Posts filed under ‘September 2014 reads’

The power of rage – “Forty Acres” by Dwayne Alexander Smith

18774967This book is such a great idea. In fact, it is so good I am surprised that this storyline hasn’t been done before.  For the story alone, Forty Acres is worth the read.  Just go into this read knowing that Smith is a screenplay writer. So in many parts of this novel it seems better written for the screen than a book.  I don’t think this takes much away from the story or what the author is trying to convey, it is just is a bit of a hiccup.

Martin Grey is an African-American attorney in New York. He and his partner are slowly building their law firm. When Martin wins a big lawsuit the firm’s success is guaranteed and he feels like things are all falling into place.  Adding to his new-found success, Martin is approached by an extremely successful African-American attorney, Damon. Damon invites Martin to meet some of his friends.  All of the friends are extremely successful African-American men who seem to have everything.  After a very careful vetting, Martin is invited for the group’s yearly white-water rafting trip.  When the private jet lands Martin begins to suspect that the armed guards meeting them are not taking them on a rafting trip.  Instead Martin is taken to a large plantation home, his bag is taken up to his room by a skittish caucasian boy. He realizes, fairly quickly, that he has now joined a secret society of African-American men who have enslaved caucasian people to serve them.  The society was established by Dr. Kasim who has determined that the only way to deal with black rage, and the painful history every black man must face, he must have the opportunity to be the master in the master-slave relationship.   He must have retribution. And so, Martin is faced with an awful dilemma, join the society or be killed himself so the society can remain secret.

This book is labeled a thriller. And it is that, but it is more.  Smith has found an interesting way to talk about how our history of slavery affects all of us.  How it continues to control how our lives play out, particularly for African-Americans.  I found it really interesting.  Smith also addresses the anger and rage that is inside many African-American men and posits that without an outlet this rage will destroy.  The question is really what outlet is appropriate.  And what is justice, true justice, for the past generations enslaved and what is the right penance that those whose ancestors enslaved others must pay.  Smith obviously takes this to the extreme but what a great way to grab the reader’s attention.  Either way, rage and the history of slavery cannot be ignored – and if Ferguson, Missouri shows us anything, it is surely that we, as a nation, continue to live in the shadow of both.


Other reviews to check out: 


September 21, 2014 at 7:13 pm 5 comments

My favorite reading time

I have two children, Lyla (five years old) and Henry (two years old).  At this time in my life, I have the magical and amazing opportunity to spend each evening snuggled with my bathed and pajamaed kids – and we read.  We read a lot. So, I find myself at the library checking out 25 children’s books at a time so we aren’t stuck with the same books over and over – though Henry right now needs his daily fix of “What am I? A tractor” which I can recite by heart.

Out of the huge pile of books Lyla (and Henry) and I have found the ones that we like best.  And for other parents I thought maybe a list on my blog would be helpful.  Please know I am not an educator and I do not always look at reading as a tool for learning, sometimes it is just fun.  This list is just what we like in our house. It is not guaranteed to make your child brilliant but of course I am sure your child already is. I am also leaving out the obvious ones (we all love Madeline and the Frances books).The_Fantastic_Flying_Books_of_Mr._Morris_Lessmore_poster

01. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce: This book is beautiful and makes me tear up every time we read it.  Book and their stories have a life of their own and our lives are stories that are worth being told.

2. Mama Loves by Rebecca Dotlich: This book is extremely sentimental for me. I have been reading it to Lyla since she was one.  It is simply a list of all the things that Mama loves in life and what she loves to do with her children.  It includes loving poppies, baking, pumpkins, sweaters, gingerbread.  The list just makes me happy.

3. The Bear Books by Karma Wilson: These are fun books. Bear and his friends (Hare, Wren, Mouse, Raven and Mole) snore on, feel scared, or make a new friend. Each book has a nice cadence and beautiful illustrations by Jane Chapman.

4. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood: The narrator kindly helps the little mouse come up with a way to avoid the mouse’s strawberry from being eaten by the hungry bear.

5. Wild Boars Cook by Meg Rosoff: Lyla wanted me to include this book. It makes her laugh every time and of course it makes me laugh as well.

6. The Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel: I read these as a kid and it makes me so happy that Lyla loves them. Every story is really fun to read.

7. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead: The zoo animals take care of Amos who always takes such good care of them.  Another one with really adorable illustrations and a great message about how to care for others.

8. Pete the Cat books by James Dean: They are just groovy and incorporate songs which is fun.

9. Will Hillenbrand books: I love all of his books and illustrations.

10. Tell Me Something Happy Before I go to Sleep by Joyce Dunbar: Willa’s older brother helps her fall asleep by telling her happy things, mainly that the morning is sad because it is waiting for her to wake up to it.  This book has a lovely warmth to it and is part of a nighttime story collection we have that was a very thoughtful gift from a friend.

Books I don’t like but my kids love (it is only fair to add them):

  • Fancy Nancy books – good for vocabulary, I just find her obnoxious.
  • Little Blue Truck books – I loved this books until Henry made me read them 10 times a day. Still worth owning, I just wish the author would add some new ones.
  • Eloise books – I just don’t like her and I don’t like how silly and long the books always seem but Lyla loves her antics.
  • Curious George Books – Lyla loves these.  I find the original book racist but understand it was a different time. I find the new ones boring and yet, we have read them all.

I am sure my fellow readers have a lot of other wonderful suggestions so if you have some to add please do.   As we head into autumn Lyla, Henry and I will be snuggling in more and more with our pile of books.  And that makes me smile.





September 2, 2014 at 12:15 pm 1 comment


There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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