Wednesday, July 27, 2011

#BookReview: Money Can't Buy Love - Connie Briscoe

How does one win five million dollars and lose it all in a year?  Even if you wasted a few hundred thousand on frivolities, you might be hard pressed to lose everything, unless you're Lenora Stone.  Then, anything is possible.

Working in a field she loves, photography, at a job she hates, a local magazine, Lenora dreams of having her own studio.  She also dreams of marrying her boyfriend of three years, Gerald.  Neither of those dreams seems remotely possible until the day she hits the lottery.

Suddenly, Gerald is ready to marry her. She's ready to open a new studio. And she's started an affair with Ray, a hot, young landscaper she photographed as one of her last assignments for the magazine.  And just as quickly as she gained those things, she lost them.

What did you like about this book?
At just under 300 pages, it was a quick read.

What didn't you like about this book?
Lenora was a dumb and unlikeable woman and, frankly, I have no patience for dumb, unlikeable women.  Her boyfriend, who had a history of cheating on her, could barely make time for her prior to winning the lottery.  As soon as she won it, he was ready to settle down.

In addition, the math didn't really add up for me.  Lenora bought a house, a car and a studio and that broke her? Even after taxes, she had a decent amount of money.  I don't feel like the author really did her homework on this.

Her friendships with her two best friends from college seemed very superficial.  Her relationship with her parents was almost non-existent.  Her relationships with people, in general, just seemed to be filled with drama.  Since she was the common factor in all of those relationships, I'd say she was the problem.

What could the author do to improve this book?
Create a more plausible story line with a likable lead character.

Published: June 2011

Theme: Mo Money, Mo Problems by Notorious Big featuring Puff and Mase

Monday, July 25, 2011

#BookReview: The VIPs - Scott Poulson-Bryant

Okay, before I launch into why I loved this book and stayed up late reading it and was late for work trying to finish it, let me take you back to 1984.  The television industry loved miniseries back then and, in my opinion, there wasn't a miniseries better than Lace.  It was the story of a famous model who grew up an orphan, abandoned by a mother she never knew.  The one thing she did know was that she was conceived by a woman amongst a group of three friends that attended boarding school.  This scene has stayed with me all these years:

That scene gave my young teen heart life!  I loved Lace so much that I read the book several times and even sat through the less than stellar Lace II where Phoebe Cates' character, Lily, tried to find out "which one of you bastards is my father."  So I was ecstatic when I read the description for The VIPs.  I'd seen the author tweet about the book, but didn't really know much about it.  Once I realized that he had written a story loosely based around the Lace theme, I was in.  The only twist was, he wrote it from the male perspective.

Four childhood friends, connected through Sag Harbor, are brought back together by a famous rapper for reasons unknown.  Although each man has had a successful career, they've had less than stellar personal lives and the connections to their friends are dangling by very loose threads.  Reunited by TNT to answer the question of whom is his father sends the group of friends reeling down memory lane.  With writing that pulls you in from page one and doesn't release you until the very end, Scott Poulson-Bryant has written the perfect beach read.

What did you like about this book?
The character development was excellent.  I felt like I liked the characters I was supposed to and despised those deserving of it, purely based on how well they were written.  I also loved that there was no predictability with the story line.  Up until the very end I was surprised at how the story turned out.

What didn't you like about this book?
I honestly can't think of a thing.

What could the author do to improve this book?
I'm going to need a miniseries.  I tried casting the character's in my head and can't come up with any actors that could play the roles of the four friends. Although I can easily come up with names of established actors to play the boys' parents,  I'd love to see some unknowns take on the roles of Barry, Joey, Duke and Leo.  So yeah, I'm going to need that to happen.

Published: July 2011

Theme: Friends by Whodini

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ten Books You Should Be Reading

The summer is flying by and with temperatures around the country so high, a lot of people are staying in under the A/C looking for something to read.  How do I know? Because my Twitter timeline is full of people asking what I recommend.  So here are my top 10 reads so far this year.

10. Please Look After Mom  by Kyung-Sook Shin
Look for a review of this in the near future.  Told by the adult daughter of a mother that's gone missing, the daughter is forced to re-evaluate her relationship with her mother and wonder how much she knows her mother. After putting her own happiness on the back burner for so many years, would it be so hard to imagine that her mother might have chosen to disappear?

9. The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris
This is the book I expected when I read Condoleezza Rice's Extraordinary, Ordinary People.  Where Condi failed me, Michele Norris came through with flying colors.  This is truly one of those books that everyone needs to read.

8. If Sons, Then Heirs by Lorene Cary
It's impossible to read the latest from Lorene Cary and not reflect on your family's legacy.  Whether it be physical property or simply your family history, there are things passed down through the generations for which no monetary compensation will suffice. If Sons, Then Heirs touches on both of these.

7. The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain
In a book with more twists and turns than a maze, The Midwife's Confession is an "on the edge of your seat" read.  You won't realize it when you first start it because it's such a nice story about three friends in a quaint northeastern town.  Written in a Jodi Picoult-like style, the story is told from the view point of not only the three women, but others, as necessary.

6. All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann
First time novelist Jessica McCann skillfully brings the story of Margaret Morgan and her family to life in the historical novel All Different Kinds of Free, based on the Supreme Court case Prigg v. Pennsylvania.  Though the author takes creative license in some parts, it is done to fill in the gaps in an effort to bring the reader a complete story.

5. The VIPS  by Scott Poulson-Bryant
I just read this this week and when I say it's an ohmygoshIcan'tputitdownbecauseIneedtoknowwhathappensnext kind of read, believe me.  I recommended it to my reading twin, Litfangrl, and she missed her train stop because she was so into it.  If you loved the 80s miniseries Lace, you will love this.  Even if you never saw Lace, you'll love this.  It's that good.

4. Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson
An absolutely brilliant effort from first time novelist Christie Watson, Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, is definitely a must read.  Watson tackles several issues head on and does so with ease.

3. Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering
In a story that at times reminded me of Matty Rich's Straight Out of Brooklyn, Roy L. Pickering, Jr. deftly weaves a coming of age tale of Tony Johnson in Patches of Grey.  And while Pickering could have taken the easy way out and strictly focused on one main character, he takes the time to tell not only Tony's story, but that of his siblings and parents as well, each as fascinating as Tony's.

2. Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany
Admitting failure is never an easy thing to do.  And for a mother to admit that she's failed, it can be devastating. In Amy Hatvany's Best Kept Secret the reader is given a front row seat into what can happen when a parent falls apart.

1. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
With the opening line, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," Tayari Jones skillfully pulls the reader into the world of two sisters: Dana and Chaurisse.  Told in first person by each of the sisters, Silver Sparrow is absolutely remarkable.  I reviewed this back in March and worried that people would forget about it by the time it came out in May. I'm so happy that Silver Sparrow and Tayari are getting so much shine.  How amazing is it? So much so that not a day goes by that I don't see someone in my time line tweeting about it.  If you've yet to read it, shame on you!

What books have made your top 10 great reads of the year thus far?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Rare Saturday Post: I'm It!

Normally I don't post on Saturdays and, if I do, it's about a book or something literary related. But Karen over at Utah Progressive tagged me (and I'm just so impressed that she dares to be progressive in such a conservative state) so I thought I'd play along.

Seven Random Things About Me

  1. I'm a morning person and do my best work before lunch.  By 2 p.m. I'm absolutely useless.
  2. I envy the kindergarten and under kiddies because I'm a big fan of naps and they get them daily.  I live for Saturdays just so I can come home after running errands and take a midday nap. 
  3. A few years ago I said I'd cut my hair when I lost 20 pounds.  At that time it was above my ears, now it's six inches past my shoulder.
  4. I can't live without books and music.
  5. As much as I read, I rarely buy books. My habit would force me to choose between groceries and books.   Instead, I'm at the library at least once a week.
  6. I love cheesy movies and will watch just about anything with Doris Day in it.
  7. I hate shopping.
Me & the Princess of Snark

Q&A Session
Favorite color: Purple... I wore a shade of it every day at one point in high school.
Favorite song: Easy by The Commodores... Okay, my favorite changes occasionally, but it always comes back to Easy. I LOVE YOU LI-NEL! (And yes, it must be said as Li-nel, not Lionel).
Favorite dessert: Brownie a la mode
Biggest pet peeve: Debbie Downers.  You can't find something to be happy about ever?
When You Are Upset, You: Listen to music
Your Favorite Pet: Max the Wonder Cat
Black or White: Shades of grey
Biggest Fear: Something happening to the Princess of Snark
Best Feature: My brain
Everyday Attitude: "It's not the load that breaks you down, it's how you carry it." - Lena Horne
What is Perfection: Enjoying a well written book while drinking Sangster's Rum Creme on the beach in Jamaica
Guilty Pleasure: Watching reality TV

I'm tagging: @GammasWorld, @SnobNPearls & @ASmith86

Friday, July 15, 2011

Free for All Friday, July 15

It's Free for All Friday and I've got a hodgepodge of things to talk about, so let's get started.

"The Black Weblog Awards was founded in 2005 to give recognition to Black bloggers (and those of the African diaspora) which were largely overlooked by other Internet award events online. What started out as a barely-known event has now grown into an international showcase. With participants from over 90 countries, the Black Weblog Awards stands out as one of the most widespread Internet award events for Black bloggers." - source  A few of you were nice enough to nominate me for the category of Best Book, Author, Literature blog and even more of you voted for me.  As you can tell by my over dramatic avatar, I won!  So to the new readers I've picked up as a result of the exposure, let me bring you up to speed on all things Reads4Pleasure.

I read, write and rant about books and literary happenings at least three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays), though occasionally I'll drop a weekend post.  In early 2010 I started giving every book I read a theme song after one book (can't remember which one) just screamed for it.  Theme songs may have nothing to do with the book, they're just songs that reminded me of a character, a scene, etc. while I read the book.  Unless a review is accredited to a guest blogger, it's safe to assume that I've read every book I review here, even the horribly bad ones.  It all balances out when I read the extremely magnificent ones.  I read and review primarily books by or about African-Americans and other people of color and chick lit.  Street lit and erotica make my skin crawl so the chances of me reading and reviewing them are slim to none.  There's nothing worse than posting a review and getting no feedback, so please feel free to comment!  Moving on.

Emmy nominations were announced yesterday and I have to acknowledge some of my favorites actors and shows that received accolades.

Downton Abbey - Outstanding Miniseries or Movie; Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special; Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie; Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or Special; Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie; Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or Special; Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special and gobs more.  Including Elizabeth McGovern for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Maggie Smith for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries of Movie as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Idris Elba - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for the role of John Luther in Luther and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for the role of Lenny in The Big C.
Laurence "Don't Call Me Larry" Fishburne - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for the role of Thurgood Marshall in Thurgood.

Loretta Devine - Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the role of Adele Webber in Grey's Anatomy.


Andre Braugher - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for the role of Owen in Men of A Certain Age.

Alfre Woodard - Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the role of Ruby Jean in True Blood

Pillars of the Earth - Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

Mildred Pierce - Outstanding Miniseries of Movie; Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or Special; Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special.  Kate Winslet also got a nod for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries, Movie or Drama

Upstairs Downstairs - Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special; Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie; Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or Special; Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or Special;
The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has gone above and beyond with their nominations this year.  Normally I don't bother to tune in because the shows and/or actors I like aren't nominated.  This year I'll be tuned in with a bag of kettlecorn and a Pepsi.  How about you? Did any of your favorites get nominated?

The floor is open so feel free to share whatever's on your mind.