Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

They came here to find a place to call home. That’s all they wanted. They were comfortable, they found what they needed, and they thrived. They had a library, a post office, and their own little Black Wall Street. A one-mile stretch on Greenwood Avenue hosted so many black businesses that a business leader Booker T. Washington called it “Negro Wall Street of America” and that name stuck. They had lawyers, schools, doctors, heck they had it all! Hotels, movie theatres and even their own airplanes. They were comfortable and enjoying their wealth.

Not everyone was pleased with how well the African Americans were doing in Tulsa. This was 1921 afterall and some of them were making more money than the white population. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

When a 19-year-old shoeshine man enters an elevator, times were about to change. The 17-year-old elevator operator charges the shoeshine man with assault and causes chaos in the city. The shoeshine man is an African American and the elevator operator, a white female. Town people fearing for the safety of the shoeshine man rush to the jail to save him but are met by thousands of armed white individuals. This will not be the last day these two groups are left with dead supporters. It was heart-breaking reading what was once a peaceful, thriving community being torn apart by hatred.

With fantastic illustrations, this nonfiction book brings to life this terrible event that occurred in history. The author includes in the last few pages of the book some author’s notes about the event and the illustrator has written some notes also. I enjoyed reading these also. What a great book. Thanks to the author and illustrator for sharing this event to our young readers.

I choose a Wonderbook for this book. This was my first Wonderbook and it fantastic! These types of books are new to our library so I wanted to check them out. Basically, what it does is read the book to you while you follow along with the printed text. You don’t need to supply anything – no batteries, no plug-in, nothing. The directions are inside the cover of the book. I pushed the button to start the book, it chimed to tell me to turn the page, and I could follow along reading the text or in-the-case with this picture book, I could just follow along with the illustrations. I could stop the book whenever I wanted also. I see that there are other children’s books including chapter books for these Wonderbook titles and I’m going to look into these for further reads. What another wonderful way to read books. 5 stars

Inside the front book cover – the Wonderbook directions and buttons

The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian

5 stars Fiction

I’ve been wanting to read this book so I was excited we read it for bookclub.  The cover of the book and the synopsis gives me this dark mysterious feeling and I was intrigued by how these girls seemed so much alike but were separated by race.   Nestled into the swamp, these folks have their own way about doing things and whether it’s proper or not, is not what matters, it’s that it’s taken care of.

She was in love when she left and now, she has returned.  Her fondness of Jesse prompted her to run off with him but now she has returned. Returned to her home, to her father, to this home in the swamp, the house on stilts.  There had been room for Ada in this house but now, her father’s tools are more important and Ada will sleep in the shed.  Her father has expectations of Ada now that she has returned.  He didn’t welcome her with open arms but with expectations and responsibilities. 

My heart was torn for Ada as she tried to fit back into her old lifestyle.  Her father wasn’t making it any easier.  When he compares his daughter to his wife and begins to criticize and lash out at her, I wanted to reach inside the book and cause my own scene.  The words that were spoken, the truth that was revealed was painful but Ada had to learn what she could from her father, no matter what the conditions were.  

Matilda to the rescue!  I was so grateful that Matilda arrived on the scene and took action.  Anything that she could do would be beneficial but I didn’t expect her to be such a strong character.  Matilda had her own issues but to Ada she was a ray of light and she knew the w’s: what, where, why and when.    I enjoyed the friendship that Ada and Matilda formed and how they supported each other.   

I liked how the beginning of the book tied into the middle of this book rather than at the end of the book, that had a nice touch.  I knew the story wasn’t over and the ending was still yet to come.   I had never expected the ending that the author led me down, as I had envisioned many different paths as I became entwined inside this book.  A 5-star read for me.

Bibliophile Diverse Spines by Jamise Harper

5 stars Nonfiction


It’s time to diversify your reading list.

This richly illustrated and vastly inclusive collection uplifts the works of authors who are often underrepresented in the literary world. Using their keen knowledge and deep love for all things literary, coauthors Jamise Harper (founder of the Diverse Spines book community) and Jane Mount (author of Bibliophile) collaborated to create an essential volume filled with treasures for every reader:

• Dozens of themed illustrated book stacks—like Classics, Contemporary Fiction, Mysteries, Cookbooks, and more—all with an emphasis on authors of color and authors from diverse cultural backgrounds
• A look inside beloved bookstores owned by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
• Reading recommendations from leading BIPOC literary influencers

Diversify your reading list to expand your world and shift your perspective. Kickstart your next literary adventure now!

EASY TO GIFT: This portable guide is packed with more than 150 colorful illustrations is a perfect gift for any booklover. The textured paper cover, gold foil, and ribbon marker make this book a special gift or self-purchase.

DISCOVER UNSUNG LITERARY HEROES: The authors dive deep into a wide variety of genres, such as Contemporary Fiction, Classics, Young Adult, Sci-Fi, and more to bring the works of authors of color to the fore.

ENDLESS READING INSPIRATION: Themed book stacks and reading suggestions from luminaries of the literary world provide curated book recommendations. Your to-read list will thank you.

Perfect for: bookish people; literary lovers; book club members; Mother’s Day shoppers; stocking stuffers; followers of #DiverseSpines; Jane Mount and Ideal Bookshelf fans; Reese’s Book Club and Oprah’s Book Club followers; people who use Goodreads.com; readers wanting to expand/decolonize their book collections; people interested in uplifting BIPOC voices; antiracist activists and educators; grads and students; librarians and library patrons wanting to expand/decolonize their book collections; people interested in uplifting BIPOC voices; antiracist activists and educators; grads and students; librarians and library patrons

My Review:

This book is going to get me into trouble.  I already know that my TBR pile is gigantic but how could I not, find some treasures inside this book.  It was definitely cover love that drew me to this book while I was volunteering at the library.  I realized while reading, that I needed to get my own copy of this book, as it’s a fantastic resource.

I’ve heard about these types of books before but this is the first one, that I have actually read.  I liked the concept but would I actually like the books that they featured and/or would I find their lists helpful? I wanted this to be a fun, entertaining book consisting of lists based on a variety of different ideas/concepts.  I was also hoping that the books that made the list were a mixed lot, some new titles for me and some familiar ones.

What makes this book unique? It’s diversity.   “The authors, illustrators, designers, store owners, and bookstagramumers highlighted in this book are all Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”  Furthermore, these individuals lived in “spaces where they were marginalized by a dominant white society.”   By reading the books mentioned inside, the author hopes that the reader walks away with a greater understanding and the desire for better communication.  We all desire a great life.

I liked the physical size of this book, for being a reference book, it fits perfectly in my hands.  I liked how bright and colorful the pages were.  I felt a renewed energy while reading it and I was excited to see what the other pages contained.  Printed on thick cardstock paper, I thought this was a huge bonus considering it’s a resource and how often I would flip through the book.  The number of categories surprised me, in a good way.  I enjoyed all the different concepts the author used to group individuals and the books.  From the one-line sentences attached to some of the books on the list, to the detailed descriptions of a few of the books on the list, I loved all the information that is packed inside this book. 

I had started off thinking that I would make a list of the books that I thought sounded great (ones I haven’t seen or read yet) but after reading a few more pages in this book, I realized that I wanted to retain some of the other information that this book revealed.  I knew then, I would have to purchase a copy of this book.  This book is a gem and I highly recommend you check out this title.   Warning: your TBR pile just might get longer. 

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

4 stars Fiction

What the heck!?  You can’t be serious? I cringed a few times as I read this book, for the main characters were walking blindly.  They lived in fear, they were risking their own lives and the lives of their own children as they dodged not being caught and deported.  Sometimes I wondered if they even knew what complications lied ahead or if the thought of moving backwards was not option so they didn’t consider it.  I was hoping for the best and I feared the worse was headed their way. When would it ever end?

It was sweet when they fell in love and had their first child but when they decided to flee Columbia, the choices that had to be made and their actions totally changed the tone of the book.  They were headed to America, where a better life awaited them, didn’t it?  Entering America, they were beginning their new lives as illegal immigrants, earning money under the table, and “just surviving.”  When the couple started having more children, I was getting nervous.  More mouths, more responsibilities and additional individuals to hide.  The status of their children was now mixed and I wondered, how would that play out when it was time to go back to Columbia.

With the return date on their Visa’s coming up, the thought of returning home doesn’t sound like something they’re ready for.  Do they really have a choice? This was an eye-opening book, as the family makes some difficult decisions which places additional burdens on them.  This book covers a lot of hard topics including racism, alcohol, some sexual assault and animal abuse (small section).  It was definitely a book that got me thinking, a book that I’m glad that I read.   I received a copy of this book over a year ago from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.  

4 stars Fiction

Saving Ruby King: a novel by Catherine Adel West

4 stars Fiction

The evidence the officials discover, labeled the crime a home invasion.  Ruby’s mother lied dead at the scene.  In this Chicago black community, this was just another crime committed and marked in the books.  Yet, some individuals knew exactly what had occurred behind the doors of this house throughout the years.  They knew the truth.  The abuse that had been silenced and buried for years was finally over and Alice was finally free from her husband, Lebanon.  Ruby knew it too for she lived it, day in and day out.  Alone now with her father, Ruby faces the reality that it’s just her and her abusive father.

Layla is Ruby’s friend and what a great friend she is.  Although Layla was told by her father Jackson, to stay-out-of-it, Layla can’t.  Jackson, a pastor of this community’s church and some members of the congregation know what Lebanon is capable of but their actions and voices are silent.  Layla steps up to help Ruby providing much more than I realized she had in her. 

Crossing timelines and hearing from multi-viewpoints, it took me a while to get into the flow of this book. I liked how Layla kept at Ruby, she never gave up and she questioned Ruby and didn’t preach at her constantly.  I thought having all the different characters and viewpoints was interesting and made for a more-rounded book, although keeping them separate took some work, on my part.  Set in Chicago, the book addresses many issues such as domestic violence, race, a church community, family and friendship.   I received this book from NetGalley and Park Row in exchange for an honest opinion (a few years ago). 

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

4 stars Historical Fiction

Lakshmi wooed them but did they really know her?  There was so much to enjoy about this book from the language of the text, to keeping all the characters separate and unique, to transporting me to a different place and time yet, I felt that I was the only one who really knew Lakshmi.  I liked that Lakshmi was a strong-minded and independent individual but I felt that she was a meddler, when she need not be.

I understand that Lakshmi was proud of who she had become and she needed to be “out there” to keep her name on the lips of individuals needing her services but there were other instances in the book where I thought she just needed to step back and not insert herself.  She can get enough popularity, what she needs to be getting the attention for, with her talents, she doesn’t have to be involved in everything.  I liked the end of the book the best, as that gives me hope that she can discover who Lakshmi really is.  I see that there is a sequel and I’ll have to look into that and see what transpires.  I read this book for book club.    

Santa in the City by Tiffany D. Jackson

5 stars Children’s

Definitely pick this one up! I thought this was a great story as it answers many of those tough questions about Santa that children ask.  How does Santa get inside my house, if I don’t have a chimney?  The North Pole is so cold, how can Santa live there?   How can Santa be at the mall, at the animal shelter and be at the mall across town all in one day?  I thought this was a fun, adorable book about Deja who is concerned about Santa’s visit.  Deja is at that age where some of her friends don’t believe in Santa but Deja is looking for the answers to her important questions.  It’s all about his arrival and how Santa will find her on this important night. 

On glossy paper, this picture book has bright illustrations, I’m sure this book will be read over and over again as children explore the illustrations.  Deja asks a lot of great questions and with the easy-to-read text, the story was an entertaining and fun read.  5 stars

A Blizzard of Polar Bears by Alice Henderson

4 stars Mystery

My Review:

He couldn’t miss this opportunity so he dove.  Rex, a marine archaeologist, felt that he had finally located the boat that he’d been searching for.  Rex knew that he shouldn’t dive alone but he couldn’t just walk away from this without knowing for sure. At the end of the day, Rex would be lucky if he could even walk.  What a find for Rex but what price would he have to pay for this great discovery?

With matching PhDs in wildlife biology, Sonia and Alex are good friends who continued their education after college by tracking and tagging polar bears in Norway together.  When Sonia’s much-awaited study finally gets approved, she asks Alex if she’d be interested in it.  A different research project has Sonia wrapped-up at the moment.  Alex takes this new job and she immediately gets to work.  With her aide and pilot, Alex goes out on the ice to gather her data. At the end of the day, it’s time for dinner and I enjoyed that she runs into Sasha and now, the two stories are coming together.  Sasha was Rex’s dive partner who wasn’t with him on the day that he made his wonderful discovery.  The story starts to get exciting as we learn more about what actually occurred that day when Rex dove to see the wreckage in the water.  As Sasha talks to Alex about her relationship with Rex, this is just the beginning of their friendship and I’m just dying to know the whole story of what happened that day when Rex decided to dive alone.

Arriving to work the next morning, Alex discovers that the lab has been broken into.  The only area that the intruder has ransacked was Alex’s and now, she has items missing.  As the police investigate this invasion, Alex continues to gather data on the polar bears but in the back of her mind, there’s a lot going on.  Out in the field gathering date, Alex doesn’t get a break.  As Alex makes discoveries, she realizes that she’s not alone on the ice.  Her job is the bears but her mind is somewhere else.  Who are these individuals who are keep showing up in her life?  What do they want from her? 

There was a lot of action in this book as Alex tries to continue doing her study while these individuals invade her life.  Alex becomes acquainted with a variety of different individuals quickly as she dives into her job and she becomes familiar with the town.  As she made these connections, I learned more about Alex and these individuals.  I liked Alex’s attitude and her resourcefulness.  There was so much happening in this book, I thought at times that it might never end, yet Alex would still try to piece all the different aspects together so it’d make sense.  I see that this is part of a series and now, I’m curious about the first book in this series.  I’ll be looking for Alex in future books.    #ABlizzardofPolarBears #NetGalley

One of my favorite parts:  Casey confronting the Warlord – I thought it was a clever and sneaky idea and I could totally see this being played out in my head as I read it.  I laughed after I read it and I wondered how that all played out in the end.    

Thanks to Scene of the Crime Early Read, Alice Henderson, and NetGalley for proving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. 


Wildlife biologist Alex Carter is back, fighting for endangered species in the Canadian Arctic and battling for her life in this action-packed follow-up to A Solitude of Wolverines, “a true stunner of a thriller debut” (James Rollins) and “a great read” (Nevada Barr).

Fresh off her wolverine study in Montana, wildlife biologist Alex Carter lands a job studying a threatened population of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. Embedded with a small team of Arctic researchers, she tracks the majestic bears by air, following them over vast, snowy terrain, spending days leaning precariously out of a helicopter with a tranquilizer gun, until she can get down on the ice to examine them up close.

But as her study progresses, and she gathers data on the health of individual bears, things start to go awry. Her helicopter pilot quits unexpectedly, equipment goes missing, and a late-night intruder breaks into her lab and steals the samples she’s collected. She realizes that someone doesn’t want her to complete her study, but Alex is not easily deterred.

Managing to find a replacement pilot, she returns to the icy expanses of Hudson Bay. But the helicopter catches fire in midflight, forcing the team to land on a vast sheet of white far from civilization. Surviving on the frozen landscape is difficult enough, but as armed assailants close in on snowmobiles, Alex must rely on her skills and tenacity to survive this onslaught and carry out her mission.

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

4.5 stars Mystery

What exactly was going on? She left him lying there, as she hurried down to the proper floor where her own workspace was waiting for her.  There was so much blood, she knew that Michael was dead.  Ellice had to pretend like nothing had happened.  They’d been meeting up for a while and no one knew of their relationship.  Michael paid her well and they both were happy.  They were both lawyers, except Ellice was the only black lawyer in the firm and Michael was married. 

Ellice was good at pretending that she knew nothing about what happened that morning.  As the police and emergency personal arrive at the office building, Ellice tries to stay calm yet inside she’s a nervous wreck.  When invited into the CEO office, she feels her days are over and yet, she can’t believe her ears when they offer her Michael’s job.  What?!  Instantly, I think this is a set-up.  I’m cautious of everyone, why would they do that and who would do it?  Then, Ellice hears that it’s a racially motivated move to place her in Michael’s position, which makes sense since there’s some tension on their doorstep.  Yet, this doesn’t make sense to me and why kill him? 

I liked how Ellice didn’t accept what individual were telling her and she downed her private detective tools and she started her own investigation.  She actually made a great detective as she explored every lead and she pursued every little trail she found.  I found that in the middle of the book, it got a bit slow for a while but then, it picked back up in speed and the book’s conclusion was brilliant. In the end, what she uncovered was some twisted account with a lot of different pieces attached to it.  It was quite the discovery.  This book was an entertaining mystery that I enjoyed.  4.5 stars  

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Scene of the Crime Facebook website.

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

5+ stars Fiction

Once I inside the doors of Big Angel’s house, I didn’t want to leave. I knew exactly how this story would end as I was told that in the beginning pages of this book, yet I grew fond of each individual in Big Angel’s life and my admiration for him soared.  I laughed, cried and flipped my way through these pages until I realized that I was holding just a few unread pages in my right hand.  This was it, I had to finish what I had started.  I eased my pace for I would only be able to hold onto these dear individuals for just a while longer.  My new family knew that change was inevitable but to what decree, was undetermined.

Big Angel had been planning his last birthday party but now mother/grandma would need to be laid to rest before the celebration.  Big Angel knew that this would be his last hurrah, as he gathers his clan together in the family’s home.  As the patriarch, he was actually much more than that to his family and friends throughout the years.  This story of about hope, survival, family, about making a difference, and about being yourself was fantastic and I’m so glad bookclub choose it. 

Big Angel, the family’s leader, feels that he has now been reduced to a child.  This man, that his siblings used to see as a father figure, the punctual, computer-genius he once was, is now using a wheelchair and needs help with most of his daily functions.  As a Mexican immigrant, Big Angel and his family have had some interesting and amazing adventures throughout their lifetime.  As family and friends gather to celebrate Big Angel birthday, their adventures are far from over.  For on this one day, some see Big Angel for who he really is.  

As I listened to all the different individuals in the story, I enjoyed their interactions and how they all fed into the maze of each other’s lives.  As the author blended in all the different time periods, I liked seeing and hearing exactly what had transpired during this time and their account of the event.  Big Angel is a proud man yet he’s also humble.  As he writes in his mole-skinned notebooks, it’s the honesty and the thought that he puts into each entry that makes these books so special.  He’s a man who has accepted what life has given to him and now, he’s appreciating it all.  Speaking from the heart, his comments led me to cry and to laugh, sometimes all within a few pages of each other.  There are tons of great moments in this book, moments that make me smile just thinking about them.  After borrowing this book from the library to read, I realize that I need this book in my collection so I can reread it in the near future. It is definitely a keeper and one that I highly recommend.  5+ stars

“At the end of the day, all he really knew was that he was a Mexican father. And Mexican fathers made speeches. He wanted to leave her with a blessing, with beautiful words to sum up a life, but there were no words sufficient to this day.  But still, he tried.  “All we do, mija,” he said, “is love. Love is the answer.  Nothing stops it. Not borders. Not death.”