Transcendent Kingdom [Book Review]

September 18, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (cover) Image: gold text over a light pink (top) and black (bottom) background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Faith and Science, Drug Addiction, Ghana-American, Immigrant

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

While Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is the multi-generational big picture of a family over three hundred years, Transcendent Kingdom is a microscopic look at one Ghanaian family in Alabama. Their son, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died from a heroin overdose as a result of being addicted to pain meds after an accident. Dad returns to Ghana and Mom becomes severely depressed. The beginning of the story finds the daughter, Gifty, at Standford Medical School studying depression and addiction as she desperately hopes to find answers that will help others in similar situations. At the same time Gifty studies the hard sciences she also questions her faith and the religious experiences of her childhood. This is a story of immigration, faith, science, questions, and family devotion.

My Thoughts:

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Killers of the Flower Moon [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 23, 2020

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, a story of true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (cover) Image: White text over a burnt orange and goldish moonlit sky .... a tall oil derrick is silouetted by the moon

Genre/Categories: Narrative Nonfiction, Osage, Native Americans, True Crime, U.S. History, Racial Injustice

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

My Summary:

Killers of the Flower Moon is a true-crime murder mystery involving the wealthy Osage Indian Nation of Oklahoma in the 1920s. After oil was discovered beneath the wasteland that they had been forced to live on, the Osage became extremely rich. However, one by one, members of the Osage began to die under suspicious circumstances, or as some believed to be killed off. To introduce readers to this community and the crime, the author closely follows the story of Mollie Burkhart and her family.  It was dangerous to investigate the murders because investigators could also die under mysterious circumstances. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly formed F.B.I. took up the case.  The F.B.I also experienced difficulty in the investigation until J. Edgar Hoover enlisted Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, to form an undercover team to unravel the mystery. White’s team (which included a Native American) infiltrated the region and employed the latest modern techniques of investigation. This story tells whether or not they were able to expose one of the most monstrous and heinous crimes in American history.”

Continue here for my full review of Killers of the Flower Moon

QOTD: Have you read Killers of the Flower Moon or is it on your TBR?

The Mountains Sing [Book Review]

July 10, 2020

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Family Life, Vietnamese

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Mountains Sing is a multi-generational story of the Tran family told in dual timelines and points of view. We learn about the 20th Century history of Viet Nam as events are integrated into the personal family story. Present-day events are told by the granddaughter and the family’s backstory is told by the grandmother. The story is filled with rich historical details, vivid descriptions, and lyrical writing. We experience the history of Viet Nam from the viewpoint of the Vietnamese people and specifically from the viewpoint of the Tran family. A compelling story of ordinary, beautiful people and a country torn apart by war.

My Thoughts:

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The Vanishing Half: [Book Review]

June 3, 2020

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Sisters, Complicated Family Drama, Own Voices

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Vignes sisters are twins. They are light-skinned black girls, identical, and inseparable. They endure a childhood trauma, are forced to leave high school early and go to work, and eventually leave home (run away) together at sixteen. From that point, everything changes. The future finds them estranged. Desiree escapes an abusive marriage and returns to her small southern hometown to live with her mom and her dark child. This is difficult because the town celebrates light-skinned blacks and Desiree’s dark-skinned daughter, Jude, faces racism within the black community. Stella decides to pass as white which means that she completely cuts ties with her past and her family. The Vanishing Half begins in the 1950s and concludes in the 1990s with the next generation (Desiree’s and Stella’s daughters).

My Thoughts:

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Nonfiction/Fiction Books and Racial Injustice #amplifyblackvoices #throwbackthursday

June 4, 2020

Nonfiction/Fiction and Racial Injustice #amplifyblackvoices #throwbackthursday

Nonfiction & Fiction Books: Racial Injustice (Image: white text over a background of books stacked tall on a blue wooden table)

Image Source: Canva

As the U.S. (and perhaps your corner of the world) focuses on anti-racism this week, you might be thinking about your reading life, too. Honoring the work of POC authors and hearing stories of injustice and oppression is one small step in the work of anti-racism. As I thought about the tragic events of this week and the protests, I pondered what my small role might be? One contribution I can make is to share some of my favorite diverse reads and encourage you to experience life from a different perspective through these works that include themes of racial injustice (not all authors are POC). As part of #throwbackthursday, this is an updated post that was originally published on November 11, 2019.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these posts, and today I’m re-sharing my list of nonfiction and fiction reads with a racial injustice theme. I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

If you are looking to diversify your reading, I hope this post is helpful.

This week is an opportunity to amplify black voices in literature, build understanding and compassion from a different perspective, and to share recommendations.

***A note of clarification: not all authors are POC

Nonfiction Recommendations on the topic of Racial Injustice:

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

just mercy

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (a personal experience) (MG)

Brown Girl Dreaming

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

There is also a version for younger readers.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (cover)

Tattoos On the Heart by Gregory Doyle

Tattoos on the Heart

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (cover)

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis (The Three Doctors) (MG)

we beat the street

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

Seven Fallen Feathers.jpg

THANKS!

Many of you have left recs on this post, the original post, and on my Instagram account, so I’m compiling them here:

Recommendations From Readers:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice by Anthony Ray Hinton
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
The Undefeated by Kwame Aleander (picture book)
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (poetry)
Dear Church: A Love Letter From a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S. by Lenny Duncan
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Bryan at Still an Unfinished Person Blog posted a list of books on the topic of race in America.

….list in progress….


Fiction and Racial Injustice

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper

Have I listed a few of your favorites?
Do you have recommendations to add?



QOTD

I know you can help me add to this list!
I’d love to hear your suggestions for a nonfiction or fiction book that addresses the topic of racial injustice.



Happy Reading Book Friends!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

The book cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Clap When You Land: [Book Review]

May 22, 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (cover) Image: split image of two young Hispanic girl

Genre/Categories: YA contemporary fiction, novel in free verse, family secrets, siblings, grief, diversity

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Papi and his two families…

Papi spends summers in the Dominican Republic with his daughter, Camino, and her aunt who is Camino’s guardian since Camino’s mother died. Papi spends the remainder of the year in New York City with his wife and daughter, Yahaira. Camino and Yahaira do not know about each other and they both love their Papi. One day, Papi’s plane crashes as he’s on his way to the Dominican Republic and the girls find out about each other. Should they get acquainted? Should they even meet? Can they become true sisters? Can the families forgive Papi and embrace new family members?

In case you might want to know, Acevedo always includes LGBTQ representation in her stories.

My Thoughts:

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#throwbackthursday Refugee by Alan Gratz [Book Review]

May 7, 2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Refugee by Alan Gratz.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (cover) Image: a small child with back to camera in a small red rowboat on a stormy ocean

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade through Adult, Historical Fiction, Global Issues, Refugees

My Summary:

“Refugee is the relevant story of the refugee experience from three unique perspectives:

  • 12/13-year-old Josef and family are Jewish and attempt to escape Nazi Germany in 1938 aboard a ship bound for a country(Cuba) that will accept them.
  • 12-year-old Isabel and family are Cuban and flee riots and unrest in Cuba in 1994 on a homemade raft pointed toward safety in Miami, Florida.
  • 12-year-old Mahmoud and family are Syrian and seek to escape war-torn Aleppo in 2015 and relocate to Germany.

Even though these families are separated by continents and decades, their stories share certain similarities. Each journey is fraught with harrowing adventures, frustration, courage, resiliency, heartache, injustice, persecution, dangers, children assuming adult roles and responsibility, loss of childhood innocence and joy, and loss of family members. However, the families have hope that drives them forward. Amazon Rating (May): 4.8 Stars (This is a very high rating in which 85% of the stars are in the 5 star category.)”

“See us, he thought. Hear us. Help us.”

Continue reading my review of Refugee to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Refugee or is it on your TBR?

#throwbackthursday The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

April 16, 2020

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as well as sharing several of my favorite diverse reads. Have you read THUG or seen the movie?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (cover) Image: an African American girl holdinga large white poster with the book title

Genre/Categories: YA Contemporary Fiction, African-American

My Summary:

“Our sixteen-year-old main character, Starr, lives in a poor inner-city neighborhood and her mother drives her to an upper-middle-class private school miles across town for her education. Starr’s parents can afford to move out of the poorer neighborhood, but her dad, a former gang member and convict, believes it’s important to stay in the neighborhood to help solve the problems there and to be a role model and support for the young African-American males who desire to leave the gang life and pursue better options. Starr’s mother would like to move across town to the middle class more diverse neighborhood where Starr and her siblings attend a (predominately white) private school and where the family attends a “diverse” church “(she nicknames it “the diverse church). Starr manages to live between her two worlds of the Williamson private school crowd and her neighborhood friends. This causes her some stress because she feels she can’t totally be herself in either place. One night Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend by a police officer. The officer-involved shooting and her friend’s death make national headlines. Starr is faced with opinions and actions from both sides. Some reporters and private school friends say that the victim was a thug and perhaps a gang member and drug dealer and deserved to die. Friends in the neighborhood, including Starr who really knew the victim, defend him. As Starr faces her role as a witness, interrogation by the DA, involvement in protests, and publicity, she and her family also endure intimidation by the local drug lord (because if she testifies, she might incriminate him). Starr summons up all her courage so that her testimony and answers are honest and truthful to the best of her ability. What she says could endanger her life and cause further protests in the community. How will she use her voice?”

Click here to continue reading my review of The Hate U Give (plus more recommendations for diverse reads)….

QOTD: Have you read The Hate U Give or is it on your TBR?

American Dirt [Book Review]

April 10, 2020

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (cover)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Suspense, Family Drama, Migrant, Mother/Child, Hispanic

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Lydia, her journalist husband, and their young son live a comfortable, middle-class life in Acapulco, Mexico. Lydia and her husband are following their dreams: Lydia owns a bookshop while her husband writes investigative pieces that expose gang crime in the area. One day Lydia unknowingly befriends a charming bookshop customer who turns out to be the head of the newest drug cartel that has taken over the city. Her friendship with Javier sets in motion a tragic sequence of events that force Lydia and her eight-year-old son to flee for their lives.

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: American Dirt

 March 10, 2020

1st Line/1st Paragraph

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

Open book on the sand with a blurred out ocean background: words: First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros

I’m pleased to share the first paragraph of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Is this on your TBR or have you read it?

Amazon Summary:

“Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia―trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?


American Dirt

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (author)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Migrants, Hispanic

1st Line/1st Paragraph From Chapter One:

“One of the very first bullets comes in through the open window above the toilet where Luca is standing. He doesn’t immediately understand that it’s a bullet at all, and it’s only luck that it doesn’t stike him between the eyes. Luca hardly registers the mild noise it makes as it flies past and lodges into the tiled wall behind him. But the wash of bullets that follows is loud, booming and thudding, clack-clacking with helicopter speed. There is a raft of screams, too, but that noise is shortlived, soon exterminated by the gunfire. Before Luca can zip his pants, lower the lid, climb up to look out, before he has time to verify the source of that terrible clamor, the bathroom door swings open and Mami is there.”

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding American Dirt because it wasn’t written by an “own voices” author. Some reviewers support a boycott and others encourage reading it and have given it excellent reviews. Well aware of the controversy, my IRL book club elected to read it. In case you’re interested, here are two links that discuss the controversy from different perspectives:

American Dirt Controversy Explained

To Read or Not to Read



QOTD:

Is American Dirt on your TBR?



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
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Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.