Black Bubblegum by Lewis P. Bryon

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Black BubblegumBlack Bubblegum by Lewis P. Bryon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title for the book description/blurb.)

a story is only as great as its conflict

When you read Black Bubblegum, a collection of poetry from my favorite contemporary poet, Lewis P. Bryon, I urge you to read it aloud, as I did. Get your senses involved.

I’ve said before that Bryon’s poetry reads me. Honestly, I wish I could type out all of the lines that hit me the hardest, but as that would take up entirely too much space, I’ll refrain.

As is a good practice whenever reading lyrical literature, let the words hit you where they hit you. Take this, chew on it, and again, by all means, read it aloud. Who knows? It might make a spoken word artist out of you.

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Click the image below to take a listen to some of Lewis P. Bryon’s spoken word/poetry found in Black Bubblegum.

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers for an honest review.
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Harvest of RubiesHarvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

It’s almost unfair when a protagonist’s journey resonates so clearly with my own experience, as I suspect it moves me even further away from objectivity in what is already a subjective exercise: writing book reviews. Still, I’m pretty certain Harvest of Rubies is, hands-down, an amazing historical fiction novel.

Sarah is an intriguing, witty, and compassionate heroine, a scribe in the Persian court, brilliant at her culturally masculine job, a girly-girl by no means, living her life in fear, struggling with her self-image, and having little along the lines of self-acceptance. Author Tessa Afshar mixes Sarah’s moving inward journey with palace intrigues, humiliating fiascos, touches of comedy, heartwarming friends (even Caspian the dog, dear boy), and Sarah’s arranged marriage to the wealthy aristocrat Darius, a trying and poignant situation.

One of the most affecting aspects of Sarah’s journey is her lifting the question of questioning God, of what it means to ask Him, “Why?” We hear about judging fellow human beings even when our understanding is lacking, but how might God feel when we, not knowing His entire story, judge Him?

There are some novels I consider good that I don’t particularly have to read the sequels to. Harvest of Rubies is not one of those novels. Yes, I have every intention of reading Harvest of Gold, and Rubies here is being added to my list of all-time Favorite Reads.

Harvest of Gold (Harvest of Rubies, #2)

Son of a Preacherman by Marlene Banks

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers for an honest review.
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SOAP_concept 1a-revisedSon of a Preacherman by Marlene Banks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Hatred? Narrow minds? Fear?… Racism has surely shown its ugly head in Tulsa tonight.”

The simmering societal unrest in Son of a Preacherman eventually rises and explodes into the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. As this novel’s both fitting and telling book cover promises, author Marlene Banks takes the reader right into the social, domestic, economic, political, and racial climate of the prosperous Greenwood District in northern Tulsa and Eagles Pointe County in Oklahoma. As Banks is careful not to limit the racial and cultural issues and hardships in the region to Negroes only, also including Native Americans, Mexicans, and even Jews into the narrative, she broadens the picture of humanity in the novel. The horrific occurrence in Tulsa isn’t only a black and white story, but it’s an unfortunate part of the human story.

The parts of the book unrelated to the coming riot I didn’t find as compelling, and the characters didn’t quite grow on me. The frequency with which many of them kept getting into arguments, familial and otherwise, threatening and insulting one another, had a wearying effect on me, a number of the insults and accusations becoming repetitive. While Billy Ray had encouraging words at the right times, I wasn’t drawn into his romance with Benny, likely because she was in a negative state the majority of the time. Since she was often either in tears, brooding, or bickering with someone, she didn’t turn out to be an engaging romantic character to me or a heroine who held my concern.

However, as the author, overall, paints a picture of the results of hatred but still makes way for faith, forgiveness, and resilience, this novel not only serves as a reminder of an unfortunate past but also as an impetus of hope to build, and to keep building, a better future.
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Note to my blog readers: this novel contains some violent and gruesome scenes, both related and unrelated to the Tulsa Race Riot.

A Timely Release: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Greetings, everyone!
I wanted to post a quick notice about an important book released today–
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice founded to defend the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children in the criminal justice system of the United States.

Read my review of Just Mercy here.

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf.

Just Mercy