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


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


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).


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

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,
troy signature 1
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com
Support AALBC.com, Support this eNewsletter

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


Excellent Books, Authors, Events and More

You may receive this eNewsletter directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version. Enjoy our previous eNewsletters. Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

April’s eNewsletter is Sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Authors You Should Know

news-dwayneDwayne Alexander Smith on Winning the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

When I reached the podium, after the applause had faded, the first words out of my mouth were, “I did not expect to win.” Yet, there I was standing before a roomful of amazingly talented people accepting an NAACP Image Award for best debut author for my novel Forty Acres.

Not only was the win a surprise, the nomination was a surprise as well. Many people might not know this but in order to be nominated for an Image Award your material has to be submitted to the committee along with a submission fee. Pamela Samuels Young a friend and fellow author, and winner of the same award last year, kept urging me to submit my book, but I kept forgetting. When I finally did remember the submission deadline had passed. More ▶

henry-dumasHenry Dumas

Henry Dumas (July 20, 1934 – May 23, 1968) was shot and killed in 1968 in Harlem months before his thirty-fourth birthday by a white transit policeman under circumstances never fully explained. After his death he became a kind of literary legend, but one whose full story was unknown. A devoted cadre of friends and later admirers from the 1970s to the present pushed for the publication of his work. Toni Morrison championed him as “an absolute genius.” Amiri Baraka, a writer not quick to praise others, claimed that Dumas produced “actual art, real, man, and stunning.” Eugene Redmond and Quincy Troupe heralded Dumas’s poetry, short stories, and work as an editor of “little” magazines. #blacklivesmatter More ▶

news-gregory-pardloGregory Pardlo

Pardlo’s book of poems, Digest earns him the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, and Tin House, as well as anthologies including Angles of Ascent, the Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, and two editions of Best American Poetry. He is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a fellowship for translation from the National Endowment for the Arts. An Associate Editor of Callaloo, he is currently a Teaching Fellow in Undergraduate Writing at Columbia University. More ▶

news-gwynne-forsterGwynne Forster

AALBC.com mourns the loss of pioneering Author Gwynne Forster, who transitioned this past January. She was 7 years shy of 100.

Forster is considered one of the first authors to publish a romance novel featuring Black main characters. She published more than 20 books in the genre. She always had a kind word and was supportive of AALBC.com. Gwynne introduced me to her publisher, Walter Zacharias (Kensington Books), and AALBC.com interviewed them both back in 2007. More ▶

n ews-gary-hardwickGary Hardwick

Hardwick, pseudonymously known as a.a. clifford, is the author of several novels including his first, Cold Medina and City Wide. The Seattle Times called Hardwick “the Elmore Leonard of black mystery writers.”

The former attorney, is also an acclaimed screenwriter, director, and filmmaker whose hit films include; The Brothers and Deliver Us from Eva. He is also an executive producer for television as well.More ▶

news-shay-spiveyShay Spivey

Spivey is a professional social worker with an overwhelming passion for helping others and sharing resources. Writing, How to Submit a Winning Scholarship Application: Secret Techniques I Used to Win $100,000 in College Scholarships, fills a need in our community by unlocking the mystery of “scholarship applications” for high school and college students, families, teachers, and counselors.

Shay Spivey is a scholarship and financial aid advisor specializing in helping students understand and prepare to win scholarships for college. Shay earned her Bachelor and Master of Social Work from Indiana University. More ▶

Book Reviews

news-corruption-officerCorruption Officer: From Jail Guard to Perpetrator inside Rikers Island by Gary L. Heyward

Gary eventually escalated to pimping in an attempt to cater to his captive clienteles’ carnal needs, too. He referred to his whores as “copstitutes” since they were fellow corrections officers secretly supplementing their modest civil service salaries by fellating and fornicating with felons in Rikers’ utility closets.

All of the above is recounted in riveting fashion in Corruption Officer: From Jail Guard to Perpetrator inside Rikers Island (Atria Books, March 2015), a jaw-dropping memoir that’s as demoralizing as it is shocking. After finishing this eye-opening page-turner, one can’t help but wonder how much hope there can be for a country where the cops are just as crooked and as degenerate as the outlaws they’re supposed to be protecting society from. More ▶

news-my-grandfatherMy Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege

If Gary L. Heyward’s book was not shocking enough for you, fasten your seat belts for Jennifer Teege’s bizaRre tale, recounted in My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me (The Experiment, April 2015).

How do you think you’d react if you were Black and you inadvertently uncovered evidence that the mother who callously left you at an orphanage at less than a month-old was the daughter of an infamous Nazi who ran a concentration camp? That’s precisely what happened to Jennifer Teege who learned at 38 that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, a monster who not only ordered the extermination of thousands of Jews, but took a certain sadistic pleasure in participating in all the torture, maiming and killing. More ▶

news-black-male-framesBlack Male Frames: African-Americans in a Century of Hollywood Cinema, 1903-2003 by Roland Leander Williams, Jr.

Professor Williams sets out to show how black male movie characters have basically been either submissive or subversive to suit the fluctuating needs of the dominant culture.

He sets about proving his thesis by closely examining the careers of five African-American acting icons, starting with Sam Lucas (1839-1916), the first black film star. He was not only the first black to play Uncle Tom onscreen, but he was also the first to portray the deferential character onstage. (Syracuse University Press, January, 2015) More ▶

news-let-us-prayPraedamus Let Us Prey Selling Heaven: It’s All An Illusion by Don Spears

Televangelist Creflo Dollar recently asked members of his congregation to tithe the $60 million he needs to buy himself a luxurious Gulfstream jet so he could travel in style while spreading the word of the Lord around the world. Is the popular prosperity preacher sincere or just another hustler in a collar?

Before you answer, you might want to read Praedamus: Let Us Prey (Spears Publishing, December 2014), a jaw dropping expose’ written by Don Spears, a brother who is not one to mince words while making a full frontal assault on organized religion. This very timely tome represents the culmination of 9 years of research in religious history stretching back centuries from the present. More ▶

Book Recommendations

news-emergeThe Best of Emerge Magazine

The 1990’s. African Americans achieved more influence–and faced more explosive issues–than ever before. One word captured those times. One magazine expressed them. Emerge.

In those ten years, with an impressive circulation of 170,000 and more than forty national awards to its credit, Then, after nearly a decade, Emerge magazine closed its doors. But a collection of the finest articles from Emerge is still available. These articles will resonate with you today just as they did 20 years ago. Today however, the issues are even more pressing, and you will truly be hurt by the tremendous void left when the magazine died. The Best of Emerge Magazine, edited by George Curry (One World/Ballantine, July 29, 2003) represents the best of American journalism. More ▶

the-jumbiesThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Tracey Baptiste was born in Trinidad, where she grew up on jumbie stories and fairy tales, and decided to be a writer at the wise old age of three. Her debut, a young adult novel titled Angel’s Grace, was named one of the 100 best books for reading and sharing by New York City librarians. The Jumbies (Algonquin Young Readers, 4/28/2015) is her second novel. Buy ▶

news-only-the-strongOnly the Strong: An American Novel by Jabari Asim

Jabari Asim’s debut novel, Only the Strong (Agate Bolden, May 12, 2015) explores the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community where heartbreak and violence are seldom far away.

Moved by the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Lorenzo “Guts” Tolliver decides to abandon his career as a professional leg-breaker and pursue a life of quiet moments and generous helpings of banana pudding in the company of his new, sensuous lover. His erstwhile boss, local kingpin Ananias Goode, is also thinking about slowing down—but his tempestuous affair with Dr. Artinces Noel, a prominent pediatrician, complicates his retirement plans. Meanwhile, Charlotte Divine, the doctor’s headstrong protégée, struggles with trials of her own.Buy ▶

news-stuntStunt by Jet Black

CEO and ex-OSI agent Ricky Stunt must moonlight in the seedy adult film world to search for the truth after his fiancé Denise is murdered. To find her killer he will do whatever it takes, even if it means screwing his way to the top. But can Stunt find the murderer before the people at his day job discover what he’s been up to at night? It’s Kill Bill meets Boogie Nights in this erotic thrill ride full of sex, action, and revenge. (Jet Black Ink, December 18, 2014)Buy ▶

news-hbcuHBCU Experience – The Book: A Collection of Essays Celebrating the Black College Experience

Co-edited by Black college alumni Dr. Tia Tyree and Christopher D. Cathcart, HBCU Experience celebrates the rich legacy and experiences of those who attended HBCUs. Further, with the debate still raging over the relevance and need for HBCUs in the new millennium, this collection of more than 60 essays showcases the unique journey of HBCU graduates, highlights the important need for these institutions and accentuates the overall benefits of having an HBCU education.

The groundbreaking anthology chronicles undergraduate realities such as dating and relationships, dorm living, road trips, pledging fraternities and sororities, student activism and leadership, athletics and much, much more. Buy ▶

the-african-equationThe African Equation by Yasmina Khadra

A giant of francophone writing, Algerian author Yasmina Khadra takes current events as a starting point to explore opposing views and myths of Africa and the West, ultimately delivering a powerful message of friendship, resilience, and redemption.

Yasmina Khadra: Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of the Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul. He became director of the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris in November 2007 and in November 2013 announced his candidacy for the presidency of Algeria. (Gallic Books, March 17, 2015) Buy ▶

news-rich-womans-fetishRich Woman’s Fetish by Naleighna Kai

Gina escapes a hellacious life by doing the unthinkable—selling the use of her womb to the highest bidder among rich, childless couples from more affluent areas of Chicago. She even accommodates their “special” requests ranging from participating in forbidden fetishes to more complicated liaisons. Years later, Gina learns that one of her surrogate daughters has been forced into the illicit world of drugs and prostitution. When the police and FBI turn a blind eye, Gina risks the anger of her former sponsors and lovers to have their children search for the younger sister they know nothing about. The women soon learn how to depend on each other to do the impossible (Macro Publishing Group, April 2015). Buy ▶


news-patricia-saundersQ&A with Poet, Patricia A. Saunders

When you talk about your books–and share reflections of your past—some parts are very painful and personal. How challenging was it to reveal the inner aspects of your life?

It was challenging because I talk about being almost homeless, raped, molested, and some baggage that my family didn’t want me to share. I prayed that my pain would be a testament to someone that I am still standing after going through it all. I took my family’s feelings into consideration and chose not to do some pieces in public settings rather allow readers to read it themselves.


news-after-the-danceReading and Book Signing with Jan Gaye author of After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye – May 20th 7PM – Harlem, NY

LeRoy Neiman Art Center in Harlem, 2485 Frederick Douglas Blvd. (at 148th St.), New York, NY 10039 – Refreshments will be served.Troy will be there with at least one free book to the first person who presents a print out of this page of our enewsletter.

Gay’s memoir, After the Dance (Amistad, May 19, 2015), reveals how she met Marvin in February 1973. Despite a seventeen-year age difference and Marvin’s marriage to the sister of Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder, the enchanted teenager and the emotionally volatile singer began a scorching relationship.

“With raw and penetrating honesty, this memoir reveals everything audiences ever wanted to know about Marvin Gaye’s life. Offering a holistic understanding of Gaye’s obsession with finding love, his addictions, and most especially the philosophy behind the music. Sympathetic, caring, this is a must read for anyone who wants to learn the traumatic backstory that shapes Gaye and all of his relationships. Most importantly, this is also a story of a woman courageously sharing her voice, her story.” –bell hooks, author of Ain’t I A Woman

BLACK PACK PARTY IX — Save the Date, Wednesday, May 27th. Details TBA on AALBC.com #BPPIX — Sponsored by Amistad Booksnews-final-black-pack-party

news-bea-logoBook Expo America

In Search of Diverse Book Buyers, 5/28, 12:30 – 1:00 p.m., Downtown Stage

Where are diverse book buyers? What are the best ways to reach African American book buyers? Where do African American book buyers shop for books? Join in the discussion with publishing experts as they share their insight and knowledge of successful strategies to reach African American book buyers. Speakers include Troy Johnson, Founder of AALBC.com, Marva Allen, Founder and CEO of Hueman Books and Wade Hudson, Founder of Just Us Books. Moderated by Lloyd-Sgambati, The African American Children’s Book Project & WURD-AM Radio.

Spotlight on African American Children’s Authors & Illustrators – 5/29, 2:30 – 3:00 p.m., Uptown Stage

Award winning authors and illustrators will open the pages of their book and share their inspiration and experiences to encourage the next generation of readers. The panel will feature Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney – The Grasshopper & the Ants, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; EB Lewis, illustrator – First Step: How One Little Girl Put Segregation On Trial – Bloombury, and Shane Evans – 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World, Roaring Brook Press. Moderated by Lloyd-Sgambati, The African American Children’s Book Project & WURD-AM Radio.

Film Reviews

news-brotherly-loveBrotherly Love – Very Good (★★★☆)

Twins Jackie (Keke Palmer) and Sergio Taylor (Eric D. Hill, Jr.) already had it tough enough growing up in the ghetto before the untimely demise of their dad a few years ago. But then their mother (Macy Gray) stopped functioning and started hitting the bottle.

That’s when their big brother, June (Cory Hardrict), became the family breadwinner, and it’s been a struggle for him to keep a roof over their heads ever since. So, he started dealing drugs hoping that his becoming an outlaw would at least enable his siblings to keep their noses clean and continue pursuing their dreams. After all, Sergio is one of the top high school basketball players in the nation, while Jackie is an aspiring singer in need of a big break. More ▶

news-supremacySupremacy – Fair (★½☆☆)

Directed by Deon Taylor (Chain Letter), Supremacy is a hostage thriller ostensibly inspired by actual events which transpired in Sonoma County, California on the night of March 29, 1995. At 11:30 that evening, Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Trejo was assassinated by a recently-paroled member of the Aryan Brotherhood and his gun moll, just before they forced their way into a nearby house and held the owners captive.

The resolution of this Hollywood version of the standoff relies on an empathetic Mr. Walker’s rising to the occasion. His philosophizing (“Prison does something to a man.”) miraculously manages to induce a couple of the most menacing and despicable screen characters in recent memory to have an 11th hour conversion. More ▶

Related Articles & News

ebooks8 Ways Bookstores Can Engage the eReading Community by Shawneda Marks

Embracing ebooks is important to the financial health of independent bookstores by helping store owners maximize exposure by offering all literary formats, creating relationships with a new generation of readers and writers as well as generating more revenue.

I’ll admit there are no absolutes so it is possible there are communities where eBooks and social media engagement aren’t detrimental to the bottomline of a bookstore. However from a financial standpoint any business owner hoping their store will outlive them must consider todays youth. More ▶

news-black-bloggersTracking Black Bloggers

Huria Search, the directory that tracks the “Best of the Black Web,” has just added a section for Black Blogs. Yes, there are still talented writers including authors, journalists and everyday people sharing ideas and opinions on subjects relevant to, and from the perspective of, Black people. Enter your Blog, the password is “bloggerweek,” (without the quotes).

Use Huria Search to share information about your blog, to learn about new ones and to share what you’ve discovered with others. Discover Great Blogs Here ▶

news-westdyson2011Dyson versus West

“IMO, West and Dyson are like a pair of divas ridiculing each other’s plastic surgery. Their feud has been reduced to a sideshow, and doesn’t even reach the level of rivals vying for the Alpha Male status because neither one of them wields any power other than an ability to polarize their black social media audience.

Meanwhile, President Obama is able to remain above the fray, probably amused by how 2 of his most relentless critics are neutralizing each other.” —Cynique Join the Conversation ▶


Dear Reader,

news-troyWhen the Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched, many of the people involved did not have a TV or a telephone, let alone a Twitter account. How did they accomplish the amazing feat of forcing the end of racial segregation on the public transit system in Montgomery, Alabama and become a major factor in changing the United States’ Constitution making the practice illegal? Perhaps a better question would be; why did they have boycotts back then, and why don’t we now? What do you think? ▶

Remember to show your support for the writers and institutions we cover, with your paid subscription to our newsletter.

Peace & Love,

troy signature 1

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

AALBC.com eNewsletter – April 28, 2015 – Issue #225


AALBC.com’s eNewsletter – October 28, 2014

You may receive this eNewsletter directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version. Enjoy our previous eNewsletters. Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

This month’s eNewsletter is sponsored by

Martha Kennerson


Kristine is beautiful, smart, driven, and all set to have everything she wants in life. That is, until an ill-fated encounter alters the path she’s chosen in such a way that she’s forced to make the kind of life-altering decisions no woman should ever have to face. While waking up naked in a strange bed with a couple she barely knew wasn’t Kristine’s choice, how she deals with the consequences of that night creates a series of shocking choices that have a domino effect of turmoil to those close to her. Not everyone agrees with the direction Kristine’s life takes, but ultimately, she learns that strength and forgiveness can come from the most unfortunate of circumstances.

Visit www.marthakennerson.com to buy Consequences, and to find out more about Martha and her journey.


Top Cities for Readers of African American Literature

news-top-cities-for-african-american-readersAALBC.com assessed the relative strengths of almost 300 American cities, to determine which ones are best able to provide environments that are supportive of, and conducive to, the enjoyment of African American Literature.

The result is a list of 26 cities we think are doing a great job. Let us know what you think ▶


Authors You Should Know

news-marlon0jamesMarlon James

James was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970. He graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in literature. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. James lives in Kingston.

His most recent novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings,
Selected as one of the Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014. More ▶


new-laurenLauren Francis-Sharma

Lauren is the daughter of Trinidadian-born parents, was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School and practiced as a corporate lawyer before writing ’Til the Well Runs Dry, her first novel.

“Women’s magazines from Elle to Oprah Winfrey’s O have praised Francis-Sharma’s novel, and it was recently the centerpiece of a small book festival in Washington during Caribbean Heritage Month …”—Krissah Thompson, The Washington Post More ▶


news-michael-brownMichael B. Jackson

Jackson was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He recently retired after working for 26 years with New Jersey Juvenile Corrections and Parole. His recently (October 2014) released novel, FatherHoodlum: Chronicles of a Prison Dad, is his first venture into fiction writing.

Jackson, founder of the Internet based radio station, Prison Nation Radio, is a passionate advocate for the rights, protections and success of formerly incarcerated people and their families and those without a voice. He lives by the philosophy that “Doing good is the best revenge” and encourages those leaving prison to take control of their own success and “Do good, with a vengeance.” More ▶


Book Reviews

Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou

news-rainbow-in-the-cloudOver the course of an enviable career that spanned a half-century, she would write 7 autobiographies, 5 collections of essays, 18 books of poetry, 2 cookbooks, 7 children’s books, and 7 plays. She also received innumerable awards and accolades, including 60 honorary doctorates.

Rainbow in the Cloud is a collection of 200 of the late icon’s most memorable quotes borrowed not only from previously published works but from social media posts and pearls of wisdom shared over the years with her only son, Guy Johnson, and other family members. More ▶


news-culture-worrierCulture Worrier: Selected Columns 1984—2014: Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change

Clarence Page takes pride in the fact that his articles enjoy a broad appeal, a reflection of his sterling reputation as an impartial pundit willing to criticize folks on either side of the aisle as he sees fit. On the one hand, he might indict Ronald Reagan for playing the race card by invoking the image of “welfare queens” to curry the favor of rednecks during the 1980 presidential campaign. On the other, he’ll point out how, during the 2008 campaign, Obama declared, “Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore,” only to proceed to do just that once he got into office. More ▶


AALBC.com Videos


An avid reader, Gail Newell of the Go On Girl! Book Club’s Maryland 2 chapter; a young writer, Taheerah Abdul-Rahmaan; a library CEO, Dr. Carla Dean; and two accomplished authors, Leonard Pitts, Jr., and Jason Mott; take the time to explain the importance of literacy.  If literacy, in the Black community is important to you, please share their message. Watch ▶


Cornel West: Video – Strand bookstore October 22, 2014

news-cornel-west-10-22-2014Cornel West and Darryl Pinckney discussed the financialization, militarization, and privatization of the United States government. West also provided an update on the protests in Ferguson, MO where he and 49 other people were arrested for disturbing the peace.

This conversation took place the Strand bookstore’s rare book room, on October 22, 2014 in New York City. Watch ▶


Go On Girl! Book Club’s 22nd Annual Author Awards

news-tracey-smithTracey Y. Smith, National Media & Author Relations Chairperson for Go On Girl! Book Club, highlights their 22nd Annual Author Awards celebration at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Author Awards dinner was held on Saturday, June 7, 2014 and honored the 2013 winning authors including Author of the Year, Leonard Pitts, Jr.; Life Achievement Awardee, Marita Golden; Jr. GOG Reader’s Choice Awardee, Kwame Alexander and Unpublished Writer Winner, Taheerah Abdul-Raheem. Watch ▶


Book Recommendations


National Book Awards Finalists Announced

AALBC.com congratuates Jacqueline Woodson for her novel, Brown Girl Dreaming, which was nominated in the Young People’s Literature category. We also congratuate, Fred Moten and Claudia Rankine, who were honored in the Poetry category for The Feel Trio and Citizen: An American Lyric respectively, and all of the other nominees. More ▶


news-citzens-creekCitizens Creek: A Novel by Lalita Tademy

“Lalita Tademy has done it again—Citizen’s Creek is a deep, touching novel of great historical import and lyrical beauty. At the heart of this book is a headstrong family living both as free blacks as well as Muscogee-speaking Creek. We learn the history of a people: one in constant battle to protect both their lands and freedoms, their loves and loved ones–and ultimately, the quest for their inheritance and birthright as Americans–in the greatest, truest sense of the word.”—ZZ Packer More ▶


Mad at Miles by Pearl Cleage

news-mad-at-miles“The title came about because she stumbled across a Miles Davis interview where he bragged about slapping Cicely Tyson in the mouth and how she was afraid of him when they were married. Wasn’t the first time I heard it, but I was shocked when I did. Miles has always been touted in the black community and among jazz fans as if he was some “musical genius/hero.” I was shocked and offended that he found it comical to abuse a woman, and that his behavior seemed to be a well kept secret. My feel is if Miles doesn’t respect women, he gets no loyalty from me as a fan…I give credit where it’s due in him being a musician, but you will not hear me giving him accolades.” —Dee (from the AALBC.com Discussion Forum)

With directness, Pearl Cleage takes an unblinking look at the current state of abusive relationships and battered women. This is a funny, angry, lyric piece of theatre that all should see, in order to better understand the realities women have dealt with for decades. More ▶


Related Articles & News

Black Expressions Book Club is no More

news-black-expressionsBlack Expressions Book Club (BE), the first African American direct mail book club, has officially rejoined Doubleday Book Club, effectively ending its existence. BE was a significant part of the increased attention paid to Black books during the 10 year period beginning in the late nineties and was a big part of the Black book landscape.

Carol Mackey was the editor and public face of BE for most of the club’s life. Through Carol’s leadership the club helped bolster the careers of many authors and supported entities like AALBC.com, by co-sponsoring our 2nd annual Black Pack Party in Los Angeles. BE’s founding editor was Monica Harris (RIP), their final editor was Danielle Jackson.


news-addictedAddicted ★★☆☆ — Film Review

I polled about a dozen sisters to see what they thought of the picture. They all loved it. But we men had found it sheer torture, from the tame sex scenes showing precious little skin, to the Puritanical moralizing, to the over-the-top melodrama.

That being said, since the estrogen-laden ladies uniformly enjoyed the film, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that testosterone heavily influenced my viewing experience. Therefore, fellow males might want to take anything positive I have to say here with a ton of salt. More ▶


news-guguGugu Mbatha-Raw The “Beyond the Lights” Interview

Belle and Noni are almost polar opposites.
“Noni’s not a bad girl. She’s more of a victim. What interested me in this film, after doing Belle, which was a period drama set in a very repressed society, was the idea of exploring something much more contemporary: the sexualization of women and girls by the music and entertainment industries, how that has become the norm, and what is the cost of using sex to sell music, psychologically and emotionally. Gina [director Gina Prince-Bythewood] often talks about changing the conversation and steering the culture in a different direction, and about providing some inspiration to become your authentic self. Noni has become trapped by her public persona, so there was a lot to sink my teeth into.” —Gugu Mbatha-Raw More ▶


news-ginaGina Prince-Bythewood The “Beyond the Lights” Interview

Born on June 10, 1969, Gina Maria Prince-Bythewood studied film at UCLA before beginning her career as a writer for the TV sitcom, A Different World. In 2000, she made a noteworthy directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed Love & Basketball, which netted a dozen accolades during awards season, including a couple of NAACP Image Awards, a BET Award and several Black Reel Awards.

Gina’s next feature was The Secret Life of Bees (2008), which also earned its share of trophies, including Image Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. Here, she talks about making her third movie, Beyond the Lights, a romance drama co-starring Gugu Mbata-Raw and Nate Parker. More ▶


news-bruce-lee-ping-pongBelieve none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

On a daily basis I see things on social media that demonstrates how easily we can be manipulated into believing that something is true, when it should be obvious that it is not. Facebook, for example, has been putting a lot more video on my newsfeed lately. I’ve started to notice a lot of videos that are clearly fake. However, based upon the comments posted, people believe these fake videos to be true. It is very scary how easily we can be fooled.

For example, I saw a video posted by someone I thought was pretty sharp. They used this video to prove how skilled the martial artist Bruce Lee was with nunchucks, which is a weapon made of two, foot-long sticks, connected by a short chain. Here we see Lee playing ping pong using these sticks This is not to say Bruce Lee was not a skilled martial artist, but the very idea that some people would actually believe this feat to be humanly possible is, itself, unbelievable. Join the Conversation ▶


Download the AALBC.com Mobile App

news-aalbc-mobile-appThe AALBC.com Mobile Application is available for the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.

With our free application you can stay up t0 date with our latest book and film reviews, interviews, articles, videos and more. You’ll find content not mentioned in our eNewsletter, as our eNewsletter primarily focuses on more recent information. Get the App ▶


A Note to Authors

This Month’s Note: The “Old Fashioned” eNewsletter Still Works Great!

news-october-2014Social media is excellent for engaging with readers, but the majority of that engagement remains on the social media’s platform which does little to bring visitors to your website where a richer experience, that you manage, is possible.

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of an “old fashioned” eNewsletter (like the one you are reading now) to bring visitors to your website. With a newsletter, you can reach all of your readers without having to worry about a social media algorithms deciding which readers see your message. Today, I use Mad Mimi to manage AALBC.com’s eNewsletter. Mad Mimi is free for up to 2,500 subscribers. Mail Chimp is also a good option and is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. Constant Contact is popular (I used it for years in the past), but they do not offer a free option and the service is relatively expensive.

Reaction to last month’s recommendation: Authors add a link on your website to an independent website (Follow this link to learn why), resulted in a number of authors linking back to AALBC.com including Jewell Parker Rhodes and Frankie Lemon. Thanks y’all!


The Baltimore African American Book Festival Please consider purchasing, or renewing, your subscription to AALBC.com’s eNewsletter—less than 50 cents an issue.

If you’ve read something in our eNewsletter that you enjoyed, or felt was important, please share it. We are responsible for ensuring our stories are told, shared, and preserved. As the number of platforms promoting our work continue to decrease in number, and reach, your active participation is needed.

news-thanks-for-sharingFinally, if you are interested in sponsoring our eNewsletter, November and December are still available.

Troy Johnson,
Founder and Webmaster

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