Tag «civil rights movement»

Single Sundays: Death of a King by Tavis Smiley with David Ritz

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year (from Goodreads):
A revealing and dramatic chronicle of the twelve months leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination

Martin Luther King, Jr. died in one of the most shocking assassinations the world has known, but little is remembered about the life he led in his final year. New York Times bestselling author and award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley recounts the final 365 days of King’s life, revealing the minister’s trials and tribulations — denunciations by the press, rejection from the president, dismissal by the country’s black middle class and militants, assaults on his character, ideology, and political tactics, to name a few — all of which he had to rise above in order to lead and address the racism, poverty, and militarism that threatened to destroy our democracy.

Smiley’s DEATH OF A KING paints a portrait of a leader and visionary in a narrative different from all that have come before. Here is an exceptional glimpse into King’s life — one that adds both nuance and gravitas to his legacy as an American hero.


One of my personal goals when it comes to my reading habits in this coming year is to read more non-fiction books. I tend to stick to my romances or young adult novels but I love learning about new subjects and I love to watch documentaries. So why I don’t read more non-fiction is beyond me: I suppose it is for the fact that I could watch something about a topic and get the visual effects that I need as a visual learner. However, I watch a lot of John Stewart’s Daily Show and more often than not he has on an author and I end up finishing the interview and seeing if the book is available at my library so I can read it.

I will be the first to admit I don’t know all that much about Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), which is why I wanted to read this book. I studied his “I Have a Dream” speech in my university English class about Rebels and I know the general gist of what he did in the Civil Rights Movement but nothing else really. So I was interested in learning more about him, especially with his work after the initial Civil Rights Movement began.

While the book is easy to read and people/things are explained in easy to understand language; it was hard for me to get into the flow of the writing. I haven’t read any biography books that aren’t autobiographies, so maybe this is a common practice, but it seemed a little fictional at times given that the author was writing how MLK was feeling at that particular time. How does he know that really? I’m sure he talked to people who were with MLK and did his research but it seemed really presumptive to me and I had a hard time getting past that. I suppose that is what happens with biographies but for someone who isn’t use to that, it is a big change and makes it a little difficult to process things.

What I did enjoy was learning about what was going on historically. And when the Smiley wasn’t trying to tell me how MLK was personally feeling and instead focused on the historical events and their implications, I was drawn into the story so much more.

One thing that really surprised me about reading this book was the fact that the struggles people faced in 1967-1968 are very similar to issues that we (at least in North America) still face today, such as racism, war and unemployment. Which is what Smiley was explaining on The Daily Show and how we should take to heart some of MLK’s messages as they still apply today (like focusing on national issues like unemployment and not so much on international issues). I think it’s easy for some of us to forget that these issues are happening depending on where you live. I know I am guilty of it and this book reminded me of that.

While MLK is an interesting person to read about and I liked learning more about him as a person and not just as a social advocate; I really want to read more about his wife Coretta. I would love to read a biography/memoir about her life because it seems so interesting to me. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for one.


This is my first book about Martin Luther King Jr. so I’m not really sure how it compares to others. However, I think those who want to learn more about him in his last year of life and his work with the Vietnam war but want a condensed, easy to read way of doing that will enjoy this book.

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: If they really wanted to know about MLK I would suggest this.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, American History, Social Justice
Recommended for: 20+
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: Third Person


Movie Mondays: The Secret Life of Bees

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid | Movie: The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction


This is perhaps one of the few books that I read in high school that I can genuinely say I enjoyed reading. While it started slow, it really picked up and turned out to be a pretty interesting read.

I think why I really liked it was because I actually did study it and see why things were written as they were. Perhaps that is the English student in me that finds it enjoyable. There are a lot of subtle meanings behind the text and they tend to link up as you progress through the book.

It is a hard book to read for two reasons: 1) is the racism and treatment of a majority of the characters present and 2) it’s definitely a chick book. My poor brother had to read this in high school too and absolutely detested it! But as a girl, I liked it though I found the subject matter to be pretty heavy at times. It’s a book that makes you appreciate how far society has come in the last few decades.


While I didn’t find this book spectacular, I did enjoy reading it. As I said before, it makes you appreciate the world that we live in now and reminds us that we still have some distance to go.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Movie:

It’s been a super long time since I watched the movie so bear with me!

The movie had a pretty stellar cast: Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys. Overall, I thought they did a good job in their roles; I’m not a huge Alicia Keys or Dakota Fanning fan but I felt like they fit the roles well and I’m not sure who else you could have gotten to do the roles and get the big name appeal.

I know that they changed the age of the Bee sisters and a few other things in the movie but I think they stayed true to the message of the novel.

It wasn’t anything overly fantastic, but it was well done to say the least.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the BOOK. I just found it that touch more grittier than the movie and more impactful.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Secret Life of Bees (from Goodreads):
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.