Monday, July 23, 2018

Around The Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson

Rating: ★★★+.5  | 7 hours and 27 minutes  Simon & Schuster Audio | Memoir | 10/11/2016
I’ve been a fan of Taraji P. Henson since she played Raina Washington on Lifetime’s The Division when I was younger, it was one of the first “adult” shows I watched. The show was ahead of its time and  I sometimes think about how Henson was playing a Black female police officer with lesbian moms in the early 2000’s. I can only imagine if they put that on TV nowadays it might be called “too diverse.”

Anyway, this memoir begins with Henson’s childhood in Southeast DC during the crack epidemic and the years of hustle and hard work that lead to her  Hollywood success in her mid-thirties. Henson is a trained actress who worked with some of the best at Howard University and there is a lot of craft talk in this book. Henson really digs into the minds of the character she plays. The title of the book comes from her concern of always being typecast as the around the way girl from the hood and her hesitation to take the role of Cookie Lyon--the role that has brought her the most notoriety.

This book shares a lot of DNA with the two other memoirs of black women in Hollywood I’ve read, Last Black Unicorn and We’re Going to Need More Wine. They all touch on the importance of having a support system and other black women helping them navigate the Hollywood scene.

I especially liked what Hensen had to say about the stigma of a single black motherhood and how these mothers aren’t afforded the same considerations and respect as married mothers.

 Around The Way Girl is an inspiring and insightful look into the making of an actress and some of Henson’s most memorable moments.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Relative Strangers by Paula Garner

Unrated | 368 pages | Candlewick Press | Contemporary | 04/10/2018 

I am all for quiet YAs that have interesting premises and haven't been put through the giant hype machine. Relative Strangers is about Jules, a teen girl, who has always felt like there was something missing from the humdrum life she leads with her emotionally distant mother. Jules has a vintage adventurer's sensibility and wants more than what her small town can offer.

When she discovers she was in foster care she goes off to reconnect with the foster family that raised her for the first year of her life. She forms a relationship with her former foster-brother,  now a handsome pianist who gives her the confidence she's been looking for.

Now, I was a little frustrated with the protagonist in this book in a way I've never been before.  She admits she is envious of her two best friends' big close families and she knows she shouldn't be because they have issues too, but she just never lets it go. Even when she knows she should.  Also, she is so distraught and angry and feels like she was lied to over the fact that her mother never told her she was in foster care for ONE YEAR ?! I mean I guess you could argue the first year is pretty formative but she acts like it was forever and. There are a lot of things for her to be frustrated with her mom about and this isn't a big one.

Jules begins to struggle with the crush she is developing on her foster-brother and tries to be just a sister as he copes with the impending death of one of his parents,  and you kind of want to yell at her to get her life right because other people are going through it. But despite the rough start with  I think Jules grows as a character toward the end in a way that is satisfying and worth the journey.

I feel like this would be a good fit for fans of emotional family dramas


Jules has a gay goth BFF who lost his mom and works in a coffee shop during his gap year while writing a novel, taking care of his pet rats while waiting to get into the Iowa Writer's Workshop who is obsessed with death. He seemed like he needed his own book and/or fell out of a John Green Book.

Check out the audio review at AudioFile Magazine

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

WWW Wednesday #1

This is my first time participating in this meme hosted by Taking on A World of Words!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King  and Owen King
I feel like I've been listening to this 25-hour audiobook forever and I still have 9  more hours left. This book takes place in a near future where women suddenly fall into a permanent sleep and the chaos the follows in a small Appalachian town.


Around The Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson
I've been a fan of Henson since she starred in Lifetime's The Division and it's been great seeing her get so much attention later in her career. This book details all of her successes as well as her struggles with racial inequality in Hollywood and single motherhood. 

Indecent Exposure by Tessa Bailey
I received this book from Avon as part of Avon Addicts program. The series follows recruits at an NYPD police academy and this one is about an alcoholic NYPD trainee who falls for the new Irish arms instructor and turns his life completely around.


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The hype I've seen for this book has been unreal and I can't wait to start it!


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