National Black Book Festival


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hey, guess what, I won a free trip to Asheville, North Carolina to attend the ABA (American Booksellers Association) Winter Institute in February.  I receive travel, hotel and attendance to some of the conferences free.  The ABA is a trade organization devoted in support of booksellers.  They have been around for many years helping booksellers, publishers and other industry friends.  I have always wanted to attend their BEA Conference in New York.  That is one of the largest book conferences, other than London and Tokyo and is filled with movie starts and some of the best writers in the world as well as other small consultations to help booksellers and authors.  Maybe one day I will get there, but since I’m on my Dave Ramsey budget, I got to watch the funds.  I am just so excited to go to Asheville and see the sights.

My “Part time dream job at an Amazing Bookstore,” is a true dream.  I get a chance to read books that are coming out soon, recommend books to all of their customers, hang out at the cafĂ© and talk to their regulars, and get paid a pretty good salary as a manager.  I work every other weekend.  I do have to drive about 3 hours, but I have a beautiful place to stay, which does not cost me an arm and leg.  Have meet some very nice people in this small town of Seneca.  It’s also 20 minutes from where my kid graduated from college.  It’s a dream come true. 

Now, let me clarify one thing, I’m the only black working there.  I have been asked to create a new African American section in the store to draw in more African Americans.  That has been a bit hard since I’m not there every day and when I am there, I do not see many African Americans.  I know they live there somewhere, just got to draw them out. 

Let's now start with "The Staff" – The book manager Abbie, the girl who orders the books in all genre, is a nice looking tall, thin, around 30 years old, white woman who had a rough marriage with a complete jack ass and a great kid.  She is still tied to the jack ass until her divorced is final.  She did kick him out of the house a while ago and got a court order to have his custody monitored with the child.  I've never got the impression he would hurt the child, but he has not shown up many times; which hurts the kid.  I hate when men and women do that to their children, but that’s another of my pet peeves that I will get to in another blog later.

He is a jack ass to the tenth power.  He does not keep a job, takes money from his mother, who allows it, gets a DUI at least once a month (he has been in jailed for both DUI and missing child support payments.  His picture is always in the local paper or on the news) and has been kicked out of the store by the owner.  Abbie has a good heart and a very hard worker.  She just needs to get a stronger back bone, not with jack ass, but with some of the staff.  They try to take advantage and are very whinny with excuses all the time.  I will get to them later.  What a bunch! 

That’s why I am a manger too.  I have no problem telling them what to do.  I have posted step by step instructions on how to do your job.  Posted notices on rules, breaks, theft, and one of my favorite, “If you are not nice to the customers, I will not be nice to you.  Make a choice and pick the best one.”  That seems to have moved them.  They are nice people, but some are lazy, need constant reassurances, no ambition or drive to do better. Sounds like my old “Part Time Job at the Asylum.”  It will get better or funnier over the next few weeks.  

Abbie has meet a very nice man.  He is a chef at a local restaurant.  He has also gone thru some rough periods in his life with a broken, drugged filled home and abandonment. He is about 30 and surprisingly has no kids.  Since he had a very rough childhood, he needs someone to love him and for him to love unconditional.  I’ve meet him and he is in love with Abbie.  Truly in love.  He has moved in with her and asked her to marry him.  Gave her a beautiful ring.  Don’t worry it wasn’t that fast or a romance.  He just wants to help with bills, her kid and life in general.  All in all she is a good person who finally got some good loving.  She just needs to tell some of the staff to back off and let her do her job.  She will eventually, she will.

On to new books:

The Family Business 3 – Carl Weber – $10.99 – It comes out January 27 and it continues the story of the Duncan family.  Since I work in a bookstore, I got 5 copies for my friends and we are meeting next month to discuss.  Love me some Carl Weber.
The Family Business 3

Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles – A. L. Herbert – $9.99 - It arrived February 24. That time will be here before you know it, so pre order it now. - - - Welcome to Mahalia's Sweet Tea--the finest soul food restaurant in Prince George's County, Maryland. In between preparing her famous cornbread and mashed potatoes so creamy "they'll make you want to slap your Momma," owner Halia Watkins is about to dip her spoon into a grisly mystery. . .

Halia Watkins has her hands full cooking, hosting, and keeping her boisterous young cousin, Wavonne, from getting too sassy with customers. Having fast-talking entrepreneur Marcus Rand turn up in her kitchen is annoying enough when he's alive--but finding his dead body face-down on her ceramic tile after hours is much worse. 

Marcus had his enemies, and the cast iron frying pan beside his corpse suggests that at last, his shady business deals went too far. Halia is desperate to keep Sweet Tea's name out of the sordid spotlight but her efforts only make Wavonne a prime suspect. Now Halia will have to serve up the real villain--before the killer returns for a second helping. . .

Features delicious recipes from Mahalia's Sweet Tea, including Sour Cream Corn Bread and Sweet Corn Casserole!
Balm – Dolen Perkins-Valdez – $12.74 – It comes out May 2015.  If you read her other book “Wench: A Novel - $3.99, then you are going to love this one as well:  I got the advance copy and will start reading it this weekend.

In this powerful story of love and healing about three people who struggle to overcome the pain of the past and define their own future.  The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life.
Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child.
Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.

Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him.
In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.

Beautiful in its historical atmosphere and emotional depth, Balm is a stirring novel of love, loss, hope, and reconciliation set during one of the most critical periods in American history.

Hidden Riches - Felicia Mason - $9.99 - - After a lifetime spent scrubbing and mending for others, Ana Mae Futrell has passed away. Her siblings have reluctantly returned to their North Carolina hometown to bury the older sister they never really bothered to know. For instance, they didn't know she'd won big on a lottery ticket. Or that she had a son. But back to the money--Ana Mae's millions will go only to the person who can interpret the clues she's left behind in a quilt. Should they all fail, the fortune goes to Diamond Jim and Baby Sue--Ana Mae's cats--and a Reverend with whom Ana Mae shared a "special" relationship. . .
Ana Mae's two sisters and brother hadn't really thought about Ana Mae in years, but now, with bills to pay, marriages on the line, and secrets ready to spill, she's all they can think about. And as the race to win begins, everyone involved finds there's more to gain than money. Because they're each going to learn a little something about Ana Mae--and a whole lot more about themselves.
Balm: A Novel

A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel - Marlon James - $11.99 - - - I saw him being interviewed and was impressed with his knowledge of history and how he related this book to Bob Marley, one of my favorite musicians.  It's not an easy read, but everyone I know who have read it, found it hard, a waste of money or extremely moved by the plot. Whatever their views, I'm still going to buy and read it.  I was just impressed with the plot.

It's an Amazon Book of the Month for October 2014 - - - This is a book that I did not expect to enjoy. Having finished it—and feeling, as I do now, that A Brief History of Seven Killings is one of the best books I’ve read all year—I went back and identified the reasons why I did not expect to like it. Reason #1— The story is an oral history told in multiple voices: that’s true, but James’ enormous talent makes the multiple voices work. Reading the novel is an immerse experience—the characters are real, they are engaging, and James uses them to look at all sides of the story. Yes, the multiple points-of-view are difficult at first, but each voice quickly distinguishes itself as unique and important; the payoff is a novel of sweeping scope and emotion. 

Reason #2—Many of the characters speak in Jamaican patois: like many readers, I’m not a big fan of dialect on the page. Tell me what they say, not necessarily how they say it. But James pulls it off with remarkable ease. I expected the patois to start to grate once I got further into the book. It never did. The language only added to my understanding of the story and its characters. Reason #3—Violence: this is not an easy book, particularly when it comes to violence. It starts early, and there’s a lot of it (certainly more than seven killings). But it’s there for a reason. By showing the violence, the poverty, and the struggle to survive in 70s Jamaica, James illustrates how the ghetto can change a person. Over time, we see how every man and woman is changed. Reason #4 –It’s about Jamaica: I hesitate to admit that I wasn’t initially interested in a book set in Jamaica. Am I just not interested in a world so different from mine? Whatever the underlying reason, I was wrong to think that way. I could take the easy route and say that this novel is about something more than Jamaica, but that seems obvious. All I can say is: these people were real to me. And like all great novels, James’ work drew me in, entertained me, and changed me in ways I could not have anticipated. – Chris Schluep
A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel

Got to get one in for Black History Year

Getting Some Of Her Own – Gwynne Forster - $5.84 – Was just made aware that Ms. Forster passed away last week.  She has many very great romance books and I attend to buy everyone of them.  I wish I had met her.  From all of the accolades she has received since her passing and the beautiful reviews of her books, I'm am just sorry I did not meet her.  Cannot post all of them, but I'm sure you will find something you like.

Getting Some Of Her Own

Her Secret Life (Kimani Romance) - $3.79 - A review from "Romance Lover "RL" in Atlanta, GA - - - As an avid lover of romance I find it easy to pick up a book and finish it in a couple of hours. Unfortunately this book did not sweep me away. The story was cool, but it was missing something. Sensuality it didn't have. But I also didn't like the hero. He was a Gamma male sometimes. There was nothing that drew me to him. I was not emotionally taken with this book. Some of the scenes were more technical than romantic. It was a cute story. I love the idea of living the double life, but I think it could have been alot better.

Her Secret Life (Kimani Romance)

Whatever It Takes - $4.61 - - - Lacette Graham's twin sister, Kellie, has been competing with her since they shared a crib. And in thirty-three years, nothing has changed--except success, money, and men have come into play. But when the girls' parents separate, and their grandmother dies, Kellie's selfish manipulating reaches new heights.

With her mother in the throes of a mid-life crisis, her father and greatest ally out of the house, and her sister out to steal her inheritance, Lacette is truly on her own. Then she meets talented, attractive Douglas Rawlins. There's just one problem: he avoids her like poison. It seems Kellie has embarked on a spree of seduction and greed so clever, even Lacette doesn't suspect she's behind Douglas's odd behavior. But when tragedy strikes, will Kellie withhold the most important gift of all?

Whatever It Takes

Ecstasy (Harlequin Kimani Arabesque) - $5.39 - - - Teacher Jeannetta Rollins is about to lose something infinitely precious…her eyesight. Only surgeon Mason Fenwick has the skills to perform the delicate operation to remove the tumor that threatens her with permanent blindness. But the brilliant doctor left medicine after a tragedy he could not prevent, and now he is refusing to take her case. But Jeannetta is nothing if not persistent.

They meet on an unusual journey—a trip around the world. Mason admires Jeannetta, a woman who would risk everything to save her ability to see. But now Mason's emotions are on the line. The closer he gets to the proud, breathtaking beauty, the more he wants her…and he wants her to be whole again. Now her happiness—and their future—are in his hands. All he has to do is trust himself…and trust his heart.

Ecstasy (Harlequin Kimani Arabesque)