fantasy, fantasy, fantasy

fantasy is what i want. fantasy is what i need. but, i always find myself struggling when attempting to immerse myself in the world. i lack the ability to lose myself, to re-imagine the world, and to simply have fun. i know I’m probably too dialed into current events. we all need to know what is going on, so they say. but, we have to know our limits and triggers. like they say, self-care is essential. with all of that said, i want to challenge myself to get more into the fantasy world. i usually gravitate towards adult drama and historical fiction. i will start with these two books above.

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‘Praise Song for the Butterflies’ Review

71c5TOjcPSLI am interested and devoted to all things from the continent of Africa. I find myself watching video after video on youtube concerning all things African. I love to watch videos about the different cultures, languages, practices. I get knowledge from travel vlogs, documentaries, and videos from native Africans speaking about their home. This book is exactly what I needed. It shined a light on to a ritual that is merely male serving and evil. I learned about the ritual servitude/slavery that is trokosi last year and it broke my heart. These rituals always seem to involve a girl/woman giving her very life for the idea of luck or idea of being able to evade bad luck. It gives those that practice this ritual the idea that the sacrifice of someone’s life for the betterment of others is the only way to stop the so-called ‘bad luck’. To me, sacrifice is a personal commitment, not the idea of offering up another person’s life. Sacrifice your OWN life.  It’s always interesting to me when people think they can romance karma’s retreat. This book takes you on a journey to see how this practice trokosi ravished lives but at the same time helped others find their purpose. This is a story about forgiveness. This is also a story about pure evil left unchecked. This is a story about the centuries of hatred toward black girls/women bodies and how they are used as footstools in many cultures. This is also a story about how your very own family can be the authors of your darkest hour.

Trokosi is mainly practiced in Ghana, Benin, and Togo. Aside from being a black woman who has given birth to a black girl, learning about this practice personally touches me because these countries are in my DNA. Benin, Togo, and Ghana show up being the highest percentages in my DNA makeup according to ancestrydna.com. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors shared similar experiences as the young girls in this book. Ms. McFadden did a great job describing the mind of a young child and how evil creeps in to shift their perception forever. She shines a light on how lies, even little white ones, can destroy someone’s entire world. The theme of guilt is very strong in this story as well. You are able to see how everyone seemed to carry guilt in different ways. She captured the purest heart of a child. Tears were shed. Tears were shed not just due to the pain displayed but also the hope you will find in this book. If you are triggered by the mistreatment of children/women, approach this book while giving yourself self-care and take your time.

I believe in life and all that represents. I’m not really sure if I believe in bad luck or good luck. I won’t deny often wondering if this so-called bad luck has taken hold over parts of my life. However, I believe life and bad/good luck should not be used interchangeably. Life can often look like tides at sea. Sometimes gifts are brought in through the tide and other times hard lessons. Its ever moving, ever changing, ever evolving. It is up to us to constantly adjust to how we react to said life. Sometimes there are calming ripples and other times the waves of life will try to rip you apart. Yet, you still manage to find a reason to smile in the midst of it all. This is a story about how Abeo’s life was turned upside down because life happened and someone else decided she had to pay with her innocence. It’s touching, honest, and painful. It’s all the things life is made of.

“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

 

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UK book cover

 

I decided to finish reading the last couple of pages of this book at work during my extended lunch break. And, now I’m in tears. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster. Given the racial climate here in the states, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi was almost too much for me to bear. At times, I had to put the book down to catch my breath. Homegoing is about two sisters with very different journeys on two different continents. One sister, Effia,  was married off to a British slave master while the other sister, Esi, was sold into slavery forcing her to brave the middle passage. We go on a journey from the Ghana coast to the Harlem concrete.

Each chapter was from the point of view from a family member from each half sister’s lineage. Yaa Gyasi really delves into how everyone played a part in the slave trade; the British, missionaries, and the Africans. I cringed as people were forced into slavery so easily due to any battle lost. Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different if the Africans knew of the horrors their people would face in America. Even though this book spoke of the degradation of slavery, each chapter was also peppered with beautiful sad love stories. I learned many things about the British and how they interacted with the African people. They often married the local women while on the coast to do their slave trading business because they were away from their homes for long periods of time. I also learned about how superstitious Africans were and how those ideas can shape someone’s life into a nightmare. Marriage was also an important theme in this book. I got a clear understanding of how marriage was approached back in the 18 century and how it changed throughout the generations.

My only gripe with this book, along with many others, is that it’s not long enough. I needed more details about the lives of each character. Basically, Yaa Gyasi left us wanting more. The love of Kojo and Anna was the most beautiful and tragic of them all. This couple deserves a book all their own. I was amazed at the strength of the characters. I often wondered if I were put in these situations if I would have survived. Would I still be able to love? I’m still not sure. This book is as beautiful as it’s UK book cover. I give it 5 stars out of 5.

“The Underground Railroad” Book Review

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Life almost made the completion of this read impossible. I was supposed to read this book for Diverse-A-Thon, but it didn’t make it. “The New Edition Story” 3-night miniseries happened and I went down memory lane which took me away from my reading.

Colson Whitehead takes the idea of the underground railroad, which are pathways with safe houses to aide slaves helping them to enter free states, and makes it into an actual underground railroad. Each destination of the underground railroad revealed a different world racially. Certain states were more accepting of blacks escaping than others. This story follows a slave, Cora, in her perseverance to gain freedom from slavery. Cora’s determination for freedom is as relentless as the slave catcher’s desire to capture her to return her to bondage. It seemed that every time Cora started to relax, her past reached out to pull her back to slavery. Along her journey to freedom we are introduced to many characters. Abolitionists and sympathizers along the way were also treated as subhuman if they were caught harboring slaves.

I walked away from this book thinking about freedom. What is freedom? Does attaining freedom bring about danger due to its ability to precipitate contentment? Do you still have freedom if there are people willing and able to take it away? Is freedom a state of mind or a tangible destination?  It was amazing to me how preoccupied white people in antebellum south were with keeping track of black people. Slave catchers were willing to travel thousands of miles to bring slaves back to their owners. How far are you willing to go to acquire freedom?

“Whether in the fields or underground or in an attic room, America remained her warden.” The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

The writing was very graphic at times, and it should be given the content. To be honest, I felt that the book could have been longer. Many vloggers and bloggers have spoken of the coldness of the narrator. And, I agree. Overall, I really enjoyed this read. I gave this book 4 stars out of 5.

More Diverse, Less A-Thon

 

whitehead-colsonThe Diverse-A-Thon didn’t go as planned. I didn’t get a chance to finish “The Underground Railroad”. I’m currently on page 118. There have been so many distractions. I blame The New Edition Story 3-night miniseries and Trump’s troubling executive orders. Basically, life happened.

“The Underground Railroad” has a slow beginning. It took me some time to adjust to Colson’s writing style. I will come back to do a book review when I’m done. Diverse reading will not stop here. I plan to continue reading diverse for the rest of the year. Check out my diverse reading list here.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” Book Review

9780375751516I finished reading this book last week. It took me some time to get my thoughts together on what I felt about this book. The story is about a young very attractive man, named Dorian Gray, who sits for his portrait to be painted by Basil. After being influenced by the philosophies of the painter’s friend, Lord Henry, Dorian begins to be troubled by the reality that his beauty will one day wither away. He becomes jealous of the painting and unknowingly casts a spell on himself and the painting by wishing that the painting will grow old while he remains young and beautiful.

Dorian seemed to be an empty vessel not having ideas or beliefs of his own. It was easy for Lord Henry’s unorthodox philosophies to negatively influence Dorian shaping his ideas, opinions and character. After Dorian hurt someone very dear to him, he later notices that the painting has altered in its appearance. With every evil act and as time passed the painting altered to display his true demons and aging while he stayed young and attractive.

This book was written in the 19 century, so the writing was wordy and a bit challenging at times. I found myself stopping to look up words to get an understanding of what was being said.  The middle portion of the book was the hardest to get through. Around chapter 11 I almost stopped reading due to boredom. Oscar Wilde unnecessarily elaborated on insignificant aspects of Dorian’s life while leaving out vital parts of his life that would have painted a better picture of how far he slid down the rabbit hole of evil.

Overall, Lord Henry proved to be the most interesting character in this book with his many interesting epigrams on life. Dorian was annoying with how easily he was manipulated. One thing I found very interesting was how Dorian attempted to confess, towards the end, some of the evil things he was doing. Those closest to him refused to believe him because they couldn’t pass over his good looks to see his true character. This theme in the book made me think of how superficial society is today and how a pretty appearance easily garners praise without deep examination of the character.  I gave this book 3 stars out of 5 because I found it to be wordy and very boring. In my opinion, it took Oscar Wilde too long to get to the point and the ending was blatantly obvious.

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