Sunday, February 28, 2021

Books I Read For Black History Month


I read a total of seven books for Black History Month in 2021 as follows:

2. The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos
3. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

Did you read any specific books for Black History Month? If so, share what you read in the comment section below. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Euphoria by Lily King

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Euphoria by Lily King and narrated by Simon Vance and Xe Sands.

Listening time for Euphoria by Lily King is 6 hours, 53 minutes.

I found Euphoria by Lily King a bit difficult to get into at first. I think this may have been due to the narration as I found Xe Sands to be a so so narrator and found it difficult to follow her cadence initially at the start of this novel. Simon Vance proved to be an excellent narrator as usual though.

As far as the writing goes for Euphoria, I found it to be excellent. This is the first novel I've read by Lily King and I look forward to reading more of her novels. Euphoria by Lily King is a work of historical fiction set largely in the 1930s. Anthropologist Margaret Mead's life was the inspiration for this work of fiction. I enjoyed the storyline for Euphoria very much, as it contains a love triangle and tragic ending as part of its plot. Of the three main characters, Nell Stone and Andrew Bankson were my favorites; Fen not so much.

Below is the plot summary for Euphoria by Lily King from Audible:
From New England Book Award winner Lily King comes a breathtaking novel about three young anthropologists of the '30s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and ultimately, their lives.

English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe in the territory of New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brothers' deaths and increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her wry and mercurial Australian husband, Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just fled the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell's poor health, are hungry for a new discovery. When Bankson finds them a new tribe nearby - the artistic, female-dominated Tam - he ignites an intellectual and romantic firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone's control.

Set between two World Wars and inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is an enthralling story of passion, possession, exploration, and sacrifice from accomplished author Lily King.

I enjoyed watching the following video of Lily King discussing her novel, Euphoria.

I am giving Euphoria by Lily King a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, February 22, 2021

African American Athletes Who Made History by Louis Moore


I listened to the unabridged audio of African American Athletes Who Made History by Louis Moore, which is part of The Great Courses series and narrated by Louis Moore during Black History Month this year.

Listening time for African American Athletes Who Made History by Louis Moore is 4 hours, 19 minutes.

I learned so much through listening to African American Athletes Who Made History by Louis Moore! I highly recommend this audio version of The Great Courses as we not only learn about African American athletes from the 1800s through present day, but also about the racism and discrimination these athletes endured as well. 

For instance, I learned what a HUGE role African Americans played in the early days of horse racing when it was one of America's most popular sports. For instance, did you know that 13 of the 15 jockeys in the first Kentucky Derby were African Americans? Additionally, African American jockeys won 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derbies. There's so much to share on the topic of African Americans in early horse racing in America that one could make an entire blog post on this very topic alone... And this was only one of the many fascinating topics discussed in African American Athletes Who Made History by Louis Moore.

I also enjoyed learning about black athletes during the Civil Rights Movement, the revolt of the black athlete, a more in depth look at major athletes like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Louis... As well as the topic of black athletes and endorsements, and black athletes as activists in the 21st century.

Below is a summary for African American Athletes Who Made History by Louis Moore from Amazon:
Professor Louis Moore’s audiobook about the history of African Americans in sports in the United States educates listeners about the fascinating social and cultural history of the nation. For example, integration of major league and professional sports broke a major color barrier for one of the first times in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement. African American athletes competed in America long before the 20th century - in fact, they even competed during the years of slavery.
  • Boxer Tom Molineaux, who fought for the entertainment of slave masters, went on to earn his freedom, and then became a professional fighter and trainer
  • Champion boxer Jack Johnson
  • High jumper Rose Robinson
  • Track star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens
  • Baseball legend Jackie Robinson
  • Decathlon gold-medalist Rafer Johnson
  • The first female African American Olympians, Tidye Picket and Louise Stokes
Hear how the struggles and triumphs of these and other African American sports stars opened doors for professional players who came to dominate their fields, including Serena Williams and Michael Jordan. Learn about the founding of Black sports leagues during the years of segregation, how the Great Migration reshaped athletics in America, and how African American athletes balanced their athletic success with the everyday reality of racism and became engines of social change. While sports helped level the playing field in many ways, Black athletes still grapple with the legacy of inequality in America today.
I am giving African American Athletes Who Made History by Louis Moore a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

March (Trilogy Slipcase Edition) by John Lewis

I read March (Trilogy Slipcase Edition) by John Lewis during Black History Month this year. I've had the March trilogy in my 'to be read' pile for quite a while now. So I was thrilled to finally read all three books in the March trilogy as learning more about the life of Civil Rights legend and activist, John Lewis, is a must for anyone wanting to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement in general. 

By reading the March trilogy, I learned a lot about the Civil Rights Movement with regards to many of the major events. Additionally, I enjoyed reading about many of the major movers and shakers and organizations that helped propel the Civil Rights Movement forward, which eventually lead to the successful passing of both the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

Of course, a large focus of the March trilogy was on the early life and the instrumental role John Lewis played during the Civil Rights Movement, which I found fascinating... And of course, two of the major topics discussed in the March trilogy were the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama (also known as Bloody Sunday) and the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

I highly recommend reading the March (Trilogy Slipcase Edition) by John Lewis. I also loved the artwork by Nate Powell for all three March books!!

Below is a summary for March (Trilogy Slipcase Edition) by John Lewis from Amazon:
Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. March is the award-winning, #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell. This commemorative set contains all three volumes of March in a beautiful slipcase.

#1 New York Times and Washington Post Bestseller
First graphic novel to receive a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
Winner of the Eisner Award
A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
One of YALSA's Outstanding Books for the College Bound
One of Reader's Digest's Graphic Novels Every Grown-Up Should Read

I am giving March (Trilogy Slipcase Edition) by John Lewis a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!! 

P. S. One of my reading goals for 2021 is to read five trilogies... One trilogy down, four more trilogies left to read!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix


Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix is my second Valentine's Day themed read for 2021.

I was able to download the ebook edition of Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix to my Kindle app from Amazon for FREE. 

Below is honest, unbiased review of Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix.

Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix is a paranormal romance novel and is the first novel in the 'Real Men Shift' series. Real Men Howl features werewolves... And even though I found Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix to be predictable and formulaic in many ways, I enjoyed the writing, the characters and the feisty main character, Lucy Morgan.

So if you're looking for a hot, paranormal romance novel with some sizzle, then Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix may be the read for you.

Below is a summary for Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix from Goodreads:

Mason’s inner wolf will go crazy without her. Lucy thinks he’s already crazy. Werewolves aren’t real. Right?

Lucy Morgan left Ashtown, Georgia, ten years ago and planned to never return. Unfortunately, life didn’t get that memo. She’s back and now painful memories follow her everywhere. Until she meets him. Mason Blackwood is over six feet of sinfully gorgeous man who—for some reason—wants her. He also thinks he’s a werewolf so… yeah. He’s crazypants. But when he wants to have his wicked way with her, his sanity doesn’t seem all that important anymore.

Mason isn’t sure how much longer he can remain Alpha over the Blackwood pack. Without a mate to balance him, his wolf snatches more control every day. It won’t be long before he loses himself to the animal entirely. Then he meets Lucy—a sassy, curvaceous beauty who calms his beast with a smile. One sniff is enough to tell him she’s his mate, and nothing will keep them apart.

Not even the pack’s deadliest enemy who’s determined to kill Lucy before Mason can claim her.

I wasn't sure whether to give Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix a rating of 3 or 4 stars. I decided to be generous and give Real Men Howl by Celia Kyle & Marina Maddix a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond


I decided to squeeze in a couple of romance reads during the month of February in honor of Valentine's Day. I chose to read the ebook edition of Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond, which is billed as a romantic comedy and is roughly 179 pages in length.

I was able to download Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond for FREE from Amazon. Below is my unbiased review of Stop the Wedding!

The storyline, characters, and writing for Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond were good overall, which is the main reason/draw for why I chose to read this short romance novel. 

However, the BIGGEST issue I have for Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond (and other romance novels like it), is the predictable, formulaic storyline for this genre and all the drama and misunderstandings that occur between the main characters before they finally find their everlasting love/happy ending. 

Part of me definitely loves romance novels and happily ever after endings in novels... it's just the predictable, formulaic storyline and all that goes with it that I have an issue with for so many romance novels. Additionally, I wouldn't classify Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond as a romantic comedy... romance novel, yes, comedy, no!!

Below is a summary for Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond from Goodreads:
In this never-before-in-print romantic comedy, Annabelle Coakley and Clay Castleberry are determined to stop their parents from getting married...they didn't count on falling in love themselves!

I am giving Stop the Wedding! by Stephanie Bond a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my nest post, happy reading!

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington and narrated by Noah Waterman this month for Black History Month. 

Listening time for Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington is 6 hours, 8 minutes.

I have a long list of books I would like to read in order to learn more about black history, but I must truthfully admit that Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington was a surprise reading choice for me as I had never really thought about reading this book until this year. 

I learned though Wikipedia the following about Up From Slavery and Booker T. Washington himself:
Washington was a controversial figure in his own lifetime, and W. E. B. Du Bois, among others, criticized some of his views. The book was a best-seller, and remained the most popular African American autobiography until that of Malcolm X.[2] In 1998, the Modern Library listed the book at No. 3 on its list of the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century, and in 1999 it was also listed by the conservative Intercollegiate Review as one of the "50 Best Books of the Twentieth Century".[3]
I enjoyed reading about Booker T. Washington's life through reading his memoir, Up From Slavery. I am enormously impressed with his extremely humble beginnings to becoming a highly educated, mover and shaker, educator and orator and so much more through hard work, discipline, and perseverance. Booker T. Washington definitely shows us that by having a vision and going after what one wants in life, you can achieve and overcome just about anything you set your mind out to do.

Booker T. Washington earned an honorary master's degree from Harvard University, was well respected about both whites and blacks, built the Tuskegee Institute, traveled widely across the US and around Europe, and succeeded in building strong relationships with influential people during his lifetime to highlight but a few of so many wonderful achievements he earned.

Below is a summary for Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington from Goodreads:

Booker T. Washington fought his way out of slavery to become an educator, statesman, political shaper, and proponent of the "do-it-yourself" idea. In his autobiography, he describes his early life as a slave on a Virginia plantation, his steady rise during the Civil War, his struggle for education, his schooling at the Hampton Institute, and his years as founder and president of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, which was devoted to helping minorities learn useful, marketable skills.

He gives an account of his travels, speeches, and meetings with various leaders, including Theodore Roosevelt in the White House. Employing a didactic tone, Washington deftly sets forth his belief that the black man’s salvation lies in education, industriousness, and self-reliance. This is the true-life story of a man of real courage and dedication.

Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915), founder of Tuskegee Institute, was a leading educator, author, and statesman who rose from slavery to become internationally famous.

I am giving Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, February 5, 2021

10 Facts About Toni Morrison

 I came across an article on Bookriot's website titled, TONI MORRISON: 10 FACTS ABOUT THE INCOMPARABLE AUTHOR by Emily Martin.

I enjoyed learning some new to me facts about Toni Morrison from Emily Martin's article and hope you too! I enjoyed the links at the end of the article to discover authors like Ms. Morrison and also a link to Ms. Morrion's list of must read authors.

Click on the link above to read the full story!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Octavia E. Butler - Essential Reading List

I came across a New York Times article online titled, The Essential Octavia Butler by Stephen Kearse. In the article, Stephen Kearse wrote the following:
Octavia Butler walked a singular path. A writer from her poverty-stricken childhood to her death in 2006 at the age of 58, she committed her life to turning speculative fiction into a home for Black expression. In her hands, the genre felt capacious and infinite. “I wrote myself in,” she told The New York Times in 2000.

Her ink was permanent. Weathering rejections, dead-end jobs and her own persistent doubts, Butler rose to international prominence. She became the first science fiction author to be granted a MacArthur fellowship, and the first Black woman to win Hugo and Nebula awards. Today her influence spans literature, genres and media.

Click on the above link to read which of Butler's books made the list and why each book is recommended.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos


The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos had been on my reading wishlist for quite some time, so thought I'd go ahead and read it this year for Black History Month. 

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos is semi-autobiographical and is written in the graphic novel style, which made for a very quick read. 

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos is set in Houston, Texas during the 1960s. The primary focus of this book is that of two families (one white family and one black family) trying to deal with blatant racism during this time period. Additionally, the topics of the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights Movement, police brutality, and Martin Luther King's assassination are all touched upon topics presented in The Silence of Our Friends.

I feel like the themes and topics presented within The Silence of Our Friends were very important ones to write about and shed light upon, but I also felt that how the material in this book was presented was a bit disjointed at times. I simply wish there had been a smoother transition from one topic to another in certain areas of this book and/or more detail added about certain subject matters touched upon to make things more clear for readers.

I did love the artwork for The Silence of Our Friends. However, the text was sometimes sooooo small in certain sections of this book that it was difficult to read the text even with a magnifier.

My favorite quote from The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos is the following one:

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Below is the summary for The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos from Goodreads:
A New York Times-bestselling graphic novel based on the true story of two families--one white and one black--who find common ground as the civil rights struggle heats up in Texas.

This semi-autobiographical tale is set in 1967. A white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the suburbs and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston's color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.

The Silence of Our Friends follows events through the point of view of young Mark Long, whose father is a reporter covering the story. Semi-fictionalized, this story has its roots solidly in very real events. With art from the brilliant Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole) bringing the tale to heart-wrenching life, The Silence of Our Friends is a new and important entry in the body of civil rights literature.

I am giving The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Books Written Before I Was Born That I Still Would Like to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader GirlTop Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Below are 10 books that were published before I was born that I would still like to read:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Jubilee by Margaret Walker
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Collector by John Fowles
1984 by George Orwell

Which books published before you were born would you still like to read?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Here's Why James Baldwin Should Be Required Reading

I came across an excellent article on Book Riot's website titled, Why James Baldwin Should Be Required Reading by Katherine Packer. In the article, Katherine Packer wrote the following:
“I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” —James Baldwin

This quote, written by James Baldwin in his 1955 essay Notes of a Native Son, has become one of his more famous platitudes, especially during times of upheaval in this country. But exactly who was James Baldwin? Was he an activist? A novelist? All of the above? He is a complicated and fascinating figure who no doubt made his mark on this country in more ways than one. And yet, despite his undeniable intelligence and impact on literary history, he is rarely taught in high schools in this country. The root of this is most likely tied to the reason that Baldwin is in fact so famous—his literature and his essays are some of the most frank accounts of racism that this country has ever seen. He also wrote openly about homosexuality and interracial relationships at a time when both were still illegal in this country. And it is for exactly these reasons that he should be required reading for all Americans. Not only to educate those of us who are more privileged, but so that other children growing up in similar circumstances know that they are not alone.

I have yet to read anything written by James Baldwin and now I want to read his writing! I seen/heard more people reading Baldwin's works than ever recently. Now to decide which of his books to start first! Any suggestions?

Click on the above link to read Katherine Packer's entire article about James Baldwin.