Book Review and Giveaway: The Yard by Ailyyah Eniath

The YardThe Yard by Aliyyah Eniath
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books
Release Date: April 5, 2016
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

A story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz is brought to a familial complex, The Yard, to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a willful and rebellious girl, and his guardian’s daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most righteous” blow of all?

The Yard is the family compound wherein Father Khalid, his four siblings and his elderly mother live. One day Father Khalid brings home Behrooz, an orphan boy who remembers nothing about his past. Over his extended family’s objections, he and his wife take the boy in to raise as their son. Father Khalid’s brother is concerned because Behrooz and Father Khalid’s daughter Maya soon strike up a special friendship and Muslim law permits marrying your adopted sister.

The Yard is an epic story, beginning when Maya and Behrooz are just children and chronicling their lives as well as their family’s lives well beyond their childhood. There are a lot of characters to keep track of! The author’s prose is sparse and charming. I was captivated. I love books with Indian characters and culture. The Indo-Muslim culture of Trinidad and Tobago was new to me and I enjoyed reading about it. My only criticism is that some events, including the ending, seemed rushed. Overall, the story was authentic and I definitely recommend it. Scroll down to the bottom to enter for a chance to win your own copy!

About Aliyyah Eniath

Aliyyah Eniath was born in Trinidad and Tobago; her ancestors hailed from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s a director ataliyyah-eniath-ap Safari Publications, a magazine publishing house, and founder/editor-in- chief of Belle Weddings (Caribbean) magazine.

Her debut novel The Yard (literary, romance) is published by Speaking Tiger Books in both paperback and ebook formats.

She explores the ideas of breaking free from imposed boundaries (familial or otherwise), understanding and feeling supported in who you are, overcoming self-doubt, and finally being true to yourself. Her writing looks at strict religious ideologies and their potential consequences and begs for a softer approach and innate understanding and compassion towards every human being.

She writes from the perspective of East Indians whose forefathers were brought to Trinidad from India through the British colonial indentureship scheme in 1845.

Find out more about Aliyyah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m pleased to be able to givaway one copy of The Yard to a lucky reader with a US mailing address. Just fill out the form below. I will take entries until 11:59pm CST on September 27, 2016 Good luck!

tlc tour hostThank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book. Check out the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, September 6th: Book by Book
Wednesday, September 7th: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, September 8th: G. Jacks Writes
Monday, September 12th: Show This Book Some Love
Tuesday, September 13th: Chaos is a Friend of Mine
Thursday, September 15th:
Wednesday, September 14th: Real Life Reading
Tuesday, September 20th: The Book Chick
Wednesday, September 21st: Lit and Life
Monday, September 26th: Book Chatter
Wednesday, September 28th: Mom’s Small Victories
Friday, September 30th: Dreaming Big

Book Review: Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American SoulDemocracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: January 12, 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

America’s great promise of equality has always rung hollow in the ears of African Americans. But today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency—at the very moment the election of the first black president has prompted many to believe we’ve solved America’s race problem.
Democracy in Black is Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s impassioned response. Part manifesto, part history, part memoir, it argues that we live in a country founded on a “value gap”—with white lives valued more than others—that still distorts our politics today. Whether discussing why all Americans have racial habits that reinforce inequality, why black politics based on the civil-rights era have reached a dead end, or why only remaking democracy from the ground up can bring real change, Glaude crystallizes the untenable position of black America–and offers thoughts on a better way forward. Forceful in ideas and unsettling in its candor, Democracy In Black is a landmark book on race in America, one that promises to spark wide discussion as we move toward the end of our first black presidency.

In Democracy in Black, Glaude discusses in detail how and why the 2008 recession disproportionately impacted black people. He also writes about the value gap – the fact that white people are valued more than black people. His analysis is hard to dispute. Glaude doesn’t pull any punches. Anyone is fair game for criticism, not just conservatives. In fact, President Obama receives some of his harshest.

I’m always looking for more articulate ways to explain systematic and institutional racism to people and this book gave me some great ideas of how to do so. I thought this line was particularly good:

“Somehow people absurdly believe – and they have done so for most of our history – that black social   misery  is the result of hundreds of thousands of unrelated bad individual decisions by black people all across this country.”

 The major thing I didn’t agree with was him calling for black people to participate in an “electoral black-out” in 2016. I’m not sure black people voting none of the above would accomplish what he wants it to and for the 2016 election, it’s a really bad idea for obvious reasons.

Even though I read a lot about race, I felt like this book expanded my knowledge even more and will help me have better conversations with people about race in the future.

(I received a complementary copy of this book for review.)

Book Review: The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

The Light of ParisThe Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 12, 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

I liked Margie’s story, which was told through her journal that her granddaughter Madeleine found. However, it was hard for me to muster up much sympathy for a Madeleine, a woman who had grown up rich and married a rich husband and was living the life of a rich socialite. No one forced her to get married and stay in that lifestyle. Her parents wouldn’t have disowned her if she didn’t get married. It was 1999 – she could have done anything really. Her lack of backbone made me angry with her. The reader was supposed to empathize with her but I just couldn’t.

I could empathize with Margie because she was growing up in the early 1900s, a time when women really didn’t have any other choice but to get married in order to have a decent life. And yet Margie is able to rebel for a summer and have a romantic, adventurous summer in Paris. I enjoyed reading about her life and adventures there.

I may have had my expectations too high for this book and that’s why I was so disappointed with it. I loved Eleanor Brown’s first book, The Weird Sisters, and I was hoping to love The Light of Paris just as much. It seems that Brown has fallen victim to the curse of the sophomore slump.

(I received a complementary copy of this book for review.)

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

First Comes LoveFirst Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Publisher: Ballentine Books
June 28, 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious, relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing, Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes, their delicate bond splinters.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter is assigned to her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms, and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover that they need each other more than they knew—and that in the search for true happiness, love always comes first.

First Comes Love is the story of Josie and Meredith, two sisters who are still struggling to deal with their brother Daniel’s death that happened fifteen years ago. It’s told in first person by both Josie and Meredith, alternating by chapter. Josie thinks Meredith is a cranky bitch and frankly so did I. Even knowing Meredith’s inner thoughts from her part of the narrative did little to change my mind on her. Meredith thinks that Josie is selfish and immature. She definitely comes across that way but I had much more sympathy for Josie. She seemed well-intentioned and honestly clueless to her tendency to make things all about her.

Josie’s main struggle is whether or not to have a child as a single mother. She hears her biological clock ticking and is getting nervous that time has run out for her to find a husband to be the father of her child. Meredith has a husband and child but now she isn’t sure that’s what she ever wanted. Both of them had such a hard time dealing with their problems that I had trouble imagining how either of them could have a happy ending.

Speaking of the ending, that’s the one part of this book that I didn’t like. It seemed rushed and one character’s fate didn’t feel authentic to me. You’ll know why when you read it. If you do read this book, let me know and we can chat about it! I won’t write any spoilers here.

I think First Come Love is a great offering from Emily Giffin and recommend it to fans of women’s fiction.

(I received a complementary copy of this book for review.)

Other books by Emily Giffin and reviewed by me:
Heart of the Matter
Where We Belong


Audio Book Review: If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Green

If I Forget YouIf I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: June 14, 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time.

Written in lyrical prose, If I Forget You is at once a great love story, a novel of marriage, manners, and family, a meditation on the nature of art, a moving elegy to what it means to love and to lose, and how the choices we make can change our lives forever.

If I Forget You is the story of Henry and Margo. They were star-crossed lovers in college but broke up for reasons that would be a spoiler. Henry was from a working class family while Margo was born into a life of privilege. The book alternates between their college days in 1999 and the present. Henry is now a college professor and Margo is a wealthy wife and mother. One day in the present, Henry and Margo see each other from afar and eventually reconnect. We learn the reasons they have been apart all these years. Also, Margo has been harboring a secret that she is scared to tell Henry.

I enjoyed Henry and Margo’s story. Both characters were well developed and interesting. Their romance was sweet and I was sad when they broke up. Henry was particularly sympathetic- I felt sorry for him a lot of the time. There was a surprise twist at the end that I did not see coming but did not seem contrived.

I listened to the audio version of this book and thought the narrator did a nice job. If I Forget You is a great summer read.

(I received a complementary copy of this audio book for review.)

Book Review: I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

I Almost Forgot About YouI Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: June 7, 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life–great friends, family, and successful career–aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, including quitting her job as an optometrist and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Georgia’s bravery reminds us that it’s never too late to become the person you want to be, and that taking chances, with your life and your heart, are always worthwhile.
Big-hearted, genuine, and universal, I Almost Forgot About You shows what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to life, love, and the possibility of a new direction. It’s everything you’ve always loved about Terry McMillan.

When Dr. Georgia Young learns that a former love has passed away, she regrets that they did not keep in touch over the years and that she never told him about the impact he had on her life. She decides to make a list of all her past boyfriends and contact them to let them know what they have meant to her.

This is the first book I’ve read from Terry McMillan and I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed. However, from what I’ve read in other reviews, this book isn’t as good as her most popular books How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale. I Almost Forgot About You reads like a typical chic lit novel. There isn’t a lot in the way of character development and the writing is straightforward without much description. It is refreshing to read a book where the main character is in her fifties and still has the capability of feeling both love and lust – as real life fifty year olds do. And Georgia is an average looking woman too, not a gorgeous and thin model type. In these ways, she is very relatable.

Georgia has two best friends, Violet and Wanda. They are both quite different from Georgia. Wanda has been happily married for years and Violet is a single mother who is a helicopter parent to her adult daughter. I liked these characters but their relationship with Georgia seemed superficial for being best friends. The snappy dialogue between the three didn’t seem authentic to me.

I liked this book well enough that I’d like to go back and read her more popular books – I’m not giving up on her. I think I just chose the wrong book to start with. I think die-hard fans will probably like this book more than I did. If you’re new to Terry McMillan, you should start with one of her other books.

(I received a complementary copy of this book for review.)


Happy Days Are Here Again!

school-bus-1563493_1280I guess I ended up unofficially taking the summer off from blogging. With three rowdy kids at home all day, it was hard to find any large block of quiet time to concentrate on writing reviews. We spent a lot of time going on outings – to the pool, bowling, the movies, etc. to wear them out and keep them from driving me crazy! Both of my boys played baseball this summer too so most of our nights were filled with practices and games.

But baseball season is over and I sent them off to school last week. I finally have some time for myself – at least until I have some substitute teaching gigs come up. I’m subbing for two districts this year instead of just one so I’m interested to see how busy I end up being. I’ll have to get better with time management so I can keep reading and blogging!

I’m also looking forward to getting back on my Feedly account and keeping up with all of you guys again! Tune in tomorrow for my first back-to-school review.



Book Review: Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

Stepping to a New Day: A Blessings Novel Book 7Stepping to a New Day: A Blessings Novel Book 7 by Beverly Jenkins
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: June 28, 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

In Henry Adams, Kansas, you can’t start over without stirring things up . . .

Many a good woman has had to leave a no-good man, but how many of them took a backseat to his six-hundred-pound hog? On her own for the first time, Genevieve Gibbs is ecstatic, even if certain people preferred the doormat version of Ms. Gibbs. Finding someone who appreciates the “new” her has only just hit Gen’s to-do list when T. C. Barbour appears in her life.

A tiny Kansas town is a far cry from his native Oakland, California, but it’s just the change T. C. needs. While helping his divorced nephew acclimate to single fatherhood, T. C. lands a gig driving a limo for the most powerful woman in Henry Adams. It’s a great way to meet people—and one in particular has already made the job worthwhile. All it takes is a short trip from the airport for Genevieve to snag T. C.’s attention for good.

But it wouldn’t be Henry Adams without adding more drama to the mix. When Gen’s ex Riley returns with his hog in tow, it sets off a chain of events that can ruin everything—unless the residents pull together once again to save the day.

Stepping to a New Day is the seventh book in Beverly Jenkins’s Blessings series but it can also be read as a stand alone book without much trouble. The important information from past books is integrated into the story without disrupting the flow.

I found Stepping to a New Day to be just as sweet and charming the other book from this series that I’ve read, For Your Love. That’s not to say that bad things don’t happen to the residents of Henry Adams. They do. However, the people of Henry Adams are always there to support each other in times of need. It would be very easy for this book to go over the edge to cheesiness but it doesn’t. It’s a feel-good story about the power community. I want to read the first five books in the series so that I can spend a little more time in Henry Adams.

Beverly JenkinsAbout Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins has received numerous awards, including five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards, two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine, and a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild. Ms. Jenkins was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club. She was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature.

Find out more about Beverly at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, June 28th: A Tattered Copy
Wednesday, June 29th: Gspotsylvania: Ramblings from a Reading Writer Who Rescues Birds and Beasts
Thursday, June 30th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, July 1st: Chaos is a Friend of Mine
Tuesday, July 5th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, July 5th: What Will She Read Next
Wednesday, July 6th: Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, July 7th: My Journey Back
Friday, July 8th: The Englishist
Monday, July 11th: Back Porchervations
Tuesday, July 12th: A Book and a Beer
Thursday, July 14th: Bookish Realm Reviews
Friday, July 15th: Literary Quicksand

tlc tour host




(I received a complementary review copy of this book.)

Audiobook Review: Yellow by Megan Jacobson

YellowYellow by Megan Jacobson
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: February 1, 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

If 14-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth.

Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost 20 years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. Things aren’t so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.

Yellow is a young adult novel about Kirra, a fourteen year-old girl who lives in a small town in Australia. She takes care of her barely functioning alcoholic mother. Her dad left and is expecting a baby with his new girlfriend. He seems to care more about surfing than anything else. Even worse, Kirra lives in the Housing Commission section of town – where the poor kids live. She’s in the popular clique at school but is the lowest girl on the totem pole and her role in the group seems to be an object for the other girls’ bullying. They are downright mean, as only fourteen year-old girls can be.

Kirra finally reaches her breaking point, runs out of school and ends up on the beach. The phone in a nearby abandoned phone box starts ringing so she answers it. The ghost of a fourteen year-old boy named Boogie is on the other line. She is freaked out at first but then forms a friendship with him and agrees to find his murderer in exchange for him giving her advice on how to deal with the mean girls.

When listing to this book, at first I wondered why the author included the magical realism of Boogie’s character in the plot. Why wasn’t it just a straightforward book about surviving high school? It turns out that Boogie gives the story some wonderful twists that I won’t give away. And Jacobson’s prose is so beautiful it’s unlike anything I’ve read or listened to in a young adult novel. Finally, I liked that the book’s narrator had an Australian accent. The book is set in Australia and hearing it read with that accent made it that much easier for me to lose myself in the story. This is a book that both teenagers and adults can enjoy.

(I received a complementary copy of this audio book for review.)

Book Review: The Royal We by Heather Cox and Jessica Morgan

The Royal WeThe Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: April 26, 2016
My rating: 4.5of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

American Bex Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister Lacey was always the romantic, the one who daydreamed of being a princess, but it’s adventure-seeking Bex who goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall-and Bex who finds herself accidentally in love with the heir to the British throne. Nick is wonderful, but he comes with unimaginable baggage: a complicated family, hysterical tabloids tracking his every move, and a public that expected its future king to marry a Brit. On the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex looks back on how much she’s had to give up for true love… and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break.

The Royal We is written by Heather Cox and Jessica Morgan, better known as the Fug Girls. They have a hilarious fashion blog so I was really looking forward to reading their book. It’s the story of Bex, an American exchange student at Oxford and Prince Nicholas, who also attends Oxford. The book is based on the real Royal Family. Bex has a Pippa-like sister named Lindsey and Nick’s brother Freddie is definitely Harry. He even has red hair.

We know little about the private life of the real Royals and this book was a fun imagining of what their lives might be like behind the scenes. Nick feels a lot of pressure as the heir to the throne. Freddie has mixed feelings about being the “spare”. Bex doesn’t fit into their world at all and doesn’t really want to.

The reader knows that Bex and Nick are engaged from the get-go and then the book goes back and tells the story of how they got to that point. However, we don’t know if they actually end up getting married – they have a lot to overcome. For that reason, there is still elements of suspense that hold the reader’s attention.

A friend brought gave me this book when I was pretty sick. It was the perfect read to cuddle up in bed with. It was a great mix of light-hearted humor and serious drama. It would make a good beach read for the summer as well. I was very excited to learn that it will be a movie. I think it’s definitely rom-com material.

I think that anyone who likes romantic story lines will like this book and if you follow the Royal Family or are a Fug Girls follower, you will especially enjoy reading it.