Book Review: Dub Finding Ceremony by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

I know that people normally begin reviews by giving you a blurb about the book but I think that this blurb on Alexis Pauline Gumbs is too good not to share with the world.

“Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all sentient beings.  Her work in this lifetime is to facilitate infinite, unstoppable ancestral love in practice.  Her poetic work in response to the needs of her cherished communities have held space for multitudes in mourning and movement

When THE Alexis Pauline Gumbs is looking for advanced readers for her newest work, Dub on twitter first you jump at the chance. Then you start to fret at least a little bit on whether you are even qualified to write a review on anything written by someone who is essentially a national treasure. But, she trusted you with it so you decide to at the very least give it your best shot. 

Dub is the final volume of a poetic trilogy which began with Spill scenes of black feminist fugitivity. Spill is described as heartbreaking work that pushes the boundaries of art making and scholarship. The second volume M Archive After the end of the world asks the question of how black conciousness and bodies will be archived at the end of the world.

Since receiving Dub I’ve read it three times. The first time it took me over a month because I kept having to put it down as I became overwhelmed from the beauty of her words which she uses to call out the hipocrisy of the world and the way we treat each other and it. I gasped, took numerous sharp intake of breaths, cried and laughed out loud.

The second time I read it I was astounded by how swiftly Alexis pulls you into each piece with the beauty of nature then gut punches you with her observations on climate change, racism, sexism, colonialism, genocide and slavery. 

The third time I read it I fell in love with the first piece from the chapter titled “saving the planet”.

remember, you come from a people who not so long ago didn’t use water that way, that gave back to this land that sweats god’s tears of joy.

 People throw around terms like Genius and Magic frequently but if you open this book, flip to any passage, and don’t feel moved from your soul then I will assume that you don’t have one. 

5 stars aren’t enough for this sacred text but it’s all we got so… 

Dub Finding Ceremony will be released on February 14th 2020 and you can purchase your copy at most major retailers or at your favorite feminist bookstore. 

My sincere thanks to Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Duke Press for the ARC of Dub and the gifts of Spill and M Archive

Book Review: Every New Year by Katrina Jackson

The world is a dumpster fire so I’ve been seeking feel good books full of love, laughter, and diverse stories. Every New Year was the perfect book to read to set the tone for 2020.

“In the middle of their first year at college, Candace and Ezra share a clumsy kiss that should have been the beginning of an epic love affair, but it’s not. Instead, it begins a nearly two-decade journey of never quite getting the timing right for love. For almost every New Year’s Eve after, Candace and Ezra stumble into one another’s arms, but can’t manage to hold onto each other for more than a single night. They live with the expectant giddiness of being able to spend New Year’s Eve with the person they love, always hoping that next year will be their year. Until eventually, their annual trysts ruin even the friendship that held them together. “

Every New Year is not your typical silly poor woman / well-controlled rich man romance novel. I loved so many things about this book from how well rounded the characters were to the amazing sustainable business that Ezra creates. Ezra is rich, brilliant, and awkward AF. Candace is nuanced, brilliant, and unbeknownst to herself; awkward AF.

When offered the opportunity to read the ARC of this book I wondered how the author was going to manage a story that jumps in plot from year to year in a fresh and interesting way and Katrina Jackson knocks it out of the park. The structure she uses allows readers to follow the characters during their yearly ritual without bogging us down with backstory or losing us and leaving us asking, “How did we get here?”

Ezra and Candace both feel like a couple of your brilliantly awkward friends who you love and want to slap from time to time because why can’t they both just realize what everyone else realizes?

5 Stars and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. Read if you too love love and need a break from the dumpster fire of a world that we live in. Extra points for a diverse cast written as if they were meant to be diverse and not just for diversity sakes.

Every New Year is available in paperback and on Kindle Unlimited so do yourself a favor and dive in to this lovely story. Let me know if it makes you add some new countries to the top of your bucket list.

Content Warnings:
parental sickness (cancer, diabetes, hypertension)

OH: I’m frequently asked to be an advanced reader for books written by authors of color and I will say that Katrina Jackson has been the simplest and most rewarding author to deal with in a long while. Her email was full of everything I needed to review her book including a link to a file full of pictures to use for the review. I would gladly read books for authors who are this prepared.

Book Review: A Sister’s Power

“Already reeling from betrayal, middle sister Coco is fed up with lies—including her own. If she has her way, someone else’s neck needs to be on the line for a change. But soon, Coco’s in deep trouble with the law, her future hanging in the balance . . . Now the only thing that can save her is revealing one last devastating truth.

Struggling with unthinkable loss, Coco’s sister, Burgundy, finds comfort in a colleague’s arms. But her eight-year-old daughter wants no part of him. She wants the life she enjoyed when her father was alive. As Burgundy fights to move on from the shocking tragedy of her marriage, she seeks a silver lining. And against all odds, she wants herself and all her sisters to win. In spite of secrets, lies, deception, and hurt, she will do whatever it takes to support and empower her family. Even if it means risking everything that’s important to her.

Now between revenge, grief, and forgiveness, these siblings will challenge themselves—and all they think they know about each other—in a showdown that may leave them united—or cause them to forever fall apart . . .”

Reading the above premise had me totally invested in this story. Maybe If I would have read the previous books in the series I would have understood the characters more but the story just felt messy for messiness sake. The main character’s sneaking around felt hollow and unbelievable. 

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I came away feeling like Burgundy and her sisters need therapy and possibly some Jesus. In real life I’m against corporal punishment but Burgundy’s daughter is one of those kids who make me understand why someone might reach for a belt. She was just way too much.

I really wanted to like this story but it dragged and seemed kind of all over the place. I gave it 4 stars for the premise and the promise. It just didn’t deliver for me personally.

Book Review: Robin’s Lake Road

“Asher Sullivan is a shy camera geek looking forward to graduation at Sagebrush High School in small-town rural Oklahoma, and she’s got a problem: she’s never been in love. But then one spring evening, everything she ever thought she knew about herself is turned upside down the minute she meets Robin O’Leary, a popular and talented newcomer from Texas. Despite being at opposite ends of the social spectrum, the two become close friends. And it isn’t long before that friendship morphs into wild romance. Only thing is, Robin carries a secret from her past that doesn’t keep well in the Bible-belt town of Sagebrush. Neither girl is prepared for the tragic chain of events that follows. And when a torn Asher learns the dark truth behind the O’Leary family facade, she has to make a very difficult decision about what’s really important in life.”

 

SPOILER ALERT! I gloss over some themes that may spoil the story for you below. 

Robin’s Lake Road is not the story that I thought I was getting. I thought I was getting a teenage lesbian love story which is what is typically being published these days. It seems like every story about teenage queer people that I’ve read lately is full of queer teens with accepting parents and friends who love them and allow them to be themselves. While that is a lot of people’s story it’s not everyone’s, so when I realized what Robin’s Lake Road really was, a nuanced look at what happens when someone comes out in a small unaccepting town and the lengths that some people will go to because of their Christian values, I screamed for joy.

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Ok, I didn’t really scream for joy I’m not happy about the hardships that the teens in this story face but as a lesbian who’s been a lesbian her whole life, I related to so many of the things that happened in the novel from the way your peers treat you when they find out that you’re LGBTQ, to parents who will do ANYTHING to make sure that you stay straight, to dealing with a closeted mate who behaves one way in public and another in private.

I gave this book 4 stars and advise queer people to beware when they embark upon this read. There are lots of triggering scenes and scenarios.

Read if you’re queer and love seeing yourself in books or if you’re not queer and want an intimate look of what life is like for some LGBTQ youth. A lot of the story was spot on for my friends and I during our high school days.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

Book Review: The Shape of Night

Tess Gerritsen is one of my favorite authors. My love for her started with Rizzoli & Isles and now I’ll pretty much read just about anything she writes. So when Netgalley offered me the opportunity to read her standalone (thriller/mystery/ghost story/ghost sex story?) I jumped at the chance. Without knowing much about it except:

“After an unspeakable tragedy in Boston, Ava Collette flees to a remote village in Maine, where she rents an old house named Brodie’s Watch.

In that isolated seaside mansion, Ava finally feels at peace . . . until she glimpses the long-dead sea captain who still resides there.

Rumor has it that Captain Jeremiah Brodie has haunted the house for more than a century. One night, Ava confronts the apparition, who feels all too real, and who welcomes her into his world—and into his arms. Even as Ava questions her own sanity, she eagerly looks forward to the captain’s ghostly visits. But she soon learns that the house she loves comes with a terrible secret, a secret that those in the village don’t want to reveal: Every woman who has ever lived in Brodie’s Watch has also died there. Is the ghost of Captain Brodie responsible, or is a flesh-and-blood killer at work? A killer who is even now circling closer to Ava?”

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to read that? Apparently, I shouldn’t have. When I checked Goodreads the vast majority of the reviewers LOVED it.  I wanted to. I so badly wanted to love and appreciate this book if for no other reason than I too am a writer compelled to write in different genres. This book, however, is a hot mess and no matter how hard I try I just can’t make myself finish it.

I love reading too much to spend my Sunday yelling at a character “You in danger girl!” in my Whoopi Goldberg voice to make myself finish this book.

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2 Stars because Tess Gerritsen is an amazing writer, her descriptions make you see, smell, taste, and feel whatever she is attempting to portray on the page. This book just didn’t do it for me personally.

Read if you like genre-bending books and have ever fantasized about fucking a ghost. 43808355.jpg

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. 

Book Review: My Whole Truth

“Seventeen-year-old Seelie Stanton never wanted to kill someone. She never wanted to be invisible in her own family, never wanted to crush on her best friend Alyssa, and she definitely never wanted to know how effectively a mallet could destroy someone’s head.”

My Whole Truth is a well written emotional story with a very timely message. The opening scene grabs your attention and keeps you interested even when Seelie gets on your last nerve by not speaking up for herself. Even though I understand her reasoning behind it. The trial was very realistic and could have turned out much worse for Seelie.

4 Stars

 

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I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Book Review: Something In The Water

Something in the Water; I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. Just felt a whole lot of meh which is disappointing because any story that starts with a character telling you how they went to Google to learn how to properly bury a body is going to grab your attention- but after the author gets you the story drags on until it shifts into a bunch of fantastical actions then slows then again.

At the end of the novel we are left with a lot of important questions unanswered. I gave this story  3 stars mainly because the story had so much promise and this is the author’s first novel.

Read if you loved Gone Girl and like books that try to do what Gone Girl did but failed, it’s the thought that counts isn’t it?

I reviewed this book in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. 

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Book Review: We Were Killers Once

What I Liked:

Bridget Quin is a female private investigator, she’s middle-aged, ex-FBI, they describe her as small but mighty and no one’s fool.

The story is based on Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which is based on actual events. There have always been rumors that there was a third person present at those murders and that there were additional victims in FL. This novel is a what-if of those murders, well researched and the premise is plausible.

Once the story gets going it has great pacing and some very interesting characters. 

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What I didn’t like:

The connections seem to come out of thin air and only hold up if you don’t think about them for too long while twisting your head to the side, looking over your glasses and squinting.

Also, Why would the Bridget Quin character care so much about her new husband’s deceased ex-wife? This feels believable and dumb. I know we want flawed characters but it annoys me when strong women waste their time and emotions on things that don’t matter.

Someone gets out of jail after so many years and decides to go and hunt down something that likely wouldn’t be found and implicate them unless they go and hunt it down.

I gave this one 3 Stars.

Read if you like badass women who take names, kick butt, and ask questions later.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley.  

Book Review: In West Mills

West Mills is the story of members of a small fictional town in rural North Carolina from 1941-1987. During that time period we follow the story of Azalea Knot Centre; a young school teacher determined to live life on her own terms. She likes to read books, drink, dance, and take random men to her home for late-night fun.

Of course, Knot’s past times are frowned upon in her small community and in her home town where her Dentist father and disapproving mother live. Ostracized, Knot finds friendship from her neighbor Otis Lee and his family.

Full of life, love, family, and friendship In West Mills is a phenomenal story about a cast of relatable authentic characters that you could find in any town in the world. They felt like family and I wanted the best for each of them especially Knot who I wanted to simultaneously hug, shake, and scream “GIRL GET IT TOGETHER” at the same damn time.

I gave it 5 stars.

Read if you love Kelly from Insecure and I mean who doesn’t love Kelly from Insecure we all saw the Coachella Episode. 40653132.jpg

 

 

Book Review: What Remains True

What Remains True is the story of Jonah and his family; his mother, father, sister Eden, aunt Ruth, and their dog. The story is told from the perspective of Jonah and his family including the dog and tells us what happened the day that Jonah died and whose fault his death was. 

His death has inexplicably changed his family forever.  His mother Rachel spends her days in bed depressed, unbathed, and relying on medication to keep her sedated. She is incapable of doing anything aside from screaming and crying so parenting her remaining child, Eden isnt something that she even knows how to do anymore. Even though we learn through her children that prior to Jonah’s death she was an amazing mother. 

 Eden blames herself  for Jonah’s death like the rest of her family but she’s also annoyed that her family isn’t making any progress towards moving on. She doesn’t want to return to school and be treated like the sister of a dead brother. She wants her life to resemble some sort of normalcy where her father isn’t sleeping on the couch, her mother isn’t drugged out of her mind, and her aunt is living at her own house minding her own business. 

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Samuel, Jonah’s father is trying to move on. Trying to work and to take care of his family but how can he take care of Rachel if she can’t stand the sight of him and blames him for his son’s death? So he allows his sister in law Ruth, to reign supreme over the house. Someone has to cook breakfast and take care of Eden. 

What Remains True is beautifuly sad and hopeful. It’s a tale of loss and what comes next when someone dies at a very young age. I enjoyed this book especially the format of the story being told from everyone’s perspective including the dog and a ghost which felt fresh and interesting. 4 stars.