Wednesday, December 29, 2010

10 Best Fiction Books of 2010

As of this writing, I have read 72 books in 2010. This is about 2-4 more books than I did in 2009. Some of my friends say that this is an accomplishment, considering I am six credits shy of my Master's in Library Science, bought a house and moved out of my parents' house, working a full-time job (and for a part of this year, a part-time job on Saturdays), becoming a member of my local library system's board of trustees and being active in Delta.

This year brought us a variety of books that we enjoyed, and some we didn't. We looked forward to some books by authors who had not come out with anything in years, just to be disappointed in the end. We also heard from some promising new authors that gave us some of the best books of 2010. And we also read from favorites that kept us entertained and reminded us why we read their books.

And now, I would like to announce the best fiction books I read in 2010 (in no particular order):

32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter: As stated before, I loved this book. This was one of the very few books that I could not put down. Then, I recommended it to my book club and they fell in love with it (and we proudly rock our 32 Candles tees we got from Ernessa). Davie's story inspired me to go after my dreams and to believe in yourself. It is a great coming-of-age story with some Molly Ringwald movies sprinkled in it.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez: This book was getting rave reviews in the blogging world this year, and after reading it, I can see why. The book, which is about four slave women who spent every summer vacationing with their masters, had me hooked and thinking long after I finished.

A Taste of Honey by Jabari Asim: This Essence Book Club Pick (along with 32 Candles) is a book of short stories that were interconnected with each other. It is about neighbors who lived in fictional city in 1968 and the climax of the book leads to Dr. King's assassination. The stories focused on racism, young love, growing up, finding love in an unexpected place, and family.

Substitute Me by Lori L. Tharps: What happens when an African-American nanny enters the home of a young White couple in the early 2000s? You will have to find out with this book. This held my attention way more than that other Black nanny/White people book of the year (and which I admit, I still haven't finished).

Playing The Hand You're Dealt by Trice Hickman: Emily is in love and has been for years. But there's one problem: Emily's in love with her best friend Samantha's father. And did I mention that Sam's parents are still together? This book had a lot of drama to keep me interested.

Torn Between Two Lovers by Carl Weber: I wasn't a reader of Carl's books until earlier this year, when the book club I am in was assigned to read Big Girls Do Cry. The sisters in the story got on my nerves, but I wanted to hear more about their friend Tammy, who was torn between her husband and her lover. I still can't get over that ending! :-)

Jesus Boy by Preston Allen: Elwyn, a teenager and popular piano player at his church, falls for Sister Morrisohn, who is his church sister and 26 years older than him. To me, it fell a little flat at the end, but there are so many twists and turns, you will be calling out Jesus' name several times.

Till You Hear From Me by Pearl Cleage: Remember during the Obama campaign when it seemed like the older and younger generations of African-Americans clashed over leadership? Cleage explores this with her latest book. Ida Dumbar returns home to Atlanta's West End to find her father Horrace (a popular pastor and civil rights leader) in a scandal after he says some bad things about our President (noting about cutting his privates, thank goodness). While that's going on, one of the Dumbar's family friends works to stab them in the back. A very good read that reflects recent times.

Be Careful What You Pray For by Kimberla Lawson Roby: I have been keeping up with Curtis Black and his family for a few years now. This one features Alicia marrying JT Valentine, who wants to be just like Curtis. But I really didn't think anyone could be worst than Curtis, but JT did things in one book that Curtis never did. And that says a lot.

The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin: I know you looked at that link and realized that I put a children's book here. Not only that, it's a Baby Sitters Club book. Well, this book is about what happened the summer before Kristi, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey formed BSC. In my tween days, I was in love with the BSC books and would spend my allowance on them. At the time, my mother was a teacher and had access to the book clubs that the publishers would sell and I would get some more books that way. So, this book brought me back to the early 90s when I would find out what was going on in Stoneybrook. And I am still on Team Stacey.

What was your favorite book of 2010? Please feel free to drop me a line! I hope you and yours has a very great new year and here's looking at more books for 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Books of 2010: Biographies and Non-Fiction

While going through all of the books I read this year, I realized that I read a lot of non-fiction in 2010. Some were very popular books this year, like reading about how inconsiderate my soon-to-be former governor was in his marriage. Some were not. But here are my favorites of 2010, in no particular order.

The Politician by Andrew Young: Short (but funny) story on how I able to borrow this book. I was on a long waiting list for this book at the library. At the time, I was working at Curves and I was talking to the ladies on the circuit about Jenny Sanford's book. And one of the ladies piped up that she was reading The Politician. What makes it so funny is that this member is a Republican who loves Glenn Beck (and she saw him when he was in Charleston with Bill O'Reilly). When I told a coworker about this, I think she nearly fell out of her chair laughing, because we truly could not see her reading this book.

Young, who was John Edwards' assistant for years, was willing to do anything for this man. He really believed that he would become President (and at one point in my life, I did too). When Edwards' mistress winded up pregnant while he was trying to be Obama's running mate, Young and his family were put in hiding with the mistress. After that, Young was dropped like a hot potato.

I know there are some people who don't feel bad for Young, but I do. Here was a man who bent over backwards for his boss, treated bad along the way, just to wind up broke in the end. I hope he makes a ton of money off of the book. And makes me glad that I voted for Obama in the 2008 primary.

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family by Condoleezza Rice: I may not agree with Condi's policies, but I like her as a person. She give a remarkable account of her childhood and how her parents (her father was a pastor and college administrator and her mother was a teacher) make sure that race would not be an excuse to hold her back from her dreams. I know they are looking down on her, amazed about her accomplishments.

The Grace of Silence by Michelle Norris: Norris, who is on NPR, finds out that her father was shot in the leg after being discharged from the Navy. Her research leads her to what race relations was like in the 1940s and how far we have come (but we still have a long way to go).

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore: Two guys, same name. From the same city and are about the same age. One became a Rhodes Scholar, served our county, and is a respected business leader. The other is spending the rest of his life in prison for murder and is already a grandfather in his early 30s. How did this happen? This book explores how two young African-American men took different paths in life.

Foxy by Pam Grier: You may know her as Foxy Brown or as Jackie Brown, but Pam Grier has been busting doors and kicking butt behind the scenes. In this autobiography, she talks about her childhood, dating in Hollywood and being a breast cancer survivor.

Killing Willis by Todd Bridges: Everyone knows what happened after Diff'rent Strokes went off: the drug abuse, the arrests, etc. But no one knew what led up to that: the physical beatings from his father, being sexually abused by his manager and being constantly harassed by racists and cops. I'm glad he's been able to straighten out his life and remained sober for almost 20 years. Another side note: about a week after I finished the book, Gary Coleman passed. Todd seemed like he was one of the very few people who looked out for Gary in the end.

This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson: Because librarians rock! :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Best Books of 2010: True Crime

As of today, I have read ten true crime books this year. I think out of all the ones that I've read, only one of them I really didn't like. Most of these books were released this year, but there maybe a few that are older.

A Poisoned Passion by Diane Fanning: Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Severance survived Iraq and Afghanistan, but did not survive his marriage to Wendi Davidson. Wendi, a vet, poisoned her husband and threw away his body in a stock pond. Fanning does a good job of highlighting both families affected by this crime.

Savage Son by Corey Mitchell: Bart Whitaker hires two of his friends to kill his immediate family so he can inherit their million-dollar fortune. Only problem is that his father lives. It takes a while for the cops to catch up with Bart and his friends and now Bart is on death row. And his father still defends him (as much as you can defend a son who tried to kill you).

Our Little Secret by Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie: For 20 years, the murder of Daniel Paquette was an unsolved case. With some persistent detective work and motivation from the victim's brother, the case leads back to Paquette's stepdaughter and her male friend, who pulled the trigger.

Fear Came to Town: The Santa Claus, Georgia Murders by Doug Crandell: Crandell does a good job of telling the story of Jerry Scott Heider, who eventually killed his most of his former foster family in cold blood.

Are there any true crimes books that you enjoyed this year? Are there some you are looking forward in 2011? Drop me a line!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Now that I have a e-reader, I need something to read!

I have had my Nook Color for about three weeks now. So far, I have been able to read books (still working on the touchscreen highlight) and surf the Internet. I even took part in a Nook Color class that Barnes and Noble offers every Saturday (at least the one near my house does).

But one thing I have been having trouble with is finding the right thing to read. Some e-books go up to $15, which is still cheaper than the would be at the store. And maybe it's because I still haven't jumped the e-book ship totally. It seems like with most new stuff I get (especially the ones I spend money on), I get a little hesitant about using it.

I went to the library Saturday and ran into a good friend of mines who works there. She recently bought a Sony Reader. She was telling me about the hard time she was having with finding e-books, to the point where she thought about selling the Sony Reader and getting something else. I told her to check out Google Books, which does have a lot of African-American books. And if she still wasn't happy, she can get a Nook, where B&N has more of a selection.

But my friend brought up a point that I didn't think of. She said that she's now into independent African-American authors and would like to know where she could find some authors who also offer e-books. I think some of this may have been answered with a story Felicia Pride wrote for Publishers Weekly regarding e-books and African-American publishing. Some of the information provided gives insight into the exciting things that will be happening in the publishing world in the next year.

Besides the ones mentioned in Felicia's story, are there some other independent publishers who offer e-books to their readers? Any other places I should check out to find something to read? Your help will be appreciated! :-)