ARC Review: Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Title: Harlem Shuffle

Author: Colson Whitehead

Publisher: Doubleday

Genre: Historical Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, drug use (off-page), death by overdose, violence, gun violence, blood, colorism,

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::

Goodreads Synopsis

From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the “Waldorf of Harlem”—and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.

But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.

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December 2022 Wrap Up

Hello, reader!

As we start to settle the new year, I figured I would wrap my last month of reading in 2022. Honestly, December was a bit of a blur for me. Mostly because of the holidays but also because I was trying to squeeze in books that I needed to read! This is why I need to stop procrastinating on my BBNYA reads… I love being a panelist but I really need to plan better 😂

Either way, I think that’s why my December reading felt a little all over the place and frazzled. I didn’t read nearly as much I did for most of the year and the ratings fluctuated a bit more, but I still had a good time. And I will say that I closed out the year with an absolute winner!

That being said, let’s jump into the wrap up.

Books Reads

  • The Reaper’s Quota by Sarah McKnight: This was my first BBNYA read for the final round. I don’t want to talk too much about it because there will be tours coming up for all our finalists, but I found myself really enjoying this book! It was interesting, dark, and humorous in the best way. It didn’t blow me away or anything but it was definitely a solid read. Stay tuned for my more in-depth thoughts once the tours begin! ★★★
  • Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead: I’m not a big historical fiction reader, but I continue to enjoy pretty much any historical fiction that Colson Whitehead writes. This book is no different! It focuses on a Black furniture salesman in Harlem during the 1960s and his fall into (and rise from) a life of crime. I loved following Carney on his journey and getting to know the varied personalities he runs into throughout this book. And I didn’t realize this was the first in a series, but I’m excited to give the next one a read! ★★★★
  • Lesser Known Monsters by Rory Michaelson: This was my second BBNYA read for the final round and I loved it! Again, I don’t want to talk too much about it because I want to save it for the tour, but this book totally sucked me in. I have so many angry notes about people being mean to Oscar, so you know I was invested in his story 😂 He is such a compelling character with flaws and nuances that makes him feel so real. I’ll tell y’all more once the tours start, but I highly recommend this one if you enjoy horror and would love to read one with strong LGBTQIA+ representation. ★★★★
  • Inheriting Her Ghosts by S.H. Cooper: And then I read my final BBNYA read for 2022 and it smashed it out of the park! I adored this gothic book so much! First of all, the main character is a middle aged woman and I’m here. for. IT. Second, she has two huge dogs that are her constant companions and I would die for them 😭 You know I’m going to be gushing about this book when the tours swing around, so stay tuned! ★★★★★
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November 2022 Wrap Up

Hello, reader!

We’re getting to the point where I need to start planning my December (and yearly!) wrap ups, so I figured this was the perfect time to wrap up what I read in November! One of these days, I will write these wrap up posts in a semi-timely manner 😂 I’m going to blame the fact that I’ve been wrapped up in BBNYA business for pretty much all of December, which was a blast! Now, it’s time to get back on track and actually tell you all about what I read last month.

And try not to have a crisis over the fact that 2022 is almost over!

Books Read

  • Spy x Family Vol 7 by Tatsuya Endo: I continue to love this manga series, though this one was probably my least favorite of the ones I’ve read so far. If I remember correctly, Yor’s brother featured prominently in this volume? That would explain why I didn’t like it as much because he truly creeps me out 😂 Even with him, though, I love watching Loid, Yor, and Anya grow closer and closer. Even if Loid pretends like they aren’t. This reminds me that I need to catch up with the anime… ★★★
  • The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow: My goodness, this book was a freakin’ gem. Harrow’s writing is always magical and it lent well to this story about witches and suffragettes. I adored the three sisters featured in this story and how this book is not only about women’s rights, but the fractious relationship between the Eastwoods. I’m a sucker for a book with great characters, so when I’m presented with three of them, you know I’m gonna love it. I also thought the magic in this was fascinating! This has certainly cemented Alix E. Harrow as one of my favorite authors. ★★★★
  • The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill: Last month, a bunch of the TWR gang got together and decided to do Netgalley November. The ARCs are getting out of hand, y’all! A good problem to have, but I joined in to try and start knocking some books off of my shelf. This was my first e-ARC of the month and I enjoyed it! It was an interesting story about a young woman who finds herself whisked into another life after a mysterious benefactor includes her in his will. The concept was intriguing, though the main character made me want to shake her. And the love interest was pretty… meh. Overall, though, I had a fun time reading this! ★★★
  • Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes: This was my second Netgalley read of the month and I loved it! It’s a young adult fantasy that features young, Black kids gaining superpowers. It is an adventure that you are happy to jump into because the writing absolutely pulls you in. I loved how cinematic the writing could be and I found myself enthralled with the story. I also loved that this book tackles some social issues within the story and I think the authors did a great job incorporating it. I’m eager to read the sequel! ★★★★
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Top 5 Tuesday: Books Set In The Past

Top 5 Tuesday is a fun, weekly meme that asks you to pick 5 books that fit that week’s theme. It was created by Bionic Bookworm and is currently being hosted by Meeghan Reads. You should check out their wonderful blog for more details and the list of prompts!

Hello, reader!

I hope you’ve all had a lovely Tuesday. It was a busy day at work for me, so I’m ready to unwind, watch people talk about books on Youtube, and pick up a book of my own. First, though, it’s time for another Top 5 Tuesday post! Today, I get to talk about my top five books that are set in the past. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find five books that I love that are set in the past, but then I ended up with so many books from which to choose, haha. I’ve trimmed it down to my five favorites, though it was a tough decision to make.

Now, let me share them with you!

#1. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

This is a recent read that quickly stole my heart. It was vibrant and engaging, with incredible characters and even better writing! And it’s set in 1889 Paris, so it definitely belongs on this list. I loved this story so much. It has so many elements that I tend to gravitate towards: heists, morally grey characters, and, my fave, found family. I really need to continue with this series! Hopefully I’ll pick up the next book sooner rather than later.

#2. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

So I’m not 100% sure when this book takes place, but it is inspired by the pre-Columbian Americas and everything since pretty old school, so I’m saying it counts! Mostly because I just need an excuse to talk about this book at any opportunity 😂 This book has magic, mystery, and some of the most compelling characters I’ve read in awhile. Xiala and Serapio will always be my favorites and that holds true in the sequel, as well. I cannot wait for the next book!

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WWW Wednesday: Oct 26, 2022

It’s time for another WWW Wednesday! This is a bookish meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words where bloggers answer the 3 Ws:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

If you’d like to learn more about any of these books, click on the cover to be taken to the Goodreads page.

Current Reads

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

I know I talked about this book recently but I am still reading it. Because I overcommitted to buddy reads this month. Because all the books sounded SO GOOD! So far, I haven’t been disappointed, and that definitely holds true for this book. I’m loving the sisterly dynamics, the look into the suffragist struggle, and, of course, all the witchy stuff. I’m also loving Alix E. Harrow’s writing, which is unsurprising as much as I loved her first book, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Recently Finished

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling

After devouring The Ex Hex, I was eager to pick up the next book in Erin Sterling’s witchy romance series. I’m glad I did because I may have enjoyed this one even more than the first! I loved Gwyn and Wells so much. Their dynamic was *chef’s kiss* and I could read several books about their future shenanigans. I also enjoyed the underlying mystery in this book, though I definitely guessed its resolution. I just love a good, magical mystery, apparently.

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Sundays In Bed With… The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Sundays in Bed With… is a meme that dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

Hello, reader!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful Sunday. I’ve finally roused myself from bed after a whirlwind Saturday helping my best friend get married! It was a great day and now I’m ready to just relax and catch up on some reading, haha. The book I’m snuggling up with today is one that I’m buddy reading with some bookish friends and am woefully behind on. Hopefully I can remedy that today!

But, first, let me tell you more about it.

My Sunday Read Is…

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

What an incredible story this has been so far! I think it’s been confirmed that I love Alix E. Harrow’s writing because I was immediately pulled into this story. I love the descriptions and the parallels drawn between these three, witchy sisters through the beautiful writing. And, speaking of the sisters, the sibling dynamics in this book are incredible! If you’re a fan of stories that explore the ideas of family and shared trauma, this is definitely one I would suggest reading. And the fact that, mixed in with all this, we have true magic and suffragettes makes it that much better.

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Sundays In Bed With… Babel by R.F. Kuang

Sundays in Bed With… is a meme that dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

Hello, reader!

I hope you’re having a relaxing Sunday, wherever you are. I had to work, but now I’m off for a week because my best friend is getting MARRIED! I’m so excited for her and will be spending the week making sure everything goes as swimmingly as it can. And getting prepared to be fancy for a day, haha. For tonight, though, I’m spending the night reading because I’m in the middle of a book that I can already feel is going to be a five star read and I don’t want to stop 😆

So let me quickly tell you more about it so I can get back to reading!

My Sunday Read Is…

Babel by R.F. Kuang


I went into this knowing that I’m a fan of R.F. Kuang’s writing. I also knew that she is an author that does not pull punches and that is definitely true of her newest novel. Is it as horrific as The Poppy War? So far, no… but she does not shy away from depicting the horrible affects of racism and colonialism. I’m completely wrapped up in this novel and have a feeling this might be one of my favorite reads of 2022. The academia vibes are spot on, the characters have my whole heart, and I am invested in the plot that is unraveling. If you like dark academia even a little bit, you need to check this one out!

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Blog Tour Spotlight: Where David Threw Stones by Elyse Hoffman

Hello, reader!

It’s time for another blog tour spotlight hosted by The Write Reads! This time, I’m featuring a historical fantasy that I’m a litle bummed I didn’t have time to squeeze into my schedule. Where David Threw Stones by Elyse Hoffman sounds like something I would love, especially since I already know I love this author’s writing. That just means I get to add another book that sounds amazing to my TBR!

Before I jump into my spotlight, though, I want to thank Dave @ The Write Reads and all the lovely people behind the scenes for allowing me to participate in this tour! It is, as always, very much appreciated.

Alright, now let’s get to it!

  • Title: Where David Threw Stones
  • Author: Elyse Hoffman
  • Publication date: September 27th, 2022
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • Age group: Adult


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#5OnMyTBR – Borrowed

#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!

Hello, reader!

I hope everyone has had a great Monday. Mine has been especially busy, which is why I’m just now sitting down to write this post. After rushing around and feeling kind of crabby, I was pumped to find out that the 5 On My TBR prompts had been updated! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done one of these posts and I have to say, I’ve missed them.

Today’s prompt is borrowed books which I honestly don’t have any I can think. Mostly because I avoid borrowing books from friends because I take forever to read them. So I’m going to pick five books that I would love to borrow from my library some time soon!

#1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This is a book that has been on my TBR for years. It’s also a book by an author that I’ve never read from before. I don’t always do this, but when I think about, I do like to try authors out before I commit to having them on my shelves. So for this book, which definitely intrigues me, but not enough to buy it, I’m definitely going to get it from my local library. Ya know, when I can remember I want it and not get distracted by the shiny, new books right at the front of the building, haha.

#2. Flamefall by Rosaria Munda

This is the second book in the Aurelian Cycle series, which is criminally underrated! I mean… I’ve only read the first book, Fireborne, so I suppose I don’t know if the entire series is underrated. All I know is that the first book was incredible and no one ever seems to talk about it! That being said, I don’t own the first book and I don’t need to be buying an entire series any time soon, so this seems like a good ‘borrow from the library’ choice. Then, if I love this one as much as I love the first, I’ll probably cave and get the whole set 😂

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Down the TBR Hole #37

It’s time for a new round of Down the TBR Hole! This is where I go through my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ shelf and do a bit of cleaning up. If you want to see the full description of what this post is all about, check out my first round HERE.

Hello, reader!

Tuesday seems like a good day for another round of Down the TBR Hole! I’ve managed another week without adding the same amount of books I removed last round 😂 In fact, I ended the last round with 710 books on my ‘Want to Read’ shelf and I’m starting this one with 709 books! I really need to use my backlist books as my readathon picks more often. It’s certainly helped me cut down on my owned TBR this month!

Now let’s see if I can cut down my unread TBR.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

This is a book that I’m fairly certain I added to my TBR simply because a lot of people in the bookish community were talking about it. I couldn’t even remember what it was about! Having read the synopsis, it sounds vaguely interesting, but not enough for me to keep it around. Who knows… it might reappear on the TBR one day.

Verdict: Remove

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

After witnessing so many Booktubers read and love this book, I just have to keep it around. I’m also a big fan of contemporaries that have a bit of the fantastic mixed in. This sounds like a book that will gut me and, honestly, it’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that’s made me outright cry. Tear up? Sure. Actual tears? Not so much. Perhaps this will be the one.

Verdict: Keep

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