The Last Thing You Surrender – Leonard Pitts, Jr. Live Discussion

This was a great discussion to end Black History Month.  We were also blessed to have Leonard Pitts, Jr for the second half of the discussion.  He’s really brilliant! This live discussion contains spoilers so if you haven’t finished reading you might want to wait until you do. Enjoy!

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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!

 

 

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 21 & 22

Day 21 –  December Wrap Up

img_6461My December 2019 ended with a bang because I was lucky enough to read The Nickel Boys, Red at the Bone, and In West Mills. All three were five-star reads for me.  The Nickel Boys was saddening but a wonderfully told story shedding light on the horrors that took place in a real reform school in Florida.  Red at the Bone explored how an unexpected pregnancy affects an entire family.  Beautifully written and slightly melancholic,  Jaqueline Woodson manages to paint a meaningful portrait of a black American family.  Lastly In West Mills is a story of community and how community can become family and how living one’s life freely can be difficult in a small town.  Short and sweet In West Mills has unforgettable characters and lively dialogue.  It’s amazing how much De’Shawn Charles Winslow says in this novel in so few pages.  I highly recommend all three books.  Check out the video below to hear what Roxane Gay’s Book club thought aboutRed as the Bone.

 

Day 22 – Single Ladies

The Blackbirds was the first novel that came to mind when I thought of single ladies.  Kwanza, Indigo, Destiny, and Ericka will have you smiling, laughing, and shaking yourimg_2250 head throughout, despite their individual troubles.  Eric Jerome Dickey doesn’t leave anything out from  a cheating ex-fiance, crushes, alias, illness, etc.  All of that is glued together with a little erotica.  This book was surprisingly longer than I’d expected – just a bit over 500 pages.  I read it and rated it five stars but found myself missing Dickey’s writing style from his older novels which I feel are written so much better.

 

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Days 19 & 20

 

Day 19 – Celebrate Good Times

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate good times other than with friend, family, great food and drink. So this cookbook Jubilee: Recipes from two centuries of African American Cooking by Toni TiptonMartin came immediately to mind. I have a thing for cookbooks. I can read them like novels. Cooking I feel is a great way to get to know someone, understand how they function on many different levels. However this post is about celebration and Jubilee is the cookbook to bring some serious flavor to the festivities. A few of the recipes I’m interested in trying out on my friends and family are the orange biscuits for a nice brunch, the braised lamb shanks with peanut sauce for Sunday lunch, and the moist rich Devil’s Food Cake for afternoon tea. Of course there are many more interesting recipes as well as some historical information through recounting all about the tradition and background of the different recipes. She even cites other cookbooks she used to do research to choose these recipes for the book. I highly recommend it. The video below Tipton-Martin discusses her first hit cookbook called The Jemima Code: two centuries of African American Cookbooks.

 

https://youtu.be/W6ZSryGTjyE

 

 

Day 20 – Published in September

I thought I was going to have to comb my shelves for ages to find a book published in September, but actually I remembered that both Bluebird, Bluebird and Heaven, My Home were both published in September. Even though I decided to look to see how long it would take me to find another book published in September and sure enough four books later I was holding Dear Haiti, Love Alaine in my hands. I received this book from a book buddy, Forsaken707, Kesha as a birthday gift. haven’t picked it up yet but can’t wait since I’ve noticed its format is epistolary, notes, emails and text. Love when authors use letters to write stories. The special thing about this book is that it’s written by two sisters who are Haitian-American. So I suspect it will contain themes about integration, immigration, Haitian culture, and race. Once I read it I’ll surely be back to let you know what I think about it. Check the video below where the authors talk about what their goals were in writing Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

 

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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.

 

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 15 & 16

Day 15 – Cuz This Is Thriller! 

Thrillers aren’t the genre I go to the most but they are starting to be the ones that I go to to img_2143decompress from all of the serious reads I pick up.  I chose Blanche Cleans Up (The Blanche White series #3) by Barbara Neely and A Little Yellow Dog (The Easy Rawlins series #5) by Walter Mosley because these are the two mystery series that I need to finish and to get moving along on.  The Blanche White series sadly only contains four books.  Once I’m finished with book four I know I’m going to miss reading about Blanche.

Easy Rawlins is another series that is full of surprises since with each book time is passing and the secondary characters are becoming more and more fascinating and Easy is taking us along on his more and more unpredictable cases, while we follow the changes happening to him and the other prominent characters.  This series contains a total of 14 books, so I hope to be able read a bit more from this series.  Next month for #MarchMysteryMadness, these will fit in perfectly with theme being the number 5. Check out this video to hear more about it.

 

Day 16 – Last Finished

img_2155What can I say.  The last book I finished was the incredible epic ReadSoulLit Readalong novel, The Last Thing You Surrender. And I surrendered everything! Lawd! That novel took me through all kinds of emotions.  It’s a brilliant story with larger than life characters who you aren’t likely to forget.  I’m still missing reading about Thelma, Luther, and George.  If you haven’t decided yet about picking this book up there is still time to start and finish it before our live discussion on Saturday, February 29.  I highly recommend this great American masterpiece.  It’s a hidden gem that has literally not been talked about at all that was released last year.  Check out this video where Leonard Pitts, Jr. talks about something that he illustrates very well in his novel The Last Thing You Surrender. Brilliant storyteller!

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 9 & 10

Day 9 – Word

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates was the best representation of Word. img_2074 This letter written from a black father to his black son is a poignant must-read from Coates.  It was recommended by Toni Morrison, who deemed it to be required reading.  I hadn’t realized but apparently Coates is reading the audiobook.  I feel like the next time I pick this one up I’ll read and listen to it simultaneously.  Just to get an idea of this book, it begins like this, “Son, Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.” (Between the World and Me, p.5). It’s only 152 pages but you’ll be moved reading this emotional letter.

 

 

Day 10 – Heavy Read(s)

These are a few of the heavy reads I could find in my stash.  I highly recommend three of the five in the stack – Heavy by Kiese Laymon which started my 2020 reading with a bang.  Excellent!  I read Hunger and simultaneously listened to the audiobook read by its author Roxane Gay.  What a poignant read that made me feel all kind of emotions as well.  The third book on this list is Beloved.  I really remember how this book made meimg_2077 profoundly sad. These three heavy books will surely become modern classics because they take readers to raw realness.  Now The Darkest Child we already talked about, very heavy but I will definitely be checking it out, especially since a lot of my followers over on Instagram highly recommended it to me. And last but not least Medical Apartheid which was recommended to me by a friend.  This one should be a must read for everybody so they can learn about the contributions black Americans have brought to the medical field.  Despite the heaviness of this book I will be checking it out in November for Nonfiction November.  Can you think of any other heavy books that you’d like to recommend?  Let’s chat below.

 

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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