24 Books to Christmas – Day 19

baublesToday’s recommendation is a book by Philip Roth, the prolific 20th century American author who died last year in the month of May.  Now I’m sure some of you might be ready to sign off my post, since you’ve seen I’m plugging a book by Roth.  I beg of you to stay with me and hear me out.  The book I’m plugging today is The Plot Against America.  I read it in 2017 as a buddy read with a few Booktubers I enjoy reading with: mementomori, Mel’s Bookland Adventure, Britta Böhler, Garden Scriptorium. Go check them out! We really enjoyed it. So much so that we continued on a buddy read in October of the same year of American Pastoral.  Sadly I hated it, but The Plot Against America was so intriguing and its  storyline was ingeniously written. It’s one that also gave us vibes of Trump’s America. Scary.  I was happy to be introduced to Roth’s writing through The Plot Against America.  It’s not sexually provocative like some of the other novels he’s known for which put readers off.  Even though I didn’t like American Pastoral, which is the first book in the the American trilogy, we continued on and read book two called I Married a Communist this year in March.  So we only have The Human Stain left to finish the trilogy.

Roth often wrote from a semi-autobiographical stand point, which is the case for The Plot Against America.  It’s historical fiction turned on its ear. We’re following the story from a  young boy’s (Roth) point of view.  It’s a story about a Jewish American family in an America being led by a white supremacist, Lindbergh.

Roth carefully maps out the before and after Lindbergh’s arrival as president.  The storythe plot becomes more and more sinister and will continue to remind the reader of what can happen when a country becomes totalitarian – how do people treat each other, how do people live life and react to the political changes that are affecting their friends, family, neighborhood, country.   I won’t give away any more but the book is brilliant and will make you think about a lot of things.  We had great discussions while reading this one.  For me the story didn’t falter at all.  It was well told and I loved the voice of the young boy throughout.  I recommend The Plot Against America to readers who have never read a Roth novel before (great place to start), love reading Philip Roth novels and historical fiction (with an alternate history base).  Check out the video below where Roth gives some interesting answers to Katy Couric’s questions.  Have you read any Roth novels? It so, which one(s)?  What did you think of it/them?

Overview:

“In an astonishing feat of narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history. In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected President. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial “understanding” with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism.

For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh’s election is the first in a series of ruptures that threatens to destroy his small, safe corner of America – and with it, his mother, his father, and his older brother.” (The Plot Against America, back cover)

 

 

The Plot Against America – Philip Roth

Publisher:  First Vintage International

Pages:  391

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 12

baublesEpic novels are my jam.  This epic novel, I’m recommending today, I had the pleasure of reading for a second time this year.  That’s The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.   This story is told from multiple points of view – Orleanna, Nathan Price’s wife , and their four daughters.  We never hear the voice of Nathan Price, an evangelical Baptist preacher.  Novels told from multiple points of view can often be overwhelming, but as this novel goes on you won’t have any trouble distinguishing the different voices.  Kingsolver writes them seamlessly.  The rich descriptions of life in 1959 Congo add to the authenticity of the story.  Nathan Price’s evangelistic assault on a Congolese village parallels the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium.  As the Congo is fighting for independence so do Price’s daughters.

I recommend The Poisonwood Bible to people who love epic novels,  are interested in learning  about the political struggle of the Congo in 1959, love reading historical fiction, enjoy reading multiple view points, and enjoy reading family stories.  Don’t be put off by the size of the book.  It is engrossing and would make an excellent book club pick. Pleasebible check out the review below from Khia Comments.  It’s extremely enlightening!

Overview:

“The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.” (The Poisonwood Bible, inside flap)

 

 

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

Publisher:  HarperFlamingo

Pages:  541

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!

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 14 Favorite Couple

Firstly, Some Sing, Some Cry is one of the best historical fiction/family sagas I’ve read in a long time. It was written by 2 sisters Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza. It’s the perfect combination of family, history, music, struggle, and love. There are quite a few memorable characters in this book but the couple that moved me the most was Lizzie and Osceola. Now if you’ve read this novel you’ll know why. They gave me the feels.💖 You should definitely pick this one up if you haven’t read it and don’t get discouraged by its size. The story reads beautifully.

Some Sing, Some Cry – Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza, hardcover, 560 pages (St. Martins Press)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 7 – Fave Secondary Character

Mawu was the character that broke the sanity of the beginning if this novel. Slave women that accompany their masters on a retreat to Tawawa House. The seediness of this novel made me so mad, but the arrival of Mawu made the other slave women think of freedom for the first time.  She was strong and fearless. This story saddened me but I enjoyed the texture that Mawu added to the dynamic of the story.  It is definitely a must read for the uniqueness of the story.  You can click Wench to see my review.  Have you read this one? What did you think?

“Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It’s their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don’t bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.” (Goodreads description, Wench)

Wench – Dolen Perkins-Valdez, paperback, 290 pages (Amistad)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 5: Historical Fiction

 

I read this one a few years ago when it came out. Very interesting story that is written with a lot of creativity. This was my first book by James McBride and it certainly won’t be my last. I think I might even think about rereading this one. “Henry Shackleford is a slave boy in Kansas Territory in 1856, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forced. When the legendary abolitionist John Brown arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town-with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.” (Inside flap of The Good Lord Bird) .

The Good Lord Bird, hardcover, 417 pages (Riverhead Books)

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Barkskins

barkskinsBarkskins is Annie Proulx’s fifth novel, which was released in January 2016.  Epic, powerful, and engaging from page one, Barkskins follows two Frenchmen René and Duquet who are indentured to a seigneur Trépagny in New France. There they are to become barkskins, wood cutters.  From these two men the reader follows their lineage and the travels they make which takes us through Canada, the United States, and as far away as New Zealand.

The recurring man against nature theme is present throughout the novel.  We witness the simultaneous destruction of the Native Indians and of their land.  The Native Indians’ desire to live in symbiosis with nature while the white settlers only desire to clear the trees and to force the savage surroundings into their new homes at all cost.  The first half of the book clearly depicts the brutality used to clear off all that was undesired by the white settlers.  As for the Native Indians they were forced to accept the ways of the white settlers or to perish like their ancestors.

The lineages of René and Duquet are perfect examples of how people go about surviving in such difficult unchartered territory.  It’s survival of the fittest. Proulx uses fire as a way of wiping the slate clean because with each new generation comes more hopes and dreams to be had.

Barkskins reads as an epic novel on a grand scale.  There is much to take in from detailed descriptions of lumbering practices to unforgettable characters that will suck you into the story and make you forget that the novel is 713 pages.  Not to mention, Prouxl’s writing is stellar.  She never misses a beat to let you know the slightest thing about a character in one seemingly insignificant sentence.  It’s all in the details people.  If you’re a detailed reader you’ll catch all that she wants to say about a character without spending too much time. The pacing is perfect and has the ups and downs needed to keep a large epic novel like this moving.  If there are any books that are a must read this year it’s Barkskins. You won’t be disappointed. Proulx even manages to make the story come full circle and to give us a bit of a message at the end.  Perfection!  I was so afraid the ending was going to be flat but she finessed it beautifully, henceforth me giving Barkskins 5 stars.

My copy:  Barkskins,  Hardcover, 736 pages – Fourth Estate

My rating: 5 stars

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My Book Club Shortlist 2016-2017

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To New Release or Not

If you’re an avid reader like me, your worst nightmare is standing in front of your bookcase (insert picture of bookcase overflowing with different sized books with colorful enticing spines and a few stacks on the floor because there’s no more room on the shelves) and trying to find the next book to rock your world. We all want to find a book that’s a knock it out of the park 5-stars. However, the number one problem is that we can’t help but be convinced to read some of the many new books released every month instead. Frankly, new releases can be a real dilemma. How does one choose from the plethora of newbies out there.

Well If you’re the kind of person that reads all the new books because you feel automatically left out of the literary conversation if you don’t, then this post is for you. If you’re dying to get to some lesser known but hopefully interesting reads you’re in the right place. I’m going to to share with you some of my anticipated new releases this year. Some of them you can already find in the shops and a few I’ve already read. Moreover the particularity of this list is that they are all diverse authors:

lazarettoLazaretto is Diane McKinney-Whetstone’s sixth novel. She is especially known for writing her successful bestselling contemporary novel Tumbling. One of the dominant aspects to McKinney-Whetstone’s novels is that they are set in her hometown Philadelphia. This is equally the case of Lazaretto which explores the arrival of immigrants whose first stop is the Lazaretto quarantine hospital. The Philadelphia Lazaretto was the first quarantine hospital, built in 1799, in the Untied States. Henceforth, this novel of historical fiction, plays out the story of the black community of Lazaretto, set in the aftermath of the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Fans of McKinney-Whetstone, I’m sure will be impatient to read Lazaretto which was released on the 12th of April. Her last novel was published in 2005, called Trading Dreams at Midnight.
in other wordsIn Other Words was released earlier this year in February and it is one that I personally can’t wait to peruse. Jhumpa Lahiri moved to Rome with her family in 2012 with the intention of immersing herself in Italian culture and language. Writing daily in her journal in Italian, her goal was to master the Italian language. Through the pages of this autobiographical novel, we see how Lahiri deals with a journey into new words, writing, learning, and being understood. For all of those who have ever had to live in a country while learning the language, In Other Words should be a relevant read. Lahiri wrote In Other Words in Italian; so that is inspiration to all language learners.

I had the pleasure of already reading and enjoying the next two books that I’m recommending The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden and The Birds of Opulence bythe book of harlan Crystal Wilkinson. The Book of Harlan spans six decades and turns around Harlan the main character. The setting goes from Harlem Renaissance to Paris jazz clubs in Montmartre, Paris to the dark, horrific Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Just check out my review to hear more about it.

The Birds of Opulence develops a story in a small Kentucky town called Opulence. Four generations of women living under the same roof can make the birds of opulencefor a lot toes being stepped on. However, the stronger mothers love their daughters the more difficult relationships seem to be. Wilkinson explores major themes such as mother/daughter relationships, male/female relationships, community, race, and coming of age. Characters found in Wilkinson’s previous short story collect called Water Street appear in The Birds of Opulence. It’s a little book that packs a punch. Check out my review here.
The Blackbirds is the latest Eric Jerome Dickey release, April 19th. I haven’t had a chance the blackbirdsto read it yet, but it’s on my TBR for this month. It’s a chick-lit or as I would like to refer to it as a “girlfriend book”. The blackbirds are four young women Kwanzaa, Indigo, Destiny, and Ericka, friends but close enough to be sisters. Of course they are all looking for something in particular – love, health, etc., however it’s their friendship that they value the most or do they.

Last but not least I recommend The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter the castlereleased at the end of January this year, which is an epic historical fiction covering 1941 to the twenty-first century. It is written by The Wire tv writer and playwright Kia Northern and has been highly anticipated. Two white brothers growing up in rural Alabama and two black brothers growing up in a small town in Maryland whose families will encounter and conflict. Obviously not a simple story but an enticingly captivating one told in 800 pages. I’m looking forward to encountering all the various historical references; definitely a read to keep us engrossed and pondering. Personally, I can’t wait to get to it. It’s on my TBR this month.

I wrote this post as a guest on Callaloo Soup.  Thanks for inviting me!  Check out Francine’s creative simplicity, inspirations and resources blog.  You’ll find everything from journaling, scrapbooking, reading recs,  and plenty of other great ideas to lead your wholesome slow living life.

 

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The Book of Harlan

 

My copy: The Book of Harlan – hardcover, 346 pages

Rating: *****

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