Winter attacked Shalom, South Carolina with several inches of snow. In a city that boasted of pale beaches usually beaten with sweltering heat year round, temperatures now dipped to record lows. Patches of ice found solace on dark waters of the harbor. And fishing? Forget about it.
The weatherman said it was due to the hurricane that hit late that summer—the one that flattened houses and killed hundreds. But some believed that the strange weather had something to do with the what happened at Club Pimpin’. The Death Angel came through there that evening and killed those three drug boys, devoured them with fire and brimstone. And when the Angel of Death moves in a place that powerfully, it can’t help but upset the atmosphere’s equilibrium. Make it cold when it’s never cold! People blamed it on the boogie man. But Detective Warren Price believed the culprits were flesh and blood. Real men in black masks whose motive was money—plain and simple.
– Heart of Stone (The Stephen Stone Trilogy, Book One). Hitting stores Memorial Day, 2017
I enjoy reading stories about friendship as a friend is truly a precious commodity. The group Whodini recorded a song called Friends and the chorus sings, “How many of us have them?” If you are blessed to have a friend, just one true friend, then you are rich. But if you have two or more people that you can truly call friends, well you are in another tax bracket all together. You’ve struck oil, found gold. Reflections in the Music, a Novella by LeTara Moore, deals with friendship between three women. Will their treasure appreciate over time? Or will it depreciate under the immense pressures of life?
The novella introduces Pea, Sherri and Melissa and gives you a sense of their personalities as well as their interaction and growth, which is basically the crux of the story. I loved the way LeTara referenced music in her prose. I pulled up Minnie Riperton’s Inside Me as I read because Melissa was listening to it. Then the story led me to another Riperton tune: Baby This Love I Have and I realized two things – 1) Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest sampled Minnie Riperton heavily, and rightfully so because her music is dope and ahead of its time; and 2) LeTara Moore is a music head just like me! She teaches readers about the history behind Purple Rain, the movie and album. I never knew that Vanity was supposed to be the leading lady (although I’m glad things worked out like they did because Apollonia…good gracious! Apollonia!!!). The novella motivated me to learn more about R&B history.
I loved the friendship between Pea, Sherri, and Melissa. How they come together in times of need (even when that need isn’t explicitly expressed…no spoilers). I also loved the way that LeTara didn’t try to end things with a neat and pretty bow. We may not like to admit it, but sometimes things don’t end neat and pretty. They end how they need to end, I guess. Hopefully with people gaining strength and insight and learning from their mistakes.
I would’ve liked to see more dialogue in the story. There were long blocks of narration that I believe could’ve been relayed differently via the characters actually speaking to each other. Also, I wanted to see a deeper development of each character. However, this is a novella so perhaps the length constrained the space necessary for LeTara to dig deeper into why Sherri was so vain, why Melissa was such a prude, and why Pea would be reluctant to tell a special man in her life something vitally important. Maybe Ms. Moore will expand each story in subsequent novels. If so, I’d love to read each expansion.
This is the first Langston Hughes novel I’ve read and for a hero of mine, poetically, he didn’t disappoint with prose. NOT WITHOUT LAUGHTER is a coming of age novel about a boy named Sandy and the colorful cast of characters that surround him while he grows into a young man. There’s his no ‘count father, Jimboy; his silly and gullible mother, Anjee; his wild and free aunt, Harriet; his staunch and starched aunt Tempy; and last but not least, his grandmother who ironically in the novel is called Aunt Hagar. Each has a quirk which makes for a plot and a prop to bring Sandy further along to manhood. The reading is easy, relaxed and authentic. And the topics covered are controversial. But Langston paints a proper picture of the time period and lays a foundation for who the reader will ultimately see in Sandy. The only thing I disliked about the novel was at times, it just felt like I was watching a normal life go by. Not drab, mind you, but not a lot of action. Good dialogue, I guess, but maybe not enough tension. I’m not saying I wanted to see explosions and car chases–because this wasn’t an action and adventure novel–I would have liked to see more tension. Like when Harriet came home late, we see the mother’s switch but not the argument or the beating itself even. There were more instances but I don’t want to put out spoilers.
If you like Langston Hughes’ voice, you’ll love NOT WITHOUT LAUGHTER. Just don’t expect any heated climaxes.
PERNICIOUS is my third James Henderson novel and third time is a charm. But the first and second times were charms also. Dude is a beast on pen and paper or keyboard keys or however he writes his masteries. His stories are funny as all get out! And even though hilarious and wildly entertaining, they always hit home and touch on very serious subjects.
In PERNICIOUS, Perry is this blazing woman with green eyes and a body to kill for. Trouble is, she’s using that body to actually do the killing. Soon, suspicions hit the doorstep of homicide detective Tasha Montgomery, a strong and very likable character. Tasha and Perry enter a power struggle that will eventually involve the endangerment of Tasha’s loved ones. Will Tasha be able to prove that Perry is a she-devil before it’s too late? Before she loses the people she loves?
Mr. Henderson, as always, develops characters that you can see in your mind easily and identify with. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Perry was a cold-blooded killer and that she’d risk any and every to get what she wanted. I knew that Tasha was a complex soul, struggling to raise a son with little help from her lame ex-husband Neal, struggling against the stereotypes and the assumptions that surely she couldn’t be a good detective because she was a black woman. The characters were real so they made the story authentic.
And if you want to laugh in public and have people looking at you like you’ve lost your mind, then this novel is for you. The ending hints at a subsequent novel. I need to have that novel in my life soon and very soon.
If you haven’t read a James Henderson novel, do yourself a favor and pick one up today.
Happy COED DAY!!!
(Doesn’t he mean Valentine’s Day?)
Nope! It’s COED Day and the novel is available right now!
I just asked my wife, “Would you be cool with me having a best friend who was a woman?”
Without hesitation she said, “No, I would not be cool with that.”
I feel the same way. Why did I even ask? Well, there’s a section in the novel COED where Sade is having an argument with her boyfriend, Ken, because of her friendship with Travis. Ken isn’t having it. He doesn’t believe that Travis is only interested in a platonic relationship with Sade.
“I don’t trust the guy,” Ken says. “That ‘just friend’ crap, I don’t buy for a minute.”
To me, Ken’s concerns are warranted, especially with what happens in the novel after Sade and Travis become roommates. If my wife had a male best friend, even though I trust her implicitly and I’m secure in our relationship, I wouldn’t be happy about it. I couldn’t see her having a close friendship with another dude. That’s just me. Amazingly enough, most of the folks I’ve asked don’t see anything wrong with it. Especially the ladies I’ve asked. Some attest that they have close male friends and there’s no danger of something sexual happening. I was actually shocked by that response.
As for me and my lady, we’re not having it. In the novel, Ken definitely isn’t having it. What’s your opinion?
James Fant is the author of the upcoming novel, COED. Available 2/14/17. Get it via Pre-Order right now!
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