I wish you could read some of the brilliant posts that I have written in my head during my commute. Can’t wait until Blogger develops the application that lets you post just with your thoughts. I really do want to blog more, but between my (imaginary) husband, my great (non-existent) children and my high-powered (low paying, retail) career, it’s just difficult to find the time (I’m really lazy).
Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading:
21. The Island of Eternal Love by Daina Chaviano
Beautiful book! I love any and all things Cuban and am always on the lookout for fiction about the island. I initially picked up this book at work because the cover was so pretty. But I was reading something else at the time and put it down without further thought. Later that evening, one of my co-workers was working on reshelves and thought, “this is something that Toni might be interested in”, and brought it to me. Since I am all about signs, I gave in to the Universe and dove in.
Cecilia is a Cuban-born Miami resident who still hasn’t made peace with her new home. Longing for her past in Cuba, she befriends an old woman in a bar in Little Havana. The woman enthralls her with stories of their homeland that wind through history and weave in all of the cultures, African, Spanish & Chinese, that make up the people there. These stories also hold a clue to Cecilia’s restlessness.
I love it when I can read fiction and also learn about history at the same time!
22. The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir by Staceyann Chin
I read this at the same time I was reading the book above, and because they both deal some aspect of the Chinese influence in the Caribbean, I kept mixing them up!
You may be familiar with Staceyann Chin from her appearances on Def Poetry Jam and the BET Jazz show My Two Cents. She was also on Oprah last year speaking about homophobia in the Caribbean community.
Chin is a Jamaica native who had a real hardscrabble childhood. She and her brother are the products of relationships that their mother had with Chinese men. While her brother’s father is not a constant presence in his life, he does provide financial assistance. On the other hand, even though everyone remarks how much she looks like his other children, Staceyann’s father insists that he is not her dad. Raised by their elderly grandmother after their mother emigrates to Canada, the two are shuffled from relative to relative when hard times come.
Staceyann’s intelligence and forthright manner don’t win her points in a society that expects women to act a certain way, especially when she starts to explore her sexuality. This is a great memoir that shows what you can achieve when you unabashedly focus on education and knowledge to help to overcome your circumstances.
23. Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice
I don’t have the words to express how much I loved this book. I told someone recently that it was like Carleen reached into my brain and took out everything I loved and made it into a story.
Dog-loving (I hate dogs, but I am obsessed with the Dog Whisperer) Trish Taylor moves back to Denver with her teenage son, after divorcing her childhood sweetheart. As she settles into her new life, she realizes that she is always finding random puzzle pieces (I told y’all I believe in signs). While trying to figure out what they mean, she comes across something even more puzzling (sorry, bad pun), her sister, who she thought died in infancy is in fact alive.
Across town, Billie Cousins is an incense burning, meditating, altar building (this sounds like my apartment!) woman who derives strength from her African & Native American ancestors to help her through her health & relationships trials.
Brice weaves the story of these two women magically, while also discussing the cultural and racial divide that we continually cross with each other. In the end, our humanity is what matters most.
24. And Mistress Makes Three by Francis Ray
Francis Ray knows how to turn out a believable, romance novel. Gina Rawlins is a recently divorced, mother of two, who is trying to support herself and her children (because of sporadic child support checks) with an Internet travel agency. Unfortunately, her only repeat clients are her parents. Her young son misses his (cheating) father and her adolescent daughter thinks its Gina’s faulty that their Dad left. Gina attends the Grand Opening of a local B & B in the hopes of drumming up more business and Max Chaneu, the owner, is so impressed by her improvement ideas that he hires her as a consultant. Will Gina be able to turn her business around and find love at the same time?