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Friday, December 16, 2011

The Top Ten Absolute Must Reads of 2011

10. The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (@WesMoore1)

It was strictly a coincidence that I listened to The Other Wes Moore the same week I was reading Patches of Grey, but it turned out to be the perfect compliment to it.  Both books dealt with young men of color coming of age and, though one was a memoir and the other was fictional, I found myself comparing the characters in both.

9. Third Girl from the Left by Martha Southgate (@mesouthgate)

There comes a time in every woman's life when she realizes that her mother is human.  I mean, logically, you know that your mother is human, of course.  And to any other observer, it's extremely obvious.  But there's a point, as a daughter, when you realize that she's just as imperfect and capable of making mistakes as anyone else.  Martha Southgate's Third Girl From the Left beautifully exposes the flaws of three generations of women who are anything but perfect.  Disclaimer: Though this book wasn't written in 2011, I read it this year and it was just too perfect not to include.

8. Roseflower Creek by Jackie Lee Miles

At times The Lovely Bones, at other times Bastard Out of Carolina, Roseflower Creek is a sad and unforgettable story.  Set in the 1950s, it tells the tale of Lori Jean.  Abandoned by her birth father, she's being raised by her mother and an abusive stepfather.

 7. Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany (@AmyHatvany)

Admitting failure is never an easy thing to do.  And for a mother to admit that she's failed, it can be devastating. In Amy Hatvany's Best Kept Secret the reader is given a front row seat into what can happen when a parent falls apart.

6. Tiny Sunbirds,, Far Away by Christie Watson (@tinysunbird)

Told from the point of view of Blessing, who is twelve when we first meet her, Tiny Sunbirds is the story of a Nigerian family uprooted from their comfortable existence in Lagos when the mother catches the father cheating.

5. Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering, Jr. (@AuthorofPatches)

In a story that at times reminded me of Matty Rich's Straight Out of Brooklyn, Roy L. Pickering, Jr. deftly weaves a coming of age tale of Tony Johnson in Patches of Grey.  And while Pickering could have taken the easy way out and strictly focused on one main character, he takes the time to tell not only Tony's story, but that of his siblings and parents as well, each as fascinating as Tony's.

4. If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary (@LoreneCary)

It's impossible to read the latest from Lorene Cary and not reflect on your family's legacy.  Whether it be physical property or simply your family history, there are things passed down through the generations for which no monetary compensation will suffice. If Sons, Then Heirs touches on both of these.

3. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan 

In this reimagined, futuristic version of The Scarlet Letter, sinners don't wear a letter indicating their crime.  They wear the color on their skin.  The need to direct funds away from prisons and to law abiding citizens has led to the non-existence of prisons.  Through a process called chroming, criminals are color coded and microchipped, allowing anyone that passes them on the street to know what their crime is and allowing the government, and anyone with a computer, to track them at all times.  Yellows  serve short sentences for misdemeanors and Blues are child molesters.  Red is the color for murder.

2. This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park (@SamuelPark_)

Easily one of my favorite reads this year, This Burns My Heart is the moving story of Soo-Ja.  As a young lady in 1960 South Korea, she longed to move to Seoul and become a diplomat.  When her wealthy father forbids her to join the Foreign State Department, she plots, at her mother's suggestion, to marry an easily pliable man who will let her have her way.  But when you try to run game on someone, there's always a good chance that game is being run on you. And while Soo-Ja thinks she's using Min, she finds that she really is not the master of her fate, as she thought.

1. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (@tayari)

With the opening line, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," Tayari Jones skillfully pulls the reader into the world of two sisters: Dana and Chaurisse.  Told in first person by each of the sisters, Silver Sparrow is absolutely remarkable.

I hope you've enjoyed the year in reading as much as I have.  I'll be on hiatus from posting after today.  Look for new posts starting January 17.  Enjoy your holidays and have a Happy New Year.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Favorite Things Week: Current TV Shows

 Our America with Lisa Ling, Sundays on OWN

One of the last true journalists on TV, Lisa goes after stories that others shy away from.  So far this season she's featured child prostitution, extreme parenting and polygamy.

Reed Between the Lines, Tuesdays on BET

I've seen complaints across the Internet that this show is horrible, it doesn't ring true, blah, blah, blah.  As much as people would like to pretend The Cosby Show or Girlfriends started out great, they didn't.  It took time for them to find their legs and it's taken time for Reed, but it's gotten better and is perfect if you're looking for a show the whole family can watch.

ABC's Wednesday night line up: Modern Family, The Middle, Suburbgatory & Happy Endings

I don't think we've seen a line up as good as this since NBC dominated Thursday nights in the 90s.  With the exception of Happy Endings, which may be too much for the kiddies, Wednesday night is a great night for family comedy.

The Walking Dead, Sunday nights on AMC

When this premiered last year, I loved it, but didn't know if it would be just as good its sophomore season.  It is!  It's on hiatus now, but will be back in the spring.  If you're a fan of Stephen King's The Stand, this has a similar feel.

New Girl, Tuesdays on FOX
I wasn't sure if I'd be on board with a show about a quirky chick.  I'm already a fan of awkwardblackgirl.com, so did I have room for another nerd girl in my life? I did!  Zooey Deschanel is hilarious as Jess. 

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Favorite Things Week: Albums of 2011

This is my last week of posts for 2011 and I thought I'd get all Oprah with it and give you five days of *cue the Oprah voice* favorite thinggggggsssss.  Well...I guess it doesn't quite pack the same punch as Oprah.  I mean, unless you can hear her in your head saying favorite things like I hear her in mine.  Anywho, each day this week, I'll bring you some of my favorites in the pop culture world, culminating with my top ten list of favorite books of 2011 on Friday.  So let's get it started (no Black Eyed Peas).

I love, love, LOVE music, so it should come as no surprise that I have an opinion about the best albums of 2011.  Yeah, I'm old, I still call them albums.  Now I generally listen to audio books in the car, but occasionally a CD will come along that makes me pack my books away and sing along while I drive.  Here are my top five favorites of albums released this year.

5. All of Me: The Prequel by Estelle

I've been a fan of Estelle since I heard the infectious beat of Wait A Minute a few years ago.  I loved it so much that I went back and found her first CD, The 18th Day, and jammed out to that one too.  But it's been a few years since Estelle put out anything.  She kept tweeting that she was working on something and when Freak, a great song with catchy lyrics and a deep house beat, came out, I was convinced that the album was finally on its way. Not!  But Estelle assures her fans that it's coming and in the meantime, she released a mix tape to tide us over.  There's absolutely no way to listen to it and not find yourself twerkin'.  If you haven't yet, be sure to download your free copy here and be on the look out for the official release of All of Me.

4. As Above, So Below by Anthony David
Anthony David's voice is like cognac, it goes down smooth and stays with you for awhile.  Most of us were introduced to him when he did a duet with India.Arie called Words back in 2008.  He's actually been putting out albums since 2004 and each one just gets better.  His duet with Algebra on 4Evermore had to have been the feel good wedding song of the year.

3. 4 by Beyonce'
I confess, I had some doubts about  4 before I heard it, based on King B's last CD.  While B-day was everything, I Am...Sasha Fierce left SO much to be desired.  My first listen to 4 confirmed that Bey was indeed ready to reclaim her title.  I didn't, and still don't, care for 1+1 or I Care very much, but the rest of the album? She's giving us 80s/90s pop diva all over the place.  And if you had enough sense to purchase the deluxe version, you were treated to some real gems that weren't included on the regular version, including my favorite, Schoolin Life.  I was disappointed that Bey didn't make a video of it or perform it at her Live at Roseland concert.  With 4, she clearly got her grown woman on.

2. Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West

I was really afraid that I wouldn't like this album and that I'd have to cancel my membership in the Jay-Z stan club.  Kanye's last few CDs have left something to be desired, in my opinion, and I wasn't sure that the two of them could pull this off.  Wrong!  Watch the Throne stayed in rotation for months.  I don't think I listened to an audio book from the moment it came out in August through the end of September.  I was relieved when my literary twin, J Nic, came to visit.  I didn't know if she loved it as much as I did, but we played it the entire time she visited (when we weren't listening to 4).  Then @HuskyBro_Inc, who I knew detested Jay & Ye, got in the car.  I didn't tell him what I was listening to, I just let it play.  I looked over and he was bobbing his head, so I knew it was safe to unleash the "a-ha" on him.  I have to tell you, not only did he like Watch the Throne, he liked 4.  I converted him!

The Watch the Throne tour didn't make it to St. Louis, but someone on YouTube shot great footage of the Montreal concert.  Here's one of my favorites.

1. 21 by Adele

There are a handful of artists that I love, but they depress the dog stank out of me.  There's Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman and, now, Adele.  I can't even tell you how many times I've listened to 21 in its entirety, never taking it out of the CD player.  It stayed on a continuous loop for months.  Even when I got out of the car, I'd listen at work or in the house...constantly.  Adele has a voice that makes unicorns cry and unicorns are magical, mystical, pretty damn happy creatures, no?  That lush voice combined with heart wrenching lyrics are enough to bring grown men to their knees.  I could be having a perfectly good day, start listening to Adele and start questioning my existence on my earth.  She's that damn good.  I can't even pick a favorite song on 21, each one speaks to me in a different way.  I'll just leave you with her singing Someone Like You while she lounges at home with just a piano player.  No autotune, no studio effects, just her clear and perfect voice.

So how about you? Which albums stayed in rotation in your car or home this year?

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Confession: I'm A Muppet Stan

Longtime followers of the blog and Twitter followers know that I stan for the Peanuts.  I live tweet every holiday special and live for Snoopy's cackle.

But did you know that I also stan for the Muppets?  I don't know anyone that was happier than me when the latest Muppet film was announced. I was eight when The Muppet Movie came out.  I begged for the soundtrack on 8-track and still remember the words to all of the songs, like this one.

And this one

So over the Thanksgiving weekend, I begged asked the Princess of Snark, who is loving life as a college freshman these days, to accompany me to see The Muppets.  Both of us loved it!  It's cheesy, it's over the top, but it's the Muppets and that's exactly what I expected from them.  How can you see the clip below and not want to kick your heels up and run out in the street and dance?  

Don't even pretend like that clip didn't give you life! You're over there dancing in your seat, I can see you.  Anyway, watching the movie led me to wonder if there are enough Muppet fans out there to justify bringing the show back.  Would you watch it?  I know I would.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#BookReview: Busted in Bollywood - Nicola Marsh

When her romance with a wealthy, married man ends, Shari Jones finds herself without a job and without a place to live.  Her best friend, Amrita, is engaged to a man she's never met, in India.  Determined not to go through with the marriage, Amrita convinces Shari to meet him in her place.  After all, her groom has never seen her since the families arranged the marriage.  With the assistance of Amrita's wacky aunt, Anjali,  Shari is off on the adventure of a life time and finds romance where she least expects it.  From the busy streets of New York to the bustling streets of Mumbai, Nicola Marsh takes readers along for the ride.

What did you like about this book?
It was a short, cute read.

What didn't you like about this book?
I'm used to my chick lit heroine's being smarter than Shari.  Actually, I can't say that Shari wasn't smart, because her character wasn't really developed enough for me to know if she was or not.  For her to be the main character, it really felt like the author glossed over developing her and, instead, chose to focus on other characters, like Anjali.

The ending also felt really rushed and, unlike chick lit heroines who choose to marry for love or because they're headed down that path, Shari seems to have chosen marriage because she ran out of money...and the guy was loaded anyway...so...yeah.

What could the author do to improve this book?
There were areas that could have been funnier and other sections that could have been removed entirely.  Also, the synopsis and title would lead one to believe that a good portion of the story deals with Shari's time in Bollywood, when, in fact, it makes up very little of the story.  Perhaps a title that aptly reflects what the book is about would be more appropriate.

Published: December 2011
Disclaimer: Book provided by the publisher.


Theme: Would I Lie to You by The Eurythmics

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Free for All Friday, December 2

If you missed the Black Friday giveaways last week, don't worry.  There are still quite a few books up for grabs.  I consolidated them into one list and they can be found under the Giveaway tab at the top of the blog.  Now, *cue the shooting star*

In the course of my work day, I proof a lot of documents, so the AP Style Guide and dictionary.com are close, personal friends of mine.  While reading Wednesday, I ran across a document in which the writer kept using predominate instead of predominant.  What's the difference? Predominate is a verb, predominant is an adjective.  Anywho, as I edited, I tweeted a grammar PSA stating the difference between the two.  @GammasWorld & @CaliGirlED immediately jumped in with SchoolHouse Rock requests.  Thanks to those two, you're being treated to "Unpack Your Adjectives" and "Verb: That's What's Happening."

As a kid, and admittedly as an adult, I loved the School House Rock series.  In my world, the only thing better than Saturday morning cartoons were the SHR videos that appeared between cartoons.  Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here? Conjunction Junction? I'm Just A Bill? Who needed to pay attention in school? School House Rock taught me everything I needed to know.  Which videos were your favorites?

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#BookReview: Substitute Me - Lori L. Tharp

 Originally posted August 11, 2010.

Thirty year old Zora Anderson has floated from place to place and job to job on a whim.  Moving on when things become too much to handle, she finds herself in New York with a place to stay, but in desperate need of a job.  The college-educated daughter of upwardly mobile parents, Zora realizes that she's not living up to the goal her parents have set for her.  Even still, the former au pair in France decides to give being a New York nanny a try.

Kate Carter is headed back to work after an extended maternity leave and the search is on to find the perfect nanny.  She has regrets about leaving her infant son home with a stranger, but figures the ad she's placed will guarantee a perfect fit.

Substitute Me: Looking for a nanny who will take care of my six-month-old baby as if he were her own.  Five full days a week.  No cooking or cleaning required.  Must love children and be prepared to show it.  References required.

Raised in a working class neighborhood, Brad Carter is hesitant to bring in a nanny to watch his son, Oliver.   While his and Kate's jobs afford them certain privileges, he's unsure that this new situation meshes well with the way he was raised.  As Kate begins to work longer hours and Brad becomes more accustomed to Zora's presence in the house, it seems that the 'substitute me' is beginning to take on additional duties that have nothing to do with baby Oliver.

It's important to note that while Zora is black and the Carters are white, their races are not necessarily the central issue.  It seems to me that the issue is one woman completely giving power over her life to someone else and then questioning it when that person steps in and does a better job at it.  Kate and her mother make racially charged comments about Zora, but if they were being honest with themselves, they would realize that her race has nothing to do with the situation Kate finds herself in. 

In Jodi Picoult fashion, Lori L. Tharp has crafted a nanny story that gives the reader all sides.  Often the story is only told from the point of view of the nanny.  In Substitute Me, you really get a chance to learn the characters and understand that perception really is reality.

What did you like about this book?
It really made me think beyond the obvious.  As a black woman, I think I see race first sometimes and sex second.  This book made me realize that in this case, while race played a small part, overall it was not caused the real conflict.

What didn't you like about this book?
Zora's relationship with Keith isn't as fleshed out as I would have liked to see it.

What could the author do to improve this book?
 I don't know that I love the cover of the book.  Nothing about it screams nanny lit or anything else that would grab my eye.  If I saw it in the bookstore, I would assume it was a thriller/murder mystery just based on its darkness.

368 pp
Published August 2010 
Disclaimer: A copy was provided by the publisher.

Theme: I'd Rather Go Blind by Etta James

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Monday, November 28, 2011

#BookReview: Satan's Sisters - Star Jones

Sweet Jesus, when I say people should stay in their lane, I do mean people should stay in their lane.  But I digress.  I'll get to why I said that later.

I remember all the buzz when Satan's Sisters first came out and everyone assumed it would be about  the women of The View.  Though the women are co-hosts of a daytime talk show, the similarities seem to end there.  As a former co-host is set to release her new book, aptly titled Satan's Sisters, the current co-hosts are in a tizzy over the potentially explosive information her book could hold.

None of the hosts has led a perfect life and each woman has her own secrets.  Maxine, the Barbara Walters of the show, is ruthless.  Her carefully created media persona has made her the darling of America.  Behind closed doors, Maxine will stop at nothing to get what she wants, even if she has to destroy lives and careers along the way.  Lesbian, Latina Dara Cruz loves her girlfriend, but she's not out to her family or the public.  Whitney Harlington is too busy carrying on an affair with the network president to realize her husband's wicked ways.  And Molly, the Joy Behar of the crew, has a pill addiction that's getting out of control.  Satan's Sisters threatens to expose all of their secrets and force them to come clean with the public and themselves.

What did you like about this book?
I appreciated the fact that the characters were fully developed.  Each woman's story line was fleshed out well.  In a recent appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, Jones announced that the book has been optioned as a series and will be coming to television screens in the near future.  It will be interesting to see how the book and characters come across on the small screen.

What didn't you like about this book?
Much like the agony I endured while listening to Terry McMillan narrate Getting to Happy, it was just as painful to listen to Star Jones narrate Satan's Sisters.  What could have been a four star book easily became three stars because Ms. Jones hasn't met a period or comma she liked.  With her always breathless and extremely dry voice, she rushed sentences together and added pauses where none were necessary.  Her disjointed reading made for a terrible listening experience and her snarky tone of voice did not serve her characters well at all.  Had I another audio book on standby, I would have ejected her CD from the player and listened to it instead.  With all that being said, I wonder what makes authors decide to narrate their own work instead of leaving it to professionals.  It seems to make more sense when narrating a memoir, as was the case with Michele Norris and Condoleezza Rice, though the latter's tone was drier than a camel's tongue in the Sahara.  But neither Star or Terry should try their hand at narrating ever, ever, ever again.

What could the author do to improve this book?
Just write and leave the narration to a professional.

Published March 2011
Listening time: 10 hours, 27 minutes

Theme: Segredos (Secrets) by Eliane Elias

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Interview with Sibylla Nash, author of Bumped

When and why did you begin writing? 
There were stories I wanted to tell and there were stories that needed to be told. I was the type of kid that always had her head in a book. I have an insatiable need to figure out the world around me by writing things down, pulling back the layers of character and asking what if? When I discovered that people could actually make a living from writing, I was all in.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I’ve always written, ever since I was kid, I was banging away on a typewriter (yes, I’m dating myself) writing short stories. Professionally though, I didn’t really consider myself a “writer” until I was in my 20s and started seeing my byline in magazines.

Is Bumped your first book?
Bumped is actually my second novel, fifth book. I’ve written three non-fiction books, one of which was co-written with a friend. In fact, I’m re-releasing a guide for parents later this year – Baby Modeling & Beyond: From the Stroller to the Red Carpet. My daughter began working as a model/actress when she was a baby. I wanted to share our experiences with parents who may be considering getting their child in the business.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel was DreamCity. It came out 11 years ago (eegads!!) and it feels like it was during the prehistoric times pre-social media. I had a new cover created for it and I’m updating it for a re-release in December. I wanted to write that book because I’ve always kept a journal. I loved Bridget Jones’ Diary and really wanted to create a story using the diary format. I wanted to capture the experience about an actress who moves from the east coast to the west. It’s funny because DreamCity was fictional but now I find myself really seeing that lifestyle up close because of my daughter. When I originally wrote DreamCity, I had worked in talent agencies and production companies and saw the business from that perspective.

What was the hardest part of writing Bumped? 
Bumped was a long work-in-progress. If you were to ask my daughter how long it took me to finish it, she would probably say “forever.” In the beginning, the hardest part was just trying to find the time. I was a new mom when the idea for the book came to me. As I wrestled with the time management issue, the challenge became keeping the tone consistent after so much starting and stopping. I think in one version I mentioned Sky Pagers! The other challenge was reigning in the story, trying to find its heart.

In hosting the Colorful Chick Lit challenge, I’ve found it difficult to find books about “colorful” chicks that fit into the genre. Did you write Bumped intentionally as chick lit or did you just fall into that category? 
I always saw Bumped as chick lit. Early on, when I was work-shopping the book, I had some folks say it was more literary, but I love the chick lit genre. I wanted it to be in the same vein as Shopaholic and In Her Shoes.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
I didn’t start off with the intention of conveying a message to my readers – I’m not a fan of books that are too message-y because it takes away from the story (in my opinion, although I have to say I did like the Left Behind series). Bumped is one woman’s journey and I hope it kept the readers entertained and enthralled. If it makes them reflect on decisions they have made, great! If it makes them give the next smooth-talker the side-eye, even better.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Notebooks. I have a thing for journals, notebooks, sketchpads and anything bound that I can write in. I have boxes of journals and notes that have captured moments in my life and being able to write down my thoughts, plan out my dreams, it’s allowed me to be the architect of my life.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
That’s a tough one, I read so much and soak in everything. I love Stephen King for his pacing and ability to scare the crap out of me, the VC Andrews Flowers in the Attic series for its high concept/hooks. I once interviewed the late LA Banks and she was so inspiring and prolific. She didn’t find time to write, she made time to write. The list goes on. I’ll read books and see how someone made a transition or how they structured their novel and it goes into a pot that I stir and will later pick out bits and pieces and figure out how I can put my own spin on it.

What book are you reading now?
It’s not even funny, I have a backlog of books stacked up in the house and on the iPad. The one that I’m almost finished with is Rob Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. This book has been life-changing for me because it’s helping me to regain my focus and really concentrate on what’s important. I also have an excellent book on screenwriting I’m getting ready to start called Save the Cat.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I don’t know if they’re new, but they are new to me. I enjoyed Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones and 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter.

What are your current projects?
I have two books that I’m updating this year that I mentioned and I’m also working on a sequel to Bumped and I’ve outlined the sequel to DreamCity. So 2012 should be pretty busy.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Writing can be very solitary and it’s work, some days you have to really wrestle the words on the page. It’s totally self-directed and self-motivated and the hardest thing for me is tuning out the noise of the day and really challenging myself to write outside of my comfort zone, push the boundaries of the craft and become the writer I’ve always wanted to be. Once I actually get my butt in the chair, it’s all good. It’s getting there that tends to be a problem.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
We were driving past a section in Los Angeles the other day and I was telling my daughter that the homes reminded me something out of an Easy Rawlins’ mystery. I read those books years ago and even now the imagery and characters are just as vivid as the day I read the book. As an author, that’s what we all strive to do: create characters and settings that are so real, they become memories of places you’ve been, not stories you’ve read. Walter Mosley does that, he has the ability to pull you into the story headfirst.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Thank you for reading my work and going with me on this journey as an artist. I hope you are having as much fun as I am. Life’s short: Live large, dream big and love hard!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

#BookReview: When She Woke - Hillary Jordan

I didn't expect to be blown away by this book.  Sure, I requested it from Algonquin Books because it looked interesting, but I had no idea that it would completely draw me in and make me late for work because I couldn't put it down.

In this reimagined, futuristic version of The Scarlet Letter, sinners don't wear a letter indicating their crime.  They wear the color on their skin.  The need to direct funds away from prisons and to law abiding citizens has led to the non-existence of prisons.  Through a process called chroming, criminals are color coded and microchipped, allowing anyone that passes them on the street to know what their crime is and allowing the government, and anyone with a computer, to track them at all times.  Yellows  serve short sentences for misdemeanors and Blues are child molesters.  Red is the color for murder.

When Hannah Payne fell in love with a married man, she had no way of knowing that she would end up a Red.  Having an abortion in a United States where it's no longer legal is tantamount to murder.  So when the authorities find out that Hannah has indeed had one, she's brought to trial.  The refusal to name the doctor that performed the procedure or the father of the aborted child add time to her sentence and she faces the prospect of 16 years as a Red. Faced with a future of being shunned by her mother and treated as a second class citizen by the rest of the country for the next 16 years, Hannah is determined to make her way to a place where she won't be judged.

Jordan pulls from so many areas with When She Woke.  Canada and her version of the Underground Railroad harken to runaway slaves making their way from America to a country where they would be seen as free men and women.  The overturning of Roe v. Wade, along with an appointed Secretary of Faith, are  indicators that America, as we currently know it, is no more.  Though I don't remember the year that the story takes place being referenced, the United States, in this book, has clearly moved completely to the right and the party that claimed to want no government interference now interferes with every aspect of human life and morality. 

What did you like about this book?
I love books that force me to think.  What would it be like to live in a world where your every move can be tracked by the government or where your crime is worn on your sleeve so blatantly?  I imagine that it would be stifling.

What didn't you like about this book?
I had the same problem with this book that I had with The Scarlet Letter, the protection of father of the child.  Ugh, just like Hester Prynne pissed me off, so did Hannah Payne. I hated seeing both women take the fall for a sin in which two people were guilty, but only the women were implicated.

What could the author do to improve this book?
I would have loved an epilogue just to wrap things up neatly for me.

Published October 2011
Disclaimer: Copy received from publisher. Opinions are completely my own.


Theme: Skin I'm In by Cameo

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Friday, November 18, 2011

My Kindle Fire Review

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#BookReview: Killer in High Heels - Gemma Halliday

Maddie Springer, one of my newest chick lit faves, is back again.  If you'll remember, we first met Maddie in Spying in High Heels.  In that book, she was trying to track down her missing boyfriend while resisting the charming Detective Jack Ramirez.  Luckily, she made it out of that adventure relatively unscathed. Lucky for her and lucky for readers, Maddie is back!

Killer in High Heels finds our nosy yet adorable protagonist heading for Las Vegas after a strange call from the father to whom she's never spoken.  Along for the ride are her best friend, Dana, and Marco, the flamboyant receptionist from her stepfather's salon.  Hijinks and hilarity ensue as the trio tries to locate and save Maddie's dad, all the while keeping the mob at bay.

What did you like about this book?
Though Maddie is funny in her own right, Dana and Marco are equally funny and entertaining.

What didn't you like about this book?
It seemed to run longer than necessary.  There were a few times when it could have wrapped up, but it seemed to be drawn out for no particular reason.

What could the author do to improve this book?
I'm still working my way through the series, but Maddie's mother and her mom's best friend, Mrs. Rosenblatt, are hilarious. I'd love to see more of them.

Published March 2007


Theme: Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley

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Monday, November 14, 2011

#BookReview: Fairy Tale Fail - Mina V. Esguerra

We all know someone who's in love with the idea of love, right?  They're living life like a Disney fairytale, walking around with birds singing in their ears and bunny rabbits and squirrels following them like Snow White or Cinderella.  And then reality hits and they realize they're not Snow White or Cinderella.  They're not even Sleeping Beauty, who I always felt was the most boring Disney princess, but I digress.

Ellie Manuel loves love.  She's lived her whole life believing that her Prince Charming exists and that he'll come along and sweep her off her feet.  Well that doesn't happen.  What does happen is she falls for her friend, coworker and current Prince Charming, Don. Though working in the same office could be a testy situation, Ellie is happy to see Don day and night, until things fall apart.

You know how when you break up with someone and you share common friends, someone gets the friends when you split? Imagine that your coworkers are your friends, your only friends.  So how does one deal with a break up where she's suddenly the odd woman out at work and in her personal life? She changes departments.

Set in Manila, Mina V. Esguerra gives readers another quirky chick to cheer for in Fairy Tale Fail.  Ellie's journey from sappy dingbat to savvy adult is an absolute pleasure to watch.

What did you like about this book?
 Like her other books, Esguerra set this book in her hometown of Manila, so readers unfamiliar with customs and the culture are introduced to new and fun facts.

What didn't you like about the book?
At times, the story line was predictable.

What could the author do to improve this book?
 Other than the predictability issue, not much.

Published April 2010
Available in Kindle/Nook format only


Theme: Weary by Amel Larrieux

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Free for All Friday, November 11

Who else is happy it's Friday?  The time change has been killing me all week and I'm glad to have this weekend to try to correct my sleeping pattern and what not.  Before I start my weekend, let's run through the usual hodgepodge that makes up Free for All Fridays around here.

By this time next Friday, I'll be snuggled up with the new man in my life.  Though I wish this was who I'm talking about,

the reality is, I'm talking about
That's right!  Someone that feeds my addiction for books and gadgets ordered this for my birthday last month and it should arrive next Thursday.  I'm considering staying up late Thursday night to play with it so I can report back to you next Friday on whether or not upgrading from a regular Kindle to the Fire is worth it.  Meh, we'll see.  At any rate, I'm excited like

In other news, if you're on tumblr, I've started two different accounts.  reads4pleasure.tumblr.com is updated randomly through the day with things I find of interest.  Sometimes it's literary quotes, other times it's songs, pictures of some of my favorites (like Ella Fitzgerald) or just plain foolishness.  If you follow the blog through Facebook, you'll notice that the feed there is updated more frequently.  Facebook fans get the feed from both the blog and the tumblr account.  So if you want to make sure you don't miss out on a thing, follow me on Facebook and/or tumblr.

The other tumblr account, effyeahidris.tumblr.com is all about, you guessed it, my love for Idris. There's really nothing I love more than a good book, but let a picture of Driis cross my screen...let me hear that voice and I'm all

Lastly, I'd like to wish a very special birthday to @GammasWorld.  Today is her big day.  If you see her on Twitter, be sure to sprinkle her with birthday greetings.

Anywho, that's all I've got this week.  What's on your mind?

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