Reading is still going slow on this front, but I have made an effort to speed it up!
16. Kiss the Sky by Farai Chideya
I struggled with this book and can’t for the life of me tell you why. The premise is something so fresh and innovative that I was so excited to begin reading it. Sophie, also known as Sky, is a vee-jay for a television music channel and a former member of a indie rock band. The band has disbanded mostly because of her bandmate (and ex-husband) Ari’s drug use. When the band does a comeback gig for a sick friend, and a Puffy-type producer appears, they reform and try to make a go of it again. But going forward by going backward presents all sorts of challenges for Sky – should she pursue the budding relationship with the producer, can she ever break ties with Ari?
I loved the idea of it all – an indie rock band with a Black lesbian drummer, a Black female lead singer, and rounded out by a biracial drug addict rich kid and a white female? It’s my multi-culti boho dream! Not many books written nowadays with a cast of characters like that. But while the plot was refreshing, the writing was a little choppy and that put me off a bit. Also, I have a tendency to want to identify with the protagonist and I Sky just frustrated me. That could be my problem and not a flaw of the writing.
17. Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up in a Cult by Jayanti Tamm
Ever wonder about life inside a cult, especially from a child’s perspective? This was a fascinating account of growing up in the ashram headed by Sri Chinmoy, better known to his followers as “Guru”. Tamm was the product of parents who had both sought out an audience with Guru, only to be told that they would marry each other. When Jayanti was born, she was seen as a special child, “the chosen one” in the group and given access to Guru that others rarely had. Members of this group prayed to Guru, gave him money, and counted on him to make all the important decisions in there lives. This book chronicles Tamm’s growing up, but also her growing out of the group. The more she was exposed to the “outside world”, the more she questioned the practices that she had known all her life. Especially interesting were the accounts of celebrities that passed through the ashram and were considered followers of Guru, including Carl Lewis and Carlos Santana (whose marriage Guru arranged – they are now divorced).
18. Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomanical, Self-Centered Smart Ass Phase by Jen Lancaster
If you haven’t already read Jen Lancaster’s hilarious books, you must run out an get them now! Start with the first one, Bitter is The New Black.
In Pretty in Plaid, Lancaster is her wonderful, funny, sarcastic self as she recounts major events in her life told through her wardrobe. From her quest to have the most badges on her Girl Scout uniform to wearing the inappropriate outfit during Rush Week to what to wear on her very first day of work, each anecdote will leave you laughing for a very long time.
19. Seduction and Lies by Donna Hill
This is the second book in the TLC (Tender Loving Care) romance series about women who appear to be selling Mary Kay type products, but they are really undercover operatives in an investigative organization. Those makeup bags have spy equipment in them not face cream. I wasn’t in the mood to read this book, so what should have taken a couple of hours to read, took a couple weeks. But it was enjoyable to read about Danielle getting her first assignment while keeping it a secret from her boyfriend with whom she shares everything – even commitment issues.
20. Sisters and Husbands by Connie Briscoe
This book took me back to the nineties when I was managing a Black bookstore and there was a resurgence of really good fiction out by African-American authors on the heels of the success had by Terry McMillan. I must have read Briscoe’s Sisters and Lovers three times, I loved it so much. And y’all know I don’t read a book more than once – there’s just too many books out there! Well, the characters that I fell in love with are back in this well-written sequel. Beverly, the youngest sister is finally marrying the man of her dreams after backing out of three engagements in the last five years. But seeing the drama that her older sisters are having in their marriages is making her have cold feet again. It was nice to read about women my age in a book for a change.