Bet on Black by Kenrya Rankin Naasel

Bet on Black:

African-American Women Celebrate

Fatherhood in the Age of Barak Obama

By Kenrya Rankin Naasel

Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, African-American, Anthology

Five stars

Bet on Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood in the Age of Barak Obama begins with an excerpt of Barack Obama’s Fathers’ Day speech and adds in a little quote before each story in the collection. The inspirational stories that follow come straight from the hearts and lives of black women who tell about the strong fathers in their lives. Some are grandfathers, some husbands, and they represent the strong black men who embodied fatherhood and commitment in spite of struggle and hardship.

President Barack Obama is often thrust into a purely political section of media and our minds. Our critical culture examines his success and failure and forgets his humanity and the enormous symbolism for many people looking to him not just for political leadership, but as an example of manhood and success. His example and wisdom as a father show a side of him often overlooked.

Bet on Black highlights these aspects of our president through the stories of other strong black men. It takes the high ground and gives rightful recognition to men who stayed true to their children through hardship, and in a society where they get none, where they earn scorn instead of praise, and where they live in company with many who didn’t choose to care about fatherhood.

I applaud, first, the gathering together of so many women to give credit where it is due and greatly needed. Also, I loved to hear the struggle and faithful fight these men fought to father their daughters and granddaughters.  It isn’t easy and thanks don’t always come. Mostly, I loved the positive reinforcement and vital role these fathers played in the lives of successful, strong black women. A woman can be strong on her own, but the support of a father makes it a partnership and a joy instead of a battle.

Any man who truly loves his daughter can find encouragement and vindication on these pages. Any daughter can learn about the blessings she has perhaps overlooked, and about the man she must demand as he father of her own children.

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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Life in Death by Harlow Drake

Life in Death

By Harlow Coban

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, African American

Kari Marchant is a Social Worker caught in a deadly web of secrets and murder. During a crunch of cases when one social worker goes on her honeymoon, a little girl falls through the cracks. Detectives Nicolet and Cobb step in to follow the clues and find the person who killed Patience. The farther they delve, the stranger things become and the more people die. The murders are gruesome and the motives are worse. Can they find the killer before the there are no witnesses are left?

This was a fun read with interesting characters and a cool and surprising plot. Harlow kept me guessing about who did it and why throughout the book, and hit me with a lot of big surprises. The main phrase I’d use about the book, though, is “More, please.” I wanted more background on the characters and on the Liberian angle. I wanted more detail about the actual deaths and the investigation. I wanted to learn more about the terrifying villain and his sick agenda. I wanted more tension and detail about the budding romance between Nicolet and Kari. I wanted humor in those little places where it screamed for it, but was left out.

Life in death is an entertaining read with an ending that made me think wow, that was weird, but it could have been a really thrilling and gripping story if there was more of it.

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