Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Title: Here Comes the Sun
Author: Nicole Dennis-Benn
Copyright: June 2, 2016
Genre: fiction
Format: book and audiobook Pages: 352

I have read so many books lately, particularly in the month of January and am very much behind sharing my thoughts on them. So in an effort to play catch up. I will be posting some reviews rather close together.   I read and listened to the audiobook edition of this book in January.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis-Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.

My Thoughts:

This story is about a family in Jamaica the mother whose name is Dolores sells Jamaican keepsakes to tourists to raise money for her youngest daughter to go to college. Margo is the oldest daughter who works at a hotel and her sister’s name is Thandi. Margo is 15 years older than Thandi so she’s almost like another parent to her.

Throughout the book, issues of color are raised – the praise of lighter skin and dislike for darker skin. This is not a unique phenomenon to Jamaica. I went to Jamaica twice, and both times I do remember observing the distinct color difference in the work environments. Just as the book illustrated, the light skin people tend to hold the hospitality positions that are upfront with the tourists, as well as the more prominent jobs. While the darker skin people tend to occupy more of the labor intense jobs such as chambermaids and menial jobs.

As an African-American living in the United States, I am always curious to explore the experience of black people in other countries. One commonality is that residuals of slavery and colonization seem to have affected the psyche of the black people all over the world in very similar ways. Slavery may have ended in many places but the damage to the collective psyche remains and this book demonstrates the effects in Jamaica. When I read on page 21, how Thandi wanted to lighten her skin because she believes it will present more opportunities for her and make her “beautiful” I felt really sad. Because I believe that this is a reality for many people today. In the absence of mainstream validation and representation, some sadly fall into this state of mind.

When I completed the book, I was left wonder about the future of the three women in the story. I wonder what will happen to Margo as she goes on with her life? I wonder what will happen with Thandi now that all is been revealed? I wonder what will happen to their mother?  There is no explicit ending stated. However, after time away from the story, I am ok with that. It seems more a reflection of reality than a neat and tidy ending.

Another topic of this book is homophobia in Jamaica and how people are treated in that country. The author of this book is a lesbian and left Jamaica to live a better life than she would have if she had stayed there. So I feel she could put a very authentic spin to this story based on her own experience. It was very challenging to read how the homosexuals were treated in this story.

The book does a really good job of showing how poverty can lead to so much desperation. This isn’t a feel-good book about Jamaica and how it’s such a paradise. It shows a reality for many of the people that live in this country.  When tourists go to vacation there and look at that water all they see is beauty and the enjoyment of swimming in the beautiful water. While this book presents an alternate perspective of how a poor person living on this island may view the water surrounding them as trapping them from going elsewhere. It’s a totally different way of looking at the water. So in that sense, this paradise can turn into a prison.

As I’ve said I’ve been there twice now and after reading this book, I will be more mindful of my choices and interactions with the people during future visits there and as other countries.

It’s important to read books like this to give you a broader view of what life as a black person can be like on an island.  I definitely will give this book 4 1/2 butterflies and I look forward to more books from this author. Below I included a bit of information about the author and a link to her website.

About the Author:

Photograph by Jason Berger

Dennis-Benn has an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Her writing has been awarded a Richard and Julie Logsdon Fiction Prize, and two of her stories have been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in Fiction.

Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

Read more about Nicole at her website.



Happy Reading!


Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler


Title: Yes Please
Author: Amy Poehler
Copyright: October 28th 2014
Genre: non-fiction, autobiography
Format: audio book

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by.

Amy narrates the book along with a large all-star guest narrators: Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Eileen Poehler, William Poehle, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner

My Thoughts:

As usual, I seek out audio books that don’t require me to focus too much because I often listen while I work or cook. I had been hearing a lot of people say they liked this book by Amy Poehler. You might remember her from SNL or in Parks and Recreation on television of which is she is also the writer.

I really enjoyed her narrating her own book. She was really witty and her all-star guest voice talents were a pleasure to listen to as well. It was really  sweet listening to her and Seth  Meyers banter and reminiscing of their time on SNL.  It was a real treat hearing Patrick Stewarts voice, of course I kept thinking of Star Trek or X-Men when I hear him.

She told her story and it was nice to hear a story of an ordinary person that found her way to success. She is originally from Burlington, Massachusetts  which also made it fun to hear her talk about local places. She also had a lot of “local” jokes that made me laugh.

I think she had some nice messages to share and also was honest about her own personal struggles while working in the business.  I didn’t realize how much more she has accomplished beyond comedy and it is great to hear about another successful female writer and producer. I am more familiar more with Tina Fey’s success and very pleased to see how successful  they have become.

I am not sure how the book would be. I enjoyed the voices and can’t imagine the book is identical to the audio book. I would be curious.

Overall, I thought it was a fun audio book to listen to. She kept it moving and the guests were funny too.

I think I would give this 3 butterflies.

Happy reading!



Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Recipe Box by Sandra Lee

The Recipe










Title: The Recipe Box
Author: Sandra Lee
Copyright: July 2, 2013
Genre: fiction
Format: audiobook

Synopsis (from publisher):

From New York Times bestselling author Sandra Lee comes her debut novel, a heartwarming story about food, family, and forgiveness.

Grace Holm-D’Angelo is at her wit’s end, trying to create a new life from broken pieces. Newly divorced, she is navigating suddenly becoming a single mother to her fourteen-year-old daughter. Emma, resentful about being uprooted from Chicago to LA and still reeling from the divorce, is generally giving her mother a hard time.

Then Grace’s best friend, Leeza, succumbs to breast cancer after a long battle, and Grace realizes that you don’t get a second chance at life. She returns to her hometown of New London, Wisconsin, to try to reconcile with her own mother, Lorraine, with whom she’s been estranged for longer than she cares to remember.

Over the course of the summer, Grace rediscovers the healing powers of cooking, coming to terms with your past, and friendship, and learns you can go home again, and sometimes that’s exactly where you belong.

My review:

I listened to this audio book on my Nook HD.  I came across it while snooping around my Overdrive account. OverDrive, Inc. is an American digital distributor of eBooks, audio books, music, and video titles. Over a year ago I went to a tutorial at my local library on how to connect my e-reader to my local library to check out books.  Once I installed it, I became a quick fan. Since then,  I borrow many books through Overdrive.

I read the description for this audio book and thought it would be a fun one to listen to. I thought it would be a good book to listen to while I read my new book club selection and a book a friend lent me a while ago.  I also loved the cover of the book. The beautiful wooden recipe box and the lovely flowers definitely caught my attention.  The book description above from the publisher left no room for surprises but I still managed to enjoy listening to the story.

I enjoyed how the author shared the strong bonds of friendship and family in this book. The main character Grace had such supportive  friends and while I listened to it, I though of all the strength I draw from my dear friends.  My only complaint is that at times the reader’s male voice impression was a bit distracting so I would lose focus for a second and then moved on.

If you need a quick audio to listen to while riding in the car that is predictable but still warm, then this might be a good selection.





Happy reading!



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