Conspiracy by De’nesha Diamond
(Dafina Books, 2016, 320 pages)
This story is full of twists and turns. You start out thinking it is about sex trafficking and then follow the life of the girl, a victim whose boyfriend is selling drugs. When the drugs turn up missing, murder and mayhem lead to the chase to uncover the twisted conspiracy to hide the development of a human military weapon.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
(Algonquin Books, 2018, 320 pages)
This is the story of a marriage and what happens to a couple put in a situation they never could have imagined. Roy and Celestial haven’t been married long when one night their lives are turned upside down. Roy is charged with a crime he didn’t commit and is imprisoned. As Roy and Celestial’s families fight to overturn the charges and clear his name time goes by. We get insight into the relationship and how it changes through letters the two write to each other.
When Roy’s name is finally cleared years later the only thing he wants is to return to the wife, and the life, he knew before his incarceration. But does that life still exist?
This was a powerful novel that quickly sucked me in. I didn’t want to put it down. The character development was great and I couldn’t wait to see how the story was going to play out. I’ll definitely be checking out Jones’s backlist. (pub. date February 2018)
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
(Kensington, 2017, 263 pages)
This historical romance offered a unique twist on what we normally see. Set during the Civil War we are introduced to Elle and Malcolm as the country is first struggling to come to grips with what’s happening. Elle is a free black woman working undercover as a slave to spy for the Union. Malcolm is a white man who is also spying for the Union, though in the guise of a Confederate soldier. When the two realize they’re supposed to be working together things get complicated. They have to keep their identities secret from those around them, but at the same time there’s an attraction they’re both trying to fight… Can they accomplish the task at hand without blowing their cover or falling for each other?
I appreciated the diverse angle this romance took. It got high praise and while I wanted to like it more than I did, I can understand why it got so much attention. If you’re in the market for a unique historical romance (that’s not overly steamy) this could be just what you’re looking for.
Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker
(Grand Central Publishing, 2017, 453 pages)
I will always love Jane Eyre (it’s even my default search when I have to test out the library catalog or a database 😉 ). It’s a classic that never gets old. I’ve read a number of Eyre-inspired novels that had something of a moment over the past couple years. This one takes a different approach in attempting to offer Edward Rochester’s back-story to better understand him. Shoemaker did a great job capturing the language and essence of Bronte’s world.
I was really into it at the beginning but the end of the book felt a bit rushed to me. Arguably, this was a text meant to provide Rochester’s origin story so it makes sense that most of the novel focused on his life pre-Jane. However, given the nature of this novel’s readership, it would have been nice to have a little more of the Jane/Edward relationship fleshed out. Even with that caveat, I think fans of Jane Eyre will appreciate this novel. Despite its “high” page count it was a relatively quick read.
Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say
by Kelly Corrigan
(Penguin Random House, 2018, 240 pages)
This was my first time reading Corrigan’s work and I really enjoyed her style. I’ll certainly be picking up her previous titles. The content of this book was just what I needed to read. It’s all about the power of language and reflecting to think of how to act in various situations. Corrigan is able to use humor throughout the book, but there are also some heavy and emotional moments as she lets the reader into her life and explains how it is she came to the realization of what needs to be said and why.
This was a heartfelt and valuable book. I’m glad it found its way into my reading rotation.
This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
(Harper Perennial, 2018, 272 pages)
I follow Morgan Jerkins on Twitter (@morganjerkins) and I don’t remember how I first was exposed to her work, but I’m glad for whatever it was that caught my attention. This collection of essays was so well-written and thought-provoking. In the spirit of not reinventing the wheel, below please find the review I posted on Goodreads:
“There are some books that you are content to read but don’t feel like you need to own. This Will Be My Undoing is a book that I’m so glad I read and that I will certainly be going out to buy so it has a permanent place on my shelves. The essays in this book are packed with so much that I know every time I revisit them I’ll come away having gleaned something new.
These essays talk about what it means to exist in this world as a black woman. There is no separating the two. Not only was I nodding along while reading I also found myself tearing up more often than I ever would have imagined I would. There’s so much depth here. It was a fabulous read.”
I definitely recommend (pub. date: January 2018).
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
(HarperTeen, 2018, 368 pages)
I was first exposed to Elizabeth Acevedo through her spoken word poetry and I kind of fell in love with her. When I found out she was going to be publishing a book I immediately put it on my “to-read” list so I was pumped when I got the chance to read an advanced reader copy of the title. Unsurprisingly, this is a novel written in verse. The “chapters” are short but pack a punch. It’s easy to want to read quickly but at the same time you appreciate what Acevedo can do with language.
The story follows Xiomara as she enters her Sophomore year in high school. Her mother is pushing her to get confirmed but Xiomara finds herself questioning if she actually has any faith. In the midst of this she’s also finding herself interested in a classmate, even though dating is strictly prohibited. One of the ways Xiomara channels her thoughts and feelings is by writing poetry in the journal her twin got her. This poetry is where she is truly free to express what is really going on within her. When she’s asked to join a slam poetry club as school she starts to realize that maybe she doesn’t need to keep her voice confined to the pages of her journal…
I really enjoyed this and think it will do well when it’s officially released in March. I strongly encourage anyone to check out her work. And if you’re into YA, poetry, and appreciate the written word you’ll tear through this novel.