ARC Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite
Expected publication: September 3rd 2019
by Harlequin Teen

Synopsis: Quick-witted high school journalist Alaine Beauparlant gets booted from her elite private school after an intricate prank goes cruelly awry. She warily accepts an invitation from her aunt to spend her suspension at the family’s estate in Haiti–where her estranged mom is recuperating from a political fiasco. In her homeland for the first time, Alaine is immediately put to work at her aunt’s start-up helping native children in need. Alaine meets locals, interacts with kids connected to donors, and is shown the ropes by Jason, a fellow intern whose charming ways are making work a bit more challenging. What she doesn’t expect to find are letters, articles, emails, and diary entries that she compiles into a final project that will not only save her academic standing in school, but also help her finally know the mother she’s never really understood.

My Review:
This cover I adore! The day I received this ARC from the publisher for an honest review, I could not be happier.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is a book about superstitions in the real world. It is the story of a Haitian American trying to understand her Haitian heritage. This is a coming of age story of friendship, teenage angst versus parental love, and the tragedy of time that waits for no one.

I love that the book was written in different correspondence formats from emails to school papers and letters. It forced my brain to put the pieces together and read between the lines. This was definitely different compared to fiction I have read in the past. It made the story feel real. I felt like a stalker or investigative reporter getting the scoop in non-traditional ways. There are so many side stories that only leave you with a taste of their lives and desperately wanting more. It was a bit of a game of teasing and mini-cliffhangers, where the only constant was Alaine.

Rating: ★★★★/5

Happy Publication Day, With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo!

With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Hardcover, 400 pages
ISBN13: 9780062662835
Expected publication: May 7th, 2019 by HarperTeen

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

What are you waiting for? Go read this today!

GoodReads | Amazon | Public Library

ARC Review: Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

Let Me Hear a Rhyme
by Tiffany D. Jackson
Expected publication: May 21st 2019
by Katherine Tegen

Synopsis:
In this standalone novel, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive.

Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.

Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.

Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.

My Review:
What happens when talent dies too soon? It is like seeing your invincible heroes defeated. Their biggest fans are left to pick up the pieces, decipher meaning for the unexplainable, and somehow to continue living. Tupac… Biggie… Steph! (Wait! What?) Steph was the greatest of all time, but the World didn’t know it. From legendary to graveyard. But is that how the story ends?


Let Me Hear a Rhyme is a story of how three Brooklyn teenagers devise a scheme to give life after death for a slain aspiring rap artist. This contemporary novel and mystery with pop culture elements and a heavy dose of 90s hip hop gave me warm vibes all over. The characters were each dynamic. The point of view switches between each teen giving you a full spectrum of the world. The plot build-up, climax, and resolution had me hooked until the last page. I haven’t binged read a story like that in years. I have heard so much about this author. I tend to shy away from heavy topics until confronted. In an attempt to face my fears, I will beta read this and I am glad I did. I am now officially a fan! My plan now is to backtrack and read the author’s previous works.


*Many thanks to the publishers, Katherine Tegen Books, for entrusting me with an honest review.


Rating: ★★★★★/5

ARC Review: Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin

Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America
by Nefertiti Austin
Expected publication: September 24th 2019
by Sourcebooks
ISBN 9781492679011


Synopsis: N/A

Review:

Review: Do not judge single black mother, Nefertiti Austin, by first appearances. She is a successful businesswoman able to upgrade cars every other year. She rose up from a childhood filled with changing homes of toxic parents and their drug abuse. Nefertiti has never been married and doesn’t rely on a man for income. She has children but has never given birth. When she decided she wanted to be a mother she pursued a nontraditional route and her journey is an inspiration.

This book gave me the baby blues! It made me reflect on the prejudices and recognize the hypocrisy within my community regarding the adoption of complete strangers. It was an epiphany to realize that the practice of raising relatives within the African American community is a form of adoption and relevant (informal or not). This book redefines motherhood for me and brings me to tears to realize that it is obtainable. This book sheds light on the nuances of systematic biases and racism in non-fiction parenthood literature, the school system, foster system propaganda, the realities of the adoption system and the struggles of single motherhood. While reading this book transformed from an entertaining pastime to a highlighted, post-it noted study manual. I could relate to the author on so many levels and for once I feel that I have found a book written for me! As I now seek to embark on Motherhood in the non-traditional sense of In Vitro Fertilization, egg freezing, surrogacy, or adoption this work of art shall be on my hip and in my purse. 

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

Rating: ★★★★★/5

Review: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie
by Candice Carty-Williams
Hardcover, 330 pages
Published March 19th 2019
by Orion Publishing
ISBN139781409180050

Synopsis:
Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

My Review:
Queenie is that homegirl we all know and can even relate to on one level or another. She just can’t get right in the love department. She makes the worst decisions in choosing bedfellows. I want to hug her and strangle her at the same time. Her emotions are a rollercoaster of overexaggerated highs and depressing lows. She lives in a neighborhood where racism is not subtle, but deafeningly loud, and she keeps her family far too excluded from her personal life. I found myself yelling at the pages repeatedly. I keep reading all in the hopes that things would get better…..and it does….eventually. I would recommend this because someone out there needs to hear this message: LOVE YOURSELF!!! Value your Vajayjay, embrace the skin you are in whatever shade and every curve, and darn it make these thirsty guys think twice about trying to take advantage by guarding your heart, your mind, and your soul. Even as I type now, thinking about Queenie, I sigh. There was just so much happening at once…….Awww Queenie girl, you are a hot mess!


Rating: ★★★/5

Music Playlist: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

After reading My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and loving it, I have compiled this mixtape that would go perfectly as a soundtrack to the novel:

  • Murder She Wrote
    by Chaka Demus & Pliers
  • OMG (Free Me)
    by P-Square
  • Heads High
    by Mr. Vegas
  • One Leg Up
    by Skales
  • Nigerian Girl
    by Young Paris
  • Your Body Hot (feat. Attitude)
    by Skales
  • Danger
    by The Lijadu Sisters
  • Oga Police
    by Shiikane
  • Up To Something (feat. Dr Sid & Don Jazzy)
    by Iyanya
  • You Go Kill Me (feat. El)
    by Sarkodie

Happy Listening! Continue reading “Music Playlist: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite”

ARC Review: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo
ebook, 400 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2019 by HarperTeen
ISBN 0062662856 (ISBN13: 9780062662859)

Synopsis: With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

My Review: In the words of Emoni Santiago, “With love & a sprinkling of cinnamon, always!” Elizabeth Acevedo delivers yet another real and original three-dimensional character who’s story makes me fall in love with contemporary all over again. Fire on High is the story about Emoni Santiago’s last year in high school as she marinates on her life’s decisions, stir her hopes and dreams, simmers in the possibilities and bakes to full maturity ready to take on the world of adulthood… and along the way, there are recipes for the soul. Emoni’s affinity for cheffing it up is a gift to the world. Hence the title Fire on High, this story is straight FIYY (Fire)! 

The character development was excellently executed. Each character was realistic, relevant to the storyline, and each was interesting enough to stand alone outside of this story. Emoni, our protagonist and narrator were especially relatable in her money struggles as well as tough decisions on love, school, and family. In fact, the unique elements of this novel are the dynamics of family, food magic, and human residency. The other elements of note are this book contains sexual innuendoes, teenage pregnancy, and underage drinking but these do not undermine the storyline and actually have life lessons interwoven. Emoni’s relationship with her daughter and choices reflect greatly on the consequences of teenage motherhood and in no way glamorizes the lifestyle. As does the few encounters with alcohol, so I found no flaw in their mentions. The pace of this novel flowed like stanzas of my favorite poem. Surprisingly, I finished this novel in six hours flat. With short chapters and an intriguing plot, I was definitely motivated. I especially enjoyed the immersion of Spanish among the English introducing me to new vocabulary to add to my Spanglish word bank. The ending made me cry tears of joy, resolve, and sadness that it was over. From the stunning cover to the captivating words, this novel will have you missing your imaginary best friend and secretly seeking an Emoni in the world to try that dish of chocolate pudding with a dash of paprika.

Rating: ★★★★★/5

*Thank you HarperTeen for entrusting me with an honest review.

For Review…

At the encouragement of Stacking The Shelves, a weekly blog activity hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, I am sharing new books being added to the bookshelf for a future review.

This week I am happy to add Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin and With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo to my Kindle eReader for review.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks and HarperTeen for entrusting me with an honest review!

xoxo,

Kat

Pick Up Lines: Living Violet by Jaime Reed

If you are a fan of interracial romance with a paranormal twist, this YA title is the book for you. Today’s pick up line is my favorite swoon worthy quote from the novel! This is book one of the Cambion Chronicles trilogy. Seriously, check this one out today and kick start your weekend with a good book in hand.

Living Violet
by Jaime Reed
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Dafina

“It doesn’t take much to make me happy, but the simplest things are sometimes the hardest to get. But when it finally arrives, heaven help those who try to take it away from me.”

Does this teaser quote make you curious about this title?

Go get this one today & Happy Reading!

Strong Black Women in Literature (Vol. 1)

“Imagine a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book” (Diversebooks.org). This dynamic statement is the slogan of the non-profit organization entitled, We Need Diverse Books. As a woman of color, I have longed for an initiative such as this that strives to encourage representation of everyone in literature. It makes for a more fulfilling read, and it brings my heart joy to read a book of purely original characters lacking the cringe-worthy stereotypes. Today I will present six leading ladies in titles that piqued my interest, held my attention, entertained me for hours on end, and made me proud to be a black woman.

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson


Phoebe Robinson is a woman comedian you need to know! I will admit I had no Earthly idea of her existence before this book, the title caught my attention, but now she is secretly my BFF (Best Friend Forever) in my head. In this book, she visits the topic of race. As “the black friend” in many of her circles she has a unique perspective for calling out subtle racism and staying true to her race while not destroying her diverse relationships. She talks about the black woman struggle in a manner that would make the offenders squirm just a little but also laugh a lot and even give her words some serious thought.

Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1) by Justina Ireland


Jane McKeene is a strong, lovable lead female protagonist in this historical, dystopian novel with zombies! This novel talks of an alternate version of history not far removed from slavery, amid a Zombie apocalypse that ends the Civil War, yet transforms slavery to a new system where black people are trained to be zombie killers for the commission of protecting white people. Jane is strong-willed, opinionated, and nobody’s bodyguard.
There was an agreeable level of defiance from the tone of the narrator that demanded comradeship! Jane’s antics and whit definitely drew me in from the first page. Wow. Wow. Wow. I loved everything about this!

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi


Zélie Adebola is the star in this West African mythology! Hello! This is a breathtaking wondrous new world of possibilities. The authentic tongue of magic whispers mysterious nothings in my ear, and I indulged in every morsel of this audiobook. Yes! Yes! Yes! Give. Me. More. The love storyline was rushed and spoke volumes of the insufferable teenage hormones. Yet the plot was intriguingly intricate and slowly woven for an even slower unraveling finale of epic proportions! Must Read again and again and again…

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves
by Glory Edim


This is a book about books. It is my first ever anthology, and it is the ultimate companion novel to more great books. There is no single shero. Here is a compilation of essays and booklists that encourage brown girls around the world to pick up a book and find themselves in literature. This is more of a reference book for me as I refer to it often to find books on culture depicting diverse lives and classics that should be staples of the black community by people of color.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite


Korede and Ayoola are sisters in a co-dependent relationship of murder, coverups, jealousy, and psychosis. As the title suggests, Korede is the one with the serial killer sister problem, better known as Ayoola. This novel was a dark comedy for me. Korede is the narrator, and her wit shines through with every selectively chosen word. You can feel her internal conflict and exasperation seeping through the pages as you flip to its controversial finale.

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin


This was such a complex maze of three shero narrative plots that somehow unexpectedly merged into an explosive ending. I am beyond shocked that I loved it so much. I’ve never been so confused and intrigued at the same time. The world building seemed so alien and unreal until it clicked in my brain and started making sense. Then it was scary accurate of life’s current situation that it’s downright “deep”! Bravo to the author for this ingenious specimen of literature!

This is not the end. There are many more great “strong black women” titles out there. Next week I will continue with six more titles. If you have any recommendations, then I would love to hear them. Please comment below. I am always looking for my next great book starring diverse characters or women. It is an uplifting feeling when you open a book that looks like it was written specifically for you.

Has this post encouraged you to read?

If so, please share with a friend!

xoxo,
Kat