The Confessions of Frannie Langton

I never would have done what they say I’ve done, to Madame, because I loved her. Yet they say I must be put to death for it, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?

In the last few years, I’ve made it a point to read very little about a book before I pick it up. If it’s before publication, I skim over the publisher’s description. If it’s after, I avoid all published reviews from professionals and laymen alike. By the time I picked up The Confessions of Frannie Langton, I couldn’t remember what it was about and was able to read it unencumbered by any outside noise.

It’s 1826, and Frannie awaits trial in London for the murder of her employer and his wife. She claims that she doesn’t remember anything about that night. This book serves as her account of the events of her life that led her to this point, interspersed with the testimony of witnesses and those around her. From her childhood as a slave on a sugar plantation in Jamaica where she’s groomed to be an assistant to her master as he works on his scientific race theories, to her new life in London, where Frannie is set to work for one of her master’s colleagues.

Confessions covers a lot of ground: slavery, the plight of women, love, sex, class, science. I remember being only a quarter way through the book feeling like I’d already read an entire novel. The good thing about that is the story unfolds in a way that you rarely see coming. The bad news is that around the middle, it seemed like it was taking foreeeever to get through, because there’s so much introspection and details. I was getting anxious to finally find out what happened that fateful night.

Covering so many things did slow down the book a bit, but I still learned lots and am glad I stuck through it. It’s always enjoyable to read a novel about slavery and it’s effects that feels like a fresh perspective.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars (really 3 1/2)

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Everyday People: The Color of Life – a Short Story Anthology

Over the years I’ve developed an appreciation for short stories. I used to resent not having the ending and knowing what happened. Now I can enjoy them from a different place. I’m enjoying not knowing the full stories. Because that’s how life is.

Everyday People is a collection of fourteen short stories by a diverse group of writers of color. While the work can be considered contemporary fiction, the writing spans several different writing styles, experiences and points of view. It’s almost impossible to choose a favorite, but A Sheltered Woman by Yiyun Li is very close. A Chinese woman works taking care of newborn babies and helping their breastfeeding moms. She doesn’t stay past the time she is needed, moving on to another family when the babies are a month old. Her current employer, however, is finding it difficult to accept her new role as a mother.

Other favorites include High Pursuit by Mitchell S. Jackson (something about it just felt like ‘home’), Wisdom by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, and The Kontrabida by Mia Alvar. A great bonus at the end of the book is a Reading List of Contemporary Works by Women, Nonbinary, and Transgender Writers of Color/Indigenous Writers. It’s a very comprehensive list covering many genres that I will revisit again and again.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

New Release Tuesday: Intercepted

I’m so not a fan of any sports at all, except when the players are characters in romance novels. It can get so messy and entertaining, you know? All the traveling and groupies and wives and childhood sweethearts, etc. add the perfect amount of drama. I was reluctant to read Intercepted because it’s Alexa Martin’s debut book, but I read her bio and it said she was married to a former NFL player, so I dove in.

Marlee Harper has been an NFL girlfriend for 10 years. Longer than usual for most. Her boyfriend Chris is the quintessential football player. Big house he doesn’t need. Flashy car. He makes Marlee join the player’s wives group, the Lady Mustangs, even though they see her as “just a girlfriend”. Of course she has nothing in common with these botoxed, mean girls but she endures it because she loves Chris and wants to support him and his career. He’s under extra stress right now because the team is bringing in a new quarterback and apparently that means something to wide receivers. Who knew? *shrugs* Anyway, this new hotshot quarterback, Gavin, just happens to be a man from Marlee’s past. Chris and Marlee break up, for totally unrelated reasons, and she swears off professional athletes forever. Gavin doesn’t care about that, though, and seems hellbent on changing her mind.

This was such a fun book to read. Alexa Martin has written a hilarious, sexy novel filled with lots of insider football tidbits. The scenes where Marlee attends the Lady Mustang meetings with thealone are worth picking Intercepted up. Writing this review makes me want to read it all over again and I can’t wait for her next book in the The Playbook series, Fumbled, due out Spring 2019.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the First to Read program and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Barracoon

This is a difficult book to review. On the one hand, the author was a brilliant storyteller and I greatly anticipated the release of this book. But, on the other, maybe this didn’t deserve a full length publication. It feels more suited to a magazine article or a series of them.

Cudjo (Kossula) Lewis arrived in America in 1859 on what is thought to be the last ship to carry enslaved Africans, the Clotilda. As part of her work as a cultural anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston was sent to interview him for Carter G. Woodson’s Journal of Negro History. Through a series of casual visits at his home, Hurston is able to hear a rare first hand account of what it’s like to be sold from everything you’ve known and forced into a whole new way of existence. Slavery is abolished less than 7 years later and now Cudjo and the others who came over on the Clotilda are in the unique position of being free in a country where they’re considered foreigners, even by the African-Americans they worked alongside.

It’s easy to see why Hurston was chosen for this assignment, as she was able to relate to Cudjo in a familiar yet respectful way, allowing him to tell his story in a way that felt comfortable for him. I learned a lot, but I felt like the meat of the story was less than I expected. There’s a lengthy introduction that gives backstory surrounding the history of the area where Cudjo was born, the sailing of the Clotilda, and Hurston’s efforts to get this work published. I would have preferred this as an afterward, because it was a little exhausting to read before actually getting to the book. It made Cudjo’s words seem over too quickly.

As a student of African-American history, I recommend Barracoon because of its importance to the canon of Zora Neale Hurston. But I finished wanting more.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Midyear Reading Check-In

As far as social media is concerned, I spend the most time on Facebook (because I’m not a millennial), then Instagram (because I need to know what millennials are doing), and finally Goodreads.

In addition to keeping track of and rating the books I’ve read, Goodreads allows me (a true introvert) to interact with authors and likeminded readers. You can win books, join virtual bookclubs, find out about upcoming releases and even buy books. It’s a dream.

Every year they sponsor a reading challenge to help support you to read more if you’re someone who works better with concrete goals.

This year I set my goal as 125 books and as of today, I’ve read 64 which is 51% there.

Seems like a lot? If you’re reading War and Peace type books, yes. But I read a variety of books including romance, which I can usually finish in a few hours.

Some stats:

  • Of the 64 books I’ve read, 56 were romance novels.
  • Of those 56 romances, 32 were independently published and most were better than the ones put out by traditional publishers.
  • I gave the top rating (5 stars) to 5 books so far this year: When They Call You A Terrorist, A Brief History of Seven Killings, The Wanderer, Children of Blood and Bone, and Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
  • I rarely give romance books 5 stars, but The Wanderer made the cut. Nia Forrester is a great writer.
  • Fortunately, I didn’t give any book I’ve read this year under 3 stars. Three stars means “I don’t consider this book a waste of time, but…meh”
  • I gave the recently released Zora Neale Hurston book Barracoon 3 stars. #sorrynotsorry

So that’s it so far in my reading year. According to Goodreads, I need to read 3 books a week to remain on track to meet my goal. Let me go do that.

Click here if you want to be my friend on Goodreads.

Stay With Me Forever

Stay With Me

by Farrah Rochon

The sixth book in the Bayou Dreams series gives us its latest look at the proud residents of Gauthier, Louisiana. The town has grown and prospered since discovering its significant historical importance, but being in an area prone to hurricanes makes it vulnerable to flooding.

Paxton Jones and Sawyer Robertson grew up in Gauthier but on different sides of the tracks. Paxton was dirt poor living with her single mom and her high school crush Sawyer, the football star,  was the son of one of the town’s most successful businessman. Now adults living elsewhere, both have returned to work on an engineering project that will hopefully alleviate the town’s flooding issues. Working together brings up longheld feelings they have for each other as well as the perceived class separation between the two.

This book fit in well with the other ones in the series and had the perfect amount of conflict and romance. I wish the ending was a little more fleshed out with events that happened once the flood project was finished, but maybe that will come up in the next book.

4stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Dark Paradise

Dark Paradiseby Angie Sandro

I had no idea that this was a “new-adult” mystery when I started it, but I’m glad that I picked it up. Mala Lacroix comes from a long line of women who are rumored to be “witches” in Paradise, Louisiana. The rumor is true, but Mala wants no part of it. When she comes across the body of a girl in the bayou near her home, she is drawn into the mystery surrounding the death and must confront (and use) the powers she has.

Despite how the rest of the town feels about the Lacroix women, Landry Prince has always harbored a crush on Mala. When the dead girl is revealed to be his sister, Landry becomes more drawn to Mala and together they work to find out the truth behind the murder.

I love a good mystery that includes elements of hoodoo/voodoo and this debut novel by Ms. Sandro gave me everything I needed.

4stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.