31 August 2011

Street Lit as eBooks

Image source: augustuspublishing.com
In case you are unaware, street lit authors are very busy these days, promoting their novels in ebook format; and readers are responding with thick enthusiasm via their Kindles, Nooks and other devices. I am a member of a few Facebook groups that discuss street lit and other urban fiction genres, such as urban erotica, mysteries and thrillers. In these groups, readers are passionately responding to authors' promotions of older and newly released titles in ebook format. 

In the August 2011 Word on the Street Lit column via Library Journal (LJ), eBooks for street lit are discussed. LJ recommends Overdrive.com as an important vendor for librarians procuring street lit in ebook format. (November 14, 2011: Overdrive published a blog article highlighting urban fiction ebooks at: http://overdriveblogs.com/library/2011/11/10/every-day-im-hustlin-urban-fiction-ebooks-audiobooks/)

I am noticing that eBooks are a new way in which lesser known authors are getting their names heard in the book game. Many titles from new and established authors are now available on Amazon.com in Kindle format, and via Barnes and Noble's Nook.

The advantage of street lit in ebook format is that readers can purchase titles at a lower price than in paperback or hardcover format. For libraries, titles can be loaned and returned without need for maintenance of tattered covers and pages or replacing perpetually lost paperbacks.

Major street lit authors promoting ebooks include:
Ashley & JaQuavis
Treasure Blue
Deja King
Keisha Ervin
Kiki Swinson
Anthony Whyte
Tu'Shonda Whitaker
Silk White
Teri Woods

All you have to do is search their name on the major book retailer sites, and you will see the ebook version of many of their titles.

Here are some street lit ebooks that I have come across written by independently publishing authors:

By Sean A. Wright: A Gangster's Melody 

By George Hudson: Gangsta Girl

By Marlene: Making It On My Own

By Tremayne Johnson: King and A Drug Dealer's Dream

By Michael McGrew: Taking Losses

By Tajana Sutton (Deja Series): Deja; Deja 2: Unfinished Business; Deja 3  

By Latif Mercado: Freestyle for Life

By Hudson, Denton and Taylor: Hood Luv

By Raheem Hoyte: Cost of Loyalty

By Julia Press Simmons (Strawberry Mansion Series): 

Strawberry Mansion - A Philadelphia Story;

Begonia Brown - A Philadelphia Story

Violet - Strawberry Mansion 3

**For more street lit ebook titles, do a search for "street lit" on Amazon.com.

I realize that there is a mild debate going on about ebooks in schools and borrowing them from the public library. But like everything, I believe there is room enough for everyone and everything. Also, as educators and information professionals, I believe we must respect not only what the reader reads, but also where they read (online and print), and how they read (paperbacks and/or eReaders). It is our job to consider it all... and yes, even while juggling a tight budget.

Note: A special thank you to Anthony Whyte for granting permission for use of his image as the logo for this post. 

29 August 2011

Guest Review for: Blinding Mirror (2010)

Halima, Shelley. 2010. Blinding Mirror. Livonia, MI: Indie Gypsy. Paperback | $10.99 US | ISBN-13: 978-0578018928 | 321 pages

Book Description
Blinding Mirror is a dark and sexy thriller about a woman, Olivia Valente, who leaves behind her abusive and dysfunctional home, poverty and her racial identity to find the riches she s always dreamed of. Once she attains it she will keep it by any means necessary even if it means murder. Her insatiable greed leads her back into the lives of her estranged twin daughters just as they are to receive a hefty inheritance. But all their lives will be changed forever as Olivia's true identity and misdeeds come to light.

Book Review
Shelly Halima's latest novel, Blinding Mirror, is 321 pages of sheer bliss. This book lives up to its title, because it holds up a mirror to American life. The multi ethnic and mixed raced characters are all trying to forge their place in the American landscape. This is the saga of Olivia Valente, a heroine that a reader will enjoy hating. One cannot help but admire Olivia's driving ambition to leave her abusive life and recreate a new and improved self. One of the ways Olivia does this is to bypass her true racial background. The legacy of her choices will affect every action in the book, thus impacting the lives her daughters for years to come.

I think the mark of a good book is a writer’s ability to make the reader understand why the characters do what they do. Halima has definitely mastered this technique in her work. I would highly recommend Shelley Halima’s work to any patron, especially those who would like a change from the usual fare offered by many of Halima's contemporaries.

~~ The guest reviewer for this post is Stacie Brisker, who is a librarian for the Cleveland (OH) Public Library system. Thank you Stacie. ~~

25 August 2011

Short Story Anthologies in Street Lit

I was recently asked, "Are there any short stories published in street lit?" There sure are! Here are some popular short story anthologies for Street Lit. If you know of any others, please let me know and I'll add them to the list!

Adult/YA level:

Clark, Wahida. 2010. What's Really Hood! A Collection of Tales from the Streets. NY: Grand Central Publishing. 

Gray, Erick S., Anthony Whyte, and Shannon Holmes. 2009 - ongoing. Streets of New York: Volumes 1 - 3. NY: Augustus Publishing. 

Various Authors. 2004 - ongoing. Around the Way Girls: Volumes 1 - 8. NY: Urban Books. 

Various Authors. 2006 - ongoing. Girls from da Hood: Volumes 1 - 6. NY: Urban Books.

Teen/Tween Level:

Flake, Sharon. 2010. You Don't Even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys. NY: Hyperion.

Various authors. 2005 - ongoing. Teenage Bluez: A Collection of Urban Stories. Books I, II and III. MD: Life Changing Books.

20 August 2011

My Blog Sounds Nice: Check 3

Hi Everyone;

I just wanted to take a moment to "checkin" with you and say "THANK YOU" once again for following my blog. I really appreciate it - more than you can ever know.

I work hard to keep up with the 'goings on' in the street lit game and to bring that information to you as fast as I can.

Admittedly, this summer has been very very busy for humankind, thus I, too, have not been able to write commentary like I usually do for this blog due to an overwhelming teaching schedule along with working on my dissertation research. If I had my druthers though, in terms of time and opportunity, I would have offered commentary on the following topics:

-- the ongoing, it's-starting-to-get-old street lit debate;
-- the critique of street art (e.g. graffiti) as an art form, and;
-- the power of the people in the streets to enact change all over the world (for good or for naught): like in Libya, Pakistan, Israel, the UK, and notably, flash mobs throughout the United States, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago.

All of these topics are soaking in a bath of issues concerning literacy, class, race, and age-ism (against youth). I am sure you will agree that there is so much unrest amongst our youth across the globe right now that it demands serious attention. I believe that we need to be asking them why they are doing what they are doing, and what it is that they want. They are acting out, and we need to listen and learn. Admittedly I am not a policy maker, but as a citizen, I do see and observe, and realize that youth rise up when they are tired of not being heard.

I feel that I should explain why, during such a busy summer in the streets, my commentary has been quiet:

1. In terms of the street lit genre itself, I am happy to report that by-and-large, street lit seems to be getting more respect as a literary genre: publishing is steady, good stories continue to be published, and authors are working as hard as ever to promote their books. Therefore, I have been offering interviews and book reviews as a means to keep you up to date with the latest in the genre. 

I do recognize that there will always be the nay-sayers and the critiques for the genre. I often wonder, when will intellectuals and educators become comfortable with the right for people to read and write what they want ...?

2. I have been thinking of ways to make this blog more interesting instead of my usual bull horn. :-)) So I've begun adding videos of related topics, as well as adding design elements to the site that feature popular posts (at the bottom of the main content) and my current reading titles (on right sidebar).

On my Facebook page for The Readers Guide to Street Literature, I list all blog posts there as well. Feel free to like that page, if you are on Facebook.

I have a few upcoming topics for posts. Please stay tuned for:
a) Short Stories and Street Lit
b) Street Lit and eBooks
c) Science Fiction / Fantasy / Speculative Fiction and Street Lit

I have a few things that I am looking forward to with Street Lit:
a) Release of the documentary, Behind Those Books (2011), in Philadelphia (or did I miss it? I hope not!)
b) Release of my book, The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature, October 2011
c) The next street lit NYT Bestseller!

Also, the Street Lit Book Award Committee is alive and well, busy reading titles for consideration for the 2011 award, which will be announced Spring 2012. If you have read some great titles, comment below and let us know!

Thanks for listening, and thanks for being a part of this blog. If there is anything you'd like to see on this blog, connect with Vanessa:
LinkedIn: vanirvinmorris

17 August 2011

August 2011 Book Review: Murderville by Ashley & JaQuavis (2011)

Ashley & JaQuavis. 2011. Murderville: The First of a Trilogy. NY: Cash Money Content. Paperback | $14.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1936399000 | 272 pages

Murderville is not whatever you think it is. You cannot look at the title or cover of this novel and assume that you know what the story is about. And that's the beauty of Street Lit as a genre - it reiterates the adage that you can NOT judge a book by its cover.

That is not to say that this book cover is less than - indeed, to the contrary. Just don't take one sweeping look at the cover art and the title and think it's the same 'ole, same 'ole ... because you will miss the complexity and richness of this story. Look at that book cover again: why is a blood-stained hand chosen to expose her beautiful face? Why is it entitled "Murderville"? Look ... and then crack open the book. Warning: make sure you have your day's slate clear, and a nice cup of whatever-you-like-to-sip (coffee, for me) next to you - get comfortable ... because this is a not-can-put-down type of read.

Liberty and A'shai are 12-year-old children from Sierra Leone who meet by way of violent circumstances in Liberty's war-torn village. When their eyes meet in the midst of all the chaos and horror, it is an instant connection. The two are immediately on the run ... unbeknownst to them, they are on the run to Murderville...

Events quickly twist and turn, and the children find themselves as child slaves in present-day Americas (yes, you read that right), which leads them to ... the streets. They both embrace their fates with a sense of fortitude and resilience that is common of children in the hood...however, that fortitude and resilience is gained at a price to life and living ... Liberty and A'shai hold tightly to their love to make it through all they must face, confront and overcome, including the fact that Liberty is dying. A modern Romeo and Juliet tale, Murderville can proudly sit amongst the canonical of the classics. It is excellently written and developed, with important truths interspersed in this love story to educate us readers about some dark realities that many children live through on our planet - today.

Authors Ashley & JaQuavis deliver what they promised in their recent interview with StreetLiterature.com: with Murderville they have widened the horizon of street lit to encompass global issues and concerns that directly impact people living tough lives on the streets - everywhere. They eloquently illustrate how war - no matter what streets in what country on what continent - is a scourge that is affecting our children who then grow into adults still battling traumatic demons of their past. We learn that the stories of American children in the hood are not that different from the stories of street children everywhere - who all grow into adults that we, as a global society, are accountable for.

There is a subtle, deep, important message in Murderville that educates and entertains us simultaneously - no small feat. Shucks, this novel may even leave you speechless.

With Murderville being the first of a trilogy, it is going to be exciting to see what authors Ashley & JaQuavis have in store for Liberty and A'shai's story as the series continues to evolve and unfold. No doubt we have more interesting characters to meet! In the meantime, look again, read again - and learn. This novel is a must read.

Highly recommended for public and high school libraries (yes). This novel could be read in conjunction with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (yes, really).

To connect with Ashley & JaQuavis:
Twitter: @RealJaQuavis

StreetLiterature site *ON HIATUS*

Greetings, This site is *on hiatus* until further notice. There are reasons: 1/ Since street lit has become pretty mainstream in publicat...