#1 Olympia Vernon's Logic

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Olympia Vernon's Logic Posted by Hello

This year Olympia Vernon made the top list again with her second novel, Logic.


The words are magnetic, moving, supernatural, each word means more than I can express. Read this book.

The others.

2.Camilia's Roses by Bernice McFadden- My favorite lines. "Hope was everywhere in that small place few had heard of; resting in the dawn of each new day, in the blue jays’ song and seen in the young eyes of the laughing children that played tag around the massive barks of the African tulip trees.

Almost perfect."

Almost #1. Superb writing.

3. Love and Death in Brooklyn by Glenville Lovell. Blades Overstreet is brooding, sensual, poetic and Americana. I can't talk about Lovell's work enough.

4.Better Than I Know Myself by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant. These women can write. Carmen had me at page one.

5. Lemon City by Elaine Merge Brown. "If Harry was going to die, it was a good thing he picked a holiday." Great first line that sumizes the entire book. Great writing.

6. Truth be Told by Victoria Christopher Murray. Strong heroine with much brass and God's armor. Love it.

7.A Woman's Worth by Tracey Price-Thompson. Her Alabama slices of life remind me of my swamp water hometown and her guts to tackle the issue of female circumsion should be commended.

8.The Man in my Basement and Lil Scarlett. Walter Mosely. Surprise! I didn't add these two books to my earlier list. But baby, I'm a big-huge-Mosely fan. Easy Rawlins-Lil Scarlet. Always at the top of my list. The Man in my Basement--historical, psychological, a classic. Walter is a prose genius.

9. The Hamptons by Linda Dominique Grosvenor. Always sharing a new side of life, always elegant.

10. The Dew Breakers by Edwidge Danticat. Read post on this great book.

Honorable mention- Leaving Cecil Street. Great book, but I wanted to highlight some other genres.

#10. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat...Counting Down

Monday, December 27, 2004

Dew Breaker Posted by Hello

Edwidge Dantica's makes the top ten with the Dew Breaker:

From the Book Jacket:

From the universally acclaimed author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak!, a brilliant, deeply moving work of fiction that explores the world of a "dew breaker"—a torturer—a man whose brutal crimes in the country of his birth lie hidden beneath his new American reality.

We meet him late in his life. He is a quiet man, a husband and father, a hardworking barber, a kindly landlord to the men who live in a basement apartment in his home. He is a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, recognizable by the terrifying scar on his face. As the book unfolds, moving seamlessly between Haiti in the 1960s and New York City today, we enter the lives of those around him: his devoted wife and rebellious daughter; his sometimes unsuspecting, sometimes apprehensive neighbors, tenants, and clients. And we meet some of his victims...

The Dew Breaker is a book of interconnected lives—a book of love, remorse, and hope; of rebellions both personal and political; of the compromises we often make in order to move beyond the most intimate brushes with history. Unforgettable, deeply resonant, The Dew Breaker proves once more that in Edwidge Danticat we have a major American writer.

The Dew Breaker an excerpt

This book is so great, because it tells a chilling tale of physical and mental torture. We learn more about Haiti and the lives of Haitian immigrants in America. Their struggle to assimilate to a new culture and forget their past no matter how horrific it was. The novel was setup more like a series of short stories instead of the traditional novel structure, which would have made the story a greater need as we felt a continuous peak and valley moving us to the most horrible moment of Ka's father's life. I wanted to drop with him and that didn't happen because of the structure of this book. Moreover, the pacing slowed the story down in places where it didn't need to be. Nonetheless, this book is one of the most well written books I have read ever. I look forward to more of her work.

Reverend Reggie White Goes Home

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Reggie White Posted by Hello

I am too choked up about Reggie White's passing to write a long diatribe, so I am linking a few nice tribute sites.

Reggie I love you. You're an angel.


Reggie White Minister of Defense
Green Bay Packers
Minister Reggie White

I've Had A Change of Heart...Counting Down the Best Black Books 2004

Friday, December 24, 2004

This week I received an early Christmas gift. Someone is actually reading my blog as I countdown the best and the worst books of the year. I had been thinking about this subject a few days before I received this comment that I will post after weeding through the stack of books that I have read and reviewed this year by Black authors. So I will give a Christmas gift to the authors on my list. I will not countdown the worst...I will highlight the exceptional. Because they really are the ones that deserve the accolades.

Comment from a viewer: "In this age of freedom of speech, I suppose that you can write whatever you'd like. However, I don't see any purpose in what you wish to do here. Ostracizing and ridiculing someone else's life work is, in my humble opinion, a waste of good energy. Instead, promote those books that stand out. And to be honest, most of the reviewers and critics "preying" on black authors do more harm than good. They demand a free book, get to it when they feel good and doggone ready to review it, then think they have to right to slam it to heck just because they are the lofty reviewer."

Thanks for your comment. And I appreciate them. Moreover, I understand your feelings about promoting black authors, as I am an African American book reviewer. Unfortunately, this year for some reason most of the books that have been dropped at my door step have been mediocre to say the least. And the few gems that stood out of the crowd received very little press and accolades. Because our media institutions would rather promote what sells than what is wonderful.

But I also agree with you about my intent for this blog. At first I thought I should flip the script and highlight the worst books written. Since we discuss the worst albums recorded and the worst movies made. Yet, as I have taken all these books off my shelves to list them on this blog, I thought about the author who wrote the book. I thought about the guts it took to write something regardless of how horrible it came out on print. And I applaud the fact that they tried to do something.

Yet, I hope that these authors [they no who they are because they have read my review of their books] would strive to grow as a writer next year. English composition, contrary to popular belief is vital to our society until China takes over. As we pass on to the next world what we write will be left behind for our children. Do we want them to know us at our best or at our worst? Do we want them to understand us and learn from us or be confused and embarrassed? So dear one, I concur with your comment and have changed my mind. I will highlight the best this year, since they didn't receive the press they deserved in the first place.

Thank you for changing my mind.

OT: Let me comment on receiving a book for free. Most books I receive to review are either uncorrected proofs or manuscripts. I rarely receive the actual book. And since we're on the subject of the importance of a book reviewer...Check out my Suite 101 site in January as I discuss the role of the downtrodden black reviewer and why African American books are subject to the American English Canon. The time it takes it break down book, read it and critique deserves more respect from peers and I believe the book reviewer and his/her value is misunderstood. So we will definitely discuss this at the Suite.

I welcome and love to hear comments, so keep them coming. Just as this commenter enlightened me I know I always have room to grow. Let's take Black Literature to the next level.

Any one seeking a quality book review, please check this blog for information on how to submit a book for review. My reviews discusses more than whether I liked the book, but rather whether the book holds under its 5 star parts: character, theme, plot, style, conflict.

Running to see what the end gon' be


Counting Down the Best Black Books of 2004

Monday, December 20, 2004

Before I can produce a top ten I need to list the 50 Black books that I read this year. This compiliation does not include every book written by an African American author, but is a list of the books I have reviewed this year that were written by African American authors. If you would like your book on the 2005 list see my website and my book review submission guidelines.

The List- 2004

A Love Noire by Erica Simone Turnipseed
A Love So Strong by Kendra Norman-Bellamy
A Love Worth Fighting For Katherine D. Jones
A Woman's Worth by Tracey Price-Thompson
All that Drama by Tina McKinney
All the Man I Need by Tamara Sneed
At Last by Lisa Riley
Baby Momma Drama by Carl Weber
Back to Life by Wendy Coakley-Thomas
Before I Let Go by Darren Coleman
Betrayal of Trust by Leslie Esdaile Banks
Better Than I Know Myself by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
Bling by Erica Kennedy
Boaz Brown by Michele Simpson
Camilia's Roses by Bernice McFadden
Date Night by Carmen Green
Distant Lover by Gloria Mallette
Diva, Inc. by Donna Hill
Drive me Crazy by EJD
Dying in the Dark by Valerie Wilson Wesley
Enchanted Heart by Felicia Mason
Fannin the Flames by Parry Brown
Flippin the Script by Aisha Ford
Gotham Diaries by Tonya Lewis Lee, Crystal McCrary Anthony
Guarded Love by Altonya Washington
Kissed by Carmen Green
Leaving Cecil Street by Diana McKinney-Whetstone
Lemon City by Elaine Merge Brown
Logic by Olympia Vernon
Love and Death in Brooklyn by Glenville Lovell
Mama's Baby Daddy's Maybe by Jamise Dames
Married, but Still Looking by Travis Hunter
Mississippi Blues by Cassandra Darden-Bell
My Daughter's Boyfriend by Cydney Rax
Passint Through by Collin Channer
Promises to Keep Gloria Mallette
Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do Pearl Cleage
Somebody Gotta Be on Top by Mary M. Morrison
Sorority Sister by TJ Butler
Soul's Juorney by Jacqueline Thomas
Tastes like Chicken by Lolita Files
The Dewbreaker by Edwidge Danticat
The First Thing Smoking by Nelson Eubanks
the Hamptons by Linda Domique Grosevenor
The Hunted by L.A. Banks
The Interruption of Everything by Terri McMillan
The Playa's Handbook by Brenda Jackson
Truth be Told by Victoria Christopher-Murray
Whatever Lola Wants by Nique Stanhope
When Everything's Said & Done by Ebonie Snoe
Worth the Wait Katherine D. Jones

Finally a Black Literary Journal!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Last month I received a nice letter from Jasai Madden, editor of Lorraine and James literary journal and a fan of my Suite 101 Channel African American Women Writers Finding Voice. And I jumped at this opportunity, because we do need more black literary journals and preferably ones not sponsored by Universtity Press. Kudos!

Here's Plug #1, Jasai

Dear Dee,

My name is Jasai Madden and I am the editor of the forthcoming literary journal Lorraine and James. As it seems you have the ear of many wonderful writers via your website, I am wondering if you might be able to post an opportunity that I believe is worthwhile.

In preparation for out spring 2005 debut, we are actively seeking submissions for fiction in the form of the short story, creative non-fiction and essays. This is a paid project.

The goal of Lorraine and James is to give voice and venue to a diverse group of seasoned, upcoming and crowded-out authors of great merit. I would be honored and grateful if you would make the visitors aware of this opportunity, one that I believe will act as a vehicle for great introductions and exposure for some of todays most gifted writers.

If you have any questions I can be contacted at 818-256-4503. You can also visit our temporary home on the web for more details Lorraine and James Literary Journal

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration,

Jasai Madden


Lorraine and James: A Literary Journal

Santa Claus does exist and he resides in North Georgia

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I am a Christian and I am very proud of my faith. A long time ago before I joined my faith I had given up on Santa Claus. To be honest, I was twelve and I didn't my New Edition cassette until after Christmas, which confirmed my waning faith in the jolly old elf. Anyway...This past week I'm walking around in my neighborhood Publix Supermarket searching for food samples to snack on and some cheap, yet fluffy toilet paper and I walk by this thing. I assume this thing is a blowed up Santa doll so I only glance it, then I do a double take. Oh my goodness! It's him--Chris Kringle. Santa's eyes are so bright blue that when he smiles you can but smile back too. I do a little Irish jig and scare the Publix customers in the process. Flag down a woman on the Pasta aisle to take my picture with Santa. So in two weeks after the pictures come back I will post this picture of me sitting on Santa's lap, so that you can believe for yourself. Santa Claus exists and he lives in North Georgia.

2009 ·Dee Stewart by TNB