Sunday, May 27, 2012

The One

Note: this blog post has spoilers for two books. 

About three years ago, I read In Love With A Younger Man by Cheryl Robinson.  It's about 43-year-old Olena Day trying to decide between two younger men.  Matthew is 25 and has his life together at a young age. Jason's 32 and a retired football player. While reading this book, I really wanted Olena to get with Matthew because he seemed to be a pretty decent guy.  Something about Jason always seemed off and I wasn't feeling him.

At the end of the book, Olena finds out that Matthew is the son of a man she dated in college (and got pregnant by, which resulted in an abortion).  That leaves her with only Jason, who just found out he has prostate cancer.

So when I heard a sequel was coming out, I was happy, but cautious.  I was hoping that Olena had enough sense to give Matthew another chance. But based on the description of The One, I wasn't holding my breath.

This book starts out with Olena nursing Jason back to health after prostate surgery and dealing with ED. After loosing her job and not getting prospects on the novel she's written, Olena gets an opportunity to take part of a reality show. The One is like The Bachelor/Bachelorette with the travel elements of The Amazing Race.  She takes the opportunity, which causes Jason to break up with her (and gets his lawyers to tell her not to mention his name on TV, one of many trifling things he would do in this book).

While Olena jet sets around the world meeting bachelors, Jason continues to act stupid.  After not being able to sleep with Olena because of his condition, he sleeps with the first chick he meets at CVS. And she turns out to be crazy.  Meanwhile, Olena meets a new girlfriend in Tilley, her bald stylist, and bachelor Porter, a musician who has feelings for her.

Like the first book, this was an OK read. Both books are those kind of reads that you read on a quite and/or rainy day and can finish them fairly quickly.  I cared for Olena and want her to make the best decisions, but to me, she doesn't make them. My feeling for Jason went from getting bad vibes from him to wishing he dropped off the face of the earth. He's a entitled jerk, a spoiled brat and thinks with his little head at times.

The twists at the end of the book gives room for a third book. I hope Robinson writes a conclusion to this series so I can find out what happens to Olena.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Reads 2012

Last year, I wrote this extensive list of which books I was looking forward to reading over the summer.  But this year, I don't have that kind of list.  This summer, I will be trying to read as many books that I have bought from festivals, signings, Friends of the Library events and just plain old bookstore visits/B&N Website browsing (for the Nook Color).

Here are some major media outlets that are featuring their summer reads list. More will be added as they become available:

NY Times

USA Today (Interactive)


Good Housekeeping

Journal Sentinel (Added 5/29/12   I got 99 books....)

Chicago Tribune (Added 5/29/12)

Wall Street Journal (Added 5/29/12)

Entertainment Weekly (Added 5/29/12)

Library Journal (Added 5/29/12)

NY Daily News (Added 5/31/12)

Entertainment Weekly (Added 6/1/12)

Publishers Weekly (Added 6/8/12)

LA Times (Added 6/8/12)

Oprah Magazine (Added 7/5/12)

Daily Candy (Added 7/5/12)

Learnvest (Added 7/5/12)

What books do you plan to read this summer?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 South Carolina Book Fesitval

Wonderful.  That is the best word I can use to describe the 16th Annual South Carolina Book Festival.  I had so much fun and got to a chance to meet (and re-meet) some wonderful authors during this two day event in Columbia.  

After waking up early Saturday morning and driving about an hour an a half to the Capital City, I arrive at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.  And the first person I see when I arrived is Kwame Alexander.  And he notices that I'm wearing my Capital Bookfest tee.  I also met with my friend Valinda (who was volunteering at the festival) at the door and she took pictures.  For those who have seen these pictures on my Facebook page realize that I am not smiling in that one.  When Valinda took the other picture, it looks like I'm frowning. But I was getting ready to smile when she took that picture.

After greeting Kwame, Valinda and I went to see Kimberla Lawson Roby.  She talked about her new book The Reverend's Wife (which I've already read - and need to do a review), plans to keep the Curtis Black series going (her husband told her if Victor Newman's been doing it for 30 years, Curtis can too) and future books (one in January, a Curtis Black novel next May and back to Alicia Black in 2014).  There is also talk on bringing Curtis and his family on the big screen. Afterwards, she signed books and greeted us all.

Valinda with Kimberla

After Kimberla's talk, Valinda tells me that I should meet the authors representing Strebor Books (Zane's publishing company). There I met Zane's sister Charmaine Parker, Allison Hobbs, Suzetta Perkins and Shamara Ray.  They were all very nice and I was so glad to meet them!

Suzetta, Shamara, me, Charmaine and Allison

I caught the tail end of the Powerful Nonfiction panel featuring Andrew Skerritt.  His book, Ashamed to Die, has been on my radar for a while, since it deals with AIDS in a South Carolina community.  When we met and he found out I was from Charleston, he said that he wants to speak in Charleston and visit the city! Hopefully we can make that happen!

Tyora Moody, me and Stephanie L. McKenny

With Karissa Thomas
During lunchtime, while many people went to to the first Pat Conroy session, I went to look around at the booths, which are mostly independent book publishers, book sellers selling "antique" books and independent authors.  I met South Carolina residents Tyora Moody and Stephanie McKenny, who had a booth together. Both of their books have popped up on my radar so I was interested in meeting them.  They were so nice!  I also meet Karissa Thomas. Her books are about life skills and self-improvement. I really like her message!

Erika Marks and Miranda Parker at their panel
I attended the First Novels panel to support Twitter friend/Facebook friend/fellow member of the Shemar Moore fan club Miranda Parker.  All three authors talked about their books and the writing process.  Miranda said that she was contacted by her publisher after her work was entered into a contest. Now she is about to release her second novel next month. It was great seeing her again after meeting her at the National Book Club Conference.  I also met the other authors on the panel (Ann Hite and Erika Marks) and got their books too (Little Gale Gumbo had been on my radar).

Miranda and I

I got my books signed by Zane before she took the stage.  She talked about how she got into publishing, her career, plans for the future (including a new show on Cinemax, publishing more authors under Strebor, screenwriting and coming out with Chocolate Flava 3).  And Addicted is going to be a movie!  Some brave soul asked Zane about 50 Shades of Gray.  She responded that this is not the first time that erotica has been mainstream but is glad for its success.

After meeting Eric Jerome Dickey (and giving him a huge hug, because I was so excited meeting him - true fan moment #giggles) after Zane's talk, Valinda and I hung out with Women Empowered By Books (WEBB) Book Club out of St. Helena's Island (outside of Beaufort).  We had great time talking about all kinds of stuff! Thanks ladies! And a shout-out to For Sisters Only Book Club out of Spartanburg for the great conversation while we waited for Zane.

Sunday started out with Eric Jerome Dickey in action.  He read from his new book An Accidental Affair (which I am reading right now). And for those who want to know about Gideon (like I do!), Eric said that he will bring him back after the next book.  His love of travel is shown throughout his novels and he admits that he like to stay away from the tourist areas and explore where the people live. And don't you see the big smile of my face! (#giggles)

Next up was Pat Conroy! He was on a panel with three of his best friends (who all wrote books).  It was interesting, to say the least. I stood in line for about an hour waiting to meet him (it was worst the day before, where they had to cut people off at closing - he signed for three hours).   He was very nice and loved the fact that I was from Charleston.  I also got to meet Wiley Cash, whose book A Land More Kind Than Home, has been getting great reviews. I looked around the exhibit hall one more time before I headed back home.

This was my third time attended the SC Book Festival (I attended in '07 and '10) and this was the best time I've had. The organizers did a wonderful job of having activities for people of all ages and colors.  I will be definitely attending this event again and will encourage more of my friends to come!

Friday, May 18, 2012

South Carolina Book Festival 2012 Preview

It's time for the South Carolina Book Festival!  I will be heading to Columbia (also known as the Capital City and Gamecock Country) tomorrow to take up two days of authors, books and more books. This is my first time going in two years.

I'm so excited because this year because several of my favorite authors are going to be there. Kimberla Lawson Roby will be there Saturday morning and Zane will be speaking in the afternoon. (Side note: to be honesty, I think the author of 50 Shades of Gray took Zane's M.O.) I will also get to see Miranda Parker, who I had a great chance of meeting last year at the National Book Club Conference. Acoustic Rooster will also make his way to the Columbia Convention Center as Kwame Alexander will take part in this year's festival.

On Sunday, I finally get to see and meet Eric Jerome Dickey! He's one of the few famous African-American authors I haven't met. So when I found out he was coming, I nearly passed out (seriously).

Other authors include Pat Conroy, Richard Paul Evans and Mary Alice Monroe.

I hope to have something up by no later than Monday because I will be heading out of town (this time for work) later on in the week.  And if you are attending, I hope to see you there!

If you are not going and live in the Charleston area, Diva Read Retreat Book Club will be having their Evening of Literature with Curtis Bunn Saturday night.  It's at 7 p.m. at the Pilot's Lounge in Summerville.  More information can be found here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle

About ten years ago, I read Fifth Born.  It's about Odessa, a St. Louis girl who experienced mistreatment from her mother and sexual abuse from her father during the 1960s and 1970s. It was a book that I highly enjoyed and it has stuck with me to this day.

When I read from another blogger that there was a sequel, I wanted to read it.  My local library didn't have it, but I was lucky that my employer offers a ILL service where books are shared among the colleges in the state.  One of the community colleges had the book and it was sent my way.

(MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read the first book, you may want to skip to the end.) I was so glad that the sequel rehashed the end of the first book.  Odessa finds out that her assumed crazy aunt Ella Mae (who lives in Mississippi) is her real mother and that she was a product of rape (the aunt was raped by her father).  Odessa is left in Mississippi after she confronts her parents, especially her father, about her real paternity.

So The Hundredth Turtle focuses on what happens after Odessa is left in Mississippi.  She works on connecting with Ella Mae and maintains a relationship with her brother Lamont, who has been ostracize by other members of their family for being gay.  Among her other struggles of growing into adulthood and surviving her past, she also has to deal with Lamont's sexuality and his terminal illness.

To me, this book was OK.  There were some parts that were slow and other parts that happened so fast that it made your head spin and left you with questions.  There were times that I wanted to tell Odessa to confront her past and get some courage!  And the pop culture junkie in me didn't like that certain pop culture references were dropped before they actually happened (ex. based on the timeline of the book, Madonna's name was dropped before she became the huge star that she is today and the characters listening to Push It on the radio around '83-'84 when it came out in '86).  I think a lot of this happened because it was self-published (not knocking self-publishers and small publishers!) and I think an editor would have helped her with the timeline of this book.  Also, one of the (small, as in size) characters stayed the same age FOREVER.

I would recommend this book if you are really dying to know what happened to Odessa and her family after the first book.  But I did feel kind of let down after enjoying the first book so much.

Monday, May 7, 2012

10 Books in 30 Days recap

Last month, I started on a journey to read ten books in thirty days.  I thought I was on the way of getting there, but I failed.

I read four books.

The third book I finished was Diamond Life, the sequel of Platinum.  It's about the lives of hip hop stars and their spouses/lovers and some, if not all, of them were inspired by real life stars.  I actually enjoyed this one a little more than Platinum, but my only complaint is that one of the characters that was highly featured in Platinum wasn't in Diamond Life much. And if the real life inspiration to Bunny is anything close to the character....

The fourth book I finished was Redefining Diva by Sheryl Lee Ralph.  This book is mostly a biography, but gives pearls of wisdom along the way. I had a chance to meet Soror Ralph at Regional Convention last year and she is just as sweet and gorgeous in person.

I think what messed me up was that I read a lot of books that were long and needed more of my attention rather than quick and easy reads.  I will keep that in mind the next time I do a challenge like this.