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.