Friday, December 27, 2013

The Best of 2013

Can you believe that 2013 is almost over? A lot has happened this year:
Despite doing all of this, I was able to finish 64 books (as of Christmas Eve, when I wrote this). Here are my 10 favorites from this year.  They are broken up into fiction and non-fiction and are in no particular order.

FICTION

The Awesome Girl's Guide To Dating Extraordinary Men: Several months before this book came out, I had pretty much acknowledged (in my mind) that I wasn't going to hear much from Ernessa T. Carter for a while.  She just had twin girls and also has a toddler, so I thought that she was pretty much getting used to life as a mother of three.  Little did I know she had this wonderful book in store until a few weeks before its release.  Davie from 32 Candles is now a self-help guru and her advise is sprinkled all over in this book about three friends who have a complicated relationship with love.  Thursday loves one-month stands until this recurring dream about a man makes her pause.  Sharita is looking for Mr. Right and thinks she's found him in every man she meets.  Risa knows she has found The One and is willing to make it in the music industry to prove her love.  Tammy, David's sister from 32 Candles, also pops up in this book.  Those who loved 32 Candles will also love this book.

Dream Girl Awakened: I already gushed about this book here.  And I just got approved to read an advanced copy of the sequel!

Calling Me Home:  I've seen people compare this book to The Help and I don't know why, because this book is way better.  Isabelle, who is an 89 year-old white lady, needs to go to a funeral, but she can't drive.  She calls for the help of her black hairdresser, Dorrie, to take her from Texas to Ohio.  What happens during this trip and the story that Isabelle tells will blow you away.  As a teenager in the late 1930s, Isabelle falls for her black maid's son.  So imagine how that went.  I really enjoy this book and I hope this does eventually  make it to the big (or small) screen.  I rarely get choked up when reading books, but I did with this one.

Americanah:  It looks like both the New York Times and Beyonce has lead many readers to this book.  Ifemelu and Obinze are sweethearts in Nigeria, hoping to make a new life in America. While Ifemelu was able to make it to the United States and makes a new (but complex) life, Obinze doesn't and becomes an illegal immigrant in England, then a wealthy businessman back in Nigeria.  This book might have been almost 500 pages, but it covers a lot, from lost loves to life as a immigrant in America.

Close Quarters:  Have you ever read a book that was so good that you can't put it down and couldn't wait until you found out the ending?  That was what Close Quarters was for me this year.  Melina and Malik are roommates in a Brooklyn brownstone and are as different as night and day.  When Melina's rich boyfriend Ellison proposes, she questions what she wants in life.  And Malik winds up in a tricky situation at work.  The roller coaster ride these roommates find themselves in made this an enjoyable read.

Antebellum: Over a year ago, a friend and I were talking and he had a book idea about white kids going back in time during slavery.  This book is like my friend's idea, but instead of some white kids, we have a rapper. A rapper who goes by the name Da N***a.  After Moses (the rapper's real name) gets caught up in a feud, he goes back in time during slavery and finds out what it was really all about.  Moses comes back to modern times with a renewed sense of purpose. The prequel for this book, The Seven Days, was released over the summer.

NONFICTION

Men We Reaped:  Jesmyn Ward's memoir about her life and loosing five young men in her life (including her younger brother) is a very powerful and gripping book.  She talks about her struggles of growing up poor in Mississippi, being raised (mostly) by a single mother and how it is like to live in a plural universe where African-Americans are often ignored.

Nine Years Under:  I have several friends whose family has owned a funeral home for over 100 years.  This book made me actually wonder what it's like working with the dead.  Sheri Booker started working at the Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore at 15.  For the next nine years, Sheri saw all of the drama and hard work that comes with working there.  The cast of characters also made this book a welcome treat.  Look forward to see more from Sheri!

The Good Nurse:  This true crime book about the "Angel of Death" Charles Cullen, who might have killed hundreds of people, was detailed and read more like a story/newspaper article than your typical true crime book.  There was also no extensive background on Cullen or any of the victims (probably because there were too many).  It started off slow, but did pick up.  I only had one problem with this book: the lack of pictures (us true crime fans like pictures).

Nobody's Women: Until the three women who had been kidnapped and were found alive earlier this year, the Anthony Sowell case was probably one of the biggest cases to ever hit Cleveland.  During a routine arrest, police found 11 bodies in Sowell's home.  Most of the victims lived in the fringes of society and several weren't reported missing.  Investigative reporter Steve Miller did a great job of weaving this story together and making this a very interesting read.

I hope to have the book signing posts on Tina McElroy Ansa and Omar Tyree up soon.  In the new year, I plan to attend the South Carolina Book Festival and the National Book Club Conference.  Enjoy the rest of the holiday season and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book News You Can Use 12/20/13



Relax in Paradise George RodrigueJanet Dailey,  Paul Tourday and Ned Vizzini.

Trayvon Martin's parents are talking to publishers about a possible book deal, with faith as a possible element. God bless them.

Viking has acquired the rights for the book that will be by two of the Cleveland kidnapping victims.

Lindsay Lohan may be also working on a book. Here comes the train wreck.

And speaking of train wrecks, please don't give her a show. PLEASE.

And in more train wreck news, ARod is shopping a book deal. Wonder if Jeter's imprint will pick it up.

Nikki Giovanni talks about her new book, grief and Nelson Mandela in this Democracy Now video.

Random House has acquired a memoir from an African-American prisoner in the 1800s.

A double dose of Walter Mosley here and here.

The "myth and reality" of self-publishing is explained by a CEO of a publishing company.

The Guardian released a best-of-2013 list of African fiction.

Just in time for Kiss' entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Paul Stanley is releasing his memoir.

A writer has been hired to write the fourth installment of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

What does your favorite children's book series says about you?

Never watched Duck Dynasty and probably never will after this article. But S&S still plans to keep their books in stock (for right now).  Lessons have not been learned after Paulagate.

The President's half-brother is coming out with an autobiography, which highlights his difficult relationship with their father. And corrects things the President put in Dreams From My Father (a book that's almost 20 years old).  Would anyone care if you weren't the President's brother?

This new author got a book deal in 3 days.

Here is a video of Jesmyn Ward at the New York Public Library.

Anyone down for a Harry Potter play?

This will (most likely) be the last Book News of the year.  I will be back next Friday with my Best of 2013 list!  You may see some more posts from me (and a possible changes to the blog) since I will be off for the next few days.  Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book News You Can Use 12/13/13



Relax in Paradise Ida Pollock.

Congratulations to fellow Charlestonian Sue Monk Kidd as her newest book is the latest Oprah's Book Club selection!

The Happy Ever After Blog chats with two of my favorites, Michelle Grant and Cheris Hodges, on being authors and BFFs.

Leah Dunham got a chance to interview Judy Blume, which will be published.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings.  Here is a new book about the tragedy.

Here is a review on Nikki Giovanni's new book.

The couple that brought you The Bible miniseries and CBS have joined up to create a miniseries based on The Dovekeepers.  I though networks didn't do miniseries anymore.

Terry Crews (the dad from Everybody Hates Chris) is writing a book.

Wendell Pierce (from The Wire and Treme) is releasing a book on how he has helped rebuild his New Orleans neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina and the effects the storm has on him and his family.

Here is a blog post of 10 books written by black women and released in 2013 that you should read.  What happens if I already read five of them?

If you have two hours to spare, you can watch Toni Morrison and Junior Diaz having a discussion at the New York Public Library, which happened last night.

And speaking of last night, Beyonce came in like Santa and dropped her new album.  One of the songs, Flawless, featured Chimamanda Ngozia Adichie's famous TEDxTalk.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book News You Can Use 12/6/13


Relax in Paradise Mandela!!

This is a short documentary of the behind-the-scenes preparation and inspiration for "Sheer Good Fortune: Celebrating Toni Morrison". It was a poetry reading at Virginia Tech that was hosted by Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou.  This was also going to be the head picture for today, but I changed it due to Mandela's passing.

Relax in Paradise Andre Schiffrin.

If Donna Martin can write several books, Kelly Taylor can write a memoir too! #90210

Gone Girl will finally be published in paperback in April, almost two years after it released.

Slate came up with a list of the most underrated books of the year.  I agree with two of these.

Here's an article on how African fiction could (and should) grow.

So teachers are assigning students to read The Help to learn about civil rights. This story got so much coverage that there is a Change.org petition to stop teachers from doing this.  Did these teachers ever heard of To Kill A Mockingbird?

Looks like Marcus Books will be saved.

NPR dropped a very diverse Best of 2013 list, while introducing their new Book Concierge feature.

Here's a story about how James McBride brought John Brown to life.

Morrissey's relationship with a man was removed from the U.S. version of his autobiography.

Want to know more about Nelson Mandela's life? Here's a list to get you started.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Books News You Can Use 11/29/13



Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I would like to take this time and thank everyone (sorors and those in the Charleston community) who came out to Charleston Alumnae's event with Kwame Alexander last Friday.  Special thanks goes out to the staff at the main library at Charleston County Public Library for being wonderful hosts.  I was event coordinator for this event and was nervous on whether it would be a success. And it was!  Hopefully this will not be the last literary event that my chapter will organize.  I have some ideas so stay tuned!

And one more thing....GO GAMECOCKS!! BEAT THE TIGERS!!

Relax in Paradise Wanda Coleman.

Michelle Knight will also write a book about being held for more than a decade by Ariel Castro.  Personally, I don't know about this.

I am still thinking about reading Hunting Season, which was recently featured on NPR. I saw the case on Fatal Encounters several months ago.  My ID addiction is showing.

I don't care how many stars are going to be in A Day Late and A Dollar Short, it deserves better than being on Lifetime.

James McBride is still winning as Song Yet Unsung will be adapted into a mini-series for FX.

Teenagers still like to read (physical) books.

ETA: 12/1/13: Moved the picture to the top!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book News You Can Use 11/22/13

WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Relax in Paradise Barbara Park, Doris LessingCharlotte Zototow, Sylvia Browne, John Egerton, Herbert Mitgang and Syd Field.

The book world was surprised (again) Wednesday night when James McBride won the National Book Award for Fiction.

Also, as ZoraToniMaya mentioned, Toni and Maya were on the same stage during the awards show.

Shonda Rhimes will be publishing a book in 2015.  Maybe she has a little free time now that Private Practice is over.

George Carlin's daughter is writing a memoir based on the relationship of her famous father.

HBO will be developing a show based out of Walter Mosley's Socrates Fortlow, with Laurence Fishburne in the lead.  So what happened to the Leonid McGill series that HBO was developing?

One of Charleston's most famous residents will also be featured in a HBO adaption of a book.

Terry McMillian speaks the truth in this video from the New York Times.

In a surprise move (not!), a court has delayed the release of the book Diary of Malcolm X.

When Black Feminism meets #nerdland: bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry recently had a discussion that had everyone talking.

Omar Tyree may not have a major book deal right now, but he is racking up the movie deals.

Here is another interview with Jesmyn Ward. Reading this book right now and enjoying it!

Christmas is a little over a month away. Why not start shopping for the bookworm in your life?

If you are in downtown Charleston today at 4:30 p.m., join me and the sorors of the Charleston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as we host a release party for Kwame Alexander's new book He Said She Said! The event will be at the main library on Calhoun Street. The above video has Kwame with students from my alma mater, Burke High School.  See you there!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book News You Can Use 11/8/13

St. Thomas, here I come!



Speaking of young adult books, Ya'll Fest is this weekend.


The title of this book makes me laugh.

Comparing book vs. movie: 12 Years A Slave edition. Brought to you by booksploitation.

I am down for any book to movie adaptation that involves Julianne Moore.

Issa Rae is working on a book!

Amazon has announced their best books of 2013.

Here is the list of the most famous authors from every state. Amelia Bedelia (or the lady that created her) represents my state!

Pics from the Hurston-Wright Awards!

There will be no Book News You Can Use next week. I will be in St. Thomas for the National Conference on Health Disparities. I will be working, but hope I can at least sit on a hammock and read books while I'm there.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Book News You Can Use 11/1/13

Chain Letter Rules!!

The Hurston/Wright Awards were given out last weekend in Washington, D.C.

Speaking of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, they recently had some leadership changes.

Sad that I missed Attica Locke in Spartanburg last week, but happy to see she has won the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence! Congratulations! #woohoo

Read bell hook's thoughts about the Lean In book and movement.

How did I miss that Reese is going to be in the movie based on Wild?

Sometimes, I think adults read into too much of things that kids enjoy. This is a perfect example.

A documentary on Alice Walker will be screened at a upcoming film festival.

Alice's daughter Rebecca talks about her new book with The Root.

Dear Dr. Murrary: Do not write a memoir. I need for you to find out where Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman are hiding. And wherever they are, I need you to disappear there. FOREVER.

Willie Nelson is writing a memoir. And Morrissey's autobiography will be published in the United States.

Here is an awesome NY Times story about Ntozake Shange, who has suffered from several health problems over the last decade.

Poet and photographer Thomas Saylers Ellis discusses how he has been influenced by Maya Angelou.

I work at a medical library and there would probably be some students that would love the idea of living at the library, like these students at NYU.

Speaking of libraries, this story proves why librarians (including yours truly) ROCK.

We haven't finished eating our Halloween candy and a major Best of 2013 list is already out.

Scott Turow is in town today. I'm not going, unless you lend me $45.

There is a book luncheon today too.  That also requires money.

And Sebastian Junger will be in town soon. Also would need money for that, but it won't matter because I will be in St. Thomas when he comes.

I like R. L. Stine and all, but this was no contest. Christopher Pike all of the way!! Two words: CHAIN LETTER.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/25/13



My Friday Reads is Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.  Just started reading it, but so far, so good.

Congratulations to the Whiting Writers' Award winners!

Blame Uncle Steve and Supahead for this one: Will the celebrity self-help book trend ever die?

Following Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart, two of the three women held captive in Cleveland for a decade are writing about their experience.  BTW, Jaycee's book was really good.

Be on the lookout for the tons of books coming out about JFK.

Edwidge Danticat talks about her new book in Ebony.

In light of Grambling State's troubles, it may be a good time to pick up Breaking The Line.  Author Samuel Freedman writes about it in this essay for ESPN.

James Bond, Jeeves and Philip Marlowe have returned, thanks to new authors who have picked up the characters after their creators have passed on.

Here are five things you didn't know about Maurice Sendak.

And speaking of Sendak, this year is the 50th anniversary of Where the Wild Things Are. Some illustrators (and kids) got together and remixed some of Sendak's work.

Attention history buffs: here is a new book about an African-American who moved to Russia and became rich.

Here is a story about how Amazon and Goodreads could loose some of their best readers.  I can't totally  blame Amazon for this, because this was a problem on Goodreads before Amazon took over.

Jamie Dornan is the newest sucker actor to be in the 50 Shades of Gray movie.

The book signing with Tina McElroy Ansa will run sometime next week.  I left my notebook in Columbia and just got it back.  I am also recovering from a car accident that happened Wednesday. What a way to celebrate a birthday. I also did not go to Spartanburg to see Attica Locke yesterday, so that will not appear on the blog.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Literary Events from Delta's National Convention



In case you didn't know, I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  I know, the blog's background and the 1913 on the end of my website address gave it away.  But something awesome happened this year: on January 13, we celebrated 100 years of sisterhood!

To celebrate this milestone, Delta held their biggest National Convention yet in our nation's capital! They pulled out all of the stops to make sure the 38,000 people in attendance had a good time.  And two of the programs that are always popular (at least, in my opinion) they have for the sorors during conventions is the author and artist pavilion and the Literary Cafe, which were on July 15-16.  And I like going to the step show too.

This was the second National Convention I went to.  In 2008, I attended the convention in Orlando.  The big draw that year was Hill Harper, who just came out with Letters for a Young Sister.  And E. Lynn Harris was there (sadly, this will be the last time I saw him because he passed a year later).  So I knew what the pavilion and Literary Cafe was about.

So this year, they announced on Facebook which authors were coming and most of your pretty big African-American authors were going to be there. Carl Weber, Mary B. Morrison, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Victoria Christopher Murary, ReShonda Tate Billingsly, Donna Hill, and Karen Quinones Miller were all there.  It was great to see my Facebook friends Curtis Bunn, Booker T. Mattison and Trice Hickman.  And I saw Kwame Alexander too. I run into him everywhere. :-)

But the big draw was going to be Judy Smith (the inspiration behind Scandal's Olivia Pope) and Michael Vick. Yes, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.  And he has an autobiography out.

After two days of greeting authors and signing (and buying) books, it was time for the Literary Cafe.  There was music this year, including Chante Moore (She looks great.).  First off, Judy Smith never showed up to either of the events.  Michael Vick signed books eariler in the day (I should have taken my book to get signed then, but we'll get back to that reason later).  Kimberla, Mary, Carl and a 10-year-old author (who was a cutie) came out and talked about their books.  There was a lot of reaction from the sorors regarding Mary's attire (they must have never seen Mary or have read her books).  And Carl came walking in like George Jefferson.

But the kicker was Michael.  The host of the event literally had to hold Michael's hand to get him on to the stage.  And his statements were very short and he struggled to talk.  I found out later that Michael is very shy and had a speech impediment as a child, which explains a lot.

It was promoted that Michael (along with Kimberla, Carl, Mary and the young author) were going to sign books after they spoke.  So there was this long line for Michael and he never came back out.  Sorors were PISSED. They wanted their money back because they had bought his book and he didn't come out to sign.  Something told me that we weren't going to get our money back (because I've been to enough book signings to get a feeling for these things), and of course, that's exactly what happened. The only option was to exchange Michael's book for Kimberla's.  And that is what I did and had her to sign it.

I personally believe that Michael was not told that he was going to sign books at the Literary Cafe.  This is why.  There was a male author (who has a pretty good following) was suppose to show up at the pavilion, but they were still selling his books.  When I asked if he was coming, another male author (who was in charge of getting the authors and selling the books) said that the author wasn't coming due to a family emergency.  This was the same excuse used to get the sorors to leave after Michael didn't come back out after the Literary Cafe.

Despite the no-shows, I still had a good time.  I bought so many books that they had to be mailed back to Charleston.  Got a chance to meet authors I haven't met and meet up with others that I haven't seen in a while. Can't wait until Houston in 2015 (hopefully)!

Below is a video from The Book Look covering the event.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/18/13



Relax in Paradise Oscar Hijuelos.

Eleanor Catton became the youngest author ever to win the Booker Prize.

Due to poor health, Alice Munro will not be able to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony.

Here is the short list of the National Book Award nominees.

We Need New Names might have lost the Booker Prize, but NoViolet Bulawayo is still getting some love from the press.

Next year is the 75th anniversary of Madeline and she's still a hit among the kids.

By the time Goosebumps came along, I was into Fear Street.  This is what would happen if Goosebumps were written for 20-somethings.

Neil Gaiman gave a lecture on why our future depends on libraries.  He rocks.

This essay explains all of the awesome things you can learn from reading Jane Eyre.

DMC (yes, from Run DMC), has started a comic book company and has his own comic.

The guy from Sons of Anarchy probably made the best decision of his career and dropped out of the 50 Shades movie.  You can't turn crappy books into good movies, Hollywood. (Sadly, you can turn good books into crappy movies.)

Speaking of a good book that may turn into a crappy movie, a release date has been set for the Gone Girl movie.

And for all you Earth, Wind and Fire fans: Philip Bailey is coming out with a memoir.  April can't get here fast enough.

Tamika Newhouse Visits Charleston


Tamika Newhouse visited North Charleston on March 23 and visited the Sistah Reading Sistah Book Club.

Weeks before this event happened, two friends told me that Tamika was coming to Charleston.  One didn't know an actual date and when the date was revealed, she had to work.  The other friend who told me the date was suppose to come, but never showed up.  Luckily, my friend Nadia showed up and we were greeted warmly by the Sistah Reading Sistah Book Club, which is a book club for single mothers (despite the fact that Nadia and I are single, but don't have kids).  The meeting was at an Extended Stay America meeting room and representatives from Thirty-One was there.


Tamika talked about her life journey, from becoming a teen mom to a published author.  She also talked about the writing process and why she decided to go the independent route when it was time to publish her books.  Tamika has her own publishing company, Delphine Publications, and how she works with other authors.

Even though this was a small event, I still enjoyed it.  Many of us got a chance to talk with Tamika and was able to ask a variety of questions.  Even though this was the first time that Tamika visited the Holy City, I hope this will not be her last!  Let's hope that more of my friends will be available for the next time she comes to Charleston.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sonia Sanchez Visits College of Charleston


Sonia Sanchez made her first visit to South Carolina in years when she visited the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston on March 22.  

This event was packed! Close to 100 people came to Avery to see Sonia, in which I got a chance to see many of my neighbors.  There would have been more, but an African writers forum was going on the same time at the nearby Marriott.  There was a ting on sadness at both events due to the passing of Chinua Achebe the day before.

Growing up in Alabama, Sonia said she started writing at age 6 when she wrote a poem about her grandmother.  In between stories about her life, she shared several of her many poems.  Sonia also talked about how she is helping put up peace murals in Philadelphia (where she lives) and how she reaches out to children, saying that "they are human beings."  "We have to be innovated about peace, but we have to be peaceful ourselves," she said.


Sonia said that the new civil rights is education.  "We must become activists again for education," she said.

Sonia had the audience enthralled for two hours.  After the event, she took time to sign books and greet everyone who was in line.  She even taught me a way to interact with children during our conversation!  I know that it has been several years since she has been to the state (due to the Confederate Flag on the statehouse grounds) but I hope she visits our state again soon!


P.P.S. If anyone knows how to rotate a picture on Blogger, please put it in the comments! It will be greatly appreciated!  As you can see, one of my pics is sideways.

ETA 1/31/14 Found a way to rotate the picture through Google! :-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pearl Cleage Comes to Claflin


Back in February, a librarian friend and I were talking about authors we had seen in person.  She told me that Pearl Cleage was coming to Claflin University in Orangeburg (where she works), but didn't know the exact date. I filed it in my memory bank, waiting to hear on the date.

Several weeks later, the thoughts of Pearl coming to Claflin returned in my head.  When I did a Google search to find out when she was coming, I found out she would be on campus THE NEXT DAY, which was March 19.  After finding out that she was doing a 6 p.m. lecture, I gather up my books and camera and decided to leave work early to drive one hour to see Pearl.

And it was worth the drive!

Pearl talked about her journey as a writer, which first started when she started reading Langston Hughes and from that point, knew that she was going to be a writer.  Pearl also talked how she finds a way to make her stories relevant to the times, saying that African-Americans and other minorities "shape the stories of new America".

She also talked about President Obama and how "everything is different when the President looks like family".  Even though other politicians have given the President a hard time, Pearl says she still believes in democracy.  "Democracy is messy and ongoing, but when it works, it's beautiful," she said.  She added that it takes more than one great president to make democracy work, but also active citizens to live up to the "promise of democracy".


Pearl also talked about her writing process.  She says that her process starts with a character, who eventually becomes a real person to her.  She also writes long-hand and uses pens in different colors.  Pearl also says that she is also looking at people. "They are a walking book," she said.  She encourages future writers to write everyday and to be engaged in the writing process.

After the lecture, I got a chance to talk to Pearl. She told me about her new book, which at the time was scheduled to be released in November (it will now be released in April).  She also asked my how did I get my name (My grandmother found the name in Jet Magazine after Minnie Riperton's passing.  Little did we know that her daughter was going to be so famous!).  Pearl is one of my favorite authors and I was so excited to finally get a chance to meet her!  It was worth the drive!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/11/13

Team Stacey Forever!!
Congratulations Alice Munro!

I was shocked when I found out that Elizabeth Smart was found alive.  More than ten years after her kidnapping and rescue, Elizabeth tells her story in a new book.

Malala Yousafzi is my new shero.

E-books are changing reading habits. Duh.

The movie based on The Fault In Our Starts will have a summer 2014 release date.

Michael Hastings' novel will see the light of day.

A new Richard Scarry book is coming out. The six-year-old in me is very happy.

Kimberla Lawson Roby was featured in the New York Times!

I remember reading one of my mother's Lois Duncan books as a teenager. Now she's reaching a new generation of teens.

I didn't go see Terry McMillian in Atlanta. But Our Literacy Lives and Bernice McFadden did!

And my friend Valinda got to see Terry at the National Book Festival.

They can only come up with 16 best things about being in a book club?

So Raj from The Big Bang Theory (well, the guy that plays him) is writing a memoir.  Hopefully alcohol won't needed to write the book.

This interview with Jesmyn Ward is EVERYTHING.

The Husband's Secret is going to be a movie and Liane Moriarty has her recommendations for who should be in it.  George is too nice of a guy to play such a jerk like John-Paul.  But Matt's not a bad idea for Connor.

In other movie news, The Silent Wife is also going to be a movie with Nicole Kidman playing the lead character.

Instead of toys, books will be in McDonald's Happy Meals in November.

Here is this awesome post about what your favorite Babysitters Club character says about you.    Despite what it says, I am still Team Stacey and Team Jessie.

Carl Weber Returns to Charleston


After the release of The Man in 3B, Carl Weber returned to the Northwoods Books-A-Million February 1.

There were not as many people who attended this book signing as the one in 2011, but Carl still entertained us with his stories, opinions and future plans.

The event started off with a laugh when my friend Cat noticed that Carl was wearing the same sweater that he wore when he visited Charleston the last time.  He said that he doesn't pay attention to those kind of things. LOL.

Carl mostly talked about his plans for the Family Business series.  He said that Family Business 2 was finished (it was released late August) and that he plans to expand the series to at least 15 books.  Since then, another book (To Paris With Love) has been announced and will be released in November.   He also talked about The Choir Director 2, which was scheduled to be released in February 2014, but has since been pushed back to next June.  There are also plans to turn some of his works to television shows and movies.

One thing that had several of my friends talking was Carl's take the book publishing world, especially the state of African-American fiction.  He said that "the experiment" between African-American writers and major publishers "is over".  He said that pretty much the only African-American authors that were still publishing in hardcover were him, Eric Jerome Dickey, Kimberla Lawson Roby and Zane.  He didn't include Terry McMillian, Walter Mosley and Maya Angelou because he felt that they were  considered mainstream and have fans of all races.  And I know there were some authors he forgot who still publish books in hardcover (Mary Monroe, Mary B. Morrison and Daniel Black, among others).  He said that a lot of well-known authors don't have deals with major publishers and some have gotten out of the writing business all together.  He also didn't seem to crazy about people who were publishing e-books for 99 cents on Amazon.  What are your thoughts on what he had to say?


Even though the crowd could have been bigger (which has me worried about whether any more authors will be coming to Books-A-Million in Charleston), the people who attended enjoyed the event.  Carl kept us laughing and had us looking forward to his future projects. Hope he visits South Carolina again soon!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Johnathan Safran Foer at College of Charleston


Last year, the College of Charleston picked Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals as their College Read book selection. This was part of the reason why the Charleston County Public Library chose Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as last year's One Book Charleston County selection.  

Last October 23 (2012), I spent part of my birthday at the TD Arena to hear Foer speak about both books. But the event, since it was at C of C, was mostly about Eating Animals.  For those who don't know, Eating Animals is about how meat are manufactured and consumed by the public.

A student introduced Foer, saying that Eating Animals changed her life so much that she gave up eating meat. More power to her.  Foer reacted to her introduction by saying that the success of a book depends on the conversations that people have after reading it.  Some people may feel uncertain about reading this type of book or it may make them think.  He also said that young people are more willing to change their lifestyles than older people.

Foer said that farming has changed a lot in the last 50 years.  Corporations, rather than individual farmers, are doing now farming.  He said that Smithfield, the pork company, had over 7,000 violations in one year due to the Clean Water Act.  He also said that the corporations don't really care too much about human health and animal cruelty.  He said that the only possible solution to this problem is to promote vegetarianism.

The discussion about the food and farming industry was good, but the ones who came to hear about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close might have been disappointed.  I did get to great him for a minute after the presentation and he did sign my book, but he quickly left.  But he seemed pretty nice.

Monday, October 7, 2013

bell hooks at College of Charleston


This post has been a year in the making, so here it goes!

When many people were getting ready to enjoy the last unofficial days of summer, many people packed the Sottile Theater last August 31(2012), to see noted feminist and scholar bell hooks at the College of Charleston.

I was surprised to see how many people, especially students, attended since the event happened the Friday before Labor Day.  The college, especially the Women and Gender Studies program, did a great job in promoting this event.

bell discussed a variety of topics during her time on stage. She talked about how it is a perilous time to be an African-American woman in the age of Michelle Obama.  She said that when you see an African-American woman, you can see "all of our journeys".  She also said that feminists theories from an African-American standpoint must not be ignored.

bell also said that despite all of the trials we go through, "love is the necessary foundation that keeps us whole".  "Anytime we do the work of love, we do the work of ending discrimination," she said.

I got to greet her before (because I was super early and came straight from work) and after the event.  She was very gracious and was treated like a rock star by the audience (especially by the students).  bell's lecture was very inspiring and I hope that she makes a return trip to the college (or visits a nearby college).

Another blogger wrote about the event here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Book News You Can Use 10/4/13



Some of you may have seen this story already via Facebook and/or Twitter, but if you haven't seen it, here it goes.

On September 22, I ordered The Awesome Girl's Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men from a book store that was not called Amazon.  I knew the book was scheduled to come out two days later, and I figured by the time I returned home from Washington, D. C., it would be there.  And they were offering free express shipping since I was a member of their discount club.  I get an email on Friday, September 27 (last Friday, which was five days later) that the book was on back order and it would take up to four weeks to get the book. NO MA'AM.  I canceled that order and ordered through Amazon.  Monday, I got an email saying Amazon had just mailed it off and it arrived on Tuesday. And I didn't do express shipping (Amazon has two warehouses in the state and they may have come from one of them). Lesson: when in (serious) doubt, order from Amazon.  I haven't started reading the book yet, because my Amazon orders are still being sent to my parents' house. I may need to change that.

Relax in Paradise Tom Clancy.

Wendy Williams needs help in naming her new fiction book.  "How You Doing" must not be an option.

Don't we have Netflix for books already? It's called the library!

Bridget Jones fans are shocked that a major character is not in the book.

Earlier works of Michael Crichton will be republished.

This review of How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America is awesome. And so is this interview.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Events Preview

I have not featured a book event on the blog in a while.  More than a year, as a matter of fact.  So starting on Monday, October 7, I will be (finally) starting to put the book signings I've attended over the last year on the blog.  They will be in order of the event.  Here is the schedule:

Monday, October 7: bell hooks
Wednesday, October 9: Jonathan Safran Foer
Friday, October 11: Carl Weber
Monday, October 14: Pearl Cleage
Wednesday, October 16: Sonia Sanchez
Friday, October 18: Tamika Newhouse
Monday, October 21: Author's Pavilion at the 51st National Convention of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Wednesday, October 23 (My birthday): Tina McElroy Ansa
Friday, October 25: Terry McMillian

There may be one more book event preview this month, with Attica Locke coming to the Spartanburg County Library on October 24.  I am still debating on whether to attend this one, since I would have to take at least a day and a half off of off work, would have to drive three hours there (and three hours back), and spend the night at a hotel. But then, I can use the birthday weekend excuse.

Sorry for the delay in getting these out and enjoy!

ETA 10/6/13: Terry in Atlanta didn't happen. I was going to ride with Valinda, but due to the government shutdown, she had to work extra hours (at least she was working). And I didn't want to drive by myself. Hopefully, Terry will see this and decide to visit Charleston (or somewhere nearby) very soon.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book News You Can Use 9/20/13



Grace Jones is writing a memoir, which is planned to be published next fall.

I guess this is the year that ignorant people attack The Bluest Eyes. This time it's from Toni's home state of Ohio.

And a school board in North Carolina has banned Invisible Man.

Paula Deen has come out of hiding and has made her first public appearance in months.

As my hopes for a decent Gone Girl movie continues to get dashed, meet the model who will play the other woman in Nick's life.

The National Book Award nominees were announced this week.

Thirteen of James Baldwin's books have been released in e-books.

James Patterson is giving independent bookstores $1 million.

Wild meets Silver Sparrow: Cheryl Strayed recently met her long-lost half-sister.

Jesmyn Ward talks about how she wrote Men We Reaped.

Terry McMillian gave some insight into the state of African-American authors and big publishers in this article.

The movie based on Zane's Addicted has gotten a release date. Thank God it will be out before the 50 Shades movie.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book News You Can Use 9/13/13



Since today is Friday the 13th, I though about putting a picture of Jason Voorhees up.  But I decided on this instead.  It's NSFW, but it's funny.

Sonia Sanchez turned 79 years young Monday. A documentary has been created about her life and a Kickstarter fund has been started to raise $55,000 to complete it.

Who would have though Dennis Rodman would be an unofficial diplomat, much less write a book with the leader of North Korea?

Author NoViolet Bulawayo and Anthony Marra discuss their coming-of-age books.

And speaking of NoViolet, We Need New Names made the Booker Prize short-list.

Another story about "Who Asked You?" comes in as Terry McMillian's new book is released next week.

So how come I didn't know that MSN had a book website until it shut down?

Jesmyn Ward received coverage of her new book Men We Reaped in the New York Times.

Roxane Gay had a conversation with Kiese Laymon, author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others and America and Long Division.

Roxane also wrote about how there needs to be some diversity in literary conversations.  Amen.

Do you know the one thing that white authors can get away with but minority writers can't?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book News You Can Use 9/6/13


Football season has started and I'm excited, especially for college football.  LET'S GO GAMECOCKS!!!!

True Crime author Carla Norton released a novel inspired by on one of her previous TC books.

Terry McMillian talks to Huffington Post about "Who Asked You?", which will be out on the 17th.

The people who select books for Oprah's website/magazine did a good job in selecting September's reading list picks.  Why? Because four of them are on my to-be-read list!

Good news for Agatha Christie fans: there will be a Poirot novel, the first one in almost 40 years.  But she's not coming back from the dead to write it.

CBS Films has secured the rights for The Husband's Secret.

Writer Mary Gaitskill doesn't like Gone Girl.

And speaking of Gone Girl, whose idea was it to cast Tyler as Nick's lawyer? SERIOUSLY??!!

USA Today has a preview of the most anticipated books of the fall.  And so does Kirkus Reviews.

Maya Angelou will receive an honorary book award from the National Book Awards.

Bad enough they are making a 50 Shades of Gray movie. I didn't even get to the love scenes because Ana and Christian were so dang annoying. But this was the best they can do with casting? Seriously?

So Rush Limbaugh decided to write a children's book. Good Lord.

One day I will get it together and go to the Decatur Book Festival.  Here's recaps from The Write Life and Our Literacy Lives.

Picture came from Spurs Up Blog.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Never Say Never


June marked six years since nine Charleston firefighters lost their lives in the Sofa Super Store fire.  This tragedy has made people in my hometown more aware of the work and dedication that firefighters have, especially in light of the recent tragedies in Houston and Arizona.

But what happens to the widows and families that the deceased firefighters left behind?  How do they move on? After hearing that many widows of firemen who died in 9/11 married other firemen, Victoria Christopher Murrary decided to examine what happens in Never Say Never.

Miriam is married to Chauncey and Jamal is married to Emily.  They are all best friends and both Chauncey and Jamal are firefighters.  When Chauncey dies in a school fire, Miriam feels that her life is over.  Luckily, Jamal and Emily are there for her.  But as time goes on, Jamal and Miriam get close. Very close, if you know what I mean. How will this affair impact the surviving friends?

This book is a little different from what I have read from Victoria in the past, but I still enjoyed it.  It shows how grief can take over someone's life and make them do things they would never do.  I had a chance to discuss the book with Victoria when we saw each other at Delta Sigma Theta's National Convention. I told her about the Sofa Super Store fire and she asked if any of the widows married other firefighters.  I told her no, but the families have pretty much kept their privacy after the event and if they did, the public never knew about it.

If you have enjoyed Victoria's past novels, you will enjoy Never Say Never.

Received ARC from Touchstone and Netgallery.  Opinions are my own.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Book News You Can Use 8/30/13


I love to read. I wish I could advise more people to read. There’s a whole other world in books. If you can’t afford to travel, you travel mentally through reading. You can see anything and go any place you want to in reading.

Happy (Belated) Birthday Michael!! 

Relax in Paradise Seamus Heaney.

This week was the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.  NPR has recommended some books about the Civil Rights Movement for your reading pleasure.

Elmore Leonard's son may finish his last novel.

Will there be more J.D. Salinger books?

Publishers Weekly announced their indie books picks for the fall.  The only that caught my attention was the one about Matthew Shepard. 


And Kirkus has announced their best bios released in the fall.

Jesmyn Ward honors Trayvon Martin, her deceased brother and other black males in this Chicago Tribune article.  Her new book is about loosing several black men in her life.

Nikki Giovanni talks about the March on Washington and how Dr. King's speech give us hope. And she also wrote a poem about it.  And how did I miss that she's coming out with an new book in October?

Here is a review of Edwidge Danticat's new book from the Washington Post.  I have an ARC of this book and look forward to reading it.

When I heard that the New York Times was doing a review on Nine Years Under, I thought it was going to be one those long, detailed reviews.  I thought wrong

An Alabama senator wants to remove The Bluest Eyes from public schools. #aintnobodygottimeforthat

Michael's picture and quote came from his official Facebook page