Friday, February 23, 2018

New Books Coming Your Way, February 27, 2018

Black Girls Rock!: Owning Our Magic. Rocking Our Truth. edited by Beverly Bond
256 p.; Photoessays

Fueled by the insights of women of diverse backgrounds, including Michelle Obama, Angela Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Misty Copeland Yara Shahidi, and Mary J. Blige, this book is a celebration of black women’s voices and experiences that will become a collector’s items for generations to come.

Maxine Waters shares the personal fulfillment of service. Moguls Cathy Hughes, Suzanne Shank, and Serena Williams recount stories of steadfastness, determination, diligence, dedication and the will to win. Erykah Badu, Toshi Reagon, Mickalane Thomas, Solange Knowles-Ferguson, and Rihanna offer insights on creativity and how they use it to stay in tune with their magic. Pioneering writers Rebecca Walker, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Joan Morgan speak on modern-day black feminist thought. Lupita Nyong’o, Susan Taylor, and Bethann Hardison affirm the true essence of holistic beauty. And Iyanla Vanzant reinforces Black Girl Magic in her powerful pledge. Through these and dozens of other unforgettable testimonies, Black Girls Rock! is an ode to black girl ambition, self-love, empowerment, and healing.

A Princess in Theory: Reluctant Royals by Alyssa Cole
384 p.; Romance

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant emails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly email won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Those Children by Shahbano Bilgrami
368 p.; Fiction

When ten-year-old Ferzana Mahmud and her three older siblings lose their mother to cancer, everything changes.

Their heartbroken father moves them from their familiar Chicago suburb to a city thousands of miles away in his native Pakistan. To help them adjust to life in Karachi and to the eccentricities of their extended clan, Ferzana, Fatima, Raza and Jamila escape into a fantasy world of their own making. As superhuman creatures with incredible powers, they investigate the members of their grandfather’s household. In the process, they discover astonishing facts not only about the Mahmuds but also about the nature of family, love and loss in the troubled yet beguiling city that is now their home.

Told from the perspective of an adult Ferzana reflecting over that fateful year, we see Karachi through the impressionable eyes of a ten-year-old child as she negotiates everything from religious schism and genealogy to patriotism and puberty. Ferzana’s love of sleuthing helps her to piece together her family’s complicated history, a history that brings with it the promise of hope and redemption.

The Night's Baby: A Black Vampire Story by Stina
288 p.; Fiction

When she entered school at a recently integrated college in North Carolina, Adirah Messa was looking forward to a bright future. Then she met a man of another kind who turned her world upside down.

After being turned into a blood-sucking being and then giving birth to a child fathered by the King of Vampires, Adirah thinks that life can’t get any stranger. But when her ancient past becomes a part of the present, she learns that her son has a destiny that is out of her control. With the eyes of very powerful and new enemies set on him, the only way to protect him is for old enemies to put their differences behind them. If the opposing vampire clans don’t come together as one, it could mean the end of their kind altogether.

Promise by Minrose Gwin
400 p.; Historical fiction

A few minutes after 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1936, a massive funnel cloud flashing a giant fireball and roaring like a run-away train careened into the thriving cotton-mill town of Tupelo, in northeastern Mississippi. Measured as an F5—the highest on the Fujita scale—the tornado killed more than 200 people, not counting an unknown number of black citizens, one-third of Tupelo’s population, who were not included in the official casualty figures.

When the tornado hits, Dovey, a local laundress, is flung by the terrifying winds into a nearby lake. Bruised and nearly drowned, she makes her way across Tupelo to find her small family—her hard-working husband, Virgil, her clever sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Dreama, and Promise, Dreama’s beautiful light-skinned three-month-old son.

Slowly navigating the broken streets of Tupelo, Dovey stops at the house of the despised McNabb family. Dovey hates Judge Mort NcNabb, a powerful man who cannot control his eldest son, a violent and sadistic youth who has left his mark on her own family, linking their fates. Inside, she discovers that the tornado has spared no one. The mother, Alice, a schoolteacher, is severely injured. The shell-shocked judge has gone to look for baby Tommy, blown from Alice’s arms. And Jo, the McNabbs’ dutiful teenage daughter, has suffered a terrible head wound. When Jo later discovers a baby in the wreckage, she is certain that she’s found her baby brother, Tommy, and vows to protect him.

During the harrowing hours and days of the chaos that follows, Jo and Dovey will struggle to navigate a landscape of disaster and battle both the demons and the history that link and haunt them.


Friday, February 16, 2018

New Books Coming Your Way, February 20, 2018

All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva
272 p.; Fiction

Anjali Sachdeva’s debut collection spans centuries, continents, and a diverse set of characters but is united by each character’s epic struggle with fate: A workman in Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills is irrevocably changed by the brutal power of the furnaces; a fisherman sets sail into overfished waters and finds a secret obsession from which he can’t return; an online date ends with a frightening, inexplicable disappearance. Sachdeva has a talent for creating moving and poignant scenes, making the unexpected and surreal feel true and inevitable, and depicting how one small miracle can affect everyone in its wake.

The Undressing by Li-Young Lee
96 p.; Poetry

The Undressing is a tonic for spiritual anemia; it attempts to uncover things hidden since the dawn of the world. Short of achieving that end, these mysterious, unassuming poems investigate the human violence and dispossession increasingly prevalent around the world, as well as the horrors the poet grew up with as a child of refugees. Lee draws from disparate sources, including the Old Testament, the Dao De Jing, and the music of the Wu Tang Clan. While the ostensive subjects of these layered, impassioned poems are wide-ranging, their driving engine is a burning need to understand our collective human mission.

Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad by Krystal A. Sital
352 p.; Memoir

There, in a lush landscape of fire-petaled immortelle trees and vast plantations of coffee and cocoa, where the three hills along the southern coast act as guardians against hurricanes, Krystal A. Sital grew up idolizing her grandfather, a wealthy Hindu landowner. Years later, to escape crime and economic stagnation on the island, the family resettled in New Jersey, where Krystal’s mother works as a nanny, and the warmth of Trinidad seems a pretty yet distant memory. But when her grandfather lapses into a coma after a fall at home, the women he has terrorized for decades begin to speak, and a brutal past comes to light.

In the lyrical patois of her mother and grandmother, Krystal learns the long-held secrets of their family’s past, and what it took for her foremothers to survive and find strength in themselves. The relief of sharing their stories draws the three women closer, the music of their voices and care for one another easing the pain of memory.

Violence, a rigid ethnic and racial caste system, and a tolerance of domestic abuse—the harsh legacies of plantation slavery—permeate the history of Trinidad. On the island’s plantations, in its growing cities, and in the family’s new home in America, Secrets We Kept tells a story of ambition and cruelty, endurance and love, and most of all, the bonds among women and between generations that help them find peace with the past.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin
88 p.; Comic/Graphic Novel

When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.

Down the River Unto the Sea: Detective, Heal Thyself by Walter Mosley
336 p.; Fiction

Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD's finest investigators, until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he is framed for assault by his enemies within the NYPD, a charge which lands him in solitary at Rikers Island.

A decade later, King is a private detective, running his agency with the help of his teenage daughter, Aja-Denise. Broken by the brutality he suffered and committed in equal measure while behind bars, his work and his daughter are the only light in his solitary life. When he receives a card in the mail from the woman who admits she was paid to frame him those years ago, King realizes that he has no choice but to take his own case: figuring out who on the force wanted him disposed of--and why.

Running in parallel with King's own quest for justice is the case of a Black radical journalist accused of killing two on-duty police officers who had been abusing their badges to traffic in drugs and women within the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Joined by Melquarth Frost, a brilliant sociopath, our hero must beat dirty cops and dirtier bankers, craven lawyers, and above all keep his daughter far from the underworld in which he works. All the while, two lives hang in the balance: King's client's, and King's own.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
288 p.; Social Science

So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.

Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams such a powerful tennis player. It’s what makes BeyoncĂ©’s girl power anthems resonate so hard. It’s what makes Michelle Obama an icon.

Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. When Cooper learned of her grandmother's eloquent rage about love, sex, and marriage in an epic and hilarious front-porch confrontation, her life was changed. And it took another intervention, this time staged by one of her homegirls, to turn Brittney into the fierce feminist she is today. In Brittney Cooper’s world, neither mean girls nor fuckboys ever win. But homegirls emerge as heroes. This book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one's own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again.









Friday, February 9, 2018

#BookReview: THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory

Synopsis: Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century—or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

Review: I love a good meet cute, especially one that doesn't come across as cheesy or forced. From the time Alexa and Drew meet, there's definitely chemistry between the two. Jasmine Guillory doesn't lead readers on a long and winding journey to determine if they're right for each other and I appreciate that. Too many authors waste half a book just deciding if the characters like each other. This isn't high school, these are grown people.

Guillory also takes on the aspects of an interracial relationship without playing into tired stereotypes. Alexa is black and Drew is white, but it's not something  either character dwells on when sizing up the other and it's not much of a factor in their relationship. He doesn't fetishize her as a black woman, she's not looking for a white savior. I love that about their story.

The Wedding Date is a solid read with well thought out characters. Their interactions aren't limited to the bedroom and doing the horizontal hokey pokey. While the story does follow the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy might get girl back story line, Guillory has given readers a lot more insight into the relationship of Alexa and Drew and the thought processes behind their decisions.

320 p.
Published: January 2018
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.


Friday, February 2, 2018

New Books Coming Your Way, February 6, 2018

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
320 p.; Fiction

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward--with hope and pain--into the future.

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara
416 p.; Fiction

It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.

As mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’s life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.

Feel Free by Zadie Smith
464 p.; Essays

Arranged into five sections—In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free—this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network—and Facebook itself—really about? “It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.” Why do we love libraries? “Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.” What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? “So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we’d just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes—and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat.”

Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, “Joy,” and, “Find Your Beach,” Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive—and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.

How to Slay: Inspiration from the Queens and Kings of Black Style by Constance C.R. White
224 p.; Fashion

One of the few surveys of Black style and fashion ever published, How to Slay offers a lavishly illustrated overview of African American style through the twentieth century, focusing on the last thirty-five years. Through striking images of some of the most celebrated icons of Black style and taste, from Josephine Baker, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, and Miles Davis to Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams, this book explores the cultural underpinnings of Black trends that have become so influential in mainstream popular culture and a bedrock of fashion vernacular today. A preponderance of Black musicians, who for decades have inspired trends and transformed global fashion, are featured and discussed, while a diverse array of topics are touched upon and examined—hats, hair, divas, the importance of attitude, the use of color, ’60s style, the influence of Africa and the Caribbean, and the beauty of black skin.

We Are Taking Only What We Need by Stephanie Powell Watts
240 p.; Fiction/Short stories

In “Highway 18” a young Jehovah’s Witness going door to door with an expert field-service partner from up north is at a crossroads: will she go to college or continue to serve the church? “If You Hit Randall County, You’ve Gone Too Far” tells of a family trying to make it through a tense celebratory dinner for a son just out on bail. And in the collection’s title story, a young girl experiences loss for the first time in the fallout from her father’s relationship with her babysitter.

Startling, intimate, and prescient on their own, these stories build to a kaleidoscopic understanding of both the individual and the collective black experience over the last fifty years in the American South. With We Are Taking Only What We Need, Stephanie Powell Watts has crafted an incredibly assured and emotionally affecting meditation on everything from the large institutional forces to the small interpersonal moments that impress upon us and direct our lives

The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos
344 p.; Young Adult Fiction

Macy's school officially classifies her as "disturbed," but Macy isn't interested in how others define her. She's got more pressing problems: her mom can't move off the couch, her dad's in prison, her brother's been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn't speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms—complete with gritty characters and outrageous endeavors. With an honesty that's both hilarious and fearsome, slowly Macy reveals why she acts out, why she can't tell her incarcerated father that her mom's cheating on him, and why her best friend needs protection . . . the kind of protection that involves Macy's machete.