Sunday, May 30, 2010

Serious about series

Not too long ago I reread all the Harry Potter books. It was such a joy to have a month or 6 weeks of books all set in the same world with the same characters. I think that's the appeal of the series--familiarity. If the writer can pull it off without the reader feeling like he's reading the same book over and over.

Right now I'm reading The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis (Did you know May was Latino Books Month? By the way, the paperback of The Invisible Mountain is out this August). When I'm done with my current TBR pile (see last week's post), I'm thinking I'd like to read another series, and I'm looking for suggestions. Anybody have any good ideas? Series by black authors not required, but definitely appreciated.

Series seem to be most common in genre works, though Trisha R. Thomas has her women's fiction series featuring her protagonist Venus. The sixth (sixth!) is out now, Un-Nappily in Love. And Pearl Cleage often writes in her novels about characters in Atlanta's West End neighborhood, with characters from different books mingling together.

Can anyone think of any other commercial or literary fiction that's a series? What do you all think is the best:

Romance series?

Fantasy/sci-fi series?

Paranormal series?

Mystery series?

Other categories?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer reads giveaway!

Summer is almost here, and it's the perfect time to catch up on a favorite book. Whether it's lying on a beach during vacation or snuggled up at home, who doesn't like to be immersed in a good book during the dog days of summer? To kick off the summer season, a giveaway! And the best part? Thanks to the kind folks at, the winner gets to pick whatever book she wants!

Just leave a comment below, and tell us what book you want to read (a new release or a golden oldie) and why you want to read it. We'll pick our favorite comment after 1 week, and send the winner the book he chose, and announce it here.

What I'm looking forward to reading this summer:

A Taste of Honey by Jabari Asim. Short and sweet, connected stories. Seems perfect for sitting in an airport or lying in the hammock.

Platinum by Aliya S. King looks like a great beach read. Might be 2010's Bling.

Till You Hear From Me. I have the audio book on my iPhone and plan on listening when I go to L.A. next month.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. I read the opening chapters on the author's website and I'm hooked.

A few books I'm recommending this summer:

32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. I read an advance copy for a blurb. If Bridget Jones and Clareece Precious Jones had a love child, she would be Davie Jones, the protagonist in this book. Sound weird? It's not. Just very fresh and funny.

Substitute Me by Lori Tharps. I also gave a blurb for this one. It comes out in August (look for a giveaway then!). It's the story of a white couple in Brooklyn and the 30-year-old, college-educated black nanny they hire. Sexy, smart and will definitely have people talking!

Rebel Yell by Alice Randall. I just finished this one and really liked it. I expected a portrait of a marriage and I got that, but the former married couple were way more interesting than your average married folks, and the story far broader (including very timely subjects like the war in Iraq). This one is out in paperback this fall, if you want to wait.

For more ideas check out my Shelfari book shelf over to the right. Also check They're a recommendation site. What you do is ask a question such as "What books do you recommend for someone who likes mysteries?" and they'll send a question to an expert who will answer it for you. It's sorta like Yahoo Answers, but instead of random people answering your question, only experts are allowed to answer them.

So what do you want to read this summer?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sometimes music says it best

I just discovered Robert Randolph & the Family Band (Another party I'm a little late to, but that's what happens when your nose is always stuck in a book!) and am really digging them. This song put me in mind of a message about black authors, giving me an excuse to link here and tell more people about RRTFB. This song is totally kicking off my walking playlist this week! If you like R&B, blues & funk, check out Robert Randolph & the Family Band!

I first heard them on the Janelle Monae Pandora station. Speaking of, below is another song (which I first learned of on author Denene Millner's blog) that puts me in mind of black authors. Cause most days I sure do feel like I'm walking a tightrope!

Now if you like them, go buy these songs/albums. We artists and art-lovers need to stick together!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Moving forward creatively

Anybody who loves books and knows anything about the book biz knows it's changing. The technology is changing. What readers expect is changing, where they buy and how they buy is changing. Wars are being fought over rights. People are losing jobs. Shit is hitting the fan. But opportunities are also opening. And nimble, quick-thinking, innovative authors will survive.

Like Cheryl Robinson. She's serializing a novel on her blog that readers can read for free--a new chapter every Saturday--to let people know about her work since she has a new novel When I Get Where I'm Going coming in September.

Like Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes who have teamed with Blair Underwood. Their latest novel will be one of the first Vooks--video books. It will be part print and part film scenes. Check it out.

Like debut novelist Ernessa T. Carter, who's giving away a T-shirt a day in a contest for people who pre-order 32 Candles, a book I LOVED and blurbed.

In other news:

Tayari Jones reviews Andrea Levy's latest in The Washington Post. Check out Indiebound for more on The Long Song.

Pearl Cleage discusses her very topical novel Till You Hear From Me.

And a blogger reminds us that before there was Mma Ramotswe there was the housekeeper-sleuth Blanche White, the wonderful creation of author Barbara Neely.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


One of my favorite book bloggers is the Happy Nappy Bookseller. She usually writes about children's & YA books, but she also reads adult fiction. She sent in this review of From Cape Town With Love by Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due & Blair Underwood. I'm reading an advanced copy now and getting a kick out of it.

Please check out the Happy Nappy Bookseller's blog and do check out the Tennyson Hardwick books (watch for upcoming webisodes too!). Everything below is from the Happy Nappy Bookseller:

This is the third Tennyson Hardwick mystery. In the first one, Cassanegra, published in 2007,Tennyson (Ten) is the prime suspect in the murder of a close friend. To clear his name Ten must find the real killer. Prior to that acquisition Ten was getting his life back together. He stopped having sex with women for money and was looking to become a sort after LA actor once again After Ten realizes he has what it takes to be a detective. Tennyson Hardwick is smart, handsome, trained in martial arts and has inherited some his dad's, a retired police captain ability. 

In From Cape Town With Love - Ten goes to South Africa to win back his girlfriend's heart back. The two take a trip to Cape Town. The writing places the reader firmly in South Africa and Cape Town. While in Cape Town, Ten accepts a job to bodyguard, Sofia Maitlin, a famous actress while she visits an orphanage to adopt a child. Sofia calls hire Ten again to be work, Nandi. her daughter's A list L.A birthday party. 

When Nandi is kidnapped, Ten is the only one who has the skills and connections to get her back. He gets to showcase some of his martial art skills. It's obvious a lot of research went into discussing various martial styles from around the world. 

From Cape Town With Love is exciting, sexy and intense. Two best selling authors and an award winning actor have come together to create a series with quality writing and great action. I could definitely see Tennyson Hardwick on the big screen. This is no accident, do check out what Underwood, Due and Barnes have to say about this wonderful series and the roll they play.

Read an excerpt via Tananarive Due's site. From Cape Town With Love will be released May 18. I highly recommend reading the Tennyson Hardwick novels in order. Cassanegra and In the Night of the Heat are both out in paper back.