Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Open Letter to 2015

Dear 2015,

You started out so nice.  I thought you would be a continuation of the great year that was 2014.  And January and February started out pretty uneventful.  Then March rolled in.

One of my classmates from Burke and Carolina suddenly passed away.  And then my 90-year-old aunt died.  But I was gratefully that she lived to 90.

Then you stayed quiet....until the night of June 17.

I lost two friends that night. And so many of my friends lost relatives and friends.  It was so heartbreaking to go to funeral after funeral, wake after wake.  But Charleston, as always, came together.

And I was still reeling from that when I got that call from my stepfather on September 18 that would change my life forever.

I did not know that you would be the year that would take my mother from me.  There are days that I think that it's just a dream and that she will be calling me on the phone or walk in my house.

And it seemed like after that, everyone was experiencing a loss.  I know so many people who lost loved ones through illness, accidents and even violence.  I had one friend who loss his dad and two aunts in a matter of weeks.  Two more friends lost their mother due to violence the day after my mother died.

And you still weren't through.

In November, I had a health scare.  A routine mammogram turned out to be abnormal.  I'm 36.  My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 38.  I was scared out of my mind.  Thank God that the follow-up turned out OK and I was determined to be cancer-free.

Despite all the bumps and bruises, the tears and the stress headaches, this year has brought me closer to God.  I leaned on him more than I have ever had.  And he has given me the strength that I though I didn't have.

This year has also revealed the number of family, friends, coworkers and sorors who supported me during the most difficult time of my life.  If it wasn't for them, I don't know if I would have made it.

And a few awesome things happened this year.  Two of my cousins got married.  I met Hillary Clinton when she came to Charleston.  Tried some new food trucks (including 2 Fat 2 Fly). Got another new car (after the one I had for 15 years kicked the bucket).  And I got a chance to meet some awesome people, with some coming into my life after my mother passed.

I am so glad that you, 2015, are riding off to the sunset.  But I will take the lessons that you have given to 2016 and beyond.  I hope 2016 will treat me (and many others) a whole lot better than you did.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Why I have been MIA....

On the evening of September 18, around 9ish, I was talking to my mother on the phone about the day's events.  I asked her if I got a package from Amazon.  She said I did and at the end of the conversation, I told her to go ahead and open it.

A few minutes later, she called back.  She thanked me for the cookbooks that she got for her birthday.  She was going to read one that night and the other one when she came home from work the next day.

Little did I know that would be the last time I would hear her voice.

Around 11, my stepfather called.  Paramedics had rushed my mother to the hospital.

Turns out she had suffered a massive aneurysm and based on where it was, there was nothing doctors could do.

On Monday, September 21, the day after her 59th birthday, my mother made her Heavenly transition.

I don't know if and when I will be back to the blog.  I hope you understand.  Please pray for me and my family.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book News You Can Use 9/18/15

Congratulations to all of the National Book Award nominees!

The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced this week.

The New York Times has created a fellowship in the memory of David Carr.

Maya Angelou's art collection sold for over $1 million.

Looking for some new African-American female authors to read?  Kalisha Buckhanon has some recommendations.

Legendary basketball star and author Kareem Abdul Jabbar is now trying his hand at fiction with a new book about Sherlock Holmes' brother.

Beverly Jenkins was featured in a recent Book Riot podcast.

Shout-out to romance writer Christine Jones, who started a new blog and podcast about African-American romance called Girl, Have You Read.

A woman wrote a book about hiking in the wild and it's not called Wild.

Girl on The Train author Paula Hawkins may be coming to a city near you!

A new publishing company has been started by a daughter of one of the Koch brothers. Yes, those wealthy brothers who fund Republican candidates (yuck).

Really, what ever happened to Google Books?

Amazon's not playing around with their new Kindle Fire tablets.

Toni Braxton will be staring in a Lifetime movie based on her autobiography, Unbreak My Heart.

There will soon be a film based off of one of Zadie Smith's novellas.

Help raise money for a movie based on Clarence Nero's book Cheekie: A Child Out of the Desire.

As a librarian, I can testify that weird things happen at the library.  Add feet-smelling people to the list.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Book News You Can Use 9/11/15

Relax in Paradise Rhoda Lerman and William Grier.

Congrats to the winners of the PEN Literary Awards!

Congrats also go out to the nominees of the Scotiabank-Giller Prize!

President Obama presented arts and humanities medals Thursday to several people in the arts. Stephen King, Jhumpa Lahari and Larry McMurthy were some of those who received awards.

I am still experiencing sadness from missing the Decatur Book Festival.  Looks like last Friday's main event with Roxane Gay and Erica Jong was tense.  Recaps are here and here.  And one writer from Book Riot got to attend the festivities.

The National Book Festival was also last weekend.  This video has Walter Mosley being interviewed by Book View Now host Rich Fahle and Kwame Alexander.

Two beloved children's books are celebrating anniversaries soon: Harold and the Purple Crayon and (one of my childhood favorites) Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

A fully illustrated version of the first Harry Potter book will be released soon.

Negroland, which was released this week, continues to get a lot of press.  Read more herehere and here.

I work at a medical college (who has had their issues with diversity), so this book about being an African-American physician caught my interest.

While writing The Turner House, Angela Flournoy found inspiration from Zora Neale Hurston.

Naomi Jackson was interviewed for Mosaic Magazine.

An Asian family is protesting a white poet's use of a Chinese name, saying that the name came from one of the poet's former classmates.

Jabari Asim was recently cleared in a unusual, but not surprising, traffic citation case.

Censorship fail #1: New Zealand officials banned a YA book. Yes, the book has been banned from the whole country.

Censorship fail #2: A woman in Tennessee wants to ban The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from her son's school because the book was too pornographic.  What book was she reading?

Censorship win: Remember the story about the parent who had Some Girls Are banned from one of the Charleston high schools and there was a drive to get the book in the hands of teenagers in the area?  Nearly 1,000 copies were donated and are currently being issued out in several of the public libraries in town.  Read about it here.

James Patterson will be visiting Baltimore and will donate 25,000 books.

Looks like Harper Lee was working on a novel that was based on a real crime.  The new mystery is whether she finished it.

Grace Jones is not here for most of today's pop stars.  Do they even know who she is?

Wendell Pierce did an interview for CBC Radio (like NPR but for the Canadians), in which he discussed how important the arts are to the recovery of New Orleans.

Bob Woodward is not finished with Watergate. He's releasing a book on the aid who released President Nixon's secret tapes.

This bookstore in Alabama only sells autographed copies.  I may need to visit there one day.

As poet and author Dwayne Betts can tell you, one book can change your life. Even in prison.

Picture is from this Facebook fan page.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Book News You Can Use 9/4/15

As some of you who have followed my Twitter feed know, I was trying very hard to get to the Decatur Book Festival this weekend. Not only because the awesomeness that is Roxane Gay is going to be there, but there will be a lot of authors I haven't seen in person.  But the universe was trying to tell me otherwise.  Got a medical bill that was almost $200.  Hotels were hard to come by (especially with DragonCon and Atlanta Black Pride Weekend going on and being Labor Day weekend).  And then the unthinkable happened: the car I've had for almost 15 years broke down. Just decided to stop in the middle of the street.  So instead of going to the book festival, I will probably be at a car dealership to buy a new car.  And why did I just find out on Tuesday that Roxane was in Savannah last night? *tears*

Relax in Paradise Oliver Sacks, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Wes Craven and Noah Davis.

Unless her unfinished works are in a closet, there are no other works from Harper Lee.

Speaking of To Kill a Mockingbird, a writer gives his thoughts on why so many people were disappointed with Go Set A Watchman.

Another author is writing a Jimmy Carter biography.

The man that wrote the children's book that is suppose to help children sleep got a three-book deal.

In time for the holidays, Mariah Carey is releasing a children's book based on her most famous Christmas song.

The new James Bond author caught the wrath of the Internet when he said that Idris Elba was "too street" to play Bond in a movie.

One of Octavia Butler's books is being developed for a TV show.

Wendell Pierce just released a book about how he got involved in the recovery efforts of New Orleans after Katrina.

Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg is releasing a comic book about Black feminism.

Leah Dunham wrote a short story to be published on a newsletter she is starting.

Look out for these musical biographies and autobiographies this fall, including one on Beyonce and one on Grace Jones.

Speaking of Grace Jones, here is an excerpt from her autobiography, which is coming out later this month.

Fall is coming in a few weeks, which means that websites and magazines are coming out with their fall reading lists, like this one.

Note to college students: if you want to disagree with what your professor wants you to read, fine. But at least read the book before you speak out against it.

Brad Meltzer was able to find a kidney for one of his high school teachers.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mailbox Monday 8/31/15

New books came in the mail last week, so it's time for another edition of Mailbox Monday!

Two of the books featured today are ARCs from Harper Books for books that will be released in October.  The other is a book I won on Facebook several weeks ago through DAW.

All The Stars in Heaven
The Book of Phoenix

Do you see any books that you would like to read?  Hit me up on the comments section!  Thanks to the publishers for the books!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Book News You Can Use 8/28/15

Relax in Paradise Tony Gleaton and Soror Amelia Boynton Robinson.

This year's Hugo Awards brought a whole lot of drama.  And here's a nice little reminder that women have always been in science-fiction.

People who live in Harper Lee's hometown are concerned about the lawyer who has been handling her affairs.

An African-American book club was removed from a Napa wine train tour.  The company apologized, but the damage has already been done.

This article talks about the history of African-American romance novels.

African-American editor and publisher Dawn Davis talks about her career in the publishing industry.

Jonathan Alter is working on a biography of President Jimmy Carter.

Model Beverly Johnson's memoir was released this week.  Here is an interview with Time.

One book that has been getting press is the memoir Negroland.  Read about it here and here.

Another book that has been getting press (and a brand new movie deal) is the YA book Everything Everything.

Lisbeth Salander lives!

Tina McElroy Ansa was not here for You Don't Have to Live Like This.

Poet Claudia Rankie interviewed Serena Williams for the New York Times and was interviewed for BuzzFeed.

Casting has started for the Girl on the Train movie, with the primary female roles already casted.

Some Duke freshmen refuse to read Fun House, citing religious beliefs.  At least it's the students and not parents and state legislators.

Tomorrow is the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Jesmyn Ward reflects on survival since the storm hit her beloved Gulf Coast.

In non-book news, tomorrow is also Michael Jackson's birthday!  Happy Birthday to the King of Pop!