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.

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore

Debbie doesn'tby Walter Mosley

If you read Walter Mosley for his gritty noir mysteries, don’t expect this book to be the same. While you get glimpses of that style of writing in some of the character’s development,¬†Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore¬†is one of Mosley’s departures from the genre is most known for.

Debbie is a porn start who experiences a revelatory moment on set at the exact same time as her husband dies in their home. Finding out about his betrayal and the debt he has now left her with makes her come to the conclusion that she isn’t going to do “it” anymore – she’s done with porn.

This is far from a quiet novel. Debbie has to deal with the police, her dead husband’s dangerous creditors, and her own past. But Debbie herself is written in a wonderfully subdued way, contrary to what you would expect a famous pornstar to be.

4stars

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

Cherry Lane: A Cavanaugh Island Novel

Cherry Laneby Rochelle Alers

We met Devon Gilmore in the last Cavanaugh Island book,¬†Magnolia Drive, and I knew that she would get her own book one day. After visiting her friend Keaton on the island, Devon starts toying with the idea of moving there from the fast pace of New York City. Finding out that she’s pregnant by someone she sees no future with helps to solidify her decision to relocate. An instant romantic connection with aloof lawyer, David Sullivan, makes a hectic time in her life more complicated.

I love the Cavanaugh Island books because of the characters, the sweet communities and the rich Gullah history they include. While I enjoyed revisiting the area and its people, this isn’t one of my favorites so far in the series as it seemed the plot moved at a breakneck speed throughout to get to the happy ending.

3stars

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

For Your Love: A Blessings Novel

For your loveby Beverly Jenkins

This latest book in the Blessings series by Beverly Jenkins is the one I didn’t know I needed and the one that I maybe enjoyed the most. So much of these books focus on the newer residents of Henry Adams, Kansas and all the changes that are happening there, that I forget that there are still rich backstories to be told about some of the characters.

Trent July is a descendant of one of the founding families of Henry Adams and he and his high school sweetheart are finally married and raising the two boys that they’ve adopted. Raised by his grandmother Tamar, the town’s matriarch, Trent has always wondered about the birth mother that he never knew, but being surrounded by the love of such a close-knit community helped him not to dwell on it. Now new information about his mother comes forth and shakes up Trent as well as the town.

As always with this series, the town itself is a character itself. Welcoming newcomers and dealing with the envy of surrounding communities continue to test the strength and resilience of Henry Adams and its inhabitants. This is one of those series that you hope will go on forever and ever, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

4stars

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