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Ebony Magazine’s Book Features for August 2014

Ebony Magazine’s book selections for August 2014, featuring their “Great Book Club Finds” (Angela Burt-Murray’s “Games Divas Play,” Dwayne Alexander Smith’s “Forty Acres,” and Wayne Pharr’s “Nine Lives of a Black Panther: A Story of Survival,” Zane’s “The Other Side of the Pillow”):

Games Divas Play (A Diva Mystery Novel)

by Angela Burt-Murray

Thomas & Mercer
July 29, 2014
Paperback

An ambitious entertainment reporter, millionaire basketball player, desperate wife, scandalous groupie, and murderous stalker. Games Divas Play takes you inside the high-stakes world of professional sports, where everyone plays to win.

When Nia Bullock lands a job as editor-in-chief of the hot new magazine and web site DivaDish, she finds that her platinum dreams can quickly turn into a nightmare. Battling backstabbing colleagues and reeling from murderous threats, she must turn to an ex-boyfriend for help.

Vanessa King, the first lady of the NBA, is looking for a fresh start with her husband, Marcus, the new star point guard for the New York Gladiators who’s as popular with the ladies as he is with hoops fans. Since marrying her college sweetheart, Vanessa has learned to deal with life with a professional athlete — the groupies, the paparazzi, and the unchecked ego of a man the sports world puts on a pedestal.

When Laila James, self-proclaimed “Golden Goddess,” sets her sights on Marcus and shops a reality show based on their affair — and then a dangerous stalker threatens his family — Vanessa turns to her best friend Nia to save her marriage and her life.

In the first book in the Diva Mystery series, three women engage in a ruthless battle for love and the limelight, and soon learn what it really takes to stay on top.



Forty Acres: A Thriller

Dwayne Alexander Smith

Atria Books
July 1, 2014

What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’e accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all — no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions.

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery — but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.

A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

Nine Lives of a Black Panther: A Story of Survival
by Wayne Pharr

Chicago Review Press
July 1, 2014
Hardcover

In the early morning hours of December 8, 1969, three hundred officers of the newly created elite paramilitary tactical unit known as SWAT initiated a violent battle with a handful of Los Angeles-based members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). Five hours and five thousand rounds of ammunition later, three SWAT team members and three Black Panthers lay wounded. From a tactical standpoint, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) considered the encounter a disaster. For the Panthers and the community that supported them, the shootout symbolized a victory. A key contributor to that victory was the nineteen-year-old rank-and-file member of the BPP Wayne Pharr.

Nine Lives of a Black Panther tells Wayne’s riveting story of the Los Angeles branch of the BPP and gives a blow-by-blow account of how it prepared for and survived the massive military-style attack. Because of his dedication to the black liberation struggle, Wayne was hunted, beaten, and almost killed by the LAPD in four separate events. Here he reveals how the branch survived attacks such as these, and also why BPP cofounder Huey P. Newton expelled the entire Southern California chapter and deemed it “too dangerous to remain a part of the national organization.

The Los Angeles branch was the proving ground for some of the most beloved and colorful characters in Panther lore, including Bunchy Carter, Masai Hewitt, Geronimo “ji-Jaga” Pratt, and Elaine Brown. Nine Lives fills in a missing piece of Black Panther history, while making clear why black Los Angeles was home to two of the most devastating riots in the history of urban America. But it also eloquently relates one man’s triumph over police terror, internal warfare, and personal demons. It will doubtless soon take its place among the classics of black militant literature.

The Other Side of the Pillow
by Zane

Atria Books
August 5, 2014
Hardcover

The New York Times bestselling Queen of Erotica, Zane is back with a new novel about a testy love affair that emerges between a woman who’s had enough and a man who’s had it all.

Jemistry Daniels is a bitter woman and not trying to hide it. Even though she is beautiful, intelligent, and makes six figures a year as a high school principal in Washington, DC, one man after another has failed her. So she decides to give up and join the party by adapting the entire “friends with benefits” mentality with a couple of men that she beds on the regular but refuses to hold any kind of real conversation with, in fear that she might actually catch feelings.

Everything is going according to plan until she meets Dr. Tevin Harris, a prominent vascular surgeon, one night at a poetry slam. Tevin listens to her deliver her male-bashing poem and instead of steering away from her like most men with any common sense would do, he asks her out. Tevin has been casually dating for years, ever since his failed marriage to Estella. They had suffered several miscarriages and the emotional pain had become too much for either one of them to bear and still wake up with each other every morning.

Opening up, gaining trust, tearing down barriers, and ultimately, having the audacity to love again is not easy for either Jemistry or Tevin. It takes a lot of transparency, emotional honesty, and patience to even begin to build a life together by helping each other rebuild what has been broken. The Other Side of the Pillow examines, explores, and exposes what it means to truly fall in love. It proves that true love stories do not have a happy ending. True love stories never end at all.

Teach Me How to Fly by Alberta Lampkins

A.L. Savvy Publications
July 5, 2014
Paperback

“Settle down and take a journey through a heartrending story of faith, friendship and forgiveness as secrets unravel and the truth unfolds.”

Teach Me How to Fly is a true to life story of Jocelyn Hamilton, wife of a retired Army Sergeant Major and coffee shop owner in Buffalo, New York, and her friend, Angel Medina, a fashion clothing designer. Jocelyn sets out on a train ride headed from New York to Virginia. She is determined to find the truth behind a secret her mother never shared. Jocelyn thought she knew everything there was to know about her mother – that is until she received that phone call.

Jocelyn’s curiosity leads her back to her mother’s hometown of Martinsville, Virginia, to meet the one lady who can give her the answers she is looking for. While Jocelyn is busy putting the pieces of her life together, her friend, Angel Medina, is desperately seeking to keep her past tucked away. Angel soon comes face to face with the one person she hoped she would never see again. What happens to a broken soul left untreated? Can you escape what lies behind you? How do you learn to forgive? Jocelyn and Angel find strength through their unexpected friendship in Teach Me How Fly.

Rose Gold: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley

Doubleday
September 23, 2014
Hardcover

Rose Gold is two colors, one woman, and a big headache.

In this new mystery set in the Patty Hearst era of radical black nationalism and political abductions, a black ex-boxer self-named Uhuru Nolica, the leader of a revolutionary cell called Scorched Earth, has kidnapped Rosemary Goldsmith, the daughter of a weapons manufacturer, from her dorm at UC Santa Barbara. If they don’t receive the money, weapons, and apology they demand, “Rose Gold” will die — horribly and publicly. So the FBI, the State Department, and the LAPD turn to Easy Rawlins, the one man who can cross the necessary borders to resolve this dangerous standoff.

With twelve previous adventures since 1990, Easy Rawlins is one of the small handful of private eyes in contemporary crime fiction who can be called immortal.

Ebony Magazine’s Book Features for July 2014

Ebony Magazine’s book selections for July 2014, featuring their “Summer Must-Reads” (J.J. Murray’s “Until I Saw Your Smile,” Gillian Royes’ “The Sea Grape Tree,” and Tiphanie Yamique’s “Land of Love and Drowning”), Toni Braxton’s memoir “Unbreak My Heart,” and T.D. Jakes’ “Instinct”:

Michael Jackson, Inc.: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire

by Zack O’Malley Greenburg

Atria Books, June 3, 2014, Hardcover

The surprising rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story of how Michael Jackson grew a billion-dollar business.

Michael Jackson is known by many as the greatest entertainer of all time, but he was also a revolutionary when it came to business. In addition to famously buying the Beatles’ publishing catalogue, Jackson was one of the first pop stars to launch his own clothing line, record label, sneakers, and video games — creating a fundamental shift in the monetization of fame and paving the way for entertainer-entrepreneurs like Jay Z and Diddy. All told, Jackson earned more than $1.1 billion in his solo career, and the assets he built in life have earned more than $700 million in the five years since his death — more than any other solo music act over that time.

Michael Jackson, Inc. reveals the incredible rise, fall, and rise again of Michael Jackson’s fortune — driven by the unmatched perfectionism of the King of Pop. Forbes senior editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg uncovers never-before-told stories from interviews with more than 100 people, including music industry veterans Berry Gordy, John Branca, and Walter Yetnikoff; artists 50 Cent, Sheryl Crow, and Jon Bon Jovi; and members of the Jackson family. Other insights come from court documents and Jackson’s private notes, some of them previously unpublished. Through Greenburg’s novelistic telling, a clear picture emerges of Jackson’s early years, his rise to international superstardom, his decline — fueled by demons internal and external, as well as the dissolution of the team that helped him execute his best business moves — and, finally, his financial life after death.

Underlying Jackson’s unique history is the complex but universal tale of the effects of wealth and fame on the human psyche. A valuable case study for generations of entertainers to come and for anyone interested in show business, Michael Jackson, Inc. tells the story of a man whose financial feats, once obscured by his late-life travails, have become an enduring legacy.

Listen Out Loud: A Life in Music–Managing McCartney, Madonna, and Michael Jackson

Ron Weisner

Lyons Press, June 3, 2014, Hardcover

Even hardcore music fans don’t know the name Ron Weisner . . . but they should. A high-powered manager for over four decades, Ron worked alongside Madonna, Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Gladys Knight, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, and, most notably, Michael Jackson. He saw the King of Pop through his game-changing multi-platinum albums Thriller and Off the Wall. He watched M.J.’s prickly father Joe run roughshod over both his son and industry execs. He fought back as the industry tried to steer Jackson in a musical direction that would have derailed his career. And he saw Michael suffer through devastating press coverage that turned the troubled singer’s world upside down.

Featuring an introduction from Quincy Jones and commentary from Winwood, Knight, and some behind-the-scenes record label power brokers, Weisner’s illuminating memoir Listen Out Loud underscores the destructive changes to the industry during his forty-year career, including the shift in focus from artistic integrity to the pursuit of cold hard numbers. It’s an intimate glimpse into the music world from a man with a keen eye, sharp ears, and a big heart.

Until I Saw Your Smile by J.J. Murray

Kensington, May 27, 2014, Paperback

At Smith’s Sweet Treats and Coffee, you’ll find Brooklyn’s best house blend and the freshest homemade pastries. It’s more than a business to owner Angela Smith. It’s her home and her refuge–one she stands to lose thanks to her gouging landlord. Then a new regular offers to cover her rent increase if Angela lets him meet his clients there. If Matthew McConnell weren’t such a persuasive lawyer–and so sweet, funny, and sexy–she wouldn’t dream of letting him in.

Since he left a high-paying, soul-sucking legal firm to go solo, Matthew has been striking out, professionally and personally. The best part of his love life is regaling Angela with date-from-hell stories over steaming, fragrant coffee. Behind her captivating smile is a smart, sensual woman he’d love to get close to. And when a secret from her past is suddenly exposed, he gets a chance to prove he’s the man she needs, in every way that matters. . .

The Sea Grape Tree: A Novel (Shad Myers)
Gillian Royes

Atria Books, July 1, 2014, Paperback

Set in a sun-kissed Caribbean paradise, this third book in the Shad detective series explores a love triangle gone wrong — and how class divisions create a perfect storm of trouble.

Sarah, a talented but shy artist from England, arrives at the perfect getaway — a small fishing village in Largo Bay, Jamaica. There she falls in love with Danny, a wealthy investor with a hotel in Largo Bay. Soon Sarah runs afoul of her host as well as Danny’s local lover, and her fate, as well as that of Danny’s hotel, become endangered.

Meanwhile, Shad Myers — bartender by trade, investigator by vocation, and unofficial sheriff of Largo Bay — has another set of problems to solve, alongside his friend Eric, an American who owns the bar. The two friends entertain a new potential investor in their quest to rebuild their hotel left in ruins by a hurricane. Eric wants to make Shad a partner in the business, not just a worker. But first the two must overcome the class divisions that make it difficult for local partners in the business to accept Shad’s new, more important role.

With a delicious blend of suspense and soul, The Sea Grape Tree explores the class divisions in Jamaica — and what happens when a love triangle becomes life threatening. Gillian Royes once again delivers a vivid, thought-provoking novel with passion and punch that is sure to leave her fans wanting more.

Land of Love and Drowning: A Novel by Tiphanie Yanique

Riverhead Hardcover, July 10, 2014, Hardcover

A major debut from an award-winning writer—an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands.

In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garci­a Marquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.

The African-American Guide to Divorce & Drama: Breaking Up Without Breaking Down
by Lester L. Barclay

Khari Publishing Ltd, June 27, 2013, Hardcover

The first-ever comprehensive book on divorce tailored specifically for the black community, The African-American Guide to Divorce & Drama is a 277-page guide that skillfully shepherds readers through the often painful process of separation and divorce, while seeking to minimize the “drama” and trauma for them and their children. Its message focuses primarily on divorce and non-marital separation, alongside custody, visitation, child support, financial disputes, and related issues in the context of African-American cultural and social realities.

Get Married This Year: 365 Days to “I Do” by Dr. Janet Blair Page

Adams Media, December 18, 2011, Hardcover

Forget waiting for Mr. Right! You can go out and find “The One” yourself when you follow this plan. Celebrated relationship expert Dr. Janet Blair Page has distilled the very best of her acclaimed dating class at Emory University — the one covered by CNN, FOX, Good Morning America, and The Early Show — into this one-of-a-kind book. She’s helped bring thousands of singles true love — and now it’s your turn!

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison
Nell Bernstein

New Press, The June 3, 2014, Hardcover

When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to Mace, denied a shower for twenty-four hours, and then locked in solitary confinement for a month.

One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults.

Bernstein introduces us to youth across the nation who have suffered violence and psychological torture at the hands of the state. She presents these youths all as fully realized people, not victims. As they describe in their own voices their fight to maintain their humanity and protect their individuality in environments that would deny both, these young people offer a hopeful alternative to the doomed effort to reform a system that should only be dismantled.

Burning Down the House is a clarion call to shut down our nation’s brutal and counterproductive juvenile prisons and bring our children home.

Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

Forge Books
June 10, 2014

Along the ever changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, seventeen year old Monique Darson is found dead at a condominium construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished unit. Homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton’s new partner, Colin Taggert, fresh from the comparatively bucolic Colorado Springs police department, assumes it’s a teenage suicide. Lou isn’t buying the easy explanation.

For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self made millionaire. . .and the man who may have murdered Lou’s missing sister, Tori, thirty years ago. As Lou investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases. But her department is skeptical. Lou is convinced that when she solves Monique’s case she will finally bring her lost sister home. But as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. After all this time, can he be brought to justice. . .before Lou becomes his next victim?

Rise from the Ashes by Herbert A. Brown, Jr.







Xulon Press
January 14, 2014

God called on Herbert A. Brown, Jr. to write this book. God blessed him with writing skills to communicate God’s word and will to the people during the current stressful economic times and turmoil in the world.

As this is Herbert’s fourth published book, Herbert again called on God to use him as a vehicle to reach as many people as possible who feel like their lives are in the ashes and they feel like there is no way out. Further, Herbert wrote this book for the many people who have experienced lows in their lives because of being laid off from work, divorce, addictions, abuse, family turmoil, legal problems, illness and other troubles we all face.

Herbert wrote this book to let everyone know that no matter how dark and hopeless our lives appear to be from time to time there is always the light of God to lead us out of our current situation. God can help us overcome the most extreme negative situations and rise to live abundant and fulfilling lives.

Poetry to God by Terry Webb

Lord Please Hear the Cry presents a collection of verses that draw upon a personal spiritual journey to offer testimony to the redemptive nature of faith. After years of struggling with his addictions, author Terry Webb turned his life over to the care of God and invited the Lord Jesus into his heart. God has been in the midst of his deepest struggles and has now restored everything in Terry’s life that was lost in his addiction. His poem, “You’re Never Alone” recounts God’s assurance of care and protection in even the most difficult of circumstances: You never cry alone, my child, For when you cry, I do . . . Although this life may bring you pain, My child, just trust in me, And if you will obey my word, I’ll give you victory! Several poems offer praise to God, while in “The Heavens Glory of God” celebrates the beauty of God’s divine creation: Enveloped in beauty, the silence of night, Sprinkled with stars in Heaven bright. In cloudless skies, the shimmering, The Heavenly stars are rendering. The glory of God, crisp and clear, His wondrous glory far, but near. Let Poetry to God move your heart and soul, and draw closer to the Lord!
“No Fault Found” presents a collection of Spiritual inspirational poems and verses that draw upon a personal spiritual journey to offer testimony to the redemptive nature of faith. After years of sruggling with his addictions, author Terry Webb turned his life over to the care of God and invited the Lord Jesus into his heart. God has been in the midst of his deepest struggles and has now restored everything in Terry’s life that was lost in his addiction. In even the most difficult of circumstances, you’re never alone because God is there
Into Thine Hands is a vast collection of spiritual, uplifting, and empowering poems that will infuse your spirit and revitalize your mind! This book of inspirational poems will encourage the soul, heart, and mind. It is all about life, challenges, and trials with our Creator, God Almighty. You will find overwhelming comfort here in this book of inspirational poetry. Some of the poems are true-life experiences, but all of them are written to keep your heart, soul, and mind on the things of God. In even the most difficult of circumstances, you’re never alone because God is there.
Prison Praise is a vast collection of spiritual, uplifting, and empowering poems written by a man doing time in state prison. This book of poetry Includes cries from behind the wall and love letters from prison. Each poem will encourage your heart, soul, and mind and keep you focused on the things of God. Overwhelming comfort can also be found here in this book of inspirational poetry. All of the poems are true-life experiences written by Terry Webb while doing time in a California state prison, keeping his heart and mind on the things of God.

The Reunion by Charles L Freeman Jr

MEG Books
November 15, 2013

The Reunion is the story of four lifelong friends attending their 20-year high school reunion. It’s also the tale of two love stories: one that involves a long marriage and one that involves a couple who broke up years ago and still have unresolved issues between them. Over the course of a long weekend in San Diego, California, the four friends will catch up with each other and come to grips with a past tragedy that strengthens the bond between. The author takes readers deep into the life of Lorenzo (Chocks) Taylor, an award-winning music producer and record company executive who’s at a crossroads in his professional and personal lives. Step inside Lorenzo’s fast-paced world of music, money, power, jealousy and corporate intrigue as he tries to remain true to his beliefs and his friends.

8th Annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair, August 9, 2014

Saturday 8/9/14, 10am-6pm
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

This year’s theme is, “1970-1979: A Decade of Self-Expression” and this year’s Legacy Awards will be honoring “Good Times” TV Show creator, Eric Monte and the legendary, Stevie Wonder.

Please join Charles L. Freeman, Jr at this year’s Book Fair where he’ll be selling and signing his self-published romantic novel, The Reunion.

Look out for Lil Nay Nay’s, “Rising Star” tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire on the main performance stage! Also, her new song, “Gotta Get Mine” at the Children’s Stage!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Nancy Paulsen Books
August 28, 2014
Hardcover

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

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

Ashley Bryan’s Puppets: Making Something from Everything

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
July 8, 2014
Hardcover

Beloved storyteller and creator Ashley Bryan reveals the vibrant spirit of found objects in this magnificent treasury of poetry and puppets.

Little Cranberry Island. It’s a small island, with fewer than a hundred inhabitants, but it’s got more than its share of treasures — including the magnificent Ashley Bryan himself, a world-renowned storyteller and author of such classics as All Night, All Day and Beautiful Blackbird. Daily, for decades, Ashley has walked up and down the beach, stopping to pick up sea glass, weathered bones, a tangle of fishing net, an empty bottle, a doorknob. Treasure.

And then, with glue and thread and paint and a sprinkling of African folklore, Ashley breathes new life into these materials. Others might consider it beach junk, but Ashley sees worlds of possibilities.

Ashley Bryan’s two-foot-tall hand puppets swell with personality and beauty, and in this majestic collection they make their literary debut, each with a poem that tells of their creation and further enlivens their spirit.

Interview with Earl Middleton

Author Earl Middleton

Earl Middleton earned a BBA in accounting from Adelphi University and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, then went on to preach more than 2,000 sermons, create over 400 YouTube teaching videos, and write 10 books under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

A former pastor of congregations in NY, NJ, CT, and CA, he loves preaching and teaching the Word of God across multiple platforms despite his retirement from the pastorate after 22 years of service. He is a past member of the Professional Comedians’ Association, and the creator of the Internet’s first Christian dramedic series, Fine Church Girls.

Author Earl MiddletonA longtime member of Mensa, Earl lives in Los Angeles with his family and throws up a whole buncha shots a day at his local YMCA. He’s currently at work navigating new, hilarious plot twists with Pastor Tony Hook and the rest of the zany characters of the First Baptist Church of Belton, NJ. He is available for revivals, preaching engagements, family healing seminars, writing workshops, and basketball jumpshot coaching.

(1) “Christian and Urban Fiction are bestsellers in African American literature. It appears that you have combined elements of both in your character Pastor Tony Hooks in My Pastor Didn’t Do It. What makes him stand out?”
Tony Hook is a unique character in African American literature primarily because he’s both an urbane and urban black Christian who happens to be the pastor of a traditional black church. His anointing definitely doesn’t match his ministry, and the many molehills that surround his life keep erupting into mountains too difficult for him to scale by himself. He’s the rare example in African American literature of a pastor who is lovable, believes that a merry heart does good like a medicine, and yet lives the kind of clean life that necessarily draws trouble like a magnet. As Paul said, “I find then a law that when I would do good evil is present with me.” With the plethora of shady, hypocritical, and acutely flawed pastoral characters currently flooding the urban Christian fiction landscape, Tony Hook is my response from the other side of the altar. I’ve pastored churches like First Baptist and lived in communities like Belton, so I bring a layer of realism to the character while having a ball inventing new ways for him to get stuck at Baal-Zephon, between a rock and a hard place…or the Red Sea. I believe there’s both room and need in African American literature for a fictional pastor cast as an edgy good guy to restore the audience’s faith in the black pulpit.

(2)What elements, such as setting, character, and plot, drive your story? Are there any personal inspirations in your story?
There’s a strong sense of place in my fiction writing, and I’ve been told that my stories are very descriptive and many of the characters are memorable. But because I’m writing a classic whodunit mystery to introduce Tony Hook and the My Pastor series, I’ve leaned heavily on plot to drive the story. I want readers to wonder what’s going to happen next, and have a difficult time figuring out who did it (obviously, from the title, it wasn’t the pastor…or was it? LOL). The central idea for this story actually comes from a real life cold case murder that took place at one the congregations I pastored…after I left, of course! I wondered what it would have been like if the murder happened while I was still the pastor of that congregation, and before I knew it I had a full length novel on my hands.

(3) There are so many characters in your story. What’s next for them? Do you have any favorites that are going to have their own stories?
Although I write fiction (and non-fiction) I’m really a prophet at heart, and believe that every person’s story is the most important event in their world. As a result I really think there are no minor characters in life, and I bring that conviction to my fiction writing. I wish I had the time to tell all of my characters’ stories in full, and perhaps one day I’ll have enough time to do that. Until then I’ll have to settle on my plans to spin off both Mother Freddy, the gun-toting, sombrero wearing matron of First Baptist Belton, and Cornel Brown, the white pastor with the sweetest whoop in Newark who claims to be a descendent of John Brown, the Harper’s Ferry dude.

(4)What is on your bookshelf or nightstand? Do you have any favorite authors?
Right now on my nightstand there’s an iPad with the Kindle app. I’m totally hooked on digital media. I’ve gotten over paper a long time ago. When it comes to fiction I like a hip, urgent, urbane voice, so I’m drawn to people like John Ridley, Paul Beatty, and Adam Mansbach. I love mysteries and still enjoy rereading Walter Mosley, Janet Evanovich (she’s hilarious), and even Valerie Wilson Wesley. I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction, urban nor prairie, but I respect what Brenda Barrett is doing. That woman’s a machine! When it comes to non-fiction I’m drawn to anything that looks at left brain stuff from a right brain perspective. I’ve been reading a lot of Daniel Pink lately, and of course Seth Godin is required reading for anyone who wants to build or create something salient. And, believe it or not, I do read the Bible. A lot. Still. 😉

My Pastor Didn’t Do It by Earl Middleton
Food for Faith Publications, September 22, 2013, Paperback

Pastor Tony Hook is everybody’s favorite preacher in the quiet Newark suburb of Belton, NJ. Well, almost everybody’s. Conflicts, tensions, and resolutions grace every turn of this clean and humorous black church caper. And it’s all from the witty mind and converted heart of a real seminary trained preacher with 22 years of pastoral experience.

When the sexy Anemone Allon’s body turns up in her basement naked, sporting a hole through the head, the only evidence recovered from the scene is Hook’s DNA, and all he can offer for an alibi is that he was alone in his study, praying for Anemone’s soul. And his own. Of course, golden-eyed detective Sgt. Chris Sears sets her sights on him as her prime suspect, jeopardizing his future at any church, and Pastor Hook launches his own investigation into the murder. With an anonymous rival who will stop at nothing to get him out of the way, and a crusty trustee who will try almost anything to get rid of him also breathing down his neck, only heaven can help Hook out of this mess, but God has chosen this time to go silent on him. Pursued by good and hounded by evil, poisoned by deadly wildlife and stricken with writer’s block, Pastor Hook must overcome Jobian loss and ugly suits, resist witchcraft, brave fire, dodge bullets, survive explosions, and tame ravenous beasts to track down the killer.

As the body count rises, and in spite of “help” from his iconoclastic best buddy, Rev. Cornel Brown, and his nutty adopted mother, Freddie Pearl, Hook unravels the mystery, exposing the killer in a final confrontation before the entire Belton community. In the end almost no one is who they appeared to be in this clerical romp, and Hook realizes that even for pastors some cliches are built on truth: home is where the heart is, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Forty Acres: A Thriller by Dwayne Alexander Smith

What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all — no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions!

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery — but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.

A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

Laws of Wrath by Eriq La Salle



4 Clay Productions
July 1, 2014
Paperback

Chinatown, New York – The butchered body of a transvestite is found in a dumpster. Nothing out of the ordinary for NYPD, except the victim just so happens to be the brother of Detective Phee Freeman. At first the slaying looks like the random act of a vicious killer, but when it is discovered that there are similar ritualistic murders throughout the city, Phee and his partner Quincy Cavanaugh, along with FBI Agent Janet Maclin, have no choice but to join forces with Dr. Daria Zibik, a brilliant but deranged cult leader. With the clock running down and bodies piling up, Phee and his partners must do everything they can to stop the bloodshed and determine if the evil they are hunting and the psychopath they are trusting could actually be one in the same.


Laws of Depravity

In a 30-year murder spree, the Martyr Maker has left behind a legacy of torture and fear: 36 clergymen butchered in twisted scenes reflecting the martyrdom of the twelve Apostles. The same M.O. — Twelve murders. Every ten years. All of the victims preachers and priests. And now, the Martyr Maker is back.

The recent murder of a local priest signals the beginning of another three-week kill cycle. It falls to NYPD detectives Quincy Cavanaugh and Phee Freeman and FBI agent Janet Maclin to catch the killer even though dark family secrets, the need for revenge, and hidden agendas frustrate the team at every turn. If they stand any chance of stopping the relentless serial killer, they each must first confront their own depravities that threaten to destroy them as readily as the monster they are chasing.

This is the first in a trilogy.

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.

Forever an Ex: A Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray



Touchstone
June 17, 2014
Paperback

Three Los Angeles women who’ve helped each other overcome heartbreak are reunited eight years later when their troublesome exes come back into the picture in this follow up to Victoria Christopher Murray‘s bestselling novel The Ex Files.

Sheridan, Kendall, and Asia first bonded when they met seven years ago at a church prayer support group and now, their friendship has blossomed into a strong sisterhood. They’ve helped each other through the tragedies of their breakups and together, they’ve celebrated their triumphs. But now, their exes are back, wreaking havoc on lives they’ve work so hard to rebuild.

Sheridan has found love again after her ex-husband left her for a man. But old wounds are reopened when her ex-husband appears with his fiance’s woman! And all of Sheridan’s insecurities and doubts come rushing back. Kendall’s former husband is now married to Kendall’s sister, Sabrina. And though Kendall has refused to interact with either one in the last seven years, she’s forced to reunite with Sabrina when their father is diagnosed with cancer. Asia has done her best to move away from her married boyfriend, a former star with the LA Lakers. But when they share a kiss, old desires are rekindled and Asia decides that it’s time for her and Bobby Johnson to get back together again.

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.