Monday, June 29, 2009

#BookReview: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built - Alexander McCall Smith

In the latest installment of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency we find Precious Ramotswe mourning the loss of her beloved white van while her assistant, Grace Makutsi, wonders if she's losing her fiance to the devilish Violet Sephotho. In the midst of their personal drama, the ladies take on a case about which they know absolutely nothing, football. All of the characters from previous books are back: the reliable JLB Matekoni, Charlie the useless apprentice, etc. As always with this series, the book was an excellent read and left me waiting for the next book. Afraid I'll have to wait until Spring 2010.

#BookReview: They Tell me of A Home - Daniel Black

When he left Stamp Creek, Arkansas ten years ago, Tommy Lee (TL) Tyson had no intention of ever coming back. Armed with a PhD in black studies, he feels the need to return to try to connect with the parents that never loved him and the sister he left behind. TL arrives to find that Sister passed two years ago and no one is willing to answer his questions about what happened. Planning to be in town for only one week, TL will have to break down barriers that have been in place all twenty-eight years of his life to find out the truth about Sister, his brother and his parents.

I liked this book. The author does a good job of capturing a small southern town and its characters. There were some parts that were too preachy for me, but they didn't last very long.

#BookReview: Basketball Jones - E. Lynn Harris

I haven't read an E. Lynn Harris book in a minute. I only picked this book up because I was running short on something to read. While some of his other books have had more sex scenes than I could ever need, this book seemed to downplay them. This is the story of two men that meet in college and become partners. While one goes on to play for the NBA and marries a woman to divert attention from his close male friendship, the other becomes his kept man. The ballplayer is blackmailed by someone threatening to expose him, it turns out to be his wife and a queen, blah blah blah. It was something to read on a lazy afternoon, but I wouldn't run out to pick this up unless you have absolutely nothing else to do.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Soundtrack of my Life: A Tribute to Michael Jackson

I have fond memories of waiting on a DeBarge concert to start at Six Flags and listening to the whole Thriller album while I waited.My daughter often laughs at me and says I have a story associated with every song I know.She’s right.

Everyone in the 8th grade knew that I was THE biggest Michael Jackson fan. My walls were covered with his pictures (the ceiling was reserved for Prince). I would watch the American Music Awards, the Grammys, any show on tv that might give me a glimpse of my sequined glove King.My infatuation was so sick that I would take pictures on him on tv and tack them on my wall.I had both of my grandmothers clipping his pictures from the Enquirer, the Star, whatever magazine he appeared in.

I can still remember the looks on their faces.It's been 25 years, but just like it was yesterday, I can still remember my mother picking me up from a slumber party at Christy Vesper's house. The Vespers were quietly standing next to her looking as if the world had come to an end. The night before Michael Jackson had been burned while filming a Pepsi commercial and no one knew how to tell me.
As I grew older and started to lean more towards Prince’s erotic lyrics, I never strayed too far from Michael. Every time I thought he was done making great music, he’d pull me back with a new song.While he may be gone, his music still pulls me at me and I run back happily, remembering the soundtrack of my life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

#BookReview: The View Park Series - Angela Winters

Remember the Carringtons of Dynasty? the Ewings of Dallas? Meet the Chases of View Park.

Steven Chase and wife Janet have spent thirty years building a hair care dynasty and a family. While Steven runs the business, Janet runs the home...when she's not popping pills.

Carter, the oldest of the Chase children, has always been a womanizer and a rebel. Refusing to work for the family business, he runs his own law firm. Never one to let his children stray too far away, Steven keeps him on retainer as the Chase company attorney. Chase has fallen for Avery, the owner of a chain of salons his father wants to take over. Will Chase choose Avery over his family or is blood really thicker than water?

Michael, the second son of Steven and Janet Chase, is the family CFO. Married to the conniving Kimberly, a former prostitute, and the father of twin boys, Michael is in a constant battle with his brother for the position of number one with his father. Blinded by his need to come first, Michael will stop at nothing to make sure he's on top.

Leigh Chase, doctor and philanthropist, wants nothing to do with her controlling mother. Traveling to the ends of the earth and maintaining a healthy distance from her family is her ultimate goal, but when you're a member of the View Park Chase's, it's all but impossible.

Bad girl Haley Chase has never felt loved by her father. We all know what havok a Daddy complex can wreak. From tearing up clubs, sleeping with several men to witnessing a Mafia hit,Haley will stop at nothing to get her father's attention.

This series flows extremely well. While I haven't yet picked up the latest in the series, A Price to Pay, it is definitely on my list of summer reads.

#BookReview: Leaving Atlanta - Tayari Jones

In her first novel, Tayari Jones approaches a scary time in history for African Americans and their children. Leaving Atlanta is the story of three children living in Atlanta during the child abductions of the 80s. Tasha, Rodney and Octavia are students in the same fifth grade class in 1981. This is a fascinating read of how each child and their family approaches the recent abductions, especially those of their schoolmates, and the ultimate decision to leave Atlanta.

#BookReview: LET'S GET IT ON by Jill Nelson

You can tell from the cover photo that this is not the typical Jill Nelson political/life observation book. Oh no, Jill takes us in the direction of Zane, but manages to do it with class. Readers of her work will remember her first departure from the norm with Sexual Healing.

 In this follow up novel, we find Acey, Wanda, Lydia, Odell and Captain Marvini taking their spa for men from the desert of Reno, Nevada to the uppercrust crowd of Martha's Vineyard. Introduced to the important members of society by Lydia's godmother, Ma Nicola, the crew is delightfully surprised to find that the wealthy women of the Vineyard flock to the spa for ALL of their services.

Never one to completely ignore politics, Ms. Nelson manages to poke fun at George W. Bush and his fictional policy of "No Child, No Behind" which threatens to ruin their operations. Add the threats of an east coast Mafia don and you've definitely got trouble.

Ms. Nelson is masterful at creating fascinating characters and she hits the mark once again in her latest.

288 p.
Published: June 2007

Purchased: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

#BookReview: Bring on the Blessings - Beverly Jenkins

Henry Adams, Kansas is a small town settled by freed slaves after the Civil War and it's a community on its last leg. In desperation, the mayor puts the township up for sale on eBay. Bernadine Brown has just received $ 275 million in a divorce settlement and does what any other woman in her right mind would do, she buys a town! Bernadine's dream is to rebuild the town and create a haven for foster children needing families. While most of the town residents warm to the idea, there are a few disgruntled residents (and a pig) that will stop at nothing to discredit Bernadine and keep her dream from becoming a reality.

#BookReview: Going Down South - Bonnie J. Glover

Before teen pregnancy became a "norm", girls that got in trouble (read: pregnant) were sent down south to have their babies who were then given up for adoption or to married family members that could give them a proper name and upbringing.

Olivia Jean has always felt like she's in her parents way and that they would much rather be alone than be bothered with her. Low self-esteem sends her to the closet at school with a popular boy and eventually down south when her parents realize she's pregnant. Daisy, Olivia Jean's mother, left the south fifteen years ago and hasn't been back to visit her mother, Birdie, since. Daisy and her husband, Turk, head down south to drop Olivia Jean off only to be told by Birdie that one of them must stay also.

A lifetime of secrets, happiness and pain are shared while waiting on the birth of the newest member of the family.

#BookReview: Empress Orchid - Anchee Min

Anchee Min's Empress Orchid gives the reader a glimpse into the life of an ordinary girl picked to become one of the seven wives of Emperor Hsien Feng in 1852. Though initially picked because of her beauty, and forgotten by the emperor after the newness wears off, Orchid becomes the emperor's most important wife because of her ability to comprehend official documents when the emperor cannot.

This book follows Orchid's rise to power through her son, while serving as his advisor when the emperor becomes sick. With her faithful eunuch, Antehai at her side, Orchid deals with betrayal by her brother-in-law and the upcoming battle with the British. Orchid truly triumphs in a story that's rarely told from the female point of view of the Forbidden City.

#BookReview: What Doesn't Kill You - Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant

In What Doesn't Kill You we're introduced to Thomasina (Tee for short), a 40something divorcee/single mother/self starter that seems to have everything going for her...and then, life happens. She finds herself without a job, without her piece of man and without direction. It takes her awhile to get it together, but she eventually finds out that it's ok to lean on others and step outside of your comfort zone. While I'm not quite 40something, I still related very well to the main character. I found myself cheering for her in parts and yelling for her to get it together in other parts. I've never read a bad book from these two ladies and they didn't let me down this time. I loved this book.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

#BookReview: Midnight - Sister Souljah

If you pick this book up thinking you're getting the sequel to the highly acclaimed "The Coldest Winter Ever", you'll be disappointed to know this book is not a sequel. That begs the question, why isn't it? I'm one of those people that will struggle through a book for days even if it's poorly written, poorly edited and the storyline is non-existent.

Midnight is the story of a young Islamic boy that immigrates to America from Africa with his mother. In the 5 years before he leaves Africa, he is taught many lessons by his father and uses all he has learned to protect his mother in America. While his mother only speaks Arabic, he was taught English and is able to translate for her. As such, he becomes the voice for her when dealing with landlords, clients, etc. He struggles to stay true to his Islamic beliefs while living in Brooklyn and dating, and eventually marrying, a Japanese artist, all at the age of 14. The end of the book finds the 14 year old boarding a plane to Japan to reclaim the hand of his 16 year old bride who has been spirited back to Japan by her father.

I smell a sequel and to this I still say, WHY? We couldn't get a sequel to "The Coldest Winter Ever", a book that truly deserved a sequel, but you're going to give us one to this?

#BookReview: Color Me Butterfly - L.Y. Marlow

Color Me Butterfly is the true story of a Philadelphia family living through four generations of mental and physical abuse. It's not until a potential victim takes steps to save herself and, in turn, her daughter, that the cycle is broken. The book focuses on one member of each generation that is a victim of abuse, but never a perpetrator. I guess I would have liked to know if any of the members abused because of their abuse. This is a quick read with a happy ending.

#BookReview: Pecking Order - Omar Tyree

Let me just start off by saying as an author Omar Tyree has come a long way from his days of "Flyy Girl", but still not far enough. The story follows Ivan David, an average accountant turnedevent planner/concert promoter. The book has so much potential, but instead of reaching that potential the reader is treated to a long, drawn out story that fizzles at the end. I'm not sure if the author was on deadline, had a page cap that he didn't use well, or what the logic was. It seems that the most interesting part of the story was given 2 pages while the other 513 pages were just filler. If you're looking for mindless reading and have time on your hands, this is the book for you.

#BookReview: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series - Alexander McCall Smith

Meet Precious Ramotswe, the proprietor and lead detective of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Like most people, i was unaware of this series before the HBO-produced, Jill Scott-led series. If you've seen the show, it only gives you a glimpse into the world of Mma Ramotswe, her secretary/assistant detective Mma Makutsi and her friend (and potential love interest) Rra JLB Matekoni. The characters are colorful and while some of the storylines may drag, it's only temporarily.
Reading the series and watching the show on HBO have made me see Botswana in a way I had only imagined. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm ready to pack my bags and go for a visit!