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review 2017-07-10 22:12
Sarah Phillips by Andrea Lee
Sarah Phillips - Andrea Lee

This is a very well-written book, clear and evocative, and I particularly liked the early chapters, which evoke suburban childhood summers and follow the young protagonist through her first encounters with race. Sadly, the later part of the book didn’t jive as well for me, though the writing is equally good. The chapters are episodic to the point that it resembles a short story collection more than a novel (some of them appear to have been published independently), which I wasn’t expecting. It was also odd, given that this is presented as a semi-autobiographical work and people who meet the narrator identify her as black, to see a picture of the author – she looks vaguely southern European, perhaps Hispanic, and I struggled to reconcile that with a book about coming of age as an upper-middle-class African-American woman. (I realize that a portion of the author's heritage is African-American and she identifies as such, but that seems to me a vastly different experience from actually looking black.) At any rate, though it didn’t all quite come together for me in the way I expected, this is an elegantly-written and complex work with realistic, nuanced characters, certainly worth the relatively short time it takes to read.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-06-16 19:57
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel - Colson Whitehead

This book was horribly sad, it tore my heart open repeatedly. I don't usually read books like this but it was chosen for a book club I wanted to attend. I couldn't even get through the first page without crying. I had to put it down to rest my heart. I never made it to that book club meeting.

 

I know it is fiction and one major detail was changed but that didn't take away from the story. I know that the majority of the book was close enough to the real thing and the terror that people endured was just as real. I have read about the horrible things that humans did to other humans because of the color of their skin and it is heart-rending. I wish it all could be considered fiction but the sad truth is that this horrible story was a reality for too many souls. There is language that I like to avoid but in this book, it is part of the reality.

 

I feel wounded now and think I'll go back to reading total nonsense fiction.  

 

Spoiler below

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review 2017-05-19 13:32
Podcast #46 is up!
Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen - Linda M. Heywood

My forty-sixth podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Linda Heywood about her new biography of Ninjinga of Ndongo and Matamba, one of the badass women rulers of the early modern world. Enjoy!

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review 2017-05-14 15:58
For the Absolute Beginner
African Flower Crochet: The Absolute Beginners Guide - Learn How To Do Basic African Flower Hexagon - Grace Roth

I have been knitting for 10 years (self-taught), I have been crocheting for 41 years (self-taught) and cross stitching for over 20 years (taught by a friend). I am currently learning how to sew (with a sewing machine) and books, with my children (homeschooled) and we are working on simple things at the moment. 

 

I love to buy books that teach new techniques for crochet, knitting or cross stitch and read them as fast as I can. I was disappointed with this book as the author states that chaining 5 and connecting at the beginning is a magic circle. Since this was how I had always made starts in my amigurumi creations, I found this interesting as I had learned about 5 years ago how to make a magic circle and it looked like this and was not happy with that bit of misinformation. 

 

The next problem I had was that you have to read through a lot of descriptions to find out each step on how to make the African Flower. While this would be good for a very early beginner, it would have helped (since I had wanted to make an African Flower) to have the instruction and then the description of what she wanted people to do. I lost interest quickly and decided to keep searching for another pattern. If she rewrites this book, I will gladly look at it again, but I will be deleting it from my Amazon account and from my Kindle (it was free). 

 

If you are an absolute beginner, check out the book, but if not make your own decision. 

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review 2017-05-14 01:56
Sabbath Roots: The African Connection
Sabbath Roots : The African Connection - Charles E. Bradford

The observance of the seventh-day Sabbath has been a contentious issue amongst many Christians for centuries in Europe and North America, but one place that may startle many is that it has been the same in Africa.  In his book Sabbath Roots: The African Connection, Charles E. Bradford brings to light many tribal and cultural customs from across the continent giving the reader evidence of the memory and observance of the seventh-day Sabbath from all corners of Africa.

 

With over 2000 years of Biblical history as well as cultural studies of hundreds of tribes across an entire continent as well as the African diaspora to the Americas, Bradford had many sources to navigate and reference to give readers a sense of how Africans fit into the continuing debate on the Sabbath.  Beginning with how God is seen from the Biblical prophets and how He is perceived in the minds of Africans on both the continent and diaspora, Bradford brings to light where each stands to the other.  Afterwards, he delves into the subject of the Sabbath on the African continent in relation to God and to cultures in and outside of Africa.  Finally Bradford turns his attention to the history of Christianity on the continent, with a main focus on colonial period which it was considered both a forced religion from the outside and a religion of protest from foreign occupation.

 

In roughly 230 pages, Bradford had to cover a lot over a wide scope of scholarship and while he did a remarkable job in an engaging text and strong use of numerous sources there was only so much he could do and does leave readers with questions.  The biggest and most important issue deals with the Sabbath itself.  Outside the well-known Black Jewish groups, the Falasha and the Lemba, and writing briefly about the Jewish diaspora in Africa, Bradford does indicate if the cultural and tribal traditions of the seventh-day Sabbath across the continent are all from Jewish contact or a mixture of Noahide memory and contact with Jewish influences.  This lingering question while not invalidating Bradshaw’s thesis, does leave it up to interpretation.

 

Although the question of when Sabbath entered into the cultural traditions of tribes all over Africa is unanswered, Sabbath Roots is still a very welcome addition to information about the seven-day Sabbath.  But Bradshaw’s book should only be considered an introduction, especially in relation to Africa, and should inspire readers to look for more information after reading.

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