What’s Your Story Wednesdays: J. Cerrone – Hood Politics

 

Title: We Survived It

Hood Politics is a gritty true to life crime novel about a homicide, a lone witness and a far reaching conspiracy that two Philadelphia police officers must uncover. Single young mother Yolanda, unwittingly witnesses the murder of a mid-level drug-dealer in North Philadelphia. Rocky and Antoine, a pair of hard-boiled homicide detectives are assigned to the case. Yolanda reveals details about what she saw, unknowingly sparking an investigation which threatens to rock the city’s political structure to its core.

Author: J. Cerrone

Philadelphia native, J. Cerrone, wrote his first work, “Prodigal,” at age nineteen, but chose to rewrite the book over ten years later, due to its true-to-life content. Cerrone’s real life experience with the streets and the justice system created a new path for himself and embarked upon writing a second book, “Illegal Life: A North Philly Story.” He later founded Paper-Chase Publications. J. Cerrone is also an avid reader and lists Donald Goines and Mario Puzo among his favorite authors.

 

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Bleu’s Reviews: Conjure Women

Conjure Women focuses on three very different women of the same plantation. Told primarily from the perspective of Rue, daughter of esteemed conjure woman and favorite of Marse Charles Miss May Belle. Rue also happens to be trusted friend and confidant of the master’s daughter Varina. As the story swings from the past during May Belle’s reign as Queen of conjure on the plantation to present day Rue who has taken on the mantle as healer in the Resurrection – era village that is all that remains of their old home. Following the birth of “Bean”;  a child with unusual eyes, and the seasonal appearance of a traveling preacher, a sickness takes hold of the towns children. The townspeople are ready to turn their backs on Rue and towards their faith. As Rue works to find a cure, she begins a path at uncovering everyone’s secrets including her own.

Post – read I still can’t pinpoint exactly where this is located and I’m perfectly okay with that. Every main location was so well crafted I feel like I was blended into the story with them. My favorite would be Atakora’s description of the woods, the darkness of it how the fog seemed to emanate from it. The woods in post civil war village became a character in itself. I also loved how Rue interacted with the land itself, hiding coins in trees as she’d seen her mother do. How she often crouched low to the earth to pick flowers and herbs even the detail in which she described finding the herbs from different spots. I absolutely love a well built world and this book has it in spades.

The story is more about Rue than anyone else but seems to focus on Rue and how she maneuvers around other people. She is often measuring herself against her mother’s accomplishments. She feels a weighty responsible to look after the town and its children despite a clear and present threat to herself and yet she persists to ensure the people who live there are looked after and well cared for. Just as she had always served and cared for Varina throughout their upbringing. She often lets Varina lure her into mischief and I only say let because I feel like Rue at times doesn’t even attempt to speak up. The relationship she shares with Varina is a complex one that seems more maternal at times than what it truly is. The rivalries between a lot of the characters twists the theories of faith, magic and deception. What is illusion when belief becomes a tangible thing? Each of the characters in the book seem to be holding a secret and as the story progressed Atakora peeled back another layer until the final secret was brought to the light and true freedom could finally come.

 

Overall I 100% loved this book!

 

Its my first 5-star read of the year and I have loads more reading to do. As a debut novel I’d have to say Afia Atakora should be super proud of herself. Conjure Women was an amazign read. It was well written, i was into the story and genuinely felt something from start to finish. My goodreads feed was flooded with updates and I was able to finish this beauty in about three days.

 

I will be doing a live zoom discussion with #ALLTHINGSLIT Book Club to discuss Conjure Women be sure to check my social media for more information about that ❤ Can’t wait to chat with everyone soon.

 

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Simone Roberts – We Survived It

Title: We Survived It

“We Survived It,” is a collection of powerful stories, poetry and encouragement by women who have survived all the test, trials and darkness of life. From the desolation of loss, to the barren place of pregnancy complications, to mental warfare; this book is sure to encourage, uplift and inspire.

Author: Simone Roberts

Simone Roberts is a recent graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine where she studied to obtain her MS in Organizational Development and Leadership. Her first book was entitled “My Deepest Thoughts,” written in Middle School. She has performed her poetry at various events around the tri-state area. In 2010, Simone had her piece “Breaking the Generational Curse,” published by White Oak Press nationally. September 2013, she self-published her project “Life Through Her Eyes.” Through Her Eyes Productions, LLC is a company whose mission is to inspire women to share their stories through all art forms.

 

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Naturally Bookish – The Twilight Saga

Title: Twilight (The Twilight Saga)

What can be said about this series that true Twi-hards don’t already know? Though it only took three months to write, Twilight, stole the hearts of pre-teens worldwide and created an international phenomenon that has grossed over $3.3 billion in worldwide receipts at the Box Office. The series was written by Stephenie Meyer whose Mormon faith influenced her characters and style of writing. Publishing of the books began in 2005, and ended in 2008 as production of the first movie began. The books are published through Little, Brown and Company and has been translated into over 38 languages. Though praised for it’s popularity, The Saga is often harshly criticised for ‘poor writing’, stripped down characters and the belief that Bella is a ‘damsel in distress’.

Author: Stephenie Meyer

An author who has probably had her name mispelled even more than mine, Stephenie Meyer attributes her name as  a gift from her father, Stephen. She was awarded a National Merit Scholarship, and used it to pay her way to Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. An English major, her concentration was in literature instead of creative writing. She  says can’t write without music, and her biggest muse is, the band, Muse.

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Kahlil “Mr. Residuals” Jackson – The Twelve Laws Of Success

 

Title: The Twelve Universal Laws of Success

Described as a success-cookbook filled with recipes for personal change and growth.  The Twelve Universal Laws of Success is said to be perfect for readers who want to quickly learn the laws of success and put their knowledge into action. Each universal law is presented showing its biblical and metaphysical foundations while demonstrating step-by-step action techniques to apply the law and get results. A self-help book that uses Biblical principles to facilitate personal development.

Author: Dr. Herbert Harris

Dr. Herbert Harris is an author, speaker and retired attorney. He is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City who has authored numerous books including How to Make Money in Music, a highly popular guide book to the music industry, The Golden Twelve Universal Rules for Achieving Success and Power Thoughts for Your Success.

Herbert’s most popular book, The Twelve Universal Laws of Success, provides an organized, straight forward, step-by-step approach to basic success principles and the laws of the universe under which they operate. It is an international best-seller in numerous countries including Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, India, Italy, Mexico, Romania and Saudi Arabia.

 

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Pearline Cooke of T.A.G & T.A.G. Dolls – Matthew 7:6

 

Title: Matthew 7:6

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast. ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them. under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Book: The Bible

 

The Bible is not a single work but a collection of works from a wide variety of authors, such as shepherds, kings, farmers, priests, poets, scribes, and fisherman. Authors also include traitors, embezzlers, adulterers, murders, and auditors. The word “bible” is from the Greek ta biblia, which means “the scrolls” or “the books.” The word is derived from the ancient city of Byblos, which was the official supplier of paper products to the ancient world. Over 100 million copies of the Bible are sold each year. In 1631, a publishing company published a Bible with the typo “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery.” Only 9 of these Bibles, known as the “Sinners’ Bible” exist today. The full Bible has been translated into 532 languages. It has been partially translated into 2,883 languages.

 

 

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That African Girl Dolls

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Jeannine A. Cook of Harriet’s BookShop – She Came To Slay

Title: She Came To Slay

A new way to look at one of the nation’s most influential women, She Came To Slay, shares Filled rare outtakes of commentary, an expansive timeline of Harriet Tubman’s life, new photos as well as those already in public domain, and commissioned illustrations. She Came To Slay includes sections like, “Harriet By the Numbers”, detailing her life by the number of times she went back down south, approximately how many people she rescued, the bounty on her head etc.  as well as a section titled “Harriet’s Homies”,  dedicated to those who supported her over the years.  She Came To Slay is a insightful mix of pop culture and scholastic diligence proving that Queen Harriet  absolutely deserves her crown and her permanent place in our nation’s history.

Author: Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Very little is available about Erica Armstrong Dunbar outside of her professional and scholastic achievements. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pa.  Erica Armstrong Dunbar has had a notable academic career. Currently a CHARLES AND MARY BEARD PROFESSOR OF HISTORY at Rutgers University. Dunbar specializes in African-American and US History as well as Women’s and Gender History. After Attending University of Penn she then earned an M.A. and Ph.D from Columbia University. Her first book was A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City, published by Yale University Press in 2008. Dunbar taught at the University of Delaware before joining Rutgers in 2017. In November 2018 Dunbar was named joint winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize for Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge.

 

 

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Yae Stratton – Honey I Love

Title: Honey, I Love

When this poem was first published in 1978 in Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems, Elois Greenfield reminded us that love can be found just about anywhere. Twenty-five years later, she and celebrated children’s book artist Jan Spivey Gilchrist re-released a stunning, newly illustrated anniversary edition  for children of a whole new generation to celebrate the simple joys of loving and living.

Author: Eloise Greenfield

Born Eloise Little in Parmele, North Carolina, she  grew up in Washington, D.C., during the Great Depression as the second oldest of five children. Eloise was a  shy and studious child, who enjoyed music and took piano lessons. Greenfield experienced racism first-hand in the segregated south, especially when visiting grandparents in North Carolina and Virginia.

  Dismayed by the depiction of blacks and black communities in popular media, Greenfield focused her work on realistic but positive portrayals of African-American communities, families and friendships.  These relationships are emphasized in books like Sister (1974) where a young girl copes with the death of a parent with the help of other family members, Me and Nessie (1975) about best friends, My Daddy and I (1991) and Big Friend, Little Friend (1991) about mentoring.

 

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Noel Bleu – God Don’t Like Ugly

 

Title: God Don’t Like Ugly

Annette Goode is poor, overweight and lonely. The only child to a single working mother in Civil-Rights era Ohio, Annette is living a terrible reality. The summer Annette turns thirteen, something incredible happens: Rhoda Nelson chooses her as a friend.

With Rhoda’s help, Annette survives her youth and grows into a slightly more confident young woman. When her best friend makes a shocking confession about a horrific childhood crime, Annette’s world is rocked to its core.

 

Author: Mary Monroe

The first and only member of her family to finish high school she is a self-taught writer who began writing short-stories around age four. She endured fifteen years and hundreds of more rejection letters before finally landing a contract for her second novel, GOD DON’T LIKE UGLY. It was published in October 2000 by Kensington Books.

 

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Bleu’s Reviews: A Discovery of Witches

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It begins with a book recommendation and a purchase

It begins with a TV show and a binge session

It begins with a discovery of witches … book review

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

I am kicking myself for not having read this book sooner. I originally heard of the All Souls Trilogy  back when i worked for a company that won’t be named because they don’t sponsor me. LOL.

My coworker, another book fan soul sister recommended I check out the series. I made sure to buy all three of the books in the series and added them to my collection, TBR and c7e7739a729e409a46fa5fe50cb8aa4f328589467160928262.jpglong list of books I’d been planning to read.

I’d even attempted reading the book on two separate occasions the last of which was a month long maternity leave when I couldn’t be bothered to do much of anything, especially reading.

This year however, I made it my first book of the reading season and despite a shaky start while trying to find time to read with a growing toddler attempting to crawl everywhere, I picked up a rhythm and finished the book in about three weeks.

Alchemical historian and Oxford resident Diana Bishop, descendant of the Salem Bishop’s has shut herself off form her magic. Until she requests a not so ordinary book from the Bodlien library one day.  This book, Ashmole 782, will bring a host of magical creatures she never expected to socialize with and unravel a secret engrained in the fabric of her life…and then there are vampires.

My first impressions of the book…

I absolutely loved this book. At it’s core it’s a pretty standard formula. Matthew is the tortured hero who falls in love with our female protagonist. That Matthew follows the tropes of all vampires is a bonus, he is brooding and secretive with a killer temper, but 20200115_124316.jpghe loves fiercely and his love for Diana though sudden is unbreakable. Diana for her part plays the typical female lead in a YA love story, though she possesses great strength and abilities that rival those around her, she is fearful of her power, spends most of the book being coddled and cared for and only begins to step into her own towards the final stages of the story.

It usually annoys me while i’m reading, and I won’t lie some of the ways Matthew condescended to Diana and left her out of things irritated me a lot. However, Harkness did something few people have dared to do form what I’ve read. She gave Diana her strength back.

The best part of the story for me was “watching” Diana go through a literal transformation. At the start of the book she is completely closed off from her magic. Her past fears and an unknown spell only allow her to do tiny tasks like grabbing a book or fixing the washer. By the final pages Diana is hopeful of what she can do with her d33bfe4e23d3e4982f9b79fb20fdf4a7945846634189835100.jpgpowers and is able to control them to some small degree.

I do frequently enjoy a good vampire love story and Matthew and Diana’s forbidden love gives me all types of squishy feelings.  Their relationship mirrors that of mixed race couples during the civil rights era. Simply because they are different they are forbidden to be together and by defying this law they are putting themselves and their families in danger. They will do it for LOVE. The fear some of the characters have for their children and the support Matthew and Diana get from friends, family other people who are like them is reminiscent of the real life struggles mixed couples faced.

It’s great when a story has a deeper meaning. As a person of color, whether Deborah Harkness intended for this to be the theme or not, what stuck out most for me in this story were the ways it portrayed the downside of generational racial inequality and prejudice. Matthew and Diana are two different races of creatures and because of that they are forbidden to be together.

In a society where the hierarchy of magical creatures places value on lineage and supernatural ability Witches and Vampires are at the top and Daemons are at the bottom, Daemons aren’t even allowed to congregate together.  The way Harkness developed the society and culture of the characters in the world of All Souls is one of my favorite parts. I absolutely love a well built world.

The characters in the A Discovery of Witches  really moved the story along for me. I’d watched season one of the tv show beforehand so I was able to actually envision the cast for the first few chapters. Once I really got into the story though, the characters became more alive and no longer seemed remotely close to the way the actors portrayed them.3a956443b3e15ec5a9e1f9c7e43d8fb26087554198723611023.jpg

Diana can be annoyingly meek at times but has a resilient spirit. Her dedication to Matthew is on the one hand the stuff of feminist nightmares while the relationship as a whole draws you in. I root for this old fashioned chivalrous relationship despite being completely aware that he patronizes her and lies repeatedly. Because he’s a vampire? At one point it gets so annoying in the book I physically rolled my eyes. He eventually comes to respect her after she nearly dies trying to save his life and frequently blames himself for not being able to protect her. Even though she doesn’t seem to be able to protect herself either. Matthew’s decision  to aide her in learning her magic wins him brownie points in my book. His cute little French pet names for her makes my heart go fuzzy.

The way magic, magical creatures and the supernatural are sorted in this world is why A Discovery of Witches  is becoming one of my favorite series to read. Harkness took the c0ce585322590a49e08b7290e633998e901557597508079403.jpgconcept of the magical community and broke it down in a way that I’ve often thought about for my own writing.  Vampires long since believed to be “dead” are merely beings with an alternative metabolism that slows their heart rates and reserves energy. The term, sleep like the dead, was used as the explanation for why people thought these beings were in fact deceased.

Experiencing magic through Diana’s eyes as she finally learns to wield and control it is what kept me reading through the book. More than I wanted to know how the lovers would fair against their adversaries, more than I enjoyed meeting each new character that showed 9c005c70f2392849b97d083135c169496164085333605234820.jpgup at Sept-Tours and later the bewitched house in Madison. I enjoyed the magic and the history that was entertwined within the magic.

I guess that’s my reasoning for why I’m shirking my 2020 TBR and jumping right into Shadow of Night. I’ll be reading this along with a few shorter e-books I’ve promised to review from some lesser known authors so keep your eyes on the blog for a lot of new content.

My goal at the start of my read was to complete the first book of the All SOuls Trilogy  before season 2 of A Discovery of Witches started back on BBC. As I was checking my email this morning, sneek-peeks of the cast of season 2 are just being released, so I think I beat my deadline.

 

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What Was Your Favorite Part of A Discovery of Witches?

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