Wear This Now

Your Style Solution For Every Season And Any Occasion

by Michelle Madhok

Because of my love for sewing, I read a lot of fashion books. After a while the advice they give starts to run together. They all have a checklist for the items that every closet should include, a guide on how to go shopping, and what to wear for all occasions. This book is pretty on par with the others in that respect.

What did set it apart slightly from the others is that it is also organized by season. This is very helpful, especially for those who live in climates that experience all four seasons, because most people change the contents of their closet as the temperature changes. Also, there is quite a bit of humor throughout like my favorite section title: How to Dress to Get Bumped into First Class.

One downside: they hate polka dots. Problematic when your book is released when polka dots are really popular in the fashion world.

Some of My Best Friends Are Black

The Strange Story of Integration in America

by Tanner Colby

This is not some serious textbook chronicling the history of racial integration in America. Neither is it a personal memoir about the author’s lack of black friends. It’s kind of a combination of both. 

Colby realized that during the 2008 election, people of many races came together to choose our country’s first black president. An when we were done cheering our victory, we went back to our mostly still segregated neighborhoods, school districts, and churches.

Colby uses some of his personal experiences to outline the policies (written & unwritten, legal & illegal) that have worked to keep us apart. I found the chapters about real estate to be especially fascinating. The lengths to which people went to ensure that their neighborhoods stayed “white”, while not surprising, was still a little mind-blowing. On the flip-side  you had people who used the “white flight” to the suburbs as a way to take advantage of the black residents who moved in, by raising mortgages and rents and ignoring their other needs.

This book was written with insight and humor (his first two books were biographies of John Belushi and John Candy) making this sensitive topic more accessible and easy to read about.

Champagne Kisses

by Zuri Day

This book continues the Drakes of California series Day started with Diamond Dreams. The Drakes are a multi-generational family that own a vineyard in Napa Valley. At his sister Diamond’s engagement party, a woman catches the eye of Donovan Drake. He invites her to another winery for a drink in order to get to know her better away from his mother’s inquisitive stare, and she agrees but never shows up.

Marissa Hayes’ reasons for standing Donovan up are for his own good, she believes. But four months later, when her boss (Diamond’s new husband) volunteers her services when Donovan’s company is in a bind, she has to come to grips with her past and her attraction for her temporary boss.

In the first book in the series, the suspenseful part of the story was resolved a little quickly for me, but it was handled much better this time around. As always, learning about the winery business and the rich history of the Drake family makes this a well-rounded tale. 


by Amy Sohn

Not necessarily a sequel to her earlier book, Prospect Park West, but we do catch up on the lives of several characters that made an appearance in the novel about moms in the hipster Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. They grapple with the standard urban mom issues: finding a life after divorce, keeping a marriage fresh & exciting, dealing with the betrayal of infidelity (your partner’s and your own), and revitalizing an acting career (that’s pretty standard right?). 

Men have a greater role in Motherland than they did in Prospect Park West with the introduction of a gay couple adopting another child into their already shaky family unit and through the early mid-life crisis of a screenwriter on the verge of his big break. 

I liked this book much more than the last one as the characters rang slightly truer and the insider New York humor was more biting. The subplot of the serial neighborhood stroller thief was quite funny. However, when it comes to matters of race, Sohn likes to throw a storyline in that seems like an afterthought of stereotypes, just like the last book.

Forever A Stallion

by Deborah Fletcher Mello

I believe this is the sixth book in the series featuring the Stallion family and it reveals a loose end from an earlier book that reveals that the four brothers have a sister. Photographer Phaedra Parrish (say that 3 times fast) has just buried her mother and is coming  to grips with her loss. While going through her mother’s things, she finds a collection of diaries and journals that she didn’t know existed, that includes an old photo of a man, John Stallion, that she doesn’t recognize. After finding further items that peak her interest, she goes on a fact-finding mission to find out who this man is and what did he mean to her mother. 

Before her next photo assignment, Phaedra takes time out to scope out her long lost brothers and doesn’t count on meeting hotel entrepreneur, Mason Boudreaux as well. When meeting her new family doesn’t go as planned, Mason is there to support her and she soon is put in the position to reciprocate. 

The Stallion Family books are always enjoyable reads and this book’s international storyline didn’t feel forced or rushed. It was also a perfect introduction to The Boudreaux family soon to be featured in their own series.

Fire In The Ashes

Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America

by Jonathan Kozol

I’m something of a sociology buff. I enjoy hearing about other people’s lives, journeys, struggles, etc., without being bombarded with statistics and studies. Jonathan Kozol is a great chronicler of the lives of impoverished children as evidenced in his bestselling book, Savage Inequalities.

Kozol spent time in a neighborhood in the Bronx, known to be one of the poorest urban areas in the country. He came to know several families, most who were relocated there after the closing of several “hotels” that housed the homeless in Manhattan. He tells their stories while also educating us on the cultural, social, economic, and political reasons behind the circumstances they find themselves in. Yes, these mainly Black and Latino children have been “left behind” by most of society, there are some happy endings. A couple are able to escape geographically. A few are able to escape educationally.

The best thing about Kozol’s books is that he isn’t just an impartial observer. He does his best to help those who need and want it and has even set up a foundation to help the families in his books. I recommend Fire In The Ashes to anyone with an interest in education and the plight of poor children in this country.

Case for Seduction

by Ann Christopher

Charlotte Evans is the epitome of the stressed, overworked, single mom. She is raising her two-year-old son, Harry, with modest support from his father, nursing her mother through health challenges, going to law school part-time, and working in the typing pool of the law firm of Hamilton, Hamilton and Clark. Chance meetings in Starbucks and in the reception area of the firm put Charlotte on the radar of partner Jake Hamilton. 

Known to be a renowned playboy (aren’t they always?), Jake is not prepared for the effect Charlotte’s presence in his life means. From the moment they meet, everything happens very fast as their working relationship is tested by their attraction. Great beginning to the new Laws of Love series with follow up books by Pamela Yaye and Jacquelin Thomas coming soon.

Summer Vows

by Rochelle Alers

Summer Vows kicks off a new series featuring the Cole family, best known from the Hideaway series. If you’re familiar with the Coles, you know that there are so many of them that there tends to be a wedding during the Christmas/New Year’s Eve holiday season. After a few years of no weddings, the time seems ripe for one. Patriarch Martin Cole makes a bet of a million dollars with his brothers, David and Joshua, and his nephew, Timothy, on who will be the next to wed. Each has their own prediction and whoever wins will have the money used to set up an endowment at his alma mater. The subjects of this bet are twins Jason and Ana, David’s children, and Nicholas, the son of Timothy.

Jason and Ana have taken over the running of their father’s record label, Serenity Records, with Ana dealing mainly with the business side of things. She has just signed a deal with hot singer Justin Glover after a bidding war with Slow Wyne Records’ CEO Basil Irvine. But Basil is a sore loser and it soon becomes apparent that Ana may be in danger. Well, the Coles are very protective of their own and they make plans to place her in protective custody until things blow over. Her cousin Diego’s friend Jacob Jones, a U.S. Marshal has agreed to watch over her, even though spending his vacation in the Florida Keys babysitting who he sees as a pampered rich girl was definitely not in his plans.

Rochelle Alers is a master of combining intrigue, danger and romance, especially when writing about the Coles. Summer Vows was a great addition to this series.

What Would Michelle Do?

A Modern Day Guide to Living with Substance and Style

by Allison Samuels

One of the things that I miss most about being a bookseller is being able to recommend books to people with specific requests (not just a general “what’s a good book to read?”). Aligning someone with the perfect book for their needs is very rewarding. 

What Would Michelle Do? is spot on for people looking for gifts to support young women on to the next phase of their lives as they graduate from high school or college. By using the example of Michelle Obama’s life from childhood to adulthood, Samuels guides us through the major decisions that women have to make. Included are topics like self-esteem, enriching your education, making smart financial choices, building a wardrobe, and how to make a relationship work.

By all means is this book only for young women. All women will be able to relate to something here.

Our First Dance

by Judy Lynn Hubbard

Life for a Black ballerina can be a difficult one. You have to constantly fight the perception of what a “ballerina’s body” is and work twice as hard as others to prove your ability to do the job. After years of this, Natasha Carter finally has the opportunity for a lead role with the Johnson Ballet Company’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Damien Johnson has started his ballet company as a way to stay involved in the industry after an accident has ended his own dance career. Damien has been burned in the past by women using him for his position. Natasha doesn’t want any distractions as she finally has a chance to be the prima ballerina that she always wanted to be. The attraction between them can threaten their professional relationship if they aren’t careful.

Our First Dance was a sweet read that included lots of interesting background on ballet as a discipline and what it takes to be successful at it.