Friday, June 26, 2015

Free for All Friday, June 26, 2015

You may remember her as Angie from All My Children or Mozelle Batiste Delacroix in Eve's Bayou, Debbi Morgan has been acting for four decades and hasn't aged.  In her new memoir, The Monkey On My Back, Morgan doesn't dwell on her time in Hollywood.  Instead, she talks about "the fear, doubt, and insecurities she’s struggled with for much of her life—and how she escaped a vicious cycle of pain to find self-confidence, happiness, and success." It's on shelves now!

Zane is in trouble with the IRS...again.

Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You, is one of my favorite authors to interact with on Twitter.  She wrote a little piece over at The Oyster Review called What Is Asian American Literature, Anyway?

Between the World and Me, the much anticipated new book from Ta-Nehisi Coates was originally scheduled to be published in September. Given recent events in America, the publication date has been moved up to July 14. Go ahead and get your pre-order on!

It's important that kids are able to read books about characters that look like them for a variety of reasons.  This week over at Barbershop Books, Alvin Irby talks about why it's just as important for white children to read diverse books.

Be sure to check out the Kids page. I'm posting updates of books featuring colourful children on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. While they're not reviews, they are books that I've found through catalogs and other research that I think kids would enjoy. While there seems to be quite a few books for younger children and tweens, there is an appalling lack of young adult books with diverse characters. I've got a handful of YA books that I'll be featuring in upcoming weeks, but if you know of any books for the 13 and up crowd with Asian, African, African-American, Latin or Native American characters, please send recommendations my way.

Amazon is going to start paying self-published authors based on the number of pages read in their books. Does this give you more incentive to quit a bad book early on, since the author won't profit if you don't read? Do you think this is fair to authors that were previously paid a flat fee or do you think this will inspire them to write better in hopes that people will continue to read & increase their profit margin?

Missing our posts on Facebook?  Throughout the week I post interesting things I find online about books, current events, etc.  Although you may have liked Read in Colour on Facebook, you may not be seeing all of our posts.  Want to change that? Click on "Get Notifications" under the Liked drop down.  Posts should begin to appear in your feed.

Tuesday, June 30, is your last chance to get Read in Colour t-shirts & tanks.  Order yours before the campaign ends!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#BookReview: CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND by Kevin Kwan

Those Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan introduced us to in 2013 are back! When last we saw the Youngs, Nick and Rachel had just gotten engaged (much to his mother & grandmother's chagrin); Michael and Astrid were celebrating his company buyout; and Eddie and family continued to grace society pages with their impeccable dressing from head to toe.

Nick & Rachel and Astrid & Michael are back, but Eddie is solidly a third string character.  There's little to no mention of his family and his appearance merely serves to remind us of just how ridiculous and pompous someone of his status in life can be.  And though Nick and Rachel are a focal point of the book, they take a backseat to a new character, Colette.

Thanks to social media "stars" like the Kardashians, we're all familiar with how a talentless hack can rise to the top of society with the help of Twitter, Instagram and a few well placed pictures (or videos).  To say Colette Bing is China's answer to Kim K. would be an insult to Colette. Her father is the third richest man in China and the world is Colette's playground.  She is, indeed, the China rich girlfriend who is at the center of the world wind that is this book.

Rachel's search for her birth father leads her to China (thanks to Nick's overbearing & meddling mother) where she becomes acquainted with her nearly identical brother, Carlton, just one of Colette's many suitors.  When Rachel and Nick get caught up in the chaos of Colette's life, they (and readers) are exposed to an even more extravagant lifestyle than witnessed in Crazy Rich Asians.  Where Nick's family members tended to hide their wealth, Colette has no problem flaunting it.  I couldn't even begin to keep up with the brands, places and names that Kwan dropped throughout the book as he detailed how and where these people spend their money.

I like that Kwan takes the time to give us footnotes about the phrases the characters use.  While that probably plays well in print versions of the book, footnotes in ebooks are compiled and shown at the end of each chapter, making it difficult and time consuming to figure them out while reading.  It disrupts the reading flow, but not enough to stop reading.

Like he did with Crazy Rich Asians, Kwan doesn't tie up everyone's story line with a nice neat bow, leaving room for another sequel.  I, for one, would love a follow up to find out how Rachel's relationship with her new family plays out and how the story line for Kitty Pong, a minor character that becomes a major character, plays out.  Her transformation by Corinna Ko-Tung was almost Pygmalion comes to China and I'd really be interested in a book about Corinna getting her Henry Higgins on.

Two years ago we were told screen rights had been optioned for Crazy Rich Asians, but nothing else has been said about a movie.  Rather than that, I would prefer a network TV summer series that combines both books.  It would definitely hold my interest much more than some of the other summer series networks throw our way.  Trust me, if you were a fan of Dynasty or Dallas back in the day, you'll love China Rich Girlfriend.

4 stars

400 p.
Publisher: Doubleday

Friday, June 19, 2015

Free for All Friday, June 19, 2015

Cory Booker, known to many from his Twitter account and his seemingly endless heroic acts during his time as mayor of Newark, NJ, just signed a book deal with Ballantine Bantam Dell.  "The book, entitled United, will be Booker’s vision of how to revitalize the American dream and will share insight into his policy ideas." Booker currently serves as the Democratic senator of New Jersey.  One can't help but wondering if this book is setting the groundwork for a future presidential run.

For this year's Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, Scholastic has partnered with representatives across the United States to promote reading. "44 governors’ spouses and 4 governors have signed on to serve in this position and inspire kids to “power up and read.” Each reading ambassador will receive 500 books to be delivered to schools within their state and host events to promote reading.

Purchase your Read in Colour tees and tanks today and save $5 when you use promo code: COLOUR. (Promo code good thru 6/19/15.)

Need a pick me upper after this trying week? Watch this 3-year old recite Countee Cullen's Hey Black Child.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#BookReview: DIAMOND HEAD by Cecily Wong

I love a good generational story and Diamond Head does not disappoint. The “present day” setting is 1964 Hawaii, but the narrator takes us on a journey to 1909 China, the Boxer Rebellion and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It’s interesting that of the stories Theresa, the narrator, tells, hers is the one we know least. Her focus is on her parents, Amy and Bohai, and grandparents, Frank and Lin.

A wealthy shipping magnate in China, Frank Leong partners with Germans, Americans and any partnership that is financially beneficial to him. When his brother, Shen, loses his life in the Boxer Rebellion, Frank and Lin take in Hong, Shen’s wife, who becomes the keeper of all family secrets. When it becomes too dangerous for the Leongs to stay in China, Frank relocates them to Oahu. It is there that the stories of Bohai, his eldest son, and Kaipo, the youngest son, unfold.

Extremely shy and not at all the outgoing, boisterous eldest son that Frank hoped for, Bohai prefers to stick to his books. What he lacks in personality, Kaipo more than makes up for it. There isn’t a person that meets Kaipo that doesn’t fall under his spell, including Frank, leaving little room for Bohai.

Amy lives in near squalor on the island with her parents and a number of siblings. A photography assignment takes her to the home of the wealthy Leongs and she soon finds herself swept up in the possibility of what a life with Leong money and philanthropic fame could look like for herself and her family. “The parable of the red string of fate, the cord which binds one intended beloved to her perfect match, also punishes for mistakes in love, passing a destructive knot down the family line.” By no means is Amy the first in her family or the Leong family to disregard fate and, like others, she suffers for it.

Hong, the modest and reserved observer, watches all. She’s companion, caregiver and comforter to each member of the family at some point. It’s Hong who has known Lin the longest and Hong who takes care of her when she begins to unravel.

As Theresa tells her family’s story, we learn that she is pregnant and unwed and has little to no contact with her unborn child’s father. While Amy is angry at her for getting pregnant, I had to wonder if her anger is because she thought Theresa would get to have the loving marriage that she didn’t. Theresa, on the other hand, resents her mother for how distant she was from her father, Bohai. How could Amy set an example of what marriage should look like when Theresa witnessed her trying to escape hers daily?

Diamond Head is so good, so so good. Cecily Wong has created some unforgettable characters. I’d hesitate to call this historical fiction, though the characters do dip their toes into quite a bit of history. Overall, it’s just a good book. I’d recommend it for people that love generational sagas.

Published: April 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

FREE FOR ALL FRIDAY, June 12, 2015

Freedom to Write Lecture
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivers the 2015 PEN World Voices Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture and then participates in a Q&A with Andrew Solomon, who was recently named President of the PEN American Center.

Catch her lecture and the Q & A that follows it this Sunday, June 14 at 7:45pm EDT on C-SPAN 2.

Nnedi Okorafor announced her newest book on Twitter.

The Library of Congress just unveiled this year's poster for the National Book Festival, to be held in Washington, DC on September 5. Since it's Labor Day weekend, it's a perfect time to visit DC and stalk your favorite authors like Walter Mosley, Kwame Alexander, Ellen Oh, Ishamel Reed, Annette Gordon-Reed, Marlon James, Beverly Jenkins, Lalita Tademy and Ha Jin.

Remember how much the streets loved Omar Tyree back in the 90s? When Flyy Girl hit the shelves in 1993, it became must read lit for a whole generation of readers. Personally, I can't remember much about it other than everyone I knew loved it. I low key hold him responsible for the re-emergence of street lit. Anywho, it turns out Sanaa Lathan was a fan of the book back in the day and is working on a film adaptation. Will you check it out?

Speaking of authors that dominated the 90s...

Invisible Life will only run for six performances June 25-30 at the Apollo. If you plan to check it out, let us know!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#BookReview: FOR YOUR LOVE by Beverly Jenkins

As the sixth book in the Blessings series opened, I wondered if Beverly Jenkins would still be able to draw readers into the imaginary town of Henry-Adams, Kansas in For Your Love.  I shouldn't have wondered because Beverly Jenkins is a master at what she does.  As always, she combines historical fiction with modern times, entertaining readers while teaching them.

For Your Love focuses on returning characters like Trent July, the mayor of Henry-Adams, and his wife Lily, as well as the town owner, Bernadine Brown.  Jenkins also introduces us to a few new characters, including Trent's mother and a family of newcomers.

Friends of Crystal's from her previous life, Bobby and Kelly are a young family she knows from her days on the streets in Dallas. A former gang member and the product of a foster home, Bobby trusts no one except for Kelly.  When Crystal offers the young couple and their twins a chance to leave the hard knock life of Dallas and move to Kansas, they're hesitant.  I absolutely loved watching Bobby mature as Trent and the other men in town mentored him in various ways.  The people of Henry-Adams show time and time again what community looks like.

Watching some of the women's reactions to Rita Lynn return to the small town is interesting.  It gives us a glimpse into what Henry-Adams looked like over forty years ago.  Grudges and mistrust from decades ago kick up their ugly heads, but Jenkins likes a happy ending, so you already know everything will work out before the book ends.

If you're just hearing about the Blessing series and like what you hear, be sure to go back and read the previous titles.  All of the books can stand alone, but reading them in order gives you a more complete view of who is who and the history behind why things are the way they are.

Book 1: Bring on the Blessings
Book 2: A Second Helping
Book 3: Something Old, Something New
Book 4: A Wish and A Prayer
Book 5: Heart of Gold

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Purchase LinksAmazon | IndieBound Barnes & Noble

About Author17113

Beverly Jenkins is the author of thirty historical and contemporary novels, including five previous books in her beloved Blessings series. She has been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street JournalPeople, the Dallas Morning News,Vibe, and many other publications.

Find out more about Beverly at her website and connect with her on Facebook

Monday, June 8, 2015

KIDS READ IN COLOUR TOO! June 2015 Edition

Looking for summer reads for your little ones, teens and tweens? We've got you.  Check out a few titles sure to keep the kids entertained.

The Hula-Hoopin' Queen by  Thelma Lynne Godin, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

40 p.
Ages: 6 to 10
Publisher: Lee & Low

Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street. But then Mama reminds her that today is their neighbor Miz Adeline’s birthday, and Kameeka has a ton of chores to do to get ready for the party they are hosting. Kameeka’s disappointed to be stuck at home and can only think about the hoopin’ competition. Distracted, Kameeka accidentally ruins Miz Adeline’s birthday cake, and has to confess to her that there won’t be a cake for her special day. But then Miz Adeline’s confesses something too: she’s also got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch! Her fingers start snappin’. Her hips start swingin’. Soon everyone’s hips are swinging as the party spills out onto the street. The whole neighborhood’s got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch!

Twenty-two Cents: The Story of Muhammad Yunus by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Jamel Akib

40 p.
Ages: 6 to 11
Publisher: Lee & Low

Growing up in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus witnessed extreme poverty all around and was determined to eradicate it. In 1976, as an Economics professor, Muhammad met a young craftswoman in the village of Jobra who needed to borrow five taka (twenty-two cents) to buy materials. No bank would lend such a small amount to an uneducated woman, so she was forced to borrow from corrupt lenders who charged an unfair interest rate, and left her without enough profit to buy food. Muhammad realized that what stood in the way of her financial security was just a few cents. Inspired, Muhammad founded Grameen Bank where people could borrow small amounts of money to start a job, and then pay back the bank without exorbitant interest charges. Over the next few years, Muhammad’s compassion and determination changed the lives of millions of people by loaning the equivalent of more than ten billion US dollars in micro-credit. This has also served to advocate and empower the poor, especially women, who often have limited options. Twenty-two Cents is an inspiring story of economic innovation and a celebration of how one person—like one small loan—can make a positive difference in the lives of many.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison

40 p.
Ages: 6 to 10
Publisher: Lee & Low

A biography of African American jazz virtuoso Melba Doretta Liston, a pioneering twentieth-century trombone player, composer, and music arranger at a time when few women, of any race, played brass instruments and were part of the jazz scene.

Melba Doretta Liston loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. As a child, she daydreamed about beats and lyrics, and hummed along with the music from her family’s Majestic radio. At age seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. By the time she was a teenager, Melba’s extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. She joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson and toured the country. Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few. Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

208 p.
Ages: 14 to 18
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy's pregnancy, Sebastian's coming out, the cute boys, her father's meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

July 24

My mother named me Gabriella, after my grandmother who, coincidentally, didn't want to meet me when I was born because my mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story is the basis of my sexual education and has reiterated why it's important to wait until you're married to give it up. So now, every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, "Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas." Eyes open, legs closed. That's as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don't mind it. I don't necessarily agree with that whole wait until you're married crap, though. I mean, this is America and the 21st century; not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can't tell my mom that because she will think I'm bad. Or worse: trying to be White.

Sunday Shopping by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland

32 p.
Ages: 5 to 8
Publisher: Lee & Low

Sunday nights are special for Evie and Grandma. That's when they go on their weekly shopping spree. Grandma flips open the newspaper to see what’s advertised, and the imaginary tour of neighborhood stores begins. Toting a wallet filled with colorful pretend bills, Evie and Grandma take turns "buying" whatever catches their fancy. A big chunk of ham, a “sofa with a secret,” and a dress with spangles are just a few of the treasures they “purchase.” Most special of all is the jewelry box Evie chooses for the gold heart necklace Mama gave her before leaving to serve in the army—and the bouquet of flowers Evie leaves as a surprise for Grandma.

Overflowing with whimsy and a sweet grandmother-granddaughter relationship, this picture book is a joyous celebration of imagination, family love, and making a lot out of what you've got.

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

48 p.
Ages: 6 to 11
Publisher: Lee & Low

During a visit to her grandma's house, a young girl discovers a box of poems in the attic, poems written by her mother when she was growing up. Her mother’s family often moved around the United States and the world because her father was in the Air Force. Over the years, her mother used poetry to record her experiences in the many places the family lived. Reading the poems and sharing those experiences through her mother’s eyes, the young girl feels closer to her mother than ever before. To let her mother know this, she creates a gift: a book with her own poems and copies of her mother’s. And when she returns her mother’s poems to the box in the attic, she leaves her own poems too, for someone else to find, someday. Using free verse for the young girl’s poems and tanka for her mother’s, master poet Nikki Grimes creates a tender intergenerational story that speaks to every child’s need to hold onto special memories of home, no matter where that place might be.

Little Rhino #3: Dugout Hero by Ryan & Krystle Howard, illustrated by Erwin Madrid

112 p.
Ages: 7 to 10
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 30, 2015

A new chapter book series from Major League Baseball's 2006 National League MVP, Ryan Howard!

The score was 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and two strikes. The Mustangs were on a hot winning streak and every victory was important. Little Rhino's whole team was cheering for him. Even Dylan was standing on the bench rooting for Little Rhino, the home run hitter. It all came down to the next pitch. When the pitcher threw the ball, Little Rhino swung as hard as his arms could handle, felt a pop in his ankle, and dropped to the ground.

That was yesterday. Today, Little Rhino is propped up on the couch with a sprained ankle. The doctor said Little Rhino is not going to be able to play baseball for the next two weeks. Rhino's friends keep dropping by to bring him his homework, but Rhino just wants to be back on the field. Can he find a way to help his team without playing?

Check back monthly for new titles!

Sunday, June 7, 2015


You love authors like James Baldwin, Nella Larsen, Nikki Giovanni and Toni Morrison, yes?  You read in colour, now show the world how much you love authors of colour!  Starting today, you can purchase Read in Colour branded t-shirts, tanks, coffee mugs, water bottles, throw pillows and even snuggies, perfect for cuddling up and reading a good book.

For a limited time, you can purchase select tees and tanks through our Teespring campaign.

Looking for notebooks, pajamas, coffee mugs or you don't want to wait for the Teespring campaign to end, we've got shirts, tanks and more over at our new Cafepress store. Need t-shirts for the kids? We've got those too!

We've tried to pick items that are perfect for you and the book lovers in your life.  If there's something you'd like to see in the store, just ask and we'll try to make it happen.  In the meantime, happy shopping!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Free for All Friday, June 5, 2015

Gabby is not here for Justin's bangs
No one needed this
Gabourey Sidibe of The Big C (does anyone else remember naked Idris Elba in that?), Precious, Empire and the American Horror Story series landed a memoir deal. Normally I give young people the serious side eye when they talk about putting out a memoir. Remember when the Biebs called himself putting out one in 2012? I mean, really? What could he tell anyone about life except how to get your swoop bang on fleek? Anyway, Gabby is 32 and I would imagine that life in Hollyweird is interesting enough to put on paper. Refusing to be stereotyped and limited by Hollywood’s standards, she’s proven everyone wrong who said she would never land another role after Precious. By the way, can we talk about ignorant people that refuse to call her by her name and continue to call her Precious? Ugh, just stop. Gabby is a bad ass and doesn’t mind reminding you of this on Twitter, during speeches, on the red carpet, etc. I’m looking forward to reading her memoir when it hits shelves in 2017.

Guess who else got a book deal? Shonda Rhimmmmmmmmmmmmes *Oprah voice* Coming out later this year from Simon & Schuster, The Book of Yes, will reflect on a year in Rhimes’ life where she said yes to unexpected invitations. Rhimes has talked about how she really prefers to stay home with her tiny humans watching TV and cuddling, you know, introvert living (I can relate). But because she accepted this challenge to say yes, she had a year of amazing experiences she wouldn’t have otherwise had. Although I doubt that I’d ever be brave enough to put myself out there like she did, I can’t wait to read about her adventures this November.

Wendell Pierce of Waiting to Exhale, The Wire and Treme' fame is a New Orleans native. He’s been instrumental in bringing food options to food deserts in the city and in rebuilding his beloved New Orleans. He has a new book coming out in September, The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, A Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken, which talks about his experience in Hurricane Katrina and his rebuilding efforts afterward.

Other new books out this week

Any book news you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#BookReview: THE TURNER HOUSE by Angela Flournoy

I hate to compare books, especially ones that are really well written in their own right, but The Turner House reminded me of Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. The thing that made it better, in my opinion, is that the characters are tied together. In The Twelve Tribes, even though the characters are siblings, their stories are written in such a way that they can stand alone and there's little interaction between the siblings as adults. So while we see them interact as children, once they move into the adult world, there's very little dialogue among them - standalone stories. It gives you a sense that there’s no familial bond among the siblings or even their parents. While The Turner House doesn't delve deeply into the lives of all the Turner children, Flournoy gives us a good sense of how their lives have turned out based on the adult children's whose lives she chooses to explore.