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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Colorful Lit Alert, Spring 2015 - The Black Women Authors Edition

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (I can't wait to talk to you all about this one.  It's a must read!)
352pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub. Date: April 14, 2015

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.


Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
(For the YA readers)
304pp
Publisher: Amistad
Pub. Date: April 21, 2015

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles’s half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Powerful and humorous, this companion to the award-winning One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven will be enjoyed by fans of the first two books, as well as by readers meeting these memorable sisters for the first time.


Pleasantville by Attica Locke
432pp
Publisher: Harper
Pub. Date: April 21, 2015

Fifteen years after the events of Black Water Rising, Jay Porter is struggling to cope with catastrophic changes in his personal life and the disintegration of his environmental law practice. His victory against Cole Oil is still the crown jewel of his career, even if he hasn’t yet seen a dime thanks to appeals. But time has taken its toll. Tired and restless, he?s ready to quit.

When a girl goes missing on Election Night, 1996, in the neighborhood of Pleasantville—a hamlet for upwardly-mobile blacks on the north side of Houston—Jay, a single father, is deeply disturbed. He’s been representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire, and the case is dragging on, raising doubts about his ability.

The missing girl was a volunteer for one of the local mayoral candidates, and her disappearance complicates an already heated campaign. When the nephew of one of the candidates, a Pleasantville local, is arrested, Jay reluctantly finds himself serving as a defense attorney. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put an electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.



Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
288pp
Publisher: Amistad
Pub. Date: May 26, 2015

The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life.

Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child.

Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.

Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him.

In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.


The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
304pp
Publisher: Penguin Press
Pub. Date: June 30, 2015

Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in this stunning debut novel

This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother’s limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother’s mysterious life.

This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Colorful Lit Alert, Spring 2015 - Autobiographies


Welcome to My Breakdown by Benilde Little
288pp
Publisher: Atria
Pub. Date: April 21, 2015

My mother was gone. I never thought I would survive her death.

A major bestselling novelist and former magazine editor, long married to a handsome and successful stockbroker with whom she has a beautiful daughter and son, Benilde Little once had every reason to feel on top of the world. But as illness, the aging of her parents, and other hurdles interrupted her seemingly perfect life, she took a tailspin into a pit of clinical depression.

Told in her own fearless and wise voice, Welcome to My Breakdown chronicles a cavern of depression so dark that Benilde didn’t know if she’d ever recover from what David Foster Wallace called “a nausea of the soul.” She discusses everything from her Newark upbringing, once-frequent visits to a Muslim mosque, and how it felt to date a married man, to her doubts about marriage, being caught between elder care and childcare, and ultimately how she treated her depression and found a way out.


After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye by Jan Gaye
304pp
Publisher: Amistad
Pub. Date: May 19, 2015

After her seventeenth birthday in 1973, Janis Hunter met Marvin Gaye—the soulful prince of Motown with the seductive liquid voice whose chart-topping, socially conscious album What’s Going On made him a superstar two years earlier. Despite a seventeen-year-age difference and Marvin’s marriage to the sister of Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder, the enchanted teenager and the emotionally volatile singer began a scorching relationship.

One moment Jan was a high school student; the next she was accompanying Marvin to parties, navigating the intriguing world of 1970s-’80s celebrity; hanging with Don Cornelius on the set of Soul Train, and helping to discover new talent like Frankie Beverly. But the burdens of fame, the chaos of dysfunctional families, and the irresistible temptations of drugs complicated their love.


Keep Your Head to the Sky by Maurice White
224pp
Publisher: Amistad
Pub. Date: June 2, 2015

With its dynamic horns, contrasting vocals, and vivid stage shows, Earth, Wind & Fire was one of the most popular acts of the late twentieth century—the band “that changed the sound of black pop” (Rolling Stone)—and its music continues to inspire modern artists including Usher, Jay-Z, Cee-Lo Green, and Outkast. At last, the band’s founder, Maurice White, shares the story of his success.

Now in his seventies, White reflects on the great blessings music has brought to his life and the struggles he’s endured: his mother leaving him behind in Memphis when he was four; learning to play the drums with Booker T. Jones; moving to Chicago at eighteen and later Los Angeles after leaving the Ramsey Lewis Trio; forming EWF, only to have the original group fall apart; working with Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond; his diagnosis of Parkinson’s; and his final public performance with the group at the 2006 Grammy Awards.


I Am Charlie Wilson by Charlie Wilson
256pp
Publisher: Atria/37 INK
Pub. Date: June 30, 2015

Recognized the world over for his distinct voice and timeless hits spanning a career of nearly half a century, Charlie Wilson is one of the most celebrated musicians of his generation. So it took friends and family by surprise when he checked into rehab and revealed that he had been not only homeless, but also helpless.

Here, in the memoir fans have been demanding, is the story of how love and faith carried him through not only his addiction, but also prostate cancer. Now over twenty years sober, Wilson recounts a life filled with vertiginous highs and heartbreaking lows. His is a story of triumph over adversity, courage in the face of extreme hardship, and love when all else is lost. It is a tale of the last sixty years in social and pop culture history, and one that will stay with you for years to come.


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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Repost: Chat with Bernice McFadden for National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

It's hard to believe that it's been five years since we sat down with Bernice McFadden and discussed her ebook, Keeper of the Keys, a moving short story of a young woman who considers suicide when she learns she has AIDS.  Ms. McFadden brings home the powerful message of AIDS and its effect on the African American community, particularly women.  In honor of National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I'm reposting the transcript of that conversation.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

#BookReview (Audio): Disgruntled by Asali Solomon




Kenya Curtis is only eight years old, but she knows that she's different, even if she can't put her finger on how or why. It's not because she's black—most of the other students in the fourth-grade class at her West Philadelphia elementary school are too. Maybe it's because she celebrates Kwanza, or because she's forbidden from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe it's because she calls her father—a housepainter-slash-philosopher—"Baba" instead of "Daddy," or because her parents' friends gather to pour out libations "from the Creator, for the Martyrs" and discuss "the community."
Kenya does know that it's connected to what her Baba calls "the shame of being alive"—a shame that only grows deeper and more complex over the course of Asali Solomon's long-awaited debut novel.

Disgruntled, effortlessly funny and achingly poignant, follows Kenya from West Philadelphia to the suburbs, from public school to private, from childhood through adolescence, as she grows
increasingly disgruntled by her inability to find any place or thing or person that feels like home.

A coming-of-age tale, a portrait of Philadelphia in the late eighties and early nineties, an examination of the impossible double-binds of race, Disgruntled is a novel about the desire to rise above the limitations of the narratives we're given and the painful struggle to craft fresh ones we can call our own.

304pp
Published: February 2015




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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#BookReview (Audio): Brunch at Ruby's by DL White & The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson




The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
352pp
Published: March 3, 2015







Brunch at Ruby's by D.L. White
ebook
Published: March 24, 2015







Pre-order here:

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble |Kobo Books 


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