Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pride by Ibi Zoboi: The Book for Brown Girls


Pride by Ibi Zoboi
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Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

4.5 out of 5 stars
Pride is flavorful, a cornucopia of culture, a coming-of-age story with characters so well-developed they practically leaped off the page.

Zuri Benitez is just a girl with words in her heart, Brooklyn nestled in her veins and dreams bigger than the neighborhood she’s grown to love.

Zuri has lived in Bushwick all of her life, and everything is predictably comfortable. The bodega at the corner, the pastelitos her Mom makes, and the crazy overcrowdedness of sharing one room with three other sisters. 

That is until the Darcy’s move across the street--bringing with them a richness they’re not used to, and tossing up the life they’ve grown used to.

One brother, Ainsley catches the eye of her sister and the other brother, Darius—Darius is just a boy too rich for his own good—and not Zuri’s type at all. 

Though I would imagine this is not the version of Pride and Prejudice most are used to it’s a realistic cultured and flavored version this generation will understand and connect with.

Rich in culture this novel brings the reader directly into the neighborhood, bringing them along for a journey of growth, romance, and humor.

The characters are rich, lush and easy to like. Their backstories clash and come together in only a way a talented author can manage. For this reader, it was like coming home.

Stellar and engaging writing, lyrical in its delivery—proud and vibrant, Pride is perfect for young and old readers alike—and those perfectly nestled right in between.

With just the right touch of racial reality and gentrification realism, Pride delivers the city in a way not done before Poet X.

The world needs more Zuri’s with their tightly coiled Afros, rap-like poetry, sassy attitudes and their connections to the boroughs and cultures their very beings are tied into.

Outside of the hard-growing romance the novel also seeks to generate an understanding of African-based religious practices painting it in a colorful, and magical light—with the character Madrina.

It also does a great job of realistically portraying the class struggle of growing up rich while brown.
It tackles the misunderstandings of rich and poor in a neighborhood filled with brown people—and it does a stellar job at it. 

Zoboi is a clear talent, tackling topics others are too scared to touch and she does so with class and genius.

Readers will be left wanting more, of Zuri and Zoboi's writing.

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie: A Romance Novel For The Grown & Sexy


A Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie
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Of all the weddings in all the world, Angie Roux had to be mistaken for a bridesmaid in this one.

Caledon, South Africa, is supposed to be just a stop on the way to Christmas in Cape Town, part of Angie’s long-avoided homecoming. She never expected to star in a bizarre comedy of errors, but here she is: convincing a handsome stranger to be her fake boyfriend for the day. 

Ezra Johnson, the handsome stranger in question, turns out to be a pleasant distraction from both the wedding and thoughts of her first family Christmas without her father. And he seems to loathe weddings just as much as she does. He’s the perfect temporary companion.

But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours. Including a connection so strong it tempts them both into thinking of something more permanent…

5 out of 5 stars
What a refreshing romance that perfectly balanced maturity and budding love. Perfect for readers looking for fictional relationships without all the fuss and childishness.

Imagine dreading going home for the holidays to the very family that you've spent the last couple of years running from--and running into the arms of a man you barely knew--to escape a never-ending wedding party, whose bridal party's clothing oddly matches your own.

The beginning of this novel gave me major Serendipity nostalgia. If you haven't seen that movie, do yourself a favor and watch.

I am a huge favor of happenstance, and destiny when it comes to romance. I absolutely adore the idea of characters having chance meetings and the author fully delving into that. 

This novel was my perfect balance--dialogue, banter, humor, an attractive couple, and the holidays. I LOVE the holidays. I'm the type that strings lights, bakes cookies, all the while twirling alone to music classics like 'Rocking Around The Christmas Tree.'

If you're not ready for the holidays, you will be. 

Angie is witty and clever. She's going through a lot but she manages not to tamper her own light. Ezra is intelligent and mature. He's open-minded and damaged but healing--but none of their issues interfere with the romance that grows between them.

This book is heavy on the dialogue--and though it might sound strange, all you want to do is hear them talk. When I realized how heavy the dialogue was, I was nervous it would do something bad to the story. But you won't get enough of Ezra and Angie. Everything that happens outside of them won't be as important as getting to know these two.

Expertly-written and thoroughly developed this is one of the better reads I've read this year, as it pertains to structure and the development of the characters.

Gosh, it's just a really great read with everything it needed to have, and nothing that it didn't.

It's amusing and romantic with a building spark that set the pages ablaze towards the end. Although I think mature readers will love this one, it's perfect for any romance lover, with an HEA that will warm your heart. 

I can't wait to see what else this author has to offer.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Great "Black" Read--100 Books by African American Authors You Need To Read Before You Die

Pile of Assorted Novel Books

The Great American Read List is cute but if I had my choice--these are the books I would have put on it. All of these writers are African American. This a list generated based solely off of my opinion. If there are other books by African American authors you feel should be on this list. DO NOT hesitate to share them, the more the merrier! They are in no particular order.

1. Native Son Richard Wright
2. True to the Game Teri Woods
3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
4. Not Without Laughter Langston Hughes
5.Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
6.Between The World and Me Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. Manchild in The Promised Land Claude Brown
8. Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
9. Breath Eyes Memory Edwidge Danticat
10. The Souls of Black Folk W.E.B. Du Bois


11. Kindred Octavia E. Butler
12. The New Jim Crow Michelle Alexander
13. Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
14. The Warmth of Other Suns Isabel Wilkerson
15. Black Boy Richard Wright
16. Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime J. California Cooper
17. Flyy Girl Omar Tyree
18. Devil in A Blue Dress Walter Mosley
19. Push Saphire
20. Tyler Johnson Was Here Jay Coles

21. Long Way Down Jason Reynolds
22. If Beale Street Could Talk James Baldwin
23. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
24. Dutch Teri Woods
25. Midnight Sister Souljah
26.Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dream Girl Sheryl Lee Ralph
27. You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain Phoebe Robinson
28. Up From Slavery Booker T. Washington
29. Ghost Boys Jewell Parker Rhodes
30. Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass


31. Brown Girl Dreaming Jacqueline Woodson
32. Monster Walter Dean Myers
33. The Color Purple Alice Walker
34. The Sellout Paul Beatty
35. Monday's Not Coming Tiffany D. Jackson
36. Calling My Name Liara Tamani
37. The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man James Weldon Johnson
38. A Mercy Toni Morrison
39. Coffee Will Make You Black April Sinclair
40. Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self Danielle Evans

41.The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl Issa Rae
42.Waiting To Exhale Terry McMillan
43.Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History Vashti Harrison
44. Sing Unburied Sing Jesmyn Ward
45.The Mis-Education of the Negro Carter G. Woodson
46. Born A Crime Trevor Noah
47. The Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead
48. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
49. American Street Ibi Zoboi
50. The Skin I'm In Sharon G. Flake


51. All American Boys Jason Reynolds
52. Roots Alex Haley
53. God Don't Like Ugly Mary Morrison
54. Piecing Me Together Renee Watson
55. Homegoing Yaa Gyasi
56. A Piece of Cake Cupcake Brown
57. The Coldest Winter Ever Sister Souljah
58. Your Blues Ain't Like Mine Bebe Moore Campell
59. Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes
60. Sister Sister Eric Jerome Dickey

61. Invisible Life E. Lynn Harris
62. Letter To My Daughter Maya Angelou
63. Sula Toni Morrison
64. Ghost Jason Reynolds
65. Nappily Ever After Trisha Thomas
66. Silver Sparrow Tayari Jones
67. Electric Arches Eve L. Ewing
68. The Man in 3B Carl Weber
69. The Cutting Season Attica Locke
70. The Women of Brewster Place Gloria Naylor


71. Second House From the Corner Sadeqa Johnson
72. Around The Way Girls La Jill Hunt
73. Bronx Masquerade Nikki Grimes
74. A Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry
75. We are Only Taking what We Need Stephanie Powell Watts
76. A Lesson before Dying Ernest J. Gaines
77. Happy To Be Nappy Bell Hooks
78. Woman, Thou Art Loosed T.D. Jakes
79. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
80. How To Be Black Baratunde R. Thurston


81. Salvage The Bones Jesmyn Ward
82. Mina's Joint Keisha Ervin
83. The Naked Truth Chunichi Knott
84. American Marriage Tayari Jones
85. Dreams From My Father Barack Obama
86. Zora and Me Victoria Bond, T.R. Smith
87. White Teeth Zadie Smith
88.The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X
89. Sister Betty God's Calling You Pat G'orge Walker
90.Love Honor or Stray E.N. Joy


91. A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich Alice Childress
92. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered suicide/when the rainbow is Enuf Ntozake Shange
93. Dear Martin Nic Stone
94. Hunger Roxanne Gay
95. Land of Shadows Rachell Howzell Hall
96. The Collected Poetry Nikki Giovanni
97. A Street in Bronzeville Gwendolyn Brooks
98.Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman
99.Dirty Red Vickie M. Stringer
100.Drinking Coffee Elsewhere ZZ Packer


Friday, October 26, 2018

10 Novels Written by African American Authors To Fill Your Pre-Halloween Weekend

1. How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend--Linda Addison
13264877Who doesn't need to know How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend? From the first African-American to receive the HWA Bram Stoker award, this collection of both horror and science fiction short stories and poetry reveals demons in the most likely people (like a jealous ghost across the street) or in unlikely places (like the dimension-shifting dreams of an American Indian). Recognition is the first step, what you do with your friends/demons after that is up to you.

2. Moonshine--Alaya Johnson 
6977329Imagining vampires at the heart of the social struggles of 1920s, Moonshine blends a tempestuous romance with dramatic historical fiction, populated by a lively mythology inhabiting the gritty New York City streets.
Zephyr Hollis is an underfed, overzealous social activist who teaches night school to the underprivileged of the Lower East Side. Strapped for cash, Zephyr agrees to help a student, the mysterious Amir, who proposes she use her charity worker cover to bring down a notorious vampire mob boss. 

What he doesn’t tell her is why. Soon enough she’s tutoring a child criminal with an angelic voice, dodging vampires high on a new blood-based street drug, and trying to determine the real reason behind Amir’s request — not to mention attempting to resist (often unsuccessfully) his dark, inhuman charm.

609253. Fledgling--Octavia Butler 
Fledgling, Octavia Butler's new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted - and still wants - to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of "otherness" and questions what it means to be truly human. 

4. Minion (Vampire Huntress series)--LA Banks
538381Sasha Trudeau knows all about working beneath the shadows, back-alley deals, and things that go bump in the night. She also knows that the world is unaware of the existence of the paranormal—and that the government would like to keep it that way.
As a highly trained Special Ops soldier, Sasha and her team are an elite group of individuals who are survivors of werewolf attacks, now trained to be loyal to only to each other and their government. But when she returns from a solo mission, she finds that her team has mysteriously gone missing. Shocking government conspiracies, double-dealing vampires, and a host of stunning revelations about who—and what—she really is are only just the beginning…
415365. My Soul To Keep--Tananarive Due 
When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami. Instead, David vows to invoke a forbidden ritual to keep Jessica and his daughter with him forever. Harrowing, engrossing and skillfully rendered, My Soul to Keeptraps Jessica between the desperation of immortals who want to rob her of her life and a husband who wants to rob her of her soul. With deft plotting and an unforgettable climax, this tour de force reminiscent of early Anne Rice will win Due a new legion of fans. 

575046. Brown Girl in The Ring--Nalo Hopkinson
The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways--farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

268835587. The Ballad of Black Tom Victor La Valle
People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there.

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 skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome 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.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

8. Zone One Colson Whitehead 
10365343In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.

Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.

Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.

And then things start to go wrong.

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.

69629179. The Resurrectionist Wrath James White
Dale has the miraculous ability to heal and raise the recent dead. But he's also insane. When he uses his power to brutally kill the woman next door, night after night, no one will believe her impossible story, so it's up to her to find a way to end the living nightmare.

10. Within The Shadows Brandon Massey 
974721Be Careful What You Wish For 

At just thirty-one, Andrew Wilson has it all: close friends, a great house in an Atlanta suburb, and a successful career as a mystery writer. Only one thing is missing—a special person to share it with. Then one day he meets someone new, a woman who seems almost too good to be true. 

Beautiful, smart, and sophisticated, Mika Woods is everything that Andrew has ever wanted and more—at first. After one night of passion, Andrew soon discovers that Mika isn't quite who she appears to be. Or even what she appears to be.
But it's too late to turn back. Mika has been waiting a lifetime for a man like Andrew. And what she wants, what she desires, she will have—no matter who has to die…