy feat but she managed to develop all the characters well and to tell the story while choosing the most import scenes to highlight .

Most of the readers who participated in this readalong loved the messiness between the characters.  It made us shake our heads, laugh out loud and gasp.  Scott’s astute fashion writing dialogues was that fine line between humor and seriousness at times.  The readers who didn’t like the book felt that the characters were being mean just to be mean and that wasn’t interesting to them. This being said it is a retelling so Scott can’t change the story.  It just wasn’t for those few readers.

Overview:

“Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she Lovecraves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.

Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.

But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her most unforgivable mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.” (Unforgivable Love, back cover)

I’m linking below the Unforgivable Love Live discussion for anyone who may have missed it but has read the book. this video is full of spoilers so if you’re concerned about that don’t watch until you’ve read the book.  However don’t miss out on this discussion because it was very lively and full of a lot of insight. Moreover, Sophronia Scott joined in on the live where we had the pleasure of discussing the book, talking about creative writing, and Scott working on a black modern version of Jane Eyre. I can’t wait!

 

Unforgivable Love – Sophronia Scott

Publisher:  Harper Collins – William Morrow

Pages: 506

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

#ReadSoulLit 2019 in Honor of Black History Month

February always gets me so excited about reading.  Black History Month always makes me want to delve deeper into the books written by black Americans and to learn more about my culture.  I feel that black literature, is getting more recognition these days although I still feel that more consideration is given to African Literature.  We have ways to go to get to the same level of recognition.

This is why I’m hoping that the photo challenge on Instagram and my videos this month on YouTube will give African-American authors the spotlight they so desperately need.  I’d love to be able to mention Bernice L. McFadden, Dolen Perkins-Vladez, Gayl Jones, and so many others and have everybody know who they are and what their writing is about.

As you can see in the picture above, this is just a fraction of one of my book shelves that contains quite a few books by African-American authors – 11 to be exact including the June Jordan novel that’s just at the edge of the picture on the right.  There are a few of these that I plan on reading this year that frankly I should have read many years before.  I’m looking forward to reading So Much Blue this month by Perceval Everett.  It will be my first attempt and I hope I’ll love it, having heard so many great things about this author and how he tells stories.  Another one on this shelf that is long overdue is Perfect Peace by Daniel Black.  So many people have recommended this one to me over the years and I’m not sure why I have continued to neglect picking it up.  Promise to myself and others that this one will get read this year.  Ann Petry’s The Street is another one that I’d like to finally read completely.  I had one failed attempt during a buddy read.  I didn’t finish because I didn’t like it. It was mostly because I was too busy to concentrate on it.  The classic The Wedding by Dorothy West has been on my list for ages and I finally picked up a copy 3 years ago but have been putting it off.  The Darkest Child I’ve been putting of because of its story.  I’ll definitely need a pallet cleanser after reading it. I’m sure it’s going to make me mad as hell.  So these are just a few books among many others that will continue my #readsoullit reading of African-American writers throughout the year.   I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing these as well as checking out a few new ones this year.  Happy Black History Month and reading!