Last Summer on State Street [Book Review]

June  13, 2022

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe (cover) Image: black text over a colorful graphic of large apartment buildings

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary “Own Voices” Fiction, Coming of Age, Friendship, Gang Life, Poverty, Family Life, Chicago Housing Projects, African American Women’s Fiction, Diverse Reads

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #Netgalley @WmMorrowBooks @WilliamMorrowBooks for a complimentary e ARC of #LastSummerOnStateStreet upon my request. All opinions are my own.

In 1999, twelve-year-old Fe Fe Stevens lives with her mother and older brother in the 4950 Building of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes, and her high rise is next in line to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. Fe Fe and her three friends attempt to stay away from the gangs and all the danger in their community by playing a lot of double dutch (jump rope), hiding from bullets, and avoiding crack addicts. They find safety at school, church, and with some of their mothers and trusted adult friends. As the girls begin to lose their childhood innocence, it becomes more difficult to avoid the realities of life and the girls begin going their separate ways.

My Thoughts:

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Secret Daughter [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

June 2, 2022

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
#throwbackthursday

 

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (cover) Image: a young mom and daughter stand on a beach with backs to camera overlooking a body of water one arm around the other

Genre/Categories/Setting: contemporary fiction, adoption, cultural heritage, family life, mothers/daughters, Asian, Asian American, India

Welcome to Throwback Thursday where I highlight an older review or post a current review of an old read. Today, I’m re-sharing a poignant story of mothers and daughters, Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Secret Daughter is a compelling story of adoption from three perspectives: Kavita, the mother who gives up her newborn daughter to an orphanage in Mumbai in hopes of saving her daughter’s life; Somer, a heartbroken, newly married physician in San Francisco who, upon hearing the news she cannot have children, decides to adopt; and Asha, Somer’s adopted daughter from Mumbai, India.

This story reminds me of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.

What would you risk to ensure that your newborn daughter has the right to live?

Continue here for my full review of Secret Daughter…



QOTD:

Have you read Secret Daughter or is it on your TBR?

Black Butterflies [Book Review]

May 4, 2022
Star Wars Day
(May the 4th be with you!)

Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris

Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris (cover) Image: white text over a background of colorful graphic shapes

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Diverse Reads, Siege of Sarajevo

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks @BookSirens and the author/publisher for a complimentary eARC of #BlackButterflies upon my request. All opinions are my own.

In the spring of 1992, fifty-five year old Zora can’t imagine that the Siege of Sarajevo will last long. Her husband and elderly mother leave for England, and she stays behind to continue working as an artist and teacher. The situation deteriorates quickly and Zora has waited too long to leave. The places she loves are destroyed and black ashes float around. Zora joins with her friends to survive the days, offer comfort to each other, and find reasons to hope.

“Everything is better when done together. The taste of food and water, the touch when they hug each other hello. They’ve made it through one more day, each reunion a confirmation that they’re still alive.”

My Thoughts:

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Ghost [Book Review] #MiddleGradeMarch

March 25, 2022

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Bonus: 10+ Favorite Middle Grade Reads!

(top view) picture of a middle grade child reading on a recliner covered with a reddiish knitted afghan

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds (cover) Black text on a yellow background....a young African American boy is running off the page

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction, Diverse Reads (African-American), Sports (Track and Field)

My Summary:

Castle Cranshaw, aka “Ghost,” loves to run. One day, he challenges an elite sprinter to a race and wins which gains the attention of a track and field coach. Believing Ghost has natural talent, coach invites him to join his track team. Although Ghost can run, he also has a lot of anger, is often in trouble at school, and has a complicated family life. Can he become part of the team or will his behavior choices hold him back?

Silver running shoes

My Thoughts:

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Born a Crime [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday #BlackHistoryMonth

February 3,  2022

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
#ThrowBackThursday
#BlackHistoryMonth

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (cover)

Genre/Categories/Setting: Nonfiction, Memoir, South Africa

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling memoir, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”

“Trevor Noah’s life in Apartheid South Africa began with a crime. He was born to a white father and a black Xhosa mother. This had to be kept a secret because the relationship was punishable by five years in prison. In a racially divided country, Trevor spent most of his early childhood living behind closed doors because his light color would certainly give away the circumstances of his birth and place his parents (who were living separately) in danger. If the government discovered the circumstances of his birth, they could even take him away from his mother. At the end of Apartheid and later in his childhood, Trevor Noah faced the challenge of deciding with which group he would identify: white, black, or colored (mixed). He felt like an outsider for most of his childhood and young adult years. Trevor enjoyed a close relationship with his risk-taking, rebellious, and spiritual mother. He was intuitive and street smart but also incredibly mischievous. The essays that document his coming of age are humorous, insightful, honest, and at times disturbing.”

Compelling, humorous, gritty, and inspiring…

Continue here for my full review of Born a Crime…



QOTD:

Have you read Born a Crime or is it on your TBR?

Black Cake [Book Review]

February 1, 2022

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (cover) white text over a background of various multicolored graphic shapes

Genre/Categories: Contemporary/Historical Fiction, Complicated Family Drama, Adoption, California/Caribbean/London

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @RandomHouse for a complimentary eARC of #BlackCake upon my request. all opinions are my own.

On the occassion of their mother’s passing, Byron and Benny are left with their mother’s voice recording and specific instructions: they are to listen to it together in its entirety and in the presence of the family lawyer. In addition, they are to share the “black cake” (Caribbean rum soaked fruit cake) in the freezer when the time is right, and they’ll know when it is the right time. Byron and Benny were close as children and grew up in a loving home, but they have grown apart as adults. In fact, Benny hasn’t seen the family in twenty years. Can they overcome their bitterness and deal with the secrets their Mom shares about her history? Will a secret sibling add further complications to an already strained relationship?

a slice of black cake

My Thoughts:

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The Girl With Seven Names [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

December 9,  2021

The Girl With Seven Names: Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee
#throwbackthursday

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (cover) red and black text and a headshot of a young Asian woman

Genre/Categories/Setting: Nonfiction, Memoir, Defection, Political Freedom, North Korea

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling memoir, The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“In The Girl With Seven Names, Hyeonseo Lee shares her experience as a child growing up in a high-class family in North Korea. Her home bordered China and as she became a teenager, she grew more curious about life outside of North Korea. On an impulsive lark, she decides to cross the river and sneak into China to take a peek and to visit some distant relatives. Her plan to come right back to North Korea is derailed when she receives word that it is not safe to return. For the next few years, she lives as an illegal immigrant in China, working and quickly learning the language to survive. After twelve years, she risks everything to seek asylum in South Korea and to rescue her mother and brother from North Korea. To complete her dangerous mission, she receives help from a kind and generous stranger.”

A compelling story of escape…determination…survival…family…kindness…

Continue here for my full review of The Girl With Seven Names…



QOTD:

Have you read The Girl With Seven Names or is it on your TBR?

 

The Stationery Shop [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

November 18, 2021

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali 
#throwbackthursday

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (cover) Image: white text over a background of colorful pink and orange flowers)

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Romantic Fiction, Romance, Family Life, Iran

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a bittersweet love story, The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“In 1953, two teenagers meet in Mr. Fakhri’s Stationery Shop in Tehran. Roya loves the fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and the thick, lovely writing paper while Bahman loves Rumi’s poetry and is an activist. They share a love of poetry and continue to meet in the Stationery Shop while their romance grows. Their happy life together is complicated by family tension and political unrest.”

Complicated families…..soul mates…..resilience…..

Continue here for my full review of The Stationery Shop…



QOTD:

Have you read The Stationery Shop or is it on your TBR?

 

The Water Dancer [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

October 7, 2021

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
#throwbackthursday

The Water Dancer review

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, African-American, Slavery, Underground Railroad

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a thought provoking and compelling story, The Water Dancer by Na-Hehisi Coates.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The Water Dancer tells the engaging and powerful story of Hiram Walker who is born into slavery and who has a mysterious and magical power. He is compelled to leave his home and adopted mother as he follows his rebellious spirit and searches for freedom. Hiram connects with the Underground Railroad, masters his mysterious power, and seeks to return home on his own terms to rescue his adopted mother and his love interest.”

A powerful story with page-turning action…

Continue here for my full review of The Water Dancer…



QOTD:

Have you read The Water Dancer or is it on your TBR?

Crying in H Mart [Book Review]

October 1, 2021

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (cover) black and white text on a red backbround

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Korean-American, Grief, Mothers/Daughters, Family Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Michelle Zauner shares about her Korean-American family, her childhood and young adult years, bonding over food, her relationship with her mother, and the grief of losing her mother to cancer.

My Thoughts:

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