Books I Read In October

“You didn’t let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours. In this world, you are what I say you are, and I say you are a ghost, a long night’s fever dream that I have finally woken up from. . . . I say you do not have a name.” – Constanta

I have mentioned before that I usually avoid reading anything scary, but I took the plunge last month and decided to read some spooky books. Now before you congratulate me on my bravado, I have to be honest here. Although I stepped out of my comfort zone, I didn’t read anything that would give me nightmares or give my vivid imagination ideas that would scare me later. So instead, I took the classic route, focusing on some beloved, classic spooky reads only. Maybe next year, I’ll have the courage to read something that will have me in a cocoon of covers while clutching my Bible for dear life. So now, with all that out of the way, here are the books I read last month!

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It is widely known that Carmilla is the early works of vampire fiction predating Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I immediately noticed a few characteristic similarities between Carmilla and Dracula. I enjoyed reading this book immensely, but shockingly, it was probably the scariest book I read in October. The book opens with Laura, who narrates her experiences with Carmilla’s female vampire, later revealed to be Mircalla, Countess Karnstein. As Laura’s health declines, she slowly begins to discover disturbing facts about Carmilla and realizes she must act quickly before it’s too late. This book gave me all the spooky vibes I was looking for. The chemistry between Carmilla and Laura was not only fun to read, but it was interesting to compare Carmilla’s attraction to Laura to Dracula’s obsession and infatuation with his partners. 

A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Holy macaroni, this book was fantastic! I loved everything about this book, but what stood out the most for me was the writing. I wasn’t surprised when I found out that S.T. Gibson is a poet because she utilized just about every poetic element one can think of in this book. While Bram Stoker provided nameless companions for Dracula, Gibson gave them a voice. In this reimagining of Dracula’s brides, Constanta struggles to recall intimate details about her former life. However, there’s one thing she remembers with complete clarity: the night she met Him. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. I can’t stop thinking about this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a strong female protagonist with loads of badass quotes to send to your exes! 

Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

My very first time reading Agatha Christie and possibly my last. Outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. This story begins with preparing for a Halloween party where 13-year-old Joyce Reynolds witnesses a murder. When the party ends, Joyce is found dead, having been drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. Ariadne Oliver, attending the party while visiting her friend Judith Butler, calls on Hercule Poirot to investigate the murder and Joyce’s claim. While it lacked a spooky atmosphere, overall, it was a fun read. Yet, I don’t believe I’ll read anything else from this author since I found out about some books she published that wasn’t too kind about minorities.  

“You must come with me, loving me, to death; or else hate me, and still come with me.” – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I take no pleasure in writing a bad review because I want to show my appreciation to authors whether or not the story is good. However, I also want to be honest with my experiences. Although this book isn’t a spooky read, I decided to read it, given all the hype surrounding it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed again. This is the second Colleen Hoover book I read, and I wasn’t impressed. I enjoyed a few things about this book, but overall, I was annoyed by the characters and the writing. 

The Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Man, this was another disappointment. Again, the synopsis of this story was fascinating, but it completely missed the mark. The storyline of a girl promising her dying father to preserve her culture and identity by marrying within her culture only to have that oath tested when she falls for a tall, handsome, but white guy captured my interest. Yet, the character was annoying, the dialogue was boring, and the writing was loaded with cliche phrases. While I may not have had an enjoyable experience with this novel, I do believe this author has the potential to produce something great. 

All in all, I am proud of myself for taking a tiny step towards facing my fears when it comes to reading spooky books. I had a fantastic time with some of my October selections, and I can’t wait to share next month’s reading experience with you all. Also, be sure to check out my new YouTube channel, where I gush about my October wrap-up and other videos!

Happy Reading!

Books I Read in April

I can’t recall the last time I shared my monthly wrap-up with you all. Secretly, I’m often embarrassed to mention the number of books I’ve read in a month because then my inability to read past five books in thirty days is on full display. Yes, you guessed it. I am a slow reader. I’m not sure if it’s because I like to spend more time with the characters and their world or that I want to get a deeper understanding of the author’s message. Be that as it may, I like to believe that my reading capacity is the result of having a greater appreciation for the art of storytelling. Thus, despite the fact that I only read five books last month, I am thrilled to share my experiences! 

Atomic Love by Jenne Fields

I take no pleasure in writing a negative review about a book. I would normally jot down two to three sentences of my thoughts on Goodreads and leave it at that. However, I must be honest here. As a history buff, I love historical fiction novels, and if there’s a love triangle, I am all here for it. Sadly, this was a disappointment. Although I appreciate the historical contexts, the story did not meet my expectations. The pacing of the story was often awkward–especially towards the end. The female protagonist in this dual narrative was annoying. A few characters were irrelevant and did not aid in moving the story along. And most importantly, the love triangle was poorly executed, as the female protagonist was devoted to only one character. This book had a great synopsis, but it missed the mark for me. 

New Kid by Jerry Craft

I am not ashamed to admit that I adore reading middle-grade publications. For me, middle-grade books provide a light reading experience in between intricate novels and help to clear my “reading palate,” so to speak. Yet, this graphic narrative tackles serious conversations about racism and microaggressions while still maintaining that straightforward style of writing for the younger audience. I enjoyed the multitudes of laugh-out-loud moments in this book. The main character’s experiences were so relatable because it almost mirrors my encounters with similar situations. The message in this book has no age restriction as it’s both clear and effective. 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

I fell in love with Angie Thomas’s writing after reading her epic debut novel, The Hate U Give. Thomas provided her readers with a deeper understanding of the characters’ personalities in her debut novel by examining the choices those characters made in this prequel. It was such a joy to revisit this world but at a different angle. Thomas points out that oftentimes our circumstances force us to make unfavorable choices in falsely believing there is no other way.  It was satisfying to learn more about the characters and witness their growth.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I wasn’t interested in reading this book at first. Based on other opinions about this book, I didn’t think I would enjoy it. This publication truly surprised me. As cliche as this may sound, I genuinely couldn’t put it down. I took multiple breaks during work just to read it. The story was interesting and thought-provoking. One of the many things I loved most about this story was how the protagonist had to rely on the interaction of others to quickly piece together what sort of person she was according to the different versions of her life she chooses to experience. I’m glad I gave this book a chance.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The way Tracy Deonn used probably one of the world’s oldest legends to confront certain experiences that are unique to African Americans is simply amazing. Deonn paid close attention to the smallest details in both the action scenes and the world-building. The characters were interesting and unique. Aside from that, the love triangle was perfectly executed. I had a book hangover for probably a week. I can confidently say that I will reread this book a few times before the second book comes out. I had a fantastic time with this story! 

Ultimately, I’d say I had a decent reading experience last month. The number of books may have been small in comparison to others but I embrace my reading capacity. I look forward to sharing more of my monthly wrap-up regardless of the number of books I read. If you have read one of these books, be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Happy Reading!

Bringing Down the Duke: A Review

“I believe a higher education will improve me for whatever I decide to do, my lord.”


Annabelle Archer’s greatest fear is to remain in Chorleywood, England as a domestic servant to her cousin, without ever pursuing her dreams. However, when Oxford University opened its doors to women, Annabelle knew this was a chance of a lifetime she couldn’t afford to miss. To support her education, Annabelle secures a scholarship by becoming a member of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage where she is required to champion their cause for women’s right to vote, and target influential men in the hopes of gaining sponsors for their cause. Her first assignment with the suffragists was to sway the opinion of England’s most prominent political chief strategist himself: the unfriendly Duke of Montgomery. While Annabelle prepares a trojan horse-like plan against the duke, she struggles with avoiding scandalous situations which can not only jeopardize her dreams, but also her reputation. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In a time where women’s rights were extremely limited or passed over to their husbands once married, Evie Dunmore introduces readers to Annabelle Archer who not only challenges women’s placement in the Victorian era but also tackles several barbaric ideologies about women’s contribution to society during that period. Dunmore uses Annabelle Archer to debunk the notion that higher education would harm a woman’s health. First, Dunmore uses an object to outline how bizarre this belief was at the time. Right at the beginning of the book, Annabelle contemplates how she plans on approaching her cousin about letting her attend Oxford. For a slight second, Annabelle was distracted by the sight of her father’s old desk which was passed down to her cousin, and not to her after her father died. Many readers might’ve missed the significance of this, but here’s the sad point that was made: women were not allowed to own a desk because it was believed to ruin their health. Next, Dunmore displays Annabelle’s own intelligence to disprove this notion of “bad health.” Before giving his approval, Annabelle’s cousin responded with the most foolish explanation about pursuing higher education, “. . . but you already know more Greek and Latin than is necessary, . . . [a]nd ‘tis well known that too much education derails the female brain . . .”. Annabelle knew more than just Greek and Latin; she often references John Stuart Miller and Sappho; she studied Voltaire, Rousseau, and Locke; and is knowledgeable about the history of both the Phoenicians and Greek. Annabelle was beyond intelligent before attending Oxford. She’s so smart that the Duke of Montgomery often referred to her as “bluestocking”. Dunmore utilizes Annabelle in two important ways: to expose the false idea that higher education harms women and to educate readers on how society in the past belittled educated women.

“‘Tell me,’ he said, ‘how frustrating is it to be surrounded by people considered your betters when they don’t hold a candle to your abilities?'”

Dunmore didn’t solely focus on women’s limitations during the Victorian era. She did something that often gets ignored in fiction novels: she shed light on the rules of aristocracy society but from the male perspective. In most historical fiction novels, readers are thrust into a world where women’s suffrage is usually on display. Rarely do we get an understanding of the limitations regarding aristocracy. Well, Dunmore presents Sebastian Devereux, the nineteenth Duke of Montgomery, who is forced to make a crucial decision on conforming to social standards or risk everything in the name of love. In this dual perspective narrative, Sebastian is focused on retrieving his family castle that his father lost in a card game. Yet, he is spellbound by Annabelle’s beauty and her intellectual mind. Sebastian finds himself grappling with his feelings for Annabelle and the question of whether or not he’s prepared to forfeit his social standing for her. To get a sense of the monumental pressure, Sebastian explains the consequences in this way: “I can give you everything, everything except that and you know it. . . . It would ruin my brother. It would taint my children. I would lose my allies. My standing, the Montgomery name–what sort of man would I be?” Here, Dunmore spotlights the double standard within the Victorian social class. While women were often encouraged to secure an advantageous marriage, a nobleman will not only lose everything if he marries below his station, but his decision will also affect any children that are born from the union.

Considering all of these aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Dunmore exposes the inner lives of both Annabelle and Sebastian while allowing her readers to experience a more complex truth about the Victorian era. The captivating romance in this novel slightly echoes that of the epic chemistry in Pride and Prejudice, but with a deeper yearning for self-worth and social freedom. An awe-inspiring story worth the read!

Happy Reading!

New Kid: A Review

“. . . It’s okay that this stuff happens to us, but it’s just not okay for us to complain about it.”


12-year-old Jordan Banks is the new kid at Riverdale Academy Day School. Instead of starting his seventh grade year at the art school of his dreams, his parents enrolled him in one of the most prestigious private schools in his state. On his first day of school, however, Jordan immediately recognized that there weren’t many students in his grade that looked like him, and the handful that did, share nothing in common with him. Unable to connect with his predominantly all-white fellow classmates, Jordan navigates being subjected to microaggressions, by expressing his frustration through his art: his graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I can’t say I am a big fan of graphic novels, but lately I’ve, been exposing myself to other genres, which has helped me to have a deeper and richer appreciation for the categories I am familiar with. Yet, I can’t remember when I came across a graphic novel that explored the day-to-day experiences of young black children in America. Jerry Craft gifted his readers, New Kid, where he explains in a simplistic way that oftentimes, racism is the result of  a lack of knowledge which then corrupts one’s perspective of the people around them.  Jordan is only 12 years old, yet he’s constantly being subjected to microaggressions by both students and staff at his private school. Instead of retaliating, Jordan draws out his frustration in his journal. Although his drawings are laugh-out-loud hilarious, Craft enters a space where he advocates the importance of understanding what makes us different and embracing it.

Embracing our differences wasn’t the only message shared in this amusing comic book. Craft also highlights the severity of jumping to conclusions. Now, I know what you’re thinking. The action of “not jumping to conclusions” is something we all know how to do. But what if it involves a racist incident? Jordan witnessed one of the few black students in his grade quickly jump to a negative conclusion about a gift he received, and witnessed how this student’s anger went unchecked. Craft could have easily left this entire portion out of his book but the fact that he didn’t was awe-inspiring. Here’s what I mean, Craft once again stresses the point that we should never allow what we think or assume to be used as the truth no matter how ugly the situation may appear. When doing so, we exert unnecessary anger for something we aren’t fully sure is true. This lesson is extremely vital today, given the fragile relationship between law enforcement and African Americans. 

All in all, this book was captivating and honest. It confronts some uncomfortable situations that most Americans, young or old,  find themselves in; but most importantly, it helps begin conversations with youth on how to address such situations. This book is for everyone!

Happy Reading, friends!

Legendborn: A Review

“When the shadows rise, so will the light. When blood is shed, blood will call. By the King’s table, for the order’s might. By our eternal oaths. The line is law.


Sixteen-year-old Briana Matthew thought attending North Carolina’s prestigious UNC-Chapel Hill’s Early College Program for bright high schoolers would push aside both the memories of her mother and the guilt she felt regarding their argument the night her mother died. Instead, on her first night on campus, Bree witnessed something she wasn’t meant to see: a horrifying demon creature attacking humans while a few fellow students known as the Legenborn hunt it down. Fully convinced that magic has played a significant role in her mother’s death, Bree is determined to find out what happened to her mother by infiltrating the Legendborn and their secret society for the real truth.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tracey Deonn’s debut novel is more than some random fantasy story–it’s a combination of Black experiences in America and the aftermath of one of America’s darkest moments in history: the institution of slavery. Deonn uses Bree Matthew to confront certain experiences that are unique to African Americans. One of those exemplary examples was demonstrated by Bree’s interaction with officer Norris. For instance, on Bree’s first night on campus, she is escorted back to her campus by officer Norris who grossly insults Bree by assuming her acceptance to the Early College Program was through either affirmative action or a need-based. Bree had every reason to be afraid of officer Norris, given the poor relationship between African Americans and law enforcement. As proof, she wisely states, “I’m sixteen. I pay attention. I listen to the stories from uncles, cousins–hell, my own father–about police run-ins. I see the videos online. . .  I don’t know a single Black person in this country who can say with 100 percent confidence that they feel safe with the police.” Here’s why Bree’s interaction with officer Norris is important: Deonn highlights that the uneasy relationship between Black people and the police is rooted in our history. It’s that simple.

“Someone used magic to hide what really happened the night my mother died, and I’m not going to let them get away with it.”

But wait, there’s more! Deonn also tackles a very sensitive topic by using probably one of the world’s oldest legends to send a powerful message. Bree is on a mission to find out who is responsible for her mother’s death. After she has gained the trust of a few Legendborns, she’s entrusted to protect the knowledge of their history and the Wall of Ages that has recorded the bloodline of both King Arthur and the knights of the round table. Instead of being impressed by this ginormous slab of wall, with its meticulously carved lines of the thirteen bloodlines of the Round Table and their Scions, Bree immediately feels an undeniable sense of ignorance and inadequacy. Unlike the Legendborns, Bree’s family only knew their bloodline back to the generation after the emancipation. As you can see, Deonn sheds light on the fact that although it’s been over two hundred years since slavery ended in the United States, many African Americans’ lineage has been sadly wiped out from their family’s history due to slavery.

I know what you’re thinking. How can this publication deliver all the elements of a fantasy novel while tackling such heavy topics? The answer is simple: it just does. This is a groundbreaking contemporary fantasy with many layers of diversity. The story is relatable as it confronts issues like grief, racism, and sexism. As if that’s not enough, the story is drenched with rich descriptions of action scenes and world-building. Not to mention a spicy love triangle. This publication gave me more than black girl magic. It’s a perfect balance of fiction and history. I can’t wait for book two! 

Also, I’ll finish with this: team Selwyn! 😉

Happy Readings, friends!

The Midnight Library: A Review

You see, doing one thing differently is very often the same as doing everything differently. Actions can’t be reversed within a lifetime, however much we try . . . [t]he only way to learn is to live.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Nora Seed is deeply depressed about both her life and the numerous regretful mistake she has made along the way. Saddened by how her choices have affected just about every relationship in her life, Nora decides that the best way to solve everything is to self-destruct and leave this world for good. Yet, she finds herself stuck between life and death in a bizarre library with infinite numbers of books, detailing a completely different version of her life. Nora must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

As The Midnight Library is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fiction, I am almost certain you have either heard or have already read this stunning book. Yet, despite its popularity in the book community, I wasn’t all that interested in reading it at first. Thanks to a friend of mine who, too, was eager to devour this novel, persuading me to purchase my copy for our next No Name Bookclub read, and I decided to give it a try. Yes, I was secretly dreading to start this book since it’s totally out of my comfort zone, yet, I am happy to admit that this publication is so worth the hype!

This book has a philosophical tone about existence and choosing a lifestyle that’s meaningful, and provides true happiness to oneself – but with a creative twist. Matt Haig reminds us that although most of us might not be battling with severe depression, we all have a considerable amount of regrets that we wish we could change. However, the interesting question Haig poses in this novel is not whether we would correct our mistakes if we had the chance to, but instead, whether the outcome would be any different. Like many of us, Nora Seeds regrets many decisions she has made in her life. She strongly believes she is a major disappointment to both her friends and family. With an extraordinary opportunity to experience different versions of her life, Nora teaches us that we try our best to choose the right choices, but we can never choose the outcome.

In the end, Haig encourages readers that life, itself, is a gift and that instead of worrying about past mistakes or regrets, we should focus on the fact that we are all full of infinite potential. Life is worth living regardless of our flaws. We should never give up on ourselves.

Happy reading, friends!

A Song Below Water By Bethany C. Morrow: A Review

“Sirens, the say and anyone listening knows it’s a dirty word. Danger, they report and they’re talking about the danger she posed, never the danger we face.”

In her debut novel, Morrow tackles a plethora of black experiences in America such as racism, sexism, and the stigmatism of black hair, while simultaneously providing a colorful and deeply moving modern fantasy of two sisters navigating self-discovery and friendship. The story begins with the murder trial of an African American woman named Rhoda Taylor who was suspected to be a siren. Tavia, along with the rest of her family, is nervous about her safety as she sees Rhoda as herself: a black woman who is seen as a threat rather than a victim of violence. While Effie is determined to protect her sister’s secret, she too is secretly dealing with unexplainable magic of her own that is slowly threatening to reveal her true identity of which her family has prevented her from knowing since birth. Together, Tavia and Effie rely on each other more than ever as their community seeks justice for the many killings of unarmed black victims.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that incorporates Greek mythology, European mythology, fantasy, and American history all in one. Morrow took it upon herself to tell a very unique story that combines both mythical and supernatural creatures while weaving together real-life black experiences. She transports her readers to an unusual world with sprites and sirens, but she also adds very familiar issues. While effectively delivering an irresistible story of friendship and power, Morrow masterfully blends issues like the lack of media coverage of black female victims and the pervasiveness of racial profiling by police officers so as to educate her readers in a mild approach while still entertaining them. Her writing is powerful and the message is eternal. There were countless moments throughout this book where I was deeply moved and inspired.

“We’ve got a secret, and as far as my dad’s concerned, everything threatens to give us away.”

Along with her creative storytelling, Morrow uses alternating points of view which not only allows her readers to get a deeper insight into Tavia and Effie’s complicated issues but also highlights the world they live in, which mirrors our very own.

All in all, not only is this book timely, but I would also say it’s the first step to understanding a few important issues about black struggles for those who aren’t quite ready to dive headfirst into America’s complicated relationship with her African American citizens. It’s irresistibly compelling without shying away from the many painful truths within the black community.

Happy Reading!

Resurrecting the Truth: Why I Celebrate July 4th

The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

With his back turned, he posed for the camera and exposed his scourged back. Drenched in thick snake welts, you could almost hear the sounds of large, angry whips crackling against his black flesh. With tightly coiled hair covered in mud and dirt, he sat there with an absent stare as his gangly left arm rested on his hip. Noosed firmly with our nation’s flag, he remained emotionless. His eyes weren’t wide with fear and his hands weren’t grasping at his throat. No, he sat there gallantly while revealing no signs of a broken spirit. The horrible scars on his back bear testimony to his endurance and the diabolical treatment he received at the hands of his malicious overseer, who without a doubt did not possess an ounce of mercy or humanity in him, and perhaps delighted in fulfilling the wishes of the plantation owner. Was he a father or a husband? Were his children waiting up for him? Neither his name nor his story was important on July 4, 2018. In fact, because the photo depicted him as a brutally beaten slave, it was posted online by numerous bloggers, and quickly became an awful trend on social media like a herpes virus outbreak. These bloggers made this image viral in order to justify why African Americans should not celebrate the birth of our nation. Unfortunately, many African Americans operate under the misguided notion that our ancestors weren’t involved in securing America her independence, or that we did not contribute significantly to building this nation. On the contrary, there are ample facts that cannot be ignored and prove that this holiday is more than just a white man’s independence day. It is our birthright as fellow Americans.

Here in the United States, we celebrate the birth of our great nation on the Fourth of July of each year. A plethora of red, white, and blue flags flap proudly against the patriotic breeze; children shrilly chant in parades; sauce-smeared drumsticks, homemade hamburgers, and slippery wieners sizzle on open grills—recipe for a perfect birthday celebration. Yet, the Fourth of July reminds a vast majority of African Americans of America’s sordid racial past. Case in point, one blogger insisted, “[t]ell me again why black people are celebrating July 4th? Your ancestors weren’t even fighting and weren’t even freed from the brutal slavery almost 100 years after. If you think this day includes you, you’re wrong. Happy Fourth of You Lie!” Yes, a majority of our ancestors were slaves, but they were also fearless soldiers, sailors, and captains.

Although the United States abolished the slave trade within her borders in 1807, our ancestors were domestic slaves both during and after the American Revolutionary War. However, how do you incite slaves to fight in a war on your behalf with nothing in return? You give them what they want most—you promise them freedom. Consequently, due to the shirking number of able-bodied white men, both the British and the patriots saw the potential benefits of allowing black slaves to help fight for their cause. Take George Washington as an example. Desperate for manpower, Washington reluctantly submitted to the idea of recruiting both free and enslaved African Americans into the army. The result? Approximately 5,000 freedmen and slaves enlisted in the Continental Army during the war, and more than 140 African Americans served in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, otherwise known as the “Black Regiment.” How dare we sit quietly and forget that the first casualty of the American Revolution was an African American named Crispus Attucks during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770? Or how could we forget Peter Salem who shot and killed notorious British Major John Pitcairn of the British Marines at the battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, and Salem Poor who purchased his freedom, fought with distinction and killed British Lieutenant-Colonel James Abercrombie? Yes, hunched down on dewy grass, our ancestors stealthily gripped their muskets with frigid hands, ignoring the effluvium that warned them of death. Their request was simple—freedom. Yes, our ancestors so valiantly and honorably fought alongside the revolutionists and displayed incredible valor. Whether free or enslaved, our ancestors sacrificed their lives in the hope for liberty; a dream that would blossom into reality only at death.

Instead of honoring our ancestors who fought not only for our liberty, but also for the liberty of this foreign country, infected bloggers prefer to spread their ignorance about our ancestors’ freedom and sacrifice. One blogger boldly argues, “What were your ancestors doing on July 4, 1776? Oh, that’s right! They were picking cotton. Black people look really stupid today celebrating white peoples’ independence. Instead of today, why not celebrate January 1, 1863, the day our ancestors became free when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation? Juneteenth was our ancestors’ independence.” Uh, absolutely wrong! Reading ignorant comments like this can cause a recurrent chlamydia outbreak. Inaccurate, blister facts and painful cold sore comments about our ancestors’ freedom can only be cured with an acyclovir cream of truth. Remember, old honest Abe wasn’t so honest like many would like to believe. First, the Emancipation Proclamation served for only two purposes: to threaten the Southern states to cease their rebellion action by January 1, 1863, and second, as a war strategy in order to defeat the Confederacy. Therefore, just as the patriots recognized the need of having both free and enslaved men to fight in the Revolutionary War, Abraham Lincoln also recognized the need of African Americans in order to preserve the Union Army. Once again, in the name of freedom, over 200,000 of our ancestors enlisted both in the Union army and in the navy. The Emancipation Proclamation was not written to help eradicate the overflowing misery of our ancestors’ plight. Lincoln unintentionally revealed the inclination of his heart when drafting the Emancipation Proclamation in a letter to Hon. Horace Greeley during the Civil War. Lincoln confessed, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves I would do it.” So, how did our ancestors gain their freedom if the Emancipation Proclamation was just a strategic plan? Great question! While slave owners were out fighting in the war, slaves gained their own freedom by abandoning their owner’s plantation entirely.

James Armistead Lafayette was an African American slave who served the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War as a spy under the Marquis de Lafayette. Pretending to be a runaway slave, Armistead infiltrated British camps and gained valuable intelligence

Overall, it saddens me when a great deal of African Americans know so little, if not any, about the investment our ancestors made since the founding of this nation. We are and have always been a vital aspect of American history. Regrettably, young African Americans aren’t taught the truth about their ancestors. They are taught in length about our nation’s founding fathers, however, it takes a lousy twenty-nine days to honor America’s most loyal citizens. Therefore, African Americans must remember the bloodshed of our ancestors whether they were free or enslaved. We should always remember the cold moonlit night of March 5, 1770, where Crispus Attucks unselfishly offered his blood on behalf of many. Fourth of July is very much so our holiday, and we should rejoice with pride and dignity. I know I will.

Happy 4th of July!

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes: A Review

Framed. Bullied. Disliked. But I know I can still be the best.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In this book, Rhodes tackles the all too real pain of racial injustice, colorism, and prejudice faced by people of color in schooling systems, along with the common act of whitewashing in history. 12-years-old Donte Ellison is falsely accused by the captain of the fencing team, “King” Alan, of disrupting class by throwing a pencil at a fellow student. He is later arrested and suspended for his conduct. Though Donte is angry at the fact that no one would believe he’s innocent, instead of sulking about his situation, he seeks the help of a former fencing olympian, so as to confront his bully and the blatant racism that exists in his nearly all-white prep middle school in their own turf: fencing.

Although this book was written for a much younger audience, I am completely shocked at Rhodes’ ability to confront a very painful topic with such simplicity and grace. In addition to confronting issues like racial injustice, colorism, economic privilege, and prejudice, Rhodes mentions the fatal shooting of twelve years old Tamir Rice to also highlight police brutality against the black community, along with systemic racism and the school-to-prison pipeline. Such topics are often considered inappropriate for young children, yet Rhodes held nothing back. She uses Donte Ellison’s experiences as an example to show young readers the power in fighting for what you believe and surrounding yourself with people who will fight with you.

“Sitting, I stare at the black specks on the white linoleum. A metaphor? That’s what they’re teaching me in English. Metaphor. Except I won’t believe I’m just a black speck. I’m bigger, more than that. Though sometimes I feel like I’m swimming in whiteness. “

The other reason why I enjoyed this book immensely was the fact that Rhodes mentioned my favorite book: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. Rhodes took the opportunity to educate her young readers about General Alex Dumas and his heroic sacrifice. Like Dumas, she uses and gives voice to the many black athletes that are almost forgotten from the pages of our history.

In the end, this heartbreaking story is a must-read for anyone who would like a simpler understanding regarding the issues that have haunted the black community for centuries.

Happy reading!

What Makes Me Pick Up a Book Tag

I have never participated in a book tag! I’m not sure why that’s the case since I love watching bookish tags on either YouTube or reading them on blogs. The questions are very interesting and, of course, the themes are always fun and exciting. Yet, for some reason, participating in one has never crossed my mind. Well, that all changed after seeing the following tag on Kristin Krave’s Books—who have also seen this done on Becky’s Book Blog. So here we go!

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Not necessarily. Although I do appreciate beautiful, vibrant covers, the title usually does it for me. Something interesting with a hint of historical fact will often tug at my curiosity. I am also a firm believer that a compelling title will often have an alluring cover. Take for example The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. From all the adaptation films that I’ve watched, the count is always portrayed as a white man. However, in this book, he’s black with a strong, handsome feature. He is adorned in a 1700s French general uniform and seated on a shiny black horse. Knowing that blacks at the time seldomly held a high rank in any army, along with the title stating “the real count,” caused me to have so many questions that I wanted answers to. I devoured this book in a couple of days. Interesting titles equal to an even more interesting cover.

Focusing on a cover, what attracts you to pick it up?

Just as a movie score should be able to tell its own story while simultaneously providing depth and emotions to the overall film, so does the illustration of a book cover. For me, the cover should tell its own story with a unique visual explanation, while catering to the emotions and curiosities of its potential readers.

Do you read the synopsis first, or prefer to go in knowing nothing about the book?

I commend those who are able to pick up a book without knowing anything about it. I understand the excitement one gets by doing that, but I rarely pick up or purchase a book without knowing anything about it. I want my little library to house books that I want to read, so it’s important for me to know a bit about the book. A good synopsis almost serves as a motivational factor. When I know I have a book sitting on my shelf with a juicy outline, I get this sheer excitement to start it as soon as possible. This is actually a quick way to get over a reading slump, too.

Do you have any auto-buy authors?

I most surely do! Ron Chernow, Tomi Adeyemi, Madeline Miller, Angie Thomas, and Tom Reiss.

Are you more likely to pick up a book if it has specific elements/themes?

While I like to think that I don’t, I have noticed that I am drawn to war theme stories, specifically WWII. I didn’t notice until I started my own blog, but I really enjoy reading about the underdogs overcoming great perils or historical novels exposing the horrors of real-world wars; not to mention the leadership it takes to defend one’s country. Hence, I will read anything involving Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman, to name a few.

Do you ever read a book that has generally negative reviews just to form your own opinion on it?

I so want to say yes to this question but sadly my answer is no. I never want to avoid reading a book solely because it has some negative reviews. Yet, if it’s widely known in the book community that a certain book has a few troubling factors like undeveloped characters, cheesy plot, or a weak resolution, then I will totally avoid reading it. On the other hand, if it has mixed reviews, I will consider reading it, but perhaps sometime later in the future.

Do you ever buy a book just because another BookTuber/Blogger has talked about it a lot?

Yes. And I have learned my lesson not to ever do that again.

Is there anyone whose book recommendations you always trust the most?

Absolutely! Regan from Peruseproject is a BookTuber who has a passion for reading high fantasy but will dabble in other genres like historical fiction. I love her in-depth reviews, primarily because she avoids mentioning spoilers. She’s charismatic and loves sharing books that are often not trending in BookTube. I trust her recommendations because she isn’t afraid to explain in detail why she didn’t enjoy a particular book. Also, she’s currently using her platform to highlight black authors and support the fight against racism which is a major plus in my eyes!

I had such a blast with this tag! Weirdly enough, I’ve learned a few things about myself and a few things I would like to change regarding how I select my next read. I will definitely be participating in more bookish tags in the future. If you haven’t done this already, welp, you have now been tagged!

Happy reading!