National Black Book Festival


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Black Kindle - Some serious Books


Guess what I got?  
An advance copy of Carl Weber - The Choir Director 2: Runaway Bride - $11.99.  Pre-order it now.  It comes out August 19, 2014. I've not started to read it yet because I'm salivating like a big dog and just holding it - "My Precious, my precious." 

Then a friend gave me Francine Rivers - Bridge to Haven - $9.36.    I'm a big fan on hers. Don't have much time to write on my blog today, got to get ready for another road trip. Bridge to Haven

Man, I just saw this on Facebook from DJ Gatsby and now I got to get these books:

The Real McCoys - $3.99
Dead Panties - $3.03 - I may have to think about this one.
Wounded - $2.51
I Am A Concealed Weapon - $11.69 Paperback only

Got to get one in for Black History Year 

And in celebration of James Baldwin's 90th Anniversary year, I'm presenting one of my favorites:

Paperback Used - $3.50 or $10.04 

Tish and Fonny, young, African Americans are trying so very hard to get a decent job, marry and get a home. They are young and in love in the 1970s New York, which was extremely hard for a black man accused of rape. I will always believe to this day that he did not do it, but this book takes you thru the hell both families go thru to get him out of jail. You've heard it before, her family is supportive and his family is sort of supportive, but his black father had his own hard time. This book, which was written in 1974, should still be read today by young African American boys/men to, hopefully, finally, help them realize that no matter what decade it is, being black is still hard without family, but with support, we can pull through any hell. I know I did. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Black Kindle - Road trips can be dangerous & the Asylum is back

Kat, the original manager who hired me at the Asylum contacted me for a job.  I referred her to a friend who works in the Hotel business.  My friend tells me that many hotels are looking for staff to work in the evenings to mornings.  It's been hard to find people to take that schedule.  Since Kat has no job, she has been looking since she was fired in October of last year, my friend pulled some strings for her and got her a job.  She never called back.  That was two weeks ago.

Yesterday I get a text from Kat asking me how am I doing. I didn't bother to respond.  What for?  Yesterday evening I happen to run into her husband, ex-hubby or whatever working at the same store but at another location.  Kat had managed to get him a job with the company and he moved up the ladder in the last year and is now a manger. We talked for a few minutes and he informed me that she was still looking for a job and that their daughter is still causing problems at home.  He had kicked the daughter out of the house many times, but her mother let's her come back over and over again.  I tell him about my friend's help and he tells me he knows about it and told her to take the job, but a few days later her car broke down and they don't have a car. 

Why didn't she call my friend or me and let us know? He did not know and was not aware that she did not call to tell us. That is the third time I found a job for one of the Asylum members and they never returned my call or took the job.  I'm getting pissed at them now, but I will continue to pray for them and keep on helping them as much as I can.  It just drives me crazy.  

Let's move on.  On my road trip last week, I got half a hour from my destination before an 18 wheeler pulled in front of me and smacked a small rock on my windshield.  No problem, it's a small crack and I will take care of it when I return home. Half an hour later, that crack started to spread up and over to the driver side of the window.  I got to Clemson, SC, pulled over to the Starbucks and checked the yellow pages.  I have an old flip phone, so looking for auto glass places was not easy and begging someone with an iPhone was not going to get me far nor help.  

The cashier in Starbucks had a yellow pages.  I did not think there were still yellow pages around, but at the rest stops along 95 north, they have installed phone booths. Can you believe it and they work.  I know, I tired it out for fun.

Found Glass Doctor in Greenville, SC.  They were so very professional and nice to me.  Within 2 hours, I had a brand new windshield and no payments from me since my insurance took care of it. Tommy and I then drove around Greenville and had a great time eating and window shopping.  Man, in the last few years Greenville has move up with more businesses, homes, apartments and becoming the new Atlanta.  That's the place I've been hanging out to help those three women I met a few months ago to open their bookstore. Just be careful out there on the road.  Those trucks can cause some havoc.

Well, on to my next road trip in a week or so.  I am truly getting to love these trips.  The number of people and connections I have made in the book industry is amazing. Wow!!!! This has been more than fun, this is becoming a big part of my life. I seriously will have to have a long talk with myself on retiring.  So much I could do if I was retired. So much!!

THE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FIKRY: A NOVEL - GABRIELLE ZEVIN - $9.48 - - - On my of my road trip, I picked this book up because it had a story about a bookstore owner, which I hope one day to become. Never heard of the author, but I will always give a author and book a try. There is only a few words to say about this book - 

I LOVE IT!!! I LOVE I!!!! and I LOVE IT!!!! more

A. J. Fikry is a lonely (his wife died two years earlier), snappish and cantankerous bookstore owner of Island Books in Alice Island. Sales has hit a slump and one of the most expensive book in his store, Tamerlane by Edgar Allan Poe, has been stolen.  He has given up on the store, the people in the small community and the love of the books in his store and his heart.  His books are how he has lived his life.  His life experiences, relationships with bookstores, books and, in some cases if he really likes their work, authors, is really what I'm sorta made of.  A life where when you read a book, you either lived it or what to live it. You talk, walk, breath, sing your day based upon the book you just finished reading or remember reading years ago.  

It becomes a part of your memory where when you run into someone or something, you refer it to a book that had an impact on your life and that's how A. J. Fikry lived his life. Life just sucks for A.J. and I truly understand why, but one day out of the blue, a small package arrives at his store, a over the top and eccentric publication press sales women comes calling, and a chief of police who did not read much, until he was forced, not really forced, just wanted to keep an eye on A.J., became a savior and friend.  Each word, each saying, each sub-story brings you closer to a book and another book and another. Inter wind into each character, especially A.J., is life at a bookstore or life in and out of a book.  You will laugh, cry, become pissed and will love bookstores, especially independent book stores, over and over again.  I literally cried when I finished this book, not because of something bad or good that happened in the book, but because I wanted to read more about each of the characters and see their lives unfold into the future.

If you love or even like small independent bookstores, buy this from your local bookstore. 

A. J. made me feel so happy with my love of books, so very happy. 

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel

This book reminds me of 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel and The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey MooreThe Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat

Now my problem is finding another book to read.  It's so hard to find another book to read after you read such a damn good book with simple and great writing.  It's so ding dong hard.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Black Kindle - New Books - Now that makes me very HAPPY!!!!!

Just got back from the dentist.  So expensive and so drugged up now. You know, I'm working hard to stop smoking (day 8 of e-cigarettes), eat more vegetables and fruits, walk Tommy more and overall, just trying to take real good care of myself and stay happy.  I'm old. Not really old like 60 or 70 or even 80, just older.  Of course I don't look my age, especially since I took out the plaits in my hair, washed and colored with no relaxer.  I just pressed, brushed and greased the scalp.  

My hair has gotten even longer from 5 years ago when I finally decided to stop putting any relaxers in my hair.  I guess you count color as a chemical, but you can buy a natural one.  I have had my hair out for 7 days and it's driving me crazy.  It's just flying out like a big bush and I mean big.  One girl said it was beautiful because its my own hair.  No wig, weave or tracks.  Yes, Lord it's my own hair and it's as nappy as a Brillo soap pad.  It's that tough.  It can break a pick, plastic comb, hair brush, hot pressing comb and any other adverse conditions. My grandmother use to call my hair, "Back to Africa."  

My grandmother would wash, grease and plait it.  Her, my great aunt and mother would take me to the hair dresser every September before school started to get it pressed.  I hated going to that hair dresser. Every young black girl in the neighborhood was there and I was usually the only one with a book in her hand.  That's why today I carry books with me ever where I go.  I would often say, "what am I going to do while sitting and waiting for Mrs. Gibbs to do my hair, "read a book, my grandmother would say, and I'll be back in four hours."  I would be in that hot, loud taking, smelly burnt hair salon for four or five hours.  Drove me crazy until I finally got to read my books, then I did not care.  That's another reason I was called crazy, people in the hair salon would say "Jinny's grand child is weird, she always got a book in her face."  

My first year in high school, and I was still not happy about getting ready to get my hair done for school, my grandmother decided to, "Stop paying that damn hair dresser Mrs. Gibbs to do ninda's hair." (Yes, I was called "ninda" they could not or would not say Linda. Even though my real name is Virginia-Linda.  I changed it because I was not going around life being called, "Virginia-Linda."  No way.)  It was decided three days before the awful burnt of my scalp, that I would no longer get my hair pressed.  My grandmother said, "Hell, the child comes home from the first day of school and the hair is all over her face, dirty, bushy and not straight and as nappy as hell."  Stop the presses, it's not worth the money, just come over here and I will plait it.  

I've been in plaits every since.  I did years ago cut it real short after my child was born, but hubby, his family and mine did not like it.  Said I look like a boy.   So, it's 2014 and I will be back to long plaits before the end of the month.  You don't know how long it takes to comb this here hair.  It's a long, long time.

More new books:

GABRIELLE ZAVIN - THE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FIKRY: A NOVEL - $9.48 - - - Why did it get this book, because it's about a bookstore owner who has loss the love of his life and the love of books.  How can you lose the love of books.  I just started reading it a few days ago and I must say I am loving it, especially the surprise package he received.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel

RACHEL RENEE RUSSELL - DORK DIARIES SERIES - varied prices from $3.99 to $8.88 - - - I am getting ready to fill bags with books and any other items I can find, for the 25 kids of the Bring Your Child To Work Day and the 30 kids from the Carolina Youth Development Center.  The Carolina Youth kids are in temporary housing due to abuse, neglect or what ever is needed to help these kids.  There's a woman at my job who volunteers for them and last Christmas I was able to provide books and Christmas presents for 30 kids.  That is what really makes you feel good, to give and give more.  

So, me and Tommy's next road trip, which is tomorrow, I'm stopping by The Booksmith to pick up the first 5 in this series for 10 kids.  I don't care how much it costs, every year GOD finds a way for me to do this and I enjoy it so very much.  On another note, her book is becoming a movie soon.  I hope when it comes out I will be able to take some of the kids from the Carolina Youth Group to see it. 

The Dork Diaries Set: Dork Diaries Books 1, 2, 3, 3 1/2, 4, and 5

NELSON GEORGE - THE HIPPEST TRIP IN AMERICA: SOUL TRAIN AND THE EVOLUTION OF CULTURE & STYLE - $16.99 - - - What more can I say about this book, it is long, long overdue.

From the Booklist - Music critic and novelist George (The Plot against Hip Hop, 2011) runs down the story of the barrier-breaking and hugely influential television show Soul Train, which for 35 years delivered “love, peace, and soul” to households everywhere in the form of hit songs, innovative dance moves, and “freaky, fantastic” fashions. Inspired by the civil rights movement, Chicago radio reporter turned television trailblazer Don Cornelius, whom George describes as the epitome of cool, boldly carved out the first mass-media space for “black dance by black dancers presented by a black producer.” In this lively, documentary-style biography of an instant hit show with remarkable draw and staying power (1971–2006), George considers Cornelius’ complexities (he took his own life in 2012), recounts the appearances of stellar performers (James Brown, Patti LaBelle, Kurtis Blow), profiles the show’s most memorable dancers (Damita Jo Freeman, Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley, Rosie Perez), and chronicles the launching of dance trends (locking, waaking, the electric boogaloo). George’s swift ride through the decades of Soul Train is a kaleidoscopic trip through one of the brightest zones in the evolution of American culture. -- Donna Seaman

The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style

Got to get one in for Black History Year: 

STEVEN CORBIN - NO EASY PLACE TO BE: A NOVEL - Hardcover $4.00 - - - I got this book in 1989 and saw a few of my markings, but I don't quite remember something unique about it.  Oh, well, I will just have to re-read it again.
This spellbinding novel magnificently re-creates one of the most exciting periods in American history, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. As three black sisters come of age, they pursue lives and careers in three very different professions.
No Easy Place to Be: A Novel

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Black Kindle - Is still Happy and Crazy

I did it.  I walked the Book'n It! 5k Fun Run & Walk | ACTIVE.  I sorta knew I could do it.  I walk Tommy almost every day for half an hour or more, so I had a good feeling that I could to.

Got up Saturday morning and it was raining. I mean raining like cats, dogs, cows, you name it.   I thought the race would be cancel, but a while later, I got an e-mail that it was still on. My friend Nadia and I met at my house, she brought us some Chick-fil-A and coffee.  We ate and I drove us to Palmetto Island County Park.  

Not many people showed up and the parking on the grass was difficult. They had parking spaces, but those were gravel and all of the rain just made is messy.  The rain slowed down when we they started the race.  My friend Nadia and a member of our Book Club GrOuPiEs member, Catherine, are serious runners. I would never try to run with them.  My but would drop after 10 minutes of running.  Get ready, set and go - Everyone, even the little kids, took off and before I knew it, I started walking and lost them all in the horizon.  I was the only walker.  I want to thank Nadia, she decided to walk with me instead of running.  Due to the rain, some of the markings telling us where to run/walk were erased and some of the signs were either not put into place or gave wrong directions.  

We got lost, but kept on walking.  Finally, we saw an older man running and started following him.  Eventually we made it to the finish line.  You know I was the last.  That was great by me.  I am just so happy I did it.  I was going to start the e-cigarettes a week before, but you know I didn't start until the day before the race.  Hey, at least I started it and knew I was going to do the race because it is a cause very close to my life - giving books to kids and fighting childhood illiteracy in South Carolina.  

Last week I listen to a you tube video on the state of black owned bookstores. According to Troy Johnson, President, founder and webmaster of - The African American Literature Book Club.  We have lost over 1,000 stores and only 54 are left.  Well, that 5K race and many more I hope to participate in, reading about the state of independent bookstores, especially African American bookstores, my love of books, libraries and volunteering in everything to do with books, I plan on doing something about it in this here South Carolina. Watch out, Y'all, Crazy Book Lover VaLinda is here!!!!

Hey, Here's some new books:
HELEN OYEYEMI - BOY, SNOW, BIRD: A NOVEL - $11.99 - - - I did not know that this book was by the same author as THE ICARUS GIRL - $8.79.  I did not even think, I just brought it. There are very mix reviews and some people became more confused from the beginning and did not like the ending.  I always say, give a book 50 pages and if it does not move you, drop it like a hot potato and move on.  Also be reminded, it's a serious book, so not your usual fiction. 

After escaping the cruel wrath of her abusive father, Boy Novak finds comfort in a small Massachusetts suburb and a widower named Arturo, whom she later marries. Boy is quite taken with Arturo's daughter Snow, but it's the daughter she has with Arturo that complicates their quiet lives--Bird's birth reveals that both Arturo and Boy are light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. Harkening back to the great passing narratives, like Charles W. Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition and, most notably, Passing by Nella Larsen, Boy, Snow, Bird is about both the exterior and interior complexities of racial identity. The perception of Arturo and Boy's race and social class is threatened by Bird. But it's the psychological conflicts that are the most devastating. Arturo was raised with "the idea that there was no need to ever say, that if you knew who you were then that was enough, that not saying was not the same as lying." Is passing dishonest if it isn't an active decision? Boy, Snow, Bird is a retelling of Snow White, and the wit and lyricism of Helen Oyeyemi's prose shares the qualities of a fable. But this novel isn't content to conclude with an easy moral. In fact, Oyeyemi complicates the themes she establishes. Her writer's charms shouldn't be taken for granted; the beauty of her writing hides something contemplative and vital, waiting to be uncovered by readers - By Kevin Nguyen
Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel

JACINDA TOWNSEND - SAINT MONKEY:  A NOVEL - $11.99 - - - I was in The Booksmith in Seneca, South Carolina bookstore and was not going to leave without taking this book with me. This is another independent bookstore, not black own yet, but I hear it will be soon. I'm sure due to the customer base there that there aren't that many African Americans living there, but, they are close to four major colleges, one is Clemson.  The school my daughter graduated and since I have poured out much money in this state and a hell of a lot in Clemson, I'm buying books from this independent bookstore.

A review from Joseph Berry - Saint Monkey is a spectacular and brilliant first novel by Jacinda Townsend. It's an engaging character study of two childhood friends that are trying to grow up and escape their predictable futures in their repressive small Kentucky home town. Part of the brilliance of this novel is how the author divides it into two separate stories of Audrey and Caroline, the two main characters. Not only does she successfully tell both of their stories, but she is able to switch up the writing and narration styles so the reader actually feels like they are experiencing the world through the eyes of both of these dynamic young women. By the end of this novel, you feel like you intimately know both characters and their families. I really connected with Audrey's longing to find love and a "greater" destiny than she could look forward to in 1950s Kentucky. At the same time, I really felt Caroline 's pain and struggle to take care of those she loved and her attempts to find a little love and comfort for herself. I don't want to give away any spoilers but the ending was both very surprising and fantastic. The book was so good that I would love to read more of their story. If you love good writing, storytelling, and deep complex characters this is the book for you. I think Ms. Townsend has a long illustrious literary career ahead of her and I already can't wait for her next novel. 
Saint Monkey: A Novel

ANN E. ROSS - WHEN AMBER GOT HER GROOVE BACK - FORMERLY MARK OF A GOOD MAN - 99 cents - - - Since I had read and scrupulously enjoyed her Billionaire Brides of Granite Falls series (I am having a hard time waiting for book 4 which comes out in August of this year.  What the hell is wrong with that.  I need the book now!!!)  I decided to read her others, this was my first and once again it was not a disappointed.  Now, it was not as juicy and plot driven as the Bride series, but, it was cute, loving, short, romantic and oh, so very sweet.  Amber is a divorced women of twins.  After her hubby was caught cheating, she is not interested in finding another.  Most women aren't at that point, but you never know when he will show up.  Mark, showed up and it was own. Yes, this may sound like How Stella Got Her Grove Back, but so what.  The story of women getting their groove back is back and not too soon.  Amber and Mark do the cha cha dance in the romance department, but as feelings abound in hearts and minds, they win.  Just so damn cute!
When Amber Got Her Groove Back - Formerly Mark of a Good Man

Got to get one in for Black History Year: 

CONNIE BRISCOE - P. G. COUNTY - $6.99 - - 
As someone who grew up in DC and lived in PG County, I grabbed this book and ran.  There is an upper class, African-American community in PG, Mitchellville, Maryland. They have been hit just like everyone else due to the economy, just not as hard as the rest of us.  It is one of the most affluent and predominantly African American communities in the US.  Yes, I said it, US!!  So, I know when I speak that this book was labeled fiction, but the characters, Barbara and her wandering husband (think of the prior owner of BET Bob Johnson) and Jolene, materialist nut and the other woman he wants.  A middle class hair salon owner who lives just outside the fancy community, Pearl, a divorcee, who can’t stand her son’s “white” girlfriend, (think Loretta Devine character and her son in Waiting to Exhale). Who also becomes attractive to Jolene’s husband, but not on purpose.  As the front cover states, “Peyton Place, Dallas, Dynasty for the twenty-first century.”  That soap opera did not know that their drama was freaking calm compared to this book, nothing close.  You know there are secrets and they will surface, they always do and more drama to come.  Reality TV and Lifetime could have used this book instead of some of the crap on TV.  Connie Briscoe is a seriously good story teller and can literally bring the characters to life to the point you start to look around and think, did she write reality TV before it was on TV?  Maybe she saw something we didn’t.
P. G. County