Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope your week is going great. Otherwise, I hope that it will start looking up in the coming days. It is my fervent hope that it will usher in positive energy, blessings, healing, and forgiveness for everyone. As it is Tuesday, it is also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesday was originally created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic: Books I Meant to Read in 2022

With the year approaching its close, it is time to look back at the year that has been. Overall, I was able to read the books I meant to read; I am actually currently reading Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, the last book on both my 2022 Top 22 Reading List and 2022 Beat The Backlist Challenge. Nevertheless, there were some books that I am still to read. I meant to read them but other books just keep popping up. HEHE. Anyway, here are the books I meant to and am still hoping to read this year. All of these were actually published no earlier than 2021. Happy Tuesday and happy reading!

Title: Yonder
Author: Jabari Asim
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: January 2022
No. of Pages: 255

Synopsis: The Water Dancer meets The Prophets in this spare, gripping, and beautifully rendered novel exploring love and friendship among a group of enslaved black strivers in the mid-nineteenth century.

They call themselves the stolen. Their owners call them captives. They are taught their captors’ tongues and their beliefs but they have a language and rituals all their own.

In a world that would be allegorical if it weren’t saturated in harsh truths, Cato and William meet at Placid Hall, a plantation in an unspecified part of the American South. Subject to the whims of their tyrannical and eccentric captor, Cannonball Greene, they never know what harm may befall them: inhumane physical toil in the plantation’s quarry by day, a beating by night, or the sale of a loved one at any moment. It’s a cruel practice – the wanton destruction of love, the belief that Black people aren’t even capable of loving – that hurts the most.

It hurts the reserved and stubborn William, who finds himself falling for Margaret, a small but mighty woman with self-possession beyond her years. And it hurts Cato, whose first love, Iris, was sold off with no forewarning. He now finds solace in his hearty band of friends, including William, who is like a brother to him; Margaret; Little Zander; and Milton, a gifted artist. There is also Pandora, with thick braids and long limbs, whose beauty calls to him.

Their relationships begin to fray when a visiting minister with a mysterious past starts to fill their heads with ideas about independence. He tells them that with freedom comes the right to choose the small things – when to dine, when to begin and end work – as well as the big things, such as whom and how to love. Do they follow the preacher and pursue the unknown? Confined in a landscape marked by deceit and uncertainty, whom can they trust?

In an elegant work of monumental imagination that will reorient how we think of the legacy of America’s shameful past, Jabari Asim presents a beautiful, powerful, and elegiac novel that examines intimacy and longing in the private quarters of the enslaved while asking a vital question: What would happen if an enslaved person risked everything for love?

Title: Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth
Author: Wole Soyinka
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 444

Synopsis: The first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature gives us a tour de force, his first novel in nearly half a century: a savagely satiric, gleefully irreverent, rollicking fictional meditation on how power and greed can corrupt the soul of a nation.

In an imaginary Nigeria, a cunning entrepreneur is selling body parts stolen from Dr. Menka’s hospital for use in ritualistic practices. Dr. Menka shares the grisly news with his oldest college friend, bon viveur, star engineer, and Yoruba royal, Duyole Pitan-Payne. The life of every party, Duyole is about to assume a prestigious post at the United Nations in New York, but it now seems that someone is determined that he not make it there. And neither Menka nor Duyole knows why, or how close the enemy is, or how powerful.

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is at once a literary hoot, a crafty whodunit, and a scathing indictment of political and social corruption. It is a stirring call to arms against the abuse of power from one of our fiercest political activists, who also happens to be a global literary giant.

Title: Neruda on the Park
Author: Cleyvis Natera
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 319

Synopsis: The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.

As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar ark as the novel races toward a near-fatal climax.

A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition that announces Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most.

Title: The Hacienda
Author: Isabel Cañas
Publisher: Berkley
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 337

Synopsis: During the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father was executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security that his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark the doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will save her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.

Title: Young Mungo
Author: Douglas Stuart
Publisher: Grove Press
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 390

Synopsis: Douglas Stuart’s first novel, Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. Published or forthcoming in forty territories, it has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Now Stuart returns with Young Mungo, his extraordinary second novel. Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.

Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars – Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic – and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when, several months later, Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murk pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, place where he and James might still have a future.

Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.

Title: Memphis
Author: Tara M. Stringfellow
Publisher: John Murray
Publishing Date: April 27, 2022
No. of Pages: 245

Synopsis: Joan was only a child the last time she visited Memphis. She doesn’t remember the bustle of Beale Street on a summer’s night. She doesn’t know she’s as likely to hear a gunshot ring out as the sound of children playing. How the smell of honeysuckle is almost overwhelming as she climbs the porch steps to the house where her mother grew up. But when the front door opens, she does remember Derek.

This house full of history is home to the women of the North family. They are no strangers to adversity; resilience runs in their blood. Fifty years ago, Hazel’s husband was lynched by his all-white police squad, yet she made a life for herself and her daughters in the majestic house he built for them. August lives there still, running a salon where the neighbourhood women gather. And now this house is the only place Joan has left. It is in sketching portraits of the women in her life, her aunt and her mother, the women who come to have their hair done, the women who come to chat and gossip, that Joan begins laughing again, begins living.

Memphis is a celebration of the enduring strength of female bonds, of what we pass down, from mother to daughter. Epic in scope yet intimate in detail, it is a vivid portrait of three generations of a Southern black family, as well as an ode to the city they call home.

Title: People Person
Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Publisher: Trapeze
Publishing Date: April 28, 2022
No. of Pages: 343

Synopsis: IF YOU COULD CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY…

YOU WOULDN’T CHOOSE THE PENNINGTONS.

Dimple Pennington knew of her half siblings, but she didn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues.

Dimple has bigger things to think about. She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone.

That is, until a catastrophic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.

Title: Vagabonds!
Author: Eloghosa Osundae
Publisher: Riverhead
Publishing Date: March 1, 2022
No. of Pages: 303

Synopsis: In Nigeria, vagabonds are those whose existence is literally outlawed: the queer, the poor, the displaced, the footloose and rogue spirits. They inhabit transient spaces, making their way invisibly through a world of old vengeance, shifting realities, and ever-lurking danger. Eloghosa Osunde’s brave, fiercely inventive novel traces a wild array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance: a driver for a debauched politician with the power to command life and death; a legendary fashion designer who gives birth to a grown daughter; a lesbian couple whose tender relationship sheds unexpected light on their experience with underground sex work; a wife and mother who attends a secret spiritual gathering that shifts her world. Whether running from danger, meeting with secret lovers, finding their identities, or vanquishing their shadowselves, Osunde’s characters confront and support one another, before converging for the once-in-a-lifetime gathering that gives the book its unexpectedly joyous conclusion.