Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson

Pages: 149
Genre: Literary Fiction
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Version: ePub
Publication Date: 1912
Source: Library

Synopsis (GoodReads):

James Weldon Johnson's emotionally gripping novel is a landmark in black literary history and, more than eighty years after its original anonymous publication, a classic of American fiction.
The first fictional memoir ever written by a black, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man influenced a generation of writers during the Harlem Renaissance and served as eloquent inspiration for Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. In the 1920s and since, it has also given white readers a startling new perspective on their own culture, revealing to many the double standard of racial identity imposed on black Americans.
Narrated by a mulatto man whose light skin allows him to "pass" for white, the novel describes a pilgrimage through America's color lines at the turn of the century--from a black college in Jacksonville to an elite New York nightclub, from the rural South to the white suburbs of the Northeast. This is a powerful, unsentimental examination of race in America, a hymn to the anguish of forging an identity in a nation obsessed with color. And, as Arna Bontemps pointed out decades ago, "the problems of the artist [as presented here] seem as contemporary as if the book had been written this year."


This is a really hard review for me to write there is just so much to say about the book and I have no idea where to start.  And if I said all that I wanted to say, this review would end up a term paper instead of a simple review.

Simply stated The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored is about a mulatto man that can pass as white.  But the story is much deeper and more complex then just skin colored.  Set in the early 1900's Weldon touch on a lot of issues dealing with racial prejudice and cultural identity.  It's very interesting to watch the the narrator try to reconcile his racial background (black) with his appearance and upbringing.  At one point in the story a "friend" of the narrator makes a comment that narrator was raised as a white man and should live his life as such, that it would be much easier for him to do so.  There is a since that the narrator never really fits in anywhere, partially because of the ambiguity of his appearance and also because he really has no family or close ties.  He ends up drifting through life with nothing to hold him down to one place or tie him to one group (race, family, friends, etc).

Something that I find interesting about The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is that the issues presented in the book are still relevant today probably even more so, given the fact that the U.S. has a black (mixed) president.  It is amazing how after 113 years very little has really changed in the regards to race and culture in the US.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is not a "light" read when it comes to subject matter.  But Weldon was able to pull me in and make me want to flip to the next page.  I was surprised by how expertly he dealt with each topic and situation in such a sort book.  I think part of the reason is because that it is done in memoir form so the reader gets the feeling that they are listening to an old man reflecting on his journey through life and questioning some of the decisions that he made.

Final Grade: A

Overall Recommendation:

The Autiobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a must read

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday #4

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
This weeks teasers is from Love in the Years of Lunacy by Mandy Sayer

They'd been on the trek several days when Farthing and Marks guessed that Charlie and Blue were, as they joked, "playing bottoms with one another."  There were several telltale signs: a hand on a shoulder, one straightening the other's hat, the traded glances.

page 213 (PDF version)

Don't forget to post a link to your teaser!

I want to read it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Vampire Huntress Legend Series Giveaway

Enter to win the first three books in The Vampire Huntress Legend Series by L.A. Banks.



  1. This giveaway is for the first three books in The Vampire Huntress Legend Series (Minion, The Awakening, and The Haunting) by L.A. Banks
  2. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States only (sorry I can only ship books to addresses located in the United States).
  3. Winners will receive a copy of the first three books in The Vampire Huntress Legend Series by L.A. Banks
  4. All entries most be through the Rafflecopter widget below.
  5. Winner has 48 hours to contact me via email (thelittlereadingnook at gmail dot com) to claim their prize.  If I don't receive and email winner, I will pick another winner (same rules apply).
  6. Winner will be announced via twitter and on the blog.
  7. I think it goes without saying but no cheating (one entry per family and household).

The Giveaway will open at 12am on February 20th and close February 28th at 12am.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Black History Month Blog Giveaway Hop

Because I am completely lazy, I just copied and pasted from Alysia site My Little Pocketbooks.
 photo Screenshot2013-01-24at90219AM_zpsa28aefdd.png

When does the giveaway start?
February 20th - 27th

What is the Purpose of this giveaway hop?
To give black authors, books and those who support them time in the spotlight.

Who can join in this?
This hop is open to any blogger who wants to participate in the giveaway hop. If the site is adult rated, please indicate it in your linky name. (ex. blog name *adult*)

Why join this hop? 
One to raise awareness of black authors and black topics in books. Two, to promote diversity in mainstream literature. Three, because we are giving a prize to one lucky blogger.

Say what!  Blogger Prize?!
$10 Amazon gift card or a $10 book from The Book Depository will go to one lucky blogger.  When you link your blog that will be your number for the giveaway.  Blogger Winner will be picked by

So what are the Rules? 
Please read all the giveaway rules
1. Before the giveaway starts, please post about the giveaway.  Create a post about the giveaway to encourage more people to sign up. You are more than welcome to cut and copy this post.
Your giveaway must have no more than two required entries for your readers. Please make it easy.
2. The prize has to be a book by a black author, or about black characters, or regarding black history. Gift cards are welcomed as well. No EXCEPTIONS!
3. Please link your blog to the Linky at Reflection of a Bookacholic or My Little Pocketbooks site.
4. Please include the blog giveaway image in your post as well as in your side bar.
Linkys that do not meet these requirements will be removed on the second day of the hop.

What is a black book?
Any of the following count  
1. Written by a black author (from any country)
2. Main character is black (from any country)
3. More than one supporting character is black (and from any country)

Do I have to be black to participate?
No not at all! Everyone is welcomed to join us.

Is there a Button?
Please resize the button for your needs. 
 photo Screenshot2013-01-24at90219AM_zpsa28aefdd.png

If you have any questions not listed here feel free to contact Alysia at or Alexis

Sidenote:  I am really excited about excited about this giveaway Blog Giveaway Hop... The books (yes multiple  that I am planning to giveaway I have been wanting to giveaway for a while.  This hops gives me a reason to do it and I found a site that has them on sale.  I will posting the books that I am planning to giveaway on Friday but the entries won't be accepted until the 20th.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Leaves by Michael Baron

Pages: 207
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Version: ePub
Publication Date: 2010
Publisher: The Story Plant
Source: Providence Book Promotions

Synopsis (GoodReads):
Welcome to Oldham, CT, a small town rich in Colonial heritage while being utterly contemporary. Situated along the Connecticut River Valley, Oldham bursts with color every fall, as the leaves on its trees evolve into an unmatched palette of scarlet, orange, purple, yellow, and bronze. For more than three decades, the Gold family has been a central part of Oldham in the fall, its Sugar Maple Inn a destination for "leaf-peepers” from all over the country, and its annual Halloween party a stirring way to punctuate the town’s most active month. 
But this year, more than just the leaves are changing. With the death of their parents, the Gold siblings, Maria, Maxwell, Deborah, Corrina, and Tyler, have decided to sell the Sugar Maple Inn, and this year’s Halloween party will be the last. As October begins, the Golds contend with the finality that faces them, and the implications it has for a family that has always been so close. For some, it means embracing new challenges and new love. For others, it means taking on unimagined roles. And for others, it means considering the inconceivable. Complicating it all is a series of "hauntings” that touch each of the Gold siblings, a series of benign interventions that will remain a mystery until October draws to a close. 
Filled with romance, tension, and unforgettable family drama, Leaves is the first in a series of novels about a world and a family that readers will want to make their own.


Plot Grade: A-

The overall plot to Leaves is not unique. Basically, Leaves is the story what happens to a family once both parents are gone (in this cases deceased).  While the plot is not unique, I think Michael Baron handle the subject masterfully.  It did not read like the same old story and even though it was technically a family drama, the drama wasn't so over the top that readers could not relate to what was happening.  I enjoyed how Baron handled the family dynamic, in the hands of other writers this same story might have come of dull and I might not have been able to finish it.  But Baron was able to weave the past and the present in such a way that the story of the Gold was entertaining.

Characters: C+

The hardest element of Leaves for me was the characters.  There were just so many of them and while it was  easy to tell them apart and get to know their stories.  It was hard to adjust at times.  One minute, the reader is in the kitchen with Deborah and the next the reader is playing the guitar with Corrina.  I understood why Baron wrote the story in alternating characters (all within the same chapter) but it did not help with the flow.

While, I like all the characters and enjoyed their stories, I had a hard time connecting with them.  Mainly because there was five of them and secondly because so little time is spent with each character.  It would have completely changed the Leaves to read Leaves from the point of view of only one character but at times I wished that their were smoother transitions from character to character.

All of the characters had distinctive voices and stories.  The only character that I found inconsistent was Corrina.  In the eyes of her siblings she is a control freak that rules that family.  But when the story is told from her "point of view" I just didn't see behavior in her day to day interactions with others to support that characterization.

Writing: A

There is not much to say about Baron's writing other than he has skills.  There was never a point where the story dragged or I was bored and felt like I should skip a few paragraphs or pages.  In fact, I was engaged the whole time.  One element that I really enjoyed was "hauntings"  only two of them would be considered "big deals" the others were sort of like small hallucination that they characters could have easily imagined.  They did not seem out of place with the story and helped to move the story forward while at the same time providing insight into the characters and their background.

Explanation of Rating:
Overall, I enjoyed Leaves by Michael Baron.  It was the story of a family going through a rough transition without being over the top and dramatic (no soap opera here).  The characters were realistic and likely but the fact that their were five of them prevented the true connection.  As a family the Golds were great but overall the lack of connection sort of dragged down the overall grade.

Final Grade: B-

Overall Recommendation:

I would not hesitate to recommend Leaves by Michael Baron.  In fact, I think I would not have a problem with reading other books by him in the future.  At the end of the book Baron mentioned writing follow-ups or sequels for Leaves, featuring some of the characters and what happens to them.  I probably wouldn't read it because I felt that the story had a prefect ending, loose strings and all.

Disclaimer:  I reviewed a free copy of Leaves by Michael Baron in exchange for an honest review in connection with Providence Book Promotions.  All opinions stated above are my own.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday #3

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
This weeks teasers is from Leaves by Michael Baron
Deborah nodded her head slowly, "That's just the thing. I think this might be the new normal.  What if all the tension is a symptom?   What if now that my father and mother are gone - and soon the inn will be as well - we don't have any reason to stay connected?"

~page 127 (ePub version)

Don't forget to post a link to your teaser!

I want to read it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Shorts #3

Photo credit: the bbp / Foter / CC BY 

Sunday Shorts is a weekly feature here at The Little Reading Nook.  Were I review short stories that I have read (normally on a Sunday).  It is my way of diving into the world of short stories and trying to introduce others to them also.

I was catching up on my The Colbert Report watching and came across a segment where Stephen Colbert interviews George Saunders about his upcoming anthology.  While I have never read anything by George Saunders, I think the interview provides a great explanation of the short story.

Now on to this weeks Sunday Shorts.

is the third Sunday, that I am reviewing a short from Ran Walkers 16 Bars:  A Short Story Mixtape.

Description (GoodReads):

Ran Walker's first "short story mixtape" pulls together a varied collection of stories about black men and how they are shaped by the relationships they enter. With topics ranging from break-ups to awkward first dates, 16 Bars is a bold, unflinching, and even humorous take on what goes on in the minds of black men when romance enters the picture.

16 Bars:  

"16 Bars" takes us through a college professor's dilemma of participating on a student's mixtape.
16 Bars is a great example of what George Saunders was trying to explain to Stephen Colbert.  It's a short segment in the life of Professor Dennis and the opportunity that one of his students to spit 16 bars on a mixtape.  Readers get a glimpse into Professor Dennis past and is relationship with hip-hop and rap.  As well as his present family life.

Like the other stories in 16 Bars, this story is also in first person.  It's a great choice because it gives the reader to get to know Professor Dennis and to hear in his own words some of the anxiety he feels about proving himself to his students.  That same students that laughed at him when he told them about his past experience as being an MC.

When the story was over and I read the last sentence, I was disappointed. Not in the story but in the fact that I wanted to know what happened next.

Eight Million:  
"Eight Million" brings together two people who thought (and hoped) they would never see each other again.
Eight Million is a very short story and took me less than five minutes to read but in that five minutes I got a lot of background about the main character and the woman that he had thought that he would never see again.  What I like about this story the most is that there is no a lot of details given but the reader gets the point.  I understood why each of these people had hoped that they would never see each other again.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Finds #5

Friday Finds hosted by Should Be Reading ask:

What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

I am highlighting books that have been sitting in my Google Reader for over 6 months just waiting for me to give them a second look and a spot on my TBR List.  This week I have found 4 books that fit the bill.

(Clicking on the image will take you to the books GoodReads page)

What have you found this week?