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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Repost: Featured Author for December - Maya Angelou

This month's featured author is Maya Angelou. I had someone else in mind, but at trivia night a few weeks ago she was the subject of one of the questions. I was amazed that my table mates didn't know more about her. The average person knows that she wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or they remember her inaugural speech for President Clinton, On the Pulse of Morning. You may know her for her poetic stylings in Still I Rise or for the younger generation, as an elder in Tyler Perry movies.

Readers, I'm here to tell you that Madame Angelou has lived! I picked up her then complete collection as a freshmen in college 20 years ago and was blown away. The books shown above cover her life from the beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969); the ages 17 through 19 as a single mother working as a prostitute and madam in a brothel in Gather Together in My Name (1974); Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976) covers her marriage to a Greek sailor, her dance career (did you know she once partnered with THE Alvin Ailey?), and the recording of her first album.

The Heart of A Woman (1981) reflects on her time as a member of the noted Harlem Writer's Guild; her time in Egypt and Ghana; her close friendship with Malcolm X; and raising a black man in America. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) finds her back in the United States working as a songwriter for Roberta Flack, writing short stories and preparing for her role in Alex Haley's Roots miniseries.

When I tell you Madam Angelou has lived a full life, she truly has. As an impressionable young woman, I was so blown away by her story. Recounting now all that she has done in the time period that's not even covered by these books is even more stunning. My hope is that you will take the time to get to know and appreciate this woman who is truly an American treasure.

Originally posted Dec. 4, 2009
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Friday, May 23, 2014

#BookReview: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Cannie Shapiro has more issues than the Philadelphia Examiner, the paper where she works as a weddings feature/celebrity gossip columnist. She’s overweight, she has daddy and abandonment issues, she can’t stand her mother’s girlfriend and she’s on a break from her boyfriend. Well, technically, it’s a break. He seems to think it’s over and is fodder for his new column called “Good in Bed.” As you can tell, Cannie has a lot going on.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#BookReview: The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee by Carolyn Brown

I like books set in small towns where everyone knows everyone else’s business. I wouldn’t want to live in one myself, but I do enjoy reading about them. The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee had all of the necessary requirements of small town living. There’s Viola Prescott, the grand dame of local society, who is determined to have her way no matter what. There’s Agnes, who has been feuding with Viola for as long as anyone can remember. And there’s a festival, though they call it a jubilee in this instance. If you’re familiar with the holiday festival in Steel Magnolias, this is the kind of thing I’m looking for in these books, and Blue-Ribbon delivered.
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Monday, May 19, 2014

#BookReview: Unbreak My Heart by Toni Braxton

Fans of the oldest Braxton sister already know her story as it has played out in the tabloids and in the reality show with her sisters, Braxton Family Values.  There's not a whole lot to be learned in her new memoir, Unbreak My Heart, that we don't already know, but she does provide some insight into why she's made some of the decisions she's made.  She's open and honest about her relationships with her parents, her sisters and even her ex-husband.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Books I Can't Wait to Read! Summer 2014 edition

Summer is upon us, though you'd never know by the weather.  Here in St. Louis, it's 90 one day and 50 the next.  None of that matters, because summer is coming and with it, warmer weather and some fantabulous reads.  I've put together a list of books I'm either dying to read or have already read and I'm dying to share them with you.  After making my list, it dawned on me that every book was either written by or about a person of color and, with the exception of two, they were all written by women.  As the recent campaign says, #WeNeedDiverseBooks.  And since one of the reasons I review books here is to shine the light on authors of color, let me share some of those diverse books with you.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

#BookReview: Miss Julia's Marvelous Makeover by Ann B. Ross

Hazel Marie and Mr. Pickens are comfortably settled in their home with the babies. James has recovered from the injury that put him out of commission and Granny Wiggins has smoothly transitioned into her role as nanny and housekeeper for Hazel Marie, Lloyd and Mr. Pickens. So now that Miss Julia and Sam have the house to themselves, it only seems right that they start to think about how they’d like to spend their leisure time. Just as they make up their minds to take a trip, they’re waylaid by “stuff.”
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Monday, May 12, 2014

#BookReview: Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley

"How do you know I read?" I asked.  I never talked about books to anyone except my therapist and that one arrogant literature professor." 
"Theon told me.  I asked him did he get jealous with you havin' sex with all those young men and he said that it was only the books made him turn green.  He said that he always felt like he was about to lose you when you were lookin' in a book."

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Friday, May 9, 2014

#BookReview: Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano

As the story opens, there’s uncertainty on behalf of the reader about what is going on. Initially, we know that eleven year old Luz Castillo is living in some kind of facility. Her Aunt Tencha visits her, so she’s not without family. Something has happened to put her sister in the hospital and her father in jail and Luz isn’t talking to anyone about anything.
“Julie says the reason I don’t say anything is because I’m in deep pain. Like if pain were something she knew looked like me.”
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

ICYMI: Walter Mosley & Michael Eric Dyson in Conversation

In case you missed it, Walter Mosley and Michael Eric Dyson sat down yesterday at the Schomburg Center in New York for an extended conversation.  As always, Walter was witty and warm and Michael talked a mile a minute.  If you weren't able to watch it live, you can catch it below.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

#BookReview: Year of the Chick series by Romi Moondi

Normally I would review books in a series separately, but as they were all pretty quick reads and I read them back to back, it seems easier to review the series as a whole. Year of the Chick (Book 1), Last Minute Love (Book 2) and Never or Forever (Book 3) are loosely based on the life of the Canadian-Indian author, Romi Moondi. If you love diverse chick lit, you’ll enjoy her writing.
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