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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Aunt Nellie B by Dixiane Hallaj

Aunt Nellie B

by Dixiane Hallaj

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Five stars

 

Aunt Nellie B plunges us into the life of Charli as a girl, a young woman, and an old woman. Through the latticework of time Dixanne weaves Charli’s tale of discovery, adventure, trial, and family. As a child, Charli watches her mother and aunts battle a mysterious curse that destroys their marriages. Through her creative eavesdropping, the girl tries to discover how to break the curse for herself and ensure her happily ever after, chronicling her discoveries in her journal. As a young woman, Charli has failed to escape the curse for the first time. We watch her frightening flight from her prince and the inner and outer struggle to break free. Through these times she finds comfort in her childhood journals. As an old woman, she strives to hold together her connections to her family through her daily efforts and attachment to the journals of her childhood. She now strives to rescue her child and other family members from the curse. Is the curse real or a child’s imaginings? Does it matter?

Dixanne took on a very challenging method of storytelling for Aunt Nellie B and triumphed. This story could have so easily become lost in the confusion of when an event happened or how it fit in with other events, but Dixanne handled the complexities with mastery. Her separation of child voice, young woman voice, and old woman voice continued to be both separate and unified in the character speaking them. I could believe that young Charli wrote the diary and the voice of old Charli came out just as distinct as her older self. Instead of confusing me, the style increased my anticipation of what came next and in what timeline.

I loved the personal dynamics and relationship of the all of the characters in Dixanne’s story. She crossed social and cultural boundaries with fluid ease. Charli’s family felt like real, dynamic people, and the main character’s insights into their personalities gave them a lot of depth. When the author introduced a fantastic element of her story, the characters all expressed their doubts and disbeliefs. I found that delightful! Their little quirks such as switching to Spanish when discussing secrets, or fears that divided them, made them feel like a real family.

Dixanne has written a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable story of personal tragedy, courage, and redemption.  I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

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

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The Bone Road by Mary Holland

Bone Road

 

The Bone Road

By Mary Holland

Genre: Fantasy

Four Stars

Rhona the midwife and divvy has just lost her mother. A sudden stroke overtook her on the road and now she lies in the ground, becoming a part of the Bone Road. What survives is her mission. Rhona must carry out her mother’s last wish and travel to meet someone she doesn’t know to carry out a mysterious favor. Her journey begins the strange and wonderful journey of The Bone Road. Through the lives of her son and Selena, the woman she must aid, we learn the culture and fierce dignity of the Deo, from Wid and Zeosil, Shun, Landers, and Nobile. What will this final chore cost Rhona? How will young Jak choose to carry on his life after the choices she has made? Can Selena face the terrible Markus after what he has done to her son, and what will she do when her desperate plan results in a life she never knew she could have?

I enjoyed this story thoroughly. Mary spun a tale rich with culture, tradition, mystery, and adventure. The details sparkled and I felt like I joined them in the rich world of Deo. Part of my sadness at ending the story was about leaving Mary’s lovely world.

The people she created and their world fascinated me with their meaning and depth. Rhona, Jak, and Selena enchanted me with their fierce courage and honor. I cared about them like friends and felt great relief when they evaded danger. Markus the villain fulfilled the creepy, evil role with flair. I loved the emotional touch she achieved through the Deom traditions and taboos, and the ways the characters broke them for all the right reasons.

Though the mantle of main character transfers unexpectedly midway through the book, it really fits with the increasing strangeness of the tale. Events transpire that just one character couldn’t experience. The split perspective resolves at the end of the action when they unite against the villain.

Mary’s creativity shone in this tale through her rich characters, vivid and gorgeous settings, and wonderful, sometimes beautifully awful, surprises throughout the tale. I approve this story for Awesome Indies.  http://awesomeindies.net

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