One More Year For The People in the Back

When I started this blog back in 2011, I wanted a break from what I’d been reading for my undergraduate degree. It was a different time and I was a different person. I would have never used the word “Womanist” to describe myself, but that’s how I identify.

Womanist, is a term that Alice Walker coined is “a black feminist or feminist of color … a woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually … committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female”. There is a war on black and brown people in the United States of Amerikkka, we can’t breathe because the knee of systemic racism is crushing us.

So, I posted to Facebook, calling on white allies to tell me what they are doing, and yesterday, I asked them if they wanted a book recommendation for something written by a person of color. The response was overwhelming. People see that BIPOC have stories to tell, that our lives matter.

So, I’m going to go back to recommending books in this space.



Powdered Donuts and Other Things V.C. Andrews has ruined

So Lifetime recently decided to make the Flowers in the Attic into a series of movies. I’m not going to lie, I watched most of them out of the nostalgia and to see if they can beat the classic 1987 version, staring Louise Fletcher and Kristy Swanson.

I will say that the casting of Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham as Grandmother and Corrine was pretty perfect. Graham has that perfect, flighty, everything will be great naivety and evil down to a well acted science. Recently hanging out with some girlfriends someone brought up powdered donuts and I realized that I have not eaten a powdered donut since I read Flowers in the Attic.

For those of you that missed the craze, for some reason in the mid-90s – early 2000s there was a resurgence in the popularity of these books took off. Everyone was reading them, we were passing them around at school. They were taboo, and our parents fell on two ends of the spectrum, not wanting us to read them, and handing them to us to read.

Lust, incest, escape attempts, a vengeful grandmother, and paper flowers taped to walls, it was a pretty bleak book that kept us turning page after page.

Since Flowers in the Attic was published in 1979, I’m going to explain the powdered donuts. Grandmother is very, very strict about what Cathy, Chris, Cory and Carrie eat, but on special occasions they are given powdered donuts. White powdered donuts. Locked in their attic, who could resist the sweet temptation and poor Cory consumes them over and over again. He of course, gets sick, not just because that much sugar is bad for you, but because the powdered donuts had been laced with [DUN DUN DUNH] arsenic.

That apparently if you mix arsenic with powered donut sugar can’t tell the difference.

And that’s how V.C. Andrews ruined powdered donuts for me.

P.S. I Miss You

Title: P.S. I Miss You
Author: Jean Petro-Roy
Targeted Audience: Shelved with JFIC, would not recommend to readers under the age of 10-12.
Format: Hardcover

This is a really hard book to review because when it comes down to it, this is a book about emotional manipulation and what I consider to be child abuse. It’s extremely well written, telling the story of 11-year-old Evie, who is dealing with the forced removal of her older sister from the home because she is pregnant, her strict Catholic parents, and her budding sexuality.

The cover is adorable, it looks like it’s going to be two gal pals who connected at summer camp, it isn’t that. If anything, look at the cover and imagine the wings of each butterfly being pulled off, one at a time.

Overall Rating: N/A
Writing Style: 5/5
Trauma Inducing Content: 5/5

Would I recommend this? Yes, but to teenagers. I think it’s interested that this book is about an 11-year-old it gets categorized with Juvenile Fiction, I’d honestly probably put this in the teen section. Not for censorship of the topic, I think that younger readers might not be able to comprehend how horrible everything is.

Books, Growth and Personal Affirmation

I have this friend, I’m going to call her “Laura”, that I’ve gotten very close with over the last year and she’s really helped me figure out who I am and what I want out of life. I highly recommend all of you get you a friend like Laura, hell, get a whole group of Laura’s who support and love you because sometimes you are your biggest critic and the little hater inside yourself (to quote Jay Smooth). The reason I mention this is because I somehow managed to not blog about my new favorite book. The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat. I read it in, I think 2016 when I was on my light reading kick, and it’s one of those books about some really messed up situations, written hilariously, but the key component to the book is the friendship between the main characters, Barbara Jean, Odette and Clarice. This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and if you’re black you might get whiplash to overhearing your mom/aunts/sisters throwing shade in the kitchen after a family meal.

In my post in February (I’ve been terrible about this whole blogging thing) I listed a series of goals and you’ll be proud to know I’ve completed the following:

  • Moved
  • Led a book discussion (on The Hate U Give)
  • Begun work on one of my scholarly publications
  • Started a new job
  • Am continuing to live my best life

This isn’t really a post about a book, but I think it goes very well my post The Importance of Light Reading. Self Care isn’t just about yourself, it’s about letting those around you support you, uplift you, to lean on you in your times of need and remind you that you are enough, just as you are.

2018 Goals

This is a combination of personal, professional, blog and book goals.

  1. Host at least one book discussion
  2. Post at least 6 blog posts by December 31st, 2018
  3. Begin work on 2 scholarly publications
  4. Read 50 books (with at least 25 being authors of color and/or LGBTQA+ and/or feature a protagonist of color and/or an LGBTQA+ – preferably both)
  5. Complete work on the Bethel church project
  6. Start a new job
  7. Move
  8. Read 3 books the year they were published
  9. Read 5 books I got at a conference
  10. Continue to live my best life.

The Importance of “Light” Reading

While I have a post on the importance of Net Neutrality in the works I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that has been on my mind lately: Self-Care and the importance of light reading. Those of you who have been reading me since my original Fifty Books by Authors of Color project know I have a tendency to read very serious (and often depressing) books. This is something that both my husband and my friend Lauren have pointed out to me on multiple occasions. This year, while I haven’t posted about it, I’ve been working on incorporating “light” reading into my routine.

Audre Lord said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” and one of my goals for 2017 was focusing on self-care and self-love. This is the part where I have to make a confession, readers, one that I’m kind of ashamed to admit. I’d never read a Terry McMillan book. There, I said it. It’s out in the open now. Now before you cast me out, I have seen Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back several times, but never actually read one of her books. I don’t have any particular reason for never reading her books, I suppose if someone asked me I probably would have said that her books were for people at a different life stage than me.

I recently picked up I Almost Forgot About You, McMillan’s 2016 book and I love it. I’ll do a post on it alone, but I’ve realized that in the last two years I’ve increased the amount of “chick-lit” that I read. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that McMillan is “chick-lit” but I’ve found that I have a desire to read “fluffy black books”, books about black women living their lives to the fullest. Books that might have serious/dark/depressing parts, but overall focus on the adventure of life and not the struggle.

I think having books like Ernesssa T. Carter’s 32 Candles, where black women are the central characters, but with the same tonality of a Jennifer Crusie is an important part of self-care for black women. It’s important to have works of literature where black women can make mistakes in life, pick the pieces and have none of it be Earth-shatteringly serious. We deserve books that make us laugh, books about our trails and tribulations as people. It’s not self-indulgence, it’s political warfare.

On James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room and Staying in my Lane

I recently reread Jame’s Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, a novel that even though I know how it ends, always brings me to tears. I wanted to write this long post talking about bi-sexuality and homosexual and it’s relation to blackness and alienation. While David, in Giovanni’s Room is a white blonde American man and Giovanni is Italian, Giovanni’s Room is inexplicitly tied to the blackness and sexuality of James Baldwin.

This book always leaves me with so many questions, will David forever be wracked with guilt over his abandonment of Giovanni?

Will he ever find happiness and his true-self?

I always come back to critiques that declare David wholly a homosexual male. We know from David’s life that he’s had many sexual encounters with women, that he plans to marry Hella, that he was, until meeting Giovanni, happy(ish) with Hella.

But then I sit here, neither a homosexual male or bisexual male and am reminded that while this is an important conversation to be had, it’s not one that I as a black woman should be leading. I can talk to you about the need to feel acceptance. How toxic masculinity is a recurring theme in this book in how it impacts men with the idea that they are supposed to marry women and have babies and anything outside of that is the norm. This is a book about social alienation and while I can write about that from my perspective as a black woman – it’s not the same experience Baldwin had when he wrote the book.

So I’m going to post this as a “conversations I’d like to participate in, but not lead” because sometimes as a blogger, you need to know when to stay in your lane. Who knows, you might get a guest blog from someone more educated on the subject.

Survivor: Octavia Butler’s “Star Trek” Book

Readers, it’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been reading and thinking, but sometimes it’s hard to sit down and get the words out. Lucky for you, my blog got a face-lift and you get a post on a rare, Octavia Butler novel: Survivor

Originally published in 1978, Butler was later so unhappy with the book, that Survivor is one the only book that Butler refused to allow to be republished. She said in an interview with

When I was young, a lot of people wrote about going to another world and finding either little green men or little brown men, and they were always less in some way. They were a little sly, or a little like “the natives” in a very bad, old movie. And I thought, “No way. Apart from all these human beings populating the galaxy, this is really offensive garbage.” People ask me why I don’t like Survivor, my third novel. And it’s because it feels a little bit like that. Some humans go up to another world, and immediately begin mating with the aliens and having children with them. I think of it as my Star Trek novel (Source).

I think this is important, and while I see Butler’s point in regard to how “the natives” are viewed as being “less than” their human counterparts, I think Butler does a great job of showing us deeply flawed humans who only think they are superior to the native population. The story surrounds Alanna, a human of mixed Black and Asian ancestry and three groups: The Missionaries, a group of humans who have escaped Earth on a Clayark ship, the Tehkohn and the Garkohn, two factions of the warring Kohn species. The Kohn are a furred species who have a natural hierarchy based on the color of their fur. Their fur changes color based on emotion or for communication.

The story surrounds Alanna as she moves between the three groups, trying to make peace but there are some really important underlying themes that I think are worth mentioning. There’s transracial and transspecies adoption and I think that this is a way in which Butler makes the humans extremely flawed. Even though they are on an Alien world and have escaped from mental slavery at the hand of Patternists, they’re still pretty racist. Before the story beginning Alanna’s parents are killed by wild Clayarks, and the white humans who adopt her declare her an outcast because she’s of mixed background. On the one hand when reading this, I had a knee jerk “but it’s the future that shouldn’t matter”, but then I remember that it’s 2017 and yeah, I can believe it.

The human’s view the Garkohn and the Tehkohn as being barbaric and uncivilized, and while both have their own class systems based off of fur-coloring and profession, all are viewed as necessary. Their treatment of Alanna is very interesting in this regard, while physically she is othered she’s still able to work and live among them and gain levels of trust and status. This brings up the second theme that I think Butler executed very well: Assimilation. While assimilation might not be something a lot of people think about, Ihink that it’s something we all do. This could be something as simple as code-switching when talking to family or like Alanna does, fully immersing yourself into the culture. Learning everything you can, working side-by-side and living as one of them. This isn’t to say that Alanna doesn’t experience discrimination because she’s human, but she is allowed a level of autonomy, acceptance and respect that the humans don’t give her.

While Alanna doesn’t fall into the stereotype of the ever-sacrificing black woman, she does sacrifice a lot to save the Missionaries, the only thing she refuses to sacrifice is her own happiness, which leads to her ultimate rejection.

Overall, I think this is a very well nuanced work of art and while it isn’t my favorite of her work, I think it’s definitely an important part of African-American Science Fiction and Afro-Futurism.

2015 In Review

2015 has been an amazing year – even if it hasn’t been as well reflected in my blog. I’ve almost, ALMOST hit my goal of 50 non-school related reads for the year, but with only a few weeks remaining I decided I should start my year in review post now.

The Personal:

Big news for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Livejournal, I got engaged on July 4th! So a lot of the time I would have spent updating this blog has been spent wedding planning. Who am I kidding, I’m terrible at keeping this thing updated. Maybe my goal for next year will be fifty blog posts in a year.

Blogging for me is a multi-fold sneaky hate spiral, full of “why am I writing about this, no one cares” and “you should really be doing something like homework, or housework”. I think my goal for 2016 should be to blog for the same reasons I read, personal fulfillment. Anyways, on to the books!

The Books:

I read books differently now, it’s very evident that my year of reading books by authors of color really impacted how I select books to read and how representation really does matter to me in my enjoyment of a book. While I still don’t read a lot of non-fiction, the non-fiction I did read was thought provoking.

I’m also a member of several book clubs, the student group that I’m president of has a monthly book club, a Facebook based one called Bookretorts, and Reading Between the Wines, which have also impacted the books I’ve read this year.

Next year my friend Alana and I are doing Survivor: An Octavia E. Butler Book Club (message me for details).

Best Books:

Americanah by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie

While the book focuses on the relationship between Ifemelu and Obinze what I loved about it was the fact that it was unapologetically black. Ifemelu has relationships like I’ve had, goes to the hair salon and has similar experiences to what I have, and writes a blog that I’d read in a heartbeat. I’ve recommended this book to so many women (especially black women) because in addition to being well written it really has a level of heart, soul and passion that I related to.

Earlier this year I’d read Purple Hibiscus and I was amazed at how the dialog and verbiage changes so drastically between the books. It made me realize how skilled an author Adichie is, in Purple Hibiscus  the dialog seems stilted because the characters are, Americanah is silk because Ifemelu and Obinze are.

Overall Rating: 5/5

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

I joke that one day when my life has settled down I’m going to read nothing for a year but Margaret Atwood books. The Heart Goes Last reminds me of why I say that. The characters are engaging, even if they aren’t always likable (I’m looking at you Stan)  – but Atwood manages to make characters that are like that so well. You root for them to win, but also to get knocked down a few pegs.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by John Krakauer

One of my favorite things about Krakauer is that his non-fiction books still read as a novel – a depressing novel – but I knew that going into it. This is a hard book to read especially when you realize that Missoula isn’t an oddity, it’s the norm. In December of 2014 the Department of Justice released a report that estimates 110,000 women between the ages of 18 and 24 are raped each year, Krakauer explores a few cases in Missoula that I feel demonstrate why women can be so hesitant to step forward.

Stephen King – Finders Keepers and The Library Policeman

I like Stephen King as a person, and I honestly liked this book more than Mr. Mercedes. The writing is strong, the characters are likable. Though I feel like Jerome and his alter-ego “Tyrone Feelgood Delite” is the unfortunate result of someone showing Stephen King the Urban Dictionary entry for Code-Switching. I’m not saying that young black men don’t code-switch , I’m just saying it didn’t ring true to me, a person who actually does code-switch.

The Library Policeman however is King in the creepy-zone. It’s an older work, from his Three Past Midnight collection but I hadn’t read it before. Just ok, not my favorite but I think that when I want creepy I’m more likely to turn to King’s son, Joe Hill and stick to King for his sagas like The Dark Tower series.

Coming Up:

Christmas with the soon to be in-laws! Nostalgia Reads: My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews, and “books I missed when I was a kid” featuring Alanna: The First Adventure.


January – September Book Round Up

2015 January to September Book Round Up

Warning, this post contains Harry Potter Spoilers, if you haven’t read them, what’s wrong with you?

2015 had been the year of the reread. Knowing that I’d be visiting Scotland in March of 2015 I decided to start rereading Harry Potter back in December. I hadn’t reread Harry Potter so it was a fun experience, especially when you know that in a few months you’ll be at Kings Cross. It took FOREVER, and reading Harry Potter as an adult compared to the young teenager I was when I first started reading the series is very different. But I’ll be honest, you can read a lot of Harry Potter reviews and so all I’ll say only the few things:

  • Severus Snape is as romantic as Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, so not at ALL.
  • Severus Snape shouldn’t be allowed around children, his treatment of Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter should have ended in a call to the Ministry of Magical Child Welfare.
  • Molly Weasley and Minerva McGonagall are the best adult characters.
  • Nymphadora Tonks is a seriously underrated character.
  • The death of Fred Weasley impacted me more than I thought. I wanted to put the book down because I knew it was coming, but yeah, I cried and I’m not ashamed of that.

There are however, some books I’ve read this year that I am kind of ashamed to admit that I’ve read.

Title: Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth and Christopher’s Diary: Echos of Dollanganger

Author: V.C. Andrews

Rating: 2/5 for both

These books are bad. I wasn’t expecting much, it’s V.C. Andrews’ after all but after the success of the Lifetime movie versions of Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind, and If There Be Thorns, I wanted to give the new books put out by the ghost writer a chance. The Christopher’s Diary books show just how disconnected from what the Ghostwriter would probably call “kids today” while complaining about how music today doesn’t compare. The writing style is fine, but the verbiage is very “kids don’t talk like that”. I wanted a lot more dirt than is actually included but I have to remind myself that in Flowers in the Attic had very little sex in it.


I attended the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Chicago and one of the really amazing thing is that as a library affiliate you can get books before they are published to read and review.

Title: Finding Jake

Author: Bryan Reardon

Rating: 3/5

I liked this book, it reminded me of We Need to Talk About Kevin for obvious reasons and honestly I think the signage at Midwinter even reference Shriver’s book. It focuses on the relationship of Jake’s parents before and after a school shooting but it seemed emotionally empty, that may have been the point but it didn’t feel like I was reading about love that had changed and faded, that I was instead reading about one that existed between two people with the emotional range of teaspoons. I wanted it to be We Need to Talk About Kevin and it wasn’t.

Title: Pretty Baby

Author: Mary Kubica

Rating: 4/5

This book is not Gone Girl but I feel like it maybe got published because of the popularity of Gone Girl. That said, I actually liked this book a lot, it was well written, gripping and heavy – but not mind bending. The point-of-view changes can be jarring but overall I liked this book and will check out more by Kubica.

The Series:

I’m not counting Harry Potter or the Christopher’s Diary books.

Title: Smoke

Author: Ellen Hopkins

Rating: 3/5

When I read Burned a few years ago I didn’t expect a sequel and I don’t think Hopkins ever expected to write one. It continues the story of Pattyn Von Stratten and her sister Jackie after the murder of their father. Pattyn is on the run and Jackie is consumed with guilt. It’s written in Hopkins standard prose style and by now I’m starting to wonder if she’s capable of writing in a different style. The story is engaging, sad but not unusual for Hopkins. It’s a safe read if you’ve liked others by her.

Title: Just One Night

Author: Gayle Forman

Rating: 4/5

This was one of the first books I read of 2015 as I read it during the snow storm that hit ALA Midwinter in Chicago. This novella is a companion to Just for Day and its sequel Just for One year. It follows Allyson and Willem as they find each other again. It’s not as magical as the first two books in the series and seems like it lacks emotion, but hey, I was in a pretty bleak emotional place when I read it so I’ll admit I might be biased. It works a lot on coincidence, she as here then, he was here then, they were both here when, etc, but it works well for this type of book.

Title: Fairest:

Author: Marissa Meyer

Rating: 4/5

I want Winter to be published NOW. I read this on a plane to Arizona and while it helped satisfy my desire to finish the Lunar Chronicles it did not sate it at ALL. I like the idea of getting to understand how Levana has become the woman she has, to understand the hurt that she feels. But I feel like this trend of getting to know the “bad” guy is getting stagnant and I really wanted it to get back to the main story. I can’t wait for Winter to come out though.

The European Reads:

Technically I read Pretty Baby while I was in Scotland but since it’s an ARC I’m counting it there:

Title: Aftermath

Author: Levar Burton

Rating: 3/5

So I really like Levar Burton, so much so that I’m trying to figure out how to send him a wedding invitation. That said, I liked Aftermath, you can really feel the influence of Octavia Butler on his writing style and the story idea. It was like reading a side novel to the Parable series that she wrote. Disturbing, engaging, and kept me entertained the first few hours of my loooooooong flight to Edinburgh.

Title: And the Mountain’s Echoed

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Rating: 3/5

I’m not going to lie, I finished reading this book in a hotel room in London. The room was a 4th floor walkup that my friend and I got for a steal. It was a good read – but not my favorite Hosseini book. It was lighter than the other two books of his that I’ve read. That said, I was able to see Hosseini talk as the 2015 McFadden Lecturer and he was amazing. Answered a lot of interesting questions and seemed like an amazing guy.

The Best:

 Title: Americanah

Author: Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie

Rating: 7/5

Yes, you read that right, I rated a book higher than my out of five scale. This is one of the best books I’ve read, hands down. I recently finished reading the short We Should All Be Feminists but Americanah is one of the best books I’d read in the last five years. Adichie manages to be about so little but so much. The observations she makes in the blog are really apt and it was a really excellent book to read.

Title: This is How You Lose Her

Author: Junot Diaz

Rating: 5/5

I really loved this collection of short stories. Diaz manages to make this book about different characters but all are relatable (but not necessarily likeable). He’s probably one of my favorite “new” authors. I like his writing style and I liked this book a lot.

The Oddity of 2015:

 I’ve dubbed this year “the year of the reread” because I addition to Harry Potter, I’ve reread several favorites such as Beloved by Toni Morrison, Stardust by Neil Gaiman and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I’m a big re-reader of books but this year was probably one where I reread the most books when I had access to a library. I still plan on doing “The Year of Atwood”, a year in which I rearead my favorite works by Margaret Atwood. I’ve had a lot go on in both my academic and personal life, most of it good.

So what’s coming up: More book reviews (I always promise this but really I mean it), some non-fiction about my life and where I am career-wise.  It’s October 5th and I read 40 of my 50 book goals for 2015, so expect at least 10 more posts.

Coming Up: Stephen King’s Finders Keepers, Game of Thrones and me trying to get through my ALA Midwinter Arcs.