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Showing posts from 2019

Nutcrackers, Puppies and Mayhem

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher Contemporary New Adult romance Berkley  November 12, 2019 After a somewhat hostile meet-cute, successful event planner Hannah Mayfield and aspiring investigative political journalist Jack Nolan each find themselves caught in an ethical dilemma. Once readers embrace the core premise of premeditated deceit executed with clear intentions of making amends, Not the Girl You Marry is an otherwise entertaining and thoughtful meta contemplation about the pitfalls of dating in the 21st century. Each character’s family circumstances and dating history act as both filters and mirrors that reveal their struggles in establishing integrity of self, and finding the people and places where they’re recognized, valued, and welcomed. As often found in mainstream romance fiction, generalized statements about men and women clank as outdated along with viewing singlehood as a fate that’s worse than death. Funny pop culture references to hipsters and M

From The Black Count to Black Panther: Page to Screen, Reality and Fantasy

[Black Power African continent image from] Black Comic Book History by Demetrius Sherman Bonus: Super Heroes Who Protect Africa 2019 Bummed that Black Panther II isn’t scheduled for release in theaters until 2022? Black Comic Book History eases that impatience. Before #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #1000blackgirlbooks, Alexandre Dumas created The Three Musketeers, journalist Orrin C. Evans published All Negro Comics, and Morrie Turner was the first black cartoonist whose work was syndicated in mainstream newspapers. Unfamiliar with those names and achievements? You’re not the only one. Demetrius Sherman uses the introduction and seven succinct chapters as a survey of the evolution of black characters in visual media from the 1700s to present day. His research includes images of vintage comics panels and newspaper articles along with sociopolitical context and his personal commentary. Though brief, this informative volume entices readers to pursue more details about Matt

Moving Forward. Looking Back.

The Persistence of Memory, Book 2: All Our Yesterdays Karen Janowsky Adult speculative fiction with romantic elements Mill City Press  February 2019 Book One: Déjà vu started with a recent history set in scenes of violent sensory immersion. Book Two: All Our Yesterdays begins as an acoustic Homeric delivery of the ancient origin story and end-times tale of the legend of Ishtar. What do sentient beings remember? How do they remember? Why do they remember? Where do they store those memories, and when—and how—do they apply the lessons learned from those memories to their lives? Although Book Two is more of a romance than Book One without sacrificing its action hero intensity, it uses Nina and Daniel’s firmly established personal relationship to explore themes about the importance of having an ethical moral compass in battling philosophical extremism and religious zealotry within the context of their emotional intimacy, and as members of the World Intelligence Sec

We Survived the 1st Annual The Write Women Book Fest! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Many thanks to all of the vendors and the visitors who came to TWWBF. You made our festival launch a beautiful, uplifting, enlightening, and fun experience. Browse pics from the event on our Instagram @thewritewomenbookfest See the speakers and panelists from the Event Room See you in 2020! (Heather Brooks gave me the loveliest items as thank you swag from BDevlin Designs, Dea, and from her own H. L. Brooks Red August series.)

War, Destruction, Truce. Repeat (with Superheroes)

The Persistence of Memory, Book 1: Déjà vu Karen Janowsky New Adult(ish) speculative fiction with romantic elements Mill City Press  February 2019 The Persistence of Memory is a beguiling mash-up. It begins as a brutally immersive Holocaust testimony set in Germany in 1938. At the age of twenty-one, New Yorkers Daniel Hecht, his two best friends, and his mom discover that their U.S. citizenship can’t protect them from the racial hatred of the Nazis. Survival exacts steep costs that exchange one generation for another and smoothly transitions this story into science fiction. In the 21st century Daniel is a decorated war hero who is disillusioned, jaded, and patriotic. His inner turmoil and traumatic experiences generate emotional whiplash. Enter amnesiac Nina Archer. Who is she? What are her origins? Why does she fluently speak an ancient language? Add mystery and romance (mostly sweet, until very abruptly, it becomes explicit) to this layered and multifaceted tale, which includ

Singlehood, Red Riding Hood & Queen Goharshad

No Thanks: Black, Female, and Living in the Martyr-Free Zone Keturah Kendrick Non-fiction memoir SheWrites Press  June 2019 In a preface, eight intimate essays, and acknowledgements of the members of her international village, Keturah Kendrick uses the path of her own personal and professional journey to her integrity of self to encourage others to challenge the impositions of limiting gendered expectations. No Thanks constructs rational intellectual support for the benefits of deliberately choosing to live single and childfree, a declaration summed up on page 11: “I am single because I am enough for me.” No Thanks is a provocative rejection of the entrenched belief that fertility is the primary source of worthiness and purpose for a female person’s womanhood; that fertility is the seminal value of womanhood. Humorous and poignant anecdotal personal stories and references to academic case studies examine the consequences and rewards for audacious female people who unapologeti

The Write Women Book Fest on Saturday, September 21, 2019

You are invited! #thewritewomen2019  IG: @thewritewomenbookfest    Hope to see you there! 

The Third Literary Life of Naguib Mahfouz

The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz Translated from Arabic by Roger Allen Short stories Saqi Books  September 24, 2019 The Quarter is a time capsule. Found in 2018, these eighteen short stories written in the 1990s offer core samples of Egypt’s cultural layers. Its internal ideological conflicts and agitation from external sociopolitical forces inform the recurring themes of superstition, authoritarianism, and the oppression of women and poor people. Magical realism and mystical encounters regularly occur in this imaginary triangulated terrain of the cellar, the fort, and the fountain, where prodigal residents, bosses, Sitts (grandma, lady, madam), and women of assorted degrees of sexual virtue are counseled, blessed, judged or cursed by the Head of the Quarter and the mosque Imam. Streamlined narrative structure and thumbnail characterizations suggest influences from the parables of the Qur’an and the Christian Bible. Prose with poetic sensibilities that encourage readers to ack

All Hail the Queens

Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow historical mystery Head of Zeus  December 2018 True confession: My first reaction to seeing Dana Stabenow’s name on a book on a “My Lucky Day” display at the library was happiness that Kate Shugak #22 was finally available. Then the style of the cover art and the title snuffed my celebration. Opening the front cover to see the “Alexandria 47 B.C.” heading confirmed my suspicions. Death of an Eye is not a Kate Shugak story.* On page 9, when the main character muses on Alexandria, “It was a city to delight every sense…” that sentiment applies to this entertaining tale of political rivalries and palace intrigue during the reign of Cleopatra. Immersive descriptions convey the sights, sounds, scents, and dynamic energy of the people, politics, and landscape of ancient Egypt. A map and a detailed cast of characters set the stage as fading moonglow yields to the sun on a day during the harvest season on the sixth year of Cleopatra VII’s reign. Cland

Love Is Love!!! (GLBT Book Month Bonus Reviews)

Conscious Bias (Monica Spade #1) Alexi Venice Contemporary legal thriller(ish)  May 2019 Monica Spade is keeping a secret. To protect her chances of someday making partner at the prestigious law firm controlled by men whose attitudes are trapped in the homophobic hysteria of earlier centuries, she’s not “out” in her professional life. Conscious Bias mixes workplace drama, personal crossroads, small-town politics and quirky humor into serious social commentary about identity and power. Recurring minor comedic threads add lighthearted elements to this tale of many flawed aspects in the pursuit of justice in the United States. Some missing connective tissue in transitions and sudden swings in tone will likely smooth out in the second entry in this series that shows potential for greatness. CrossFit, the irresistible allure of baked goods and alcoholic beverages, along with searching for love occupy Monica’s thoughts when she’s not negotiating through a minefield of sexism, homopho

Binge-Worthy Beach (or Anywhere) Reads*

The McClain Brothers, Books 1—4: Let Me Love You, Let Me Hold You, Let Me Show You, Let Me Free You By Alexandria House contemporary romance Pink Cashmere Publishing  2018 Pineapples. Sextricity. Just two of the terms Alexandria House spins into hilarious, steamy fun as Everett, Nolan, Neil, and Leland stumble their way into love with complicated, independent women—Jo, Bridgette, Sage, and Kim—who motivate each other to grow up and to step up. Beneath the outrageous raunch, melodrama, and high-frequency usage of ni**a and m-f, poignant overlapping threads about grief, child custody issues, domestic violence, infidelity, delusional obsession, substance abuse, low self-esteem, immigration status, and more create a compelling narrative tapestry. There are distinctive nuances in the characters’ voices shaped by region, age, experience, and personality. Multifaceted emotional authenticity fills each scene. It’s so refreshing to read about an assortment of strong male characters

If Loving You Is Wrong... Outlawed, Forbidden, Taboo Lovers

Enemies in Love by Alexis Clark A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance Non-fiction biography, sociopolitical and military history The New Press   May 2018 Decades before Loving v. Virginia, African-American U.S. Army nurse Elinor Powell and German POW Frederick Albert defied the military, Jim Crow, society’s expectations, and many other challenging circumstances in order to love each other. Enemies in Love tells their harrowing personal tale in the global context of the aftermath of World War I, Hitler’s rise to power, and illogical racial contradictions in everyday civilian life and in the U.S. military during World War II and afterward. Elinor and Frederick’s story reads like an exquisitely researched historical novel. Family drama, personal demons, war, forbidden attraction, clandestine meetings, and a constant struggle to find a safe place for their superficially unconventional family to settle and to thrive are woven among rarely prom

Bookish Fun in Phoenix at Metro Barnes & Noble

Go west, young (at heart) authors! MARC train, then free shuttle to BWI? Check. Easy bag drop-off at Frontier Airlines? Check. Enthusiastic pat down from a dedicated TSA agent makes me think maybe we're engaged--or at least dating! Smooth boarding process. New, clean cabin interior. Window seat. Restful snooze until arrival. (Many thanks to the adorable toddler who waited until we were deplaning to melt down in spectacular fashion.) Metro Valley mass transit from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to Authorpalooza for good times with booklovers, talented authors, and a team of phenomenal booksellers led by a visionary store manager who supports creatives and the arts in dynamic ways. It was a pleasurable privilege to participate with panelists on the Saturday 5/4 group at 6 p.m.: Virgil Alexander, Ellsworth James, Timothy Moore, and Keith Mueller. Fellow Black Opal Books author John Beyer was in the 2 p.m. session. Lively book chat, a couple of rounds of Tic Tac Trop

Black Women Energy at Goucher College Sunday, April 28, 2019

Many thanks to J. for organizing a dynamic and engaging Black Women Energy event at Goucher College yesterday with a variety of  workshops, vendors, artisans, and performers. It was a fun, enlightening occasion that deserves to become an annual event. [hint, hint:-] More thanks to everyone who stopped by my table to chat, to play quick rounds of Tic Tac Trope, and to try their luck at the hourly raffles. My book geeky hand-decorated kicks made their debut, but no one could see them hidden under the table. It still made me happy just to wear them. Happy reading, writing, creating, healing!

Howl At the Moon, Give Yourself a Break & Get Your Freak On

Forever Wolf by Maria Vale Sourcebooks Casablanca  March 2019 While comparisons to Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong are appropriate, Maria Vale establishes a distinctive depth and range of storytelling excellence in her Legend of All Wolves series that is unique in its artistry. As the third entry, Forever Wolf continues the pattern of transcending the boundaries of the paranormal shape-shifting genre by creating more poignant character sketches of compelling individuals who embody a variety of multifaceted points of view about how to survive. That shared intention is just one of many ways in which Forever Wolf exudes its primal energy. Varya and Eyulf’s story progresses like a heartrending blend of ballad, dirge, and warriors’ battle cries. Seraphina Does Everything by Melissa Gratias; Sue Cornelison, illus. National Center for Youth Issues  April 2019 At a time when privileged kids are over-scheduled and internalizing society’s constant, dema

Upcoming April 2019 Events

It's Poetry Month! Check out the scheduled events at your local library branch, favorite bookstore or community gathering place. Come listen to talented wordsmiths - or perform your own work, then play Tic Tac Poe(try) for a chance to win an "I <3 Books" t-shirt at these free events in gorgeous Prince George's County.

Beauty & Avengers

Khatt: Egypt’s Calligraphic Landscape Noha Zayed, photographer; Basma Hamdy, editor; various contributors Saqi February 2019 Contemporary non-fiction From prehistoric paintings on rocks and cave walls to the hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt to present-day graffiti, humans have felt compelled to decorate their environment with a durable record of their experiences, ideas, and beliefs. These symbols document the evolution of human history. Khatt ’s specific focus on the progression of Arabic lettering calligraphy of Egypt is declared on page 4 in the foreword: During the Pharaonic times, writing was considered the language of the gods, and writing in the Middle East still retains this spiritual connection to the invisible and divine world beyond… this book attempts to examine and underline the social and symbolic power of Arabic lettering… its integral role in the construction of contemporary Egyptian visual culture. Captivating in arrangement, composition, sc