Such Good Work by Johannes Lichtman: A Book Review

Simon & Schuster/ Literary Fiction/ 304 pages/ February 2019

About the book: Jonas Anderson might be an excellent teacher if he weren’t addicted to drugs. Instead, at age twenty-eight, he’s been fired from yet another creative writing position after assigning homework like, visit a stranger’s funeral and write about it.

Jonas needs to do something drastic and, as a dual American-Swedish citizen, he knows Sweden is an easy place to be a graduate student and a difficult place to be a drug addict. The year is 2015 when he arrives in Malmö, a city trying to cope with the arrival of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees. Driven by an existential need to “do good,” Jonas volunteers with an organization that teaches Swedish to the desperate and idling young refugees. But one young man, Aziz, will force Jonas to question whether “doing good” can actually help another person.


My take on it:

This is a compelling read, and it’s not because the protagonist, Jonas, is charming and what one would call “easy to like,” but because his on his own journey of self discovery and struggles with sobriety continents apart.

What the author succeeds in portraying is how flawed people can be in their thoughts and intentions, and we see this through Jonas’ eyes and as he travels from the US to Sweden and finds himself at Malmo, teaching refugees Swedish.

The pace is great and for someone who is from another continent and a fan of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the mention of his name alone was enough for me to take a liking to this book :-). So, here’s to Netgalley, thanks for the eARC, I can’t wait to hear what other readers would have to say on this debut, it’s earned my approval, and I know it’ll charm them too.

Verdict: 26152615261526152615

Pre-order on Amazon: click here 


About the author:

Johannes Lichtman was born in Stockholm and raised in California. He holds an MFA in fiction from UNC Wilmington and an MA in literature, culture, and media from Lund University. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Los Angeles Review of Books, Oxford American, The Sun, Sydsvenskan, and elsewhere. He lives in Portland and Ukraine. Such Good Work is his first novel. Visit his website for more: https://www.johanneslichtman.com/

 

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The Bookworm Reader Tag

I love a tag! Well, only here on wordpress and I came across this tag on Bookish Bits blog and couldn’t resist diving right in.

BOOKMARKS OR RANDOM PIECES OF PAPER?

Bookmarks.

STOP READING RANDOMLY OR AFTER A CHAPTER/CERTAIN AMOUNT OF PAGES?

I am as random as they come. Thank heavens for bookmarks because then I’d be quite lost in my reading progress.

DO YOU HAVE A CERTAIN PLACE AT HOME FOR READING?

No, I read even while cooking so as long as I want to read, I’ll read. 

DO YOU EAT OR DRINK WHILST READING?

Sure, I love drinking tea while I read.

MULTITASKING: MUSIC OR TV WHEN READING?

I love listening to music while reading. Sometimes I want some peace and quiet and go for it, but definitely love listening to music as I read.

ONE BOOK AT A TIME OR SEVERAL?

I can read up to three books at a time and I love delving in and out of books. However, I learned over the years that when it comes to romance, I can always read a book in one sitting.

READING AT HOME OR EVERYWHERE?

Everywhere.

READING OUT LOUD OR SILENTLY?

Silently.

BREAKING THE SPINE OR KEEPING IT LIKE NEW?

Keeping it like new. I’m no spine breaker!

DO YOU WRITE IN YOUR BOOKS?

No. I have however highlighted books before, my copy of Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is a mess!


So, there you have it, if you want to give this a shot, go ahead. I’d love to read your responses!

Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom: A Review

Hardcover 224 pages/ New Press Publication-To be released January 8th 2019

About the bookSmart, humorous, and strikingly original thoughts on race, beauty, money, and more—by one of today’s most intrepid public intellectuals

Tressie McMillan Cottom, the writer, professor, and acclaimed author of Lower Ed, now brilliantly shifts gears from running regression analyses on college data to unleashing another identity: a purveyor of wit, wisdom—and of course Black Twitter snark—about all that is right and much that is so very wrong about this thing we call society. In the bestselling tradition of bell hooks and Roxane Gay, McMillan Cottom’s freshman collection illuminates a particular trait of her tribe: being thick. In form, and in substance.


Now, this book right here is the book I see myself reading when I am old and grey and still going “you’ve got that right!” It is in essay form, but does not shy away from a stark memoir. Honestly speaking, it is what it is, and that’s unapologetic, true, bold, harsh, nostalgic-and just like the title, it is thick! I would review this book everyday if it were up to me, because it is not the kind that you read and turn the page.

It is profound in calling out the stereotypes we subscribe to, our perceptions, our socio-economic status and as a young black woman, what’s written herein is something I have experienced yet I am miles away in another continent.

It goes beyond the value society places on a black woman, and dissects the lies we tell ourselves in our desire to conform to something that devalues us.

I love this book and I look forward to having a hardcover copy for my library because I want to read this years on, to stir up conversations with young women like me here.


My final take on it:

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I couldn’t help but gush about this on twitter a while back too:

The greatest coincidence is that this book is set to be released on my sister’s birthday!

See the book on: Goodreads and Amazon

Pre-order it today for $17.10 on Amazon 


About the Author:

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a case study of the political economy of for-profit colleges in the era of financialized U.S. higher education. She’s on Twitter @tressiemcphdTressie McMillan Cottom

 

 

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted: A Book Review

245 pages/ Quality Black Books Publisher (September 15, 2018)/ Women’s Fiction/African American/Literature Fiction

About the book:

Black girls must die exhausted” is something that 33-year-old Tabitha Walker has heard her grandmother say before.  Of course, her grandmother (who happens to be white) was referring to the 1950’s and what she observed in the nascent times of civil rights.  With a coveted position as a local news reporter, Marc– a “paper-perfect” boyfriend, and a standing Saturday morning appointment with a reliable hairstylist, Tabitha never imagined how this phrase could apply to her as a black girl in contemporary times – until everything changed.

An unexpected doctor’s diagnosis awakens Tabitha to an unperceived culprit, threatening the one thing that has always mattered most – having a family of her own.  With the help of her best friends, the irreverent and headstrong Laila and Alexis, the former “Sexy Lexi,” Tabitha must explore the reaches of modern medicine and test the limits of her relationships to beat the ticking clock on her dreams of becoming a wife and mother.


My take: downloaddownloaddownloaddownload

I love a book with strong female characters. I love reading about women at their best, supporting each other emotionally, financially, psychologically and culturally and this book just served me a whole series of “Girlfriends!”

Tabitha is career focused. She’s got her sights set on being a Senior Reporter, but there’s also Marc, he’s educated, intelligent, sexy- but for one a half years they have been dating and when she gets a verdict from the doctor, she starts evaluating her life, priorities and relationships based on that.

I loved her friendship with her girlfriends, Laila and Alexis. They each have their own battles and are as bold as they come. I could use a Laila in my life, especially when she tells Tabby:

“Do you want me to go key his car?..Because I will- just say the word and I will light that Porsche right up!”

The author’s tone of writing is simple and each character’s voice is undeniably strong. You cannot help but also appreciate the diversity of women from age, race to social status and they all influence Tabby in one way or the other. I found her relationship with her grandmother most interesting and there’s this point where in relation to the title of the book, Gretchen, her grandmother’s friend tells her “I say, don’t ever die of exhaustion on somebody else’s terms!” 

I could sing praises of this book all day long, because it I could relate to it. I see myself in Tabby, Laila, Alexis, her mother, grandmother and I see myself in her career struggles, however the ending was not a reader’s paradise. I know there’s a second book, but come on…why exhaust my emotions over this?

I got to read this book courtesy of the Publisher and Netgalley and that eARC was so worth it! How else would I have felt so drawn to a character like this?


You can get a copy of the book on : Bookshout  

You can also get the book on : Amazon

Visit Jayne’s website: www.jayneallen.com

Weekend reads

I love Fridays but not as much as Saturdays because the weekend is my cue to sit back, drink lots of tea and read a book or two.

This weekend, it’s all about romance and laid back reading, so I’ve got my sights on three books:

It’s about shifters, science and romance. I love reading about shifters and romance- well, a bit of science just might make me subscribe too.


Irène, Maddalena, Jonathan, and Marcello are united by their desire to go beyond appearances, beyond the traditional rules that reduce life to the simple and dry quest for survival.
Irène, the star of the story, discovers a new way of life thanks to her encounter with Maddalena, a fairytale writer, who becomes a sort of spiritual guide for her.
It will be Maddalena who teaches her the importance of seeing the world through glasses with colored lenses and who teaches her the importance of self-observation in achieving greater awareness and presence.

I want to read it because the description says the story is set in the Italian hills! 


When the top American diplomat in Tokyo, Bernard Mattson, is killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of successful Japan-American negotiations. He leaves a missing manuscript, boxes of research, a lost keynote speech and a tangled web of relations.
When his alluring daughter, Jamie, returns from America wanting answers, finding only threats, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is dragged from the safe confines of his office into the street-level realities of Pacific Rim politics.
With help from ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi, Hiroshi searches for the killer from back alley bars to government offices, through anti-nuke protests to military conspiracies. When two more bodies turn up, Hiroshi must choose between desire and duty, violence or procedure, before the killer silences his next victim.

I want to read this because:

  1. I love the cover, it’s just historically vicious
  2. It’s a Tokyo mystery

There you have it, my top three books to cozy up to this weekend. What are you reading?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books I’ve reviewed this week

I have read some interesting books this week and I continue to enjoy the access I have to more books on Netgalley. Here are some of the titles I read and what I had to say about them:

There have been many concerns raised about education, on quality, structure, funding and the battle between private and public education. I wanted to read this book because I was interested in learning about charter schools and the status of education reforms in America. This book gives an insight into various communities and the challenges they face. See, unlike my country-Kenya, America has different laws for each state and what’s key about all the states is that under the constitution, education is a right and as such there’s a lot to be said on public education. Anyone interested in charter schools, public education and whether the reforms are disrupting the current public education system in America would enjoy this book! Thank you NetGalley for the eARC, a well researched work right here! ( Posted)


This is the first sampler I’ve read and got down to reviewing, and for what it’s worth, I cannot wait to read three titles herein, some appealed to me and others, I couldn’t say much on them. I reckon it’s what makes this such an awesome sampler, because it gave me bits of everything, from writers, narratives, settings, plots and most of all characters. Thank you Netgalley for the eARC. (Posted)


Jilliand is a force that no one sees coming and this book begins with her bearing the brunt of her father’s hatred, so much so that the scars she bears are nothing compared to the years of abuse following her mother’s demise. The story takes place over a span of many years, seas, lands, and war. She’s a fighter but when she finds herself in the hands of a Viking King, then…she learns that safety is also a feeling, but even then, there’s more to safety and partnership. I loved this story because of how two different people with different beliefs came to understand and care for each other. There were some parts where the scenes felt a bit rushed, but all in all it was an enjoyable read. PS: I know nothing about Vikings, so on the depiction of their way of life in this book is foreign territory to me. Thanks Netgalley for the eARC. (Posted)


This is the collection you read when you need some diversity in your life, well, in your reading life to be precise! It offers various experiences, you’ll feel different emotions for each story and that’s intriguing. Thanks Netgalley for the eARC. (Posted)

A Review of Nameless by Jessie Keane

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572 pages/Mystery/Crime/Thriller

About the book:

They took her children away, and she will fight to the end to get them back . . .

In 1941, mixed race Ruby Darke is born into a family that seem to hate her, but why? While her two brothers dive into a life of gangland violence, Ruby has to work in their family store. As she blossoms into a beautiful young woman she crosses paths with aristocrat Cornelius Bray, a chance meeting that will change her life forever. When she finds herself pregnant, and then has twins, she is forced to give her children away. At that point she vows never to trust another man again. As the years pass, Ruby never forgets her babies, and as the family store turns into a retail empire, Ruby wants her children back. But secrets were whispered and bargains made, and if Ruby wants to stay alive she needs to forget the past, or the past will come back and kill her.

 


My take: I love this book because Ruby’s got a heart of gold and a will of steel.

Growing up unloved and unwanted by her Father, Ted Darke, she constantly faces abuse-physical, psychological, emotional and social, growing up and there’s no help from her brothers, Charlie and Joe. She gets pregnant, has twins: a white girl and a black boy, and the girl is taken up by Cornelius Gray and the boy is cast away by her brother, Charlie.
But, Ruby never forgot and she swore she will never be weak again or let a man fool her again.

There’s this shift in Ruby that you cannot miss, somewhere between being forced to give up her babies and coming into her own.

I love the pace, the writing and characters and one I’m watching is her son, Kit Miller and as the series progresses, I’d love to read more on his growth.

See more on: Goodreads


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About the Author: 


Jessie writes the Annie Carter bestseller series – Dirty Game, Black Widow, Scarlet Women, Playing Dead, Ruthless etc. Out September in paperback – FEARLESS!Visit her website: www.jessie-keane.co.ukJessie Keane