Teaser Tuesday: Group Post

As part of a weekly feature, The Page Turners are here to share a piece of what we’re currently reading. Anyone can participate! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title, page number & author, too, so that other readers can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“The streetcar had cut him just below the torso and it had cut his left leg completely off and had crushed the right leg, because the streetcar…had just run right over him. He ended up bleeding to death.” Malcolm’s most vivid memory of his father’s funeral was his mother’s hysteria, and later her difficulty in coping with what had happened.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, page 31, by Manning Marable  –Alex

Subconsciousness could drive a person crazy if they suppressed themselves long enough.  Selah had already done this to herself before and come back; she didn’t want to scar anyone else.

Selah’s Bed,  page 10, by Jonoyne Adams –Alise

 

 

 

How dare I. Mrs. Reed? How dare I?  Because it is the truth.  You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so : and you have no pity.  I shall remember how you thrust me back — roughly and violently thrust me back — into the red-room, and locked me up there, to my dying day; though I was in agony; though I cried out, while suffocating with distress, ‘Have mercy! Have mercy, aunt Reed!’

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte –Miss  Spinks

Book Review: The Freedom Writers Diary

I learned a lot in the first few days that I was enrolled in the class.  Some of my classmates are going through a war… an undeclared war, waged on innocent kids just trying to grow up.  Society just doesn’t care about young people anymore, even if we are the future.

Call me corny but I love the movie, The Freedom Writers.  If I’m flipping through the channels and it’s on, you best to believe I’m going to watch.  Every time I watch the movie I laugh and cry as if it were my first viewing…I can’t believe it took me this long to read the book.

The Freedom Writers Diary was written by The Freedom Writers,  about 150 students who named themselves in honor of the civil rights activists the Freedom Riders, with their teacher Erin Gruwell.  The Freedom Writers along with their teacher waged war against a community that deemed these students as worthless and unteachable.  I think the worst thing was that even many of the teachers at Wilson High School labeled them as at-risk and unsavable.

This diary turned book consists of anonymous diary entries that Gruwell required the students to write in class.  The entrees give an inside view into the lives of the students.  I was flabbergasted at some of the situations that the students endured at home.  But when I really thought about it I wasn’t surprised.  There were students who were molested, homeless, drug addicts and abused.  However they all shared one common factor — they all wanted to be wanted.

Dear Diary,
If you look into my eyes, you will see a loving girl.
If you look at my smile, you will sense that nothing is wrong.
If you look in my heart, you will see some pain.
If you pull up my shirtsleeves and look at my arms, you will see black and blue marks.

There’s nothing like knowing that you have family and a community that values you and will keep you safe.  The things that kids are forced to deal with are sickening.  As I look back on my own childhood, I thank God that he kept me ‘cuz “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” but I made it.  I guess that’s why I love this story so much.  In life we run across so many people who try to tear and beat us down but we continue to rise.  I’m so glad that there was a Ms. Gruwell for these kids and I pray that others who exist are given the resources they need to help our children.

As I think back on my days in high school, my Ms. Gruwells were Mrs. Sermons and Mrs. Gray.  If it were not for their love of teaching I’m not sure where I would be.  It was in their classes that I truly began to love the written word.  It was in their classes that I found hope.  I wasn’t just that little fast girl who my uncle declared would be pregnant by the age of 16.  I was “young, black and gifted.”  As I read this book I was so happy that these students of various hues realized that they were young and gifted and that there are people who really care.

I know that all of the stories won’t end like this one but if we all just do something to ensure that we shine our light so that others can see…just imagine…

Aside

You may have already heard that Borders is closing many of their bookstores. From what I’ve seen on their website, every Borders in the San Francisco Bay Area is closing. It always pains me to see bookstores close, whether big chains or independent sellers, but there is a bright side to it all: HUGE BOOK SALES.

Two weeks ago, I headed over to the Borders closing in Alameda, Ca, five minutes from Oakland. Everything was on sale. I went straight to the Literature section where all of the books were 50% off.

I was ready to get a few books I’d been wanting for a while, but to my dismay, nothing was in any kind of order other than by genre. What did that mean? Sifting through 8 6-shelved book cases. Sounds like fun, huh?

It actually was, though. Even though I didnt find a single book from my list, I still ended up with 26 books in my basket. I eventually whittled it down to ten.

A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines – I love this book. LOVE IT. In fact, A Gathering of Old Men is the reason why Gaines is my favorite male author ever. Many may know him from his other works, A Lesson Before Dying and The Autiobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, both turned in to movies, but this particular book is my favorite by far. The eloquent novel tells the story of eighteen old Black men who, in order to protect the culprit, all claim to have killed a Cajun farmer on his sugarcane plantation. I had yet to add it to my collection, so I jumped at the chance to purchase it for $7.

Aint Nobodys Business If I Do by Valerie Wilson Wesley – I’d forgotten all about this author until @Reads4Pleasure mentioned her in one of her blogs.  As a teen, I used to gobble up any and every book by Wilson Wesley, especially her Tamera Hayle mystery series, but after college, I somehow forgot about her. Well, I snatched this book up from the shelves, read the synopsis about a middle aged librarian whose husband walks out on her while their family is going through multiple life changes, and threw it in the bag for $8.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – It is no secret that Toni Morrison is my favorite author of all time. My first introduction to her was through this story of Pecola Breedlove and her desperate want for blue eyes and blonde hair, the symbol of beauty and acceptance in America. I remember sitting in the orthodontist’s office at 11 years old, riveted by this story and it’s amazing testament to Black girls living in a white world. Snatched up the hardcover edition for $11.

Color Me Butterfly by L.Y. Marlow – This story of a family’s destructive legacy of domestic violence is scheduled to be the June Literary Selection for my book club, Booktini. This book, and Wench, were the only books written by Black authors with plenty of copies left. Got it for $9.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – I have heard a never ending stream of positivity about Jhumpa Lahiri and her work, but I have yet to read any of her books. When I saw all of her books on sale, I was so excited that I threw each of them in the basket. I took them out when I decided that spending my entire paycheck in Borders wouldn’t be a responsible decision. I allowed myself to only get one, and chose Interpreter of Maladies because  it is why she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000. She was also blessed with the Pen/Hemingway Award and named “Debut of the Year” by The New Yorker. Got it for $7.

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice – Before there was Twilight, True Blood, and all of these other odes to vampires that have infiltrated popular culture, there was Anne Rice and her series dedicated to the Vampire’s Louis, Lestat, and their brood that we became familiar with through the movies based on her novels. I have always loved the movie based on this book (the first time I set eyes on Brad Pitt), and recently decided that if I ever saw the book, I’d pick it up.  Got it for $4!

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez – I have loved Julia Alvarez ever since I discovered her in high school while wasting time away in the library in the early hours before my first period classes. I loved How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents  and found myself attracted to more books by Latino authors who sprinkled their English novels with Spanish (Sandra Cisneros was another favorite). In The Time of Butterflies is based on the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government in the Dominican Republic.  The summary piqued my interest so I got it for $6. There is also a movie based on the book starring Salma Hayek.

Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride – Ever since I saw this movie in theaters, I promised myself I’d read this fictional account of  four Buffalo soldiers from the Army’s Negro Division who find themselves behind enemy lines and end up protected by peasants in a small Tuscon village toward the end of World War II. This novel rang up for $9,

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead – Colson Whitehead is hilarious. I know because I follow him on twitter. He’s also been mentioned in countless articles and blogs about influential Black authors on the social networking site. This coming of age novel about Benji, who leaves his elite prep school in Manhattan, for the Hamptons every summer, is on my reading list for the year. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post. It was also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Got it for $10.

Sula by Toni Morrison – One would think, since this is my favorite novel of all time, that I would own a copy of it, right? Well, that was not the case…until now. This story of the life long friendship shared by Nel Wright and Sula Peace is dear to my heart, so when I saw it on the shelf  beckoning to me, I clutched it to my chest and claimed it as my own. Ok, I didnt do all of that. But I did buy it for $8.40.

Overall, I saved $61 and walked out with ten books. Of course I was giddy with excitement to add so many books to my library, especially the books that I’ve already claimed as favorites.

If you have any Borders bookstores closing in your area, make sure you take advantage of the sales going. It may take a while to look through the clutter, but you’re bound to find a treasure or two…or ten.

-Nakia

What genres of books do you enjoy the most?

Every Wednesday we are going to give you readers a chance to tell us about different aspects of books and reading in your life. One or more of the Page Turners will answer the question and then we would like to hear from you!

I most enjoy books written about women of the African Diaspora set pre-1960’s.  Probably 70% of the fiction that I read is of that genre.  Also I am a huge mystery/crime story buff.  I would call them my guilty pleasre but that would require guilt, lol.

 

What genres of books go you enjoy the most?

Who is your favorite book character?

Every Wednesday we are going to give you readers a chance to tell us about different aspects of books and reading in your life. One or more of the Page Turners will answer the question and then we would like to hear from you!


My absolute favorite book character Dominick Birdsey the protagonist from I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb.  I mostly loved this character because he was written so complex, yet believable.  His reactions to extreme  adversity and the writing of his relationship with his schizophrenic twin brother is some of the most brilliant character development and storytelling I have encountered in my reading history.

Who is your favorite book character?

Teaser Tuesday: Group Post

As part of a weekly feature, The Page Turners are here to share a piece of what we’re currently reading. Anyone can participate! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title, page number & author, too, so that other readers can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“In few other professions are you required, each and every day, to weigh so many competing claims —  between different sets of constituents, between the interests of your state and the interests of the nation, between party loyalty and your own sense of independence, between the value of service and obligations to your family. There is a constant danger, in the cacophony of voices, that a politician loses his moral his moral bearings and finds himself entirely steered by the winds of public opinion.         pg. 65,  The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama   –Nakia

 

 

“My grandfather laid the blame for the state of his herds and his dwindling wealth upon the fact that all his sons had died at birth or in infancy, leaving him nothing but daughters. He gave no thought to his own sloth, believing that only a son would turn his luck around.” pg. 20, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – Cashawn

 

“Just as the ancestor of the American Negro came from no single region, so he was of no single tribe or physical type. The “West Coast Negro,” the predominant type that came to the New World, was marked by such characteristics as tall stature, woolly hair, broad features, full lips, little growth of hair on face or body, and a skin color approaching true black. But there was no such thing as one African ‘race.'”  pg. 16, The Negro in the Making of America, by Benjamin Quarles-Miss Spinks

 

“The clientele who patronized the Five Moons weren’t there to socialize.  From the smell that slapped Eve the moment she stepped through the door, buring off stomach lining was the order of the day. ” pg. 39, Glory in Death, by J.D. Robb, –Alise

 

 

 

 

What are you reading?

 

Wednesday Lit Roundup

Who is your favorite author?

Every Wednesday we are going to give you readers a chance to tell us about different aspects of books and reading in your life.   One or more of the Page Turners will answer the question and then we would like to hear from you!

Gloria Naylor

 

My favorite author of all time is Gloria Naylor.  She is most famously known for The Women of Brewster Place which was also a very popular TV-Movie.  I have read all of her books multiple times.  Some of my favorites include Mama Day (which I reviewed here), Bailey’s Cafe, and Linden Hills. I love her intricate story telling, depth of character development, and realistic dialogue and subject matter.  I feel she is one of the most important and dynamic 20th century American writers.

 

Who is your favorite author, and why?

Teaser Tuesday: Group Post

As part of a weekly feature, The Page Turners are here to share a piece of what we’re currently reading. Anyone can participate! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title, page number & author, too, so that other readers can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“It’s clear as an unflawed diamond that I fucked up big-time by dropping my ass out of school.  There was jobs out there for people without a drop of experience and no high school, but shit, them motherfuckas worked twice as hard and made less than half the money. “

pg. 101, Real Wifeys on the Grind by Meesha Mink – Notorious Spinks

“She called Ma a whore. Pow! Ma sucker punched Chicki, knocking her to the ground, and Ma couldn’t bend over with her pregnant stomach and all, so she let Chickie get up and then grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head against the brick wall.”

pg. 104, All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald – Alex

“He stood with his knees slightly bent, his lips partly open, his shoulders stooped; and his eyes held a look that went only to the surface of things. There was an organic conviction in him that this was the way white folks wanted him to be when in their presence; none had ever told him that in so many words, but their manner had made him feel that they did.”

pg. 48, Native Son by Richard Wright  – Nakia

 

What are you reading?

Book Review: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon


First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
–Epictetus

Await Your Reply, written by Dan Chaon, spans several countries and weaves together three separate stories to create one taut, fast paced psychological page-turner.

Through one of the main characters, Chaon asks: “What kind of person decides that they can throw everything away and – reinvent themselves?  As if you could just discard the parts of your life that you didn’t want anymore.”

These kinds of people.

Ryan fakes his own death and drops out of college to live in seclusion with his estranged father.  Lucy falls in love and runs away with her history teacher only to find out that he’s not the person that he says he is.  And Miles hunts down his ever-disappearing, identity changing twin brother for some closure once and for all.

It sounds like a lot, right?  It is.  But Chaon’s crisp, yet, subtle writing takes you on the journey with ease, making it all easy to digest, all the while raising the bar higher and higher with each chapter.

The title, Await Your Reply, is borrowed from the emails we’ve all gotten from those mysterious rich folks from oversees who asks us to harbor millions of dollars in our US bank accounts.  Who are these people?  Of course they’re not who they say they are.  But what’s their story?  Who are the real people sitting behind the computer?  Reply takes you on the other side of their world.  The hackers who ruin lives and steal identities with the click of a mouse; the motivation behind why folks do away with the identity bestowed upon them.

In an age when we’re all fingers on a keyboard behind computers posting status updates to social media outlets with avatars that represent what we may (or may not) look like, who are we really? Nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to reinvent yourself; to choose an identity and be whom or whatever your want.  The novel is a study on individualism turned on its head: be anyone you want to be by being someone other than yourself.

Lucy, the orphaned high school student who falls in love with the identity her history teacher tailor-made for himself asks herself (and us): “Who would you be if you weren’t Lucy?  What life will you choose for yourselves?”

Chaon forces us to ponder questions like these and many more in this arresting novel that will leave you hiding your social security card, side-eyeing internet shopping, second guessing the true identity of the people you interact with – and wondering who you would become if you had the courage or desire to expunge your very own identity and start all over again.

– Shydel James