AALBC.com Best-selling Books – March to April 2013
Authors You Should Know
Pick up any book with one of these author’s names on the cover, you will be happy that you did.
A poet, activist, teacher, and essayist, June was born in Harlem and grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She was a prolific, passionate and influential voice for liberation. Jordan was Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught for many years.June Jordan’s twenty-eight books include poetry, essays, fiction, and children’s books. Her honors include Special Recognition by the United States Congress, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Conference of Black Writers, The Prix de Rome in Environmental Design, a National Book Award finalist nomination for her novel, His Own Where, a National Association of Black Journalists Award, and a PEN-West Freedom to Write Award.
Dorothy West (1901 – 1998)
West tied for second prize in a short story contest with Zora Neale Hurston. Her first novel, The Living Is Easy, about the black middle class in Boston, came out in 1948.Hurston befriended West and brought her to New York, where she was adopted by the more established writers of the Harlem Renaissance, including Richard Wright and Langston Hughes.“We didn’t know it was the Harlem Renaissance, because we were all young and all poor,” West told The Associated Press in 1995. “We had no jobs to speak of, and we had rent parties to raise rent money.”West published her second novel, The Wedding, at the age of 88, nearly 50 years after her first in 1926.
Meriwether is a short fiction writer, essayist, novelist, writer of children’s literature, and black activist. Louise Meriwether holds an established place among literati whose writings reassess African Americans’ past. Her fiction treats bygone times to revise American history and to record African Americans’ tremendous achievements despite overwhelming odds.Her first book, Daddy Was a Number Runner, a fictional account of the economic devastation of Harlem in the Great Depression, appeared in 1970 as the first novel to emerge from the Watts Writers’ Workshop. It received favorable reviews from authors James Baldwin and Paule Marshall.
Fredrick L. McKissack and his wife Patricia have written over one hundred books about the African-American experience. They have won countless awards and received much critical acclaim, all the while bringing enjoyment and information to young readers.Some of their most popular titles include; Let My People Go, Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery In The United States; Christmas In The Big House: Christmas in the Quarters (a 1995 Coretta Scott King Author Award winning book); and Bible Stories Told by a Freeman of Color.
It’s “A Match Made in Heaven!” when the bestselling authors of Sinners & Saints bring back their outrageous first ladies in this sassy, witty, and poignant sequel!Now that Rachel Jackson Adams’s husband has won the coveted position of president of the American Baptist Coalition, Jasmine Larson Bush has concocted a scheme to one-up her rival—by promoting her new community center on the nation’s #1 television talk show! The power play won’t stop Rachel, who jets from Houston to Chicago to sabotage Jasmine’s TV appearance. But Chicago is the last place Rachel should be when one of the Coalition’s heaviest hitters turns up dead— and Rachel looks guilty as sin. Will her nemesis leave her stranded and let her take the rap? Or will Jasmine help Rachel hunt down a killer? Could danger this deep turn the enemies into BFFs? After all, miracles do happen. . . .
Friends and Foes is both a #1 Power List Best-selling book and AALBC.com best-seller.
A cautionary tale about finding love online and the trouble that comes with cheating.Bored with her humdrum married life, thirty-two-year-old Codi Norman is searching for excitement. After teaming up with her best friend, Katina, Codi discovers that the Internet offers both money and an escape from her earthly life. In cyberspace anything is possible, and that is what Codi loves most.While online, she meets a charming and handsome man named Quinn Hamilton. Sparks fly and the two begin a torrid affair with unpredictable consequences. But their virtual lives collide with reality when their spouses discover their illicit relationship.
In Ghana, Kweku Sai was a famous surgeon, renowned for his life-saving skills; but when his family gathers together for his funeral, they do not bask in fond memories of his professional deeds. Instead, they grapple with the personal wreckage that he left behind. When he abandoned his wife for another woman, he lost not only her, but also all four of his children. In this first novel by London-born, American-raised novelist Taiye Selasi, a family struggles towards a partial reconciliation.
Unleashing a strong new literary voice, Selasi joins other gifted writers such as Zadie Smith and Edwidge Danticat with connections to Africa or the African diaspora. —Library Journal
The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.
For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.
Elsie Augustave’s debut novel explores multiple themes: separation and loss, rootlessness, the impact of class privilege and color consciousness, and the search for cultural identity. The central character, Iris Odys, is the offspring of Hagathe, a Haitian maid, and a French-educated mulatto father, Brahami, who cares little about his child. Hagathe, who had always dreamed of a better life for her child, is presented with the perfect opportunity when Iris is five years old. Adopted by a white American couple, Iris is transported from her tiny remote Haitian village, Monn Neg, to an American suburb.
The Roving Tree illuminates how imperfectly assimilated adoptees struggle to remember their original voices and recapture their personal histories and cultural legacy. Set between two worlds—suburban America and Haiti under Papa Doc’s repressive regime—the novel offers a unique literary glimpse into the deeply entrenched class discrimination and political repression of Haiti during the Duvalier era, along with the subtle but nonetheless dangerous effects of American racism.
Game Over, published by Life Changing Books in April, debuted on the NY Times Bestsellers List.In Game Over, Winter puts all of her emotions on the page leaving no experience, emotional abuse, or former lover uncovered. From her days as assistant to rapper, Fabolous and friend to Jada Kiss, to appearing on Love and Hip Hop and being Creative Costume Designer for Flavor unit Films, Winter delivers a tell-all book on her famous ex-lovers and experiences in the music industry.
As the chick that was always in the mix and cool with everyone, Winter was privy to the cray beyond the videos, private flights, and limos that the cameras caught for us. Her reality and theirs was no game. Game Over is Winter’s cautionary tale for the next generation of young women who believe that the fabulous lives of celebrities unveiled in blogs and on reality television shows are all fire! Stay tuned, because this game is about to get real.
The Granger brothers left behind their family’s Virginia estate—and the bad memories it holds—years ago. But their dying grandfather’s request brings them home: to a failing business, a legacy of secrets and a deathbed promise to make things right.As the eldest brother, attorney Jace Granger is determined to take responsibility for Granger Aeronautics, his family’s failing business. But the years of mismanagement seem impossible to untangle.
As CEO, he hires a consultant to turn the company around. Smart, sexy Shana Bradford is the right person for the job—and the right woman to turn Jace’s world upside down.But the passion between them is jeopardized when old secrets begin to emerge. A woman from Jace’s past suddenly reappears. And an explosive discovery changes everything Jace thinks he knows about his mother—and his father, who was convicted of her murder.Jace Granger tried to leave his family history behind once before. But this time he needs to face the past or risk losing his future.
Nonfiction Book Reviews
Ester Nicholson is a gifted gospel, jazz and R&B artist who has toured the world singing backup with everyone from Rod Stewart to Bette Midler. Perhaps more importantly, she recently celebrated the quarter-century of sobriety she’s enjoyed since resolving the host of childhood traumas that had led her down a self-destructive path marked by drugs, unemployment, near homelessness, and the loss of custody of the daughter she gave birth to in her mid-teens.Hard to say whether starting a diary and chanting stuff like, “I am now ready to release all thought patterns and behaviors unlike my true nature,” would be enough to get a monkey off my back. Regardless, it did the trick for Ester, and the sister is very able to argue persuasively on behalf of her proven method.
The profiles contained in this slim volume are personal yet universal. They tell the stories of a single family, the descendants of Freeman and Martha Foster who lived and died in Nash County North Carolina in the mid 19th century.
The stories reveal the universality of raising a family, making ends meet, raising children, making decisions both big and mundane, struggling, triumphing and so much more. Reading this book will give you hope for the future and an appreciation of your past. Author Casandra Foster has taken an important step in preserving her family’s stories. I’d encourage everyone to do the same.By the way, the author, who has a Ph.D. in computational linguistics, is my (AALBC.com’s Founder, Troy Johnson) 1st cousin. I’m profiled in the book too.
The talented 17 year-old role model published an autobiography last fall, and has just now released another aimed at impressionable young minds inclined to place her up on a pedestal. Entitled Raising the Bar, this coffee table book is more like a fancy, bound fanzine than her longer-winded, anecdote-driven memoir.
Besides humbly spreading around credit for her success, Gabby shares some personal info, such as her favorite books (the Twilight series), fast food (McDonald’s), clothing brands (Nike and Miss Me Jeans) and TV show (The Vampire Diaries). A kid-friendly opus which makes it easy to understand why a poised and pretty shining star never let her Olympic glory go to her head. Also, read AALBC.com’s interview with the Olympic champion Gabrielle Douglas.
‘Mimi’s Village and How Basic Health Care Transformed It’ by Katie Smith Milway, Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
The story is set in rural Kenya where it revolves around a cute little girl with cornrows called Mimi Malaho. As the tale unfolds, we find the women of her village weeping and eating from a common bowl as they mourn the passing the previous night of a baby named Kanzi. The death concerns Mimi, since her mother is pregnant. After all, their country has a high rate of infant mortality as a result of combination of poor sanitation, malnutrition, contaminated drinking water, disease-carrying mosquitoes, a need for vaccinations and more.
The narrative proceeds to delineate each of the aforementioned dangers before discussing some simple solutions, such as inoculations, sleeping under netting and boiling water.
Held during, but not affiliated with, Book Expo America (BEA), the Black Pack Party is an annual celebration of book industry professionals, authors, and friends which is hosted by AALBC.com, Linda A. Duggins, MosaicBooks.com, and Written Magazine. Click here to RSVP.
This year’s celebration, our 7th, will be held at Harlem’s iconic restaurant, Londel’s Supper Club, this Thursday, May 30th 2013, from 7 to 9 PM. Check out images from previous Black Pack Parties on Pinterest #bpp2013
Other Events To Check Out if You are in New York City for BEA
On a related note, Publishers Weekly (PW), uses Nielsen BookScan’s figures for their bestseller’s list. Not only does PW rank book sales they also share units sold. Units sold provides valuable insight into the publishing industry. Check out PW today.
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Our monthly eNewsletter contains information about books and films by or about people of African descent.
Authors You Should Know (Children’s Book Authors)
Flake is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, with a degree in English. She is also an AALBC.com bestselling author.
Flake’s first novel The Skin I’m In won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award and tells the story of Seventh-grader Maleeka Madison is miserable when a new teacher comes to her depressed inner-city school. Miss Saunders evidently is rich, self-assured in spite of the white birthmark across her black skin, and prone to getting into kids’ faces about both their behavior and their academic potential.
Fiction Book Reviews
While we have a few novels queued up for our March 2013 eNewsletter, there were none reviewed for this issue. Thanks to our subscribers we are able to guarantee at least one of the following novels, to be published in May, will be reviewed for our April 2013 eNewsletter.
You may also recommend a novel of your choice. If we get 20 or more new eNewsletter subscribers this month, I will pick one of your suggested novels to review as well.
Complete our one question survey to help choose which of the following six books we will review next .
Nonfiction Book Reviews
The shocking statistics indicate that over 40% of black men and women are choosing to remain unmarried, and that about a quarter of the brothers tying the knot are picking partners of another ethnicity. And when you factor in the 75% African-American illegitimacy rate, the black community’s long-term prospects aren’t exactly brilliant.
Overall, Where Did Our Love Go? proves to be a most informative and entertaining read, at least in terms of the individual contributors’ intimate experiences. I can’t say that the diversity of personal opinions contained on the pages allows one to draw a conclusion about where African-American culture is headed but I don’t think anybody’s expecting the black community to share a monolithic mindset anymore anyway.
Much of the pre-Oscar buzz had been about Seth MacFarlane’s hosting the Oscars, and how his irreverent brand of humor would be received by the crowd. Although he didn’t take many potshots at Hollywood royalty, his monologue, performances and banter did reflect a disappointing coarsening of the culture.
In a skit inspired by Denzel Washington’s film Flight, he had a black, hand puppet drinking alcohol and snorting coke. Then there was his shockingly-pedophilic sexualizing of 9 year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) by speculating about when she’d be too old to date George Clooney. And he made light of domestic abuse when he suggested that Chris Brown and Rihanna considered Django Unchained a date movie because it was about a man trying to get back a woman who’s been subjected to unspeakable violence.
Komona’s (Rachel Mwanza) life was irreversibly altered at the tender age of 12 when rebel forces led by the Great Tiger (Mizinga Mwinga) rampaged through her tiny African village. The unfortunate girl was forced at gunpoint to kill her own parents (Starlette Mathata and Alex Herabo) before being abducted and brainwashed into joining the cause.
The picture is cleverly constructed as a series of vivid flashbacks narrated by Komona directly addressing the unborn baby growing in her belly. While the plucky protagonist easily earns our admiration for maintaining her sanity in the midst of the madness, there is still something slightly unsettling about a production so matter-of-fact about the endless atrocities providing the backdrop for such a touching front story.
- Queens Spring Book Fair, April 20, Jamaica, NY
- 1st Annual Bronx Literary Festival, May 18, Bronx, NY
- Baltimore Urban Book Festival, July 14, Baltimore., MD
- The QBR Wheatley Book Awards, July 19, Harlem, NY
- The 15th Harlem Book Fair, July 20, Harlem, NY
- National Book Club Conference, Aug 2-4, Atlanta, GA
- Charlotte Book Fair, Oct 5, Charlotte , NC
- National Black Book Festival, Oct 24-26, Houston, TX
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There are so many free, high quality, eBooks available for immediate download, it is really quite astonishing. One can download a free eBook and begin reading it while they are waiting for a bus or in a doctor’s office. A computer isn’t even required; inexpensive eBook reader or even a smart phone will do.
Here I share information on several resources for learning about and downloading free eBooks.
Project Gutenberg offers over 36,000 free ebooks to download to your PC, Kindle, Android, iOS or other portable device. The eBooks available at Project Gutenberg were previously published by bona fide publishers, and are made available for free, in the United States, because their copyright has expired. No fee or registration is required, but they do accept donations.
A couple of terrific titles available at Project Gutenberg include:
The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Paul Laurence Dunbar [Illustrated]
Booker T. Washington called Paul Laurence Dunbar the “Poet Laureate of the Negro Race”. Dunbar, the son of enslaved parents, grew up in Dayton, OH, where he was friendly with the Wright Brothers. He had a successful high school career–founding editor of the school paper and elected class president of the predominantly white school–but upon graduation, he was forced to work as an elevator operator. His second book of poetry was praised by William Dean Howells and by age 24, he was one of the most renowned literary figures in America.
The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt http://aalbc.com/authors/charlesw.htm#marrow
One of the most significant novels in American literature, Chesnutt ‘s The Marrow of Tradition is based on the Wilmington, North Carolina, Massacre of 1898. Called a “race riot” by the inflammatory Southern press and engineered by white Democrats who had seen their political [power] slip into the hands of Republicans, many of whom were black, it was in fact a coup that restored power to the Democrats by subverting the principles of free democratic election. Some of Charles Chestnutt’s relatives lived through the violence, and their accounts inspired this powerful and passionate novel.
Free eBooks are not just limited to the old classic titles. There are many new works available for free download.
You can always find free, or really inexpensive, Kindle ebooks on Amazon.com. Here is a link: http://aalbc.it/free_aaebooks There you’ll find titles which include:
Irresistible Forces by Brenda Jackson http://aalbc.com/authors/brenda_jackson.htm#free
Brenda Jackson has written more romance novels than I can count. She was the first African-American author to have a novel published as part of the Silhouette Desire line, and has seen many of her novels reach the AALBC.com & USAToday Bestseller lists.
You may as well check out Amazon’s new eBook Reader, the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire sports a vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle. It also provides 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books, the Amazon Appstore – thousands of popular apps and games, free cloud storage for all your Amazon content . The reader is provides accelerated web browsing via Amazon Silk Cloud-Accelerated “Split Browser” — all for only $199!
You can also find a large selection of free eBooks made available by the authors themselves.
For example, the critically acclaimed novelist Leonce Gaiter, has made his latest novel, The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang available for free eBook download
Leonce is a excellent writer and has crafted a thoroughly researched novel about little known chapter in American history.
One of my most critical reviewers described Leonce’s novel “Bourbon Street” this way:
“It has been a long while since I read a book as complex and gorgeous as Bourbon Street written by Leonce Gaiter. A novel which explores the spectrum of inner naked essence of human nature, Bourbon Street was a sheer joy to read from beginning to end.”
To find more deals like this you can subscribe to the AALBC.com eNewsletter we share information about free eBooks. Authors can also share information about free eBooks on our discussion boards. In fact authors are encourage to share information on any aspect of their work (see note below).
Christopher D. Burns, makes his book Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships available to read for free (http://aalbc.it/stageshandbook) but you’ll have to download each chapter individually.
After reading a few chapters, for free, you may decide pay for the full download. This gives readers an opportunity to discover a new author or interesting book without any financial risk.
Increasingly eBooks may even be borrowed from libraries. This is just some of the way one can begin to enjoy the wonderful world of literature. The only investment required is time
Remember, it does not hurt to “read more”
Note: AALBC.com helps share information about books:
Libraries are also a good source of free ebooks. “Nationwide, 82 percent of public libraries across the country offered e-books in 2011” (Check out an article on the subject on Kansas.com)
Authors, publicists, publishers, book lovers, check out the revamped AALBC.com Discussion boards. http://aalbc.com/tc you can post information about your books or books you enjoy, post reviews, book trailers, excepts and more.
You may share information posted on our discussion boards with your followers on Twitter and Facebook. I also review content their to include in my eNewsletter (http://aalbc.it/newsaalbc). Our highly regarded eNewsletter, has been published continuously for over 12 years. It is emailed to almost 20,000 subscribers.
AALBC.com discussion board have been on-line for almost 14 years.
Both are free resources.