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Monday, June 30, 2014

#BookReview: Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith

Okay, you know how you’re reading something and you know it’s fiction and you tell yourself something like this could never really happen, but then you start thinking, what if? That’s exactly what happened to me as I read Forty Acres. From start to finish, I didn’t want to put this book down. It was just that fascinating.
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Friday, June 27, 2014

#BookReview: Long Division by Kiese Laymon

I’m so in love with this book that I’m not even sure where to start. I first listened to it back in February and couldn’t find the words to review. I gave it another listen last week and, this time, I took notes. Understand that I rarely take notes on books, but I ended up with 10 pages of them. It’s not that the concepts of the book are difficult to understand, it’s that there are so many gems to be found within that I didn’t want to miss any.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#BookReview: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

In a family so full of secrets that it’s a wonder members aren’t choking on them, it’s really no surprise that when the eldest daughter, Lydia, goes missing, no one can fathom how or why. I was absolutely blown away by how well Celeste Ng dug into the insecurities of each family member and how it affected how they interacted with each other and the outside world. By the time I finished Everything I Never Told You, it felt like the layers had just been peeled off of the inauthentic lives the whole family had been living. Wow!
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#Giveaway: Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir

Tender, heartfelt, and intimate, GOOD MORNING, MR. MANDELA: A Memoir tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s long-time personal assistant and “honorary granddaughter” Zelda la Grange (Viking; Strict On-sale: June 24, 2014; 978-0-525-42828-2; $28.95). In this revealing book la Grange pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him—a compassionate teacher who taught her the most valuable lessons of her life. La Grange introduces readers to the Mandela who was as kind and generous as we all imagine, but who was also stubborn and surprisingly human. She also gives us insight into Mandela’s relationships with fans and contacts, both famous and infamous: from Queen Elizabeth, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt, Bono, and Morgan Freeman to Muammar Gaddafi.

A white Afrikaner, Zelda la Grange grew up in segregated South Africa, supporting the regime and the rules of Apartheid. Her conservative family referred to the imprisoned Nelson Mandela as “a terrorist.” Yet just a few years after his release and the end of Apartheid, she would be traveling the world by Mr. Mandela’s side, having grown to respect and cherish the man she would come to call ‘Khulu,’ or ‘grandfather.’

GOOD MORNING, MR. MANDELA tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman’s life, beliefs, and prejudices were utterly transformed by the man she had been taught was the enemy. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young secretary in her twenties who rose from a job in a government typing pool to become one of the President’s most loyal and devoted associates. During her twenty years of service, la Grange supported Mandela in dealing with political tension, personal tragedies, and the many complications of worldwide fame. She remained loyal to him to the very end of his life, despite outside attempts to ostracize her. Her frank, down-to-earth memoir confronts the challenges and celebrates the successes of a life devoted to her beloved ‘Khulu.’

This is a book about love and second chances, and one that honors the lasting and inspiring gifts of one of the great men of our time. It offers a rare, intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and his remarkable life and legacy, as well as moving proof of the power we all have to change.

Thanks to the publisher's generosity, I have a copy to give away to one lucky winner.  Click here to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, June 23, 2014

#BookReview: Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Charlie Wong has led a sheltered life in New York's Chinatown.  At 22, she still lives at home with her father and her younger sister, Lisa.  Thanks to her father, the best noodle maker in Chinatown, she has a job washing dishes at the restaurant where he works.  But Charlie is clumsy and washing dishes for a living certainly isn't her passion.  Her late mother was once a star ballerina in Beijing, but Charlie must have taken after her father because she has not an ounce of her mother's grace, or does she?
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Monday, June 16, 2014

#BookReview: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

I don’t want to say Jennifer Weiner has lost her magic. Coming on the heels of reading her first book, Good in Bed, recently, it would seem that she’s hit a bit of a snag. The same long, meandering time line that bogged her down in her debut novel seems to make an appearance here as well. The biggest difference between Cannie Shapiro (Good in Bed) and her new heroine, Allison, is their choice of addiction. While Cannie was addicted to her story of abandonment and the pain she feels as a result of that, Allison is addicted to uppers, downers and everything in between.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

#BookReview: Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset

Though the theme of passing is one we don’t see very often in present-day lit, it was popular in the early to mid-20th century. We’ve seen how it played out in Charles Chestnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars (1900), Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929) and William White’s Lost Boundaries (1948). In each story, a character (or characters) makes the conscious decision to transition from being black or biracial to white as if simply shedding one’s skin or race guarantees happiness. As characters in the aforementioned books found out, in Jessie Redmond Fauset’s Plum Bun, Angela Murray soon learns that while white privilege may provide her with some creature comforts, there is much sacrifice to be made in forgetting who you are and from where you came.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

#BookReview: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

Leona Helmsley has nothing on little Malka Treynovsky. I can’t say she was born with a bad attitude, but she was definitely born with a sharp tongue. Abandoned by her parents shortly after arriving in the New World from Russia, she’s taken in by the Italian family of the man who hit her with his ice truck. They never let Malka forget for one minute that she’s not really one of them, no matter how long she stays with the family and helps with the family business.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

#BookReview: Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

From the outside looking in, it can seem as if others are leading the perfect life. While you’re stuck with a screaming baby, brooding teenagers and a husband who barely communicates with you, your best friend is living the glamorous life. On the flip side, you’re an entertainment reporter on one of the hottest shows in town, but instead of the family you’ve always wanted, you’re skilled in the art of the one night stand with younger men whose names you can’t even remember.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

#BookReview: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she'll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.
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Monday, June 2, 2014

#BookReview: China Dolls by Lisa See

Offering an interesting perspective on the lives of Asian Americans in pre-World War II San Francisco, Lisa See hits it out of the park with China Dolls. It seems so rare that American fiction allows depictions of Asians outside of the narrow confines that it has created for them. Often, their stories are set in their native countries of China, Japan, etc. By creating characters that live in Anytown, USA, Lisa See humanizes stories that are often overlooked in mainstream lit.
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