ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 5 & 6

Day 5 – It’s a family affair!  

I have quite a few possibilities on my shelves with this theme but the book that came to my mind first was The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips.  Now to be honest, this book3ebb6c26-a471-4606-b63b-0b93d6b555e1 has been sitting on my shelves for over 2 years. Why? Because I’m not sure I can bear reading the abuse that I imagine it contains and that my followers on Instagram have subsequently confirmed.  However, every single person has said they loved the book and that I should read it, even though it’s emotionally challenging.  So that gives you an idea on whether you should pick it up if you haven’t already.

The author of this book Delores Phillips passed away suddenly in 2014.  This special edition pictured contains an introduction by Tayari Jones and an excerpt from the author’s unfinished sequel called Stumbling Blocks.  So I recommend Deloresyou pick up this edition (ISBN: 9781616958725).  The Darkest Child also won the Black Caucus of the ALA Award and was a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.  An interesting tidbit about The Darkest Child is its beginnings, a long form poem written over a four-year period.  In the end, Phillips decided to make it into a novel seeing that it counted several hundred pages.

Day 6 – Author on the Come Up

C.P. Patrick is definitely the author on the come up!  I was introduced to her writing when I picked up her debut novel called The Truth About Awiti.  What a creative, CPoriginal fashion to recount a slave narrative.  I highly recommend this one to people who have given up on reading about slavery.  This story has just the right amount of spirituality to keep the reader engrossed until the end.  With its mysterious cover, The Truth About Awiti definitely follows in the footsteps of the great Octavia E. Butler.

Patrick has also written Dear Ancestors: poems and reflections on the Arican Diaspora which is a piece written in verse about the Middle Passage.  It too recounts the img_2059history of slavery in all its emotion and accuracy.  Each word has been chosen carefully to convey particular images and meaning.  It’s brilliant and surprisingly celebratory!  It weighs in only at 75 pages so you can read it in one sitting or even twice in a row like I did.

Patrick is also working on series of children’s books the first telling the important stories of our history(Each book features an important person from history like Harriet Tubman and Joan of Arc) and the second series is called Ana & Andrew.  She’s been touring elementary schools talking about history.  If you’re interested in learning more about her writing for children, go to her Instagram page, @afrominimalist to follow more of her writing journey. 

 

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 3 & 4

img_2010Day 3 – Roots and Books made me start looking deeply into my shelves.  Having started this year with the powerful memoir, Heavy by Kiese Laymon.  I felt like roots had to be taken figuratively and literally.  Combing my shelves I fell upon How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.  I forgot I had that one. This is a collection of essays by Laymon where he covers race, family, coming of age in Mississippi, violence, etc.  I’m sure this is going to be another powerful read that will continue on from the depth of Heavy.  So if I manage to get through my hefty TBR this month I’ll be adding this one to round off my Black History Month reading.  Have you read this one?  Frankly I’ve seen no one talk about it.  I’m so tempted to throw something off my TBR just so that I can read it.  I can’t really do that because the Booktube Prize books are calling. I’ll just be watching a lot less Netflix this month, in hopes that that will give me the ample time necessary to finish this massive TBR.  Check out this video with Kiese Laymon discussing How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Long Division.

 

Day 4 – Black Book Stack was easy to choose for the photograph. I grabbed all the black books I had in my reach.  What did I find?  Of course three Octavia E. Butler novels (Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, and Fledgling), the second J. California IMG_2050Cooper I read A Piece of Mine, and a few others.  I can solidly recommend A Piece of Mine and Water Street.  If you’ve never picked up books by J. California Cooper or by Crystal Wilkinson you don’t know what you’re missing.  Both of these short
story collections are soulful gems and must reads.  A Piece of Mine draws on a common theme which plays on the collection’s title. You can check out my review here.  Water Street is one of the extraordinary backlist short story collections from a black author writing from Appalachia. I highly recommend you check out my review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 24

baublesToday’s my last day of recommendations before Christmas and for the year 2019!  Bravo! If you’ve stuck with me until the end.  I really appreciate it.  My last recommendation is another really big favorite and it’s by one of my favorite authors too.  I’m going to be talking briefly about Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat.

Krik? Krak! is a short story collection exploring life on the island of Haiti and what happens to be people when they try to immigrate to other places. Each short story is told with such authenticity readers won’t be able to put the book down. Danticat’s rich writing and relatable stories remind us of the difficulty of life, being an immigrant, being a woman, and being left behind.  Krik? Krak! will give you a lot of food for thought.  This book would make an excellent book club pick and would be a great place to start reading Danticat’s works.  I recommend Krik? Krak! to first time readers of Danicat, die hard fans of Danticat, lovers of short story collections, and readers searching for Caribbean lit titles.  Check out the video below where they are trying to make a film adaptation of the short story, Caroline’s wedding, in Krik? Krak!.Krik  I’m going to also link their website here where they are tying to get donations to be able to finally finish the film.

Overview:

“When Haitians tell a story, they say “Krik?” and the eager listeners answer “Krak!” In Krik? Krak! Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to that narrative tradition with nine stories that encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life. They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination. The result is a collection that outrages, saddens, and transports the reader with its sheer beauty.” (Krik? Krak!, Back cover)

 

 

 

Krik? Krak! – Edwidge Danticat

Publisher:  Vintage

Pages:  224

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of No Place To Call Home or any of my other 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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24 Books to Christmas – Day 20

baublesI often hear people say that they no longer care to read fiction novels about slavery.  I personally don’t have a problem with that, especially if I can read one that’s really good.  Today’s recommendation is Family by J. California Cooper.  This is a novel you should definitely put on your 2020 TBR if you haven’t read it yet.

Family explores slavery through the generations while stressing how each generation survives and flourishes in spite of difficulty.  Family is more than a story of slavery, it is one of hope and the unfolding of the generations to come. That’s all I’m going to say because I don’t want to give anything away.

One of the best things about Family is the emotion it provoked in me. It had been a while since I felt so overwhelmed by a book.  It actually almost made me cry and that’s saying something because I don’t cry easily when reading.  If you haven’t read J. California Cooper yet you might want to start with this full length short novel.  Furthermore, she wrote many short story collections which are full of lively language and inspiring stories about everyday people.  Her short stories are optimistic and enjoyable.  You might want to try one of my favorites called Homemade Love.  I recommend FamilyFamily to new readers of J. California Cooper, readers who don’t mind reading slave narratives, and readers looking for a short novel that packs a punch.

Overview:

“In this wise, beguiling, beautiful novel set in the era of the Civil War, an award-winning playwright and author paints a haunting portrait of a woman named Always, born a slave, and four generations of her African-American family.” (Family, back cover)

 

 

Family – J California Cooper

Publisher:  Anchor

Pages:  240

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of No Place To Call Home or any of my other 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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24 Books to Christmas – Day 18

baublesI had only read one excerpt from Alexandre Dumas’ writing in French many years ago, but this past October and November we all had the pleasure of reading in full The Count of Monte Cristo.  I say all for those of you that joined in on my read along of this 1,276 page mammoth novel.  Full of humor, intrigue, and large doses of shadiness, The Count of Monte Cristo kept me engrossed.  So much so that I couldn’t be bothered to read very much alongside it.  Beautiful writing that eases the reader into the period, the well constructed storyline, and the marvelously developed characters symbolize top reasons why the novel is so enchanting.   It’s lovely to see how the rope of revenge tightens slowly and accurately over all the right people, at the right time, and without too much work.  That’s the beauty of fiction.

This 19th century French classic has stood and will continue to stand the test of time.  There’s something to say for a novel that uses themes that will always remain relevant – jealousy, revenge, affairs, business deals gone bad, etc., but more importantly they need
to be used in the right way.  I recommend The Count of Monte Cristo for readers who enjoy reading the classics, French classics, and stories of revenge. Not to mention, this Penguin Clothbound edition pictured below would make a wonderful Christmas gift!

I was so proud once I’d finished this huge book.  I also kept thinking about how interesting a modern retelling of this story would be.  Now that I can scratch one book off my list of books to read by Dumas, I’m looking forward to picking up The Three Muskateers next, hopefully in 2020, which is the first book in the series called The d’Artagnan Romances.  Check out the live chat below where I discuss The Count of Monte Cristo with Musical Tati and Michael Reads!  We had a great time and Loved the book.  I’d like to give a big Thank You to those of you who took the time to catch us live on YouTube and participated in the discussion.  I also urge you to go to Youtube and Count of Monte Cristocheck out these two Booktubers, who make superb videos. 🙂

 

Overview:

“Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.” (The Count of Monte Cristo, Goodreads description)

 

 

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Publisher:  Penguin Classics

Pages:  1,296

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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24 Books to Christmas – Day 16

baublesToday’s recommendation I discovered in the spring of 2015.  Water Street was one of the first few short story collections I had read in a long time that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Fourteen connected  short stories set in Stanford, Kentucky in the black community.  I was amazed  to see how well Wilkinson linked each character and unveiled their secrets.  Water Street has that southern literary flair that I love to read.  The style of writing is through short narratives and monologues.  You’re probably thinking that this makes the short stories feel unfinished but in fact they are full of impressions and feelings that are familiar.

Crystal Wilkinson is a wonderful writer who develops her stories through her characters.  She doesn’t need an excess of pages to make the reader understand something.  I envy her capacity to shape the story with the minimum means.  It’s a gift in writing.  I strongly urge you to check out this author who should be praised more.  I also recommend three of her other works that I enjoyed just as much as Water Street, Blackberries, Blackberries (short story collection), The Birds of Opulence (short water streetnovel), and Holler (short story).

I recommend Water Street to readers who enjoy short story collections, African-American literature, and southern literature.  Check out Wilkinson in the video below talking about her writing and where her inspiration comes from.  She has quite the personality and you should follow her over on Instagram at crystalwilki.

 

Overview:

On Water Street, every person has at least two stories to tell. One story that the light of day shines on and the other that lives only in the pitch black of night, the kind of story that a person carries beneath their breastbones for safekeeping. WATER STREET examines the secret lives of neighbours and friends who live on Water Street in a small town in Kentucky. Assured and intimate, dealing with love, loss, truth and tragedy, Wilkinson weaves us in and out of the lives of Water Street’s inhabitants.

 

 

Water Street – Crystal Wilkinson

Publisher:  Toby Press

Pages:  179

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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24 Books to Christmas – Day 10

baublesToday’s recommendation is one of our ReadSoulLit read along books from a few years ago called Some Sing, Some Cry.  This epic multi-generational family saga written in tandem by two sisters Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza tells the story of an African- American family of women from Reconstruction to just before the beginning of the 21st century.  Strong characters and great pacing, Some Sing, Some Cry is full of rich language and will keep readers engrossed. The Mayfield family sees it all. It’s very hard to put this book down.  It’s just over 500 pages but really you won’t even notice its size.  The only thing this book is missing is a family tree.  Although I have a sneaky suspicion it was left out on purpose to maintain an element of surprise.  It was also really cool having real life people being mixed into the story with made up characters.  That added an excellent authentic touch and an excellent way to instruct readers who may not be familiar with them.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading multi-generational stories, stories that contain music, stories that contain amazing characters, and historical fiction.img_4688

Overview:

Opening dramatically at  Sweet Tamarind, a rice and cotton plantation on an island off South Carolina’s coast, we watch as recently emancipated Bette Mayfield says her goodbyes before fleeing for the mainland. With her granddaughter, Eudora, in tow, she heads to Charleston. There, they carve out lives for themselves as fortune-teller and seamstress. Dora will marry, the Mayfield line will grow, and we will follow them on a journey through the watershed events of America’s troubled, vibrant history—from Reconstruction to both World Wars, from the Harlem Renaissance to Vietnam and the modern day.

 

Some Sing, Some Cry – Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Pages:  558

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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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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 4

baubles24 Books to Christmas is really making me look back on my past reading. There are so many really great books that I’ve read in the recent past but also in the far away past.  I decided to go with The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race for day 4.

The Fire This Time  was released in 2016.  It is an anthology that was edited by National Book Award Winner, Jesmyn Ward.  It’s a collection of 17 essays by some of the top black American writers of the moment. Discussing race these essays are all poignant and thought-provoking.  While its title is inspired by Baldwin’s, The Fire Next Time, Jesmyn Ward brought these essays together as a response to the ongoing atrocities happening to blacks and people of color in the United States.  You surely won’t forget them.

Sadly I feel like this collection was hardly pushed in the book influencer community at its release.  I wonder if that was because of the subject matter, or because it’s an anthology, or both.  Please comment below and let me know what you think the reason could be.

You’ll read powerful essays from Isabel Wilkerson, Kiese Laymon, Mitchell S. Jackson, Edwidge Danticat, Daniel José Older, and more.  The Fire This Time is accessible and not very long for those that find long essay collections a put off.  The collection is separated into 3 parts:  Legacy, Reckoning, and Jubilee, which represent some of “the darkest corners of American history” (The Fire This Time inside book flap)the fire this time.   I recommend this essay collection to readers looking for and excellent nonfiction read, readers who desire to learn more about living in the United States as a black person, and who are interested in reading nonfiction pieces from some of their favorite black authors.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward

Publisher:  Scribner

Pages:  215

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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