The results are in!

The results are in!

Next month’s read for the African American Read-In is:

Click to enlarge.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes!

Here’s more about the book from the publisher’s description:

Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She doesn’t have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like the other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya’s visions show a powerful hurricane–Katrina–fast approaching, it’s up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm.

Ninth Ward is a deeply emotional story about transformation and a celebration of resilience, friendship, and family–as only love can define it.

I’m really surprised about the results. For days,  A Lesson Before Dying and Fences were neck-and-neck for the top spot. Ninth Ward is already on my tbr list so I can’t wait to start reading. Remember, discussions start February 22nd.  Thanks to everyone who voted.

Sunday Salon: In which I failed two reading challenges and haven’t finished an adult book since December

Sunday Salon: In which I failed two reading challenges and haven’t finished an adult book since December

Good morning! The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and my math homework is sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me. Right now I’m sitting at my desk with my cup of coffee, trying to postpone doing homework for a little while longer. I went to sleep doing math homework and now I’m basically waking up to do it. I hope you all are spending your weekends doing something more exciting.

I’m still trying to find a balance between reading and school. My Kobo stopped loading e-galleys and library books so I haven’t been using it. I’m reading between classes and while I wait for the bus. That’s been helping but I haven’t finished an adult book yet. I’m still reading the same three books: The Best American Essays 2011 edited by Edwidge Danticat, The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman, and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. I’ve also started reading How Georgia Became O’Keefe by Karen Karbo since it’s due back at the library soon. All four books are fantastic reads. Let’s hope that I finish them in February so I can actually post a review or two!

It’s the last Sunday of the month and I’ve already failed a read-along and a reading challenge. The Games of Thrones read-along and Orange January is a bust. I really wanted to participate in both events. Jill, the Orange January host, posted interesting questions for participants to answer. It was great seeing everyone else’s responses. Luckily, there’s always Orange July to join in.

Looking back over this month, I’ve done pretty well with my resolutions. Two of my resolutions were to get life insurance and give away a few books from my shelves to my library. I did them both. Next month I plan to look for a house to rent, buy a purse, get dental insurance, and take a family photo. I know it probably looks weird about having “buy a purse” on my resolutions list, but if I didn’t add it, I’ll probably buy books instead.

So now I’m off to suffer through do homework.  Don’t forget that the poll is still open for next month’s African-American Read-In. I’ll announce the winning book tomorrow morning. How’s your weekend going? Are you keeping your resolutions?

2012 National African American Read-In

2012 National African American Read-In

Next month is the Twenty-Third National African American Read-In. The event is sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English.Churches, schools, book clubs, and bookstores all over America will get together to read and discuss books by African Americans.  Doret from The Happy Nappy Bookseller and Edi (CrazyQuilts) came up with the great idea to host an online read-in next month.

Here’s the details:

Four books were chosen for the poll below. Readers can only vote for one book. I’ll announce the results on Monday, January 30th. That gives anyone who wants to participate enough time to grab a copy and read along with us. The read-in is set for February 22nd. Discussions questions will be posted on this blog along with Doret and Edi’s blogs. I hope you all join us for this event.

Have you read any of the books listed in the poll?  Are there any that catch your interest?

Edit: I’ve just added two more books to the poll.

DNF: Something Like Beautiful

DNF: Something Like Beautiful

Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother’s Story

asha bandele

208 pages

Published in 2009 by HarperCollins

Source: Bought it

Something Like Beautiful is almost a collection of snapshots of poet/writer asha bandele’s life as a wife and mother before her life was dramatically changed.  After being married for several years, she learns that her husband, who’s been serving time in prison, was denied parole and will be deported back to his native Guyana, a country he hasn’t lived in since his early childhood. Almost overnight, asha becomes a single mother.

I really wanted to love this book but after fifty pages, I knew it wasn’t for me. It had nothing to do with the subject matter but the narrative. I was expecting a story told pretty linearly and not one that is more a stream-of-consciousness.

Here’s a passage:

There are times I have to force myself to remember to breathe when I think of all my mistakes, my slips of judgment, and the way they have tracked me and my baby like some madman stalker all the way through, not just moments, but years that I would recall if could, years for which I would beg. Can I have a do-over? I would beg because how can a mother not beg to erase anything ugly, anything wrong that entered the life of her child?

Reading, or lack of

Reading, or lack of

It’s late afternoon and the smell of coffee is in the air. I’m waiting for my first pot of the day so I can start reading. There’s nothing better than a cup of coffee to go with a good book. I’m reading The Warmth of Other Suns with Heather from Between the Covers. Heather is one of the most hilarious bloggers I know. She keeps me laughing plus she writes great reviews.

Last week was so hectic! School started Monday and I’ve had homework from day one. I don’t mind so much even though one of my psych professors told my class to start working on a major research project now. I’m so excited about my project that I know I made the right choice in changing my major to psychology and anthropology. In my archaeology class, my professor had us discuss the effects of media on society as we recalled all the famous archaeologists from movies. Talking about Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and other movies made me want to spend an afternoon watching them all over again.

So as exciting as school has been, it’s left me with little time to read. I’ve been reading Muriel Spark’s Memento Mori between classes. It’s a hilarious (yes, I’m using that word for the second time), story about old age. I need to thank Claire (Paperback Reader) for talking about it last year. I can’t believe it took me so long to read it.  I also continued The Street Sweeper but since it’s so big, it’s my nightstand read.

I suddenly became sick yesterday so now I’m off to bed to regain my strength. What are you reading this week?

Weekend Cooking: Books for Young Foodies

Weekend Cooking: Books for Young Foodies

Weekend Cooking is a meme hosted by Candace at Beth Fish Reads. Anyone with a food-related post can join.

My kids love books about food. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cookbook or a picture book, so lately we’ve been going out of our way to find more books with kid foodies in mind. It’s been a little hard finding fiction with recipes for kids but what we’ve found so far has been pretty good.


Written by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

Illustrated by Janet Stevens

48 pages

Published in 2005 by Voyager Books

Source: Library

Big Brown Rooster is tired of eating chicken feed all day, every day. As the great-grandson of the famous Little Red Hen, he decides enough is enough. If the stories are right and Little Red Hen was as great a cook as people say, then he can cook too. With the help of a few friends, Rooster decides to try and make his great-grandma’s strawberry shortcake. But will the shortcake turns out the way it’s supposed to?

What I really like about this book is that the authors illustrate beautifully that not everything you make will turn out well but the key is to keep trying until you get it right. Kids will laugh at the animals as they try to figure out Great Grandma’s instructions while learning how to measure, sift flour, and other things.  Included at the end of the picture book is the recipe the characters use. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Pizza: How to Make and Bake More Than 50 Delicious Homemade Pizza

Written by Carla Bardi

128 pages

Published in 2011 by Reader’s Digest

Source: Library

If I were to describe Pizza, I would say “cute”. The book is shaped like a pizza. Bardi includes recipes for making pizza dough from scratch including whole-wheat and gluten-free dough. There are plenty of pictures for step-by-step instructions for the dough and for the various types of pizza the author included. As a mom with three picky eaters, there aren’t many recipes in this book that I could make and my kids would eat.  These aren’t your typical pizza recipes instead there’s eggplant pizza, bell pepper pizza, and even pizza with apple and Gorgonzola. There’s nothing wrong with the recipes but this isn’t a book I can really use. I’m still recommending it for those with a more “sophisticated” palate. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Easy as Pie

Written by Cari Best

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

48 pages

Published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Source: Library

Jacob loves watching his favorite TV chef, Chef Monty, makes his famous recipes. When Jacob decides to make a peach pie, it’s a good thing he remembers all of Monty’s rules about cooking. There are a few mistakes and setbacks but Jacob’s determined to make his pie.

I thought this was a lovely book about making a goal and seeing it through until the end. With illustrations by Melissa Sweet, (A River of Words and Carmine), Easy as Pie is a book that will leave young foodies hungry for more. My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you read any of these? Are there any books you would recommend for young foodies?

Chunky Book Club and Indie Lit Awards Shortlist

Chunky Book Club and Indie Lit Awards Shortlist

The poll results are in! Four books stood out above the rest as this year’s picks for the Chunky Book Club. Here’s this year’s selection and reading schedule:

11/23/63 by Stephen King starts our first discussion in March.

The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna is a great way to start the summer in June.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett will help readers welcome Autumn in.

From what I’ve read about Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, it’s the perfect way to end the year.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a participant of the Chunkster Challenge to join us in the book club. So if any of these books look interesting to you, why not join us? The discussion posts will go up at the beginning of that particular month and discussions will start around the 15 th except in December when they will start on the 5th.

Indie Lit Awards

The short lists for the Indie Lit Awards have been announced!  The awards cover various genres from fiction to non-fiction to GLBTQ. After looking at the lists, there are so many books I’m interested in reading. The winners will be announced in several months.  Congratulations to the authors whose work made the list.

What’s on My Nightstand

What’s on My Nightstand

We’re six days into the New Year and I haven’t posted a review yet. Part of it has to do with having a fuzzy memory on the books I read during the end of the 2011. The other part of it is that I’m in a reading slump. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that the semester starts on Monday or that I’m in the middle of so many books right now.  There’s so much I want to read before everything school starts but I doubt that it’s going to happen. Here’s what’s currently on my nightstand:

The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman. I received an advance reading copy of this for the Chunkster Challenge. It’s our featured chunkster for January. The book is about the lives of two men in New York and how those lives intersect. So far, so good.

I decided to join the Essay-A-Day Project for 2012 hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) and Ash (English Major’s Narrative) because I love essays but I don’t read them often enough. I think the best stories and essays make you want to re-read them, to figure out how they work. The Best American Essays: College Edition edited by Robert Atwan is my essay read for this month.  I’ve already read “In the Kitchen” by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Now I’m reading “Hair” by Maria Aldrich. I can recommend both essays.

I recently picked up The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Maria Tatar, after reading Polly Shulman’s middle grade fantasy, The Grimm Legacy. I started reading the story, “The Twelve Brothers” and felt like a kid again.

Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners is another book I’ve been reading in bits. The collection’s first story, “The Faery Handbag” is weird and lovely at the same time. The second story, “The Hortlak” is a little too strange for me so I’ll probably read the last story “Lull” and put the rest of the book down.

Peter Hedges’ What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? is a book I’ve re-read almost every year. It’s just like the movie but better.

I’m also reading Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin for this month’s Game of Thrones read-along. It’s a dual reading in audio and print. I might just ditch the audio version though I love listening to George Guidall’s voice.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson is a story that I failed to read last year though I hosted a read-along for it! It’s another chunkster but reads like a novel.

So that’s what I’m reading. What are you reading this week?



Photo courtesy of Paul (Dex)



I got out of bed

on two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise. I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

All morning I did

the work I love.


At noon I lay down

with my mate. It might

have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks. It might

have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day.

But one day, I know,

it will be otherwise.


Jane Kenyon


Sunday Salon: Happy New Year!

Sunday Salon: Happy New Year!

Was it just me or did it take forever for 2012 to come this week? 2011 went by in a rush, but getting to today? Every hour went by so slowly. I don’t really mind since I went to sleep around 8:30 and woke up at midnight to hear my neighbors screaming like banshees and popping firecrackers. Oh well. Happy New Year!

For the past two years, I’ve made literary resolutions. I’ve done pretty well with them so I’m going to keep it up. Here are my literary resolutions for 2012:

  • Give away 120 books from my shelves. Last year I gave away more than 100 books and I want to keep that up. It feels good to free up space on my shelves for books I love instead of ones I haven’t read.
  • Read at least 60 books from my shelves. I don’t think I read even 30 books from my shelves in 2011.
  • Keep a paper list of the books I read this year. I’m trying to limit my time online so keeping a paper list will help.
  • Check out no more than 30 books from the library this year. I love checking out books from the library so I’m probably setting myself up for failure.
  • Read out of my comfort zone.  This includes aiming for 50% of my reads to be by people of color, more science fiction, books in translations, and definitely more fantasy.

So now I’m off to finish reading my first book of the year: Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff. It’s a middle grade book that I’ve own for a year now. So far it’s a touching story about a kid who’s been in the foster care system all her life. She runs away from every home that she’s been in. Now she’s found a home that she enjoys but may not be able to stay much longer. I started it this morning around midnight. After Pictures of Hollis Woods, I plan on continuing What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? by Peter Hedges. It’s one of my favorite books of all-time. I used to re-read it every year.

What are you reading on New Year’s Day? Any literary and bloggish resolutions?