Book Reviews Contemporary Romance Feature Features New Releases Thrillers

I’ll Come Back for You- Charish Reid

I don’t go out of my way to spook myself if I can help it but when Charish tweeted that her next book is a Thriller/SpookFest or what us Jamaicans call a (Duppy Story) I knew I could not pass it up. Charish is a boss writer for one and  2; maybe a little adrenaline is just what I need in these low-energy days. I must say, I was thoroughly delighted; the suspense, the vivid descriptions, thaaaa romance… oh yes. 

Book Reviews Contemporary Romance New Releases

The Write Escape- Charish Reid

I’m sick of dealing with men wh can’t get their shit together. Between the ones who gaslight me and lie to my face and the ones who can’t figure out what they want, i’m sitting here looking foolish

Antonia girl, That’s exactly how I be feeling too, I totally get you. 

This book was a joy to read. Without giving too much away, Antonia described her experience as the ‘eat pray love’ for black girls at some point in the novel and I am inclined to agree with her.

Book Reviews Caribbean Authors Jamaican Authors

How to love a Jamaican- Alexia Arthurs

I don’t know if anyone is excited as I am to see Jamaicans doing ‘TINGS’ and doing things well. There’s just that warm glowing feeling you get (No, I won’t describe it as national pride) when you witness Usain Bolt beating his chest at the finish line or of Tessanne Chin belting out 4 octaves on the Voice and being announced as the winner to a screaming audience.

There is no one more Jamaican than Jamaicans living outside of Jamaica.  This book captures this perfectly and then some.

Alexia Arthurs through this collection of short stories captures the little nuances of being Jamaican perfectly. The book is a collection of 11 short stories about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. The protagonists’ stories include everything from; The light skin/Black skin contention (color-ism), Barrel children reuniting with parents abroad, a ‘Duppy’ story and an international megastar escaping the evils of fame narrowly by returning home to her mother’s arms. The emotions are diverse in this book and pull you in completely from one story to the next. One minute you are tearing up at the love so purely displayed in ‘Mash up love’ the next you are angry at the carelessness from two girls drowning in ‘slack’. Though several of the stories concentrated on the protagonists living outside of Jamaica, Arthurs is attentive and skilfully captures the theme of a person being of a place but not from it. If this book was a person walking around the streets of New York and you happened upon them, just by being in their presence without them uttering a word you would know they are “of Jamaica.”

My favorite stories from the book are as follows in order of- will re-read first.

  1. Mashup love
  2. How to love a Jamaican
  3. Slack
  4. Shirley from a small place
  5. Bad behavior
  6. Mermaid River
  7. light skinned girls and Kelly Rowlands… etc.

How to love a Jamaican

Dat woman really knew how fi love a Jamaican man…Because wat a man need more dan good food in him belly, a clean house , and someone fi hug up wid at night?

The title story is the 7th story in the book. I must admit its not my favorite but it is the story which resonates the most. It represents so accurately a huge stereotype, that of a man with a wife and an outside pickney. Here is a story of a Jamaican marriage from when they met, make a life in foreign and is now able to spend 6 months of the year in the island post-retirement. The wife is oblivious of a whole grown child outside of her marriage (or so the protagonist thinks) as he sits on a stump reliving his youth.  Arthurs so skillfully captures the mood of the protagonists so that at different points in the story the reader may feel inclined to understand the why’s of the adultery maybe even feel sorry for him even. Here is a man with a great secret wallowing in self-pity and shame even more so as a loving and loyal wife calls him ‘a good man’ on a daily basis. A man who is both a present and an absentee father seeks forgiveness and understanding from the audience because of how his wife and children would look at him if they ever found out.  If that is not true Jamaicanness I don’t know what else is.

I loved how easy it was to recognize myself in some of these stories. I love how Arthurs made it so easy for anyone to understand and appreciates the little things about being Jamaican and I can truly say this is a book that I would gladly share and encourage my friends (Farin and here) to read because it is a book that I am truly proud of.

Book Reviews Fantasy Pre Teen and Young Adults

Children of Blood and Bone- Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi did for us with this book what Ryan Coogler did for us with Black Panther. Representation. Orisha is a world of black magical people. The protagonist is black, the sidekicks are black, the king is black, the villain is black. At the core, this book is about institutionalized racism and oppression. Brilliantly written,  It was not reduced to a story where people of color are secondary or otherwise written in for diversity.

You guy!  It has a map!

I get very excited when a book starts with a Map, a family tree or any type of read-along guides.  This book starts with two of my favorite things; a map and a flashback. I was hooked.

Spoiler free roundup

In her debut novel, Tomi Adeyemi introduced us to the world of Orisha (West Africa). Orisha was once ruled by a powerful magical clan (Maji) who had powers ranging from healing to the ability to burn entire buildings to the ground. of course, wherever great power exists there will be an evil overlord. Threatened by the Maji, the king banished, imprisoned and make the use of power obsolete- well that’s if magic did not completely disappear as it did.  Enter Zelie,  a direct descendant of a Maji and a magnet for trouble. When she accidentally stumbled upon what could possibly be the resurgence of magic she is determined to be the one to bring it back. The story is centered around Zelie’s quest to bring magic back with a little help from family; brother Tzain and a rogue Princess; Amari all the while running from crowned Prince Inan who seeks the opposite, to ensure that magical stays buried. Forever.

We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengence and virtue…

This book will leave you spell-bound. The world of Orisha is painted beautifully, the characters are richly developed so much so that you will become highly invested in their victories and crashing downfalls. If you’re a fan of Avatar (The Last Airbender not the one with blue people) or the recently released Netflix animation The Dragon Prince then you will love the similarities here. A Young Adult book about magic but also about defiance, love, family, forgiveness, loyalty, and friendship.

My only complaint in this book was the budding romance between Zelie and Inan and how ‘falling in love’ was something that Adeyemi made sort of compulsory. I won’t lie, I cringed a bit at some of the dialogues between those two, something I strongly believed could’ve been deleted and not take away anything from the novel as a whole.

This debut novel certainly lives up to its hype. It a coming of age masterpiece, a rich descriptive fantasy and a book about a land where everyone is black.

Autobiographies/Biographies Book Reviews

The year of YES- Shonda Rhimes

This book has been on my MUST READ booklist since the publication year 2015. I must confess, I have not always been a fan of non-fiction. In fact, 2018 is the year I started to venture out heavily into non-fiction and especially autobiographies and I have not regretted it. There’s just something about someone sharing insecurities, struggles and success with you to allow you to realize, heck! I’m not alone in this. People are people and shit happens, even to famous people, especially the ones we think have it all together.

I can’t say I am a big fan of Grey’s Anatomy, I did, however, watch 6 seasons non-stop before I emotionally tapped out. The same trajectory with Scandal and How to get away with Murder- I watch only one episode. Still, those series are GOLD. The stories so dramatic, so poignant and ooh so good. Why am I saying this? Well, it’s a tribute to who Shonda is. She is the real life Christina Yang with a pen. She gives Christina power in the operating room, the choice to choose herself over everyone and the Badassness of not apologizing for that either. After reading The Year of Yes, this is how I now view Shonda Rhimes, the real-life version of Christina.

The Year of Yes detail an entire year in the creator’s life where for everything that she would normally say no to she said Yes instead. Things such as; giving speeches, making appearances, going to parties and dinners she have been invited to and later- YES, to self-love, YES, to choosing her career (which she describes as her soul mate) over a relationship with a great man. YES to not allowing anyone making her feel less than, that included trimming some friends who were actually not friends but an opportunist who she was blinded to previously.

This book is laugh out loud funny. I mean, I read most of it on a Delta flight somewhere over the United States sitting beside a guy who was jolted out of his sleep from my yell laugh. Lol. And I did not apologize either. This is great writing that of course, we would get from a great TV writer. The best actually. One who is painfully self-aware and is not afraid to make jokes on her account. I mean, she started out by telling us she is a liar. She makes things up. She weaves dramatic tales and we love them. Oooh how we do love them.

Then there are the great inspirational bits. The parts that make you connect with the character… ermmmm I mean Shonda.

Whole people are drawn to happy, whole people, but nothing makes a toxic person more miserable and destructive than a happy, whole person.

Also, this about the expectations society have about women and marriage. Yes!! You feminist maverick

The presence of a man at my side had people as apologetic with joy as those old videos of people seeing Michael Jackson perform live…like my street value went up because a guy wanted me…

About happiness.

Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be… Be your own narrator.

This book comes at a time when I needed it so badly.

An absolute must-read.

Autobiographies/Biographies Book Reviews

We’re going to need more wine- Gabrielle Union

I knew Gabriel Union from ‘Bring it on’ and ‘Deliver us from Eva’ long before I knew her between the pages of a book with a wine title which by the way is not mentioned in the book. hmmmm. Aaand- when I say ‘knew her’ I mean from my TV scene, you know in case you were wondering if I’m famous or…I’m rambling, anyway. What I found instead were some deep, personal stories about a woman in full acceptance and celebration of herself. A woman who is at such a point in her life where she is so comfortable in letting the world in on her secrets, her insecurities, her love, and her family.

The stories chronicled some of her childhood/teenage years growing up in Iowa, how she was the dark-skinned black girl and what that meant in that time and in that space. she introduced us to her family, her mother, and father and how she gained a bonus mom when her dad cheated- the bonus mom concept she would later on fully understand when she became a bonus mom herself with Dwayne Wade. It was so wholesome and joyful when she practically screamed on the pages about that time when she met Prince, the excitement and awe so pure and somewhat of a tribute to the late legend.

Some of my fave stories she told (And most resonating) were;

  1. ‘Code 261’ The story of how she was raped in that Payless store and the aftermath.

  2. ‘Get out my pussy’ Her not having kids and how insensitive people can be when asking not knowing of her struggles with getting pregnant and the numerous miscarriages that she have had.

  3. ‘Black girl blues’ how difficult it was for her to land roles in Hollywood as a black girl and even more so as a darker skin black girl

  4. ‘Warning: famous vaginas get itchy too’  LOL. you totally have to read this story!

I thank you, Gabrielle, for writing this book.  I get it now why the title is so apt. It is because the life you’ve lived and these snippets in stories that you have decided to share with us definitely need some wine (Red) in instances to get through, to celebrate, to ponder and for some, well, just because of a moment.

This was a very refreshing, light, funny, moving, poignant book. In the future when I am writing my autobiography I will remember this book, this is how I want people to feel when I share snippets of my life to strangers.

Autobiographies/Biographies Book Reviews

Dreams from my father- Barack Obama

I took some time in writing this review in fear that I would not be able to express fully and deeply how I felt about this book. I was afraid that in describing my opinion it would just be viewed as something someone else had already said about it or if I was to voice any unpopular less than praise opinion it would be received with disdain. Nevertheless, as with all task that I take on in life, I attacked this head on-no grey areas. It was on one of my visits back home to ST. Mary, Jamaica that I discovered this gem among my Aunt Sandra’s Books, Of course later discovered it belonged to my aunt Jennifer after I posted my current read on Facebook, but, I digress. The most loved President is also a huge hit in Jamaica and we love him as much as we love our aunty Celine Dion. I was excited to learn more about this charismatic enigma and, I was not disappointed.

In Dreams from my father, Obama shared with us his early life- pre-president, the story of his father Barack Obama Snr and his inheritance through a vividly descriptive trip to Kenya “reclaiming” his inheritance. The story of his father began at what seemed to be the end, Barack received a phone call when he was in New York that his father had died. This led him down the road to a series of stories- his origins. He backtracked to Kansas telling us about his Mother’s family, his beloved grandmother and her husband. Why and how they move to Hawaii where he was born and grew up before moving to Indonesia with his Mother’s second husband. He describes Indonesia and life lessons learned there, moving back to Hawaii where he spends the rest of his life as a child. and to their move to Hawaii where he was born. The story continued with right before law school and before his visit to Kenya, Barack went to Chicago and worked as a community organizer.

Barack (Barry as he affectionately called) had met his father once, everything else that is known about him was through the stories his mother, grandmother and grandfather told him. This larger than life charismatic enigma. A dream, a thought and in instances an idol. It was not until Obama visited Kenya with his sister, sitting down with his aunts, his father’s other wife, and other relatives that the enigma of his father unraveled. A man who left a wife and two children to go to an American University, the family savior, his father, the learned politician, the wanderer and father of many children. The man had many flaws and many redeeming qualities. He loved to dance and could make anyone fall in love with him by just his very presence. This was the man that Barack came to know on that trip to Kenya.

The writing is matter-a-fact and unsentimental. At some point, it’s as if you a reading a story by someone who is separate and apart from the story. Maybe that’s the feeling that Obama wanted to create. He wanted the reader to feel just as he does, an outsider. This is a book I had to power through on many occasions. I wouldn’t say it got boring, more as information overload especially the chapters highlighting his community work in Chicago. This portion is not to be skipped over though as it will be important to be able to draw the parallels from his time there as against some of the events which happened in Kenya. Moreover, it was in Chicago that he first met his eldest brother who is an important character highlighting the theme of family which is woven throughout.

I would recommend this book if you are a big Obama fan or if you love autobiographies. There is a lot more meat here than you would find on Wikipedia however if you are looking for feelings and sentiments don’t waste your time.

Book Reviews Thrillers

The Perfect Husband- Lisa Gardner

 

Eerily sinister. The aptest description for this one.

Imagine finding out you’re married to someone leading a double life. Now imagine that double life is him slicing and dicing attractive women with features like your own?. Oh no, it gets even more horrific. You are married to a serial killer who escaped from prison with the sole purpose of murdering you in the most heinous, graphical way. A serial killer who ‘overkills’. This was the nightmare that was Theresa Beckett’s life until she decided she needed to do something about it. Not entrusting the police to protect herself and her daughter Theresa seeks the help of a Mercenary to prepare her. As the man-hunt goes nation-wide hunting Jim Beckett, Theresa is pushing her body and mind for that ultimate showdown because she knows that when it comes to her perfect serial killer husband it’s going to be killed or be killed.

I’m not even gonna lie, this book had me sleeping with my nightlight on because after I stayed up in the wee hours of the morning finishing it, couldn’t sleep.  This is a suspense, psychological thriller that makes the hairs stand up on your arms. when you read about or watch documentaries about serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper or even the zodiac killer you feel far removed because there is usually no family or familiarity to the story. This book dispels that. You feel like you are in the story, you are shouting (in your head or maybe aloud) don’t go in there! DON’T GO IN THERE! and she does.

If you’ve read or familiar with any of Gillian Flynn’s (sharp objects, dark spaces) work then you have an idea of how Gardner weaves a thrilling plot and build complex and interesting characters. The book is advertised as suspense but very much fell into the category of a psychological thriller.

A definite recommendation from me. If you desire a spike in your Adrenalin- go for it.