it’s been a while.

I’m reeeeal shitty at keeping my blog updated. Usually I disappear because Im lazy. This time around I feel that I have a pretty good reason for being absent. I’ve mentioned before that I quit my job two years ago to go back to school. Well this month started a new semester for me.

When Im not working, I have my face buried in a textbook. Even though my classes are very reading heavy I’ve still managed to get some reading done. Whenever I take a break from studying, I spend about 15 minutes reading a few pages; and when I’m commuting to/from work I listen to audiobooks that I get from my library through OverDrive.

To encourage myself to blog more, I thought I’d share with you a few of the books I’ve read (and my thoughts) and what Im currently reading.

What I’ve Read:

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his black skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their trained cops. But when he delivers an occult page to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

I flew through this book in no time! I listened to it as an audiobook while driving to work, but I wasn’t feelin’ the narrator’s voice. I was still able to enjoy the story, but I felt the narrator for this book should’ve had a smokey, hypnotic voice that would give me the chills and add to the creep factor of this book. I enjoyed it so much I ended up buying it on my Kindle.I think this book would make an amazing graphic novel. I hope Victor gives us more of Black Tom!

The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips “Rozelle favors her light-skinned kids, but Tangy Mae, 13, her darkest-complected child, is the brightest. She desperately wants to continue with her education. Her mother, however, has other plans. Rozelle wants her daughter to work cleaning houses for whites, like she does, and accompany her to the “Farmhouse,” where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Tangy Mae, she’s decided, is of age. This is the story from an era when life’s possibilities for an African-American were unimaginably different.”

This book gripped my soul and wouldn’t let go! I’ll just link to my Goodreads review so you can see my full thoughts after reading. I mentioned in my review that I experienced every emotion while reading and even sitting here writing this I find myself getting sad. The Quinn children are still with me and I want to know how they turned out! I got this from the library, but I plan on picking up my own copy.

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison “A young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.

I didn’t have any interest in reading this book. I was browsing my library’s audiobooks for something to listen to while going to work and I saw this. I enjoy Toni’s voice when she narrates so I decided to give it a try. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I liked the book. Toni did a great job of showing how what our parents do to us and the traumas we experience as children follow us into our adult lives. I did find some of the characters to be underdeveloped; for instance,  I didn’t see the point in Brooklyn’s (Bride’s best-friend/coworker)  triflin’ ass narrative and I had so many questions about the elementary school teacher who narrated a chapter.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline WoodsonRunning into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

This is another book I didn’t have intentions to read, but it was an audiobook and people have been chattering about it lately so i figured I’d check it out. I enjoyed the writing style, but I felt nothing for the characters. I mentioned in my Goodreads review that they felt so distant. This is considered a novel, but it reads more like a short story. It was over too soon.

Books I’m Currently Reading

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

So far Im loving this. I’m just about 20% done with the book (if you’ve read it, Im currently on Six’s story). If you haven’t read (or heard of) this book, this book follows Hattie Shepherd’s twelve children as they navigate life. I like the audiobook narrator, her voice matches the vibe of the book.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I just started this book today and I’m intrigued. I just finished the part where Henrietta is getting treated for her cancer and the doctors have discovered that Henrietta’s cells are unlike any other cells they’ve encountered.

 

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them!

Review: Here Comes the Sun


Title: Here Comes the Sun
Author: Nicole Dennis-Benn
Pages: 352
Published Date: July 5, 2016

My copy of Here Comes the Sun is an advance reader copy I grabbed at work (I work at a bookstore). The cover caught my eye first, then I flipped it over on the back and saw it was written by a black author and called dibs on it. I read the first chapter while on my lunch break and I decided to bring it home with me.

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn is set in Jamaica during the early(?)’90s.  We are introduced to Margot who works in Montego Bay at a resort hotel. By day she checks in guest and supervises the hotel staff. At night she sneaks into the rooms of the male guests and provide “turndown” service to make extra money. She also maintains a sexual relationship with the hotel’s heir, a white Jamaican, in hopes that he will make her the manager of a new resort he’s building on the island. Margot’s main goal is to make enough money so  her teen sister, Thandi, can continue to attend private school and go to college. Trading sex for money is not the only secret she hides; she and her childhood friend, Verdene, are secret lovers.

 Margot and her sister live with their mother Delores, a stone-cold bitch. Delores has her own secrets and demons she’s battling, but in her eyes, Margot is the cause of all the problems the family faces and Thandi will be the one who pulls them out of poverty. As Thandi carries the weight of being the family’s ticket out of the slums, she hides secrets of her own. She doesn’t fit in with her peers and is overlooked at school; she blames her dark complexion for making her an outcast. She feels that if she had lighter skin she would be able to accomplish more and live a happier life.

This is a tragedy full of  suffering, sorrow, and betrayal. There is no happy ending, so brace yourself. Majority of the story is narrated by Margot, but you also get Thandi’s perspective of things. It was a roller coaster ride watching Margot and Thandi make one bad decision after another. Margot is determined and fierce; she doesn’t let anyone stand in the way of her pursuing what she wants. However, her determination turns into greed and she ultimately becomes just as callous as her mother–destroying her relationship with Verdene and exposing her sister to the life she worked so hard to protect her from.
Thandi is intelligent and uninterested in being the person her mom and sister are planning for her to be;  she’s also discovering what’s it like to be wanted as a local boy shows interest in her. She allows her need for independence and her longing for acceptance (and love) take her down an ugly path.

All characters were well developed; anytime they were being described or had any dialogue, especially when they spoke in Jamaican Patois, I could picture them clearly. Nicole Dennis-Benn does a great job of showing how racism, colorism, homophobia, and tourism affect Jamaica.  This is a great read that I gave 4 stars on Goodreads. Here Comes the Sun is scheduled to be released on July 5th, so make sure you add it to your summer reading list. However, if you’re planning a trip to Jamaica don’t pack this book!

 

 

book review: Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

suffocateyourownself

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans is a collection of short stories whose characters are all lonely (but not alone), confused, and misunderstood. Here is a portion of the synopsis from Goodreads:

Striking in their emotional immediacy, the stories in Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self are based in a world where inequality is reality but where the insecurities of adolescence and young adulthood, and the tensions within family and the community, are sometimes the biggest complicating forces in one’s sense of identity and the choices one makes.

I gave it 3/5 stars. What I didn’t like was I wanted the stories to go on!! All of the stories ended with a dramatic cliffhanger. It kind of pissed me off in the way that you get pissed when your favorite TV show shows ends with a ‘to be continued’ and you have to wait an entire week to find out what happen; except with these stories I’ll never know what happened.

Each story does a great job in covering family relationships, friendships, love life, and sexuality from the prospective of Black Americans. There’s not much else I can say, because the Goodreads synopsis above says what I want to say.  The first story, “Virgins” is great; it follows two teenage girls who are best friends–one boy crazy and the other attempting (and failing) to be the voice of reason,–as they tackle boys, sex, and the emotions that follow.. The next few stories are pretty good, but after “Someone Ought to Tell Her There’s Nowhere to Go,” the stories become ‘eh.’ They were good stories, but I wasn’t as sucked in and intrigued as I was with the others. Danielle ends the book with a bang in the story “Robert E. Lee is Dead.” I have to say this story was my favorite.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and it pulled me out of a reading slump. I like Danielle Evan’s writing style, I can’t wait to read an actually novel by her. If she wanted to turn each of these eight stories into a book she could, and I would read each of them.