Monday, September 27, 2010

#BookReview: Gone Too Far - Angela Winters

The Chases of View Park are back.  When last we visited them in A Price to Pay Carter, the eldest son, had been dumped by his one true love and the mother of his child, Avery.  The other son, Michael, had finally given his wife Kimberly the divorce she wanted.  Leigh had sworn off all future suitors after a Hollywood romance gone bad.  And bad girl Haley was still wreaking havoc.

Avery has rejected Carter for the last time.  Just when they were so close to finally being together, Avery's husband was injured in an accident that left him paralyzed.  Avery and Carter share a child together, but their dream of being a happy family will never happen as long as Avery's husband is depending on her.

Kimberly has dreamed of bringing the Chase empire down for as long as she can remember.  But now that Michael has granted her divorce, she's ready to move on with her twins.  When one of the boys becomes sick, Michael rejoins his family as the head and starts on the path to becoming the man Kimberly has always needed him to be.

Family philanthropist and friend to the needy, Dr. Leigh Chase has decidedly taken a break from men.  After her last romance gone bad, the last thing she needs is the distraction of some man.  Lobbying Senator Max Cody, about a new health bill would be a lot easier if she weren't attracted to him. 

Whether she's hanging out with drug smugglers or disrupting family dinner, Haley Chase is a force to be reckoned with.  The youngest of the Chase children, she's a certified brat.  The last time her parents sent her overseas as punishment, she ended up in Australia.  She's returned and just so happened to bring a husband back.

What did you like about this book?
This whole series is like a written version of Dynasty.  I LIVED for Dynasty back in the 80s and this definitely does not disappoint.

What didn't you like about this book?
Earlier books in the series really showcased the parents.  This time they were almost secondary characters.

What could the author do to improve this book?
Give us more of Steven and Janet and get someone to finance a mini series!  Think Generations but with better story lines.

Published June 2010

Theme: Make Yours A Happy Home by Gladys Knight & the Pips

Friday, September 24, 2010

Free For All Friday

::::whispering:::::: I see pretty people.  They're all on my TV. I don't think they even know they're pretty.  I wasn't that excited by the story line or the writing on Wednesday night's Undercovers, but it was great to see pretty, brown people on my TV who weren't appearing in an episode of Law & Order or some other show as criminals.

In his initial draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl made Charlie chocolate.  Okay, not chocolate, but he was black. source  In the 1964 edition of the book, the Oompa-Loompas were black.  In the 1973 revised edition they were white.  And of course, in the movie version they were orange. source

I got Danielle Evans' Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self in the mail yesterday and started reading it on my lunch hour.  As the rapping McDonald's van rider says, I'm lovin' it.  Ron Charles, the Washington Post fiction reviewer recently commented on it in his hilarious video review.

I stopped by Tayari Jones' blog last week (which you should be visiting on the regular) and commented on a book that she mentioned.  The description of it sounded amazing, but I was sad to find that it was being released in South Africa without a US release date announced.  The author saw my comment and contacted me to ask if I'd like an autographed copy of the book.  You already know I said yes!  I'm anxiously awaiting it in the mail.  What's the book? The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu.

Speaking of blogs that I visit, if you haven't visited any of the ones listed below on the blog roll, be sure to give them a visit.  There's something interest going on daily.  By the way, you know I do more than read, right?  If you're into reality TV, visit The TV Tweeter for the my twitter synopsis of this week's shows.  Prepping a kid for college and want to know how I'm doing it? Visit Whose Kid is This for unfiltered thoughts on choosing the right school for a snarky kid.

So what's on your mind this Free for All Friday?

Friday, September 17, 2010

'Fess Up Friday

I don't know why I feel like I should be playing Ursha (that's Usher for the proper folks) in the background.  Oh hell, let me drop a little leprechaun love for y'all.

Now that that's out of the way, here's the part where I confess my book blogging secrets.
  1. Sometimes I don't feel like blogging.  I just want to read without worrying about whether or not I'm going to finish the book in time to have a post.
  2. My feelings get hurt when no one comments on a book that I thought was really great.  I'm overly enthusiastic (and long winded) about books I really like. I want others to be overly enthusiastic about them too.  Everyone has their preference.  I'm working on not being so gushy and sensitive about what I read.
  3. Some days I would rather blog about reality TV.  If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I'm a fan of the Real Housewives series and umm...Swamp People.  Don't judge me! I'm fascinated by the Cajun accents.
  4. I think the book blogging world can be just as segregated as the shelving at Borders.  Someone once told me that if I wanted to increase my readership, I should blog about more mainstream lit.  And by mainstream they meant paranormal/vampire lit, romance novels, historical fiction, books with white characters, etc.  I blog predominantly about books by and/or about people of color because I enjoy it and if I don't, who will?  I don't knock anyone that blogs about the other stuff, but it's not my cup of tea. 
  5. Jodi Picoult needs to go sit down somewhere.
  6. I hate authors that friend me on Goodreads just to plug their book. Stop filling my inbox up with repeated recommendations for your book.  If it's good, I'll get to it and you only need to tell me once!
  7. I think it's rude as hell when someone that's never commented on the blog emails asking me to send them one of the freebies on the Giveaways page.  Yeah, they're free to you, but the postage costs me.  At least have the decency to say something in the email other than your name, address and name of the book you want.
  8. I'm not a fan of street lit.  I'm sure most of you already knew that, but I have to put it out there again.  A fellow tweeter and I were discussing it last week after the whole Omar Tyree post and out of nowhere, street lit authors came for us. What the what? The Twitterverse isn't gang turf! I'm not about to fight you over what you write.  There's an audience for what you write, but I'm not picking up what you're putting down, so stop trying to bring me over to the dark side.  Know your audience and govern yourselves accordingly.
  9. I think grown people that read nothing but YA lit are weird.
  10. I think Kindles, Nooks, etc. are overrated.  Yeah, I said it.  I know some of you swears on the precious when it comes to those things. I still prefer paper books.  (Did you see how I threw that Lord of the Rings reference in there? I stans for Smeagol!)

Ahhh, confession is good for the soul.  So what do you need to confess this Friday?


Monday, September 13, 2010

#BookReview: Torn Between Two Lovers - Carl Weber

Fans of Big Girls Do Cry and Something on the Side will be happy to know that members of the infamous Big Girls Book Club are back.  When last we left them Egypt finally got rid of her conniving sister, Isis, and Loraine had reunited with her husband, Leon, after her best friend Jerome tried to tear them apart.  With Torn Between Two Lovers, Weber turns his attention towards Loraine.

Loraine and Leon survived Jerome's efforts to tear them apart, but something still isn't right between them in the bedroom.  Loraine has tried to be patient, but it's been a six year struggle and his "early arrival" was one of the many reasons why she was so willing to believe Leon was cheating on her before. 

Leon wants his marriage to work desperately and will stop at nothing to please his wife.  The last time he was hypnotized by his therapist, he was surprised to find that he had repressed memories of physical beatings by his uncle as a young child.  Though that revelation was startling, it still hasn't helped him figure out why he can no longer please his wife in the bedroom.

Michael has been in love with Loraine since he was a young boy watching her hang out with his older sister.  When Loraine's marriage fell apart the first time, he swooped in to pick up the pieces.  Now that she's back with Leon, Michael can't accept that she no longer wants her.  He'll do anything to win her back, even if it borders on stalking.

Jerome's desire to see Loraine with a better man led him to set Leon up in Big Girls Do Cry.  He thought by making it look like Leon was cheating, Loraine would open her eyes and move on to someone else.  Unfortunately that plan backfired and Jerome lost his best friend forever.  He's experienced a handful of disastrous relationships himself, but when he has a chance to rekindle a romance with Ron, a handsome basketball player, he's willing to cut ties with all of his other loves, including his secret lover, Big Poppa.  If only his annoying stalker would stop screwing things up for him.

What did you like about this book?
This book starts off at a fast pace and doesn't stop until the ending.  I thought I knew exactly what was going on and who the players were, but I was shocked and surprised to find that I really didn't.  I love that it wasn't predictable.

What didn't you like about this book?
It was shorter than the typical Carl Weber book.

What could the author do to improve this book?
Though it was shorter than usual, there is really nothing I can think of that would make it better.

Published September 2010
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publicist.

Theme: You, Me & He by Mtume

Friday, September 10, 2010

When Social Media Goes Wrong

One of the best things about Twitter, at least in my opinion, is that readers like me have access to a variety of authors.  Though they could tweet simply for self-promotion, I've found that most authors like to interact with their audience and are very engaging.  So as I was lounging one Sunday morning at Bedside Baptist, where Joel Osteen is my pastor, I happened to catch the monologue you see below.

Some would ask what was wrong with that twenty-six minute speech.  Well twitter is about interaction.  If your whole purpose in getting on Twitter to tell people about your catalog of books in hopes of getting them to visit your website, then you're doing social media wrong. In addition, if you're an author and someone is following you, it's pretty safe to assume that they're already a fan of your work.  Why are you telling them about everything you've already written? They know! Try telling them about what you're working on, getting their feedback on what you've written, asking them about what they would like to see in the future.

How do I know the author doesn't interact with his audience, besides the fact that he completely ignored questions that I, and others, directed at him?  As soon as I tweeted about what I saw unfolding, without revealing the author's name, no less than five people immediately tweeted me and guessed correctly that it was indeed Omar Tyree.  Lest you think I posted this because my feelings were hurt that he didn't respond to me, I can assure they were not.  My question to him was in regards to his book, Pecking Order, which I reviewed here last year.  I was simply hoping for an answer, as was everyone else that tried to tweet with him.

So what has been your experience with authors on Twitter? Do you prefer the more engaging authors or is it enough for you to simply read their tweets without interaction?  By the way, if you like authors that interact, check out the Authors of Color Online page.  There are plenty of engaged authors that would be more than happy to tweet with you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

#BookReview: When I Get Where I'm Going - Cheryl Robinson

Alicia Day is a struggling actress originally from Detroit, now living in Hollywood.  When she headed west with her best friend, Aubrey, both were determined to become the next big thing.  So far Aubrey has made it big, but the only big things about Alicia are the fibroid tumors she keeps ignoring.

Hope Teesdale lost her second husband in a boating accident.  At twenty-seven she's too young to be the bitter, widow that she's become.  She's locked into her small corner of the world that consists solely of work and her daughter, Havana.

At only twenty, Heaven Jetter has lived entirely too much.  As a child she grew up knowing that her father had killed her mother.  This alone should have been enough to keep her from abusive men and the mean streets of Detroit, but it hasn't.  She's a born party girl and even though she knows that her actions hurt those closest to her, she can't stop.

Heaven and Hope grow up as sisters, but it's not until a letter from their imprisoned father comes to Heaven that she learns that they have an older sister, Alicia.  Alicia is thrown off by the brash, in your face young lady that reaches out to her long distance.  A trip home solidifies their relationship, but trying to create a happy family complete with Hope is going to be a lot more difficult than either Heaven or Alicia imagined.

What did you like about this book?
Each of the sisters is a mess and the author doesn't try to "prettify" their situations.  Each is dealing with realistic issues and I fully appreciated the author exploring them.

What didn't you like about this book?
The story is told in third person narrative for the most part and I really would have preferred first person, especially since each character is given their own chapters to tell their stories.

What could be done to improve this book?
It's so minor that I feel silly even typing it, but I hated the cover model's cankles.  Yes, I said cankles. How do I know that her calves and ankles are the same size, thus producing cankles? I don't.  It just looks like it to me.  Could be the cheap red shoes or the fact that I hate seeing heels like that worn with jean, I don't know.  I just hate the look.

Published September 2010
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to me by the author.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Books to Movies Week: Lights, Camera, Action!

We've talked about the good, the bad and the meh. Everyone already knows that I'm waiting on "The Help" to be made into a movie, even going so far as to cast the movie myself). Now let's talk about more books that should be made into movies.

The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel
Also known as one of the funniest books I've read, I've heard rumblings for the longest that a movie is forthcoming, but I've yet to see it happen.

"On buying ramen noodles: I am sooooooo embarassed. I only have 33 cents. I (please don’t laugh) put the money on the counter and quickly attempt to dash out with my Chicken Flavored Salt Noodles. The guy calls me back! I look up instinctively, I should have run . . . Why didn’t I run???!! He tells me the noodles are 35 cents. I try to apologize sincerely. I thought the sign said 33 cents yesterday, so that’s all I brought with me. Could he wait while I ran home and get the 2 cents? I show him my student I.D. to let him know I am not a thief. He shakes his head and motions either for me to get the hell out of his store and don't come back again or get the money and do come back. I don’t know. He said something like “Nyeh” and swiped his hand in my direction.

I can’t translate hand motions well.

The noodles: tasty!!!"

2. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
Until "True Blood" came along, I left witches, vampires and warlocks to others. Occasionally I'd dip my toe in the waters of Anne Rice-dom though and find something fantastic.
"In this engrossing and hypnotic tale of witchcraft and the occult spanning four centuries, we meet a great dynasty of witches--a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is haunted by a powerful, dangerous and seductive being."

3. I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight
I read this year's ago and the story has stayed with me.
"Large, silent, 14-year-old, blue - black Marietta Cook leaves tiny Gullah-speaking Pine Gardens, South Carolina to seek her uncle and her fortune in Charleston when her mother dies. Learning the rhythms of the city, working for Frank in the fish market, going home to bear twins, working on a rice plantation, returning to Charleston and raising her boys--her life unfolds."

4. 72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell
I think it's important that the African American community confront mental illness head on and stop sweeping it under the rug, all the while believing that it can pray away schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. In an intensely personal story, the late Bebe Moore Campbell allows readers a glimpse into the world of those affected by loved ones suffering from a mental illness.
"In this novel of family and redemption, a mother struggles to save her eighteen-year-old daughter from the devastating consequences of mental illness. Trina suffers from bipolar disorder, making her paranoid, wild, and violent. Watching her child turn into a bizarre stranger, Keri searches for assistance through normal channels. She quickly learns that a seventy-two hour hold is the only help you can get when an adult child starts to spiral out of control. After three days, Trina can sign herself out of any program."

5. The Tamara Hayle series by Valerie Wilson Wesley
Tamara Hayle is part Cleopatra Jones and part Willona Woods and I love her! I don't know that she would translate well on the big screen, but I would love for HBO to adapt the series about this modern day private eye.
"A tough and savvy Newark cop-turned-P.I., Tamara Hoyle is a sister with a mission: to raise her kid right in a mean town."

Now it's your turn. What books do you think deserve the Hollywood treatment?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Books to Movies Week: They Never Should Have Made THAT Into A Movie!

Perhaps they were good books gone bad. Or maybe they were bad books made worse. The bottom line is there are some books that should have never been made into movies.

1. Beloved by Toni Morrison

I'm a fan of Toni, but the first time I picked up Beloved I said, "huh?" and put it down. When I heard it was being made into a movie, I picked it up again, determined to read and fully comprehend it before I ventured into the theater. Again I said, "huh?" I recruited my god sister, a fellow book lover, to go along with me. Now between the two of us, we read over 3,000 books between the 1st and 8th grade (and yes, we're competitive nerds so we tracked it). I figured if I didn't understand what was going on, she would. We both left the theater saying, "huh?" You know when I finally comprehended the story? On the third try and after seeing the movie! No one should have to work that hard to figure out a book or a movie.

2. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

Second only to Judy Blume in my middle school world, Lois Duncan created a masterpiece with this book. I loved it more than Killing Mr. Griffin (another one of her good books gone bad). I was surprised to find that a movie was being made of the book more than 20 years after it was published. Flipping through cable one night I noticed it was on and decided to give it a watch. And just like that, a book that I loved had gone bad. I can't blame it on Sarah Michelle Gellar or Freddie Prinze, Jr. I'll blame it on whomever did the screenplay. At any rate, it was some kind of horrible.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I know, I know. Critics loved it. The Academy loved it. You may have loved it. You know what I loved? The end. While the book was pretty good, the movie was entirely too long. There was a whole hour that could have been deleted. You know, the part when he was working on the boat and the affair with the older woman? Yeah, that part could have been sliced and saved us all an hour and no one would have been the worse or the wiser. So while the rest of the movie might have been great, I was too irritated about the unnecessary parts that I started getting restless and stopped paying attention. And while Brad Pitt is some amazing eye candy, Kate Blanchett gives me the willies.

I could go on and on, but that's my short list of good books gone bad. What's on your list?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Books to Movies Week: "Meh, They Made It Into A Movie" *Kanye shrug*

So far we've talked about good books/good movies, books we didn't know had become movies and now...meh, they made it into a movie.

1. The Human Stain by Philip Roth
In short this is the story of a former professor fired for racially insensitive remarks who, at the age of 71, begins an affair with a 34 year old illiterate cleaning woman. At some point in their romance, the professor reveals to the maid that he is not really Jewish, as he has claimed for years, but is actually black, a secret he never revealed to his deceased Jewish wife or children. Now the book was "meh" itself, in my opinion, but the movie was even more so because instead of finding a black man (or at the very least biracial) to play the lead character, they sprung Anthony Hopkins on us! Say what? To top it off, Nicole "I couldn't act my way out of a paper bag" Kidman played the cleaning lady. Clearly a great "meh" moment in movie history.

2. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
As a kid the only book that I read as much as Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret was Harriet the Spy. Based on descriptions of the characters, I knew exactly what Harriet and Old Golly should look like. I was excited when I heard a movie version was coming out. Yes, I was a grown woman when it happened, what's your point? At any rate, I didn't embarrass myself by seeing it in a theater, I waited until it came out on DVD and bought it under the pretense that my daughter might enjoy it. I can't say if she did or not, but imagine my shock when I saw that #1) Harriet the blond of my child hood had become Harriet the brunette and #2) Old Golly wasn't old. She was Rosie O'Donnell. What the...? I couldn't even comprehend the rest of the movie. I could have been good, might have been bad, I'm not sure. The casting of characters was enough for me to give it a "meh".

3. The Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene
Alas, another beloved story from my childhood done wrong by Hollywood. The Nancy Drew of my childhood was courageous & courteous, pushy but polite, and nice (never a nerd). The Nancy Drew of Hollywood is a nerdy, somewhat flighty and overly aggressive brat. Gone from the movie version are Nancy's sidekicks Bess and George. Meh, I didn't care for it.

4. The Shining by Stephen King
Not to be confused with the original version of The Shining with Jack Nicholson at his crazy madman finest or Shelley Duvall at her nuttiest, someone had the nerve to remake The Shining in 1997 with Steven Weber. Yes, the guy from Wings! I have no idea why anyone would want to mess with perfection, but Jack Nicholson broke the mold when it came to playing Jack Torrance. The original Shining gets five stars, the remake? A "meh."

So that's my list. What books, made into movies, might have been better off staying a book or was just a "meh" movie for you?