Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Review: Keeping Secrets (The Essien Trilogy #1) by Kiru Taye

Book Title: Keeping Secrets (The Essien Trilogy, #1)
Author: Kiru Taye
Format: eBook
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I finished reading Keeping Secrets (The Essien Trilogy, #1) by Kiru Taye today.  At first, the story unfolded rather slowly, but I enjoyed the unsuspecting twists and turns throughout the plot, which is full of drama and suspense.  Taye makes you feel intertwined with the characters' feelings and emotions.   I think that I will finish the other books in The Essien Trilogy.

Based on the theme of arranged marriage, this book follows the love story of Ebony and Felix, who happens to be a wealthy financial businessman.  Trying to appease the board members of his organization, Felix agrees to get married and determines that Ebony is a perfect fit. Even though their marriage is only paper, but the relationship quickly transitions to something else, almost beyond their control.

Many life lessons can be taken away from the first book in the trilogy.  If you want your relationship to last, forgiveness is critical.  True love can withstand betrayal, heartaches, and loss.  Secrets are unhealthy for marriage.

I would recommend this book for adults, who are fans of good romance.  Be warned that there are adult scenes, but Taye explains them in a tasteful manner.

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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Book Title: Americanah
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Format: Paperback
Rating 5 out of 5 stars

I have been curious about Chimamanda since I heard her recite her work on Beyonce's Flawless track. During a recent trip to Barnes and Noble, I picked up Americanah to read when I saw it on display in the middle isle of the store.  I did not read the synopsis of the book.  I just dived right in to read it.  The first chapter was completed it one sitting.  I could not believe how engulfed I became with Ifemelu and her life.

As I read the text, I immediately felt a connection to Ifemelu.  At times, her life mirrored past experiences from my life.  I enjoyed growing with Ifemelu, as she transitioned from a teenager to a woman, as well as traveling with her to the United States and back to her home country.

Thinking about how Ifemelu struggled to transition from being African to an American intrigued me. Being an African-American born in the United States, I have never considered how difficult it is for any immigrant to adapt to the behaviors and standards of a new country.  Adichie forces the reader to realize how immigrants transition to being an American.   Consequently, Adichie highlights the role that identity plays in the humanity.  Ifemelu's character is significant throughout the text and impacts her relationships with others, as well as her transition from Nigeria to the United States and back to Nigeria.  Additionally, the reality of losing your identity or never having a real identity is illustrated in the text, and I understand how either instance can negatively impact someone's life, especially in the example of Aunty Uju and how she raised her son.

So many themes and life lessons are present throughout the text.  I appreciated the lessons that I learned about race and how Africans perceive it in comparison to African-Americans. I have never actually considered the "Non-Black" perception, but Adichie changed my understanding.  The differences are immense.  Adichie's talent in portraying racism in the United States, England, and Nigeria is sprinkled throughout the text.  Following the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze leaves you considering the hierarchy of race between Africans and African Americans.  Reading the blog posts of Ifemelu, I appreciated the way Adichie drilled important realities that most people do not want to acknowledge. Even the shallowness of the educated Nigerians, who had returned after a hiatus to the United States painted a portrait that is all too familiar.  Sexism is another theme that is portrayed in the text.  From Ifemelu's pursuit of employment to Kimberly's husband,  Adichie highlights the perception of gender roles and how these perceptions impact relationships, especially the relationship between Aunty Uju and The General, as well as between Ifemelu's parents.

Even though the premise of the book is an enduring love story, it is a must-read for everyone.  I do not believe that Americanah caters to a particular type of person because everyone can learn something and identify with various aspects of the text.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  As I read, I could not help but to begin to think of ways to incorporate this text in my World Literature or Composition II college courses.  I can envision teaching an entire semester, using only this book.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quickly evolved to be one of my favorite writers.  In 2010, I added Purple Hibiscus to my TBR pile based on the recommendation of a fellow book lover. I cannot wait to devour that text like I did "Americanah." Also, I am interested in reading Half of a Yellow Sun, which is about the Nigeria-Biafra war.   Honestly, I would love to meet Adichie and listen to her speak.  She commanded my attention in "Flawless" and Americanah.  I want to hear what else she has to say.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Blogtour: Love's Great Plan by Regina Puckett

TITLE – Love’s Great Plan
SERIES (& Book #) – The Warren Family Series #4
AUTHOR – Regina Puckett
GENRE – Romance
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) –204 pages/ 49,790 words
PUBLISHER – Punk & Sissy Publications
COVER ARTIST – Mihai Blanaru /
May be read as a standalone book

As the son of two famous actors, Coty is used to the unfaltering scrutiny of the media. But even though he’s been in and out of the spotlight his entire life, he is totally unprepared for the public’s harsh judgement when he’s forced to kill a teenager in the line of duty.
Amanda is the love of Coty’s life. She wants to stand by his side and weather his current crisis, but he’s determined to create a distance between them in the hope of protecting her. His biggest fear is that, if the media makes a connection between them, the reporters will turn their focus from him and onto her. That would most certainly bring the media to rehash the lurid scandal that had erupted after the attempted rape of his sister by Amanda’s own deceased brother.
Coty has no intention of letting his problems hurt Amanda. He only wants her happiness, and if that means he has to let her go – then so be it.

Amanda’s brain felt as if it were filled with cobwebs. The long hours of working nonstop made everything feel fuzzy and uncertain. “Stop making a mountain out of a molehill. I’m not taking advice from a person who got her information about men and women from dirty magazines and porn. You know as much about love as I do, and that amounts to a big fat zero.” 
She pulled on her ponytail and sighed. “Coty has been so good to me. I don’t want to ruin our friendship by embarrassing him. If I threw myself at him, I would only confuse things. If he wants this to go farther than a friendship, I’m going to let him make the first move. Until then, we’re friends, and if that’s all it is ever going to be between the two of us, I’ll be content. I have never had anyone who cared about me. No one has ever worried about my health, about my safety or wellbeing. Coty does. With him I feel safe and loved. There is never a moment when we are together that I don’t feel cherished and happy. So, if I have to be his friend, then I will be his friend. If I have to watch him fall in love and get married to someone else, then I’ll watch him fall in love and get married. I’ll wish them nothing but the best of everything. I’ve never known love, but this time with Coty has meant everything to me. If it has to last me a lifetime, I’ll cherish each and every memory forever.” 
Barbara didn’t say a thing for several moments before finally sputtering out, “You’re not kidding, are you?” 
Amanda didn’t blink. “No. I’m not kidding. You know my past. No one has ever loved me. No one. I would love to be the person Coty falls in love with, but the truth is I never expected to be here doing what I love to do. I never expected to be here with people I love to be with. I appreciate right now that if I suddenly lost it all, I would have this time to look back on, to remember that at one time in my life I had people who cared about me. I could make that last a lifetime, if I had to.”

Regina Puckett has been writing for over forty-five years. She lives in Tennessee with her husband of over forty years. She has two grown daughters and four grandchildren.
She writes sweet romances, horror, inspirational, picture books and poetry. There are several projects in various stages of completion and there are always characters and stories waiting for their chance to finally get out of her head and onto paper.

4 ebook copies of Love’s Great Plan gifted from Amazon

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Guest Post: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
By Mtutuzeli Nyoka
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison is a song for the ages. This is the first Toni Morrison book that I discovered, and for over two decades I have repeatedly gone back to it. It has cast a magical spell on me since, and has been my best introduction to modern works of literature. Its narrative never ceases to invigorate and enthrall.
The language is rich, apt, deliberate, uninhibited, and beguiling. The novel is a reflection on family, community and nationhood. It is about the torment of dispossession, power without bounds, and the ugly face of bigotry. It is also about survival, about human resilience and the indestructible quest for identity. The narrative is carefully crafted and wonderfully lyrical-a song with almost no equal.
We journey with the story's main protagonist, Macon (Milkman) Dead Jr, from birth, through the vacuous, stultifying, and even lurid terrain of his adolescent life. We finally witness his life-and-death encounter with a world, a repellant landscape, which sought to drown him when he desired was to find purpose to his life. His history, his metamorphosis and his flight are the foundations of the song.
Milkman is the son of Macon Dead Sr,-a rapacious, irascible, but successful entrepreneur. The father suffocates and poisons his family, and his son, with his rage, his contempt, and his disappointments. His tormented spirit becomes the swamp in which the Dead family daily wades in. His success is no balm to his bitterness. His wife, Ruth (Forster) Dead, the main object of his outrage is reduced to a pathetic creature that exists only in the shadows-daily reproached, maligned, despised, and humiliated by the husband that she loves.
His daughters' Magdalena Dead and First Corinthians Dead shrivel from the isolation that their closeted life bestows upon them. Their father's wealth, stained with his scorn and pomposity, begets them a life of loneliness and disappointment. Their friends are scared even to touch their silk stockings and expensive dresses. Like their mother, Ruth, their souls are emptied of all emotion-rendering them incapable of loving or being loved. They are frustrated and querulous spinsters whose fury for their father rages like a flooded river.
Their contempt for their selfish brother, Milkman, is irrepressible. 'You've have been laughing at us all your life, Corinthians. Mama. Me. Using us, ordering us, and judging us: How we cook your food; how we keep your house... Who are you to approve or disapprove anybody or anything?... When you wanted to play we entertained you, and when you got grown enough to know the difference between a woman and a tow-toned Ford, everything in this house stopped for you.'
The world that Toni Morrison describes is grim. In Dante's Inferno the gates of Hell are flung open, and in Song of Solomon the reader is immersed in a world that has a disturbing odour of slavery, with depravity hovering menacingly in the background. It is a pernicious domain that produced men and women whose souls were deformed by loss and suffering.
Milkman Dead's narcissism is juxtaposed to the nihilism of his friend Guitar. Guitar responds to the mayhem around him with rage. Throughout the book he sizzles, like a piece of bacon burning in its own fat. It is with violence that he tries to reclaim his own freedom. Guitar possesses all the destructive sentiments that an organically dysfunctional society imposes on its denizens. However, Milkman, in order to go beyond his father's drive for more wealth embarks on an odyssey to his ancestral home of Shalimar. It is the discovery of these roots that finally leads him to discover his inner self.
Professor Morrison once again raises the bar very high with this novel. The reader is enchanted by the story's characters, and is besotted even with the minor ones. There are long passages of dialogue in the vernacular unique to the epoch and people she describes, and it is mostly written with simple and yet jarring language. This book is a portrait of the world, a time which may be hidden but not forgotten, through her gaze-and that of her clan's.
Song of Solomon is a work of extra-ordinary beauty and integrity... a true masterpiece.
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