Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

This year has been one of the best for me at Sistahs on the Shelf.

I’ve met some great people. And I’ve branched out and tried some ideas that I’m definitely carrying into the new year.

Most importantly, I’ve read some fabulous books – both of the lesbian and the mainstream variety. These are truly my favorites, though. Browse through my garden of good and lovelies, shall you?

Descendants of Hagar by Nik Nicholson

I finished reading this book only a couple of weeks ago, and just like that it became my favorite book of 2013. Why? Because of Madelyn “Linny” Remington, the main character of Nicholson’s novel about a 1914 woman who doesn’t follow the strict conventions of her time. She can match wits and strength with any man, but knows being a woman is her greatest asset. Even as ladies in her Georgia town of Zion can’t vote unless through a man, Linny strives to make her voice heard. But the book goes even deeper. Hands down, Hagar has the best characterization I’ve seen in a novel this year. Look for a review of Hagar very soon.

Full Circle by Skyy

What more can I say about a beloved series that has come to a close? That Skyy needs to write more books, that’s what. Full Circle, this final novel starring Denise, Lena, Cooley and Carmen, said everything that needed to be said by the last page. Hearts were broken, truths were told, and love brought people together. If you haven’t read any of the Choices series, please get on that.

I am Your Sister 2 by Ericka K. F. Simpson

Just as intense is Simpson’s I Am Your Sister 2, with Symone Holmes undergoing painful flashbacks while finally achieving her dream as a WNBA player. Her growing pains from the previous novel are testaments to Simpson’s talent, tying religion, sports, sexuality and love.

On the Come Up by Hannah Weyer

AnnMarie Walker simply could have been product of her public housing upbringing. Yet there was so much more to AnnMarie than her surroundings, a fact beautifully drawn by filmmaker Weyer in On the Come Up, a novel based on a true story. Pregnant at 13, she’s no one’s victim. AnnMarie is engaging, smart, and endearing. She becomes a movie star, falls in love, and charts her path – and we know she’ll be all right. Not a book for everyone (but it should be), On the Come Up has a unique voice.

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

Ascension was an out-of-the-box read for me, considering I don’t read a lot of science fiction. But Koyanagi endeared me to the story of Alana Quick, a dreadlocked sky surgeon in Heliodor City on the planet Orpim. Her life is fixing space ships with her Aunt Lai, barely getting by, and coping with debilitating illness. She gets aboard a stranded vessel, and goes on a wild ride with her ragtag crew. I was enamored by the space travel. This is the first in the Tangled Axiom series.

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

What is it about first love that allows us to see only roses and skip over the weeds? This is portrayed in If You Could Be Mine, a young adult romance set in Iran. I enjoyed it, mostly because I watched as Sahar genuinely laid her heart bare for her best friend. Everything she went through to prove this love – including a possible sex change operation – was what kept me reading. Sahar is a great character, and I really want to know what happens to her next (which means I want a sequel).

The EXchange by Nikki Rashan

What hot piece of drama this book was! Kyla – from Double Pleasure Double Pain and You Make Me Wanna – and her partner Asia decide to bring in a third party to spice up their dull relationship – and not in the way you think. It’s more like Kyla decides to date her ex while Asia waits for her to decide what she truly wants. A recipe for disaster, but also an entertaining, make-you-think-about-your-own-relationship read.

Turn Me Out by T. Ariez

After reading this e-book, I immediately had to interview this author. T. Ariez’s work about stud-on-stud love compelled me to explore her motivation for writing. This concluded in my first Interview & Review feature (which I will do more of in the coming year). Turn Me Out is a spicy book, and it managed to get a lot of people reading it and discovering Ariez as an author. I think she will have great things in store in 2014, as she’s been teasing about a new project on Facebook.

Abandoned Property by Kai Mann

Hands down, one of the best sequels I read this year. I was so enthralled by the revolving narratives in Mann’s sequel to 30 Day Notice. All the character’s stories come together so seamlessly in the life of Kori Maitlin, whom we’re introduced to in Notice. Well done and fully absorbing.

Broken in Soft Places by Fiona Zedde

The beauty is not necessarily in how the characters in Zedde’s latest book, Broken in Soft Places, treat each other, but in how Zedde deftly writes a novel that makes a deplorable character appealing. Rille can’t be contained by monogamy, much to the chagrin of Sara, but Zedde’s prose keeps you wanting to know what will happen to this couple next.

So tell me: What’s the best lesbian book you’ve read this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Should Be Required Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Reading

Labor Day weekend was a fun one for me. I got to meet six amazing authors at the Ladies of Literature event at ATL Black Pride: Skyy, Fiona Zedde, Sheree L. Greer, LaToya Hankins, Anondra “Kat” Williams, and Robin G. White. These women were fabulous and full of creativity. The one thing they stressed to aspiring authors who want to be published is to just WRITE. You can’t be published if you don’t write.

But the women also stressed the importance reading as a building block to writing. Your work is tremendously better if you learn the nuances of writing from those who’ve done it, and find your own way to tell your story.

That’s why I thought this Top Ten Topic was right on time. These books, if you’re a writer or simply a lover of Black lesbian fiction, should be required reading and a must for your bookshelf. These women know how to turn a phrase and keep the pages turning.

so with no further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

3. Bliss by Fiona Zedde

4. Choices by Skyy

5. Once and Future Lovers by Sheree L. Greer

6. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

7. Passing by Nella Larsen

8. Fire & Brimstone by Laurinda D. Brown

9. Water in a Broken Glass by Odessa Rose

10. The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

Top Ten Tuesday: Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List

Believe me when I say, I have a lot of books of my TBR (to-be-read) list. So much so, that this summer you will frequently see me with a book in my hands or page-turnin’ on my Kindle (which is really no different from any other time). But these books are ones I want to read in the near future. And by near future, I mean in the next weeks. I have a lot to choose from, and I hope you find something you want, as well. Without further ado (and in no ranking order)…

Full Circle by Skyy
The final book in the Choices series? I get to see if Lena and Denise finally end up together? I’m there!

The Exchange by Nikki Rashan (out June 25)

I’m looking forward to reading another Nikki Rashan book, especially since it’s been 3 years since her last, Cyber Chase.

The Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzie

This debut novel from Mia McKenzie’s was just recently bestowed with the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction, but this had long been on my TBR list. The story of Ava Delaney, a wild young girl and a brilliant artist, and how life changes dramatically after a violent event that rocks her entire family,  has been lauded by the equally brilliant author Jewelle Gomez of The Gilda Stories.

Gilding the L.I.L.L.(y) by T. Jurrette

Since being enamored with Finding Us, I’ve been waiting for a new T. Jurrette’s novel. Gilding the L.I.L.L.(y) promises romance, murder and family issues rolled into one.

Hersband Material (The Cartel Publications) by C. Wash

Based on the good reviews I’ve seen, this book should be a hot one. Who can resist craziness, drama and betrayal?

GIRL: A Story for Every Les Being by Christiana Harrell

Originally released in 2009, GIRL has been re-edited and re-released with fourteen of the author and fans’ favorites stories. Christiana’s first short story collection introduces you to the life of women who love women. I have been wanting to read one of her books for a while. Better to begin with the one that started it all.

Out of Innocence by Sandi Webb

I’m anticipating good things in this novel about Toni Wells, nineteen-year-old stud, a drug dealer for the LA Bloods by night and worker for her transit job by day. Should be gritty and fast-paced.

On the Come Up by Hannah Weyer (out July 23)

This novel has been getting some buzz before its July pub date. It’s based on a real-life story from indie filmmaker Hannah Weyer, about a 14-year-old pregnant teen trying to survive and ends up becoming an actress. There’s a lesbian element to it, as well.

Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis

Are happy families really all alike? Teen twins Ysabel and Justin Nicholas lead a pretty lucky life. Until their father reveals he’s transsexual, and has been cross-dressing for several years. I’m curious to read about how a Black family deals with such issues.

The Womon by Seconya Y. Bagby

This love triangle between a woman, her female best friend and new male love interest seems intriguing. I want to know whom she ends up. I also enjoy a good romance. Who doesn’t?

Do any of these novels appeal to you? What books are you looking forward to reading this summer? Plan to read on the beach or take a staycation?

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Memorable Stud Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic: Top Ten Memorable Stud Characters (Top Ten Tuesday Freebie)

Studs…that enigma of a woman with masculine sensibilities. They’re handsome, strong, and still vulnerable in their emotions to share with us femmes. Studs are also the topic of today’s Top Ten Tuesday. Since this week was a Freebie topic, I decided focus on Memorable Stud Characters. Join me, will you?

  1. Denise, Cooley, Nic (of the Choices series by Skyy):  The studs in Skyy’s Choices series are women we’ve all dated, desired or dumped. That’s what makes Denise (the sensitive one), Cooley (the playa), and Nic (the supportive one) such great characters. I’ll hate for these studs’ stories to come to an end in Full Circle, out now.
  2. Symone Holmes (of I Am Your Sister series by Ericka K. F. Simpson):  An engaging stud, Symone is intelligent and strong-willed. She can also be hard-headed, as well. But she is, most of all, an honest stud.
  3. Tee (of The Space Our Love Demands by Kionne Nicole): Funny and full of life, Tee is the best friend of main character Hadiyah Matthews, but she steals the scene. She’s both book smart and street smart, and has a great head on her shoulders. She needs to have her own book now.
  4. Cleopatra Giovanni (of She Wants Her by Tasha C. Miller): Cleo’s magnetic personality draws women to her like bees to honey. There’s just something about her personality that engages both gay and straight women, but her vulnerability and power to love in spite of her past are her strongest points.
  5. bull-jean (of the bull-jean stories by Sharon Bridgforth): a rough-talkin’, blue-collar bulldagga in the 1920s, bull-jean is a willing participant in love. bull-jean falls in love faster than greased lightning, and has no problem expressing her feelings to the one she loves. She’s a walking poem.
  6. Teren Ramsey (of Nothing Short of a Rainbow by Kaution): Teren plays hard as a college basketball star. She loves just as hard. The torch she holds for a college sweetheart is endearing. She gets plenty of action in the meantime, though.
  7. London Walters (of London Reign by A. C. Britt): Kicked out of her house for being gay, London does what she gotta do to stay alive on the Boston streets. London is a real stud-thug, but you see she has heart.
  8. Chan Parker (of Dying for a Change by Sean Reynolds): Cool-as-a-fan, Chan Parker is a 33-year-old numbers runner, working her dead-end profession with all the enthusiasm of a broken toaster. When called upon to solve a murder, her boyish good looks and wicked smarts help her get the job done. Amen!
  9. Rémi Bouchard (of Hungry For It by Fiona Zedde): Remi is smooth — she manages pulls an older woman, her best friend’s mother to be exact. And she’s deep. And sexy. And romantic. And did I mention sexy?
  10. Lieutenant Perri Stone (of the Inside Out series by Juin Charnell): Charming but tough as nails, prison investigator, Perri Stone has issues in work and at home. She rises above though, and never let her inmates, colleagues, or girlfriend see her sweat.

Who is your most memorable or favorite stud character? A stud character you wish existed in the flesh?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Covers of Books I’ve Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic: Top Ten Favorite Book Covers Of Books I’ve Read

They say pictures are worth a thousand words, and these covers give a great visual to the words inside the book. Based on this compilation, I enjoy books with colorful, creative and sexy images. Some of the covers are older versions, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. It was so difficult to narrow it down to just 10 covers, but according to the rules I had to. Here, in no specific order, are my Top Ten Favorite Book Covers Of Books I’ve Read

Hush Now by L.A. Green

The artwork is alluring. The subject matter, about a slave and master’s daughter who fall in love, are just as provocative (and sweet).

I Ain’t Yo Bitch by Jabulile Bongiwe Ngwenya

This gritty sets the backdrop for the story of a female rapper in an all-male crew trying to make it in South Africa while battling her sexuality.

If You Love Me, Come by Claudia Moss

I can’t say enough of this 5-star book, other than love and its many forms are beautiful. As is this cover.

Girl in the Mirror by Alix B. Golden

I love the girly and sensual look of Golden’s book, as well as the color scheme. The cover definitely matches the story, one of a woman facing herself and finally loving what she sees.

Consequences by Skyy

Why do I love this cover? Let thee count the six main characters on the front. Skyy’s second novel is the first one where we can finally put faces to the characters we’ve been reading about. The cover has since changed, but I’ll always appreciate this one. Her newest, and last in the Choices series :'(, Full Circle, will be out soon.

Walk Like a Man by Laurinda D. Brown

The cigar, the tie, man’s shirt, and feminine smirk all contribute a good look to Brown’s short-story tome.

Bliss by Fiona Zedde

The very first Fiona Zedde novel. Striking, vibrant and just as hot as Bliss and Hunter. The sea backdrop is inviting. It takes you away, along with Zedde’s prose. Her newest title, Broken in Soft Places, is out now.

Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood

Who can resist butterflies? Eden’s excursion to Paris was as rich and pleasing as this cover. It’s a timeless novel.

My Got a Girlfriend by James Tanner

This cover is pure eye candy. Voluptuous femme. Handsome stud. You would think the novel was just as sexy cover. Not so much. The book was horrible. I would rather stare at this couple for days on end than read this book again.

Purple Panties: An Anthology edited by Zane

Purple is one of my favorite colors. The fact that both ladies are clad skimpy undergarments in the same shade, clearly doesn’t hurt. The sex between the covers is just as hot.

Tell what you think of these book covers? What’s your own favorite cover art?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects (abuse, suicide, grief, etc. or something personal hard for you):

  1. Accept the Unexpected by L. Cherelle: This was a book I read after a breakup with my long-time girlfriend. It helped to see Keleya’s breakup and new relationship, and to know I could pick up the pieces.
  2. Am I My Sister’s Keeper? by S. Stephens (Dec. 2005 Pick of the Month): I read this book a long time ago, but the struggle Elise deals with in coming to terms with her sexuality and trying to tell her family resonated with me when I was dealing with my own coming out issues.
  3. Be the Sun Again by Teryn: Self-love and self-esteem issues were tragically brought to life with Teryn’s novel that shows one should rely on God to show you the way to loving yourself.
  4. Diary of a Sex Addict by Shalona L. Amos: MC Tiffany’s sexual addiction stemmed from low self-esteem and abandonment, and you really get into her head as she spirals out of control. For Tiffany, sex was a way to feel powerful, and then alone once the high wore off, just like any other addiction. But she does learn to love herself — eventually.
  5. Grace After Midnight by Felicia “Snoop” Pearson: Snoop’s story of her life, her upbringing in the streets of Baltimore, the place that both raised and almost killed her. The night of she killed a girl in self-defense is talked about, as well as her stint in prison and her rise to fame on HBO’s The Wire. Gritty, but reflective.
  6. HIGH – On Love & Addiction by April Joy Bowden and Jeanie RAINBOW Bell: The relationship between two women who deal with one’s drug addictionis a hard read at times, to witness what the addiction does to Joy and Jeanie’s relationship.
  7. I Am Your Sister by Ericka K. F. Simpson: This is one of my favorite books. Symone’s sexuality was a hindrance to her basketball career, but she always managed to bring it back to God and trust in Him. I was moved by her tale.
  8. M+O 4EVR by Tonya Hegamin (Aug. 2010 Pick of the Month): Sad, sad, sad story about unrequited love and how that love could have saved a life. My heart broke for Opal, but her story does have a somewhat happy ending.
  9. Mental Silhouette by Renair Amin: Amin’s poetry is beautiful, colorful and full of ache. She touches on so many personal issues that any woman can relate to on some level.
  10. The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin: Such a heartbreaking story about Chin’s growing up in Jamaica after her mother’s abandonment and discovering her sexuality. The writing, though sad, is luscious.
  11. BONUS PICK:  Girl in the Mirror by Alix B. Golden (Aug. 2012 Pick of the Month): This tale of trying to find love through others instead of loving yourself is deeply moving. Considering I’m a daddy’s girl, Christen’s relationship with her father truly touched me.