Category Archives: Book Reviews

New Books February 2017, Book Reviews, Events, and More

february 2017 New Books

New Books Coming Out February 2017

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
A timely and powerful story about a teen girl striving for success in a world that too often feels like it wants to break her.

Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray
A novel inspired by the seven deadly sins about a woman caught between an entertainment mogul with a shady past and his childhood friend who is out for revenge.

High Cotton: A Novel by Darryl Pinckney
This novel evokes a world that has not often been examined – the world of upper-middle-class blacks, obsessed with light skin and good hair.

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander
The Playbook is intended to provide inspiration on the court of life. Each rule contains wisdom from inspiring athletes and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Carli Lloyd, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama.

The Lazarus Poems by Kamau Brathwaite
Central to the book is a series of poems outlining the speaker’s (the poet s) experiences with what he calls Cultural Lynching. The speaker’s pain and outrage are almost overwhelming. Filled with longing, rage, nostalgia, impotence, wisdom, and love, this book is moving in every sense of the word.

Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
“In this racially charged dance of power, the railroad into the interior of the country becomes a journey into the hearts of men and women. It is a dance of love and hate and mixed motives that drive human actions and alter the course of history. Kimani’s writing has the clarity of analytic prose and the lyrical tenderness of poetry.”—Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Learn about these and many more excellent books coming out in February and the coming months.


Recently Reviewed Books

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric DysonTears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

While his previous works were aimed at a Black audience, this is his first intended to be read by whites. It is also written in a unique literary style, namely, as a sermon designed to keep Caucasians standing on their feet like an inspired congregation of holy rollers.

If I were Dyson, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a positive reception from his intended audience, given the ascension of Donald Trump and the celebration of rednecks in the runaway best seller, Hillbilly Elegy. He might be better off redirecting his sermon to the African-American community and changing his incendiary opus’ subtitle to “Preaching to the Choir!” (St. Martin’s Press, Jan17, 2017)


The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era by Elizabeth Dowling TaylorThe Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

Elizabeth Dowling Taylor’s new book, The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era is an important contribution to ensuring American history during the hundred-year period between the Emancipation Proclamation and the beginning of the Civil Rights era is told. The Original Black Elite communicates this history from the perspective of the life of Daniel Murray and his contemporaries in the Washington DC elite. His life and those in his circle demonstrated that Black success was not dependent upon white largess, and was only hindered when whites actively worked to stop it.. (Amistad, Jan 31, 2017)


width=Finding Heaven in the Dark by William L. Ingram

Ingram is a natural storyteller. Finding Heaven in the Dark is well written, heartfelt and readable. However, his path to self, through religion and meditation using this particular practice and teachings, is immensely personal. His belief system won’t be for everyone and at times it bordered on proselytizing, however his search for self, self-love and self-acceptance is universal. Ultimately, Ingram is asking big questions—questions we’ve all contemplated at one point or another—about existence, about faith, about how our choices make us, for better or worse, who we are. What he learns is that it is not what happens to us, but how we handle it, that really shows our strength of character. How he comes to this discovery isn’t really the point, it’s that he comes to it it all. That he finds redemption, faith, and self-acceptance in a life filled with such hardship, gives hope to all of us. And that is really the point. (Dog Ear Publishing, Jul 22, 2016)


A Blast from the Past: “The Book Beat” Radio Program

Lee MeadowsIn the late 1990’s Lee Meadows hosted a weekly radio program on WPON in Detroit called “The Book Beat”. Meadows’s program included interviews of our favorite African American Authors—some of them at the beginning of their careers.

AALBC.com has archived many of this programs including interviews with J. California Cooper, Eric Jerome Dickey, Tananarive Due, Lolita Files, Linda Dominique Grosvenor, Omar Tyree, and others for your enjoyment. You can even listen to an interview with me (AALBC.com’s founder and webmaster) which was conducted less than a year after this site’s launch. Visit the “Book Beat” to listen to these wonderful interviews.


AALBC.com Discussion Forums—Join The Conversation!

African-American Literature Discussion

Where is the highest concentration of Black-owned bookstores in the United States?
Three Black writers have won the Nobel Prize for Literature; do you know who they are?
What are 8 things writers need to do to get published and not exploited\

Culture, Race & Economy Discussion

Why Obama’s statement, “The country is better off” Rings Hollow
I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!
The Best Definition of White Supremacy Ever


jeff at the fairTampa Bay Black Heritage Festival – Author Village

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the 17th Annual Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival. The highlight for me was the Author Village, where I had to opportunity to meet several authors and even a couple of clients.

Some of the participating authors included Jeff Carroll, Holly Mosley Cooper, Darrin DeWitt Henson, William L. Ingram, Pamala McCoy, Ersula Knox Odom, Stephanie Outten, Paul C. Thornton, and Cathy Finch White. Learn more about these authors and thousands of others on AALBC.com.

Never miss another terrific event, visit our Events Calendar.


Pamala McCoyPamala McCoy Interviewed by Beauty Talk Illustrated Magazine

Managing BONA5D full-time gives Pamala the opportunity to help individuals navigate their financial woes through a struggling economy to reach a place of freedom. She has a special interest to work with women and support women issues, particularly financial education. She believes teaching them the important tools necessary to mastering their finances will subsequently build confidence and lead women to a place of financial independence.


Get Your Book on AALBC.com’s Homepage Until March 21st!

Winter SpecialYour book will appear on our Homepage and our Book’s Main Page for the entire winter until midnight March 21, 2017). Buy it now; this special deal ends January 31.

All Winter Special advertisers will get a 25% discount on the Spring Special. The winter and spring are the busiest seasons of the year on AALBC.com.

Also, if you purchase your Large Book Cover Advertisement we’ll give you a free Author Profile—permanent placement on AALBC.com—as an added bonus!

AALBC.com is the oldest, largest, and most frequently visited website dedicated to books written by, or about, people of African descent. There is no other website that reaches readers of Black literature more effectively.


Dear Reader,

AALBC.com 19th YearAALBC.com continues to grow and improve because of your ongoing support. If you value our content, here are four simple things should do to support AALBC.com;

1. Do not use an ad blocker to block AALBC.com’s ads.
Advertisements are AALBC.com’s primary source of revenue. Our ads, which are usually books, are nonintrusive and are actually a great way to discover an excellent read.

2. Share our content.
It is our responsibility to ensure our that we relate our stories and history and are that they are shared and known widely.

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Peace & Love,

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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


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AALBC.com eNewsletter – January 25, 2017 – Issue #241

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Great Books, Events, Films & More – October 2015 eNewsletter

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AALBC.com’s Best Selling Books — July/August 2015news-childrens-bestsellers

We just published our ten best selling fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books for the period July 1 through August 31st. The photo above highlights eight of the top selling children’s books on AALBC.com. We are substantially increasing our commitment to children’s literature.

As part of this goal, we are compiling a list of The 100 Most Important African-American Children’s Books. If you would like to suggest books for our list, please visit our blog and share the books you would like to be considered for inclusion.


Book Reviews & Recommendations

Nonfiction

The Face That Changed It All: A Memoir by Beverly Johnson — Book ReviewThe Face That Changed It All: A Memoir by Beverly Johnson — Book Review

Beverly was signed by the Ford agency which, in turn, led to her meteoric transformation into the first black supermodel. Her face would eventually grace the cover of over 500 magazines, including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Elle, Essence, Ebony and Harper’s Bazaar, to name a few. By 1975, she’d paved the way for models of every hue, inspiring editors and fashion designers to adopt colorblind hiring practices.

The Face That Changed It All (Atria Books, August 25, 2015) is a touching, warts-and-all autobiography in which Beverly recounts not only her considerable professional achievements but also reveals the litany of challenges she’s had to surmount in her personal life. Of topical interest, undoubtedly, is the chapter devoted to Bill Cosby, since Beverly was the most famous female and the first African-American to publicly accuse him of drugging and assaulting her with intent to rape. More


Rock the Boat: How to Use Conflict to Heal and Deepen Your Relationship — Book Review
Rock the Boat: How to Use Conflict to Heal and Deepen Your Relationship — Book Review

I’ve refrained from reviewing relationship books lately, basically because there’s been such a profusion of self-professed love gurus hawking lighthearted advice ever since comedian-turned-love guru Steve Harvey not only published Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, but turned the runaway best-seller into a hit movie, too. However, I’ve decided to make an exception for this relatively-sobering opus by Resma Menakem, a licensed therapist you might recognize from his appearances on Oprah, Dr. Phil and elsewhere.

Resma is a licensed clinical social worker whose approach to counseling encourages couples to confront rather than smooth over their differences. In Rock the Boat (Hazelden Publishing, April 28, 2015), a how-to handbook delineating his professional philosophy, the author starts with the thesis that marriage is never the happily-ever-after fairy tale suggested by the end of every romantic romp you see in the movies. More


African-American Philosophers: 17 ConversationsAfrican-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations

Originally published by Routledge in 1998; I’m finding African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations to be a fascinating insight into the minds of some of America’s great philosophers. The brilliant thinkers include; Anita L. Allen, Robert E. Birt, Bernard R. Boxhill, Joyce Mitchell Cook, Angela Y. Davis, Lewis R. Gordon, Leonard Harris, Joy Ann James, Tommy L. Lott, Hoard McGary, Jr., Michele M. Moody-Adams, Albert Mosley, Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr., Adrian M. S. Piper, Laurence Thomas, Cornell West, Naomi Zack.

I started reading this book in reaction to a conversation on our discussion forum, “Who has filled the intellectual void after James Baldwin?,” which I initiated in reaction to Toni Morrison blurb for Ta-Nehisi Coates new book, the Power List and AALBC.com best seller, Between the World and Me ; “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died…clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.”


Children’s Books

news-one-million-men-and-meOne Million Men & Me for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March Written By Kelly Starling Lyons, Illustrated by Peter Ambush

Lyons relates the events of the 1995 Million Man March as told from the point of view of a girl who accompanies her father to Washington, DC, for the historic gathering. She begins, My cousin, Omari, said no girls were allowed. But Daddy took me.

…The description of the faces as a rainbow of chocolate, graham cracker brown and cream is accompanied by a spread depicting men of different ages, dress styles, and color, but their expressions of pride and hope are the same. Ambush successfully varies the illustrations to include both warm close-ups of father and daughter and wider views of the speakers she sees while sitting on her dad’s shoulders. An author’s note includes additional historical facts about the march. —School Library Journal. (Just Us Books, Oct 15, 2014)


news-poems-in-the-atticPoems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

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 (Lee & Low Books, May 15, 2015).


news-mixed-meMixed Me! — Book Review

A few years ago, actor Taye Diggs and artist Shane Evans collaborated on Chocolate Me (see it on the new AALBC.com website), a children’s book about a little boy who was teased by his friends about having skin the color of dirt and hair that made him look like he was scared. That illustrated best-seller received critical acclaim for its sensitive treatment of the emotional impact of taunting on the young mind of an impressionable black child.

Now, Taye and Shane are back on behalf of biracial and any other kids of mixed ancestry with a story highlighting Mike’s struggle to fit in. A medium-complexioned boy with a ginormous orange afro, he’s being bullied at school by classmates who called him “Mixed-Up Mike.” They also make fun of the fact that his parents supposedly don’t match, since one is much darker-skinned than the other (Feiwel & Friends, October 6, 2015).
Fiction


 

news-rhythm-of-the-august-rainThe Rhythm of August the Rain by Gillian Royes

Shannon, a photojournalist on assignment for a Canadian magazine, arrives in the impoverished but beautiful fishing village of Largo Bay, Jamaica. But she’s seeking more than a tropical paradise: She wants to know why a Canadian woman named Katlyn went missing there more than three decades ago. So she calls on Shad Myers, the lovable bartender and town sleuth of Largo Bay, who hunts down clues to a woman’s mysterious disappearance in this fourth riveting novel in the Shad detective series.

As in her previous novels The Sea Grape Tree, The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks, and The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, Royes transports readers into a beautiful Caribbean setting where life is cheap, but religion is strong and one man is still trying to solve the island’s relentless questions. (Atria Books, July 28, 2015)


news-captin-blackmanCaptain Blackman by John A. Williams

Named “among the most important works of fiction of the decade” by the New York Times Book Review when it was first published in 1972. Captain Blackman was republished in April, 2000, as part of Coffee House Press’s Black Arts Movement reprint series.

“Captain Blackman chronicles the fevered dreams of a black soldier’s journey through time from the American Revolution to Vietnam. Published in 1972, it was the first book of speculative fiction that I’d ever read by an African-American, and I loved its power, its history, and that it was rooted in the race’s struggle to find dignity in a country intent upon denying that dignity by all means necessary. Williams was one of the finest unsung American writers of his generation.” —Beverly Jenkins, Author


daddy-homeDaddy’s Home by Janae Marie

Janae Marie is a writer, journalist and publisher. Born in Michigan, she’s earned a Bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Media Arts and working on another as well. She’s also wrote, produced, directed and edited her own film entitled, My Mother Donna. She is also the publisher of Young Urban Voices Magazine, an online publication for young adults.

Daddy’s Home is the second novel from Janae Marie. Abandoned, raped, homeless, and molested are just a list of things Danielle Turner has endured while growing up. Being sexually abused at the age of thirteen by her alcoholic father and ignored by her mother after she witnesses the act herself forces Danielle to run away from home. She later meets smooth talker Dante Willis who promises to take care of her. What she doesn’t realize is that his promises come with hidden agendas. Danielle finds herself being coerced into prostitution and abusing drugs to earn her keep in Dante’s house.


news-akaschic-booksAnything Published by Akashic Books

“Akashic Books is a Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers.”

Akashic, publishes authors of all colors, but continues to make tremendous contributions to Black literature. Their roster of authors reads like a veritable who’s-who list of significant Black writers including, Elizabeth Nunez, Bernice L. McFadden, Nelson George, Percival Everett, Preston L. Allen, Amiri Baraka, K’wan, Shannon Holmes, Courttia Newland, Colin Channer, Persia Walker, Kwame Dawes, Chris Abani, and many more.


 

 

Events — October 2015

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The 11th Annual Cavalcade of Authors with Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins, Lutishia Lovely and more. Hosted by Naleighna Kai and J.L. Woodson — October 2-4, 2015, Chicago, IL

Literary Festival of Charlotte Formerly the Charlotte Book Fair started in 2011 — October 3, 2015, Charlotte, NC (Postponed due to heavy rains and winds)

11th Annual African American Literary Awards Show Organized by Yvette Hayward the event’s goal is to recognize the accomplishments of African American authors and industry professionals. — October 3, 2015, New York, NY

The 2015 Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend — A two-day literary conference for authors and readers — October 16-17, 2015, Bowie, MD

National Black Book Festival 2015 Journalist Roland Martin, nationally-renowned model Beverly Johnson and New York Times best-selling author Lalita Tademy will headline. — October 23-24, 2015, Houston, TX

14th Annual Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Ceremony Mistress of Ceremonies, S.Epatha Merkerson; with Special Guests Nikky Finney and Yusef Komunyakaa; and Edwidge Danticat, Recipient of the 2015 North Star Award — October 23, 2015, Washington, DC

2nd Annual Independent Authors Book Expo Independent Authors Book Expo is a free event open to the public where independent authors, poets, publishers and writers can promote their work. — October 24, 2015, Elizabeth, NJ


Film Reviews

news-the-black-pathersThe Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Film Review

…The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (In Theaters: Sep 2, 2015), a warts-and-all documentary directed by Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders). The film is fascinating not only because of its copious archival footage, but on account of the many revelations exposing the dark underbelly of an outfit often given a pass in spite of myriad flaws in terms of misogyny and machismo. More

David Hilliard the executive director of The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, founding member of the Black Panther Party, and chief of staff of the Party during the time Huey and Bobby Seale were incarcerated says, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is not the story of the BPP, like many other academic and mainstream media interpretations of the Black Panther Party it is an inaccurate, external description of the BPP and it’s legacy.” More ▶


news-warroomWar Room — Film Review

In 2011, Pastor Alex Kendrick produced, directed, wrote and starred in Courageous, a very compelling, action-oriented, faith-based drama. With War Room (In Theaters: Aug 28, 2015), he’s opted to play only a supporting role in the flick, thereby freeing himself to focus more on his duties behind the camera.

The film revolves around protagonists Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) and Tony Jordan (T.C. Stallings), a couple we meet already in the midst of a relationship crisis. Most of their marital woes are of the husband’s making, as he is a workaholic who’s emotionally and physically unavailable to his wife and their young daughter, Danielle (Alena Pitts). More


news-malalaHe Named Me Malala — Film Review

Initially, she blamed her dad for her plight, since he was the one who’d cultivated her activist streak. “I am a child,” she said, “You are my father. You should have stopped me. What happened to me is because of you.”

But eventually her health was substantially restored, and she became a stoic and serene symbol of resistance to radical Islam. With continued death threats hanging over their heads, the Yousafzai family (including Malalal’s mom and two younger brothers) was forced to resettle in England where she would become a champion of oppressed females all over the planet (In Theaters: Oct 2, 2015). More


Related Articles & News

news-black-panther-comicTa-Nehisi Coates to Write the New Black Panther Comic for Marvel

Created in 1966, Black Panther, who is from the fictional African country of Wakanda, is the first Black superhero.

Ta-Nehisi Coates the; #1 Power List bestselling author; AALBC.com bestselling author; #1 NY Times bestselling Author; 2015 National Book Award Winning Author (AALBC.com prediction); and heir apparent to Jimmy Baldwin; will write the new Black Panther comic for Marvel! Coates definitely has “the juice” right about now.


news-bloggers-helpHow Bloggers Can Help Each Other

In 2011, I created a website, Huria Search, to showcase and highlight the websites of Black content providers including, magazines, newspapers, major websites, bookstores, and most recently bloggers.

I completely understand the difficulty bloggers, especially those just starting out, face attracting readers. Many excellent writers no longer maintain blogs, as they are unable to attract readers or generate revenue. Without the contributions of these writers, the World Wide Web does not reflect the richness of our culture and is a less interesting place.

Some bloggers are migrating to Facebook, but the creativity and unique design of a blog is simply impossible to replicate on a Facebook page. In addition, Facebook is solely revenue driven, so if your writing is not designed to engage the maximum number of people—good luck getting it seen by other readers, without paid promotion, no matter how substantive, creative or important it is. Of course there are also the issues of ownership, revenue, privacy, and control to consider on Facebook.

This was not always the case; the web started to become more challenging for independent entities about a decade ago. We can—indeed must— do more to support each other, otherwise our online platforms will continue to grow weaker and the power of the web will coalesce into the hands a few powerful corporations, and this does not serve any of us.

So visit a blog, comment on an article, share articles with others. If you need help finding a blog you’ll like, visit the Blog section of Huria Search.


Troy Johnson, AALBC.com Founder and webmasterDear Reader,

If book websites, and physical stores that focus on Black literature are going to survive (there are not many left), Troy, you have to support us. This is the only way our stories will be recorded and shared widely.

The new version of AALBC.com, planned for official launch in March of 2016, will provide book buy links to independent booksellers, not just to Amazon, the way we are setup now. Sure, we will provide links to Amazon, but we are committed to ensuring independent booksellers have a chance, and will highlight links to those sites when we can.

Check out the “Buy This Book” button for Buffalo Soldiers by Robert H. Miller you will find an option to purchase this book directly from Just Us Books. Buying this book directly from Just Us Books benefits this independent publisher more than buying the book via Amazon. More profit for Just Us Books more books for us in the future.

As always, remember to help us support for the writers and institutions we cover, with your paid subscription to our newsletter.

Peace & Love,
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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com
Support AALBC.com, Support this eNewsletter

AALBC.com eNewsletter – September 29, 2015 – Issue #228

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Read This to Discover Great Authors, Books, Events & More

★ Read Our eNewsletter Archives
★ Subscribe to Receive Highlights of Our eNewsletter and More on Your Kindle

Sponsored by Akashic Books and Infamous Booksnews-akaschib-banner-august
AALBC.com’s Bestselling Books May/June 2015news-bestsellers-may2015We’ve made two significant to the best sellers list this period. First, we’ve removed our dependence on the Amazon tool, by building our own database. This allows us to more easily create and maintain our best sellers lists. This change also facilitated our second enhancement, the introduction of a children’s best sellers list.

Authors You Should Know

new-johnaJohn A. Williams

AALBC.com mourns the passing of John Alfred Williams, author of the classic, The Man Who Cried I Am, which was on our book club’s reading list back in 1998. This is how I discovered Williams’ work. Over a decade ago, Williams took an interest in AALBC.com and supported us (read: supported me) in a number of ways. That level of support from an author of his stature is exceedingly rare. I will always remember and miss him for it. Williams passed on July 3, 2015, at the age of 89, from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Also check out a terrific article Williams wrote, for Ebony Magazine, covering the Black literary scene back in 1963, “Negro in Literature Today.”

news-claudiiaClaudia Alexander, Ph.D.,

AALBC.com also mourns the loss of Claudia Alexander, who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 56 on July 11, 2015. Alexander was a scientist on the Rosetta Project, which landed a spacecraft on a comet (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) in November of 2014. She just 56 years old.

Alexander also published her own children’s science-learning books and her alter-ego, E.L. Celeste is a lady astronomer, and captain of space-ready aerocraft to the planets and beyond. By night she re-imagines the universe. She has written a number of steampunk short stories and a full length elf-punk novel.

news-bebeBebe Moore Campbell

Campbell, who passed back in 2006, was the author of three New York Times best sellers: Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, and What You Owe Me, which was also a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001. Her other works include the novel Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the winner of the NAACP Image Award for literature. Campbell’s titles frequently made AALBC.com bestsellers lists as well.

Campbell was also spokesperson for mental illness a condition which her daughter, actress Maia Campbell, battled.

new-ursulaUrsula Rucker

Ursula Rucker is one of the premiere spoken word recording artists in the music industry today. As a poet and performance artist, Ursula has enchanted critics and fans across the globe with her diverse repertoire, captivating vocals and accessible poetic verse.

Since 1994, Ursula has shared her songwriting talent and mesmerizing voice with an array of recording artists and producers including King Britt, 4 Hero, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Josh Wink and The Roots. Each was drawn to the soft spoken eloquence and undeterred honesty which have become Ursula’s signature.

news-maritaMarita L. Kinney

Kinney is a best-selling author with over 25 books published. As a published author, life coach, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur, Marita has inspired thousands of people to overcome adversity with triumph through faith and perseverance. While facing several life changing challenges herself, Marita had enough faith to conquer tribulations, coming out victorious.

She is best known for her Christian Fiction novellas and heart felt inspirational books. Loving God with her whole heart, she has vowed to live a life of transparency winning souls to Christ with the realness of her journey and the relatability of her testimony. In March of 2009 Marita published her debut book, The Unspoken Walk. Capturing the true essence of what it means to turn “lemons into lemonade”, she has taken the harsh lessons of life and developed a plan for successfully living.

Book Reviews

newbetween-the-world-and-meBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates garnered national attention a year ago when he published “A Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic Monthly magazine. Now, the progressive pundit is back with Between the World and Me an equally-incendiary assessment of the state of race relations in the United States.

The book is basically designed as an open letter from Ta-Nehisi to his 15 year-old only-child, Samori. The author fears the boy might suffer the same horrific fate as African-American youngsters like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis who were killed on a whim by white men for the “crimes” of walking home while black and listening to loud music, respectively (Spiegel & Grau, July 17, 2015, debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list).

news-stand-your-ground (1)Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas

The author opens the opus with a history lesson, tracing the source of the problem back hundreds of years to the birth of “Exceptionalism” in Anglo-Saxon England. Reserved for whites, that notion enabled Caucasians to adopt the concept of “Manifest Destiny” that led to the extermination of Native Americans (relying on the rallying cry “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”) and to the wholesale subjugation of Africans as property.

She sees today’s Stand Your Ground law as a logical extension of the supremacist philosophy that sustained slavery, Jim Crow segregation, lynching and other institutionalized forms of color-coded oppression. Apparently, part and parcel of that shameful scheme was a “natural law theo-ideology” hyper-valuing whiteness while denigrating the black body as “perpetually-guilty chattel” (Orbis Books, May 10, 2015).

newsnyviewMy View From The Summit by Nicole Thomas

My View From The Summit is succinct and readable, and will probably be read in one sitting. Thomas’s tone is conversational, and her writing is straightforward, accessible, and uncomplicated. Although Thomas’s life has had its many ups and downs—the loss of loved ones, the dissolution of her marriage—she never looks back with regret. She sees each moment, good or bad, as a life lesson that has helped her on her journey to be the person she wants to be.

What makes My View From The Summit appealing is that, although told from a modern perspective some vignettes are filled with age-old lessons: Letting go, not taking on more than we can handle, being grateful, understanding that we can’t control everything and shouldn’t even try. These essays could help the overworked superwoman who is trying to balance being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, employee, who is constantly on the go, and doing it all. Thomas reminds us of the small marvels of life that we should be thankful for, even in the midst of our daily grind. And that, “You can lose your sense of self trying to please other people” (CreateSpace, January 20, 2014).

news-it-all-beginsIt All Begins with ‘I’: The “New Rules” of Thinking and the Simple Secrets to Living a Rich, Joyous and Fulfilled Life by Stuart K. Robinson

You’ve probably heard most of his common sense advice before in one form or another. Take, Rule #6: “I Will Fire the Announcer.” By that, the author means ignoring that distracting, negative voice in your head capable of discouraging you via a defeatist attitude. He suggests that, instead, you “Trust your heart, because you feel it.”

Robinson’s other axioms range from “I Will Determine My Habits” to “I Will Believe in Myself” to “I Am Who I Think I Am, and I Get What I Expect.” In terms of more innovative ideas, he devotes an entire chapter to the difference between the “I” (good) and “Me” (bad) mentalities (Tallfellow Press, June 22, 2015).

9780803740860I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

Brad Meltzer was born in Brooklyn, which is where Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line when he joined for the Dodgers in 1947. But that’s not what inspired the best-selling author to write I Am Jackie Robinson. Rather, the father of a daughter and identical twin boys had grown tired of watching his children admire reality-TV stars and trash-talking pro athletes as if they were true heroes.

These attention-seeking celebrities were famous, yes. But were they worth emulating and looking up to? No. As Brad puts it, “I wanted my kids to see real heroes… and real people no different from themselves.” So, he decided to publish a series of books for young readers touching upon the real-life childhoods and achievements of such icons as Dr. Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks and Albert Einstein.

news-america-the-blackAmerica The Black Point of View by Tony Rose

Tony’s upbringing in Boston back in the Fifties and Sixties was way worse than merely modest, given how he and his sister were raised in a rough Roxbury ghetto they were lucky to survive.

His absentee-dad was rarely around after being caught molesting his daughter, not that the heroin addicted-pimp/Mafia hit man would have made much of a role model. Consequently, Tony’s mom was totally dependent on that bi-weekly Welfare check from the government. And up until she lost her mind in 1965, the emotionally-abusive woman was fond of routinely reminding her kids that they were “black and ugly” and that nobody wanted them (Amber Communications Group, April 28, 2015).

news-12-waysHow to Avoid the Superwoman Complex 12 Ways to Balance Mind, Body & Spirit by C. Nicole Swiner, MD

How to Avoid the Superwoman Complex bills itself as a how-to book designed to help working females at risk of spreading themselves too thin. Unfortunately, in a classic case of bait and switch, the actual advice dispensed on its pages bears little resemblance to what’s suggested by the self-help sounding title.

Instead, this opus is filled with a lot of the sort of boiler plate medical advice you might find on pamphlets in a general practitioner’s waiting room. And the author, C. Nicole Swiner, MD, just happens to be a physician with a family practice (C.Nicole Swiner, December 29, 2014).

Book Recommendations

news-ghost-summerGhost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due

“Ms. Due accomplishes the hardest thing of all with deceptive ease, creating characters we care about on their most human level.”
—Stephen King

Named one of Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror titles for the fall! Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due’s work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories-one of which has never been published before-Ghost Summer: Stories, is sure to both haunt and delight. The title novella, Ghost Summer, won a Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society (Prime Books, September 15, 2015).

garden-of-unfortunate-souls (1)The Garden of Unfortunate Souls by Eddie Mark

In 1980s Buffalo, New York, the recession has transformed the city’s proudest African American neighborhood into a ghetto. Loretta Ford, an eccentric single mother and religious fanatic, survives for years by masquerading as the owner of a dead woman’s house. Her reclusive life is interrupted when an unlikely incident brings the mayor of Buffalo to her home in the middle of the night. Their secret meeting sets off a chain of events that will leave two families altered forever.

With all the passion of a Shakespearean tragedy and a cast of characters never to be forgotten, The Garden of Unfortunate Souls vividly depicts the consequences of violence, sex, and gender conflict in African American communities (Booktrope, April 17, 2015).

newbottle-topBottle Cap Boys Dancing On Royal Street by Rita Williams-Garcia

Tap dancing on sidewalks, especially in the city’s French Quarter, is a New Orleans tradition as familiar to some as Jazz, Creole and Cajun food and Mardi Gras. For generations, Black youngsters have danced for tourists on the streets of New Orleans some because they enjoy it, but many others to earn money for their families. Instead of dancing in store bought tap shoes, young boys and girls stamp and grind bottle caps into the soles of their sneakers until the bottle caps stay firmly in place at the toe. And they don’t miss a beat! Clickity-clack, Clack……tipity-tap, tap tap……tipity-tap, tap In Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia introduces two bottle cap dancers, brothers Randy and Rudy. Through rich and upbeat rhyme, Williams-Garcia gives voice to the dancing and the youngsters who keep this unique New Orleans tradition alive. Damian Ward’s exuberant illustrations are perfect complements to Williams Garcia’s perfectly pitched poetry (Marimba Books, October 15, 2015).

new-friendship9.No Fear For Freedom: The Story Of The Friendship 9

SC raised Confederate flag in 1961 to insult nine black protesters — and took it down to honor nine slain
South Carolina put Confederate flag above capitol in 1961 after 9 students held sit-in at segregated lunch counter. A peculiar historical symmetry exists between South Carolina’s decision to raise the Confederate flag in 1961.

The Friendship 9, a group of college students and activists in Rock Hill, South Carolina, claimed a rightful place in history by challenging inequality and unfair laws. In 1961, their decision to help place into motion the Jail, No Bail strategy empowered many communities (Frown-Free Publications, March 1, 2014). Watch a video of Their Story.

news-stand-your-groundStand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray

Janice Johnson is living every mother’s nightmare. Her seventeen-year-old son was murdered and the shooter has not been arrested. Can the DA and the police be trusted to investigate and do the right thing? Should Janice take advantage of the public outcry and join her husband alongside the angry protesters who are out for revenge?

Meredith Spencer is married to the man accused of the killing and she sees her husband and the situation with far more clarity than anyone realizes. What she knows could blow the case wide open, but what will that mean for her life and that of her son? Will she have the courage to come forward in time so justice can be done? Published by Touchstone, June 30, 2015.

news-mamas-boyMama’s Boy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

When her son is in trouble, a heartbroken mother finds the courage and faith to save him, in ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s powerful family drama—a novel as timely as today’s headlines.

The breaking TV news rocks Jasper, Texas, to the core: a white police officer is fatally shot in a scuffle with three black youths—and a cellphone video captures Jamal Jones, the sixteen-year-old son of esteemed Reverend Elton Jones, escalating the tragic encounter. Now, as the national spotlight shines on a town already rife with racial tension, Jamal is a murder suspect on the run. And all of Jasper—even the Reverend’s congregation—rushes to judge the boy they thought they knew (Gallery Books, 8/30/15).

Billingsley’s, Novel Let the Church Say Amen has been adapted as a film and will debut, August 30th, on BET.

news-memoirsMemoirs of a Mad Black Educator Bobby R. Dixon

A critical reflection on the education reform movement through the personal experiences of this African-American educator. Dixon fictionalizes some of his experiences to delineate the emergence of a new educational power structure, which entails the marriage of philanthropy, federal government policy, charter school operators, new forms of teacher training and administrator training programs, the profitable testing industry, mayoral control of large school districts, among other entities. This new educational power structure not only advocates the privatization of public education, but forces it down the public’s throat. The consequence is the growing obsolescence of the public school and the public school teacher. There are massive firings and layoffs of skilled, veteran teachers and principals nationwide to make way for alternatively trained teachers and principals. Likewise there are nationwide closings of schools in minority and poor communities to make way for charter schools and special school districts (CreateSpace, September 11, 2014).

newgirls-write-now-2015Voice to Voice: The Girls Write Now 2015 Anthology

From one of the nation’s top after school programs, an acclaimed collection of poetry and prose showcasing the voices of young women and their mentors in a powerful exploration of the theme of Voice to Voice. Distinguished twice by the White House as one of the top after-school arts and cultural organizations in the nation, and recently honored by Newsweek in their article on “After school programs that make a difference,” Girls Write Now works to empower underserved teen girls in New York City by pairing them with professional writing mentors (Girls Write Now, May 19, 2015).

news-raising-black-boysRaising Black Boys to Men: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Thugless Sons by Patricia Joseph

One mother’s journey: her successes, trials, and errors, in raising her three boys, in a society that glorifies thug-life. Author, Patricia Joseph, who successfully navigated the lives of her three sons, through the ever so present negative influences in society, felt compelled to write about her experience in raising thugless sons. Patricia credits much of her success to just “good, ole-fashion child rearing.”

In her book, Patricia provides simple anecdotes and tips, to help mothers faced with the challenges of raising Black boys. Patricia cleverly sprinkles humor throughout the book, and provides laughter to the role of parenting. The book is a short, quick-read, which can be read in a few hours. At the end of each chapter, Patricia provides “Mom Tips,” which are little nuggets of information, for moms to reference long after reading the book (BookBaby, December 5, 2014).

news-still-a-pygmyStill a Pygmy: The unique memoir of one man’s fight to save his identity from extinction

The unique memoir of one man’s fight to save his identity from extinction

Still a Pygmy is a story of love, pride and prejudice that traces the journey of BaTembo Pygmy Isaac Bacirongo from the forests of Central Africa, through the brutality of dictator­ship and war, to arrival and settlement in Australia’s melting pot. Isaac’s inimi­table style and voice draw readers into the heart of this memoir, his relation­ship with his wife, who survived his mother’s attempts to kill her to help Isaac through experiences of appall­ing violence. It is full of warmth, wit and wise insights about life (Finch Publishing, July 1, 2015).

Events

 

news-bcala-program9th National Conference of African American Librarians – August 5-7, 2015 – St. Louis, MO

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association is excited to return NCAAL to its original biennial conference schedule. New to NCAAL 2015, is a Wednesday through Saturday schedule, allowing conference goers to take advantage of lower transportation rates typically available on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The new schedule also provides a wonderful opportunity for attendees to stay over and explore the city of Saint Louis once the conference concludes Saturday afternoon. Black Caucus of the American Library Association 9th Conference Program is available

Exhibitors are invited to participate in the 9th National Conference. The association continues to work to make its conferences relevant and enjoyable for the hundreds of librarians who attend.

Film Reviews

news-boundBound: Africans vs. African-Americans

Bound opens with a folk tale about two loving brothers, born in the land of warm waters, Africa. Suddenly one brother is torn from the other never to be seen again. The one brother waits at the water’s edge all his life then charges his son to do the same. This goes on for generations until several hundred years later, in the land of cold winters, America, when the daughter of one brother walks towards the daughter of the other brother and with every step they get closer until they walk past each other, one never noticing the other.

How did these descendants of two loving brothers become so isolated? The journey to the answer begins with Africans and African Americans recounting personal, hurtful experiences with each other. It immediately identifies the media as the source of the negative perceptions we have of each other. Throughout its young history, celluloid has depicted people of African descent as childlike, stupid and violent, pretty much how we have come to view each other.

news-tang-negroTango Negro, The African Roots of Tango

The word “tango” mean “sun” in Congolese. Given that derivation, it comes as no surprise that the dance thought of as South American might be traced back to Africa.

That explains the mission of Tango Negro, a labor of love marking the writing and directorial debut of Dom Pedro. What makes the project of educational value is the fact that Argentina, the country most closely associated with Tango, has generally been averse to admitting its African heritage.

Related Articles & News

news-amazon-sad“Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers…”

The Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Authors’ Representatives and Authors United said in letters and statements being sent this week to the Justice Department that “Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.”

newrobert-l-johnsonRobert L. Johnson — The “Urban Movie Channel” Interview

Troy Johnson asks, do you think it would be possible for another Black owned media conglomerate, like BET, to emerge in today’s environment?

Robert L. Johnson: It’s definitely possible, but it would be very difficult to do in this environment. It was difficult when I started BET. Today, the internet makes it possible for a lot of African-American content to flow freely to the consumers since there are no gatekeepers, and it is global in terms of its accessibility. We at RLJ Entertainment are laying the foundation to be sort of a BET in the Digital Age by creating the distribution platform of the Urban Movie Channel, by licensing content from independent producers of urban content, by helping them produce that content, and by promoting the awareness of it. We believe that as a first mover in this space, RLJ Entertainment has the potential to become a success story like BET and, obviously, I have a lot of experience in making that happen.

news-black-caucusNew Self-Publishing Literary Award to Promote Diverse Books in Libraries

The Black Caucus of the ALA (BCALA) and BiblioBoard announce the creation of an annual self-publishing award. Following the model of the current BCALA Literary Awards, the new award will honor the best self-published eBooks in fiction and poetry by an African American author in the U.S.

Authors who enter the contest will have the opportunity to opt into the SELF-e program and their own Indie State module, providing them with an invaluable resource for promotion and exposure of their work. SELF-e is a partnership between BiblioBoard and the Library Journal and is aimed at finding the best self-published books and making those books seamlessly available to library patrons.

news-discussion-banner-redOur African-American Literature Discussion Forum is Now Mobile!

Join the conversation and talk about books you’ve written, or books you’ve read. You may exchange views with authors, avid readers and those who wish to learn more about Black literature and publishing. You can share rich media content without worrying about being bombarded with ads, having your privacy invaded, or having what is presented to others (or two you) determined by efforts to maximize revenue. Also read our article “Our 10 Most Popular Discussions (and Why Discussion Forums Matter)”

Authors, this is where you need to share information about your books: Since 1998, Thumper’s Corner has been a very special and popular area of our web site. In fact, each month I discover interesting books to share with our eNewsletter readers. Check out our recent conversations 

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news-troy-signoffDear Reader,

This month as been extremely busy as I continue to rebuild AALBC.com from the ground up. This major upgrade is scheduled for completion in early 2016. It is a massive undertaking to redesign a completely new website, migrate almost 20 years of content, while keeping both sites updated (say a prayer for me).

As always if there is a feature you’d like to see on the new website me know by emailing me or posting a comment on our discussion forum.

Remember, your support is absolutely mandatory for AALBC.com to continue. A paid subscription to our eNewsletter is a great way to help and lets me know there is indeed demand for the information covered in this eNewsletter and on our website.

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Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com
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AALBC.com eNewsletter – July 30, 2015 – Issue #227