Category Archives: Adult Nonfiction

Announcements of new nonfiction by and about African Americans

Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share the Tomlinson Name – One White, One Black

Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share the Tomlinson Name – One White, One Black by Chris Tomlinson
Thomas Dunne Books
July 22, 2014
Hardcover

Tomlinson Hill is the stunning story of two families — one white, one black — who trace their roots to a slave plantation that bears their name.

Internationally recognized for his work as a fearless war correspondent, award-winning journalist Chris Tomlinson grew up hearing stories about his family’s abandoned cotton plantation in Falls County, Texas. Most of the tales lionized his white ancestors for pioneering along the Brazos River. His grandfather often said the family’s slaves loved them so much that they also took Tomlinson as their last name.

LaDainian Tomlinson, football great and former running back for the San Diego Chargers, spent part of his childhood playing on the same land that his black ancestors had worked as slaves. As a child, LaDainian believed the Hill was named after his family. Not until he was old enough to read an historical plaque did he realize that the Hill was named for his ancestor’s slaveholders.

A masterpiece of authentic American history, Tomlinson Hill traces the true and very revealing story of these two families. From the beginning in 1854 — when the first Tomlinson, a white woman, arrived — to 2007, when the last Tomlinson, LaDainian’s father, left, the book unflinchingly explores the history of race and bigotry in Texas. Along the way it also manages to disclose a great many untruths that are latent in the unsettling and complex story of America.

Tomlinson Hill is also the basis for a film and an interactive web project. The award-winning film, which airs on PBS, concentrates on present-day Marlin, Texas and how the community struggles with poverty and the legacy of race today, and is accompanied by an interactive web site called Voice of Marlin, which stores the oral histories collected along the way.

Chris Tomlinson has used the reporting skills he honed as a highly respected reporter covering ethnic violence in Africa and the Middle East to fashion a perfect microcosm of America’s own ethnic strife. The economic inequality, political shenanigans, cruelty and racism — both subtle and overt — that informs the history of Tomlinson Hill also live on in many ways to this very day in our country as a whole. The author has used his impressive credentials and honest humanity to create a classic work of American history that will take its place alongside the timeless work of our finest historians

With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

William Morrow
October 21, 1998
Hardcover

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are legendary stars of the American stage, television, and film, a beloved and revered couple cherished not just for their acting artistry but also for their lifelong commitment to civil rights, family values, and the black community. Now they look back on a half-century of their personal and political struggles to maintain a healthy marriage and to create the record of distinguished accomplishment that earned each a Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

With Ossie and Ruby overflows with consummate storytelling skill developed by decades in the spotlight. From their early years as struggling actors in Harlem’s black theater to Broadway and Hollywood stardom, they regale the reader with colorful, entertaining tales of the places they’ve been and the people they’ve met. But their charming humor is leavened with a more serious side, as they share their experiences of keeping a family together in a world where scandal and divorce is the rule, and of being artists and political activists in an era of intense racial ferment. Born into the struggle, their characters were shaped by the dynamic collisions of life, politics, and art; and from those experiences, they achieved some sense of their worth as married people, friends, and lovers.

Warm, positive, and compelling, this is a book that will surprise and challenge readers everywhere — black and white, male and female, young and old. Lifting the veil of public image, media hype, and mystique, Ossie and Ruby speak of the real-life dilemmas and rewards of their lifelong search for purpose and value.

What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

Flatiron Books
September 2, 2014
Hardcover

After film critic Gene Siskel asked her, “What do you know for sure?” Oprah Winfrey began writing the “What I Know For Sure” column in O, The Oprah Magazine. Saying that the question offered her a way to take “stock of her life,” Oprah has penned one column a month over the last fourteen years, years in which she retired The Oprah Winfrey Show (the highest-rated program of its kind in history), launched her own television network, became America’s only black billionaire, was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard University and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, watched friends and colleagues come and go, lost beloved pets and adopted new ones, and celebrated milestone birthdays. Throughout it all, she’s continued to offer her profound and inspiring words of wisdom in her “What I Know For Sure” column in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Now, for the first time, these thoughtful gems have been revised, updated, and collected in What I Know For Sure, a beautiful book packed with insight and revelation from Oprah Winfrey. Organized by theme — joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power — these essays offer a rare and powerful glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s most extraordinary women. Candid, moving, exhilarating, uplifting, and dynamic, the words Oprah shares in What I Know For Sure shimmer with the sort of wisdom and truth that readers will turn to again and again.

The Root’s Summer Reading List

The Root’s book selections for the Summer of 2014, featuring “Book of Hours” by Kevin Young, “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson” by Barbara Ransby, “Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II” by Farah Jasmine Griffin:

Book of Hours: Poems by Kevin Young

A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of his father, we witness the unfolding of grief. “In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor,” he tells us, in one of the collection’s piercing two-line poems. Capturing the strange silence of bereavement (“Not the storm / but the calm / that slays me”), Kevin Young acknowledges, even celebrates, life’s passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence about the birth of his son: in “Crowning,” he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing “her face / full of fire, then groaning your face / out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air.” Ending this book of both birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking “What good/are wishes if they aren’t / used up?” while understanding “How to listen / to what’s gone.” Young’s frank music speaks directly to the reader in these elemental poems, reminding us that the right words can both comfort us and enlarge our understanding of life’s mysteries.

Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson by Barbara Ransby

Eslanda “Essie” Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colorful and amazing life. Her career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin’s Russia, and China two months after Mao’s revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment — an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women’s rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this masterful book, biographer Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating black women of the twentieth century.

Chronicling Essie’s eventful life, the book explores her influence on her husband’s early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Essie’s friendships with a host of literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 years—all are brought to light in the pages of this inspiring biography. Essie’s indomitable personality shines through, as do her contributions to United States and twentieth-century world history.

Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II
by Farah Jasmine Griffin

As World War II raged overseas, Harlem witnessed a battle of its own. Brimming with creative and political energy, the neighborhood’s diverse array of artists and activists took advantage of a brief period of progressivism during the war years to launch a bold cultural offensive aimed at winning democracy for all Americans, regardless of race or gender. Ardent believers in America’s promise, these men and women helped to lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement before Cold War politics and anti-Communist fervor temporarily froze their dreams at the dawn of the postwar era.

In Harlem Nocturne, esteemed scholar Farah Jasmine Griffin tells the stories of three black female artists whose creative and political efforts fueled this historic movement for change: choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus, composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams, and novelist Ann Petry. Like many African Americans in the city at the time, these women weren’t native New Yorkers, but the metropolis and its vibrant cultural scene gave them the space to flourish and the freedom to express their political concerns. Pearl Primus performed nightly at the legendary Cafe Society, the first racially integrated club in New York, where she debuted dances of social protest that drew on long-buried African traditions and the dances of former slaves in the South. Williams, meanwhile, was a major figure in the emergence of bebop, collaborating with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell and premiering her groundbreaking Zodiac Suite at the legendary performance space Town Hall. And Ann Petry conveyed the struggles of working-class black women to a national audience with her acclaimed novel The Street, which sold over a million copies — a first for a female African American author.

A rich biography of three artists and the city that inspired them, Harlem Nocturne captures a period of unprecedented vitality and progress for African Americans and women, revealing a cultural movement and a historical moment whose influence endures today.


The Cutting Season: A Novel by Attica Locke

Attica Locke‘s breathtaking debut novel, Black Water Rising, won resounding acclaim from major publications coast-to-coast and from respected crime fiction masters like James Ellroy and George Pelecanos, earning this exciting new author comparisons to Dennis Lehane, Scott Turow, and Walter Mosley. Locke returns with The Cutting Season, a second novel easily as gripping and powerful as her first — a heart-pounding thriller that interweaves two murder mysteries, one on Belle Vie, a historic landmark in the middle of Lousiana’s Sugar Cane country, and one involving a slave gone missing more than one hundred years earlier. Black Water Rising was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, an Edgar Award, and an NAACP Image Award, and was short-listed for the Orange Prize in the U.K. The Cutting Season has been selected by bestselling author Dennis Lehane as the first pick for his new line of books at HarperCollins.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” — Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life — to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth — and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Ward’s memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying, Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life, and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Essence Magazine, June-2014

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for June 2014

Essence Magazine’s book selections for June 2014, featuring their “Summer Reading Challenge” (Wendy Williams’ “Hold Me in Contempt,” Walter Mosley’s “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore,” Morowa Yejide’s “Time of the Locust,” Cynthia Bond’s “Ruby,” Lauren Francis-Sharma’s’s “‘Til the Well Runs Dry,” and Elizabeth Nunez’ “Not for Everyday Use”), Toni Braxton’s memoir “Unbreak My Heart,” and T.D. Jakes’ “Instinct”:

Hold Me in Contempt: A Romance by Wendy Williams

Move over 50 Shades, there’s a new romance in town. Superstar Wendy Williams brings on the heat in her first ever, no-holds-barred, down and dirty, romance novel.

Kimberly Kind is trying to get beyond her roots. A successful, beautiful, smart lawyer, she’s finally finding direction in her life and getting out of the streets. But a terrible accident threatens to throw her carefully laid plans off course. Now Kim’s hiding a huge secret — one that could threaten everything.

Enter King. A perfect mix of Justin Timberlake and David Beckham, the man oozes sex and has more swagger than anyone Kim’s ever met. Their chemistry is off the charts. But after passion-filled nights, the intensity of their emotions takes both of them by surprise.

Love was not supposed to be an option. Now it’s the only thing holding them together. When their pasts come back with a vengeance, can love possibly be enough?

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore: A Novel by Walter Mosley

In this scorching, mournful, often explicit, and never less than moving literary novel by the famed creator of the Easy Rawlins series, Debbie Dare, a black porn queen, has to come to terms with her sordid life in the adult entertainment industry after her tomcatting husband dies in a hot tub. Electrocuted. With another woman in there with him. Debbie decides she just isn’t going to “do it anymore.” But executing her exit strategy from the porn world is a wrenching and far from simple process.

Millions of men (and no doubt many women) have watched famed black porn queen Debbie Dare — she of the blond wig and blue contacts — “do it” on television and computer screens every which way with every combination of partners the mind of man can imagine. But one day an unexpected and thunderous on-set orgasm catches Debbie unawares, and when she returns to the mansion she shares with her husband, insatiable former porn star and “film producer” Theon Pinkney, she discovers that he’s died in a case of hot tub electrocution, “auditioning” an aspiring “starlet.” Burdened with massive debts that her husband incurred, and which various L.A. heavies want to collect on, Debbie must reckon with a life spent in the peculiar subculture of the pornography industry and her estrangement from her family and the child she had to give up. She’s done with porn, but her options for what might come next include the possibility of suicide. Debbie . . . is a portrait of a ransacked but resilient soul in search of salvation and a cure for grief.

Time of the Locust: A Novel by Morowa Yejide

Travel into the heart and mind of an extraordinary autistic boy in this deeply imaginative debut novel of a mother’s devotion, a father’s punishment, and the power of love.

Sephiri is an autistic boy who lives in a world of his own making, where he dwells among imagined sea creatures that help him process information in the “real world” in which he is forced to live. But lately he has been having dreams of a mysterious place, and he starts creating fantastical sketches of this strange, inner world.

Brenda, Sephiri’s mother, struggles with raising her challenged child alone. Her only wish is to connect with him — a smile on his face would be a triumph. Meanwhile, Sephiri’s father, Horus, is sentenced to life in prison, making life even lonelier for Brenda and Sephiri. Yet prison is still not enough to separate father and son. In the seventh year of his imprisonment and the height of his isolation, Horus develops supernatural mental abilities that allow him to reach his son. Memory and yearning carry him outside his body, and through the realities of their ordeals and dreamscape, Horus and Sephiri find each other — and find hope in ways never imagined.

Deftly portrayed by the remarkable and talented up-and-comer Morowa Yejide, Time of the Locust is a brilliant narrative about the psychological realms of solitude, youth, and wonder. At its heart, this is a harrowing, surreal, and redemptive journey to the union of a family.

Ruby: A Novel by Cynthia Bond

The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her — this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

‘Til the Well Runs Dry: A Novel by Lauren Francis-Sharma

A glorious and moving multi-generational, multicultural saga that begins in the 1940s and sweeps through the 1960′s in Trinidad and the United States.

Lauren Francis-Sharma‘s ‘Til the Well Runs Dry opens in a seaside village in the north of Trinidad where young Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed 16-year-old seamstress, lives alone, raising two small boys and guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karam, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits the help of a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her ardor), the risks and rewards in Marcia’s life amplify forever.

On an island rich with laughter, Calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, the novel follows Marcia and Farouk from their amusing and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in a scandal, and endanger the future for all of them.

‘Til the Well Runs Dry tells the twinned stories of a spirited woman’s love for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is a story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.

Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir by Elizabeth Nunez

Tracing the four days from the moment she gets the call that every immigrant fears to the burial of her mother, Elizabeth Nunez tells the haunting story of her lifelong struggle to cope with the consequences of the “sterner stuff” of her parents’ ambitions for their children and her mother’s seemingly unbreakable conviction that displays of affection are not for everyday use.

But Nunez sympathizes with her parents, whose happiness is constrained by the oppressive strictures of colonialism, by the Catholic Church’s prohibition of artificial birth control which her mother obeys, terrified by the threat of eternal damnation (her mother gets pregnant fourteen times: nine live births and five miscarriages which almost kill her), and by what Malcolm Gladwell refers to as the “privilege of skin color” in his mother’s Caribbean island homeland where “the brown-skinned classes…came to fetishize their lightness.” Still, a fierce love holds this family together, and the passionate, though complex, love Nunez’s parents have for each other will remind readers of the passion between the aging lovers in Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘s Love in the Time of Cholera. Written in exquisite prose by a writer the New York Times Book Review calls “a master at pacing and plotting,” Not for Everyday Use is a page-turner that readers will find impossible to put down.

Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir by Toni Braxton

In this heartfelt memoir, six-time Grammy Award-winning artist and star of WE TV’s reality hit, Braxton Family Values, Toni Braxton writes about her personal life decisions and their impact on her health, family and career.

While Braxton appears to be living a gilded life — selling 60 million records, appearing in sold-out Las Vegas performances and hit shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” and starring in her own reality series — hers is in fact a tumultuous story, a tale of triumph over a life filled with obstacles, including two bankruptcy filings. The mother of an autistic child, Braxton long feared that her son’s condition might be karmic retribution for earlier life choices, some of which will shock fans. But when heart ailments began plaguing her at the age of 41 and she was diagnosed with Lupus, Braxton knew she had to move beyond the self-recrimination and take charge of her own healing.

Intensely honest and deeply inspirational, Unbreak My Heart is the never-before-told story of the measures Braxton took to make herself and her family whole again.

Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive by T. D. Jakes

Modern life can seem like being lost in a jungle. With distractions and dangers emerging from every direction, it’s easy to lose focus. Over time, we lose touch with one of our most powerful, purposeful, God-given attributes–the desire to be fruitful and multiply, what Bishop T. D. Jakes calls our “instinct for increase.”

Combining historical, cultural, and personal examples with biblical insights, in INSTINCT, Bishop Jakes outlines how to re-discover your natural aptitudes and re-claim the wisdom of your past experiences. When attuned to divinely inspired instincts, you will become in sync with the opportunities life presents and discover a fresh abundance of resources. Knowing when to close a deal, when to take a risk, and when to listen to your heart will become possible when you’re in touch with the instincts that God gave you.

Bishop T.D. Jakes — iconic preacher, bestselling author, and entrepreneur–has inspired millions of people around the world. Here he writes from the peak of his personal power about how to experience the satisfaction of a life well lived. If you long to conquer the jungles of life, INSTINCT offers the personal and professional tools needed to navigate your course successfully and according to God’s design.

Angela Ardis

Interview with Angela Ardis

Angela ArdisAngela Ardis is an exceptional writer of animation, live production, television, film and ghostwriting. She’s also written children’s books, poetry books, erotica, fiction and memoirs. Angela reached international acclaim with her memoir entitled, “Inside A Thug’s Heart,” which was compiled of an exchange of letters, poetry and conversations with the late rapper Tupac Shakur which was published in hard cover in 2004, re-released in paperback in 2009 and an e-book released 2013. This award-nominated book was also translated into Polish.

After a year of co-hosting the internet radio show “Talk with Angela and Hank,” Angela joined as co-host of the popular internet radio show “Lipstick, High Heels and B.S.,” a no-nonsense internet platform that allows her and several co-hosts to express their views on sex, relationships, love, current events and life. Here she was given an opportunity to head two segments, “Shoe Lover Tuesday,” where she expresses details, information and tips for everything shoes and “Lipstick Letters” where she gives advice, help and opinions on questions asked by the public.

Angela Ardis has experienced some success in films (“Black and Blue” and “All I Want“) as well as television shows like (“The Wayan’s Brothers,” “In The House,” “Michael Hayes“). Modeling lent its hand to several projects (fashion shows: Reggio, Banu Paris, Farinae, Bonnie Strauss, and Don Sayres; print: regional and national magazines such as Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Black Man, Jet, Aloette, Profiles Magazine, Black Market, Silk2, Mallory Furs, Playboy).

She released several new projects in 2013: a poetry book “My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships,” a petite help book series for beginning writers “I Have a Story: Getting Started,” and her sophomore novel, the first of a trilogy, entitled “The Block.” In addition, production has begun on a series geared for Showtime television and preparations are being made for a South African book tour in the fall of 2014.

(1) “The Block” is such an intense read. What was your inspiration in writing in it? What has been the reader and critic response to it?
The Block” was inspired by a particular neighborhood in Detroit – not knocking Detroit, but this particular neighborhood was one where sheets adorned the windows, the roofs were caved in, porches broken, stripped paint, fire damage, dirt lawns and trash everywhere. However, the poetry in the view was the music playing loudly, people hanging out on the porches of these, supposed, uninhabitable homes. The children playing looked happy. The people looked content and settled.

It was clear the occupants had ‘leaned into’ their circumstances, environment and their lives. But what were their lives? My brain immediately came up with a synopsis of what I was seeing, put it on steroids and then the voices began telling me their story… Hence, the conception of “The Block.”

Readers and critics have been moved by the story. The rollercoaster ride, the book sends the reader on, exercises every emotion available. Some feel extremely sad by some areas because “The Block” is seen through the eyes of the children and not flashbacks from adults. It’s funny, dramatic, harsh, but most of all it’s real, truthful and unfortunately happens in almost every neighborhood, town, city, state and country. Readers enjoyed and cringe from the rawness. However, overall, most had a hard time getting through the first 3 chapters but couldn’t put the book down after that and are eagerly awaiting the sequel. That excites me.

(2) You mentioned that “The Block” is the first of a trilogy. While you may not want to divulge any secrets, what should we expect?
Jaw dropping revelations! Getting a sense of who these characters are and what you “believe” their circumstances were, was what book one was geared to do. However, “The Block: Truth Revealed,” the sequel, will give you the real truths behind everyone and introduce the parents in a tangible way. However, the danger that lurks throughout book 2 will be felt until the end.

The final installment “The Block: The Labyrinth,” will be the ultimate revelation of what the block really is and how the lives of so many have truly never been their own. Everyone won’t make it to book 3 and some may not make it out of book 2. You’ll have to read to find out!

(3) With this era of books being turned into movies, especially trilogies and other series, are you planning anything beyond the printed word for “The Block“?
Yes. My intention is to mold it into a TV series, then movie and possibly a stage play. It has layers and legs that could and would inspire, move and engage society as a whole.

(4) You have so many interests – acting, modeling, ghost-writing, internet radio host, shoes (!) – how do you find the time to write for yourself? What is your writing process like?
I write on my phone a lot! Between my notepad and voice recordings, there are tons of notes. However, they’re not all geared towards one project. Oftentimes, I find myself awakened in the middle of the night by a voice…loud thought and I begin to night write in the dark. I never turn on the lights. In the morning I’ll read what I wrote and place it in my project folder, for whichever project it’s for. I write while I’m shopping, watching TV, in the movies, at dinner, out with friends, it doesn’t really turn off. Everything I see is inspiring.

The more I tap into that side of myself, the better my writing will become.

My writing process isn’t complicated. I write when my characters speak. If they have something to say, I write it. My job is to tell their story not my version of their story.

Patience is essential. However, I’m creating scenarios all the time for the story but the characters determine where the story is going and when.

(5) What is the process like for promoting your books? As a self-published author, what did you do to get the word out?
Arduous — I definitely prefer going the publishing house route. The work is on them and I show up. However, social media plays an enormous part of promoting. I made a valiant effort to stay connected to the fans who reached out and who continue to reach out from my first release “Inside A Thug’s Heart.” Those loyal fans where some of the first to purchase “The Block,” my poetry book “My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships,” and “I have a Story” which helps anyone trying to get started writing. I’ve also been interviewed by several internet blogs and magazines. Word of mouth has been amazing too!

(6) What is on your bookshelf (or your e-reader)? What are you reading and enjoying? Any favorite authors?
I’m a bookie! LOL! I love the physical copy. I love Eckhart Tolle, Danièle Bott, Terry
McMillan, Sister Souljah (Coldest Winter Ever), Russell Simmons, Dr. Seuss, Gary Zuvak, Rick Johnson, and many more. My book collection is as eclectic as everything else in my world. I’m currently rereading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” because I got so much from it the first time. I highly recommend it to everyone!

The Block by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, April 3, 2013, Paperback

Five children, Robert, Troy, Reigna, Tina and Kora are trapped inside a labyrinth known as “The Block.” The inner workings of these children’s minds are released as we follow them from age ten to eighteen. Experiencing their journey through their struggle to cope, comprehend, and develop while dealing with extreme neglect, physical, mental, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse. They’re looking for love, all wanting something more, and all trying to figure a way out of their unfortunate circumstances. Born into a “no chance of a childhood” reality, they find each other, forming an alliance against the ills that plague them all. The Block will awaken the very core of the reader. It’s true to life scenarios and graphic dialog will send waves of discomfort, lending extreme compassion to the plights of the children.

Inside A Thug’s Heart by Angela Ardis
Dafina, August 1, 2009, Paperback

Rikers Island is the centerpiece of the New York City Department of Corrections, a sprawling prison city of concrete and steel with housing for more than 16,000 inmates. Early in 1995, it was also the temporary home of legendary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, incarcerated for a crime he swore he did not commit. And it was there that Angela Ardis, acting on a late-night wager among her friends and coworkers, sent a letter, along with a photo and her phone number. To her utter delight and amazement, Angela’s phone rang a short while later. Tupac Shakur was on the line.

Over the next several months, Angela and Tupac shared a near-daily exchange of letters, poems and phone calls, and their the relationship quickly grew into something neither of them could quite define, a kinship of souls that touched each in unexpected ways. Those original poems and letters, many of them written after Tupac’s transfer from Rikers to Dannemora State Prison, are presented here, along with the increasingly passionate and personal phone calls that touched on every subject imaginable. Far from the media spotlight, Tupac was by turns playful, sensual and serious, offering sharp observations on prison, music and the uncertainties of life. His letters to Angela reflect how he felt about being shot five times and left for dead one terrible night in New York in 1994, and his heartfelt verse encapsulates his dreams for the future–a future that would be so tragically cut short just over eighteen months after their correspondence began.

Tupac Shakur was shot on September 7th, 1996 and died a week later from his injuries. His murder remains unsolved, an ending as enigmatic as his life. But while Tupac may be gone, his words live on here, giving every fan a rare glimpse inside the mind and unbroken spirit of a passionate and unpredictable musical icon.

My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships (Volume 1) by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 8, 2013, Paperback

A lifetime of experiences, trials and tribulations, heartaches and joy, drama and pain mixed with lessons learned. A real perspective to life through analogies and poetic expression. Nothing like you’ve ever read before. No mixed words or sugar coated verbiage. Lightly illustrated. Contains some adult language.

I Have A Story: Getting Started (Volume 1) by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, June 14, 2013, Paperback

After receiving hundreds of emails and letters from people asking me how to get started writing their books, I decided to put together a “petite” book series that will do just that. I Have A Story book series gives potential authors a P.S. version to writing without getting stuck with a barrage of verbiage. As they complete each volume, they will begin to see their ideas come to life on the pages of their soon-to-be publications. Volume One will help you formulate the idea then break it down in an effort to rebuild it as the story you envision.

March: Book One by John Lewis

Georgia Congressman John Lewis is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.

Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis‘ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis‘ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.” Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.

Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall

Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World
Carla Hall (Author), Frances Janisch (Photographer), Genevieve Ko (Contributor)

For Carla Hall, co-host of ABC’s The Chew, food is a wonderful way to forge connections with and between people. In her delicious new cookbook, Carla’s Comfort Foods, she finds inspiration by going around the world in search of the universal home-cooked flavors of comfort. Spinning standbys into distinctive new recipes, she combines the beloved flavors of home with the most delectable, enticing spices and tastes of international cuisine. Carla starts with your essential recipe for perfect all-American burgers; from there, you can choose to do them up Persian-style with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, lime, and fragrant spices; or give them a Vietnamese twist with pickled veggies, scallions, ginger, and cilantro; or take your burgers to Morocco with gutsy spices, chiles, and feta cheese.

Full of Carla’s entertaining stories, the book shows how seasoning can transform any simple recipe. A comprehensive spice and flavor guide lets you chart your own course in the kitchen by turning your favorite go-to dish into a culinary trip around the world. In recipes that reflect her own vivacious personality, Carla takes you from Southern Chicken with Milk Gravy to West African Spicy- Sweet Chicken Stew; from German Double-Mustard Potato Salad to Moroccan Spice-Rubbed Beef Roast to Indian Chile, Pea, and Coconut Chutney; and from Southern Peach Cobbler to Greek Baklava. We all need an aromatic bowl of chicken soup from time to time; with Carla’s Comfort Foods, you can perk it up Italian-style with fresh basil and oregano; or have a taste of India with cilantro, curry, cumin, and turmeric; for a Caribbean treat, make it fragrant with lime, thyme, and cayenne pepper.

From Nashville to Naples to Nigeria, nothing gathers friends and family around the table like the flavors of home. Now you can hug your friends and family with Carla’s incredibly flavorful takes on creamy soups and noodles, fragrant stews and dumplings, and mouthwatering pastries, pies, and tarts. Join Carla for a delicious journey!

Back Home with the Neelys: Comfort Food from Our Southern Kitchen to Yours

Back Home with the Neelys: Comfort Food from Our Southern Kitchen to Yours
by Pat Neely (Author), Gina Neely (Author), Ann Volkwein (Author)

For Pat and Gina Neely the secret to a truly happy home is a lively mix of food and family. In their new book, the best-selling authors draw on their down-home roots and revisit the classic Southern recipes that have been passed down through generations. We’re drawn into the kitchens of their mothers and grandmothers and back to a time when produce was picked in the backyard garden and catfish was caught on afternoon fishing trips with Grandpa. In their signature style, Pat and Gina have taken the dishes they were raised on and updated them for today’s kitchens.

Inside you’ll find 100 recipes, including Small Batch Strawberry Jam (best when eaten with Easy Buttermilk and Cream Biscuits), Bourbon French Toast, Crunchy Fried Okra, Skillet Corn Bread, Grilled Succotash, Skillet Roasted Chicken, and Brunswick Stew (which combines a little of everything in your fridge).

Pat and Gina believe good food leads to good times and Back Home with the Neelys is sure to bring back fond memories of the tradition, history, and flavors that are present in every family.

Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple by Russell Simmons

Master entrepreneur, original hip-hop mogul, and New York Times bestselling author Russell Simmons shares the most fundamental key to success — meditation — and guides readers to use stillness as a powerful tool to access their potential.

In the New York Times bestseller Super Rich, Russell Simmons proved that to be rich is more than just having money in the bank — wealth is about balance, joy, and conscientious living.

In Success Through Stillness, Simmons shows the connection between inner peace and outward success through interviews with other successful leaders in various industries, and how learning to be still has been instrumental in his own career. Simmons attributes his meditation practice with changing his life for the better and says that there is no “bad” way to meditate, only different forms for different people.

In this highly anticipated new book, Russell Simmons guides readers into finding greater clarity and focus, and explains how to be healthier in both mind and body. Simmons’ breaks down what he’s learned from masters of meditation into a guide that is accessible to those unfamiliar with the practice.

Ebony Magazine cover, March 2014

Ebony Magazine’s Book Choices for March 2014

Ebony Magazine’s March 2014 book selections:

Red Now and Laters: A Novel
Marcus J. Guillory

In this impressive debut Marcus J. Guillory brilliantly weaves together the many obstacles of a young man growing into adulthood, the realities of urban life, the history of Louisiana Creole culture, the glory of the black cowboy, and the role of religion in shaping lives.

South Park, Houston, Texas, 1977, is where we first meet Ti’ John, a young boy under the care of his larger-than life father — a working-class rodeo star and a practitioner of vodou—and his mother — a good Catholic and cautious disciplinarian — who forbids him to play with the neighborhood “hoodlums.” Ti’ John, throughout the era of Reaganomics and the dawn of hip-hop and cassette tapes, must negotiate the world around him and a peculiar gift he’s inherited from his father and Jules Saint-Pierre “Nonc” Sonnier, a deceased ancestor who visits the boy, announcing himself with the smell of smoke on a regular basis. In many ways, Ti’ John is an ordinary kid who loses his innocence as he witnesses violence and death, as he gets his heart broken by girls and his own embittered father, as he struggles to live up to his mother’s middle-class aspirations and his father’s notion of what it is to be a man. In other ways, he is different — from his childhood buddies and from the father who is his hero.

The question throughout this layered and complex coming-of-age story is will Ti’ John survive the bad side of life — and his upbringing — and learn how to recognize and keep what is good.

Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South
Blain Roberts

From the South’s pageant queens to the importance of beauty parlors to African American communities, it is easy to see the ways beauty is enmeshed in southern culture. But as Blain Roberts shows in this incisive work, the pursuit of beauty in the South was linked to the tumultuous racial divides of the region, where the Jim Crow-era cosmetics industry came of age selling the idea of makeup that emphasized whiteness, and where, in the 1950s and 1960s, black-owned beauty shops served as crucial sites of resistance for civil rights activists. In these times of strained relations in the South, beauty became a signifier of power and affluence while it reinforced racial strife.

Roberts examines a range of beauty products, practices, and rituals–cosmetics, hairdressing, clothing, and beauty contests–in settings that range from tobacco farms of the Great Depression to 1950s and 1960s college campuses. In so doing, she uncovers the role of female beauty in the economic and cultural modernization of the South. By showing how battles over beauty came to a head during the civil rights movement, Roberts sheds new light on the tactics southerners used to resist and achieve desegregation.

Saint Monkey: A Novel
Jacinda Townsend

A stunning debut novel of two girls raised in hardship, separated by fortune, and reunited through tragedy.

Fourteen-year-old Audrey Martin, with her Poindexter glasses and her head humming the 3/4 meter of gospel music, knows she’ll never get out of Kentucky — but when her fingers touch the piano keys, the whole church trembles. Her best friend, Caroline, daydreams about Hollywood stardom, but both girls feel destined to languish in a slow-moving stopover town in Montgomery County.

That is, until chance intervenes and a booking agent offers Audrey a ticket to join the booming jazz scene in Harlem — an offer she can’t resist, not even for Caroline. And in New York City the music never stops. Audrey flirts with love and takes the stage at the Apollo, with its fast-dancing crowds and blinding lights. But fortunes can turn fast in the city — young talent means tough competition, and for Audrey failure is always one step away. Meanwhile, Caroline sinks into the quiet anguish of a Black woman in a backwards country, where her ambitions and desires only slip further out of reach.

Jacinda Townsend’s remarkable first novel is a coming-of-age story made at once gripping and poignant by the wild energy of the Jazz Era and the stark realities of segregation. Marrying musical prose with lyric vernacular, Saint Monkey delivers a stirring portrait of American storytelling and marks the appearance of an auspicious new voice in literary fiction.

The Secret of Magic
Deborah Johnson

In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.

Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.

As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past.The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.

The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery
Sarah Lewis

It is one of the enduring enigmas of the human experience: many of our most iconic, creative endeavors — from Nobel Prize-winning discoveries to entrepreneurial inventions and works in the arts — are not achievements but conversions, corrections after failed attempts.

The gift of failure is a riddle. Like the number zero, it will always be both a void and the start of infinite possibility. The Rise — a soulful celebration of the determination and courage of the human spirit — makes the case that many of our greatest triumphs come from understanding the importance of this mystery.

This exquisite biography of an idea is about the improbable foundations of creative human endeavor. The Rise begins with narratives about figures past and present who range from writers to entrepreneurs; Frederick Douglass, Samuel F. B. Morse, and J. K. Rowling, for example, feature alongside choreographer Paul Taylor, Nobel Prize-winning physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, Arctic explorer Ben Saunders, and psychology professor Angela Duckworth.

The Rise explores the inestimable value of often ignored ideas — the power of surrender for fortitude, the criticality of play for innovation, the propulsion of the near win on the road to mastery, and the importance of grit and creative practice. From an uncommonly insightful writer, The Rise is a true masterwork.

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

The Harlem Hellfighters
by Max Brooks (Author), Caanan White (Illustrator)

Broadway Books, April 1, 2014, Paperback

From bestselling author Max Brooks, the riveting story of the highly decorated, barrier-breaking, historic black regiment — the Harlem Hellfighters

In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and winning countless decorations. Though they returned as heroes, this African American unit faced tremendous discrimination, even from their own government. The Harlem Hellfighters, as the Germans called them, fought courageously on — and off — the battlefield to make Europe, and America, safe for democracy.

In THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS, bestselling author Max Brooks and acclaimed illustrator Caanan White bring this history to life. From the enlistment lines in Harlem to the training camp at Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the trenches in France, they tell the heroic story of the 369th in an action-packed and powerful tale of honor and heart.

Essence Magazine Cover, February 2014

Essence Magazine’s Black History Month Book Choices — February 2014

Essence Magazine’s February 2014 book selections for Black History Month:

Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America

Tonya Bolden

Sarah Rector was once famously hailed as “”the richest black girl in America.” Set against the backdrop of American history, her tale encompasses the creation of Indian Territory, the making of Oklahoma, and the establishment of black towns and oil-rich boomtowns. Rector acquired her fortune at the age of eleven. This is both her story and that of children just like her: one filled with ups and downs amid bizarre goings-on and crimes perpetrated by greedy and corrupt adults. From a trove of primary documents, including court and census records and interviews with family members, author Tonya Bolden painstakingly pieces together the events of Sarah’s life and the lives of those around her.

American Cocktail: A Colored Girl in the World
Anita Reynolds

This is the rollicking, never-before-published memoir of a fascinating woman with an uncanny knack for being in the right place in the most interesting times. Of racially mixed heritage, Anita Reynolds was proudly African American but often passed for Indian, Mexican, or Creole. Actress, dancer, model, literary critic, psychologist, but above all free-spirited provocateur, she was, as her Parisian friends nicknamed her, an American cocktail. One of the first black stars of the silent era, she appeared in Hollywood movies with Rudolph Valentino, attended Charlie Chaplin’s anarchist meetings, and studied dance with Ruth St. Denis. She moved to New York in the 1920s and made a splash with both Harlem Renaissance elites and Greenwich Village bohemians. An émigré in Paris, she fell in with the Left Bank avant garde, befriending Antonin Artaud, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso. Next, she took up residence as a journalist in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and witnessed firsthand the growing menace of fascism. In 1940, as the Nazi panzers closed in on Paris, Reynolds spent the final days before the French capitulation as a Red Cross nurse, afterward making a mad dash for Lisbon to escape on the last ship departing Europe.

The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era
Douglas R. Egerton

By 1870, just five years after Confederate surrender and thirteen years after the Dred Scott decision ruled blacks ineligible for citizenship, Congressional action had ended slavery and given the vote to black men. That same year, Hiram Revels and Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African-American U.S. senator and congressman respectively. In South Carolina, only twenty years after the death of arch-secessionist John C. Calhoun, a black man, Jasper J. Wright, took a seat on the state’s Supreme Court. Not even the most optimistic abolitionists had thought such milestones would occur in their lifetimes. The brief years of Reconstruction marked the United States’ most progressive moment prior to the civil rights movement. This history explores the state and local politics and tracing the struggles of some fifteen hundred African-American officeholders, in both the North and South, who fought entrenched white resistance.

Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South
David Beasley

On December 9, 1938, the state of Georgia executed six black men in eighty-one  minutes in  Tattnall Prison’s electric chair. The executions were a record for the state that still stands today. The new prison, built with funds from FDR’s New Deal, as well as the fact that the men were tried and executed rather than lynched were thought to be a sign of progress. They were anything but. While those men were arrested, convicted, sentenced, and executed in as little as six weeks—E. D. Rivers, the governor of the state, oversaw a pardon racket for white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration, and bankrupted the state. Race and wealth were all that determined whether or not a man lived or died. There was no progress. There was no justice. A harrowing true story of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the violent death throes of the Klan, but most of all it is the story of the stunning injustice of these executions and how they have seared distrust of the legal system into the consciousness of the Deep South.

Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear
Aram Goudsouzian

In 1962, James Meredith became a civil rights hero when he enrolled as the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. Four years later, he would make the news again when he reentered Mississippi, on foot. His plan was to walk from Memphis to Jackson, leading a “March Against Fear” that would promote black voter registration and defy the entrenched racism of the region. But on the march’s second day, he was shot by a mysterious gunman, a moment captured in a harrowing and now iconic photograph.
What followed was one of the central dramas of the civil rights era. With Meredith in the hospital, the leading figures of the civil rights movement flew to Mississippi to carry on his effort. They quickly found themselves confronting southern law enforcement officials, local activists, and one another. In the span of only three weeks, Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a vicious mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and the charismatic young activist Stokely Carmichael first led the chant that would define a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power. 
Aram Goudsouzian’s Down to the Crossroads is the story of the last great march of the King era, and the first great showdown of the turbulent years that followed. Depicting rural demonstrators’ courage and the impassioned debates among movement leaders, Goudsouzian reveals the legacy of an event that would both integrate African Americans into the political system and inspire even bolder protests against it. Full of drama and contemporary resonances, this book is civil rights history at its best.

Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr.
David L. Chappell

A sweeping history of the struggle to keep the civil rights movement alive and to realize King’s vision of an equal society.   In this arresting and groundbreaking account, David L. Chappell reveals that, far from coming to an abrupt end with King’s murder, the civil rights movement entered a new phase. It both grew and splintered. These were years when decisive, historic victories were no longer within reach—the movement’s achievements were instead hard-won, and their meanings unsettled. From the fight to pass the Fair Housing Act in 1968, to debates over unity and leadership at the National Black Political Conventions, to the campaign for full-employment legislation, to the surprising enactment of the Martin Luther King holiday, to Jesse Jackson’s quixotic presidential campaigns, veterans of the movement struggled to rally around common goals. Chappell chronicles the difficulties the movement encountered while working to build coalitions, pass legislation, and mobilize citizens in the absence of King’s galvanizing leadership. Could the civil rights coalition stay together as its focus shifted from public protests to congressional politics? Did the movement need a single, charismatic leader to succeed King, and who would that be? As the movement’s leaders pushed forward, they continually looked back, struggling to define King’s legacy and harness his symbolic power.

Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-first Century
Monique W. Morris

A comprehensive guide filled with contemporary facts and figures on African Americans—is an essential reference for anyone attempting to fathom the complex state of our nation. With fascinating and often surprising information on everything from incarceration rates, lending practices, and the arts to marriage, voting habits, and green jobs, the contextualized material in this book will better attune readers to telling trends while challenging commonly held, yet often misguided, perceptions. A compilation that at once highlights measures of incredible progress and enumerates the disparate impacts of social policies and practices, this book is a critical tool for advocates, educators, and policy makers.

Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music
Angelique Kidjo

Grammy Award-winning singer Angélique Kidjo is known for her electrifying voice and fearless advocacy work. In this intimate memoir, she reveals how she escaped Communist Africa to make her dreams a reality, and how she’s prompting others all around the world to reach for theirs as well. Born in the West African nation of Benin, Angélique Kidjo grew up surrounded by the rich sounds, rhythms, and storytelling of traditional Beninese culture. When the Communists took over, they silenced her dynamic culture and demanded that she sing in praise of them. Angélique reveals the details of her dangerous escape into France, and how she rose from poverty to become a Grammy Award–winning artist and an international sensation at the top of Billboard’s World Albums chart. She also explains why it’s important to give back by sharing stories from her work as a UNICEF ambassador and as founder of the Batonga Foundation, which gives African girls access to education.
Desmond Tutu has contributed the foreword to this remarkable volume; Alicia Keys has provided an introduction. Her eloquent, inspiring narrative is paired with more than one hundred colorful photographs documenting Angélique’s life and experiences, as well as a sampling of recipes that has sustained her on her remarkable odyssey.

Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman



Gotham,
March 4, 2014,
Hardcover


The New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness delivers the first all-encompassing account of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of professional sports’ most-revered — and dominant — dynasties.

The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s personified the flamboyance and excess of the decade over which they reigned. Beginning with the arrival of Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the number-one overall pick of the 1979 draft, the Lakers played basketball with gusto and pizzazz, unleashing their famed “Showtime” run-and-gun style on a league unprepared for their speed and ferocity — and became the most captivating show in sports and, arguably, in all-around American entertainment. The Lakers’ roster overflowed with exciting all-star-caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and they were led by the incomparable Pat Riley, known for his slicked-back hair, his Armani suits, and his arrogant strut. Hollywood’s biggest celebrities lined the court and gorgeous women flocked to the arena. Best of all, the team was a winner. Between 1980 and 1991, the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them.

Bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman draws from almost three hundred interviews to take the first full measure of the Lakers’ epic Showtime era. A dazzling account of one of America’s greatest sports sagas, Showtime is packed with indelible characters, vicious rivalries, and jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes stories of the players’ decadent Hollywood lifestyles.

From the Showtime era’s remarkable rise to its tragic end — marked by Magic Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he had contracted HIV — Showtime is a gripping narrative of sports, celebrity, and 1980s-style excess.

The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style by Nelson George



William Morrow,
March 25, 2014,
Hardcover
An authoritative history of the groundbreaking syndicated television show that has become an icon of American pop culture, from acclaimed author and filmmaker Nelson George, “the most accomplished black music critic of his generation” (Washington Post Book World).

When it debuted in October 1971, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African-Americans and the sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, the show’s producer and host, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Christine Aguilera and R. Kelly; Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block and Stevie Wonder.

The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this pop culture phenomenon that appealed not only to blacks, but to a wide crossover audience as well. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Cornelius himself share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time — a period of extraordinary social and political change. Colorful and pulsating, The Hippest Trip In America is a fascinating portrait of a revered cultural institution that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness.

Suspicion Nation by Lisa Bloom



Counterpoint,
February 25, 2014,
Hardcover

Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It by Lisa Bloom

What went wrong behind the scenes in the Trayvon Martin case? Why does America endure so many tragic shootings like this one? These are the questions at the heart of Suspicion Nation.

Bestselling author, trial attorney, and NBC News analyst Lisa Bloom covered the murder trial and was appalled by what she witnessed. Bloom now exposes the injustice, conducting new in-depth interviews with key trial participants and digging deeper into the evidence. Suspicion Nation outlines the six biggest mistakes made by the state of Florida that guaranteed it would lose this “winnable case,” and the laws and biases that created the conditions for this tragedy.

The only nonwhite juror tells her story of painful isolation in the jury room. Rachel Jeantel, the state’s star witness, reveals how poorly the state prepared her to testify and what went through her mind on the stand. The medical examiner reveals scientific evidence he wasn’t allowed to present. And a new examination of Trayvon’s school suspensions raises questions about racial profiling, all in a country divided over issues of race, gun laws, and violence.

Suspicion Nation is a riveting courtroom drama that shines a bright light on a case we only thought we knew.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Donald Yacovone



Hardcover
October 1, 2013
SmileyBooks
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is the companion book to the six-part, six hour documentary of the same name, airing on national, primetime public television in the fall of 2013. The series is the first to air since 1968 that chronicles the full sweep of 500 years of African American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent and the arrival of the first black conquistador, Juan Garrido, in Florida in 1513, through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to today—when Barack Obama is serving his second term as President, yet our country remains deeply divided by race and class.

The book explores these topics in even more detail than possible in the television series, and examines many other fascinating matters as well, such as the ethnic origins — and the regional and cultural diversit — of the Africans whose enslavement led to the creation of the African American people. It delves into the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives that African Americans have created in the half a millennium since their African ancestors first arrived on these shores. Like the television series, this book guides readers on an engaging journey through the Black Atlantic world — from Africa and Europe to the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States — to shed new light on what it has meant, and means, to be an African American.

By highlighting the complex internal debates and class differences within the Black Experience in this country, readers will learn that the African American community, which black abolitionist Martin R. Delany described as a “nation within a nation,” has never been a truly uniform entity, and that its members have been debating their differences of opinion and belief from their very first days in this country. The road to freedom for black people in America has not been linear; rather, much like the course of a river, it has been full of loops and eddies, slowing and occasionally reversing current. Ultimately, this book emphasizes the idea that African American history encompasses multiple continents and venues, and must be viewed through a transnational perspective to be fully understood.

Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry



Hardcover
April 8, 2014
Ten Speed Press
African, Caribbean, and southern food are all known and loved as vibrant and flavor-packed cuisines. In Afro-Vegan, renowned chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry reworks and remixes the favorite staples, ingredients, and classic dishes of the African Diaspora to present wholly new, creative culinary combinations that will amaze vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike.

Blending these colorful cuisines results in delicious recipes like Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil, a recipe inspired by the Kenyan dish irio, and Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad with dried apricots, carrots, and almonds, which is based on a Moroccan tagine. Creamy Coconut-Cashew Soup with Okra, Corn, and Tomatoes pays homage to a popular Brazilian dish while incorporating classic Southern ingredients, and Crispy Teff and Grit Cakes with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peanuts combines the Ethiopian grain teff with stone-ground corn grits from the Deep South and North African zalook dip. There’s perfect potluck fare, such as the simple, warming, and intensely flavored Collard Greens and Cabbage with Lots of Garlic, and the Caribbean-inspired Cocoa Spice Cake with Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache, plus a refreshing Roselle-Rooibos Drink that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

With more than 100 modern and delicious dishes that draw on Terry’s personal memories as well as the history of food that has traveled from the African continent, Afro-Vegan takes you on an international food journey. Accompanying the recipes are Terry’s insights about building community around food, along with suggested music tracks from around the world and book recommendations. For anyone interested in improving their well-being, Afro-Vegan‘s groundbreaking recipes offer innovative, plant-based global cuisine that is fresh, healthy, and forges a new direction in vegan cooking.

Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms by Nicholas Johnson



Paperback
January 14, 2014
Prometheus Books
Chronicling the underappreciated black tradition of bearing arms for self-defense, this book presents an array of examples reaching back to the pre-Civil War era that demonstrate a willingness of African American men and women to use firearms when necessary to defend their families and communities. From Frederick Douglass‘s advice to keep “a good revolver” handy as defense against slave catchers to the armed self-protection of Monroe, North Carolina, blacks against the KKK chronicled in Robert Williams’s Negroes with Guns, it is clear that owning firearms was commonplace in the black community.

Nicholas Johnson points out that this story has been submerged because it is hard to reconcile with the dominant narrative of nonviolence during the civil rights era. His book, however, resolves that tension by showing how the black tradition of arms maintained and demanded a critical distinction between private self-defense and political violence.

Johnson also addresses the unavoidable issue of young black men with guns and the toll that gun violence takes on many in the inner city. He shows how complicated this issue is by highlighting the surprising diversity of views on gun ownership in the black community. In fact, recent Supreme Court affirmations of the right to bear arms resulted from cases led by black plaintiffs.

Surprising and informative, this well-researched book strips away many stock assumptions of conventional wisdom on the issue of guns and the black freedom struggle.

The Tiara: 5 Ways to Reign as Queen of Your Castle by Lakia Shauntee Brandenburg



Paperback
December 20, 2013
Perfectly Imperfect Publishing Company
Lakia fulfilled her journey by saying “I do.” Now she’s learning how to effectively communicate with her husband, love him, and keep their intimacy alive. But these lessons were not learned without a little help from an imaginary headpiece. For wives and wives-to-be, Lakia is back to present you with The Tiara, an acronym that details what a wife should do after saying, “I do.” In The Tiara, Lakia reveals five principles that will give a wife the power to strengthen the love, intimacy, and communication that she has with her spouse. Sharing personal stories and providing practical steps for any wife to follow, The Tiara is a must-read if you want to understand how to reign as queen of your castle.