5 star reviews, activism, Being a Librarian, Blog Tour, historical fiction, race relations, Racism

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Thank you @randomhouse #partner for my gifted copy of this classic novel.⁣

Did you realize that this book was 50 years old?  ⁣

“Fifty years of young black girls learning that even the greatest voice among them was once muted by pain, fear, and insecurity.⁣

Fifty years of young black girls finding out in these pages that trauma forced upon them in their youth didn’t have to stifle their dreams for a grand future.⁣

Fifty years of Random House publicly acknowledging that the stories of black American women matter, are worthy of their moment in print, and can change the world when shared widely with all readers, respectfully, and authentically.⁣”

Sharing with us her grandmother’s wisdom and her brother Bailey’s cunning wit, Dr. Angelou gave so many of us exactly what we needed: context for the historical injustices meted out by an oppressive society; firm examples that beauty is not for the mainstream to determine, but is rather found in all a person has to offer, in her talent and smarts more than her pretty face and long legs. And she powerfully bestowed on us an unflinching reminder that we can overcome any obstacle and let our lights shine.” ~ Porscha Burke, editor at Random House⁣

It’s been years since I read this book and I am looking forward to a re-read.  ⁣

Do you re-read books?  Have you read this book?  ⁣

Blog Tour, historical fiction, Women's Fiction

The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart

This book is absolutely fascinating and beautifully written.

Generations of Sassers have made moonshine in the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Their history is recorded in a leather-bound journal that belongs to Jessie Sasser’s daddy, but Jessie wants no part of it. As far as she’s concerned, moonshine caused her mother’s death a dozen years ago.

Her father refuses to speak about her mama, or about the day she died. But Jessie has a gnawing hunger for the truth—one that compels her to seek comfort in food. Yet all her self-destructive behavior seems to do is feed what her school’s gruff but compassionate nurse describes as the “monster” inside Jessie.

Resenting her father’s insistence that moonshining runs in her veins, Jessie makes a plan to destroy the stills, using their neighbors as scapegoats. Instead, her scheme escalates an old rivalry and reveals long-held grudges. As she endeavors to right wrongs old and new, Jessie’s loyalties will bring her to unexpected revelations about her family, her strengths—and a legacy that may provide her with the answers she has been longing for.

Trigger Warning: Eating disorders

5 star reviews, activism, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, romance

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

5+/5 stars

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This book gets ALL THE STARS. I texted several friends and my mom while reading it to tell them that they all HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. Then, as soon as I was finished, I went to my husband, tears literally streaming down my face and told him he had to read it. It’s that good!!

Kya is a little girl, abandoned by her family on the marshy coastline of North Carolina in the early 1950s. She eludes child protective services and truant officers and she survives by digging mussels and selling them to a Black man who sells gas for boats on the water (not really a marina gas station in 1952). The white people in town don’t accept the little girl, they won’t let their children near her when she comes into town to buy groceries – grits, all she can afford. But the colored community accepts her as one of their own, although she chooses to live a rather solitary life in her grandfather’s fishing shack on the marsh. The one exception is a young boy who is often fishing on the marsh and befriends her.

This is an absolutely beautiful story. There is so much in it. A deep reverence for nature and I hope that the popularity of this book means that people appreciate and understand that. True learning – as a homeschool mom, I believe that you don’t need to be in a classroom to learn; Kya never stepped foot in a classroom and yet the author shows and tells how she is smarter than many of the smartest people in town and she ends up being accepted as a renown naturalist. A beautiful love story between the young fishing boy and Kya.

But this book is not just about beautiful things. The star quarterback, the alpha male in town is found murdered and after an investigation, the police accuse Kya of the murder and she has to stand trial. This girl who has lived in the marsh, not been accepted by the townspeople and is so uncomfortable in the world where there are people and buildings and rules so different than that of nature.

This is such a beautiful, powerful and moving novel. I recommend it to everyone.

4 star reviews, 5 star reviews, Book reviews, historical fiction

The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

I received this book from GetRedPR and Lake Union Authors in exchange for my honest review.

I wanted to read this book because my grandmother (my Nauna) came to New York City from Sicily in 1920 as a 17 year old girl.  She came with her brother and she had several sisters already here, but she left her parents and home with no plan of ever returning.  At 17.  She came from a small farming village called Regalbutto.  She didn’t know the language.  She lived with her brother, sister, brother-in-law and neices in a two bedroom apartment on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village.  As a little girl, she told me many stories about that.  She is, of course gone now, tomorrow (May 22, 2018 would be her 115th birthday).  I miss her terribly and my uncle who passed 5 years ago.  There is so much of my family experience that died with them.  Reading books like this, about what it was like for immigrants in Manhattan in the early 1900s brings her back for me a little bit, it’s a little bit like visiting her, appreciating her experience.  Reading books about the 1960s in New York City brings my uncle, who worked as a pharmacist in drug stores in the city, back to me a little bit.  And so I wanted to read this book.  While I was reading it, I was telling my mom about it and she ended up buying it for her Kindle and we discussed this book at length many, many times.

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This book was historic, beautiful, romantic, touching, interesting and compassionate.  My mom threw in compassionate because she was so impressed with how they treated the grandfather.

My mom and I found it to be moderately paced.
Camille Di Maio presented turn of the century New York City in such a way that I felt I was living through those times.  It made me think about how much was done sooo many years ago and how some things haven’t changed. It had historical facts about the building of Penn Station and the people who built it and what was going on in the area/world at that time.  How people lived and shopped.  I loved how involved the characters were in the Women’s Suffrage Movement and learning a bit more about that.

Camille di Maio did a wonderful job writing this story.  She made it seem that she was “telling” the story of a young girl named Vera and her life growing up in NYC while Penn Station was being built.  Her hard working father’s ailments because of his work, the young man she met who made her feel like someone special and how her dreams came true.  Ms. Di Maio  went through the years of Vera’s life and the people she met and the experiences she had, making the reader feel that they were living the experience.  The story goes through Vera’s life in the early 1900’s through to 1963.

Part Two of the book tells the story of Vera’s daughter, Alice, and what NYC was like in the 1940’s and on.  Her romances and experiences and the changes and/or lack of during her lifetime.  It made me think of how far we have come and how much further we, as women, have to go.  It made me realize that although things have changed, they have also stayed the same.

I felt Part One of the book was more stimulating and page turning than Part Two, but would definitely recommend reading this book.

 

I wasn’t too happy with the ending…it sort of left me in the middle of a rain shower.  There was so much going on and then….boom it was over.  I guess I wanted it to continue, and disappointed that it was over, but felt left.  Then I read the Prologue again and felt more closure.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historic fiction, to anyone who loves romance and to anyone who loves New York City and wants to know more about the history of it.IMG_1148

My mom worked in Manhattan from 1960-1967 and she had forgotten all about what Penn Station used to look like before they tore it down to build Madison Square Garden.  She forgot that it had once been beautiful, but that it was no longer really serving the same purpose and the need for an event arena was important for the city.

All in all, we really enjoyed The Way of Beauty and we give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for reading with me, Mom!!