National Black Book Festival


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Black History Year - February

Number 52

I met with the Literary Diva’s Book Club at Atlanta Bread Co. to discuss Carl Weber’s latest, THE CHOIR DIRECTOR - $9.99 - The Choir Director   I’m here to tell you, that man knows how to tell a story.  I read the second in this series, THE FIRST LADY - $4.47 -  The First Lady, just to get a better knowledge of Bishop T.K. Wilson, who I think is one the most best characters in novels around.  He has the looks and intelligent of a man of the cloth, but still a man with some serious needs in the bedroom just like any other man.  Second book is about his wife coming back from the dead to help him find a new wife.  The women after scared the day lights out of me.  It has been a long time since I’ve  read so many evil-minded and venomous bitches get a man, and this is in church.  Then I read his newest one.  Took the woman’s hair our by mixing the woman’s hair shampoo with Neet hair removal.  Taking a sister down by accusing her, maybe a new boyfriend, of being a rapist.  Stealing money from the church, yes I said it, stealing money from the church, even though that’s not really unusual in today’s society.  Damn, are we woman that desperate for a man?  Wo-cheggin!!!  
I laughed so hard, my dog fell out of the bed and gave me a, “what the hell is wrong with you look,” and one of the best lines, let me set it up for you first.  Mackie is getting it on with Sandra.  Knock at door, Mackie hides Sandra in bedroom.  The two men are Bishop T. K. Wilson and Reverend Jenkins,.  Bishop is offering Mackie a job and Reverend is a mentor to Mackie and his boss at their church.  Mackie turns down the job offer and both men leave.  Mackie goes back to finish “getting it on” with Sandra, but there’s another knock at the door, this time its just the Reverend.  Mackie is thinking the Reverend is coming back to thank him for not taking the job, but my boy the Reverend pulls out a gun and accuses him of having an affair with his wife.  Mackie lies and says no, but the Reverend knows he is lying because when he was there earlier with the Bishop, he saw his wife’s hat pushed into the sofa.  Tells Mackie to show him where the wife is and they find her naked on the bed, she is shock and trying to cover her self, with clothes and an excuse.  The Reverend tells Mackie to take the job and leave town or he’s going to shoot him.  Reverend smacks wife and knocks her off the bed, then says, “She may be a ho, but she’s my ho, bought and paid for.”  Damn!!! 
You have got to read to this book.  You will in no way be disappointed and I’m glad I got a chance to meet him at Books A Million in Charleston.  He was funny even in person and he still want to own a McDonald's.”  Side joke. 
Weber knows how to tell a story without being boring or crass, just damn good fun.  OK, I’m having too much fun talking about his books, let’s get to others.  
STEFHEN F. D.BRYAN - BLACK PASSENGER YELLOW CABS: OF EXILE AND EXCESS IN JAPAN - $7.99 - - - Black Passenger, Yellow Cabs: A Memoir Of Exile and Excess In Japan, provides a gritty, explicit rendering of a life ravaged by sexual addiction in a land little known for such wanton exploits. Born in the Caribbean, Stefhen F.D. Bryan describes in frank detail an abusive childhood from which he emerged with an obsessive lust that would plague him for nearly 40 years. Bryan immigrated to Japan solely to indulge his extreme fixation on East and Southeast Asian women. But rather than merely penning a series of sexual conquests, he interweaves his story with extensive research on the sociology and psychology of women in modern-day Japan, exploring the societal norms that made them easy prey to the sexual deviance he could not control. The memoir describes Bryan’s carnal adventures through a cultural lens that touches on interracial relationships, promiscuity, patriarchy and abortion. Included is sex research that one reviewer asserts “would make Kinsey proud.”From the dirty streets of a Jamaica that tourists never see to a pastoral Japan, Bryan takes the reader on an eye-opening journey of discovery. "Guns, sex, and racial suicide. And that's just Chapter 1!"

BONNIE HOPKINS - NOW AND THEN, AGAIN - $9.99 - - - Vann Sinclair is ready for a change. Now entering mid-life, she's ready to do for herself after years of doing for others. But they say when a person makes plans, God laughs. And this time, God's truly enjoying himself.  The serene life that Vann expected with her early retirement turns out to be just a dream. Not only is her spare time filled with friends and family who need Vann's cool head in times of trouble, but a handsome judge stirs her heart, allowing Vann to believe that a miracle may be in the works.  Mid-life does not mean life is over, and for Vann Sinclair life is about to take a completely unexpected turn - eventually for the best! 

CLAUDIA MAIR BURNEY - DEATH, DECEIT & SOME SMOOTH JAZZ - $9.99 - - - Amanda Bell Brown has decided the only way she’ll ever be a mother is by becoming the owner of a squirrel-like exotic pet called a sugar-glider. Even though she’s a psychologist, she’s having issues over her mid-thirties, childless, single state. The man she loves, Lieutenant Jazz Brown, a homicide detective, told her months ago that despite his being single, he is unavailable, and Bell is trying to move on. Then one chilly Detroit night, he shows up at her door coat less and sporting scratches on his face. Jazz wants to talk. And Bell’s life is about to get very complicated: Jazz’s ex-wife was murdered that very night. Jazz is the only suspect, and Bell is determined to find out who the real killer is, even as she now harbors doubts about her relationship with Jazz. With little help from anyone else, Bell turns to God and her faith to guide her.

RL TAYLOR - THE LAST MS. UNDERSTANDING - $.99 - - - Rita Clark is a wealthy business executive that has relocated to a new city. She's acquired every luxury a woman could desire. The only thing missing in her life is someone to share it with... 
A visit to a local jazz lounge brings her face to face with Lee Johnson. Unfortunate circumstances have forced him out of professional athletics and into a blue collar job. Despite their lifestyle differences an irresistible urge pulls them together... 
Lee becomes distant and fights to conceal a mysterious history, while Rita becomes consumed by her flourishing career. Opportunity arises for Lee to reconnect with another special woman and right his past wrongs. All the while a job promotion offers Rita a chance to break through the glass ceiling in her male dominated field of work. But that would mean relocating overseas.
Rita is forced to choose between career and love. The dilemma lies in Lee's secretive life that he's hidden from Rita. Once exposed - How understanding can she be?  Where would you draw the line?

ReSHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY - I KNOW I’VE BEEN CHANGED - $7.99 - - - Raedella Rollins's evolution from a small-town girl in Sweet Poke, Ark., to a news anchor at an NBC-affiliate in Houston, Tex., who marries a rising local politics star is a remarkable story, but Billingsley fails to humanize her shallowly icy narrator and the chorus of caricatures surrounding her. When her family (a motley assortment of moochers, alcoholics, criminals and temptresses) hears of her engagement, they trek out to Houston for the wedding. Initially upset that the past she left behind is catching up with her, Rae learns the value of family after her husband of two days is exposed as a lecherous cheat. But Rae's scalding self-centeredness keeps the reader at shouting distance, so her redemption, telegraphed from the beginning, arrives with a whimper.

K’WAN AND 50 CENT - BLOW - $9.99 - - -  I brought this book from a vendor outside Foggy Bottom subway in DC and could not believe 50 cent was writing it. I know of K’Wan and his books, The Leak: A Hood Rat Short - $.99 - The Leak: A Hood Rat Short and the first one I brought, HOODLUM: A NOVEL - $9.99 - Hoodlum: A Novel.  He has always written Urban fiction and I would place him in the Urban Fiction syndicate of Nikki Turner and Terri Woods, raw and sexy, my man is true “Urban.”  
Now, what is “Blow” about?  Animal is a child of the streets, born of nothing and destined to die with nothing until he meets a man named Tech who will change his life forever.  Animal proves to be a quick study under his new mentor and takes to the game like a fish to water, but the real test is when a snitch causes the fall of several key underworld figures and Animal is called upon to silence him. With nothing but a gun and his wits Animal must now do the impossible, kill a man who is under police protection or die trying.

Got to stick on one for Black History Year.  

BEBE MORE CAMPBELL - YOUR BLUES AIN’T LIKE MINE: A NOVEL - $11.16 Paperback.  This is another book I have in my collection that I brought long time ago when it first came out.  I am sad to say she died at the age of 56.  According to some, Bebe Campbell was part of the first wave of black novelists who made the lives of upwardly mobile black people a routine subject for popular fiction. Straddling the divide between literary and mass-market novels, Ms. Campbell’s work explored not only the turbulent dance between blacks and whites but also the equally fraught relationship between men and women.  Her work was filled with compassion and hope, the same way she has always displayed in life.  Enjoy it.
Comment from Justice on Amazon.  This book is clearly based on the tragic story of Emmett Till, the young boy brutally killed for whistling at a white woman in the 1950s. However, it takes on a life and depth of its own, and is remarkable for its sensitive portrayal of how racism destroys both victim and perpetrator. 
One of the most compelling aspects of Campbell's narrative is that she does show compassion and a deep understanding for the lives of poor southern whites. She tries to penetrate their consciousness without excusing their acts of violence. This leads to a greater understanding of why such atrocities could take place. The villains are mostly motivated by fear-fear of being seen as weak, for instance. It would be easier to not see them as human, but healing and prevention of future tragedies can only come from greater understanding. 
Campbell's insights and skills as a storyteller make this a wonderful read, and her retelling of one of the most horrendous miscarriages of justice in the civil rights period (Emmett Till's murderers never did jail time) make this a book no one should ever miss.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yeah! I'm sticking to Black History Year!!!

Number 51

I’m pretty sad today.  One of my best friends, Natalie, left yesterday to go back to see her family and back to Damascus, Syria for work.  Her and I work for the same agency, but she travels more than I do.  I have been to London, Switzerland, South America and other places overseas, and it has been the best part of my career, but my friend Natalie, she has to stay 2 years, where my assignments were usually 6 to 8 weeks at a time.
We got a chance to hang out with our other “Sex in the City Black Women Friends” and talk and talk.  You know the conversations, who is involved and who is getting married. I’m happy to say, one of us is still married to her high school sweetheart, another has finally closed out a bad relationship to be blessed with a marriage proposal from a really good guy and another  has met someone who meets all of her expectations and more.  I hope to hear a marriage proposal from her soon.  We talk about books, movies and places we been and places to go, but this year, it’s more about what do we do next.  Kids are either in college and ready to move on and our careers are OK, but could be better and if there is a “relationship” is out there  or do we go back to the old one we are comfortably with.  
For me, this is the continuing drag strip (it feels like it) on my Dave Ramsey/Michelle Singletary (You know I had to get a black women in there it can’t always be a white man telling me how to save and spend my money.  Her books are - THE POWER TO PROSPER: 21 DAYS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM - $3.99   and SPEND WELL, LIVE RICH: HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT WITH THE MONEY YOU HAVE - $8.25  Spend Well, Live Rich: How to Get What You Want with the Money You Have ).  It’s hard, but I got to get control over my money and get my kid out of college and into a job, but no relationship for me.  I got out of a relationship two years ago, and I don’t have the energy to keep up with a “man” and keep my finances and God relationship on track. I got to  get back on track and stay there a while.  Besides, I have three boyfriends, God, Jesus and the IRS.  They got you in life and death, especially that damn IRS, sucker keeps on going like the energizer bunny.  When you see that bunny, don’t you just want to smash the day lights out of it!!  OK, I’m losing it now because I'm having visions of killing a toy bunny, get to books.

DERRICK BARNES - MAKING OF DR. TRUELOVE - $7.99 - - - When sexual uncertainty creeps into lovable Diego Montgomery's love life and goofs up his brewing romance with his lifetime crush, Roxy, he contrives a scheme with his friend J to win her back. Together, the two invent an online sex-pert personality for Diego, Dr. Truelove, whose cocky personality and worldly wise tips on the ins and outs of love soon raise him to celebrity status, both at school and in the community. Things slide out of control, however, when J decides to be the physical manifestation of Dr. Truelove, and his antics land both teens more notoriety and partners of the female persuasion. Barnes's slick, Omar Tyree-like twist on the guy-tries-to-get-the-girl story is in-your-face and chock-full of sexual innuendos and situations that start on page one, and will no doubt cause many younger readers to raise an eyebrow. Still, the youthful high school humor keeps it from veering too far into Zane territory, and romance and urban-fiction fans will no doubt love the saucy comebacks, sexy language, and sheer ridiculousness that befalls Diego and J on their Cyrano-like journey to love.
MONICA MARIE JONES - SWAG - $1.99  - - - Noelle Dresden stepped out on faith and left her full-time job to pursue her passion: singing. Six months later, her singing career hasn't gone much of anywhere and neither has her relationship with her charismatic, yet sneaky boyfriend, Jonah. Although Jonah loves Noelle, he’s not willing to give her the commitment and ring she so desperately wants. After Jonah uses Noelle’s hopes of an engagement for his benefit, Noelle gets fed up and decides to move forward with her career with or without Jonah.  Her pursuit leads her to accept an invitation to be a house guest on the popular, hit reality show, House of Swag. On the show, aspiring entertainers with the potential to take it to the next level are trained to become multifaceted mega stars. While in the house, Noelle catches the eye of the show’s creator, Monroe "Paper" Chase. He uses his good looks and smooth talk to charm her, then he uses his money and power to attempt to subtract Jonah from the equation. Drama only escalates when Noelle has to deal with an envious, hating house guest who is not beyond trying to bring Noelle down to get ahead.  As Noelle rises toward super stardom, she has some difficult choices to make. What lies ahead of her looks so much better than what she has left behind. Will she work to keep the love that she and Jonah shares alive, or will she choose fame, fortune and a man who can make all of her dreams come true?
MONICA MARIE JONES - FLOSS - $1.99When Jones opens the cautionary tale with main characters and childhood friends Abel (the party animal/closet Christian), Solomon (the follower), and Jabez (the ultimate ladies man) you have an instant sense of familiarity. Abel and Jabez are the epitome of the successful, attractive brothers that every woman wants and every man secretly wants to be like-including Solomon. Back in the 90's we would have called him a "Perpetrator" because while he may always step out of the house looking like a million bucks, he's stepping out of his mother's house with his room in the basement and name on the orange juice. Tyse is on the same level as Solomon. Although he doesn't live with his mother his struggle is the same to acquire the status, success and acceptance of the likes of Jabez and Abel so he can get the attention of women like Torah and Dionysus.  Dionysus is the ultimate show stopper with looks that can make a blind man take notice and a homeless man give her his last penny. Fully aware of the impact she has on men Dionysus never passes up an opportunity to use her feminine wilds to get any and everything she wants. While the paper chase runs in the family her cousin Torah lacks some of her natural beauty and level of skills, which often results in Dionysus taking advantage of her. Unfortunately her tendency to underestimate Torah leads to an ill-fated turn of events that affects the lives of everyone involved and leaves someone wearing a toe tag.  This page turning thriller is sure to be an instant best seller with its tale of how easy it is to get caught up and caught out there when your desire to Floss gets the best of you. 
I dated a brother who lived with his mother.  Can you believe he still had the same room from when he was a kid, and it was the worse room I have every seen.  I'm not talking about a young man, this man was 40 years old.  Clothes every where, food stuck on plates, an old TV, crap coming out of the closet on to the floor and the funk would kill you.  That was it for me.  I left the house and got into my car and ran.  Oh, I forgot, he also did not have a car, was using his mother’s.  Sick, sick, and more sick.  
TRACI BEE - TWO TEARS IN A BUDGET - $2.99 - - - Betrayed by her cold, callous mother and abused by her alcoholic stepfather, eighteen-year-old Simone Woodard is kicked out of the house like a bag of trash and left to survive on her own. While struggling to create a life for herself, her beauty and innocence captivate Kevin Kennard, a handsome, hazel-eyed felon with an addiction to all things illegal. For the first time in Kevin’s life, real love has him rethinking his criminal path. But the action on the streets won’t take a backseat to Simone. Who will win this tug of war? 
SYLVIA HUBBARD - STEALING INNOCENCE II: THE RAVISHMENT - $2.00 - - - Here’s a comment from a reviewer who has read her other books, “First let me say I've read all of Ms Hubbard’s book and I love her writing, But after reading STEALING INNOCENCE 1 -  $1.00 -stealing innocence I - -  this just seemed like the same story all over again. I loved Niches character though, but the big brooding angry black man thing is getting a little old. I still recommend the book and will continue to buy whatever she write.
TONY LINDSAY - MORE BOY THAN GIRL - $9.99 - - -  The story of Dai Break Jones is the story of a woman with aggressive ambition born into a man's world. She never accepted the thought that a woman had her place. Born the only child to the founder of one of Chicago's largest street organizations, Dai Break Jones accepted her position of royalty, and stood toe to toe against all foes. More Boy than Girl is Street Lit at its finest. It is a hard core story, about a hard core world.
CLAUDIA MAIR BURNEY - MURDER, MAYHEM & A FINE MAN - $9.99 - - - How's a woman supposed to grapple with faith, a fine man, and turning thirty-five when she keeps tripping in her high heels over mysteries -- and not just the God kind?  Amanda Bell Brown knows that life as a forensic psychologist isn't quite as cool as it looks on prime-time TV. But when she turns thirty-five with no husband or baby on the horizon, she decides she's gotta get out and paint the town in her drop-dead red birthday dress. Instead, she finds herself at the scene of a crime and she just may know who the killer is. She needs to spill her guts, but not on the handsome lead detective's alligator shoes, especially if she wants him to ask her out. A complicated murder investigation unearths not just a killer but a closet full of skeletons Amanda thought were long gone. Murder, mayhem, and a fine man are wreaking havoc on her birthday, but will her sleuthing leave her alive to see past thirty-five?

Got to stick on one for Black History Year.  

CHESTER HIMES - A RAGE IN HARLEM - $12.99 - - -  For the love of Imabelle, Jackson loses his life savings to a con man, steals from his boss, and loses the stolen money at the crap table. A true classic black murder mystery by the best.
Himes knew crime from the inside.  He spent seven years in prison for armed robbery and was in jail that he started to write.  Most of his novels are crime/comedy with very offbeat elements and larger than life characters, or maybe life itself was actually larger in his world than in ours, a quote from Tuna.  
The movie stars Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, who died in 2003 and was one of the best actor and tap dancer around, and Bill Duke, another great actor who played in Predator, Hoodlum with Lawrence Fishburne and directed this movie. 
If you want to see another movie made from another book by him, try “Cotton Comes to Harlem” from 1970.  Directed by Ossie Davis and staring Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques and Calvin Lockhart.  You might as well get the movie and have a good laugh because you will not believe the trash talking and the clothes we actually wore and thought we were the coolest thing around.  Soul Train, here we come.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!! It's Still Black History Year

Number 50

Ok, now I’m going to catch you up with a few things I have done over the past two weeks.  On Wednesday, January 26, the Director and Deputy Director of the Charleston County Libraries with a a few staff members.  The Director and President, as well as some board members (one of them me) of the Friends of the Charleston County Library took a trip to Columbia, SC to meet with Congressmen, Senators and representatives on funding for SC libraries.  The University of SC, The Arts were also there begging to halt their funding cut too.  Representative Harry B. “Chip” Limehouse III (He did not seem the least interested in anything), Representative J. Seth Whipper (Very handsome and intelligent African American), Representative Robert L.Brown, Leonidas E.”Leon” Stavrinakis and others.  We met with the Ways and Means Committee and then were taken up to the balcony of the House to be introduced.  While up there I saw so much rudeness.  They were talking while the speaker was trying to get their attention on the next representative to come up and speak on his/her subject.  I saw one young African American male dancing.  What the hell was he doing dancing!  I thought this was the State house of SC.  I guess I was wrong.  After the balcony stop, we returned back downstairs to wait for either a House/Senate representative to come out and speak to us.  There were other companies representatives and lobbyist there as well.  I did walk up to the “dancing” representative when he came out and introduced myself as one of the library supporters and asked him to support the library and also asked him what county was he from.  He gave me a hard look and said, “You don’t who I am.? At that point, I stated, “No, I don’t.  I do not know every single representative in South Carolina, so once again, what county are you from, please”?  He told me and said, “yeah, yeah, I support the library,” and walked off.  Pissed me off.  I’m trying to be cordial and this man is being rude!  I was told later that he is the youngest representative in the house and his father was some famous photographer.  So that means, he is allowed to be rude and think his shit don’t stink.  It does!  Well, I’m still looking for info on him and will let you know.  
I was impressed with one particular African American woman who I watched from the balcony.  She was elegant, poised and beautiful, Mia Butler Garrick of Richland, South Carolina.  When she also came out of the House side, I walked up and introduced myself and told her that, “I was proud to met her and very honored to see such a beautiful woman carry herself in such a graceful manner.”  I also stated, “that I’m sure her mother is very proud of her.”  She thanked me so humbly and told me she has and always will support the library and that her mother was a librarian.  I am writing her a letter to tell her again how impressed I was with the way she carried herself and if I can volunteer in any way to continue her work.  Man!! we black woman are good!!
Some of the representatives were very supportive, others did not seem to care.  I guess I can understand.  Their job is not easy, but weren’t they expected to at least listen to all of the voters who put them in office and try to work things out honestly?  
Our new Governor, Nikki Haley, has said, more cuts are coming and so has every other politicians.  I understand, I truly do.  I know and see people out of work, money is tight and funding cuts every where.  Even us Federal Government employees are going without a pay raise for two years and now may go 5 or 10 days without pay sometime this year.  I also know we would not be in this mess if people were not so greedy, ‘Wall Street’.  I’m sorry, I do not feel bad for the person who brought a house they knew in their hearts they could not afford, but they also did not know they were going to lose their jobs either.  I went thru hell getting a mortgage.  I had to have perfect credit, money down and could show that I can pay for it every month.  Now, like everyone else, I’m struggling too!  My electric, water, gas, which is damn near $3.00 a gallon.  Food has good up so much that I could not believe last week that a gallon of milk is now $4.00.  I drink a gallon a week! Now they want to cut funding for the Arts, School, Libraries and social services.  How many more cuts can we take!
They forget that the library is not just for books.  Libraries have free, I said, ‘FREE’ classes on computers, starting your own business, writing that novel you put off, excel, word.  Movies, free children programs and most important, free usage of the internet.  The Friends of the Charleston County Libraries have book sales so that we can use the money to keep these ‘FREE’ programs going.  Many states have a “Friends” in their libraries.  To cut out funding for something needed more now than ever, is a crime.  We can make other cuts.  How about cutting down the salary of these Congressmen and Senators.  Who do they think they are fooling?  Aren’t they part of the Wall Street mega scheme!  I’m sure you know of other cuts they can make, just not children or the elderly.  We need them.  
The picture, that’s me standing in front of the State House.  You can't see my face, but hey, that may be a good thing LOL!!   I’ve I talked to much and need to get back books.  
RAN WALKER - I CAN’T HELP IT: FIVE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES - $.99 - Ran Walker just commented on the Amazon thread, “African American Kindle Users,” and I brought it.  Hey, it was only 99 cents and it looks pretty good.  The title of this collection of short stories comes from the Michael Jackson song featured on his Off The Wall album. The song was written by Stevie Wonder, and I figured it would be a fitting title to this particular collection of shorts stories. The notion of being unable to help oneself in either love or life is something we can all relate to. The characters in these stories are no different.

In “A Night With Nina Simone,” Jasper hopes to find one last connection with his ex-girlfriend. In “Discovering Charles Buckner,” Charles, a guy with low self-esteem, learns that there is more to him than meets the eye. In the humorous tale “A Theory on Toilet Paper,” Aaron watches a date disintegrate because of a little ice cream. “Sixteen Bars” takes us through a college professor’s dilemma to participate on student’s mistake. And finally, “Dancing in My Dreams” shows what Kyle is willing to go through to keep love alive.
These stories represent various perspectives on black men and relationships. In some fundamental way, the characters “can’t help it” in the choices they make, but I’m sure you, the reader, are all the better for those choices.
CALEB ALEXANDER - TWO THIN DIMES - $9.99 - - This humorous tale of love and triumph ties two unlikely suitors together in a merry mix of plotting and gossip. On one side is R&B superstar, Jamaica, and on the other is the passionate, but impoverished Tameer. When the two are brought together in what is meant to be a temporary relationship,  arranged by Jamaica's best friend and personal assistant LaChina,  both are surprised when true feelings burst onto the scene and disrupt everyone's plans.  With Tameer's drunken father, Jamaica's socialite mother, and a band of super-ghetto, meddling friends all blended together.  Two Thin Dimes becomes a hilarious, topsy-turvy fight for love in a world gone mad.
ASHA BANDELE - DAUGHTER - $10.99 - - - This first novel by the author of the acclaimed memoir The Prisoner's Wife - $10.99 tells a tragic, too-familiar story: a promising young African-American is mistakenly shot by the police in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Nineteen-year-old Aya has been getting her life together after a brush with the law and is working hard to earn a college degree. Only the coolness of her beautiful, distant single mother, Miriam, prevents her from being truly happy. When Aya is gravely wounded, Miriam is forced to face her own past and examine her emotionally arid life. Shifting focus rather clumsily, Bandele chronicles Miriam's strict upbringing and forbidden romance with sweet Bird, an ambitious janitor. Miriam loses Bird just before Aya is born, and when Aya is taken from her, too, she resorts to violence. Though she ends up in prison, she is finally able to tentatively connect with others again, meditating on a line by Aya's favorite poet, Sonia Sanchez: "I shall become a collector of me/ And put meat on my soul." Bandele tells her story in simple language, though plaintive asides ("have you ever told me a joke, Mommy, or kissed me just because?"), and italicized laments ("Oh God, didn't I pay with Bird?") give the novel a sentimental veneer. Bandele's low-key take on a grim aspect of the urban black experience stands in refreshing contrast to more sensationalistic renditions, but Miriam's muddled final epiphany will leave readers wishing for something more.
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES - PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER - AN ALEX POWELL NOVEL - one cent used - - - Here’s a review by customer,  “The heroine, Alexa Powell, is a light-skinned, quick with a quip African-American columnist who knows how to live well. This is made abundantly clear to us while she plays a slick game of Sleuth during which she and her ostentatiously well-educated, well-off African-American/colored/Black, as she calls them interchangeably, pals cavort through fine hotels, posh resorts and tony restaurants. The author, also light-skinned, evidently has a race-related chip on her shoulder the size of Hoover Dam. As a woman of color who is also a writer, I wished she would stop bashing us over the head with her contempt of Caucasians and get on with writing a witty novel with very appealing characters. Now that it's hopefully out of her system, maybe she'll relax and instead of taking every opportunity to snipe at "WPs", she'll let Alex be the smart, intuitive babe we all know she is under that touchy I'm-so-colored-and-don't-you-forget-it carapace.”  Well, I've never!
J. M. BENJAMIN - RIDE OR DIE CHICK - $9.99 - - - This is the first in the series.  Ride or Die Chick II - $8.41 used paperback.  Treacherous Freeman was never given a fair chance in life from the day he was born. Never having the opportunity to know his biological mother, he was raised by his father, who happened to be a notorious gangster. Deprived of a normal childhood, his father educated him on what awaited him on the streets of Virginia. When the time comes for Treacherous to make some sudden decisions, he has no idea they will land him in the very place that he is trying to avoid. Teflon Jackson is a beautiful woman who is the end result of a horrible union. Having a loving mother who was a prostitute and a pimp for a father, Teflon's childhood was far from a fairytale. Bearing witness to the abusive relationship between her parents, Teflon was determined not to follow her mothers footsteps. Tragedy strikes and Teflon finds herself having to utilize all of the tricks that her mother taught her after she is forced into the streets to fend for herself. Years later, Treacherous and Teflon's paths cross. What starts out as a potentially bad situation genuinely blossoms into a bond that becomes unbreakable. Ride or Die Chick, The Story of Treacherous and Teflon is about two people who come from nothing and are willing to sacrifice anything to gain everything. This is a modern day tale of Bonnie & Clyde and built on a love that is stronger than that of Romeo and Juliet. A bonafide gangster, Treacherous is confident that he can't lose, as long as he has his ride or die chick!

Got to stick on one for Black History Year.  
J. CALIFORNIA COOPER - HOMEMADE LOVE - $7.50 Paperback - - - 
I brought this book in 1986.   A first edition.  To this day, I re-read it over and over again.  These are short stories of love, sex and family told in first person narrative.  Interracial love, an ugly woman who makes a killing selling beauty products.  In “When Life Begins,” a mother of a “kinda retarded” child is molested by an uncle, she prays that she is not pregnant, “but Satan heard the prayer and this being mostly his world and God looking a little further down the road, she got pregnant.”  Mama does confront the uncle and tells him off. She also tells him that in his stew, “I mixed that baby’s shit and some of mine and all of the spiders and roaches and caterpillars I could grind up! Just for you!! I hope some of em poison!”  Is payback a bitch, or what? Cooper writes the way she talks, real and funny.  During these hard, hard times, it nice to go back and read stories you read a long time ago and it still make you laugh.