National Black Book Festival


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Black Kindle - The Asylum dropped me!!


They're at it again, stupidity running amok in the streets.  A hotel clerk has been accused of using a guest’s credit card to rack up charges on and  Yes sir! there are some quality dating prospects out there in the world of match-making websites.  How dumb and desperate can you get?  I guess you can get very frenetic and brainless when you are horny!  

Well, It’s over.  It’s really over and I have returned from my amazing and fun vacation retreat.  Did not return to my full time job right away, but I did check in with the “Asylum at the Part Time Job.” I remembered I had changed the name to the “Sanctuary”.  That didn’t quite fit any more.  Maybe it never did; I just wanted to be nice.  I just keeping thinking how those people have gone over the edge and they are not returning to reality any time soon or at all.  All in a straight jacket.

Before I left for my vacation, I submitted a letter to the new manager letting him know when I will be returning.  A few days prior to that, the manager of less than three months was fired.  Poor fellow.  He didn’t have a chance.  I kinda of enjoyed working with him.  He gave it his best shot and tried to make some changes, but not much success.  I think the owners were hoping this manager would finally stop the loud music playing, rudeness to customers, stealing and the constant disappearing or not showing up for work.

When I walked into the office, I saw a note with my name on it saying that I was no longer needed.  The letter I had left with the two shift managers was obviously not read by the new manager.  Both shift managers informed me that they told him that they had read the letter and saw me leave it in his inbox. He claimed he did not see it.  So, he let me go.  

The shift managers were upset with the treatment I received, especially since I was one of the best employees there.  That, I must say is true.  Why didn't anyone call me and tell me I was being let go? Because they don't care.  This is just another fast food place where people come and go, are paid minimum wage, uneducated and rude.  Not all of them, but every month the company received reports from customers of the lousy service they received.  None about me, of course. This new manager had also hired 10 more people and cut down everyone’s hours to less than 30 a week.  I wonder why?  Do you hear “OBAMACARE!! in the wind?  

Oh, well, I said, crap happens and I need to move on.  I’m free!!! I picked up my last check, signed my release from jail papers and walked out of the “Asylum” with my head held high and without a straight jacket.  Hallelujah!!!!! There is a God!

Am I disappointed?  No.  I have been blessed.  I took this part time job because of the Dave Ramsey Plan.  That plan enabled me to let that crazy job go.  I’m not saying that I’m debt free.  No way, but the light at the end of that the tunnel is on full blast.  If I continue to keep the same steady and gazelle pace, I’m going to make it before I know it.  I will find another part job.  One at a bookstore or at Amazon.  It won’t be hard and I will continue to stay happy and positive.  

In a way, this was the best thing in the world.  I now have time to want to walk my dog more, read more books, cook better food, volunteer more, watch all of those DVDs that I brought for $5.00.  Have more time to relax at home.  Take up a class on opening up my own business.  Write a book.  Get better at writing my blog.  I think Im just going to enjoy the quiet time and put everything in God’s hand. 

Later, I will bring you up to date on the asylum staff.  Many of them flew over the cuckoo's nest for a long, long time.  For now, let's get to some books:

ERNESSA CARTER - THE AWESOME GIRL'S GUIDE TO DATING EXTRAORDINARY MEN - $4.99 - - - Stop, don't get the wrong idea that this is one of those dating book for black women.  It's one of the best books on how to accept your self, laugh at some of the crazy men out there and how to move your but and have fun, without always, always having a man around.  You will also laugh your but off about the lives and loves of:

Thursday (yes, that's her name) - Most people have one night stands, she has one month stands.  When they get too close or on her nerves, she dumps them.  Then she starts to have this recurring dream about a man with no face and her heart begins to tell her it's time to settle down.

Risa - She wants to be Rock Star, but will not let go of losing and getting back "The One."

Sharita - She is so much like my girlfriends who when they get a man, they disappear.  She has a great career, avoids social gatherings and will dump her best friends in a minute when a man comes crawling.  She returns as usual when the jackass dumps her, crying all the way home.

Tammy - A later bloomer to the group.  A rich girl with a flickle heart.

The first chapter will have you laughing and saying things like, "I got friends just like that or I do remember my girl friends when they were around 30 years old.  Reading this book got me thinking about Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan - Waiting to Exhale - $7.99) or Valley of the Dolls (Jacqueline Susann - Valley of the Dolls - $9.39) or The Man in 3B (Carl Weber - The Man in 3B) and so many books on weird relationships, finding and keeping love in girlfriend style.

I laughed at the beginning, but then I got bored.  I read that plot before.  It was reading just like any other book I have read before, but then, I got hit and hit hard.  Was at work reading it and did not move until it was done.  Yeah, I missed a few meetings and such at work, but who the hell cares.  I had to find out what the hell was going to happen next.  Bump the job, I need to finish this book.

You better go out and buy this book.  Buy it for your girlfriends and have a serious party on how so many antics in this book were done or being done by your friends.  It will make you go, "Damn, am I like that or was I like that?  Yes we were and Yes you are.

The Awesome Girl's Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men

MARKUS ZUSAK - THE BOOK THIEF - $3.99 - - - Here's another book you better go out and get now.  If you read, Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows - THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY - $8.99 - then you know you must, must read this. How do you read a book where the narrator is Death.  Slowly and steadily. The story that Death is telling revolves around a young girl, Liesel Meminger, living through World War II Germany during the Nazi's reign and how she endures though finding complete and utter pleasure in stealing and reading books, with the love and support of so many.  

I cried, laughed, learned Germany language, screamed with anger and then fell in love with the perseverance of the young girl.  Liesel was taken from her mother, her brother was the first one Death tells of taking, to live in a middle class community with foster parents.  A neurotic and screaming expletives, mostly in German foster mother; a loving foster father who teaches her how to read; Max, a jew who hides in the basement of her family's home; her best friend Rudy, a germany boy, who sees himself as Jessie Owen (The African American who won four gold medals at the 1036 Olympics. He was also repulse by that evil Hitler); and many others, but especially the reclusive Mayor's wife, who in a strange way provides the book thief the books. 

Through all of that evilness surrounding them, Death is describing his "takes" through the colors of the rainbows. The sky is gray and cold with soft streaks of slim lights, when he picks up a pilot after his plane crashes. He also has a devilish sense of humor.

I have never read a story by narrated by Death.  Creepy.  I also know this book will haunt me for the rest of my life. I read many books on the Holocaust, Jews, slavery and World War II, but never from this end of the spectrum - Death.  Please get this book. Share it with friends and young adults.  It's a slow and hard read a few pages in, but you won't put it down until the end. You got to find out if Death wins.

The Book Thief

Friday, October 11, 2013

Black Kindle - Vacation is over, Bah Humbug!!!


Before I arrived in Fredericksburg, I got a call about the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.  They did not have all of the details at the time, but we had family and friends working there and they were wondering if I had heard from any of them.  Sorry, I’m still on the road and there’s nothing I can do until I get home.
That phone call unnerved me a bit, so I started praying that no one close to me would be hurt.  A woman I had known for a long time was killed.  What the hell are we thinking sometimes, what the hell?!  Even crazier was a few days later, they showed on TV the Jackass 15 to 20 minutes before he started shooting in the hall way.  Damn, no one saw that?

I’m spent, back to my story.  Drove by more stores, more new homes and more Wal-Marts and Targets.  Where are these people coming from? And there it was…didn’t noticed it until I got closer to DC. The HOV lane is being extended from the Mixing Bowl (the mystified 495/395 five lanes of hell on wheel connection between DC, Maryland, and Virginia) all the way down to Richmond, Virginia.  OMG!!! The traffic. Billions and billions of cockroaches (cars) with overpowering-stressed-drug-induced-out of control speed demons heading to some place.  Jesus, how do they do it every day?
The madness of speed, loud music, newer and taller buildings, the surreal increase in population was immense.  Damn, do I miss home, though!  Such craziness and such an overwhelming need to rush from one place to another.  There were short, very short, and tight skirts on men and women.  Pink, blue, and green hair.  Seriously overweight women (for a minute I thought I was back in South Carolina).  The old black neighborhoods, especially the ones I grew up in, are turning into white, semi-wealthy neighborhoods with overpriced and refurbished houses.  Example: A white women walking or jogging with baby in carriage…seriously?  Restaurants and stores are catering to the elite with sushi, organic beer and other exotic foods on “H” street.  I really miss my original home, but I knew things would change, I just hoped it would change for the better.  It has in a way, just not in some areas.
But, boy do I miss home!!!
With the traffic, loud noise, overpriced homes, and undersexed or oversexed people (depending upon your view), clothes and food, I still love it!!!! I love my home and always will.  I have to come home periodically and breathe the spirit of the life I had with my grandmother - The love of my “Chocolate City,” with it’s libraries and great, magnificent books is incomparable.   
Photo: Waiting in line with over 75 people to get my book signed.  Life is Blessed!!!
After a few days of shopping, eating, drinking, hanging out with my kid, friends, and family, it was time to get ready for the Library of Congress’s 13th Annual National Book Festival on the Mall. My Friend, Sheryl, her son, my kid and I all attended the first day on the Festival on Saturday.  We walked around, got a lot of free stuff and some overpriced T-Shirts and food.  There were tents for each type of literary genre from fiction to children. There were thousands of people to see Veronica Roth, author of the DIVERGENT series (I‘m reading the first one and so far it’s great).  Terry McMillan, Margaret Atwood, Justin Cronin (The Passage and The Twelve), Khaled Hosseini were also big hits.  

Photo: Terry McMillan. - National Book Festival

There were over 100 people standing in line for Hosseini’s autograph.  While I stood in line to get Terry McMillan’s autographed, my kid stood in Mr. Hosseini’s line.  It was a long wait, but it was worth it to see them and take pictures.  There were so many authors both days.  There was a torrential rain pour Saturday, but we had just managed to get to the parking lot before we got caught in it.  That did not stop the festival though.

Photo: Terry McMillan

It is one of the best highlights of my life to attend this event other than being at home and hanging out with my kid.  She has the same love for books as I do and I love her for that. 

Well, after a week and half of DC, I knew I had to get back to both jobs.  Was it worth it? Damn skippy, whippy it was!  I’m in love again with my home.  My home.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I usually leave to go home to DC on the weekends at midnight.  I drive about 30 miles and wait at the 95 north exit.  It’s not long before five to eight 18-wheel trucks are flying by like bats out of hell.  I then gradually ascend my speed to 70 or 75, turn on the cruiser and I'm on a roll.  Can you picture my little cube car, a lady bug, flying behind a big line of winged out butterflies.  It kinda looks cool, but I’m not too crazy. I ensure there's some room to maneuver if anything should happen.  I've done this run for years.  People always ask me why so late at night and why wait for the trucks.  If you are not a regular long distance driver, you may not know that during certain times of the night or early morning, the traffic is very light and the truck drivers use that time to catch up and not worry about the psychopathic drivers 

I’ve learned a bit about the route these truck drivers take, coming from Florida.  They pick up the goods.  Make a stop at one of their favorite hide outs.  Eat and get, how do I say, “sexual fixing” and head out to make the deadline.  

I really need to get a better life don't I?

You may be thinking I made this up, but as a former long distance driver (I drove while in college for money.  Just short trips from DC to North or South Carolina), I know my trucks.  Another reason I drive so late at night.  I love the lights on those trucks.  I love the sound of the wheels and the blinking lights I give them to let them know they can cross over to the lane in front of me.  I love when there are 4 or 6 trucks in a roll driving down the long 95, 85 or 10 highway.  The sight of those long big trucks hauling who knows what has always fascinated me.  I guess that’s why I took a part time job driving.  I have loved trucks every since I was a kid.  Just damn fun.

By the time Tommy the dog and I reached North Carolina, traffic started to get painful, but still not as bad as when we reached Fredericksburg, Virginia.  The whole damn world changes then and it’s like roaches running from the dark when you turn the lights on.  Man, it starts to get crazy with drivers weaving from one lane to the next, speeding up to get to a destination that will surly be there when they get there.  

This time I stayed and cleaned up my house, walked Tommy for an hour each day and just relaxed.  It was hard.  I’m so use to moving from one thing to another, I could not get my body to calm down and relax.  9am Monday morning came and I started the long drive to DC.  It usually takes me about 7 and ½ hours, without Tommy.  With Tommy, it’s 11 hours.  I was not in hurry and did not want to arrive during rush hour.  It was a warm, clear sky day with a softly bright sun.  I took the time to really look at the trees and landscape.  I made many stops to walk Tommy and calmly let him control the walk.  Made the usual stops at JR, a huge store that sells just about everything, especially cigarettes by the carton.  Yes, I’m still smoking and it is getting harder to find places you can smoke, even outside.  I know some people are pissed about that.  I’m happy about it.  The less I smoke, the easier it will be to stop cold turkey.

JANE KIRKPATRICK - $9.99 - The Daughter's Walk: A Novel.  I'm always looking for christian books to refer to my church's book club and this looked interesting to read about two women make a historical mark in women's history.  

Helga Estby, a wife and mother of 10 children decides to walk with the oldest child, Clara, from Spokane, Washington to New York in 1896.   The prize at the end of the walk was $10,000.  Helga and her family needed the money to keep their house from foreclosure.   The family wasn't too keen on the ideal, but they know their wife/mother's stubborn Norwegians' attitude and did fight it. It wasn't just the money, this walk was in support of the new shorter reform dress and a big part of the feminist movement. 

They endured many harsh trials along the way.  They were robbed, went hungry at times, ran into Indians as well as men and women who thought their "walk" was an affront to society.  A secret was revealed during their walk which affected Clara for the rest of her life. Helga and Clara also became great speakers of women's rights at major cities. Unfortunately when they returned home, this time by train, a year and half later, the family was in worse shape than before and Helga's husband and younger daughter Ida, never forgave either of them.  Clara, hurt by this, went on her own and became a successful business woman.  Over time, while her family continue to struggle, she tried to help them financially, but they would not take the money nor wanted to talk about the "walk."  

I expected to eventually read about some forgiveness and I did enjoy learning about the food of Norway, women's rights and the language.  When Ida became very elderly and ill, she went to live with Clara.  She still refused to talk about the walk or forget the past.  They sorta came to an understanding. I don't know if I could hold that much resentment for so many years.  It would wear me out.

JEN SINCERO - YOU ARE A BADASS: HOW TO STOP DOUBTING YOUR GREATNESS AND START LIVING A AWESOME LIFE - $8.80 - - - A friend of mine recommended this book to me and I recommended it to my BookClubGroupies. Unfortunately, out of 15 people in the group, only three of us met and actually read the book.  I see why.

It wasn't a bad book.  Any and all books on how to motivate yourself, be more true and provides good advice, is a good thing.  She talks to you as if it is a real conversation and not some new-age, mumble jumble, high in the sky mantra.  She has some great quotes too, "Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are - Kurt Cobain (I love his music)." "In order to kick ass you must first lift up your foot - Jen Sincero."  "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent - Eleanor Roosevelt."  True, but give me a break. I've heard this song before and I thought this book was going to sing a great opera.  Wrong, it was just OK. Maybe it's me since when I look in the mirror as see me as God's child and nothing less.  Maybe that's why the book did not really move it, I just went, OH!.     

One of the things I did have a problem with is her recommendation in using credit cards to get what you need to motivate yourself.  As a Dave Ramsey defender and champion, I see this as another string of marketing crap to get you further into debt and to really make you feel like dodo when the bills come and you have no money.  

All in all, it is a good book, but I have read better.  I like the way she writes though, no big words, just in your face words. Sometimes we need the "in your face words" to get motivate and sometimes, we just need to listen to our hearts. 

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

EDWARD KELSEY MOORE - THE SUPREMES AT EARL'S ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT - $10.99 - - The "Supremes" are Clarice, Odette, Barbara Jean.  Three African American women who grew up in a small middle class southern town. Through civil rights, love, death, backstabbing, adultery and just everyday living.  There is one exception, ghosts - Odette's mother, a marijuana user and Eleanor Roosevelt, Advice hound.  Oh, more ghosts do show up.  That's the best part!!!

These women have lived the same type of lives as you and me, except they have the funnest ghosts around.  Odette is the narrator.  She starts with their childhood to their 60s and how it all began at Earl's.  A place where everybody knows your name.  A place church folks go and talk bad about the preaching and the promiscuous dressed floozies  A place where the strangest people stop by, as in Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor.  A place of complete pandemonium and hurt and a place to love, laugh and forgive again and again.  

I just cried, laughed and cried again.  I did not wan it to end.  I wanted to read more and I hope he comes out with a book two.  Read this book with a good cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake. Your endorphins will thank you.

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Black Kindle - I'm still mentally on my vacation!!!


I’m still late in blogging, but I will catch up, I will catch up.  My life is too exciting to stop now.

My mind-boggling (could not believe the DC traffic could get worse), amazing and exciting vacation is over.  It was worth working seven days a week straight for a few months.  I was going to leave September 13, but instead volunteered at the Day of Caring at North Charleston Elementary school.  This year they decided to not have a parade, so I have no pictures. Sad I know.  I was a bit disappointed too since I usually wear a homemade costume with book covers from head to toe and then dance around a little.  Since this year’s theme was science and the environment, I guess a parade would not have been kosher.  We helped plant flowers and a garden.  Assisted teachers in their classes with clean up, reading books and other needs.  Even though I did not dance around and wear a costume, it was just exciting and nice to be surrounded by the kids. 

So many of those kids I saw did not have enough food to eat and enough clothes to wear.  Kids whose mothers have 2, 3, 4 or 5.  I did meet a mother with 5 kids in that school.  Boy, how does she deal.  I do my best to help by giving away books (now you know one of the reasons I created this blog is to generate money to give out books) and provide food for the backpack program.  Every Friday we fill a kid’s backpack with, we hope, enough food to last thru the weekend.  It is a great program and there are many people throughout the world who give either money or food.  Check the website out and see if you can help in your community.

When I see the face of hunger, my own pit in my stomach starts to cringe.  As I have written before, I was raised by my grandmother.  We lived in a one bedroom apartment with decent furniture and an old huge TV console that did not work.  I slept in the living room on a beat up sofa where sometimes in the middle of the night roaches crawled on my face.  I just brushed them off and went back to sleep.   

My grandmother lived on Medicare and food stamps.  Until years later, after so much paperwork, she was able to receive my grandfather's social security.  It wasn't much, but it was better.  Once a month, she would dress in her finest and take a taxi to the local grocery store while I stayed in and played or read whatever books I could get from the library or school. 
After the run to the store and two weeks would go by, we ran out of food.  Or I thought we were out of food.  She was always able to find something and make a great meal.  One of my favorites was her cakes.  It was moist, not too sweet with homemade chocolate and it literally melted in my mouth. 

Other times, she depended upon the school to feed me breakfast and lunch, which during that time was the most nutritious food around; real cereal, apples, oranges, and cold sweet milk.  There were times they made bacon and eggs.  Not that processed meat of today, but real government cheese and bologna.  Man, I miss that government cheese.  It made the greatest grilled cheese sandwiches with White Wonder Bread. 

The cafeteria staff was always nice to me and gave me once or twice a week an extra carton of milk (a child side) and fruit.  I don't know why, but I always have the best memory hiccups of those women who I always said “thank you so much” each and every time they served me.  They were big, beautiful, round women with a loud and heartily laugh.  I guess they reminded me of my grandmother. 

I’m crying now writing this.  It was never enough food and someone was always giving me extra’s for home.  We may have been poor and I truly understand what those kids and adults are going thru, but the difference is, my grandmother made my life exciting.  Even though her reading level was not as high as mine, she made me feel extremely special and very happy. 

Let me stop now and get to books.  I’m getting too mushy.
ANGELA WINTERS – DC BACK ON TOP - $8.59 – .  Since I was not able to get the second book in the Chase Family series, NEVER ENOUGH: A VIEW PARK NOVEL - $9.59 Never Enough until the following week, I started reading this book. I'm hooked on these girls.  

Mrs. Winters is an captivating drama soap opera writer with some out in out twist and turns in the plots.  I picked this up, as you can see, because of the title.  Anything do with DC, especially a drama, I will buy and read.  This was good and while I was in vacation in my home town of DC, I got the rest of them.

Sherise, wife, mother and an “Erica Kane” schemer, works on Capitol Hill.  She has flirted, screwed, royally and physically to get the top job.  Her husband, Justin, is your average, handsome nice guy who has helped her in the past get the prestigious jobs, but either he is not aware or just don't want to know how dirty his wife plays. 

Erica, a young woman, raising her younger brother after their mother died, is in love with Terrell.  Terrell is a hustler.  When Erica gets a prestigious job at the Pentagon with one of the most powerful political men, Jonah, something tells Terrell and Sherise, her best friend, that her boss, who Sherise is screwing, has more in his back ground than the political games normally played in DC. 

Billie, divorced from her spine-chilling, controlled freak husband, wants to become the lawyer for justice not money.  I don’t like this character too much because she is aware of her crazy husband antics and she continues to have sex with him.  Claims she cannot resist him, even when he starts dating a white girl and uses his kid to blackmail her.  Dumb girl!!

Three women from Southeast DC climb out of the ghetto to great jobs, clothes and connections, but the struggle they cross through to get out and stay out is not based upon what they know is true; and they don't realize or ignore that lies and backstabbing antics have a nasty way of showing up.  The book was fun, fast and just exciting to read.  You do keep turning the pages to see what happens next.  That’s the gist of a great book; you keep coming back and can’t stop until it’s done.

BRENDA JACKSON – STERN (THE WESTMORELANDS) - $3.74 – I’m just a big old fan of Brenda Jackson’s books on the Westmoreland men.  Hey, let's face it, I also like the book jacket.  This book did not get me as excited as her others.  I skipped a few pages because I sorta knew what was coming next.  Stern has been in love with his best friend, JoJo, as friends only.  He does not realize how much until she starts to dress like a beautiful woman.  Blah, blah, blah!!!OK, I get it, move on.

She asks Stern to teacher her how to meet and keep a man.  The man she wants help to impress turns out to be a damn psycho.  How is Stern and his brothers, cousins, all strong, rich African American men, to help her.  How long before Stern takes the plunge  OK, that's a cliche.  Stern, the man who loved JoJo as a friend and now his brothers, cousins; all Westmoreland men who also fell in love with a beautiful woman then married her, are trying to convince him that he is in love?

At least they got married.  You got to give it to Brenda Jackson.  Ain't no tatty catfish business going on in her books.  You get married and stay married. 

Didn't this play out in the movie Baggage Claim with Paula Patton, Derek Luke, Taye Diggs, Boris Kodjoe and other gorgeous looking African American men?  Yes, so this book ends the same way.  See the movie.  If for nothing else, check out the eye candy.  Damn!!!