Tag Archives: review

May 2017 Newsletter: Bestselling Books, New Books, Author Info, and Much More

Our May Newsletter is Generously Sponsored by AmistadOur May Newsletter is Generously Sponsored by Amistad


Bestselling Books

AALBC bestselling book March April 2017Bestselling Books: March/April 2017

aalbc bestseller logoProvenance a novel by Donna Drew Sawyer, which tops our fiction list, is now a 3-time AALBC.com Bestseller. Number one on our Children’s list is Sydney Sunshine and the Not-So-Magic Mirror, which makes 9-year-old author, Sydney McGee, the youngest bestselling author in AALBC.com history. On the nonfiction side we have 10 Ways Anyone Can Graduate From College Debt-Free: A Guide To Post-College Freedom by Kevin Y. Brown, leading all nonfiction titles.

Check out all the AALBC.com Bestsellers going back to 1998.

We are also in the process of designing a bestselling book seal which publishers and authors may use to help readers discover the books which are attracting the most attention on AALBC.com. We can use your help. Take a look at some of our designs and let us know what think.


AALBC.com Partners with What’s The 411 TV

AALBC.com partners with whats the 411 TVTroy Johnson with Ruth J. Morrison, CEO of What’s The 411 Networks

AALBC.com has partnered with What’s The 411 TV to bring information about Black books, authors, events, and news to both What’s The 411TV and AALBC.com’s audiences.

What’s The 411 TV reaches 14 million subscribers across the country on DishTV and can also be seen on Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS, and RCN in New York City. The relationship is a great opportunity to expand our respective platforms, reach more reader, and celebrate Black culture through books.


25 African Male Writers You Should Read

25 Male African WritersWe all know the iconic writers like Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe whose debut novel, Things Fall Apart, is perhaps the most widely read novel from the continent. We may also be familiar with the and Wole Soyinka, the first African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. We may also be aware of Kenya’s Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o or Nuruddin Farah of Somalia, but there are many other great writers to be discovered; here we highlight just a small sample—enjoy! Learn more.


New Books Coming Out June 2017

Learn about excellent new books coming out this month and the coming months.


Recently Reviewed Books

Once Upon a LieOnce Upon a Lie by Michael R. French

Full of twists, turns and surprises, Once Upon a Lie will keep you guessing until the very end. Though readable and engaging, the real complexity and intricacy is in the telling of the stories and the rich multilayered and multi-dimensional characters that French handily delivers. Jaleel’s story, brilliantly highlights the often unrelenting pitfalls many black men face, in a country too often willing to punish them for simply living while black. And while the ending is in many ways as bleak you would imagine, it is not tragic for whom you’d expect. In fact, I found the book to be nothing like I thought it would be, at almost every turn. And for that I applaud French. Highly recommended.


Recommended Reads

The Fifth Season N. K. JemisinThe Fifth Season N. K. Jemisin

Jemisin’s first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award and short-listed for the James Tiptree Jr. Award. In 2011, it was also nominated for the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, and won the 2011 Locus Award for Best First Novel.

In 2016, she became the first black person to win the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season. The New York Times described The Fifth Season as “Intricate and extraordinary,” when it listed it a Notable Book of 2015.


Forbidden Fruit by Stanley GazembaForbidden Fruit by Stanley Gazemba

Forbidden Fruit is more than a dramatic tale of rural life in western Kenya. The moral slips and desperate cover-ups—sometimes sad, sometimes farcical—are the stories of time and place beyond the village of Maragoli. Previously published in Kenya as The Stone Hills of Maragoli (Kwani? 2010), won the prestigious Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature.

Republished (June 2017) by The Mantle who publishes emerging critics, writers, and intellectuals in the areas of arts & culture, international affairs, philosophy, and world literature.


Memoirs of Women in Blue: The Good, The Bad and No Longer Silent by Mickey See-Asia and RavenMemoirs of Women in Blue: The Good, The Bad and No Longer Silent by Mickey See-Asia and Raven

Mickey See-Asia and Raven, two former New York City police officers give you an inside look at what they observed while trying to protect the public. They also dealt with the politics that governed how police officers should act while in the performance of their duty. Furthermore, memoirs expose the reader to the realities faced by female police officers, who, for years have remained silent. Now, the public needs so desperately to interpret the senseless acts of violence that are occurring on an almost daily basis across our country.


Recent Videos

Samson Dempsey the “Midtown Playa” Turns NovelistSamson Dempsey the “Midtown Player” Turns Novelist

I’ve shot numerous videos of Brothers selling books on the street, but I have not done one in several years. I caught Sampson selling his books on 125th street in Harlem.

The first author I filmed selling books on the street was over 10 years ago, I captured then first-time author Randy Kearse. Randy went on to publish several more books and gain a great deal more prominence. A decade later, Randy told me he had only been out of jail for a couple of months and that he truly appreciated the support I showed him—that makes this all worthwhile 🙂


Inventor of the Portable Backpack Desk, Milton BertrandInventor of the Portable Backpack Desk, Milton Bertrand

When in Florida, I spend hours in Barnes and Noble and Starbucks working on AALBC.com. Over the last couple of years, I’ve become friendly with Milton Bertrand.

We started talking because I noticed he was sitting in the B&N at a desk that he brought into the store himself. I thought who brings a desk to a bookstore?! We started talking and he explained how his desk actually folded up into his backpack. I thought that was such a cool idea, maybe you will too.


Mystery Novelist Ashley Lynch-HarrisMystery Novelist Ashley Lynch-Harris

I met Ashley Lynch-Harris at the Oxford Exchange Book Fair in Tampa Florida, on May 7, 2017. She was a little apprehensive when I first offered to film her talking about her book. But her husband encouraged her (they make a lovely couple), and she did a great job describing her new murder mystery, The Hotel Westend, which sounds intriguing.


Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st CenturyVote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century

We are compiling a fascinating list of our favorite Black Authors. Our new survey expands the scope of our list for the 20th Century, to include Black authors regardless of their nationality. The only requirement is that the authors you vote for must have been alive and published a book in the 21st century. Everyone is welcome to vote. (NOTE: You may vote for ANY Black author, not just the ones pictured).

Cast your vote today! and share the poll with others. This is a great way to discover and share information about new but significant writers from our network of readers. Check out the current results.


Minorities in Publishing (MIP)

Minorities in Publishing (MIP)Minorities in Publishing is an excellent bimonthly podcast hosted by Jenn Baker who discusses, with other publishing industry professionals issued related to diversity (or lack thereof) in publishing.

Check out the conversation with Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of Amistad Books (an imprint of HarperCollins focusing solely on Black voices). They discuss Tracy’s love of books and publishing, her desire to be an advocate for Black artists, the tenacity it takes to get in and stay in the industry, as well as how important support is from the consumer end to make sure more diverse books reach shelves.


140+ Book Events, Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences


Join the Conversation

Is This Photo of Viola Davis Subtly Racist?Is This Photo of Viola Davis Subtly Racist?

Please take our short 4 question survey and let us know what you think. We have been having a fascinating discussion on the subject of racism. Is racism firmly entrenched in our culture or in our minds?

Check out this and other conversations on our discussion forums.


Win Patti Labelle’s New Cook Book

Win Patti Labelle’s New Cook BookBe one of the first three subscribers to identify three of the five African male writers pictured near the beginning of this newsletter. Email the three names to troy@aalbc.com. The first three emails received with three correct names will win. Desserts LaBelle: Soulful Sweets to Sing About by Patti Labelle. Desserts LaBelle is filled with beautiful images and instructions on making terrific desserts&mdash including Patti LaBelle’s world famous sweet potato pie.

This contest is sponsored by Grand Central Publishing.


Authors: Let AALBC.com be Your Official Web Presence

Authors: Let AALBC.com be Your Official Web PresenceAALBC.com believes an author is best served by having their own website. In reaction to seeing so many authors give up running their own website and turning to Facebook or Amazon to serve as their primary web presence, we decided to launch a new service.

We can help you register your domain name and direct it to your AALBC.com Profile Page. This will not only give readers a much richer experience with your books, you’ll also enjoy the next best thing to having a dedicated website. Plus you’ll reap the benefits of being on the largest platform dedicated to Black books and authors. Learn how to get started.


Dear Reader,

AALBC.com Founder and Webmaster, Troy JohnsonI’ll be in New York City on May 30th participating on a panel discussion about Funding for the Arts hosted by Harlem World Magazine; the next day, May 31st, I’ll be co-hosting the 11th Annual Black Park Party; in Sacramento CA, on June 6th, giving a talk entitled, “The Impact of Amazon, Google, and Facebook on the Black Book Ecosystem” during the Sacramento Black Book Festival; and in Atlanta GA, on June 10th, where I’ve been nominated for, “Literary Activist of the Year,” an honor which will be presented during The African Americans On The Move Book Club Literary Awards.

If you can make any of these events please stop by and say hello; I’d enjoy to meeting you.

Please know that AALBC.com continues to grow because of your support. Please spread the word about our site, post your comments on our pages, and consider purchasing for your newsletter subscription.

Peace & Love,

Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


You may receive messages like this 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 all of our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

AALBC.com eNewsletter – May 24, 2017 – Issue #245

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March 1, 2017 Newsletter — Book Award Announcements, New Books, and More

New Book March 2017New Books Coming Out March 2017

Helene Cooper tells the amazing of story Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leader of the Liberian women’s movement and the first democratically elected female president in African history in Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Early Sunday Morning, a picture book for young children, is the first book from Denene Millner Books, the new children’s line in partnership with Agate’s Bolden. Millner is also a parenting authority, editor, and a New York Times bestselling author.

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is Adichie’s letter of response.

New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe takes you on the ultimate twist-filled ride with the next installment of her her Lonely Heart, Deadly Heart series, Never Trust a Stranger.

Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke, a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, is back with a new collection of poetry, Map to the Stars.

Learn about these and other excellent new books coming out this month and in the coming months.


Coretta Scott King Award Winning Books AnnouncedCoretta Scott King Award Winning Books

CSK Award MedalOn January 31 the American Library Association announced the 2017 Coretta Scott King award-winning books. These awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.

All of the Coretta Scott King Award-winning books, since the award’s inception, may be found on AALBC.com.


2017 NAACP Image Awards Winning BooksNAACP 2017 Image Award Winning Books

NAACP Image Award TrophyOn February 11, 2017 the winners of the 48th NAACP Image Awards were announced. The awards show aired live on TV One. The winners of the book categories were announced during the non-televised awards dinner.

The big winner of the night was Trevor Noah whose book, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, won in two categories, Biography/Autobiography and Debut Author. I was particularly happy to learn AALBC.com friend, supporter, and bestselling author, Bernice L. McFadden won the fiction category for her novel The Book of Harlan.


…But Only 16 Black Writers Have Won Pulitzer Prizes for BooksPulitzer Prize Winning Books

The Pulitzer Prize has honored excellence in journalism and the arts since 1917, but only 16 Black authors have won the award. Literary giants including Baldwin, Hughes, and Wright were never honored. I reviewed the list over the past 100 years the award has been bestowed in the book-related categories (Fiction, Drama, History, Biography or Autobiography, Poetry, General Nonfiction, and Novel).

August Wilson was honored the most, winning twice and being a finalist three times. As far as I can tell, no Black writer has won the General Non-Fiction category. Ta-Nehesi Coates was the first writer nominated and that category.

I hope I’m wrong and that someone discovers that I missed a few names. Even if it the list of Black winners were doubled, we’d see how very important if is for us to recognize and celebrate Black talent and to celebrate the institutions who do.


Recently Reviewed Books

Life is a canvasLife Is A Canvas by Joy Elan

Lifeis a Canvas is a contemporary novel about finding love and self and how the choices we make early in life, particularly in our twenties, sets us on a path, positively or negatively, for the rest of our life.

Allegra Johnson is a go-getter. She graduated from college in three years, and got her master’s degree in one. At 23 she has secured a $75,000 grant to start a company, Mane Attraction. I didn’t understand this play on the word “Mane/Main” since the business doesn’t have anything to do with hair. It is a cafe in the early hours, then a lounge with live music during the evening where artists can perform spoken word or rap. Allegra wants to give “the youth a platform to perform and share their talents.” Elan is also a spoken word poet, and it is clear that this is an area she is passionate about. Read the complete review.


The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own edited by Veronica Chambers

Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American President of the United States. Of almost equal significance was Michelle Obama’s becoming the first black First Lady.
Just as her husband undoubtedly inspired a generation of marginalized youngsters to believe that they could achieve anything they set their minds to, Michelle was a transformative figure in her own way, including the way she helped the world appreciate black beauty. Because of the high visibility of her position, almost single-handedly, she managed to successfully challenge the culture’s narrow definition of beauty based on European features (more).


Book Events, Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences

The Annual Harlem Literary Bunch
Videos from Harlem Literary Bruch

Dawn Davis and Sandra L. Richards

Dawn Davis and Sandra L. Richards

The brunch was co-hosted by Dawn Davis VP and Publisher of 37 Ink (an imprint of Simon and Schuster) and Morgan Stanley Managing Director and author Sandra L. Richards.

Check out videos of the readings and pictures from the event featuring Erica Armstrong Dunbar author of Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge; Tiffany Dufu, author of Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less; supermodel Pat Cleveland, author of Walking with the Muses: A Memoir, and Sandra L. Richards reading from her children’s book Rice & Rocks.


The African Americans On The Move Book Club Literary Awards — June 9-11, 2017 — Atlanta, GA

AAMBC AwardsThe annual AAMBC Literary Awards was launched in 2009 in San Antonio, Texas by Tamika Newhouse. Smaller ceremonies were then hosted in the years following in Chicago as well as in Baltimore in conjunction with other literary events. In 2015 the first inaugural red carpet ceremony took place in Atlanta, GA marking the beginning of the black writer’s weekend.

AALBC.com Founder’s, Troy Johnson, was nominated as “Literary Activist of the Year,” and will be at the awards ceremony to celebrate with all the other honorees and readers of Black literature.


One of My Favorite Bookstores – Underground BooksMother Pearl at Unerground Book bookstore

Since the closing of the only library in Oak Park in the 1970’s, it became the mission of St. HOPE founder, Kevin Johnson (former Sacramento Mayor and NBA player), to ensure that the students and the community had access to books. Underground Books hosts book signings by local and national authors, lectures, poetry events, children’s story time, radio shows and much more!

Managed and operated by the effervescent Georgia “Mother Rose” West (pictured above). The bookstore is a wonderful space and an asset to not just the local Oak Park community, but to the national Black book scene as well.


How an Ex-Black Panther Waged a Successful, Four-Decade Revolution In Publishing Without Planning To

W. Paul Coates

Upon leaving a restructured Panther party to focus more energy on assisting local comrades still incarcerated, [Paul] Coates helped forge the George Jackson Prison Movement in 1972 as a means of connecting inmates with a supportive and functional network on the outside.“What I envisioned through this movement was working with brothers who were incarcerated, bringing them out and having them work in our first program, which was to be a bookstore,” Coates says, describing it as a way for them to “contribute to our community some of the goodness that got shaped while organizing with the comrades in jail.” The idea was to then build a progressive publishing house and, subsequently, a printing house that would all work together in a symbiotic relationship with the bookstore, providing knowledge, employment, revenue and a supportive exchange between those in and out of the jail. “This is where Black Classic Press was founded,” says Coates, explaining the vision, largely inspired by the prison-based educations of Malcolm X and George Jackson, and by a literary call from Madhubuti stressing the need for Black publishing. “It didn’t have a name yet, but it was founded inside the George Jackson Prison Movement.” Read the entire article by D. Amari Jackson at the Atlanta Black Star.


AALBC.com Discussion Forums—Join The Conversation!

Discussion ForumElsewhere, this Pop Culture Vulture is motivated to put on her Milo hat because she is sick of BEYONCE who, thanks to the slavish devotion of her social media “Beehive”, thinks that having a big belly full of twins has not only obligated her to parade around and show off her bloated abdomen, but has also elevated her to the realm of Earth Mother – a goddess to be held in awe and worshiped by all who look upon her! Her appearance at the Grammys, looking like a latter-day Cleopatra with a stomach tumor, was a yawner. She needs to go somewhere and sit down and hope Jay-Z’s genes aren’t stronger than hers. I’m also sick of seeing a frolicking Obama’s grinning face plastered all over the internet, as he has embarked on an extended vacation, immersing himself in a lifestyle where the troubles of the world will never again intrude upon his carefree existence. He may be better off as result of his presidency but I’m not so sure about the rest of the black people who put him in office.


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Troy JohnsonDear Reader,

I missed sending a newsletter in February. That short month just got away from me. I will send another newsletter the last week of March to make up.

Today I decided to stop using social media indefinitely. There are several reasons for my decision. Perhaps the most important one, as it relates to AALBC.com, is that engagement on social media comes at the expense of AALBC.com—the relationship benefits the social media platform more than it benefits our website. While this decision may appear abrupt, it was carefully considered and support by years of analysis.

I know my decision is not for everyone, but as someone who runs an independent, mission-driven, website that is also their livelihood. I don’t really have much of a choice. You don’t maintain a website for 20 years by making easy decisions or following popular, often fleeting, trends.

My leaving social media does not mean you should stop sharing links to AALBC.com’s site on the social media platforms you enjoy—by all means please continue sharing information about AALBC.com everywhere.

AALBC.com will continue to thrive not because of some social media platform Troy, but because of your support.

Peace & Love,
Signature
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


You may receive messages like this 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 all of our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.
AALBC.com eNewsletter – March 2, 2017 – Issue #242

Simon & Schuster Gives Racist Troll $250K Book Deal, But Boycotting Them Makes No Sense

Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the publication of the article, a video of Milo making comments condoning sex between children and adults was widely circulated.  As a result, his book deal with Simon & Schuster was pulled.  He also stepped down from his role as an editor with Breitbart News.


dangerous.jpgMilo Yiannopoulos is laughing all the way to the bank.  The interviewer from CNN (shown in the first video below), despite her faux outrage, is greatly helping this Milo’s profile.  CNN is doing this because these interviews generate rating and money for their company.  The hypocrisy is sickening.

This is solely about money.  Milo is no different than Twitter, CNN, and CNBC. This is the exact same thing that raised Trump’s profile. Outrageous statements are profitable.  Milo is simply the latest capitalistic troll to exploit the dysfunctional of our culture.

Now I appreciate I’m is actually feeding into the frenzy of Milo, but I do this because I know full well I’m not going to make money from this effort—corporations own that market. I just hope to make some points that will help readers think about the platforms they consume “information.”

Milo Yiannopoulos’ has a book Dangerous coming out in June.  It was already #30 on Amazon’s bestsellers list on February 14th—not in some miscellaneous sub-category either.  It is #30 overall!  The book is published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Yesterday I posted a link to AALBC.com about a fascinating book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, which is also published by Simon & Schuster.  I received the following in reaction,

The crazy thing is that I had no idea who Milo Yiannopoulos was prior to Emanuel’s comment. Milo is apparently the guy who spearheaded the racist trolling of Leslie Jones on Twitter. We previously talked about Leslie’s Twitter trolls on our discussion forum, without ever mentioning Milo.  Leslie threatened to leave Twitter and Twitter booted Milo in reaction (presumably).

While we (or least I) was unaware of Milo extreme trolling, corporate media were obviously paying attention and anxious to capitalize off Milo’s racist attacks.  In the process they raised MIlo’s profile; which of course boosts rating—adverse cultural impact be damned!

Simon & Schuster even offered him a $250K book deal!  Imagine a quarter of a million dollar book deal, apparently for being racist enough to get thrown off Twitter?

But then Milo is not your garden variety troll; he has Breitbart News as a platform, he is very clever, media-savvy, and funny.  I have been personally been the target of Trolls.  Not only did it not bother me I found some it kinda funny and even posted examples.  But my trolls don’t write for Breitbart, and I’m not a celebrity.  For me, it is just another day on the web: I ban my trolls and keep it moving.  No interviews on CNN, no book deals, no outrage on Twitter, indeed no attention at all.  But celebrities and the trolls are a different matter.

There was a spate of angry tweets leveled against Simon & Schuster and others announcing boycotts:

This is all very powerful stuff. Roxanne Gay caught my attention by pulling her next book which was also being published by Simon & Schuster.  The book’s title is How to be Heard.  A curious title, given Gay’s reaction is exactly the opposite of the title connotation silencing a troll

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Simon & Schuster.  Indeed, I’d seriously considered banning them in my own personal boycott because they are the only publisher of significance to never spend a penny, in advertising, with AALBC.com.  This is despite the fact that Simon & Schuster has the top selling imprint on AALBC.com, Atria Books.

Now I would be more than happy to boycott Simon & Schuster.  In fact with the website’s new design, I could remove all of Simon & Schuster’s titles from my website by changing a few lines of code.

But I’m not going to ban Simon & Schuster’s books, not for this reason.  Simon and Shuster is a massive corporation Milo’s imprint Threshold Editions has nothing to do with the imprint 37 INK, who publishes some important books. It makes no sense boycott 37 INK’s titles because another imprint decides to publish the rantings of some racist troll.  It is the reason I still carry Simon and Shuster’s books even though they won’t break down and support the site with ad revenue.

The real problem is not Simon and Schuster, or even Milo. Both are simply capitalizing on the fact that, in America, skilled trolling is profitable.  One could argue that MIlo and Threshold Editions are behaving perfectly rationally given the environment.

We live a culture were saying outrageous things is not only very profitable but can get you into the Whitehouse.