February 28, 2011

The Great Migration

Well, it's the last day of Black History Month. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading books by us, for us. It took me nearly all month to finish the nonfiction selection, but it's the perfect way to end this month of celebration. Sit back and enjoy this history lesson.

The Great Migration started in 1915. Many families decided to leave the South to feel security. They fled as if under a spell, leaving with the intention of staying away. It didn't end until the 1970s when "whites only" signs in the South came down. All-white schools opened up to black students. Everyone could finally have the right to vote. By then, 47% of Black Americans migrated North. This was actually the first major step that Black took without asking permission.

The Warmth of Other Suns focuses on three people and their account of The Great Migration. Ida Mae Brandon Gladney and her two children left Mississippi in the 1930s and migrated to Chicago. George Swanson Starling and his wife left Florida in the 1940s and moved to New York. Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, a surgeon, left Louisiana in the 1950s and migrated to Los Angeles.

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney
George Swanson Starling
Robert Joseph Pershing Foster

"There was no Moses or Joshua or Harriet Tubman, or for that matter, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, Jr. to organize the Migration. The best known leader at the start of it, Booker T. Washington, was vehemently against abandonment of the South and strongly discouraged it. Frederick Douglas, who saw it coming but died before it began, was against the very thought of it." ~ p.48

The Warmth of Other Suns is a lengthy book. I'm a fast reader but with the subject and details, it took me almost all of February to finish. I learned a lot about black history (although I credit most of my prior knowledge to Bates Battle). I like the style and sequence of the book. It's told in an informational story format that displays how and why each of the three main characters left different parts of the South, during different decades, for different reasons and with different outcomes. It is broken into three sections (collection of oral histories, narrative of the three main characters, and then an examination of newspaper and literary accounts of the Migration). It's all very interesting if you're a history buff or ancestry seeker. I wouldn't call it a page-turner, but I think everyone, no matter the race, should read it at least once. Isabel, this is a classic!

To meet the author and learn more about the book, check out the video below of Isabel Wilkerson speaking at Yale University.

Title: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Published: September 2010
Pages: 591 (eBook) or 640 (Hardcover)
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Happy Black History Month, bookhearts!

February 27, 2011

Series Sunday

Series Sunday is a new bookish meme hosted by yours truly, Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along. 

  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Post a review/recommendation on your blog, FB, Twitter, Goodreads, or Shelfari pages.
  • Share your review/recommendation by posting the link in the comments section below.
  • Include the title, author, and name of the series so that other Series Sunday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists.
My Series Sunday pick is Pennywise, the first book in the Maggie & Odessa Mystery series by Jill Brock. (I originally read & reviewed this book about a year ago & wanted to recap for new followers.) Odessa Wilkes had it all: a project head job at an advertisement agency, a two-year relationship with a loving man, and a successful life living in New York City. In less than a New York minute, her world flips upside down. She loses her job thanks to an embezzling boss. Carrying her desk belongings in a box walking on the street, her boyfriend suddenly dumps her. He didn't even offer to carry the heavy box like the gentlemen Odessa knew him to be. On the same day, she was trapped in a subway fire. Odessa developed anxiety attacks from all the stress. Right now the only thing that relaxes her is baking desserts for the family restaurant, Blue Moon.

Just when things seem calm, Odessa's best friend, Maggie Swift, storms into Blue Moon unexpectantly with her ADD son in tow. The homemaker needs help finding her missing husband, Roger. Could Roger be having an affair? Or has something gone terribly wrong with his insurance career? Instead of alerting authorities, the two best friends set out to become Private Investigators. Their friendship and personal lives change during the search for Roger. Odessa discovers a new life and love interest when she least expects it. Maggie gains a new career and independence.

This book is filled with comedic adventures of the amateur detectives. Author Jill Brock's debut novel is a fast, great weekend read. The plot is engaging and descriptive. The characters are memorable and hilarious. Jill Brock describes the setting and characters in such vivid detail; it was like watching it on the big screen. There are moments you will literally laugh out loud, and other moments you feel the emotions of the character as if you're really there. If you're looking for light, fun reading and a story to escape in, I recommend picking up and reading
Author Jill Brock has mastered the art of writing chick lit and mystery in the same novel.  

Title: Pennywise
Author: Jill Brock
Published: June 2007
Pages: 316
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

February 26, 2011

Whatever You Like AND Some

Lena Morrison is a grant writer by day, an escort by night. All is well until a date with Idris Elba look-alike, Roderick Brand, leaves her with an offer she can't refuse. Roderick offers three weeks of fulfilling his sexual fantasies in exchange for a million dollar grant that will guarantee a promotion in her day job. Vowing never to mix business with pleasure, she is forced to make a decision that may ruin a friendship, her career, family and future.

Whatever You Like drew in because of the hawt cover. It is the typical steamy love affair story with a predictable ending. It definitely sets the stage for a sequel or spinoff featuring one of the supporting characters. I'm keeping an eye out for more fiction books by author Maureen Smith. Her writing is similar to the well-known romance author, Brenda Jackson. If you like sizzling, erotic romance novels, then this is it!

Title: Whatever You Like
Author: Maureen Smith
Published: November 2010
Pages: 209
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥

February 22, 2011

Tales of the Broke & College Educated

"I'm so broke I'm going to knock out my own tooth and pray the tooth fairy is down for adults." -- Angela Nissel

Angela Nissel is broke. No money, on a super skintight budget broke. Forbidden from checking accounts and forced to use check cashing agencies broke. Two cents shy of buying Ramen noodles broke. Ever get mad at a homeless person for assuming you have money to give them? Ever open your cabinet to begin searching for breakfast food and discover there is only one grit left in the container? One. Solitary. Grit. 

Do these tales of the broke and college educated sound familiar? We've all been there in our dorm days. We all have our own broke diaries. Heck, I've even considered selling my eggs before. But her story of being broke will have you literally laughing out loud. I slapped my knee a couple times in laughter, and this was my second time reading! 

This memoir is a funny diary of Angela's daily activities and events that occur because she has no money. She started posting a few entries online, then was contacted to publish her diary. Now she's being paid to write about being broke. (Another example of the blog-turned-to-publishing-deal phenomenon and reason for my blogmoir). I recommend if you're looking for a hilarious story, or feeling down and out because there is only lent in your wallet.

Title: The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke
Author: Angela Nissel
Published: June 2001
Pages: 133
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥

February 21, 2011

What Would Nina Simone Do?

Shay Dixon is a burnt-out grad student who takes the advice of Nina Simone. "Go home," the deceased jazz singer says. So Shay picks up the phone and calls Nona, her drunken mother that she's not spoken to in seven years. Shay hops in her '72 VW Bug and heads back to Denver. To her surprise, Nona is now a sober A.A. sponsor with a good job, stable home, and a beautiful three-year-old daughter.

Shay struggles with a secret (trichotillomania) and anger issues, while Nona fights for her daughter's forgiveness. 

Nikki Giovanni states this is "a wonderful, jazzy, exciting read." I have to agree. This is a great quirky brown read. Author Carleen Brice has a knack for storytelling. This is a realistic story about mothers and daughters, growing into your own, rebirth, forgiveness and acceptance. I highly recommend the book and the Lifetime movie starring Jill Scott, Sins of the Mother. Grab your fave cup of tea and honey, watch the movie trailer below, and order the book today.

Title: Orange Mint and Honey
Author: Carleen Brice
Published: February 2008
Pages: 324
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Black Coffee: No Sugar, No Cream

Coffee Will Make You Black is a classic coming-of-age story of Jean "Stevie" Stevenson, a black girl in 1960s Chicago. Her mother is a bank teller and is always correcting someone's grammar. Her father is a hospital janitor. Sixth-grader Stevie is determine to be cool and popular, like Carla, instead of the L7 (square) her mother's rules shape her to be. Stevie is curious to find out how a period feels, what sex is, and what it means when your love comes down. Eventually, she realizes being cool isn't all that. This was actually my second time reading this book and it was just as good. It's especially good for teens and young girls. Black is beautiful, no matter how light or dark. Stevie is a character relatable memorable character for all races and ages.

Title: Coffee Will Make You Black
Author: April Sinclair
Published: February 1995
Pages: 239
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥♥♡

Happy Presidents' Day, Obama.

February 20, 2011

Series Sunday

Series Sunday is a new bookish meme hosted by yours truly, Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along. 

  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Post a review/recommendation on your blog, FB, Twitter, Goodreads, or Shelfari pages.
  • Share your review/recommendation by posting the link in the comments section below.
  • Include the title, author, and name of the series so that other Series Sunday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists.
My Series Sunday pick is Drop Shot, the second book in the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. Valerie Simpson is a young female tennis star who wants to make a comeback. She feels Myron is just the person to represent her. Then, she is murdered in broad daylight at the U.S. Open where Myron's hottest new male tennis star client, Duane Richwood, is playing. So why is he number one suspect? In true Myron fashion, he dips his nose into the investigation. As he pries further into the past, the truth becomes dangerous.

I. Am. Still. Hooked. Drop Shot is another page-turner that had me laughing at the witty dialogue and gripping the corners of my NOOKcolor at the plot twists.

Title: Drop Shot
Author: Harlan Coben
Published: March 1996
Pages: 254
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

February 18, 2011

Kinky, Meet Gazpacho

In honor of Black History Month and as a part of the Quirky Book Challenge, I decided to read Lori Tharps' memoir, Kinky Gazpacho. I liked her writing style in Substitute Me and wanted to learn more about her, especially after the black lit chat we participated in.

Immediately I noted similarities between the two of us. Besides the obvious, she grew up middle-class and attended private schools. It was usual for Lori to be the only meatball in the rice. This reminded me of my early years in Catholic school before transferring to a predominantly black public school for the gifted and talented (Team Bates). Lori was also obsessed with a European country, Spain. I am obsessed with the UK. I completely related to her eagerness to visit one day and learn all things possible about their culture. When she finally visited, I felt her excitement through the pages. Her experience was well written, very detailed, and honest. I can only hope my experience is just as rewarding.

Overall, this memoir was a quick, quirky, enjoyable read. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the author behind Substitute Me. It's also informative for those interested in Spainards and life outside of America. 

Title: Kinky Gazpacho
Author: Lori Tharps
Published: May 2009
Pages: 240
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥♥

February 17, 2011

Something Borrowed: The Movie

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (one of my absolute fave books) is hitting the big screen on May 6th! Here is the summary from Yahoo! Movies:

"Rachel is a talented attorney at a top New York law firm, a generous and loyal friend and, unhappily, still single as her engaged best friend Darcy is constantly reminding her. But after one drink too many at her 30th birthday party, perpetual good girl Rachel unexpectedly ends up in bed with the guy she's had a crush on since law school, Dex, who just happens to be Darcy's fiance. When Rachel and Darcy's lifelong friendship collides with true love, it leads to unexpected complications and potentially explosive romantic revelations. Meanwhile, Ethan, who has been Rachel's constant confidante and sometimes conscience, has been harboring a secret of his own, and Marcus, an irrepressible womanizer, can't keep his mind out of the gutter or his hands off any girl within reach."

99% of the time, books are better than the movie. However since Hilary Swank is one of the producers, I have very high hopes and expectations. Check back here in May for the movie review. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer and don't forget to read the book first. 

News You Can Use about Borders - Part II

Exactly one month ago, I posted about the status of the second largest bookstore chain, Borders. Well, I am sorry to report that my speculations were true. Below is an e-mail I received from Borders CEO Mike Edwards yesterday.

February 16, 2011

Welcome XXX With Open Arms

Writer Colette Petersen had the brilliant idea to write a nonfiction book of stories about successful women turning 30 years old. Through their stories, she clearly illustrates that 30 isn't a time to fear. Our society portrays that particular age as either "the end of something great" or "the beginning of something bad."

Petersen interviewed 19 women who turned 30 years old in 2006. Her research and interview questions concentrated on five areas of success: marriage, family, career, spirituality, and having it all. Even though every woman has a different view of success, the chapters flow smoothly. I especially enjoyed the "Straight Answers" section where Petersen proposed a general question and highlighted some of the participants answers. It is a very easy conversational read that can be read from front to back, or you can pick the chapters that pertain to you.

There are numerous books available about this milestone birthday. Most of them offer ways to get over the hill, or how to get it together. Finally we have a positive book about turning 30 that defines what it means to be successful at this age. The writer successfully helped me to realize that 30 really isn't old. Instead of dreading my next birthday, I welcome it with open arms. 

For a more personal take on my turning XXX, visit my blogmoir

Title: 30 Isn't Old
Author: Colette Petersen
Published: March 2009
Pages: 151
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥

February 13, 2011

Series Sunday

Series Sunday is a new bookish meme hosted by yours truly, Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along. 

  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Post a review/recommendation on your blog, FB, Twitter, Goodreads, or Shelfari pages.
  • Share your review/recommendation by posting the link in the comments section below.
  • Include the title, author, and name of the series so that other Series Sunday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists.
My Series Sunday pick is Tick Tock, the 4th book in the Detective Michael Bennett series by James Patterson. Bennett is NYC's #1 detective and father of ten adopted children. The book opens with the family's seaside vacation interrupted by a bomb scare at the New York Public Library. Even with the copycat murders of Mad Bomber, Son of Sam, and Werewolf of Wisteria, it wasn't terrifying. It wasn't the thriller that Patterson proclaims in his video trailer. In fact, I found it boring and forced myself to finish reading. The most enjoyable part was when Mike's relationship with nanny, Mary Catherine, took a turn. I'd rather Patterson stopped teaming up with less experienced authors to produce mass literature and focus on writing the gripping, suspenseful tales I used to love.

Title: Tick Tock
Author: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Published: January 2011
Pages: 416
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥ 

February 11, 2011

Dear Week,

I'm so over you. I'm leaving you for your best friend, Weekend. He promised a life filled with books and laughter. Don't try to find us for at least two days.

Love (not really),

February 9, 2011

Dream Deferred

I'm not a fan of poetry. However, I learned and memorized this poem in middle school for an English assignment. So today, I pay tribute to the late great Langston Hughes.

Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

February 6, 2011

Series Sunday

Series Sunday is a new bookish meme hosted by yours truly, Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along. 

  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Post a review/recommendation on your blog, FB, Twitter, Goodreads, or Shelfari pages.
  • Share your review/recommendation by posting the link in the comments section below.
  • Include the title, author, and name of the series so that other Series Sunday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists.

My Series Sunday pick is A Taste of Honey. I am loosely calling it a series because it is collection of 18 related short stories. There were many great reviews so I decided to give it a try. It reads like poetry, which I am not fond of. However, as I read about each character, I felt like a neighbor sitting on the front porch sipping sweet tea and eavesdropping. 

The setting takes place in a fictional Midwestern town in 1967. It addresses issues of racial injustice. While I have not experienced such injustice, there are moments in the book I could relate to. Remember Chick-o-Sticks? Remember Crispus Attucks? Remember that kid on the block who was known by his/her nickname, but you never quite knew his/her real name? This book will bring back childhood memories as well as offer a glimpse into a tight-knit black community.

Title: A Taste of Honey: Stories
Author: Jabari Asim
Published: March 2010
Pages: 205
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥

Hot vs. Not

Last September, I reported that Idris Elba was set to play our favorite detective in the new film I, Alex Cross. According to various sources, Idris Elba is out...and Tyler Perry is in. -___-

How can a comedian, that is suspect, play such a strong character? Perry has no swag. No sex appeal. Not a suave bone in his body. It seems common sense to choose Stringer Bell/Luther over Madea. I wouldn't be surprised if Perry dresses up to play Nana Mama too. 

I was so disappointed with the change in casting that I wrote James Patterson. If Perry stays in as Alex Cross, then I refuse to watch it on the big screen. Little 'ole me may not make a difference, but at least I expressed my opinion.

February 4, 2011

One Woman's Loss, Another Woman's Gain

Deidre is a faithful Christian whose prayers still haven't been answered. At a young age, she was diagnosed with a condition that makes it difficult to have children. She keeps this secret from her husband, who desperately wants to start a family. For fear of losing her husband by telling the truth, she continues to pray for a miracle.

Meanwhile, Kenisha Smalls is a young woman living in the ghetto, with three children by three different men and has just been diagnosed with cervical cancer. Unfortunately, it's inoperable and the chemo treatments are only to help ease her pain. Kenisha's main focus is finding suitable parents for her little ones. Her mother is an alcoholic. One sister is irresponsible, while the other sister is too busy in college making something of her life. Her brother is a crackhead. One baby daddy only comes around on the first of every month to get pocket change. Another is deceased. Kenisha's first love is serving a bid in jail. With only six months left to live, Kenisha is faced with the reality that nobody is fit enough to care for her precious little ones after she is gone.

By the grace of God, the two women meet and become instrumental in each other's lives. Vanessa Miller did a wonderful job weaving the fiction tale and pacing the events. Even though it was predictable, I enjoyed this story of how one woman's loss is another woman's blessing.

Title: Long Time Coming
Author: Vanessa Miller
Published: November 2010
Pages: 306
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥

February 2, 2011

Black History Month Kick Off

In honor of Black History Month, I am reading and reviewing books by authors of color, about characters of color for the entire month of February. Urban fiction and African American fiction is rapidly growing. I'd like to showcase a few of the first books I've ever read about characters that look like me.

Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of my all time faves. This autobiography is the reason Maya earned a spot in my role model list. Hopefully I'll get to meet her one day.

Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers introduced me to the harsh reality that young black men are faced with. It also taught me about how to deal with peer pressure.

William H. Armstrong's Sounder was very relatable because I grew up with dogs as pets. They really are a human's best friend.

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor was my fave read back in elementary school. Even though I first read it in the 4th grade (1990), the story of Cassie, Stacey, Christopher John and Little Man still sticks with me.

As a reminder, you can view what I am currently reading on the bookshelf above. You can view the complete line-up of what I plan to read in the bookshelf to your right. If you have any suggestions, please submit them in the comments section of this post.

Happy Black Reading!

February 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Literary Marie's Tuesday Teaser:

"Over the course of six decades, some six million black southerners left the land of their forefathers and fanned out across the country for an uncertain existence in nearly every corner of America. The Great Migration would become a turning point in history."

~ p. 16, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson