What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Jeannine A. Cook of Harriet’s BookShop – She Came To Slay

Title: She Came To Slay

A new way to look at one of the nation’s most influential women, She Came To Slay, shares Filled rare outtakes of commentary, an expansive timeline of Harriet Tubman’s life, new photos as well as those already in public domain, and commissioned illustrations. She Came To Slay includes sections like, “Harriet By the Numbers”, detailing her life by the number of times she went back down south, approximately how many people she rescued, the bounty on her head etc.  as well as a section titled “Harriet’s Homies”,  dedicated to those who supported her over the years.  She Came To Slay is a insightful mix of pop culture and scholastic diligence proving that Queen Harriet  absolutely deserves her crown and her permanent place in our nation’s history.

Author: Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Very little is available about Erica Armstrong Dunbar outside of her professional and scholastic achievements. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pa.  Erica Armstrong Dunbar has had a notable academic career. Currently a CHARLES AND MARY BEARD PROFESSOR OF HISTORY at Rutgers University. Dunbar specializes in African-American and US History as well as Women’s and Gender History. After Attending University of Penn she then earned an M.A. and Ph.D from Columbia University. Her first book was A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City, published by Yale University Press in 2008. Dunbar taught at the University of Delaware before joining Rutgers in 2017. In November 2018 Dunbar was named joint winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize for Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge.

 

 

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Yae Stratton – Honey I Love

Title: Honey, I Love

When this poem was first published in 1978 in Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems, Elois Greenfield reminded us that love can be found just about anywhere. Twenty-five years later, she and celebrated children’s book artist Jan Spivey Gilchrist re-released a stunning, newly illustrated anniversary edition  for children of a whole new generation to celebrate the simple joys of loving and living.

Author: Eloise Greenfield

Born Eloise Little in Parmele, North Carolina, she  grew up in Washington, D.C., during the Great Depression as the second oldest of five children. Eloise was a  shy and studious child, who enjoyed music and took piano lessons. Greenfield experienced racism first-hand in the segregated south, especially when visiting grandparents in North Carolina and Virginia.

  Dismayed by the depiction of blacks and black communities in popular media, Greenfield focused her work on realistic but positive portrayals of African-American communities, families and friendships.  These relationships are emphasized in books like Sister (1974) where a young girl copes with the death of a parent with the help of other family members, Me and Nessie (1975) about best friends, My Daddy and I (1991) and Big Friend, Little Friend (1991) about mentoring.

 

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What’s Your Story Wednesdays: Noel Bleu – God Don’t Like Ugly

 

Title: God Don’t Like Ugly

Annette Goode is poor, overweight and lonely. The only child to a single working mother in Civil-Rights era Ohio, Annette is living a terrible reality. The summer Annette turns thirteen, something incredible happens: Rhoda Nelson chooses her as a friend.

With Rhoda’s help, Annette survives her youth and grows into a slightly more confident young woman. When her best friend makes a shocking confession about a horrific childhood crime, Annette’s world is rocked to its core.

 

Author: Mary Monroe

The first and only member of her family to finish high school she is a self-taught writer who began writing short-stories around age four. She endured fifteen years and hundreds of more rejection letters before finally landing a contract for her second novel, GOD DON’T LIKE UGLY. It was published in October 2000 by Kensington Books.

 

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Bleu Reviews: A Discovery of Witches

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It begins with a book recommendation and a purchase

It begins with a TV show and a binge session

It begins with a discovery of witches … book review

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

I am kicking myself for not having read this book sooner. I originally heard of the All Souls Trilogy  back when i worked for a company that won’t be named because they don’t sponsor me. LOL.

My coworker, another book fan soul sister recommended I check out the series. I made sure to buy all three of the books in the series and added them to my collection, TBR and c7e7739a729e409a46fa5fe50cb8aa4f328589467160928262.jpglong list of books I’d been planning to read.

I’d even attempted reading the book on two separate occasions the last of which was a month long maternity leave when I couldn’t be bothered to do much of anything, especially reading.

This year however, I made it my first book of the reading season and despite a shaky start while trying to find time to read with a growing toddler attempting to crawl everywhere, I picked up a rhythm and finished the book in about three weeks.

Alchemical historian and Oxford resident Diana Bishop, descendant of the Salem Bishop’s has shut herself off form her magic. Until she requests a not so ordinary book from the Bodlien library one day.  This book, Ashmole 782, will bring a host of magical creatures she never expected to socialize with and unravel a secret engrained in the fabric of her life…and then there are vampires.

My first impressions of the book…

I absolutely loved this book. At it’s core it’s a pretty standard formula. Matthew is the tortured hero who falls in love with our female protagonist. That Matthew follows the tropes of all vampires is a bonus, he is brooding and secretive with a killer temper, but 20200115_124316.jpghe loves fiercely and his love for Diana though sudden is unbreakable. Diana for her part plays the typical female lead in a YA love story, though she possesses great strength and abilities that rival those around her, she is fearful of her power, spends most of the book being coddled and cared for and only begins to step into her own towards the final stages of the story.

It usually annoys me while i’m reading, and I won’t lie some of the ways Matthew condescended to Diana and left her out of things irritated me a lot. However, Harkness did something few people have dared to do form what I’ve read. She gave Diana her strength back.

The best part of the story for me was “watching” Diana go through a literal transformation. At the start of the book she is completely closed off from her magic. Her past fears and an unknown spell only allow her to do tiny tasks like grabbing a book or fixing the washer. By the final pages Diana is hopeful of what she can do with her d33bfe4e23d3e4982f9b79fb20fdf4a7945846634189835100.jpgpowers and is able to control them to some small degree.

I do frequently enjoy a good vampire love story and Matthew and Diana’s forbidden love gives me all types of squishy feelings.  Their relationship mirrors that of mixed race couples during the civil rights era. Simply because they are different they are forbidden to be together and by defying this law they are putting themselves and their families in danger. They will do it for LOVE. The fear some of the characters have for their children and the support Matthew and Diana get from friends, family other people who are like them is reminiscent of the real life struggles mixed couples faced.

It’s great when a story has a deeper meaning. As a person of color, whether Deborah Harkness intended for this to be the theme or not, what stuck out most for me in this story were the ways it portrayed the downside of generational racial inequality and prejudice. Matthew and Diana are two different races of creatures and because of that they are forbidden to be together.

In a society where the hierarchy of magical creatures places value on lineage and supernatural ability Witches and Vampires are at the top and Daemons are at the bottom, Daemons aren’t even allowed to congregate together.  The way Harkness developed the society and culture of the characters in the world of All Souls is one of my favorite parts. I absolutely love a well built world.

The characters in the A Discovery of Witches  really moved the story along for me. I’d watched season one of the tv show beforehand so I was able to actually envision the cast for the first few chapters. Once I really got into the story though, the characters became more alive and no longer seemed remotely close to the way the actors portrayed them.3a956443b3e15ec5a9e1f9c7e43d8fb26087554198723611023.jpg

Diana can be annoyingly meek at times but has a resilient spirit. Her dedication to Matthew is on the one hand the stuff of feminist nightmares while the relationship as a whole draws you in. I root for this old fashioned chivalrous relationship despite being completely aware that he patronizes her and lies repeatedly. Because he’s a vampire? At one point it gets so annoying in the book I physically rolled my eyes. He eventually comes to respect her after she nearly dies trying to save his life and frequently blames himself for not being able to protect her. Even though she doesn’t seem to be able to protect herself either. Matthew’s decision  to aide her in learning her magic wins him brownie points in my book. His cute little French pet names for her makes my heart go fuzzy.

The way magic, magical creatures and the supernatural are sorted in this world is why A Discovery of Witches  is becoming one of my favorite series to read. Harkness took the c0ce585322590a49e08b7290e633998e901557597508079403.jpgconcept of the magical community and broke it down in a way that I’ve often thought about for my own writing.  Vampires long since believed to be “dead” are merely beings with an alternative metabolism that slows their heart rates and reserves energy. The term, sleep like the dead, was used as the explanation for why people thought these beings were in fact deceased.

Experiencing magic through Diana’s eyes as she finally learns to wield and control it is what kept me reading through the book. More than I wanted to know how the lovers would fair against their adversaries, more than I enjoyed meeting each new character that showed 9c005c70f2392849b97d083135c169496164085333605234820.jpgup at Sept-Tours and later the bewitched house in Madison. I enjoyed the magic and the history that was entertwined within the magic.

I guess that’s my reasoning for why I’m shirking my 2020 TBR and jumping right into Shadow of Night. I’ll be reading this along with a few shorter e-books I’ve promised to review from some lesser known authors so keep your eyes on the blog for a lot of new content.

My goal at the start of my read was to complete the first book of the All SOuls Trilogy  before season 2 of A Discovery of Witches started back on BBC. As I was checking my email this morning, sneek-peeks of the cast of season 2 are just being released, so I think I beat my deadline.

 

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What Was Your Favorite Part of A Discovery of Witches?

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Featured Author: Marlon James

For black history month this year I wanted to try something that spoke to the blog itself while still shedding light on fantasy and writers of color. Each Friday for the rest of 358fdd0c873707ea62162bf8d0c0184345167563636023847.jpgFebruary. I’ll be sharing another talented author and their body of work.

This week I discovered an author whom I actually already had on my TBR. While doing a bookstore browse many years ago. At that time the distinctive cover showed a woman who’s skin was a striking contrast to the paleness of the background surrounding her.

The Book of Night Women. tells the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. At her birth, the slave 64f0abdf369633633bfb407331e9052a6281915892799790816.jpgwomen around her recognize a dark power that they and she will come to both revere and fear. 

Marlon James, born in Kingston, Jamaica left Jamaica to escape homophobic violence and economic conditions that he felt would mean career stagnation, he received a master’s degree in creative writing from Wilkes University in Wilkes7884e152a061d4850cf1e4f61cccd7d84859259759275158337.jpg Barre, PA. 

His first novel, John Crow’s Devil was rejected 70 times before being accepted for publication in 2005. James has taught English and creative writing at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, since 2007.  He is also a faculty lecturer at St. Francis College’s Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing.

In February 2019, James gave the seventh annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford.  He has published four novels: John Crow’s Devil, The Book of Night Women, A Brief History of Seven Killings which was the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and Black Leopard, Red Wolf. He is now living in Minneapolis. 

 

Which of the Marlon James Novels Have You Read? Leave A Comment Below!

 

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Featured Author: L. A. Banks

For black history month this year I wanted to try something that spoke to the blog itself while still shedding light on fantasy and writers of color. Each Friday for the rest of February. I’ll be sharing another talented author and their body of work.

ec3eab148b2944dfd84495eb900e8a8a3355255612623085561.jpgThis week I have the special pleasure of highlighting not only an amazing, award winning author, but also a legendary Philadelphia native whose body of work crossed genres.

I’m describing none of other than author Leslie Ann Esdaile Banks. She has written under the pen name Leslie Esdaile, Leslie E. Banks, Leslie Banks, Leslie Esdaile Banks and L. A. Banks. With the latter penning at least 19 books in the dark fantasy/horror.

Inspired by her life experiences and the abnormal intensity of crime and political injustice in the city. She created a world where she could express her political views and cultural experiences to the world. A world where the CEOs of major companies were vampires draining the life’s blood from African American youth. 

Born in 1959, Leslie has won numerous awards but is most noted for snagging the 2008 87a26fba2e588539f7ed1f528bf5dd847992586320228627.jpgEssence Storyteller of the Year literary award.  As L. A. Banks she wrote The Vampire Huntress, Crimson Moon, Dark Avengers and The Dark series. However she has written in multiple genres, including African-American literature, romance, women’s fiction, crime suspense, dark fantasy/horror and non-fiction.exploring different nationalities and cultures within her work. 

I recall hearing the name but never actually read anything from her. I honestly wouldn’t have known about her if I wasn’t actively looking for authors of color who wrote in the fantasy genre. She lived in Philly this entire time! 

Sadly Mrs. Banks passed away from cancer on August 2, 2011, at the age of 51. She left behind a daughter, Helena Esdaile and a literary catalog to make any book-lover drool. That’s what makes L. A. Banks this week’s featured author. I’ve already added Bad Blood and Minion to my TBR. 

 

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Have You Read The Vampire Huntress Legend or Crimson Moon series? Leave A Comment Below!

 

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Check out this video of the late, great Ms. L. A. Banks Queen of the Vampires, tamer of Shadow wolves. 

More Than Basketball: Kobe Bryant: The Author & Filmmaker

fd88f45b864b174c887a160f6d60992e1710479935580106781.jpgI’ve never done a tribute post on the blog before. I’ve done author spotlights, on known writers, who’ve long since shuffled off this mortal coil. Yet, never before has a reason presented itself to halt my planned writing and create something new. Something to commemorate the literary achievements of an individuals who’s light was dimmed too soon. 

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say at first. In the time it takes me to write this blog post billions of media outlets everywhere will have broken the story and shared the sad news. We frequently look at our entertainers and athletes as unbreakable.  In fact my fiancée often jokes that today’s athletes are the modern day superheroes we should show homage to.

Yet here only 48 hours removed from the news about the fatal helicopter crash that claimed the life of retired basketball great Kobe Bryant and his teenaged daughter Gianna. We are all still reeling.

I could spend this post rehashing the tragedy, or chronicling the many stats about his sports career. But, this is Blu Moon Fiction and here we talk about books. So this post istextgram_15807350178752127303591187710.png dedicated to Kobe Bryant, the author, filmmaker and podcast producer. Who walked off of the court a basketball legend and entered the arena where his entrepreneurial spirit could really shine.

His first book was the Mamba Mentality, Mamba the nickname he’d earned on the court has become a mantra he’d lived by. Bryant’s personal perspective of his life and career on the basketball court and his exceptional, insightful style of playing the game can be found in those pages. 

His ode to basketball, a poem titled, “Dear Basketball” which later became an Oscar -award winning short film,  was a bittersweet chronicle of his childhood passion for the sport while also serving as his farewell as his body was no longer to support his desire to 77a8f9555fb859e96e7ef7c25eb425551840022950490357012.jpgplay.  The short-film adaptation is still known as the best-known effort by Bryant’s production company, Granity Studios.

“Don’t think about handling finances. Don’t think about going into business. Don’t think that you want to be a writer — that’s cute. I got that a lot.”

Bryant was met with a lot of skepticism when deciding to leave sports and venture into other markets. He’d never let the doubters hinder his success. Partnering with Alibaba Group, a Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology,  he released his 2015 documentary “Muse” in China. 

Kobe founded Granity, formerly Kobe Studios, his objective was on creating projects that screenshot_20200203-160909_chrome1186532426579637927.jpgmarried his love of storytelling and sports. Those who worked with him during that time, recalled the inspiration he drew from brilliant minds like; Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and J.K. Rowling.

Other projects from Granity, included the ESPN Plus sports analysis series “Detail,” written, produced and hosted by Bryant. He also produced “The Punies,” a podcast featuring fictional stories about a group of youths chasing big dreams in sports, and collaborated with author Wesley King on the Wizenard Series, a young-adult franchise that combined fantasy and sports.

Wizenard tells the story of the, West Bottom Badgers. Lowest-ranked basketball team in their league, living in the poorest neighborhood in Dren. New coach, Professor Wizenard arrives on the first day of training camp, promising to change things.  Every player experiences unique and strange visions,  challenging  everything they thought they knew about basketball, their lives and their secrets off the court. 

I do prefer to keep my books and my sports separate,  because of this, I would never have known this series even existed if he hadn’t passed away. Before his untimely passing, Kobe had been working on another project with famed Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who wrote Bryant’s favorite book, “The Alchemist.” The loss of his writing partner caused Coelho to tweet, 

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There is so much more that could be said about the award winning- athlete and entrepreneur, whose spirit and motivation served as a catalyst and even as a testament to others. His passing will be felt worldwide, but the mark he made on not just the world of sports but the world in generation will be a legacy no one could forget. 

 

Which of these Kobe Bryant Projects Have You Heard of?  Leave A Comment Below!

 

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