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review 2017-11-15 04:17
I Wore My Blackest Hair by Carlina Duan

 

I honestly don't really understand a lot of poetry and I was hoping this book would be different, because I really do like poetry and want to "get it" better, if that makes sense.

There was pain and beauty in some of the poems, but could not get the meaning behind most of them. Maybe I'm not meant to? Poetry is very personal to the writer. If I related more to Carlina's life, would I understand them better? The writing style was different from how I see a lot of poems, very interesting, but might have been one of the factors in making it hard for me to understand.

Despite not getting most of the poems, I still really enjoyed reading this book. I like that it challenged my brain and made me think.

**Disclaimer, I won an ebook copy through a Goodreads giveaway.**

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text 2017-10-30 00:59
Exciting November New Releases TBR
Mustard Seed - Laila Ibrahim
The Austen Escape - Katherine Reay
Out of the Ordinary (Apart From the Crowd) - Jen Turano
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge
Perennials - Julie Cantrell
Secrets of Cavendon: A Novel (Cavendon Hall) - Barbara Taylor Bradford
Moonlight Over Manhattan - Sarah Morgan
A Hope Divided (The Loyal League) - Alyssa Cole
Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto - Bryan W. Van Norden,Jay L. Garfield
The Diamond Empire (A Diamonds Novel) - K'wan

I'm super excited for these reads. It's a good variety. I have very high expectations for A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole. I will need to read the first book (I do have it) An Extraordinary Union. I read The Diamond Empire last month and loved it! I gave it 4 stars. K'wan knows how to draw you in and keep you there. Moonlight Over Manhattan will be my first read by Sarah Morgan. So many readers love her books. Since I'm familiar with the works of authors Jen Turano and Katherine Reay I know these will be awesome. Over the years I've seen the works of Barbara Taylor Bradford in bookstores and have been curious about her writing. Finally, I can see why she's so beloved. The big book of the month is Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race. This book has been read widely and is being promoted everywhere. Overly hyped books scare me and I usually try to keep them for some time to not be influenced by frenzy.

 

 

November 1

 

Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation by David W. Blight

 

A Tangled Web: Mata Hari: Dancer, Courtesan, Spy by Mary W. Craig

 

 

November 7

 

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

 

Mustard Seed by Laila Ibrahim

 

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

 

Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano

 

Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto by Bryan W. Van Norden

 

 

November14

 

Perrinials by Julie Cantrell

 

 

November 21

 

Secrets of Cavendon by Barbara Taylor Bradford

 

Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

 

 

November 28

 

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sara Morgan

 

A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-26 08:16
6 Quotes from Hidden Figures that Show How Gender & Racial Discrimination Are Connected
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly

 

 

 

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 26, 2017.

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review 2017-10-13 14:39
Magic realism in the heart of darkness. A must read.
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward

Thanks to NetGalley and to Scribner for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Sometimes, I’d try to write them down, but they were just bad poems, limping down the page: Training a horse. The next line. Cut with the knees.

It stays with me, a bruise in the memory that hurts when I touch it.

I would throw up everything. All of it: food and bile and stomach and intestines and esophagus, organs all, bones and muscle, until all that was left was skin. And then maybe that could turn inside out, and I wouldn’t be nothing no more. Not this…

“Because we don’t walk no straight lines. It’s all happening at once. All of it. We are all here at once. My mama and daddy and they mamas and daddies.” Mam looks to the wall, closes her eyes. “My son.”

Both of us bow together as Richie goes darker and darker, until he’s a black hole in the middle of the yard, like he done sucked all the light and darkness over them miles, over them years, into him, until he’s burning black, and then he isn’t. There…

“Let’s go,” I say. Knowing that tree is there makes the skin on my back burn, like hundreds of ants are crawling up my spine, seeking tenderness between the bones to bit. I know the boy is there, watching, waving like grass in water.

I decided to start with some quotes (and I would happily quote the whole book, but there would be no point) because I know I could not make its language justice. This is a book about a family, three generations of an African-American family in the South and it has been compared to works by Morrison and Faulkner, and that was what made me request the book as they are among my favourite authors. And then, I kept reading about it and, well, in my opinion, they are not wrong. We have incredible descriptions of life in the South for this rural family (smells, touch, sound, sight, taste, and even the sixth sense too), we have a nightmarish road trip to a prison, with some detours, we have characters that we get to know intimately in their beauty and ugliness, and we have their story and that of many others whose lives have been touched by them.

There are two main narrators, Leonie, a young woman, mother of two children, whose life seems to be on a downward spiral. Her white partner is in prison for cooking Amphetamines, she does drugs as often as she can and lives with her parents, who look after her children, and seems to live denying her true nature and her feelings. Her son, Jojo, is a teenager who has become the main support of the family, looking after his kid sister, Michaela, or Kayla, helping his grandfather and grandmother, rebellious and more grown-up and responsible than his mother and father. Oh, and he hears and understands what animals say, and later on, can also see and communicate with ghosts. His grandmother is also a healer and knows things, although she is riddled with cancer, and his baby sister also seems to have the gift. The third narrator is one of the ghosts, Richie, who before he makes his physical (ghostly?) appearance has been the subject of a story Jojo’s grandfather has been telling him, without ever quite finishing it, seemingly waiting for the right moment to tell him what really happened. When we get to that point, the story is devastating, but so are most of the stories in the novel. Fathers who physically fight with their sons because they love an African-American woman, young men killed because it was not right that a black man win a bet, men imprisoned for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and for being the wrong race… The stories pile up and even the ghosts fight with each other to try and gain a sense of self, to try to belong.

This is magic realism at its best. As I said, the descriptions of the characters, the locations, and the family relationships are compelling and detailed. But there are elements that break the boundaries of realism (yes, the ghosts, and the style of the narration, where we follow interrupted stories, stream of consciousness, and where the living and those who are not really there are given equal weight), and that might make the novel not suitable for everybody. As beautiful as the language is, it is also harsh and raw at times, and incredibly moving.

Although it is short and, for me at least, a page turner, this is not a light read and I’d recommend approaching it with caution if you are particularly sensitive to abuse, violence, drug use, or if you prefer your stories straight, with no otherworldly interferences. Otherwise, check a sample, and do yourselves a favour. Read it. I hadn’t read any of this author’s books before, but I’ll be on the lookout and I’ll try and catch up on her previous work. She is going places.  

 

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review 2017-10-07 18:29
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories, by Herman Melville
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories (Penguin Classics Edition) - Peter M. Coviello,Herman Melville

Well that took me long enough! I've been desperate to read some horror, but these Melville stories have been hit and miss, his prose sometimes impenetrable. This is my second encounter with Melville (I read Moby Dick some years ago), and it's been a while. I was prompted to pick up this collection of his shorter works by recent references to both "Bartleby" and Billy Budd.

 

I began with "Bartleby, the Scrivener," which turned out to be my favorite. Melville is an excellent comic writer, and this portrait of a law office made me laugh out loud. Yet it's also incredibly poignant. The narrator is a lawyer who hires Bartleby as a scrivener (a copier); Bartleby joins three other employees, hilariously nicknamed Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut. Bartleby goes about his copying, but when the lawyer asks him to read aloud his copy to proofread, he simply says he "prefers not to." From this point he "prefers" not to do all sorts of things, including leave when his boss attempts to fire him. The lawyer is non-confrontational and fancies himself a good man to the point where he actually changes the location of his office to avoid dealing with Bartleby (who is also found to be living there) further. Yet the problem of Bartleby persists.

 

Why does Bartleby "prefer not" to comply with requests made of him? Melville does not offer a black-and-white answer. The introduction likens Bartleby to a Wall Street occupier, someone who occupies spaces of capitalism without using them for that end, but the quote I found most insightful describes Bartleby as a man of preferences rather than assumptions. How much does our daily behavior and actions depend upon assumptions? As with other Melville works, a queer reading of the text is also possible: the relationship between the lawyer and Bartleby involves exchanges and behavior not dissimilar to those made in romantic partnerships.

 

The stories I liked next best were "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" and "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids." The former is a series of sketches by a sailor who has been to the Galapagos Islands; some sketches are more engaging than others. The language in the first few is lovely as Melville describes the hostile, lonely island landscape. The latter is a pair of tales told by the same American narrator, first in London then New England--a lawyer's club and paper mill, respectively. These are apparently based on Melville's own travels. I preferred the second piece, which I read as feminist and potentially Marxist. There's some fantastic prose detailing the paper machine, the women, and their work. 

 

There are five other stories, but the last I'll mention is the novella, Billy Budd, which Melville was working on at the time of his death. It's become key evidence for those who feel Melville may have been bisexual or simply held progressive views on gender and sexuality. Billy Budd is a "Handsome Sailor" who is conscripted to serve on a British naval ship. Everyone likes him, as he's pretty and good-natured. But one (also good looking) sailor envies his beauty and goodness, and it leads to tragedy. The most interesting thing about this tale for me was the fact that this is a story often told about women, to illustrate their vanity, jealousies, and pettiness or cattiness. In this context, in a time after two serious mutinies and during hostilities between Britain and France, such personal jealousy results in catastrophe.

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