When They Call You a Terrorist: A #BlackLivesMatter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele #Review @OsopePatrisse @ashabandele @StMartinsPress

When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir cover

When I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Like so many others, I have often watched the news in horror when yet another African-American man or woman (or worse, a child) has been killed without provocation, when they were doing nothing wrong. It was horrible enough when the killer was just a regular citizen, but the horror I felt increased ten-fold when their deaths came at the hands of police officers—someone who is meant to serve and protect all of us, regardless of race. (I guess I’m a bit naive, because I always expect justice to be served, punishment meted out for the guilty party—and I’m stunned when it doesn’t happen.)

I remember suddenly hearing “Black Lives Matter” being talked about on the news, seeing the hashtag on social media, and—almost as quickly—seeing negative opinions about it on Facebook. I wanted to know what Black Lives Matter was about, and—rather than take some random naysayer’s opinion as fact—I looked it up. Their mission statement begins:

The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.

The entirety of the mission statement can be read on the Black Lives Matter website.

I won’t pretend to have a deep understanding of what African-American’s daily lives are like when it comes to racism and all that it encompasses. I don’t, and as a white woman,  I can’t—but I am aware of it. And while I will never understand how people can feel that way about someone of a different race, I do want to understand how it impacts the lives of the people targeted by that hatred. I want to understand the anger, the fear, that they feel as a result of being treated in unacceptable—and often terrible—ways.

When They Call You a Terrorist is more than just the story of how Black Lives Matter began. It tells the story of Patrisse Khan-Cullors, sharing significant events that happened throughout her childhood—either to herself or a loved one—that shaped her into the community organizer and social activist she would become.  There are many things she shares about her life, but one part that left me feeling especially heartbroken and outraged was reading about how her mentally ill brother, Monte, was abused while in jail. I won’t go into the details in this review, but suffice to say it’s something I doubt I’ll ever be able to forget.

As I always do when reading a book for review, I wondered what words I would use to describe the book. All the way through, I kept coming back to three words:

Raw.

Emotional.

Powerful.

You can’t help but feel the undercurrents of anger and pain as you read this book. There are many passages where I had to take a moment, stop reading, and reflect on what I’d just read. I wanted to deeply consider the the events that were described. How might I have felt, if the police came to my door—without a warrant, without a reason—and made me stand in my yard, with multiple guns pointed at me and my loved ones, while they spent three or four hours searching my house? Afraid to so much as gesture with my hand as I spoke, for fear they might shoot me? How might I feel, if that happened to me, with a child present who was treated with the same cold disregard as I?

I would feel terrorized. I would feel that they didn’t think my life mattered.

The rallying cry of “Black Lives Matter” will not go down in history as words spoken by terrorists, but rather words spoken by a people who have been made to feel that their lives don’t matter at all—who had the courage to do something about it.

The year has barely begun, but I have a feeling When They Call You a Terrorist will be one of the most important books published in 2018.

If you read only one nonfiction book this year, I urge you to read this book, particularly if you don’t understand what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about. It will open your eyes to a lot of things that—like me—you probably didn’t know about.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press.

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Authors: Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

Title: When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

Genre: Memoir, Social Activism, Social Justice

Published: January 16th, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

book worth reading

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

About the Book

The emotional and powerful story of one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter and how the movement was born.

From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.

About the Authors

PATRISSE KHAN-CULLORS is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and an NAACP History Maker.

ASHA BANDELE is an award-winning author and journalist. A former features editor for Essence magazine, asha is the author of two collections of poems, the award-winning memoir The Prisoner’s Wife and its follow-up Something Like Beautiful, and the novel Daughter. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.

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The Mothers’ Group by Fiona Higgins #Review @AllenAndUnwin

The Mothers' Group cover

Have you ever had a book that you put off reading for months, and then—once you finally started reading it—wanted to kick yourself for neglecting such a remarkable book? That’s how I’ve been feeling since I opened this book on my tablet the other day. I only meant to peek and see how it started, but I was drawn into the story so quickly, I had to keep reading.

The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six Australian women who meet at a support group for new mothers:

  • Ginie, the prominent lawyer married to a writer/photographer  who—as the primary provider—must leave her daughter’s care to a nanny.
  • Made (pronounced ma-day), the Balinese emigrant adjusting to being a wife and new mother in a place much different from her homeland.
  • Suzie, the single mother struggling to care for her baby on her own.
  • Miranda, the woman who seems to have the perfect life, and the only mother in the group who also has both a baby and a toddler (her stepchild) to care for.
  • Pippa, the perpetually exhausted, strangely withdrawn woman who shares little of her life.
  • Cara, the friendly woman whose kindness has a knack for putting everyone at ease.

Unlikely to have met under ordinary circumstances, in time the women form a strong bond of friendship as they navigate the joys and frustrations of new motherhood, supporting one another in ways their husbands and other friends can’t. But a day comes that puts their friendship to the test and they learn just how strong—or fragile—it truly is.

I really, really  enjoyed this book. The story is told through the perspective of each woman, with the story broken up into six parts. In them, we see not only what is happening in the present, but also the past of each of them—learning about the events in their lives that led them to becoming pregnant and participating in the mothers’ group. Having the story told in this way gives the reader insight into each of the characters. We discover things that they haven’t shared with the other women, which often explains why they say—or do—certain things when they gather together. There are a few shocking discoveries along the way that definitely shook up my perceptions of these women and their families. That made the book infinitely more interesting to me, because it enriched them all in ways that added to the story.

If I had to choose a favorite character, it would be Made. There was an air of innocence and vulnerability about her that especially drew me to her character. She had to deal with being a new mom just like the others, but she had other difficulties, as well. She was living far away from her family, in a strange (to her) new country. She had to improve her English, which meant she often had difficulty expressing her thoughts and feelings because she didn’t have the (English) words for it. Despite that air of innocence, Made had a great deal of wisdom, and a way of looking at things that proved helpful to her friends in many ways.

Higgins has created a vivid portrait of what new motherhood looks like, and didn’t shy away from making it as realistic as possible. Adjusting your life to include a baby isn’t easy, and it’s refreshing to read a book that confronts that reality, rather than showing the idealized fantasy many women expect while pregnant.

This book is simply beautiful, and I definitely recommend giving it a try!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Allen & Unwin via Netgalley.

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Author: Fiona Higgins

Title: The Mothers’ Group

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: May 1st, 2017 by Allen & Unwin

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Book

The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six very different women who agree to regularly meet soon after the birth of their babies. Set during the first crucial year of their babies’ lives, the story tracks the women’s individual journeys—and the group’s collective one—as they navigate birth and motherhood as well as their shifting romantic relationships Each woman strives in her own way to become the mother she wants to be, and finds herself becoming increasingly reliant on the friendship and support of the members of the group. Until one day an unthinkably shocking event changes everything. This is an unflinching and compelling portrait of the modern family in all its complexity and intensity: love, sex, and marriage, and all the joys and tensions of raising children in an increasingly complicated world. Moving, provocative, tender, and utterly gripping, The Mothers’ Group will draw you in and never let you go.

About the Author

Fiona Higgins
Fiona Higgins

Fiona is the author of three novels – Fearless (2016) Wife on the Run, (2014), The Mothers’ Group (2012) – and a memoir, Love in the Age of Drought (2009).

She is published by Allen & Unwin and Pan Macmillan in Australia, with translations of her work sold into the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain.

She has qualifications in the humanities and social sciences and, a long time ago while studying, once worked as an Indonesian translator, a masseuse and a spruiker of fruitcakes (not all at once).

A lover of travel, Fiona recently spent three years in Indonesia with her husband and three children.

She now lives in Sydney, but has itchy feet.

Stacking the Shelves (12/30/2017)

Stacking the Shelves graphic

Stacking the Shelves is a meme co-hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews and Marlene at Reading Reality, where you share the books you’ve added to your shelves in the past week. You can include books you buy, books you borrow, review books, gifts, and ebooks.

With all the holiday hubbub  I forgot to do a Stacking the Shelves post last week, so it’s catch up time once again. I have several new reads to look forward to—four ARCs, one Goodreads Giveaway win, and four Kindle ebook purchases I made today courtesy of a $5 credit from Amazon. Gather ’round, and let me show what I’ve got! (As always, if you’d like to add any of these to your Goodreads, just click the book cover.)

Before and Again cover

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

ebook, 416 pages

Expected publication: June 26th, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Source: Netgalley

From the New York Times bestselling author of Blueprints and Sweet Salt Air, a brand-new novel about a woman in hiding finding the courage to face the world again.

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends—and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made—though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself—or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

From a multimillion-selling master of women’s fiction, Before and Again is a story of the relationships we find ourselves in—mothers and daughters, spouses and siblings, true companions and fair-weather friends—and what kind of sacrifices we are or aren’t willing to make to sustain them through good times and bad.

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In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu

ebook, 240 pages

Expected publication: March 20th, 2018 by Viking

Source: Edelweiss

The New Orleans mayor who removed the Confederate statues confronts the racism that shapes us and argues for white America to reckon with its past. A passionate, personal, urgent book from the man who sparked a national debate.

“There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence for it.” When Mitch Landrieu addressed the people of New Orleans in May 2017 about his decision to take down four Confederate monuments, including the statue of Robert E. Lee, he struck a nerve nationally, and his speech has now been heard or seen by millions across the country. In his first book, Mayor Landrieu discusses his personal journey on race as well as the path he took to making the decision to remove the monuments, tackles the broader history of slavery, race and institutional inequities that still bedevil America, and traces his personal relationship to this history. His father, as state senator and mayor, was a huge force in the integration of New Orleans in the 1960s and 19070s. Landrieu grew up with a progressive education in one of the nation’s most racially divided cities, but even he had to relearn Southern history as it really happened.

Equal parts unblinking memoir, history, and prescription for finally confronting America’s most painful legacy, In the Shadow of Statues will contribute strongly to the national conversation about race in the age of Donald Trump, at a time when racism is resurgent with seemingly tacit approval from the highest levels of government and when too many Americans have a misplaced nostalgia for a time and place that never existed.

The House Swap cover

The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

ebook, 320 pages

Expected publication: May 22nd, 2018 by Pamela Dorman Books

Source: Edelweiss

‘No one lives this way unless they want to hide something.’

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap, they jump at the chance for a week away from home. After the difficulties of the past few years, they’ve worked hard to rebuild their marriage for their son’s sake; now they want to reconnect as a couple.

On arrival, they find a house that is stark and sinister in its emptiness – it’s hard to imagine what kind of person lives here. Then, gradually, Caroline begins to uncover some signs of life – signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music in the CD player might seem innocent to her husband but to her they are anything but. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone she used to know; someone she’s desperate to leave in her past.

But that person is now in her home – and they want to make sure she’ll never forget them . . .

The Chalk Man cover

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor

Hardcover, 280 pages

Expected publication: January 9th, 2018 by Crown Publishing Group (NY)

Source: Blogging for Books

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

 

Together We Rise cover

Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World by The Women’s March Organizers and Condé Nast

Print copy, 320 pages

Expected publication: January 16th, 2018 by Dey Street Books

Source: Goodreads Giveaway win

WITH ESSAYS BY: ROWAN BLANCHARD • SENATOR TAMMY DUCKWORTH • AMERICA FERRERA • ROXANE GAY • ILANA GLAZER • ASHLEY JUDD • VALARIE KAUR • CINDI LEIVE • DAVID REMNICK • JILL SOLOWAY • YARA SHAHIDI • JIA TOLENTINO • CONGRESSWOMAN MAXINE WATERS • ELAINE WELTEROTH • JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS • AND MORE

In celebration of the one-year anniversary of Women’s March, this gorgeously designed full-color book offers an unprecedented, front-row seat to one of the most galvanizing movements in American history, with exclusive interviews with Women’s March organizers, never-before-seen photographs, and essays by feminist activists.

On January 21, 2017, the day after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, more than three million marchers of all ages and walks of life took to the streets as part of the largest protest in American history. In red states and blue states, in small towns and major urban centers, from Boise to Boston, Bangkok to Buenos Aires, people from eighty-two countries—on all seven continents—rose up in solidarity to voice a common message: Hear our voice.

It became the largest global protest in modern history.

Compiled by Women’s March organizers, in partnership with Condé Nast and Glamour magazine Editor in Chief Cindi Leive, Together We Rise—published for the one-year anniversary of the event—is the complete chronicle of this remarkable uprising. For the first time, Women’s March organizers—including Bob Bland, Cassady Fendlay, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Janaye Ingram, Tamika Mallory, Paola Mendoza, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour —tell their personal stories and reflect on their collective journey in an oral history written by Jamia Wilson, writer, activist and director of The Feminist Press. They provide an inside look at how the idea for the event originated, how it was organized, how it became a global movement that surpassed their wildest expectations, and how they are sustaining and building on the widespread outrage, passion, and determination that sparked it.

Together We Rise interweaves their stories with “Voices from the March”—recollections from real women who were there, across the world—plus exclusive images by top photographers, and 22 short, thought-provoking essays by esteemed writers, celebrities and artists including Rowan Blanchard, Senator Tammy Duckworth, America Ferrera, Roxane Gay, Ilana Glazer, Ashley Judd, Valarie Kaur, David Remnick, Yara Shahidi, Jill Soloway, Jia Tolentino, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Elaine Welteroth. An inspirational call to action that reminds us that together, ordinary people can make a difference, Together We Rise is an unprecedented look at a day that made history—and the beginning of a resistance movement to reclaim our future.

Women’s March will share proceeds from Together We Rise with three grassroots, women-led organizations: The Gathering for Justice, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, and Indigenous Women Rise.

Obsession cover

Obsession by Amanda Robson

ebook, 464 pages

Published May 4th, 2017 by Avon

Source: Purchased

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?

It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?

Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?

Bad Sister cover

Bad Sister by Sam Carrington

ebook, 368 pages

Published October 5th 2017 by Maze, HarperCollins

Source: Purchase

The gripping new thriller from the bestselling author of Saving Sophie.

Then

When flames rip through their family home, only teenager Stephanie and her younger brother escape unhurt. Brett always liked to play with fire, but now their dad is dead and someone has to pay the price.

Now

Psychologist Connie Summers wants to help Stephanie rebuild her life. She has a new name, a young son and everything to live for. But when Stephanie receives a letter from someone she’d hoped would never find her, Connie is forced to question what really happened that night. But some truths are better left alone . . .

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Bad Sister will have fans of Sue Fortin, B.A. Paris and Linda Green hooked until the final page.

The Perfect Stranger cover

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

ebook, 353 pages

Published April 11th 2017 by Simon & Schuster

Source: Purchase

In the masterful follow-up to the New York Times bestseller All the Missing Girls—“think: Luckiest Girl Alive, The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl” (TheSkimm)—a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

Saving April cover

Saving April by Sarah A. Denzil

ebook, 245 pages

Published March 29th 2016 by Kindle Press

Source: Purchase

An obsessive, unhinged neighbour? Or a woman desperately trying to save a child?

A family broken by lies.

A woman traumatized by a dark past.

A child caught in the crossfire.

Who will save April?

Hannah Abbott is afraid of the world. Plagued by anxiety, she lives an isolated, uneventful life in suburban Yorkshire. She rarely leaves her house, and her only friend is Edith, her elderly neighbor. But when the Mason family moves in across the street, Hannah’s quiet life is changed forever.

The Masons pull Hannah into their tangled web of secrets. She must decide what to believe and who to trust as she attempts to rescue their teenage daughter, April, from harm.

Hannah knows only one thing for certain: she can’t be afraid anymore.