National Black Book Festival

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

So many books, so little money!

NUMBER 189

This is the blog that I tried to post last week, but when I used another computer, could not open the file.  Oh, well, at least it gives me a chance to review it.

At least I’m only 25 or more days late in blogging, it could have been longer, but I do not wish to continue to lose any of you.  Especially the people who pay for my blog on Amazon.  I hope I have not disappointed you too much.  If you think this blog could be better or if you think I suck at this, please let me know.  I know I’m not the best writer in the world, but I’m not going to stop either; just hope to improve.

On November 19, I went to the Dave Ramsey/Rachel Cruze (she is his daughter) movie.  You didn’t know there is a movie.  Is was very motivating on how to stay on track, get gazelle, leave a legacy for your kids, get out of debt, and giving.  So many people don’t tithe or give, but that’s not my call or judgment.  Everyone has their own reasons, but my reason for doing my tithe and giving is that the more I give the more I get back.  Besides, the last two churches I attended provided food, clothing and books to the needy.  They also feed my kid when she attended Sunday and Wednesday evening youth sessions.  That was a blessing when my own money was tight and I did not have to worry about dinner those nights.  You have true happiness when you don’t live to get, but live to give.

Do not get me wrong, it is seriously hard to stay on this Dave Ramsey plan.  I’ve slipped a few times such as went back to smoking.  Stopped smoking on March 31 using the e-cig, then went back to smoking in September.  I have brought too many books and spent too much money on non-essential items that I did not need.  Getting off track did hurt my budget a bit, but I’m back on.  The results at the end of the road are worth every single penny.  I wholeheartedly recommend that you sign up for Financial Peace University.  You can find a class at your local church or even at your job.  It’s $100.00 for the kit.  Please give it a try.  We got to try to get and stay out of debt.  Our future cannot be in the government’s hand or we will suffer.  No more speech on to fun things.

Go to your local library and sign up for a card.  You can borrow books, DVDs, learn a new skill, see a free move, bring your kids, and hang out.  Now that’s a way of saving money (OK, last speech).

On my last post I told you I started working at the “Part Time Job at a Bookstore with kooky customers and staff.”  Need to use a better slogan, how about “Part time dream job at an amazing Bookstore.”  Hey, I like that, how about you? 

Will tell you more about the staff and customers on a later posting, but for now, let’s get to some books.  Since I’m behind in my adventures, will start with my baptism in Norfolk, Virginia; the Southern Indie Booksellers conference.  To say I had a great, awesome, spectacular time, is an understatement.  I met some wonder book store owners: Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe, Fountain Bookstore, Booklovers bookstore, My Sister's Books, Inc., Litchfield Books, Flyleaf Books, Janet Geddis of Avid Bookshop in Georgia, Gottwals Books, Jill Hendrix of Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina, M. Judson, Modern Storytellers Bookstore, which just recently opened in Greenville.  A women who attended the opening a bookstore class with me in May, just opened her store in Winter Park, Florida - Writer's Block Bookstore.  I am so proud of her.  Also met new and old authors.  

Met and hung out with Sean Brock, author of Heritage cookbook and chef of Husk restaurant in Charleston.  Listen to Azar Nafisi, author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran” at a luncheon to promote her latest, “The Republic of Imagination.  Attended a luncheon with James Patterson (Alex Cross series), Steve Berry (Cotton Malone series), Beth Macy, “Factory Man” (really interesting book about one guy’s fight against big corporation to keep his furniture making company in North Carolina) and many, many and I mean, many more authors and booksellers.  

It was so awe-inspiring to see so many authors from one room to another.   I was worn out after each day.  The blissfulness I had reminded me of my trip to Houston two years ago for the National Black Book festival, except at this one, I noticed only one African American writer – Lalita Tademy promoting her new book “Citizens Creek; A Novel.”  Before the trip I went through my many book shelves to find her other book that I read years ago to get autographed, “Red River,” but did not find it until I got back home.  Shoot!  She was very lovely. 

I did meet one African American woman.  She was there supporting her husband’s book. Next year she hopes to have her book published, I hope so too.


People like me should not be attending conferences like these.  Once again I had to pay big for shipping.  Even though these books were free and some are not even out yet, my head and heart took over and I shipped lots of books. Oh, well’ I was worth it.

So now I’m confused as to why there were no African American authors and no African American booksellers either. Don’t know why, but I have e-mailed Troy Johnson, founder and Webmaster or AALBC (African American Literature Book Club).  Hopefully, he can explain.  I suspect that due to the amount of major losses we have in the last ten years, over 500 black own bookstores close, they did not have the money to attend.  


My favorite black own bookstore was Karibu in Maryland, but that closed as few years ago too.  The ones left, maybe they are struggling and cannot afford to attend these conferences.  Sad, but I have big hope that the Independent Bookstore will rise again.   

Another major thing I learned at this conference from the classes and owners, how very hard it is to own and run a bookstore in this climate, but if your heart and soul is in it, it’s worth it.  The hotel, food, staff, music all of it made this trip one of my best trips in the world.  It was filled with so many authors, so many books, and so exhilarating.

Lord and behold, after I signed up to attend the Winter Institute Conference for booksellers and authors, or should I say, I applied for a scholarship to go free, two days ago I was notified that I won an all-expense paid trip to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina in February for the conference.  Tell me I’m not getting my blessings. 

At this conference there will be over 30 educational sessions on basic bookstore finance, e-commerce, crowdfunding, human resources, and other important topics.  Many, many authors will be in attendance as well as John Green - The Fault in Our Starts, Steven Johnson – How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World and Sarah Lewis, who works on President Obama’s Arts Policy Committee and on Oprah’s “Power List.  She looks like a young and beautiful African American.  Her book “The Rise: Creativity, the gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery.  I have not been to Asheville in a very long time and I’m looking forward to it.

Whew!!! On to books:

Lalita Tademy

Citizens Creek: A Novel - $11.89 - - - The New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club Pick Cane River brings us the evocative story of a once-enslaved man who buys his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian Wars, and his granddaughter, who sustains his legacy of courage.

Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money—but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward?

Cow Tom’s legacy lives on—especially in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter Rose. She rises to leadership of the family as they struggle against political and societal hostility intent on keeping blacks and Indians oppressed. But through it all, her grandfather’s indelible mark of courage inspires her—in mind, in spirit, and in a family legacy that never dies.

Written in two parts portraying the parallel lives of Cow Tom and Rose, Citizens Creek is a beautifully rendered novel that takes the reader deep into a little known chapter of American history. It is a breathtaking tale of identity, community, family—and above all, the power of an individual’s will to make a difference.


Cane River - $6.64 - - - Here’s a review by Ladyslott - - - I do not generally like Oprah Books. So when Cane River was chosen as a group read for my reading group, I was very reluctant to read it. I could not have been more wrong. A beautifully written family saga, Cane River was one of the best books I have read in recent years. Putting one strongly in mind of the book Roots by Alex Haley, this book is a novelization of the family history of Lalita Tademy. Told through the eyes of four women, all born into slavery, it shows the strength and courage of people who survive through the frequent upheavals thrust upon them.

We are introduced to the matriarch of the family Elisabeth, a slave from Virginia sold into a new plantation and taken from her husband and children. Here begins the story of the Cane River women, Suzette, Philomene and Emily. I was compelled to read every detail of their lives from slavery to freedom. I shared their heartbreak, joy, suffering and triumph, on the journey to freedom. The book paints a long lasting impression of the power of love and family. A book I will think of for a long time to come. I highly recommend you read this unforgettable book.

Red River - $8.89 - - - In 1873 in the small southern town of Colfax, Louisiana, history tells us there was a riot. The Tademy family knows different. "1873. Wasn't no riot like they say. It was a massacre..." The blacks are newly free, just beginning life under Reconstruction, with all its promises of equity, the right to vote, to own property and, most importantly, to decide their own future as individuals. Federal Government troops are supposed to arrive to protect the rights of the colored people--but they are not yet on the scene.

In one wretched day, white supremacists destroy all the optimism and bright promise by taking Colfax back in an ugly and violent manner. The tragedy begins with the two sides: the white Democrats of Montgomery and the colored and white Republicans of Colfax in the courthouse, finally meeting face to face to discuss their differences. Then, a group of white thugs kills a colored man who was not involved in the courthouse struggle. He was home minding his business and the ugliness came and found him.

The confrontation that follows results in the death of more than 100 black men, killed by white supremacists bent on denying them their voting rights and keeping in office those who uphold the status quo prior to the Civil War. The massacre is only the beginning of Tademy's story. Using reliable sources wherever they may be found, she tells the hard and proud story of Sam Tademy, Israel Smith and their families as they fight their way back from the massacre. They get a foothold in Colfax, finally starting a school, owning land and businesses and becoming full-fledged citizens, as they were meant to be.


Ana E. Ross – The Tycoon’s Temporary Bridge – Book Four (Billionaire Brides of Granite Falls 4) - - - I read the other three Granite Falls guys and was most impressed with the third one, “The Playboy’s Fugitive Bride.”  I still love me some “Massimo”, whew!!! That man!!!.   

Adam is the last one in this group who is not married, he tried, but got dumped at the altar.  His father and mother want him to hurry up and get married for an heir.  You know it’s the usual back and forth between parents.  He understands, but after being hurt, he just plays the field and keep’s the heart locked.  

Tashi is running away from a very bad situation.  Don’t’ think it’s not realist what she is running from, unfortunately, this is too realistic even in this day and age.  Tashi’s is scared out of her whits and runs to Adam for help.  Why, she thinks he is the one she is to contact after she relocates from the bad situation.  He is nervous and very cautious to help, but so is she.  He does feel a need to "save" her from whatever is hunting her down.  They go back and forth, not in the sizzling romance hot, but slowly learn to trust each other.  He has always been very spiritual and sensual which helps him teach her how to find that same sense of self, happiness within one shelf, passion and love.  The plot of why she is running and the connection Adam has to it, was I think the best part of the book.  Yes, the romance was great, but that plot with all of the twist and turns and it involves the other ”Granite Falls Billionaires,” was exceptional.  I hope she continues with this series.  Ms. Ross could write a mystery with romance all in one and keep the focus going on and on.  Beautiful story.


Kimberla Lawson Roby – A Christmas Prayer - $8.89 - - - Alexis Fletcher hasn't had a merry Christmas in five years-not since her mother passed away. Every December she remembers the joy her mother brought to everyone during the holiday season and feels the pain of her absence, even more so now that she and her sister are barely speaking. More than anything, Alexis wishes her family could be whole again.

However, with her wedding fast approaching, Alexis might just be ready to make some holiday memories with a new family of her own. Alexis's fianc√©, Chase Dupont, is everything she ever dreamed of. He's kind, handsome, fully supportive of Alexis's career, and the CEO of a large company. But outside forces threaten to derail this happy couple from ever reaching the altar.

As tensions rise, a dramatic event causes Alexis to question everything. Will fate give her what she needs to finally embrace the season that has brought her so much pain? Will Alexis get her wish for a happy holiday? Or will her Christmas prayer go unanswered?


Jacqueline Woodson (She just won the National Book Award) – 




Brown Girl Dreaming - $9.68 - - - I just started to read a few pages then got stopped.  Will return to it, but so far it is breathtaking and beautiful poems about her journey from childhood to a great writer.  Just beautiful!!!

Brown Girl Dreaming\

Locomotion - $5.99 - - - When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he's eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because "not a lot of people want boys-not foster boys that ain't babies." But Lonnie hasn't given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She's already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper.

Told entirely through Lonnie's poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together.



If You Come Softly - $7.59 - - - In this contemporary story about an interracial romance, she seems to slip effortlessly into the skins of both her main characters, Ellie, an upper-middle-class white girl who has just transferred to Percy, an elite New York City prep school, and Jeremiah, one of her few African American classmates, whose parents (a movie producer and a famous writer) have just separated. A prologue intimates heartbreak to come; thereafter, sequences alternate between Ellie's first-person narration and a third-person telling that focuses on Jeremiah. Both voices convincingly describe the couple's love-at-first-sight meeting and the gradual building of their trust. The intensity of their emotions will make hearts flutter, then ache as evidence mounts that Ellie's and Jeremiah's "perfect" love exists in a deeply flawed society. Even as Woodson's lyrical prose draws the audience into the tenderness of young love, her perceptive comments about race and racism will strike a chord with black readers and open the eyes of white readers ("Thing about white people," Jeremiah's father tells him, "they know what everybody else is, but they don't know they're white"). Knowing from the beginning that tragedy lies just around the corner doesn't soften the sharp impact of this wrenching book. Ages 10-up.