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BIBITS Picks, by Genre

At the 2006 BookExpo America, in Washington, D.C., in May, close to 1,000 authors and approximately 1,300 publishers showcased recent releases and upcoming titles--most just in time for a book lover's summer reading pleasure. After sifting through boxes of books, checking out old favorite authors and getting excited about new writers, the editors at BIBR uncovered something for everyone. Consider taking some of these books along on vacation. In the following list, you will find witty and soul-satisfying fiction, intellectually stimulating nonfiction and books that were just plain-out romps with heartwarming stories.



From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah Penguin, June 2006 $14, ISBN 0-143-03726-9

This celebrated Somalian writer's first novel--available for the first time in English--tells the story of 18-year-old Ebla, who flees her nomadic camp to escape the older man to whom her grandfather has promised her. Ebla's journey to maintain her identity in a world where women seem undervalued and are treated like cattle is hauntingly and beautifully depicted.

Iron Balloons: Hit Fiction From Jamaica's Calabash Writer's Workshop Edited by Colin Channer Akashic Books, July 2006 $14.95, ISBN 1-933-35405-4

The Calabash International Literary Festival just celebrated its sixth year of bringing together a diverse assembly of international authors and poets, as well as a few actors, in Jamaica, to share their works with other folks who simply enjoy a good story. Iron Balloons is a collection of short stories born in the Calabash Writer's Workshop, where established writers and students have shared ideas, discussed the craft of writing and honed their skills. The stories are as varied as the writers, who include Marion James and Kaylie Jones.

Lost Hearts in Italy by Andrea Lee Random House, June 2006 $23.95, ISBN 1-400-06169-5

Andrea Lee's new novel follows Mira, a young, black travel writer from Philadelphia, who relocates to Rome with her husband. Mira begins an affair with an Italian billionaire and her marriage, as well as her sense of self, becomes endangered. Desire, regret and rediscovery pervade the events and emotional excursions of the main characters.


Ain't No Sunshine by Candice Dow Dafina Books/Kensington, June 2006 $14, ISBN 0-758-21055-8

In her second novel, Dow enters the life of a 17-year-old girl who was abandoned at birth and escapes loneliness by stripping at a Miami nightclub. Laila meets an attractive young man who was also orphaned, and they begin a relationship. As the relationship turns abusive, Laila discovers she must confront her past to make way for a brighter future.

Crabs in a Barrel by Byron Harmon Agate, August 2006 $15, ISBN 1-932-84121-0

When a luxury charter yacht headed for the Bahamas is shipwrecked on a tiny island, the 10 survivors, all of them African American except for the white captain, must figure out how to survive. Imagine this Gilligan's Island where a wealthy lawyer, a Brooklyn thug, a black Muslim and two gold-digger cousins are among the castaways.

Drama Is Her Middle Name by Wendy Williams and Karen Hunter Harlem Moon/Broadway Books June 2006, $10.95, ISBN 0-767-92486-X

In this first of three serial novels, a popular New York City radio personality and a journalist coauthor have teamed up to create what readers will undoubtedly interpret as Williams's alter ego--Ritz Harper, an over-the-top, glam radio DJ. As the victim of a drive-by, Ritz wrestles with the fact that someone wants her silenced.

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life by Lyah Beth LeFlore Harlem Moon/Broadway Books May 2006, $12.95, ISBN 0-7679-2118-6

Destiny Day, the Big Apple's hottest party promoter, lives in a fast-paced world of glitz, wealth and power. She thinks she has it all until the possibility of love emerges in the form of Taye Crawford.

Playing by the Rules by Elaine Meryl Brown One World/Ballantine, June 2006 $13.95, ISBN 0-812-97304-9

This is the sequel to Lemon City. In the town, founded after the Emancipation Proclamation, residents have always abided by 10 rules. This novel reveals the consequences of breaking a rule; in this case, it's rule No. 1: "Never marry an outsider."

The Rolexxx Club by Meta Smith Warner Books, July 2006 $13.95, ISBN 0-446-69678-1

Dez works as a dancer at a famous strip club but dreams of becoming a rap-star. While struggling to make a name for herself, working as a backup singer and a model, she meets a hip-hop artist who brings her closer to her dream. The only question is, can she leave her past completely behind and keep her new life together?

What They Want by Omar Tyree Simon & Schuster, July 2006 $21.95, ISBN 0-743-22869-3

The prolific Tyree--this is his fifteenth book--returns with another story about love and seduction. This time around, a successful male model who has no plans of settling down meets a woman who changes his self-adulating perspective.


5 Minutes and 42 Seconds by T.J. Williams Amistad/HarperCollins, June 2006 $14.95, ISBN 0-060-83768-3

This debut novel by a Princeton sophomore is fast-paced and gritty, complete with drug dealing, illicit sex and high-stakes family dynamics. Cameisha's life with her drug-kingpin husband is no bed of roses, but she plans to change all of that.

Dirty Red by Vickie M. Stringer Atria Books, July 2006 $23.95, ISBN 0-743-49348-6

In her third book, Stringer introduces readers to Red, a manipulative young girl who fakes a pregnancy. When her plans backfire, Red must face the consequences of her actions, as well as the realities of falling in love.

How to Kill Your Boyfriend (In Ten Easy Steps) by D.V. Bernard Strebor Books, June 2006 $19, ISBN 1-593-09066-8

Stacey reasons that if she murdered her boyfriend unintentionally--it was a case of arousal gone too far. She abducts Dr. Vera, a radio call-in host, and explains her actions. In this dark comedy, the two women get caught up in a wild ride of self-discovery.

Ladies Listen Up by Darren Coleman Amistad/HarperCollins, July 2006 $14.95, ISBN 0-060-85191-0

The title of this book is also the name of a male character's column and radio program. In the column, he gives women advice on relationships. Meanwhile, he has relationship issues of his own.


Like Sheep Gone Astray by Leslie J. Sherrod Walk Worthy Press, July 2006 $12.99, ISBN 0-446-69705-2

In her debut novel, Sherrod introduces readers to Anthony Murdoch, a rising business executive and minister of the Second Baptist Church who finds himself caught up in a shady business deal that could ruin his reputation, his marriage and his church's community center.

A Sin and a Shame by Victoria Christopher Murray Touchstone, June 2006 $14, ISBN 0-743-28737-1

The deceitful Jasmine Larson, first introduced in Murray's 2000 title Temptation, returns in the author's fifth novel. Jasmine is a changed woman now, vowing to mend her ways and attend church every Sunday; however, her plans for a new life--with the new boyfriend, a preacher--are threatened when an old flame returns.


Just Short of Crazy by Nina Foxx Avon Trade, June 2006 $12.95, ISBN 0-060-84799-9

In Foxx's Marrying Up (Avon Trade, 2005), the character Alexis Pearson, a successful lawyer, had it all--or so it seemed. In this follow-up, she gets dumped by her fiance, cuts her hair to "uncover the new me" and decides to set some new goals for herself--personally, professionally and, of course, romantically.

The Sweet Spot by Kayla Perrin Avon Trade, June 2006 $12.95, ISBN 0-060-75399-4

In this sexy and fun read, Zoe Andrews, a budding journalist, is determined to make it big in men's sports and to make football star Kahari Brown her next big story.


Again by Sharon Cullars Bravo/Kensington, May 2006 $14, ISBN 0-758-21370-0

In this debut, Tyne Jensen, an aspiring journalist, meets David at her sister's wedding. However, there's something familiar about him. He reminds her of a past lover. David also feels an attraction to Tyne. The two begin a passionate affair that eventually reveals secrets of their pasts.


Deuce's Wild by Clyde W. Ford Midnight Ink, July 2006 $13.95, ISBN 0-738-70809-7

Ford, whose book The Long Mile won the 2006 Independent Publishers Book Awards for Best Mystery, blends hip-hop and politics into his second installment of the Shango Mysteries series. In this latest offering, Officer John Shannon investigates the murder of a popular rap artist and recent convert to a mystical sect of Islam.

Tangled Roots by Angola Henry Sepia/Kimani Press, June 2006 $13.95, ISBN 1-583-14608-3

In Henry's second Kendra Clayton novel, the protagonist, a part-time GED teacher, gets involved in a murder investigation involving a student who becomes the main suspect.


The Forsaken: A Vampire Huntress Legend by L.A. Banks St. Martin's Press/Griffin, July 2006 $14.95, ISBN 0-312-35235-2

In this, the seventh hot-blooded novel of the Vampire Huntress series, the chairman of the Vampire Council is dead and the hunt for revenge is on.

Great Sky Woman by Steven Barnes One World/Ballantine, July 2006 $24.95, ISBN 0-345-45900-8

Barnes, creator of the acclaimed Lion's Blood, sets his latest story in prehistoric Africa, where Frog Hopping and T'Cori, two young members of the Ibandi tribe of hunter-gatherers, must reach Father Sky to ask for his help against a bloodthirsty enemy clan.



We Speak Your Names: A Celebration by Pearl Cleage with Zaron W. Burnett Jr. One World/Ballantine, May 2006 $9.95, ISBN 0-345-49027-4

As part of Oprah Winfrey's "Legends Ball," honoring the achievements of 25 black women, writer Pearl Cleage created this poem.

More Gems for the Journey by Vikki Johnson New Spirit, August 2006 $16.95, ISBN 1-583-14668-7

From one sistah to her sistahs, this is a journal-like book of daily affirmations with which the author hopes to "soothe your soul and rejuvenate your spirit."


The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted by Obery M. Hendricks Jr, Doubleday, August 2006 $24.95, ISBN 0-385-51664-9

Hendricks, a professor of biblical interpretation at the New York Theological Seminary, focuses on the Gospels in this well-documented book. With research to back up his depiction, he portrays Jesus as a political revolutionary and not simply as the gentle and nonthreatening Savior.


Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete by William C. Rhoden Crown, June 2006 $23.95, ISBN 0-609-60120-2

African American athletes today have the potential to be so much more than a spectacle that exists for the pleasure and benefit of white owners. About this book, which was nearly 10 years in the making, Rhoden, a veteran sports journalist for The New York Times, says, "This book is a map, a look back at roads crossed, a glimpse forward at roads not yet traveled."


Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression by Spencer Overton W.W. Norton & Company, June 2006 $24.95, ISBN 0-393-06159-0

Overton, professor at George Washington University Law School, gives readers some heavy thoughts to ponder as the next round of elections approach. Here, he incorporates real-life stories to show how voting procedures affect many aspects of our everyday lives.


Lady Sings the Blues by Billie Holiday with William Dufty Harlem Moon/Broadway Books June 2006, $12.95, ISBN 0-767-92386-3

The 50th anniversary edition of the biography of one of the greatest jazz singers of all time.


Literary Divas: The Top 100+ Most Admired African-American Women in Literature by Heather Covington Amber Books, April 2006 $16.95, ISBN 0-976-77353-8

A Who's Who of black female writers, editors, critics and others on the African American literary scene.


Sesame Street Dad: Evolution of an Actor by Roscoe Orman Inkwater Press, June 2006 $19.95, ISBN 1-592-99210-2

For 32 years, Orman has played Gordon Robinson on PBS's Sesame Street. In the Introduction to this, his first book, he says, "I wanted to pass along to my children and their fellow 'hip-hop-generation-Xers' information which might serve as a series of historical reference points to help illuminate the paths that their lives may follow."

Twilight People: One Man's Journey to Find His Roots by David Houze University of California Press, May 2006 $24.95, ISBN 0-520-24398-6

Houze and his mother left South Africa in 1966, and settled in Mississippi to live with his black American father. They left behind Houze's three sisters; and in this poignant memoir, the author struggles with issues of abandonment, belonging, family, love and reconnection.

You Must Set Forth at Dawn by Wole Soyinka Random House, April 2006 $26.95, ISBN 0-375-50385-X

Soyinka, who in 1986 became the first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, recounts the turbulent years of his adult life-including years of imprisonment---and shares uplifting anecdotes.


For road trips, you will also need a few audiobooks. Here are some of the best new titles available: (Most were reviewed in BIBR when published in print.)


Changing Faces by Kimberla Lawson Roby, performed by Lynn Chavis Audra Alise Polk and Delores King Williams, HarperAudio, abridged CD, $29.95, ISBN 0-060-87637-9

Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas, read by Patricia R. Floyd Recorded Books, unabridged cassette, $54.95 ISBN 1-419-38599-2

Joplin's Ghost by Tananarive Due, read by Lizan Mitchell Recorded Books unabridged CD, $69.95, ISBN 1-419-34139-1; unabridged cassette, $64.95, ISBN 1-419-35204-0

The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan, read by Lynn Whitfield Penguin Audio, abridged CD, $32.95, ISBN 0-142-80026-0


Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, read by the author, Random House Audio abridged CD, $25.95, ISBN 0-739-32100-5

The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner with Quincy Troupe, read by Andre Blake HarperAudio, abridged CD, $29.95, ISBN 0-060-89788-0

With Ossie and Ruby; In This Life Together by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, read by the authors, Hatchette Audio, abridged CD, $29.98, ISBN 1-594-83335-4


Blues Journey by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers read by Richard Allen, Live Oak Media, cassette and hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 1-595-19429-0; CD and hardcover $28.95, ISBN 1-595-19433-9

Bluish by Virginia Hamilton, read by Lisa Renee Pitts Blackstone Audio, unabridged cassette, $22.95, ISBN 0-786-14495-5; unabridged CD, $24, ISBN 0-786-17235-5
COPYRIGHT 2006 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:BEST OF SUMMER 2006
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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