National Black Book Festival


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