TBR: Running from Color by Morenikè

Opening in the 1920s in Sugarlock, Tennessee, the scandal surrounding the birth of Wheat Grass destroys the marriage and family unit built by Paul and Mildred Grass. Wheat’s fair skin and green eyes cause a rift that leads to the death of her mother. Paul steps up and takes in his wife’s illegitimate child to raise with his daughter, Olive, in his hometown. But Wheat’s exotic look draws unnecessary attention that Paul cannot single handily fight off in the racist South which eventually leads to his demise.

After the death of both of her parents, Olive blames her baby sister for ruining her life and she eventually finds herself running from color and settling in Chicago; leaving their grandmother, Deary, to raise Wheat alone. But when Wheat’s existence once more causes tension in the small community of Sugarlock, Wheat must run from color herself and the only place of safety she can find is in Chicago with her estranged sister.

Once there, Wheat faces much opposition from her sister but Olive begrudgingly takes her in. In Chicago, Wheat learns that Olive hates her for circumstances she could never control and that Olive herself has succumbed to society’s color line while living in Chicago. Will these sisters put aside their physical differences to tackle the hurt caused by their past and the danger that lies ahead? Or will they run from color once more?

Running from Color tells an unapologetic story about what it means to be on opposing shades of the chocolate rainbow; a story that belongs to many but has been silenced in the African American community for years.

Slightly off topic: I found out that Halsey is biracial and my brain glitched.  I started reading up on “passing as white” and I just…  Some of the commentary reads like a lot of conversation about Native Americans — how sometimes registered members can “pass” as white and are looked down upon by their tribe or if they aren’t registered with a tribe they aren’t “Native American enough.” There’s no winning.

I find it all sad yet such an important conversation to be had.

See more on Goodreads. 

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TBR: State of Emergency by Mary Hallberg

17-year-old Dallas Langdon is fighting off zombies with a pizza cutter.

Dallas has always loved zombie movies. But when she catches a real live (erm, dead) musician eating a man’s intestines backstage after the show, she knows her movies have become a reality. And what do characters in zombie movies do? Seek shelter. Fortunately, Dallas’s eccentric uncle owns a farmhouse in Chattanooga, an eight hour drive from New Orleans. It’s on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by electric fences, and cut off from the worlds of the living and the dead.

Dallas’s parents, still safe at home, laugh at her idea over the phone. Her friends only agree to join her because it’s fall break and they could use a mini vacation anyway.

But then Dallas’s best friend is killed by a zombie horde when they’re attracted to her ringing cell phone. Civilians think their reanimated loved ones simply have the flu, leaving them alive (well, undead) and rapidly increasing the zombies ranks. And since minors can’t buy guns, Dallas’s only weapon is a giant industrial pizza cutter she swipes from a gas station. George A. Romero never mentioned anything like this. With one friend dead and no zombie survival guides to help her, Dallas and her friends must get to Chattanooga before joining the ranks of the undead themselves.

I want to read to see what she does with the pizza cutter.

View more on Goodreads. 

TBR: Sir Blunder: A Bedtime Story for Big People by Walter Kerr

In this witty fairy tale told in a wry, grandfatherly voice, a village waif, unwanted and alone, grows up to become the greatest knight of the era. With the help of the clever and strong-willed Princess Otello, the steadfast Sir One-Eye, and the rascally trickster Pee-Pee the Peeper, Sir Blunder sets out to slay the dragon who lurks in the woods.

Originally told as a fairy tale for his young children, Walter Kerr transformed it over the course of 20 years into a witty and profound novel for young adults about securing the good in a cruel world.

With a large cast of supporting characters, including Johnny Ne’er-Do-Well, Father Opportunity, Speedy Lightfingers, King Four-Four, and King Smart, this surprising and at times hilarious novel highlights the challenges of remaining true to yourself – always a good idea unless what you truly are needs to be changed.

**Note: This is not a novel for children. Some scenes may be too intense for young readers.** This humorous medieval fantasy is recommended for young adults and adults.

This sounds very Princess Bride-y, which I like a lot.

View it on Goodreads. 

TBR: Once Upon A Time A Sparrow by Mary Avery Kabrich

Once Upon a Time a Sparrow is an autobiographically inspired novel about a woman’s journey toward accepting a less than perfect past. Structurally the story is told through the narrative voices of forty-seven-year-old Mary Madelyn Meyers (spring of ’05) and nine-year-old “Maddie” (spring of ’67). Though thirty-eight years separate these two points in time, a child’s old coat with an acorn in the pocket reunites Mary with the long-forgotten Maddie.

Mary’s mother has died unexpectedly. When Mary opens the Lane hope chest at the foot of her mother’s bed, she makes a surprising discovery: her mother kept the black hooded coat she herself had worn every day in third grade, regardless of the weather. This reunion sets in motion a stream of memories that demand Mary’s attention. When she returns to her job as a school psychologist, Mary can no longer maintain her usual dispassionate manner while addressing the needs of children with learning challenges.

Rural Minnesota in 1967 had no understanding of dyslexia, a disorder that makes reading an unfathomable skill for nine-year-old Maddie. After praying to St. Rita, patron saint of lost causes, every night for a year, Maddie decides in third grade that reading really is a lost cause. But when her teacher reads a captivating story about a fairy who helps a boy her age overcome his limitations, Maddie jeopardizes her plan to be a nun and steals the book for herself. Her first discovery: Fairy Yram’s name is her own first name, Mary, spelled backwards. Armed with this revelation, Maddie uses her limited reading skills and her expansive imagination to unlock the true meaning this story holds for her own life. Maddie transforms despite the adults in her world who can see only her disability.

Having overcompensated for her early struggles with learning to read, Dr. Mary Meyers had effectively sealed off all memory of where she came from. In the spring of ’05, she learns that the only way to move forward with her life is through complete acceptance of herself, past and present.

This is getting some good reviews on Goodreads. Seems to be of interest to teachers.

TBR: These Lies That Live Between Us (What Words Have Torn Apart, #1) by Kai Raine

“Good-bye, and good riddance,” were the last words that Gwen’s twin ever said to her.

But there is no time to grieve. An enemy army has revived a forbidden magic. They’ve invaded a neighboring country, and Gwen’s kingdom will be next. Her only hope of salvation is a legend, so she sets out to find it.

The magic has many names, and many believe they know what it is—but Gwen begins to see that most are mistaken. At last it is the wind itself that forces her to make a choice: accept the forbidden magic and learn it, or die.

Unbeknownst to Gwen, her departure in the night sets a chain of events into motion back home, where her dwindling family turns against one another. As the royal family reveals its internal divide, the opposing factions pounce.

These Lies That Live Between Us is the start of a fantasy epic about family, adventure, love, loss and the ever-changing interpretation of history long gone.

So, Gwen is one of my favorite names and I just need to say that.

Read more on Goodreads. 

My year of books in review: 2017

So this year I did a surprising amount of non-fiction reading.  I’m beginning to think I don’t care for fiction after all. Here’s the highlights of my favorite and most disappointing books I read this year.

My favorite non-fiction books of 2017: 

The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams. 
The Norse Myths: A Guide to Gods and Heroes by Carolyne Larrington
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember by Annalee Newitz
Aphro-ism
Beyond the Blurb

 

My favorite fiction of 2017:

The Last Unicorn

My biggest letdowns of 2017:

Labyrinth Lost
The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
A Darker Shade of Magic

 

TBR: A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far by Mark W. Sasse

If she wanted help changing the world for one forgotten child, she chose the wrong man. Seventy-two-year-old Francis Frick would scorn his own family to close another deal. But Bee doesn’t see the world like you or me. She is an optimist, searching for potential where none exists, and so she hovers above Frick’s bed every night, eating pomegranates and waiting for his eyes to open to the possibilities. One night, it finally happens. A rogue droplet of juice slips through her fingers and hits the sleeping Manhattan businessman on the forehead, thrusting him on a series of baffling adventures to some of the twentieth century’s most brutal regimes—all to help Bee save a forgotten child of history.

A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far is part one of The Forgotten Child Trilogy—a one-of-a-kind adventure that mixes time travel, magical realism, and historical fiction into a contemporary story about an old man, his estranged daughter, and a tiny flying person in a white robe, who chooses to believe that anything can happen with enough prodding and an endless supply of pomegranates.

Pomegranates are too messy to be eating in the first place. I prefer them in my juice.

See more on Goodreads. 

Author Interview: Kali

Today I’m introducing Sema Gurun and Stephanie Rugoff for Kali, creator of I of the Hurricane. 

What is the title of your most recent book and how did it come to be named?

I of the Hurricane: Eating Up a Storm was written by Kali.  Sadly, Kali died in 2012 but she left her manuscript to her sister, Sema Gurun, and her friend, Stephanie Rugoff.  Kali had entitled it I of the Hurricane.  We formed Sasfork Productions in order to carry out the task of producing and marketing Kali’s writing.  Her manuscript was long, long enough for a very large chapter book.  We decided to concentrate this first publication solely on the sections dealing with food – and, we and Jim Whiting, the editor we hired, came up with the subtitle Eating Up a Storm.  If we get a large readership for this book, we have enough material left to do several sequels with emphasis on other areas of Hurricane’s life.

Who are you?! What are your credentials? Where are you from?

Kali was born in Turkey and grew up in New York City.  After completing her fine arts studies at Syracuse University, her passionate interest in nature and animals led her to locate to the countryside and finally to California where she found Hurricane – or rather, Hurricane found her.  Sema Gurun is Kali’s sister and was also born in Turkey.  Sema is a psychotherapist and an artist as well.  Stephanie Rugoff was a friend, since childhood, of both Kali and Sema.  She too is an artist and spent her professional life as a literacy teacher and consultant, working primarily in elementary schools where she gave much emphasis to children’s literature.
What does the cover look like?

The cover of I of the Hurricane: Eating Up a Storm is berry pink.  At the center – the eye of the hurricane – is a white dog, Hurricane.  Swirling around her in a circle are images of some of Hurricane’s very favorite foods.

Describe the book in 5 words.

Concise humorous dog’s personal narrative.
What genre(s) do you think it fits into or breaks?

Primarily children’s fiction.  However, as Kirkus Reviews pointed out, “Many dog lovers will undoubtedly recognize their own canines’ behavior … in this story for all ages.”
What’s the synopsis for the book?

Instant love takes place between a young pet store employee and a small white puppy she takes home.  Aptly called Hurricane, the pup lives up to her name by sweeping up the household with her love of food and her wisecracking attitude. Hurricane, the narrator who is a feisty Spitz dog, exhibits her indomitable attitude throughout.

What is one thing you want readers to know about this book that the official synopsis doesn’t cover?

It is consistently entertaining with its humor that engages the reader.
Where can we buy the book?

Please visit our website KaliandHurricane.com which links to all the online stores selling our book, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc.  You can also ask your local bookstore to order it from Ingram’s or the online dealers.

Where did the main sources of inspiration come from for this story?

Kali based it on her beloved dog named Hurricane.  Kali included Hurricane’s interactions with her additional pets:  her other dog named Prince and her two cats, Thunder and Lightning.

If you could choose one ideal reader – no matter who – to read your book, who would it be and why?

A child who wants to adopt a puppy.

If your book was an animal, what would it be and why?

Well, we like to joke that our book, rather than being written in first person, is written in first dog.

What roadblocks did you encounter when publishing your work?

Our most difficult task has been publicizing our book, trying to make it well known to readers who we feel would love it if they only heard about it.

What is one thing you would like to say to millennial readers?

Keep on reading literature, whether hard copies or ebooks.  Search out books of interest to you, whether or not they come from the major publishers.

Thank you all so much for sharing the backstory on this delightful-sounding book! 

Sponsored content. Learn more about my author interviews here.

 

TBR – The Bridge

Riya Jordan and her friends are excited about their trip to Brazil for a wildlife and forest organization before heading off to college. However, things take a turn for the worst when bodies are found mangled among their campgrounds left by two predatorial stalkers. They are forced to run and find safety, but end up helpless on a battered bridge.

While on this bridge, not only are they preyed upon by these beasts, but other deathly mishaps occur
on… THE BRIDGE.

Also interesting: what happens UNDER the THE BRIDGE???

 

Buy on Amazon.

Author Interview: J.N. McGhee

Today I am going to introduce Author J.N. McGhee and her book Little Girl Blues

Who are you?! What are your credentials? Where are you from?

My name is Jasmine N. McGhee; I’m from Mississippi. I have a B.A. in English, and I’ve been writing poetry for 19+ years now. I’ve been published in several literary journals and anthologies. In the past, I participated in a few poetry contests as well.

What book(s) have you written?

One

What is the title of your most recent book and how did it come to be named?

“Little Girl Blues: Existence of an Image.” Long before I decided to publish a book,  I used to think to myself, “What would be the title of my book?” As a little girl, I loved swings. My grandfather used to have one on his porch. I would swing for hours and get lost in thought. Then, as I got older, I began to question my purpose and who I am. Hence, the title of the book.

What does the cover look like?

A little girl sitting on a swing while looking back at the reader in a mirror.

Describe the book in 5 words.

image, identity, self, existence, and discovery

What genre(s) do you think it fits into or breaks?

Poetry. And it’s a mixture of fiction and nonfiction

What’s the synopsis for the book?

The story is told through the eyes of a child as she transitions into adolescence. She questions her existence and her purpose. Witness the struggle for identity. Experience the emotional rainbow as this individual desperately searches for self through pre-made images.

What is one thing you want readers to know about this book that the official synopsis doesn’t cover?

We are all the little girls and boys within this book. We are all trying to tell our stories, and we want to be heard. No matter what you are going through or have gone through, you are not alone.

Where can we buy the book?

Online Bookstores and Retailers:

Amazon, Goodreads, Alibris, Abe Books, Book Depository, Indie Bound, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Physical Bookstores: Lemuria in Jackson, MS. Barnes & Noble in Ridgeland, MS, Downtown Marketplace in Yazoo City, and the Keepsake Poetry & Collectibles, LLC in Jackson, MS.

Where did your main sources of inspiration come from for this story?

I don’t have specific sources of inspiration. Inspiration just hit me from what people say, walking to class, listening to music, or a word. That’s just how sporadic inspiration is to me.

Who is the book dedicated to and why?

For the most part, I dedicated this book to the people who believed in me over the years, supported my talent, and stayed by my side throughout this journey. Most of them are no longer here; they’ve passed on.

Then, I dedicated the book to the voiceless, to people just like me. They don’t know how to express what they are going through. They are silently suffering. They don’t know who to trust or where to turn to. So they just internalize it which causes people to die a slow death.

What three other books would you use to describe your book?

I don’t know any.

Why is indie publishing important to you and why do you think it is important to our culture?

When it comes to poetry, it doesn’t have many, if any, opportunities to be published or promoted. A company told me that poetry rarely sells. That response made me very angry. Poetry is just as important to the literary family as any other piece of literature.

It’s important to have opportunities when other people have rejected you, your vision, and your talent.

If you could choose one ideal reader – no matter who – to read your book, who would it be and why?

I just want a reader who is open-minded, willing to listen to the little girl’s story without being judgemental, and truly embody her “poetic blues.”

If your book was an animal, what would it be and why?

I guess a chameleon. Because throughout this book, the individual goes through various phases and creates so many masks interchangeably.

What is your favorite sentence from the book?

This may seem odd, but I don’t have a favorite sentence from my book.

If you were to collaborate with another writer, who would they be and why?

I really don’t know. I’m new to the published author life, so I’m still connecting with other creative individuals and learning.

What books do you think the world needs to read more of and why?

That’s a very interesting question. I would say we have the books already. We, as human beings, just need to take the time to read them. We’re so picky about what we don’t want to read.

What does diversity in publishing mean to you?

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to present authors with opportunities and possibilities. I think that having diversity is better than having specifics. Everybody has their own preferences. If you take that away from them or leave something out, one will never know what they are missing.

How have libraries affected your writing?

Yes and no. When I was younger, I loved to read. As I got older, reading faded a little; however, writing took its place.

What do you see as problems that need to be fixed in the traditional publishing model?

It needs to be more flexible. Most traditional publishing models compare your book to other genres or other books that are selling well. But if your book doesn’t have an audience, it’s quickly discarded or rejected. You have so many literary greats like Walt Whitman, Will Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Langston Hughes, etc. who left their mark by their literary works. Of course, a lot has changed since then.

What is the best piece of advice you got from another writer?

Connect and network with other authors, writers, etc. Be a sponge to absorb the knowledge that they provide. All of it may not fit you, but you pick what you want to try. Then, just try it for yourself. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Keep at it.

What indie authors have influenced you and how?

I don’t know. I’m friends with a lot of indie authors. We’re just in this together by learning from each other and sharing knowledge, so we all can continue to support and uplift each other on this journey.

Is the Amazon publishing model scary to you in any way?

Not really. I’m not too familiarized with Amazon’s publishing.

What is something you learned about writing when writing your most recent book?

How to allow myself to be open and heard. I’m not used to people listening to me. I have the inability to communicate or to express verbally how I feel. Writing became the only way to convey the chaos within.

What do you think of the focus on indie bookstores over indie authors and indie books?

I don’t know. As I said, I’m still learning the whole process.

What are some ways you think gatekeepers in publishing (literary agents, librarians, book bloggers) can help indie authors gain discoverability?

I can’t answer this question. I’m still learning the whole process. I will say that one has to try multiple avenues before actually finding one that works for them. That’s what I’m doing now.

What is one book that changed your life and how?

I don’t have just one. There are quite a few that contributed to the person I am today.

What is your favorite online resource as an author?

I guess Facebook Groups because they were a lot of individuals who are helping me learn the do’s and don’ts as an indie author.

How do you feel about authors giving their work away for free?

I don’t have any problem with it. I’ve done it.

What are you reading now?

Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battles Against Your Giants by Pastor Louie Giglio

 What music do you write to or find inspiration in?

I’m an eclectic of music. But music doesn’t inspire me to write; it inspires me to think and feel. Just kind of “go with the flow” type of thing.

What roadblocks did you encounter when publishing your work?

Publishing was the easy part. It’s the promotion that gave me so much trouble.

What TV show are you watching now?

I don’t watch much TV these days.

Cat or dog or both person?

Both.

Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz – and why?

LOL, I love both. But I have to lean towards Alice in Wonderland.

Coffee or tea or both person?

Tea.

Print book or ebook or both person?

Print. I love the feel of a book in my hand. It’s harder to put it down.

How do you see book culture changing, other than the ways it already has, because of ebooks?

I really don’t know. For instance, I’ve sold more paperback than ebooks. It all goes back to readers’ preferences.

How do you see book culture changing, if at all, because of indie publishing?

Change is a good thing. It will give indie authors a place, a voice in the publishing platform. Indie authors deserve to be heard too.

What is one thing you would like to say to millennial readers?

Keep an open mind, but be careful of the information you read.

What is one cause or charity you support and want to give a shout-out to?

Right now, I don’t have one. I’m somewhat of a naive, introvert. I live inside my mind. But I will send a shout-out to literacy, education, and all the resources for indie authors.

What is your biggest grammatical struggle to overcome in your writing, or what is your most common typo?

Misspelled words, commas,  complex sentence structures…the list goes on and on.

Where can we stalk you? (What are the links to your social media platforms and blog?)

Stalk me? That’s hilarious.

Twitter – bluepoetevolves

Instagram- eyes2yoursoul30

FB Author Page: www.facebook.com/authorj.n.mcghee

My blog: abstractpoet87.wordpress.com

Thank you for taking the time to give us insight, Jasmine! 

 

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