National Black Book Festival

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Love Houston!!! and Love Books!!!

NUMBER 73

Another more exciting part of my trip, other than Earth, Wind and Fire!!!! I’m still screaming about Verdine White!!!! and you know this was coming, a visit to the local library.  Houston, and yes I counted them and looked them up to see how far in walking distance from the hotel they were before I left for my trip, has over 20 libraries.  Yes, over 20 libraries.  Some are for specific subjects, such as “Small Business Development Library,” “Library Management Svc,” and others.  I walked to the library two blocks from the hotel. 
Can you believe I got that lucky.  I was in Heaven.  Their computer center has 25 computers and you stand up to use them, like standing at a bar.  I guess this keeps the guest from taking up too much allotted time.  You sign in and wait until your number is reflected on the monitor on the wall.  Such advance technology.  I signed up just watch to the monitor and look it over.  We do not have anything like that in Charleston or my home town of DC, if I remember.  It is two story gray building with glass door entrance.  The building has a very modern look from a distance like a museum.  Inside, a large displaying area of pictures and/or paintings from various photographers and artist.  That week, they had black and white photographs of high school kids from the 70s in a band, learning a instrument or being instructed by a teacher or local jazz band.  You look at those pictures and remember what it was like to have a big Afro Bush.  How did we really comb that nappy hair?  The first floor has the computer center as I stated before and a large fiction/non-fiction selections.  They had books in that area that I had not seen in years.  The second floor was filled with many and various children and youth books.  Your child would be impressed.  They also have a Friends of the Library and I joined that as well as join the library.  My card is valid for a year, which means I will be back a few more times.  Got to find cheap flying deals!!! and I will find them!!!
HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
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STEPHANIE MORRIS - STAKING HIS CLAIM - $5.99 - Remember a few blogs back I was talking about interracial dating.  Here’s another writer I met at the National Black Book Festival (NBBF) and when you check out her web page, www.stephaniemorris.webs.com, you will noticed many of her books has a black women and a white man.  Whoa!!!! your horses!!! (Am I becoming a cowgirl!!).  If you like BRENDA JACKSON, FRANCIS RAY and other romance writers, add Ms. Morris to your list.  I just finish reading STAKING HIS CLAIM and I know, I know, you are saying, “please, another romance book, but this time with a “white guy.”!!! “I do not think so!!  Give it a chance.  Her writing is fast, smooth and yes, it does have a happy ending.  You know you want a “happy” ending to your own life, so add some of her books to your library.  It just might get you to thinking about, “maybe,” “maybe.”
Leslie, a girl left pregnant, broke and hurt by a “but-hole,” is heading back home to get a job and raise the child by herself in Casselton, North Dakota.  There exist such a place and yes, black folks live there.  
During a severe snow storm (Is there any other?), her car breaks down.  She finds a house with a light on and knocks on the door, Blake (White guy with Iraq issues lives there), of course, what else would it be.  He sees her and says, under his breath, “Who in the hell could be out in weather like this this?  “Now, come on?” you know what’s going to happen next.  They are now stuck at his house for three days due to the storm.  “Come on!!!”  I knew that was coming!!!, but wait, when she first enters the house and she sees his blue eyes, her insides start to shake and shimmer just as his insides start glazing over her body, until he finds she is pregnant.  She ignores her feelings at first sight, because she is pregnant by the guy who dumped her, and he is white too and don’t see a need to get involved in another man.  They do get involved and it’s cute and soft.  
Ms. Morris romance book may seem like an old Harlequin/Silhouette book with the cover of a woman’s hair blowing in the wind leaning against a guy with his shirt off.  I don’t ever remember my hair blowing in the wind leaning against a guy with his shirt off, but, I got some serious nappy hair.  Maybe it doesn’t work for nippiness.  After seeing this book cover with Leslie standing with her arms crossed and Blake standing there looking like a some Italian mob guy in the Sopranos and the back drop of a log cabin covered in snow, I just thought this was just another cookie romance book to read quick while on the plane, train or bus.  I was right and wrong.  It’s a good old fashioned story with a happy ending.  It was like have a great glass of wine, soft, supple and slow to go down, but I like it.   I’m on a roll now, the next book.
Ashley Bennett is a physical therapist burnt out from the job because of all of the rich, spoiled patients she has had to put up with. She moves back to San Angelo, TX (Oh! Oh! there’s my favorite city again, Houston!!!) to be closer to her family and friends. She has made enough money to live comfortably for a little while until she decides what she wants to do. Unfortunately things don’t go as she planned. Upon stopping by the hospital where she started out in physical therapy, she runs into her old mentor. While there, her help is enlisted for a patient who needs her expertise. When she finds out the new patient is Christopher Morgan, her world is sent into a tailspin. She and Chris have a history. They have been friends since the age of five, and she had kept a secret from him. It is a secret that could rock the foundation of their friendship. She is in love with him.
Christopher Morgan feels like he is having the worst luck in the world lately. His mother is an awful meddlesome matchmaker distracting him from being able to find the woman of his dreams on his own. It only gets worse when his horse training session goes awry and he ends up in the hospital. To top it all off he is told his new physical therapist is Ashley Bennett, his childhood friend and the woman he has secretly been in love with for years. He had no idea she was back in town, but now that he does he doesn't plan to let her go.  Is this cute or what!!! You are probably going, Get Real!!!
STEPHANIE MORRIS -  HER EVERY FANTASY (THE SMITH SISTERS) - $5.99 - - - Kayla Smith is looking for a man that can satisfy her every need (I’m looking too sister!!!) and she has found him only he doesn’t want the job. James Feldon has suffered through a messy marriage and has the scars to prove it. He isn’t ready to become involved with another. Although he didn’t realize how difficult that would be until Kayla became his teenage daughter's teacher. To make matters worse, all four of his children have decided that they want a new mother, and they have chosen Kayla putting a completely different spin on his carefully laid out plan.
Now wait a damn minute!!! How come this crap’ola romance don’t happen to me!!! Where have I been?
R. M. JOHNSON - KEEPING THE SECRET - $2.99 - - - Lauren is a beautiful cheerleader, in love with Ebban, a star high school basketball player. But is it true love if they haven’t made love? Lauren pushes Ebban to consummate their relationship, but he hesitates and won’t tell her why. Meanwhile, Ebban is engaging in behavior he knows he shouldn’t be, and hates himself for it. It’s a terrible secret he keeps from Lauren, and his family and prays they’ll never discover it. But when Sebastian, Lauren’s best friend, is grabbed and brutally beaten, he decides to get revenge by digging up dirt and blackmailing the boys who assaulted him. Unfortunately, those boys happen to be Ebban and his teammates. One by one, Sebastian sets each boy up, and takes him out. Now, the closer Sebastian comes to discovering Ebban’s involvement in the horrific beating, the closer he comes to revealing Ebban’s tortured secret, and telling Lauren. If found out, everything, and everyone Ebban holds dear could be lost
Got to stick on one for Black History Year.  
While having our monthly Literary Divas of the LowCountry book club meeting, someone asked who wrote the book “The Wedding.”  Well, here it is and it’s one of her best.
DOROTHY WEST - THE WEDDING:  A NOVEL - $9.99 - - - You may have seen the TV movie version in 1988 with Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, Carl Lumbly, Charlayne Woodard. a little known actor, Deji LaRay who has played in CSI:NY, Without a Trace, Lincoln Heights, Charmed and other TV shows.  He is very good and of course not enough of our young black actors in TV and movies.
We should band all movies unless they have a black actor.  Even a small part is enough to get me to the theatre.  Hey, that’s just me.  I love all kinds of movies fro the 40s to now, and I am always looking for that black actor in it.  I’m weird like that and love it.  Now, here’s what The Wedding is about and I do have the original book.  
The tranquility of a late summer weekend in 1953 is shattered by a tragic accident in this spare, affecting novel by one of the last surviving members of the Harlem Renaissance. The Oval, the exclusive black enclave on Martha's Vineyard, prepares for the marriage of Shelby Coles, daughter of one of the community's most admired couples. Shelby's choice of white jazz musician Meade Wyler awakens dormant but unresolved racial issues in her family, which includes her physician father, enduring a loveless but socially proper union; her mother, confronting a dwindling pool of partners for her discreet affairs, and her great-grandmother, who dreams of escaping her ambivalence by returning to her aristocratic Southern roots. The arrival of black artisan Lute McNeil upsets the precarious equilibrium of the Oval when his aggressive pursuit of Shelby leads to disaster. Through the ancestral histories of the Coles family, West (The Living Is Easy) subtly reveals the ways in which color can burden and codify behavior. The author makes her points with a delicate hand, maneuvering with confidence and ease through a sometimes incendiary subject. Populated by appealing characters who wrestle with the nuances of race at every stage of their lives, West's first novel in 45 years is a triumph. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

National Black Book Festival 2011 Part 2


NUMBER 72 
I am still riding high from my trip to Houston, Texas.  It’s been one week since I returned and I’m still having the most positive and happy thoughts about the National Black Book Festival (NBBF) and Houston itself.  With the walking thru as much of the areas of Houston I could walk, seeing the museums and theatre district, and hanging out with the authors before and after until late at night talking about the book business, their old and current books, their life in general and the opening of a new Urban/Christian book store in Houston! Possible!, I had my fill and then some.  You may think you know an author, but when you get to sit down with them and have drink and talk about every day life, you find how so many of them have been there and done that and how they have taken what they have lived thru and wrote it down.  
Have you ever thought of doing that same thing?  I know I have, but I’m not a writer, I’m just a blogger writing down things that mean the world to me, reading, kids and books.  That’s my life and I have lived and breath books since birth.  Being at the NBBF, I felt like I was in my, “elemental and groovacious world.”  It was moments and days that I felt more alive and happy in a long time.  It wasn’t just meeting and hanging out with the authors, it was Houston itself.  I walked so much, I never got tired or hot and it was hot as hell, from 90 to 100 degrees.  I don’t have a perm in my hair, so I just let it hang out and sweat back.  It was glorious, walking around with my hair out like a “back to Africa, won’t get a comb thru those nappeness naps,” seeing the tall buildings, museums, theatre district, restaurants and a beautiful park to walk, ride your bike or bring your doggy.  I was in HEAVEN!!!! and I’m going back in a few months.  Let’s get to some of the authors I met and got to know at the NBBF and their books:
I hung out the whole time I was there with Tina Brooks McKinney.  She is intelligent, funny and knows the book business and book fairs like the back of her hand.  She offered me good insight on how much an author cherish book clubs and these types of venues.  The NBBF was not all that she expected, probably because the amount of customers was low.   There were over 100 authors selling and signing their books, but you could see so many of the tables and other rooms scheduled did not have as many people as it could had been.  To me, that was a very sad state and one of the reasons I informed the authors at the “Welcome to Houston” dinner how so many people are not aware of you because they don’t see your books in major book stores and there's not enough of your traffic on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.  So I told them when it was my turn, you know I was going to push it, try my blog and tell me if I’m not making enough noise to at least get you out there in the public.  Become friends with as many book clubs as you can, we do love you guys and we want to read more.  I hope it works.  Here’s McKinney’s books:
Snapped - $7.99 - - - It has been a while since I read this, so I will try to remember, if not I will check Amazon to see if I got it right.  Merlin’s father turned his back on him and he has made some changes and married a good woman, but old family drama comes back to haunt him as well as his twin brother, Gina and her “drama” husband with children.  They will eventually “snapped” if they don’t get rid of the demons from the past.  If I remember correctly, this book had me up all night because I had to find out what the big secrets were and how they handled them.  Good and fast read.
All That Drama - $7.99 - - - I got this while at NBBF.  You want a good laugh? You want to get pissed and cry more than you expect too? Then you need to read this, drama after drama after drama.  Sammie Davis was accustomed to chaos in her life and for her, it has always been that way.  Marie Morgan, a single mother of two, is currently separated from her husband. One day on the way to work Marie meets Sammie in an Atlanta subway station. With her short skirts, high heels, and occasional birdcage hairdo, Sammie is everything Marie is not -- fearless, brazen, flamboyant, and completely unselfconscious. A woman who flaunts her wild unconventionality, Sammie exudes self-confidence and dares to laugh at life. Soon Marie is feeling empowered by her new friend; as Marie's "freeway of choice," Sammie is always on hand whenever Marie feels the urge to be a little wild. Yet beneath her facade of bravado and sexual abandon, Sammie conceals her own deep pain and a dark history that gradually comes to light.  Isn’t there always some damn deep dark secret?  Well, I’m still going to read it and see what happens.  I tell you, we woman got some serious issues!!!
Deep Deception - $6.99 Paperback only - - -
LAWD, MO’DRAMA - $10.99 - - - We cannot get enough drama.  I think it’s because we realize when we read some of these books, that we are truly blessed!!! Some of these, well, I should say, many of these books are from real life but with a little bit of fiction in them or maybe lots of fiction.  Sammie, from "ALL THAT DRAMA" is back and survived bad men, bad marriage, murder, bad bosses and more drama.  

Dubious - $9.99 - - - I started reading this on the plane because Tina gave me a copy and I was honor to read it then and there, but half way through, I got a little nervous and wonder like hell how and why.  Felicia Clark finds out why her husband no longer touches her and when she does, it’s not hell, it’s a different hell and I would not wish that on a dog.
FOOL STOP TRIPPING - $10.99 - - - Like I have said, don’t judge a book because of it’s cover or because it appears to be “urban.”  You will be surprised how much the story means to you or to someone you know who needs to see the light and move forward. Give them a try.
When Tarcia finds out the man she's been trying to snag already has a family, she becomes desperate and willing to go to any lengths to get back what she's lost, even when it means tearing up another family to pin this married man down for herself. (Have you seen or heard that before in real life??) Claiming pregnancy is just another move for her, but one that might end her up in jail.

At the same time, Sammie, a familiar character, is battling through her own relationship problems as well, and her insecurities are hijacking any chance she might have for happiness. And while Jasmine, Sammie's half-sister, tries to help her make it through the tough times, she might end up as more of a hindrance to Sammie's emotional well-being.

As the characters search for the perfect life, readers are put in tune with their boiling emotions and learn the cost of basing one's happiness on having a mate. How far should one go in pursuing love, and what happens when all these go-getter's start trippin' over each other in the chase? 

Mr. Robert Moore, author of THE PRESIDENT’S MEN: BLACK UNITED STATES MARSHALS IN AMERICA - Was the author at the "Welcome to Houston Dinner," asked, "You can have this $5.00 in my hand if you tell me who was the first black marshal?  No one could, but it was Frederick Douglass.
Mr. Moore is a retired United States Marshal who was appointed by President Clinton in 1994-2002.  This is his book about the first to the current African American United States Marshals.  Their contributions and achievements.  Mr. Moore has put together a 222 year history of this position, it’s politics, policies, society, race and the Presidents who appointed them.  This is a great book for black history.  You know we do not, repeat, do not have enough African Americans in positions of power.  Let’s get us or our next generation together to fix this now!!!
The book can be brought at Borders (If you can find one still opened) or online at www.blackpoliceresource.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Black History - National Black Book Festival 2011

NUMBER 71

I know, I know, I have not submitted anything since May 30 and my ding dong but got to get back on track.  I have been overwhelmed, nervous, jittery, bored and just damn tired.  Not from telling all of you about books, no way, I just got back from Houston, Texas attending and volunteering at the National Black Book Festival (NBBF).  I was just getting more and more excited to go, but the job and my life was just getting on my last damn nerve and I was beginning to get more tired as each day went by before my trip.  
Have you noticed that when you are getting ready to go on a vacation, everything goes wrong at the last minute.  You start to wonder if you will have enough money, will you have problems getting on the plane and if the plane or airline will have any issues.  Will the hotel stink to high heaven or at least be cleaner than some hotels you have stayed in.  Will you really meet some of your favorite authors or just the same ones you have seen before.  How come it’s so hard to get your friends to go with you?  They always have some excuse, whether it’s valid or not.  
Then you realize, “I need this vacation, very, very badly.  I was on vacation for two weeks in May, but that was to take care of the kid graduating from college, hanging out with her, taking her to DC to start work and graduate school and having one day to rest before returning to work.
This time this vacation was all about me!!! ME!!! and I was tired and pissed at the job, my life, everything!!! I was just tired and getting close to being depressed.  I got to the airport at 4:30 in morning, said a pray for me and others on the plane to arrive safely and it was on.  No turning back.  I’m getting my but on that plane and not looking back or feeling negative.  Got Damn it!!! it worked.  I had the greatest, most exciting, high spirit, thrilling, action-packed, intoxicating and invigorating time of my life in Houston.  I did not want to come back!!! For the next few weeks, and I’m sure much longer, I am going to tell you about my trip, some new and old authors who don’t just write good books, but with heart, soul and a bonhomie nature with some urban exploration.  It’s on, baby!, It’s on!!
MOSES MILLER - THE TRIFLING TIMES OF NATHAN JONES (NAN) - $9.99 - - - I met Mr. Miller at the NBBF and became friends with him and not just on facebook.  If you remember the Coca-Cola commercial with Tyrese Gibson, before he became a star, you saw a kid with a huge and beautiful smile, good teeth too!,  and a face filled with a beautiful softness and soul, that’s Moses Miller.  He is very self-effacing and humble.  He was standing there very quiet behind his table of books and if you did not walk up to him and ask him about his books, he would not move around much, but his friend, author, Tina Brooks McKinney, who I became very fast friends with and I will discuss her and her books as well, was leaving Houston the next day and asked me to help him sell his books at the fair.  She told me he is a good writer, but he is not a big pushy promoter of his books because he is so unassuming with a big heart.  I noticed that about him the first minute.  It was the first time I have every met him.  As a matter of fact, I brought three of his series of books on Nan for three of my book club friends, The Literary Divas of the Lowcountry, as well as assisted him in selling his books.  With my strong and happy attitude, we managed to get a lot sold and I enjoyed working and talking with him.  He was just so handsome and exciting to work with.  My heart would not stop skipping beats.  The man is good looking, especially with that smile.
This book is about two young black boys who lost their parents from a freak car accident caused by a PCP druggie nut case driving away from the police.  Nathan and his friend Joseph, who he met in an orphanage after the accident, find out that the same nut case is the one who killed both of their parents.  Their lives growing up faces many complications and road blocks.  Changes do come their way, sometimes good and sometimes bad.  It is an action pack book and you will not put it down until you are finished.
MOSES MILLER - NAN: THE GAME OF TRIFE - $9.99 - - - Nathan Nan Jones, a young man that never slept, just survived a vicious assassination attempt on his life. On the same cold streets of Brooklyn, Jada Dupri, a Black girl lost, desperately searches for some meaning to her tortuous life. Nan’s execution was sanctioned by the criminal underworld, in an elaborate plot to be carried out by a corrupt group of bloodthirsty NYPDTrife. A Black girl lost, a young man’s pain, a grandmother s guilt, a fugitive on the run, Choose your Chess piece or roll the dice and let the games begin.
MOSES MILLER - NAN: THE TRIFECTA - $9.99 - - - For some sins, even repentance and heartfelt prayer won't guarantee forgiveness. And for some cold hearted sinners, there is no desire to be forgiven for their misdeeds at all. Jada Dupri has survived many trifling times in her life, which would have easily consumed weaker individuals with a lot less resolve. However, for some reason she was still living, at least for the moment. From murder to mayhem, her young eyes had been exposed to many things. But, little does she know, death is looming ever so closely, with no plans of sparing her life ever again.
Nathan "Nan" Jones has finally been reunited with his family, but sanctity and salvation will be short lived. His weakness has always been his willingness to jeopardize himself for the sake of others. So, when a friend calls upon him in a desperate plea for help, he will be forced to return to the battlegrounds of Brooklyn to face his nemesis one final time.  For every ending there must be a beginning. And for every beginning there will most assuredly be an end.  Old enemies will reemerge, friends will be betrayed and many more lives will be lost.
These three books I have not read yet, but believe me when I sat down and really talked to Moses, I believed him when he said, he writes to help others understand that “urban” books are not what they appear, all ghetto.  Give it a try, you will be surprised.
On my last blog, I posted a few books on interracial relationship, so another author I met at the book fair had some books on the table that made me stop and look at the covers.  I stepped back to be sure I saw what I saw, white man and black woman.  Of course I got one and will now buy the others.  I like getting on a plane with a bunch of white folks, (You know not enough of us fly and I know, I know, gas and plane tickets are expensive, but you got to get out of your comfort zone and fly the hell somewhere!!), and they see the book cover.  It scares them.  Oh! Lord, there’s another black woman taking our “white men” away from us! I just laugh and say to myself, Oh!! too bad, suckers!!! 

STEPHANIE MORRIS - STAKING HIS CLAIM - $5.99 - - - Ms. Morris was another author at the book fair and her mother was with her.  Beautiful looking women and very pleasant.  She was another author I had the honor to meet and talk to.  She has been a romance writer for many years with very elegant and simple writing descriptions that gets to the point.  She talks the way she writes, damn good.
Here’s a recap - Leslie’s life is not the way she wanted it, so, she goes home to family to get it together.  You know the story, she meets older white guy, Blake Eaton and it’s on.  This was a quick read (My flight was only 2 hours and the second flight was about 45 minutes), but I finished it and it was sooooo! gooood!!! I’m ordering the rest.
GOT TO GET ONE IN FOR BLACK HISTORY - - - - 

AUDREY B. CHAPMAN - MAN SHARING: DILEMMA OF CHOICE, A RADICAL NEW WAY OF RELATING TO THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE - $4.00 used hardback - - - I’m not sure if any of you remember Ms. Chapman’s show on WHUR in DC.  It was many years ago when she started talking about sharing men.  Of course, many woman did not go for that, but here it is, 2011 and, you know what, isn’t that what is going on?  I, myself, is not into it, I still believe there is that one person for you, but everything ain’t equal as it should be.  You will probably get pissed and won’t buy the book because of the title, so go to you local library and see if they have it.  Maybe you and your girlfriends can tear the book apart.  Who knows!!!