Friday, August 16, 2019

2018 Mississippi Book Festival: Miss Titta Nurse Chloe by Regena Hoye

Regena Hoye
Last year, I attended the Mississippi Book Festival for the first time. I met the author, Regena Hoye, who wrote the book, Miss Titta Nurse Chloe.  Ms. Hoye was extremely nice and shared her book with me. I didn't get to stay long because of the heat, and having to pick up my children from the library. However, Ms. Hoye was the highlight.

Here is the excerpt from her book:
Miss Titta is a southern mystery. Miss Titta, a widow, is a graceful woman, of medium height and caramel skin, with brown eyes that wisely appraised. In the 1950’s, she applied her hands on the southern community of Lena that had faith in, and depended on her healing powers. Miss Titta is the midwife, the healer, and the comforter and a mentor to thirteen-year-old Chloe Harris. The southern country town’s daily life was familiar, but among the familiar came the unexpected.When Chloe’s father is involved in a terrible accident while on the job at the turpentine plant and all the plant workers find themselves being dangerously compromised, Miss Titta intervenes to seek justice.Then another cruel tragedy happens to Chloe’s family that caused Miss Titta to risk her life to investigate the cause and to bring justice so that the perpetrator of the horrific crime is punished.
Will you join Miss Titta as she risk her life for justice and to expose the truth?
I would highly recommend that you check out her book. Her book is truly a "southern gem." Learn more about Regena Hoye on her website.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Review: Under Water by Jessie Wilson

Book Title: Under Water
Book Author: Jessie Wilson
Format: Paper Back
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐)

When was the last time you read a book that forced you to greedily devour it? For me, the answer is this week. Today, I finished Under Water by Jessie Wilson, and this book was amazing.

Under Water is a thrilling novel that engulfed me until the very end. Throughout this text, the main character struggles with navigating teenage life, including academics and social engagement. She has an awful time with math. Her engagement with her peers is awkward. She has no friends. An incident in her childhood taught her the valuable cost of making friends.

My heart ached for the main character for so many reasons. The narrator had no real place of solace, not with her father, mother,  brother nor with her peers. Her peace and contentment were derived from reading a book. When she read, she could escape her troubles. She was a true bibliophile. She craved a mother or mother figure. She desperately desired to leave the grasp of her father's abuse and power.

Dealing with a narcissistic father, who abused her psychologically, physically, mentally, and even financially, the narrator's transition to a new school at the demands of her older brother Cal gave me new hope for her future. Wilson's illustration of how a person victim feels powerless and hopeless, even when they are not in direct contact with their abuser, is amazingly portrayed in this narrative.

The irony of the narrator living on a boat and being the doctor of a fisherman turned smuggler and being aquaphobic is just one example of how well-written Under Water is.

Wilson uses an educator as the "savior" for the narrator. I liked how Wilson conclusively demonstrates the significance that a teacher or coach can unknowingly have in a student's life. Even though I was upset that the narrator was forced to conquer her fear of water and to become a swimmer, I ultimately appreciated how these actions contributed to changing the trajectory of her entire life.

Also, I enjoyed how Wilson highlighted the cringe-worthy victim-blaming culture of other women through the character, Kelly, the narrator's roommate. Kelly turned into a protagonist like a narrator's father, quickly.

Ultimately, I loved the ending of Under Water. The complexity of this book definitely intrigued me. I highly recommend this YA book. You will not be disappointed.

Trigger Warning: This book includes references to domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, and child abuse. 
If you or someone you know are dealing with domestic violence or sexual abuse, here are two hotlines that can assist you. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The National Sexual Assault Hotline number is 1-800-656 HOPE (4673).

About Under Water

For the daughter of a fisherman-turned-smuggler, keeping secrets equals survival. When she is sent away from their boat-home for one year to a nearby boarding school, it’s with her father's threat hanging over her head: You talk about things that shouldn’t be talked about, I’ll kill you. But a boarding school with a student body of eight is a perilous place to be when you have a headful of secrets, particularly with a headmaster who seems to be able to read minds. When the headmaster discovers the aquaphobia born out of her fearful childhood, he compels her to join the school swim team, headed by a tough coach who has his own dark history with the water. As she sheds her fear and discovers a hidden talent for distance swimming, she crafts a plan to escape the boat she’s doomed to return to at the end of the school year. But when her plans begin to unravel, she finds something sinister that has stood between her and escape all along: the secrets she’s kept from herself.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Book Review: Perfect City by Joe Berridge

Book Title: Perfect City
Book Author: Joe Berridge
Format: PDF File
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐)

In The Perfect City, Joe Berridge provides a vivid description of his journey as an "urban fixer." Throughout the introductory chapter, Berridge presents the case of the city and the city planner in terms of a machine and a mechanic. This unique metaphor sets the tone for the rest of the text. In my opinion, Berridge wants the reader to recognize how the city planners work as a mechanic to fine-tune the intricacies and workings of a city. 

I was intrigued by Perfect City because my doctoral program, Public Policy, and Administration, works closely with the Urban and Regional Planning Program at Jackson State University. Many of my friends and colleagues are trained urban planners, so I was curious as to how Perfect City would inform me about the discipline. Surprisingly, this text does not read like an academic textbook, but it flows like an autobiography that has embedded within the lines, which can be used in the urban planning classroom. Several chapters are dedicated to individual cities, which Berridge uses to highlight pertinent information that can be used in transforming cities into models of urban perfection.

Berridge did an excellent job of detailing how cities can grow and improve while providing examples of how cities are hindering their transformation. I believe that everyone would enjoy Perfect City, especially residents in urban areas. Individuals who work in urban areas or who are urban planners would enjoy this text, which can be used as a guidebook to improve urban communities.

Let me know if you order the text. I would love to learn your thoughts on Perfect City.

About the Book

There is no such thing as a perfect city, but all great cities have moments of perfection — perfect streets or buildings, perfect places to raise a family or to relax with a coffee — and all strive for perfection when they undertake grand civic projects revitalizing their downtowns or waterfronts, or building innovation hubs, airports, and arenas, or reforming their governance systems, or integrating streams of new immigrants. Cities, more than ever, are the engines of our economies and the ecosystems in which our lives play out, which makes questions about the perfectibility of urban life all the more urgent. Joe Berridge, one of the world’s leading urban planners, takes us on an insider’s tour of some of the world’s largest and most diverse cities, from New York to London, Shanghai to Singapore, Toronto to Sydney, Manchester to Belfast, to scrutinize what is working and what is not, what is promising and what needs to be fixed in the contemporary megalopolis. We meet the people, politicians, and thinkers at the cutting edge of global city making, and share their struggles and successes as they balance the competing priorities of growing their economies, upgrading the urban machinery that keeps a city humming, and protecting, serving, and delighting their citizens. We visit a succession of great urban innovations, stop to eat in many of Joe’s favorite places, and leave with a startling view of the magical urban future that awaits us all.

About the Author

Joe Berridge, a partner at Urban Strategies, is an urban planner and city builder who has had an integral role in the development of complex urban planning and regeneration projects in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Asia. He has been strategic advisor for the development of the city centres of Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff and for the waterfronts of Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, Cork, London and Governors Island in New York City. He has prepared campus master plans for the Universities of Manchester, Waterloo, Queen’s and Western and is now advising on the new hub for Toronto Pearson International Airport. Joe teaches at the University of Toronto and is a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

Quote of the Day - Nikki Giovanni

Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.  
-Nikki Giovanni
Order books by Nikki Giovanni

Monday, May 27, 2019

Book Review: River Queens by Alexander Watson

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Book Title: River Queens
Book Author: Alexander Watson
Format: Manuscript Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Source: Author

I am excited that I am getting back on track with my book reviews that are long overdue. I just finished reading River Queens by Alexander Watson. River Queens is about the journey of two men and their dog in the once unfamiliar world of boating. When these men go from being owners of an antique and renovation building to randomly transforming a wooden boat from looking like a nightmare gone wrong to a dream yacht named Betty Jane, I knew that this book would probably be like none that I have ever read.

It is said that a true river man searches the earth until he finds his very own river. A search that is as personal as it is for a mate.”- page 222 in River Queens

Even though I was lost with the boating terms sprinkled throughout River Queens, I appreciated the dose of reality about relationships with family, your significant other, and random people, whom you meet. The back of the River Queens contains a dictionary to understand the boating world terms that Watson’s use to further illustrate his point. The boating terms sometimes distracts and confuses the reader. So, readers can definitely appreciate this feature.

Throughout River Queens, Watson presents the rawness of life, especially from the viewpoint of a homosexual couple. With this text, Watson shows the normalcy surrounding people not accepting his relationship with his partner, Dale, as romantic and not just friends, while illuminating the beauty of a wonderful relationship with man’s best friend, a Dalmatian dog named Doris Faye. I like how Watson does not give an illusion that the relationship that he has with Dale is dreamy and perfect. Watson lets the reader know how decisions impacting the well-being of both must be discussed and addressed. I like how Watson shows the good, the bad, and ugly when you are embarking on a new and unfamiliar adventure, while in a relationship.

The reader learns so much about Watson and Dale in River Queens. Watson and Dale’s desire to renovate Betty Jane and trek across the rivers of the United States illuminates the importance of resilience, determination, and discipline. The time, effort, and commitment that Dale and Watson have to renovate Betty Jane amazed me, and I think it is truly remarkable and commendable. Watson does not focus primarily on sharing the wonderful aspects of the trek on the rivers, but he highlights in River Queens many instances of doubt, regret, physical and mental turmoil, and so much more. I think that everyone can benefit from reading this text because there are so many life lessons.

About  River Queens

Two men who have absolutely no business buying a boat, do; have the forty-five foot cruiser hauled to the Arkansas River; and plan to cruise down the Arkansas, up the Mississippi, and up to Ohio to re-settle in Cincinnati. But re-rigging the boat in the remotest part of eastern Oklahoma takes more time than they thought; the Mississippi isn't necessarily a river savvy boaters push up; and well, life, with its responsibilities and obligations, keeps poking its nose in. The summer vacation jaunt becomes an odyssey of epic proportions.

About the Author

Alexander Watson is an entrepreneur, an adventurer, and author. He has salvaged his families from bankruptcy, renovated derelict rental properties into Class A apartments; and restored a vintage motor yacht to its factory-new shine. In 2008, he sold it all to pursue a chance at life on the river.
Alexander's grandparents are responsible for his writing ability and his wanderlust. His grandfather who, as pioneering air-conditioning engineer, tamed the summer heat from the Sonora, across the Caribbean, to the Negev and beyond; he journaled obsessively. His Nan sent postcards and letters. But to get, Watson had to reciprocate. He still sends cards & letters whenever away from home. Watson’s book, River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America tells of the extraordinary people found only on our nation’s rivers. Watson now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his partner and his dog, a black standard poodle named Kohl.


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Monday, February 25, 2019

Quote of the Day

Romance without finance don't stand a chance. - Anonymous 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Book Review: The Future Has A Past by J. California Cooper

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Book Title: The Future Has A Past
Book Author: J. California Cooper
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Public Library

My first exposure to J. California Cooper was in 2011. Life at this time for me seemed plagued with misfortune and sadness. Nothing appeared to be going right. I was going through a horrible divorce. At this time, reading was my best escape. I read about as much then as I did as a child.

I transferred to Wingfield High School for the Spring Semester. One day, my duty assigned included an extended period in the library. I decided to grab a random book off the shelf. I chose the book, A Piece of Mine, by J. California Cooper. Before getting the book off the shelf, J. California Cooper's work was unfamiliar to me. I am so glad that I was exposed to her then. I have read quite a few of her books and just can't put them down. Her storytelling skills demonstrated in. her books leave you feeling like your grandmother just gave you a wealth of knowledge that you need to store for later.
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Recently, things have been kind of difficult for me, and I felt that I needed a J. California Cooper book to make me feel better. So, I made a special trip to the library to find a book that I haven't read by J. California Cooper. My library did not have any of her books, and I was so disappointed. However, I requested two books from other libraries in the county system.  

When I received my notice, I raced to the library to get my book. The librarian informed me that the books were not on the shelf. I am working on being patient and not easily irritated, but I couldn't help it. I needed these books. I needed to feel better. I wanted the books. She only found one of the books in the back. Was someone trying to save my books for a friend? These books are not popular books, but still, I was surprised. So that day, I only walked away with The Future Has a Past. I had to wait for the other one to arrive. 

I often do not like reading short stories because sometimes I become so engulfed in a story that I am filled with disappointment when it stops, usually before I am ready for it to finish. Yet, J. Califonia Cooper's short stories are well worth the read. The Future Has a Past is a collection of four short stories that illuminate how true love can happen when you least expect it and no matter what you have experienced in your past.

"You got to watch life, cause it's moving all the time, every minute!"

The first story, The Shooting Star, is full of the reality that if children aren't given love as a child, they spend their adult life searching and suffering for that same love. Lorene's life and its quick demise remind you of how people can recognize your weaknesses and prey on you.

"Learn a little about what love is."

A Filet of Soul is the second short story in The Future Has a Past. Luella's gullibility to Silki is probably a familiar story to some many women. Everyone else could see Silki as the crook he was, but Luella's inexperience and desire to feel important and loved by someone blinded her from the truth. Even though she paid tremendously, there was a ram in the bush for her. Silki's departure was the best thing to happen to Luella. She would have never met Sidney.

"She just working herself to death for them useless grown kids of hers."

The story, The Eagle Flies, is about Vinnie. She is a single mother, who has spent her entire life being overworked to support her children. Even though her children are adults and living their own lives, Vinnie continues to sacrifice her needs and to overwork herself. Her blind desire to support her adult children conceals how much her children are taking advantage of her.

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"We have a whole life apart from you and you didn't think enough of use to look and see it."

The final story, The Lost and Found, is about Irene. She is a single mother of two boys. The surprising ending tickled my soul. Witnessing the demise of a womanizing arrogant man at the hands of the only woman, who truly loved him, gave me great pleasure. I won't give away the details, but I would recommend that you read it to see how this story unfolds.

I must say this book gave me just what I needed. When I finished it, I could not help but be pleased. I smiled and held it closely, while silently thanking her for sharing her talents with us. I am grateful.

The wisdom etched within the lines of this text will make you want to write it down, agree with it, tweet it, and appreciate it. J. California Cooper's books appeal to every type of reader, especially one who enjoys a good story. I wished that I would have gotten to meet her or even the chance to listen to her.  Check out the YouTube video above to see who J. California Cooper was.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Book Review: Cast No Shadow by Brandon Dragan

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Book Title: Cast No Shadow
Book Author: Brandon Dragan
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I am long overdue for posting book reviews, but I am steadily getting on track with catching up on my reading. Adjusting to teaching full time has been both challenging and rewarding. I am excited about sharing this first book review in the month of February. Perhaps the excitement stems from the fact that my birthday is tomorrow. Who knows!? I hope you enjoy this book, as much as I did.

Cast No Shadow surprisingly presents a fascinating short story filled with excitement and action. The short story is a tale about Beau, who happens to be an undercover vigilante. Think modern day Robin Hood. He unexpectantly invades criminal operations and takes their money, while destroying the operation from being functional.  

The love affair between Beau and his wife, Annabelle, quickly reminds of Erykah Badu songs "Other Side of the Game" and "Danger." Even though Annabelle recognizes the flaws in his occupation, she supports him because she loves him. The couple has one son, Cal, whom Beau shows how a father should act. 

After the most recent rendezvous, Beau becomes a little paranoid. His paranoia impacts his ability to function as a "normal person." As a result, his family does not know how to interpret his unusual behavior. When one of his colleagues becomes hospitalized, and another commits suicide/murder,  Beau instructs his wife to pack up the family. Before they can leave, the plot thickens unpredictably.  Then, the Cast No Shadow ends.

I rated Cast No Shadow 4 out of 5 stars because of the ending. The ending leaves you wanting more. I enjoyed reading the book and like the uniqueness of Dragan's writing style, which is different from what I am accustomed to reading, even as an English professor. This book is ideal for individuals, who like action thrillers. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read Cast No Shadow for free. 

Book Blurb: Set deep in the heart of 1980’s Texas, Cast No Shadow tells the harrowing tale of Vietnam veteran, husband, and father, Beau Moreland. By day he helps his elderly neighbors and watches his son’s baseball practice; by night he hunts drug gangs. In his quest for justice and a more peaceful life for his loved ones, Beau inadvertently sets off an unstoppable chain of events which will hurtle his family toward a startling and breath-taking conclusion.

For more information about Brandon Dragan and his work, visit his website: 

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