Library Loot: February 16-22

by Notorious Spinks on 02.22.2011

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire (The Captive Reader) and Marg (The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out of the library. I support my local library to get books I’m not sure I want to own and to make sure they stay in my business.  LOL!  Yes, I get library fines quite often.

This week I got…

Song Yet Sung by James McBride — The cover were too cute to walk past and not check it out.

Escaped slaves, free blacks, slave-catchers and plantation owners weave a tangled web of intrigue and adventure in bestselling memoirist (The Color of Water) McBride’s intricately constructed and impressive second novel, set in pre–Civil War Maryland. Liz Spocott, a beautiful young runaway slave, suffers a nasty head wound just before being nabbed by a posse of slave catchers. She falls into a coma, and, when she awakes, she can see the future—from the near-future to Martin Luther King to hip-hop—in her dreams. Liz’s visions help her and her fellow slaves escape, but soon there are new dangers on her trail: Patty Cannon and her brutal gang of slave catchers, and a competing slave catcher, nicknamed The Gimp, who has a surprising streak of morality. Liz has some friends, including an older woman who teaches her The Code that guides runaways; a handsome young slave; and a wild inhabitant of the woods and swamps. Kidnappings, gunfights and chases ensue as Liz drifts in and out of her visions, which serve as a thoughtful meditation on the nature of freedom and offer sharp social commentary on contemporary America. McBride hasn’t lost his touch: he nails the horrors of slavery as well as he does the power of hope and redemption.

The Million Dollar Deception by R.M. Johnson — I read the first installment, The Million Dollar Divorce and the characters made me want to know what happened to them.

Almost five years after his critically acclaimed novel The Million Dollar Divorce, Essence bestselling author RM Johnson returns with the sequel that fans have been waiting for…and in The Million Dollar Deception, Nate Kenny, Lewis Waters, and Monica Kenny still have not buried the hatchet. When readers last closed the book on Nate Kenny, his scheming had backfired, and he not only lost a great fortune in a messy divorce but his wife ended up with the very man he paid off to seduce her into infidelity. Now, four years later, it’s time for payback. Meanwhile, Monica Kenny has a decision to make — stay with and marry Lewis Waters, the younger man she knows may not be right for her? Or leave him, venture out on her own, and face the possibility of falling for another man who may leave her as her ex-husband did, because she cannot bear children? Lewis Waters recognizes that he’s in a much better position than he ever was, now that he’s with Monica. She takes care of him and his daughter and provides them with financial stability; but Lewis fears she is also starting to notice the pair’s fundamental differences. In an attempt to repair the relationship, Lewis vows that he’ll never return to his former thuggish life — he intensifies life in the bedroom and promises to finish school and start a successful real estate business.

But Nate is prepared to use all his cunning, expertise, and money to destroy Lewis, and take Monica back.

Unbeknownst to all three, there will be life and death repercussions.

A stirring saga of romance, loyalty, and friendship, The Million Dollar Deception is an explosive escapade of betrayal, sex, and suspense that will leave you breathless for the next, and final, installment.

72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell — My bookclub is reading this one for our meeting this weekend.

This powerful story of a mother trying to cope with her daughter’s bipolar disorder reads at times like a heightened procedural. Keri, the owner of an upscale L.A. resale clothing shop, is hopeful as daughter Trina celebrates her 18th birthday and begins a successful-seeming new treatment. But as Trina relapses into mania, both their worlds spiral out of control. An ex-husband who refuses to believe their daughter is really sick, the stigmas of mental illness in the black community, a byzantine medico-insurance system—all make Keri increasingly desperate as Trina deteriorates (requiring, repeatedly, a “72 hour hold” in the hospital against her will). The ins and outs of working the mental health system take up a lot of space, but Moore Campbell is terrific at describing the different emotional gradations produced by each new circle of hell. There’s a lesbian subplot, and a radical (and expensive) group that offers treatment off the grid may hold promise. The author of a well-reviewed children’s book on how to cope with a parent’s mental illness, Moore Campbell (What You Owe Me) is on familiar ground; she gives Keri’s actions and decisions compelling depth and detail, and makes Trina’s illness palpable. While this feels at times like a mission-driven book, it draws on all of Moore Campbell’s nuance and style.

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama

You can check out my review here.

Heard It All Before by Michele Grant— I’m reading this for the Chick Lit Challenge

Accustomed to living the high life in Dallas, everything Jewellen Capwell knows about the hood comes from the movies. So when she agrees to accompany her best friend Renee to a Southside ball game, her only concern is keeping her cool around the peeps. She’s not there to ogle men like Renee, but the moment Jewel lays eyes on Roman Montgomery, she begins to wonder just what she’s been missing. When it comes to men, Jewel’s heard it all before, but suddenly it seems like Rome’s working from a whole new script. . .

Renee Nightingale loves to fall in love. Right now, she’s got her sights set on landing a rock from her current main squeeze, Gregory. She’s not getting any younger, and she sure isn’t going to reach thirty still single. And to ensure no one plays her, she’s always got a game going on. So when temptation comes calling in the form of a fine, young man with a chiseled physique, she can’t resist–and why should she? What Gregory doesn’t know, can’t hurt them–or so she thinks. . .

The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by The Freedoms Writers — I’m helping some students at a local charter school so I’m reading this to get in the groove.

As an idealistic twenty-three-year-old English teacher at Wilson High School in Long beach, California, Erin Gruwell confronted a room of “unteachable, at-risk” students. One day she intercepted a note with an ugly racial caricature, and angrily declared that this was precisely the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust—only to be met by uncomprehending looks. So she and her students, using the treasured books Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo as their guides, undertook a life-changing, eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding. They learned to see the parallels in these books to their own lives, recording their thoughts and feelings in diaries and dubbing themselves the “Freedom Writers” in homage to the civil rights activists “The Freedom Riders.”

With funds raised by a “Read-a-thon for Tolerance,” they arranged for Miep Gies, the courageous Dutch woman who sheltered the Frank family, to visit them in California, where she declared that Erin Gruwell’s students were “the real heroes.” Their efforts have paid off spectacularly, both in terms of recognition—appearances on “Prime Time Live” and “All Things Considered,” coverage in People magazine, a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley—and educationally. All 150 Freedom Writers have graduated from high school and are now attending college.

With powerful entries from the students’ own diaries and a narrative text by Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary is an uplifting, unforgettable example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students.

The authors’ proceeds from this book will be donated to The Tolerance Education Foundation, an organization set up to pay for the Freedom Writers’ college tuition. Erin Gruwell is now a visiting professor at California State University, Long Beach, where some of her students are Freedom Writers.

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