Sistahs Shop Talk – 10/9/2016 – Responsibility and Flavored Coffees

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Sistahs Shop Talk is random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.


One Two Thoughts…

Where I’ve Been:  It’s been a while since you’ve seen me here. I’m happy to be back, but there’s a part of me that feels pressure, mostly to promote things in the right way. With all this talk about “diversity,” the stakes are higher than ever to make sure the work that’s being done is right. Not only do I want to showcase our gifts to the world, I feel a responsibility to this blog, and keeping it around means a lot to me. Yet there’s a few things in my personal life I have to attend to, and that comes first. But just know if you don’t find me here at Sistahs on the Shelf, I’m ALWAYS reading. My Goodreads account is where you can keep track of what I’m devouring at the moment.

Summer’s over:  Yes, autumn is here, and I for one am happy about. It’s a been a hot summer, and I’m all for cooler, light-jacket weather. And book-snuggling. I’ve already picked out my fall-flavored beverage, Green Mountain Coffee Autumn Harvest Blend, and it’s so good. Now I’m ready to dig in and read some good books. What are you excited about reading this fall?

thedawnofniaWhat I’m Reading Now…

The Dawn of Nia by Lauren Cherelle

I’m a third of the way through The Dawn of Nia by Lauren Cherelle, and what a powerful story so far. This book deals with Nia, a nurse who tended to her mentor Pat during her illness, and discovers after her death that she didn’t know Pat as well as she thought. Complicating things is a fling that has takes another life of its own during Nia’s grief and betrayal. This book has colorful, flawed characters, which is my literary kryptonite. I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially when Pat’s meddling sisters contest her will.

Book Quote…

“First time I got the full sight of Shug Avery long black body with it black plum nipples, look like her mouth, I thought I had turned into a man.”
From The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Trolling for New Books…


My Secrets Your Lies by by N’TYSE (Re-release)
Urban Renaissance
Release Date:  September 27, 2016

Given all that Sand and Rene have been through, the couple lands an opportunity to share their life story in the upcoming documentary, Beneath My Skin. The question is―are they truly ready to take that trip down memory lane?

As they subconsciously relive their past, Sand ventures to a dark place where agony and judgement has tormented her since the day her parents discovered her sexual orientation in a shoebox full of love letters. Their rejection left her homeless and dependent on the streets, but it was during those trying times that she learned how to not only walk in her truth, but how to survive.

Recycled through the foster system as early as four, Rene is one who has become accustomed to change. Sand introduces her to another side of love and gives her a reason to open her mind and heart to something new―that is, until Rene finds herself questioning not only their relationship, but her sexuality. A series of events leaves them entangled in a web of deceit, wicked passion, and murder. As their love story unfolds, they’ll find out soon enough if they are truly each other’s ride or die!


21 Questions by Mason Dixon
Bold Strokes Books
Release Date:  November 15, 2016

Kenya Davis’s ability to find the perfect employee is unparalleled. Her ability to find the perfect mate? Not so much. After she takes a chance on speed dating, she finds herself with not one but two chances to find true love. But with her spotty romantic track record, how can she be sure which woman is Miss Right and which is only Miss Right Now?

Simone Bailey works as a bartender at one of the hottest nightclubs in South Beach, has more female attention than she knows what to do with, and spends her spare time following her musical ambitions. Then she meets Kenya Davis. After her initial attempt to charm her way into Kenya’s heart fails, she resolves to reach her ultimate destination one question at a time.


A Failure to Communicate: Stories by S. Andrea Allen
BLF Press
Publication Date:  January 10, 2017
Available for Pre-sale:  November 8, 2016

A Failure to Communicate, S. Andrea Allen’s debut collection of short fiction, focuses on a singular theme: communication, and how it, or the lack thereof, impacts Black women’s lives. The stories range from the humorous to the heartbreaking: one woman wins a bake-off because her co-worker misunderstands the contest; an overweight woman finally learns to love herself, even though it means leaving her girlfriend; a teenager reflects on his mother’s inability to discuss her depression; a woman realizes that her partner has been hiding a gambling addiction, and has to decide whether to help her or save herself. The women in these stories are often silenced, but Allen figures out a way to give them all a voice that demands to be heard.


Solace: Writing, Refuge, and LGBTQ Women of Color edited by S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle
BLF Press
Publication Date:  January 31, 2017
Available for Pre-sale:  November 1, 2016

Deeply troubled by recent acts of violence against Black and Brown lesbian, bisexual, and trans* bodies, Solace: Writing, Refuge and LGBTQ Women of Color explores how LGBTQ women find solace: in each other, in their communities, and from within themselves, as they traverse the challenges of living as LGBTQ women of color in the United States.

Solace is a collection of poetry and prose that explores our pain, as well as our attempts to find solace in a world that seeks to destroy us. What are our strategies for survival? Where do we find solace? Audre Lorde writes that “we were never meant to survive,” yet here we are.


Visit This Website…


Rainbow Lit

Rainbow Lit serves to promote the reading, writing, publication, distribution, and public awareness of books that reflect the rich variety of the SGL experience. It features information on new book releases, book excerpts, and interviews, as well as Call for Submissions for LGBT publications. Check it out.

Fall Reading List 2016

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When autumn comes, I’m ready to fall into some cozy books and warm drinks. Here’s a few of the titles I really want to read this season.

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez:  Halloween is just around the corner, so October would be a fitting month to read The Gilda Stories, a multi-layered black lesbian vampire story with a historical theme. This has been on my TBR for ages, and considering it was re-released with a 25th anniversary edition, it’s the right time to read this classic novel.

21 Questions by Mason Dixon:  About a year ago, I discovered author Mason Dixon, the pen name of mainstream lesbian novelist Yolanda Wallace. As her nom de plume, Dixon has published two books starring black lesbian characters, Charm City and Date with Destiny. Her latest, 21 Questions, deals with a woman trying to choose between Miss Right and Miss Right Now in South Beach. This will be the perfect steamy read to warm up the cooler nights ahead. Will be released November 15.

I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi:  Anyone who has a twitter account has heard of Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie. A writer, digital strategist, and techie, she’s also a true shade master. I’m looking forward to getting her humorous take on pop culture, race, and the media that she provides daily on twitter. Gotta read it soon since it’s due back to the library.

Cinder Ella by S. T. Lynn:  A story involving a transgender girl falling in love with a princess while contending with a wicked stepmother? I’m all in! It looks to be a fresh, well-needed adaption on the classic fairy tale, and I’m ready for it. Cinder Ella should make for a cozy, quick read.

Yabo by Alexis de Veaux:  Blending poetry and prose, Yabo is the book that speaks to my literary heart. From the first few pages, it had me hooked, and I can tell this one will challenge me once I dig in. Dealing with love, sexuality and gender, Yabo won the 2015 Lambda Literary Award in Best Lesbian Fiction.

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens & Ghosts by Tiya Miles:  Nominated for a 2016 Lambda Literary Award, Cherokee Rose revolves around three young women discovering their connections to a Georgia plantation and their slaveholder pasts. I’ve seen good reviews about his historical novel, with Miles’ writing being compared to Alice Walker, Octavia Butler and Louise Erdrich.

Sistahs Shop Talk – 6/12/16 – Summer Loving….

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Sistahs Shop Talk is random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.

One Thought…



The thing about summer: Lately I’ve been reading a lot of mass-market romance books, the kind that promise a torrid love scene or two and happily ever afters. I think it’s because summer is approaching, and I need to indulge myself in an uncomplicated world where true love wins, considering the tragedies we’ve been experiencing as of late (#prayforOrlando). In addition to black lesbian romance, I plan to dive into Beverly Jenkins (of course), Francis Ray and was just turned on to Rochelle Alers’ Cavanaugh Island series. So what are some of your favorite romances? Also, what are your summer reading plans?


leztalkWhat I’m Reading…

Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction edited by S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle

I’m about 45 pages in, and the stories so far have captivated my attention. It’s almost like coming home because I know what I’m getting with this array of talented authors I’ve read before and enjoyed, like Claudia Moss, Lauren Cherelle, K.A. Smith, Eternity Philops, and Sheree L. Greer, etc. We need more compilations like this that show the range of our lives and our experiences. I think this will be a satisfying read.

Book Quote…

Attend me, hold me in your muscular flowering arms, protect me from throwing any part of myself away.
— From A Burst of Light: Essays by Audre Lorde (1988)

Trolling for New Books…


The Belle vs. the BDOC: A Bend or Break Novella by Amy Jo Cousins
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Release Date: May 23, 2016

Love is a battlefield.

Shelby Summerfield is a Southern belle at a northern college in 1993, which is a challenge to begin with. And yes, Florence Truong, the object of Shelby’s lust and the only other woman on campus not wearing flannel, does catch her in what looks like a compromising position with a straight boy at pub trivia night.

But Shelby is a gold star lesbian and Florence’s dapper fashion sense makes her weak in the knees, so her rejection stings hard. To exact her revenge, Shelby cheats a little when putting together her own trivia dream team, because nobody strategizes to win like a Southern girl on a mission. And if trivia can’t settle their rivalry, then maybe the annual campus-wide game of assassin will do the trick.

Shelby’s gonna come out on top of Florence—in bed or out, one way or another. Bless her heart. And her silk pocket squares.


Heat Wave: Southport by La Toya Hankins
Release Date: August 16, 2015

When Zora comes to visit her childhood hometown for the Fourth of July, she expects to be helping with the family business, greeting old neighbors and friends, and carefully avoiding the topic of her sexuality. But then Zora’s old mentor introduces Zora to her granddaughter Sarah, a blast from Zora’s past, now grown into a leggy brunette who remembers Zora more than fondly.

As the two women reconnect over old memories, sweet treats, and tales of the intervening years since they’d last met, Zora begins to suspect the attraction she feels for Sarah might be returned. The sparks flying between them ignite into fireworks celebrating their independence from sexual solitude when they exploring a new way to use the town library.

Visit This Website…


Brown Girl Reading

Brown Girl Reading is a book blog run by Didi, who reads and reviews diverse books with passion, and also has a booktube channel on YouTube. You need to check her out because she is hella funny, hella smart, and tells it like it is. She has lived in France for 23 years, where she teaches English as a Foreign Language, and enjoys reading, writing, painting/drawing, music, origami, movies, languages, etc. In her bio she states, “If it’s good, I’ll read it!”

A Return to Arms by Sheree L. Greer

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returntoarmsPublisher/Date:  Bold Strokes Books; Mar. 2016
Genre(s):  Activism, Romance
Pages:  240

Rating: ★★★★★ 

When Toya meets Folami and joins the activist collective RiseUP!, she thinks she’s found her life’s purpose. Folami’s sensuality and her passion for social justice leave Toya feeling that, at last, she’s met someone she can share all parts of her life with. But when a controversial police shooting blurs the lines between the personal and the political, Toya is forced to examine her identity, her passions, and her allegiances.

Folami, a mature and dedicated activist, challenges Toya’s commitment to the struggle while threatening to pull her back into the closet to maintain the intense connection they share. How ever, Nina, a young, free-spirited artist, invites Toya to explore the intersections between sexual and political freedom.

With the mounting tensions and social unrest threatening to tear the community apart, can Toya find a safe place to live and love while working to uplift her people?

A RETURN TO ARMS by Sheree L. Greer is one of those books I found hard to review, because it was difficult to find words for how powerful her story and the message are. While her book is fiction, it’s grounded in the reality of what we see on the daily news, what we read on Twitter, and alas, what we see in our streets: black people fighting for their lives.

But wading through this turmoil for justice are Toya, and her lover, Folami, who share intimacy as lovers, but find themselves on opposite ends of the bed over what version of leadership one must abide by to further the cause. Both work at RiseUP!, an organization that promotes protection and empowerment against police brutality, and Toya and Folami labor to ensure that their actions and voices are heard above the fray.

Within RiseUP!, like any dedicated group working in the trenches, the politics and viewpoints are lit like fuses. Toya all too often sees the writing on the wall, as her black lesbianism is a source of contention despite her dedication. It’s tricky enough evading minefields with the enemies at large, but to deal with it from your own people, the ones side-by-side with you during protests, it’s enough to make Toya re-think her involvement.

The tone of this book is somber, indeed. Each chapter in A Return to Arms has this almost foreboding quality, while raising issues of self-sacrifice and intersectionality in a way that shows that Greer’s endless talent to tell a story and put us in the moment.  Her book also gives much food for thought: the battle between being black and gay; the effectiveness of marches and rallies vs. simply shutting shit down; and being sick and tired of never receiving justice for our loved ones.

Romance is in the mix, but not so much that it takes away from the bigger theme at work here. Folami’s interactions with Toya are frustrating as hell, but I can understand her reasons for it. What makes up for it is the fire they possess – both for the cause and for each other – that intertwine so well. It reads like sex.

Sunlight set profiles aglow in amber and crimson; bodies contorted with passion and protest – clenched fists and tight jaws, arched back and strained necks.

And that ending? I wasn’t prepared. This was the response I shared on goodreads when I finished.


Sheree, you did it again. I just wish this story wasn’t our reality. But alas…

Reviewed June 2016

About Sheree L. Greer

A Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Sheree L. Greer hosts Oral Fixation, the longest running LGBTQ Open Mic series in Tampa Bay and founded The Kitchen Table Literary Arts Center to showcase and support the work of ancestor, elder, and contemporary women writers of color. The author of two novels, Let the Lover Be and A Return to Arms, and the short story collection, Once and Future Lovers, Sheree recently published a writing guide for student writers, Stop Writing Wack Essays. She teaches composition, creative writing, fiction workshop, and African American literature at St. Petersburg College in Florida.

White Nights, Black Paradise by Sikivu Hutchinson

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whitenightsblackparadisePublisher/Date:  Infidel Books, Nov. 2015
Genre(s):  Historical Fiction
Pages:  325

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

In 1978, Peoples Temple, a multiracial church once at the forefront of progressive San Francisco politics, self-destructed in a Guyana jungle settlement named after its leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. Fatally bonded by fear of racist annihilation, the community’s greatest symbol of crisis was the White Night; a rehearsal of revolutionary mass suicide that eventually led to the deaths of over 900 church members of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. White Nights, Black Paradise focuses on three fictional black women characters who were part of the Peoples Temple movement but took radically different paths to Jonestown: Hy, a drifter and a spiritual seeker, her sister Taryn, an atheist with an inside line on the church s money trail and Ida Lassiter, an activist whose watchdog journalism exposes the rot of corruption, sexual abuse, racism and violence in the church, fueling its exodus to Guyana. White Nights, Black Paradise is a riveting story of complicity and resistance; loyalty and betrayal; black struggle and black sacrifice. It locates Peoples Temple and Jonestown in the shadow of the civil rights movement, Black Power, Second Wave feminism and the Great Migration. Recapturing black women’s voices, White Nights, Black Paradise explores their elusive quest for social justice, home and utopia. In so doing, the novel provides a complex window onto the epic flameout of a movement that was not only an indictment of religious faith but of American democracy.

The Jonestown Massacre of 1978 was one of the worst mass casualties of its time. A large number of Blacks, after following leader Jim Jones to Guyana searching for a better life than what America had to offer, were directed to drink a poisonous substance to participate in what was called “revolutionary suicide.” Hence where the saying, “Drinking the Kool-Aid,” gets its origins.

In reading WHITE NIGHTS, BLACK PARADISE by Sikivu Hutchinson I know that the rise and motivations of this movement were far from “revolutionary.” Hutchinson’s book paints a clearer picture of the members of Peoples Temple, but in particular focuses on three fictional women who are the anchor of this book: Taryn, a lesbian who follows her sister, Hy, into the church; and Ida Lassiter, a journalist whose connection to Jim Jones serves her ambitions to expose his warped empire.

It also exposes the beggining of Jones’s obsession with the black church and Black people in general: at first their swagger and cool, but later, their plight, their oppression and their loyalty. He’s a riveting character, in the way one would watch a tyrant come to power, in the way he thinks his actions come from a righteous place.

The novel is a bit slow in the beginning as Hutchinson relays the back story of the Peoples Temple, but picks up steam once the decision to emigrate to Georgetown, Guyana is in effect. Then, the defectors and the Jones’ brown nosers are essentially at war to either turn away from the church’s mission or devote their whole lives to it. This is when the book comes alive in terms of character development because the hard decisions the members make set them on a course that’s difficult to reverse. There’s moments in the latter part of the book that made me cringe watching our Black brothers and sisters follow behind a false prophet, who had his own demons to exorcise.

“Who will save us?” is a thought that stayed in the back of my mind while reading as it seemed his members – many impoverished and neglected black folks – blindly followed Jones because of the promises he offered them about living in world where they wouldn’t be second-class citizens. He preyed on their troubles and manipulated them to leave for what they thought would be a better life. That sad message was conveyed effectively in the novel.

Hutchinson definitely did her research with White Nights, Black Paradise, and if you’re a historical fiction fan, or enjoy reading novels based on real-life events, this novel is definitely for you.

Reviewed May 2016

About Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson is an American feminist, atheist and author. She is the author of Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels (2013), Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (Travel Writing Across the Disciplines) (2003), and White Nights, Black Paradise (2015). Moral Combat is the first book on atheism to be published by an African-American woman. In 2013 she was named Secular Woman of the year.

Sistahs Shop Talk – 5/1/16 – A Tall Glass of Lemonade

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Sistahs Shop Talk is random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.

One Thought…

A Tall Glass of Lemonade: The world stopped when Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, the visual album that told a story of love, infidelity and really big baseball bat. I couldn’t resist. The words of Warsan Shire paired with the images of a woman scorned and healed, and the songs that only Beyoncé could pull off, made for a stunning work that I was impressed with. I think it’s one of her best, if not the best, albums to date. With that being said, I knew that a million and one think pieces would be written: whose story was #Lemonade; who’s Becky with the good hair; was Jay-Z in a safe place. I’m all for the discussion – because black women need to unearth and talk about the wounds of love — but I wasn’t here for mainstream publications analyzing her work as if it was done for them and writing about concepts they knew nothing about. (Here’s looking at you, USA Today.) The one thing these outlets were so smug in their reporting while often getting it wrong or not understanding the nuances of a work like this. Again, everything ain’t for everybody. It’s also another call for diversity (a word I’m starting to abhor) to have black women (and men) not only tell our stories, but to hire the right people dissecting and critiquing them.

returntoarmsWhat I Finished Reading…

A Return to Arms by Sheree L. Greer

I’m not going to talk too much about A Return to Arms, Sheree L. Greer’s most recent book, because I plan to put out a review of it this week, yet suffice it to say, this book is so powerful and so real in a way that I’m not sure how I’m going to sum up. The words are there, inside of me, and damn it, I’m going to try my best to pull it out. Read this book, ya’ll.


rubyBook Quote…

Ruby walked over to the bed, sat next to Daphne, touched the broad shoulder.


Then she was in the strong arms, feeling the full strength of those arms. Her mouth was being kissed, and she responded eagerly to those full, blessedly full, lips. At last she had found herself, a likeness to herself, a response to her needs, her age, an answer to her loneliness.

— From Ruby by Rosa Guy (1976)

Trolling for New Books…


By My Precise Haircut – Cheryl Clarke
Word Works
Release Date: May 1, 2016

Cheryl Clarke’s long-awaited fifth poetry collection, By My Precise Haircut, travels the political and spiritual trails of her many commitments to social justice, to women of color, to the LGBTQ community, and to the rage, love, and song that live in each reader. Says Nikky Finney, “Cheryl has stayed the firebrand course, all while inventing new and wondrous paths.” 2016 Judge Kimiko Hahn adds, “Whether the tone is wily or grieving, wise or wise-ass, the reader is drawn closer by the page and into a world that may be Black, Lesbian, middle-aged, sister of a deceased Sgt. J. L. Winters, daughter of the Block Elder but is certainly a threshold for all.”



Pat Greene: Her Story – Anondra Williams
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date:  April 3, 2016

From the author of black girl love and SistaGirl, two collections of stories and poems about me and you and the women you love comes Pat Greene.

Pat Greene wanted to tell her story and I was willing to listen. It turns out her story is my story and your story. A story full of highs and lows of loving women from the 1950’s till her now. Join in as Pat speaks from the heart, sharing the good and bad of being a black woman, of being a lesbian and more importantly being all of that and more while surviving.

From Mississippi to Michigan, journey along the great migration that is Pat Greene. Get to know Pat through the women she thought she loved, pretended to love and the one who taught her what love really is.

This is Pat Greene and her story.

Visit This Website…

brown-books1Brown Books & Green Tea

I discovered Brown Books & Green Tea, and liked (plus bookmarked) this site immediately. Run by Whitney, a lifelong student and tea lover, her blog features reviews of diverse books, discussion topics, recommendations and monthly book wrap-ups. Her writing is clean and concise, and she knows her stuff (check out her review of Goslyn County). In Whitney’s own words, “I’m just a 20-something with a love for multicultural literature and hot tea.”

When I Was Your Girlfriend by Nikki Harmon

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wheniwasyourgirlfriendPublisher/Date:  Mt. Airy Girl Press; Jan. 2016
Genre:  Romance
Pages: 214

Rating: ★★★★½ 

How can you be sure that your first love wasn’t your true love? Dee Armstrong leads a seemingly charmed life. She has a successful midwifery practice, a supportive family, and an exciting romantic life. But when Dee mistakenly believes she will have to confront her first love and first heartbreak, Candace, it sends her tumbling back into her memories to re-live the terrifying and exhilarating joy of being a teenager in love … with another girl. Suddenly convinced that Candace was her one true love, Dee sets off on a tumultuous cross country journey to find her in hopes of renewing their relationship. Her quest leads to some serious soul searching and the realization that maybe love wasn’t the only thing that she lost all those years ago.

sistahspicklogoWHEN I WAS YOUR GIRLFRIEND by Nikki Harmon is a rich romance tinged with nostalgia, a refreshing story about a woman looking for her first love.

Dee Armstrong recognizes the good things in her life: a rewarding career as a midwife in a thriving Philadelphia practice; co-workers and clients she adores; family and friends who provide support and pull no punches when it comes to advice.

The only thing to give Dee pause is her girlfriend, Pepper. While Pepper is primed to take their relationship to the next level after six months, Dee is not sure this is where she wants to be. This hesitancy gives way to thinking about all the women she’s been with, and the only one woman that she could ever say she was in love with: her high school sweetheart, Candace.

For 31-year-old Dee, high school was a while ago. Thoughts about a woman whom you haven’t talked to since breaking up in your senior year would be just that: notions about where she is now, whether she’s married or single, or has children; if she ever thinks about you after all this time. Yet Dee takes this to a new level and tries to track down the one who got away. Interspersed with this journey to the past that includes a road trip, cross-country flights and internet detective work, Dee is reliving the rise and fall of her young love with Candace, a dimension that adds depth to the story.

I really enjoyed this jaunt Harmon took me on with Dee because she’s a likable character, even when she’s being a little selfish and a tad presumptuous in her love scavenger hunt. Ultimately, she has a great heart, and her friends, Viv especially, made this book so easy to fall into. I also loved the inside look Harmon offers in Dee’s occupation as a midwife, how passionate she is about her patients and the new lives she facilitates into the world.

The biggest part of this story – the mystery of Candace – is what I gravitated toward. I mean, there are times when I was cautious about what she would find, but I had to know, just like Dee, what happened to her former love.

Harmon’s writing is well done; her descriptions of Philadelphia (or wherever else Dee landed), made me feel as if I were there. However, I feel the pacing of the novel could be better; at times there are big jumps from days to weeks that seemed a little incongruent. There was also one plotline involving one of her clients that could have been left out because it added nothing to the story. As far as the ending, all I can say is I’m happy, but I wonder what will happen next.

When I Was Your Girlfriend is a romance I indulged myself in over a weekend because who doesn’t want to know where her first love is? Read this story, and it just might make you look her up on Facebook. Just maybe.

Reviewed April 2016

Read the Sistahs Pick Interview with Nikki Harmon

About Nikki Harmon

Nikki Harmon, an alumna of The Philadelphia High School for Girls, Wesleyan University and Temple University, has always pursued academic challenges. However, cursed with an overabundance of curiosity, she chose a creative lifestyle as a way to indulge her many interests. As a filmmaker, television producer and a teacher of the aforementioned, she gets to spend her days weaving stories and images together and trying to make sense of it all.

Writing her first novel began as a personal challenge, specifically, the NaNoWriMo write 50,000 words in a month challenge. And so, without any training or planning at all, she did. And out came a book. Despite the guilty pleasure that came with ignoring her three children that month, she didn’t write again for three years. Then, with the encouragement of friends, she decided to dig the book out, make it better and hope somebody else would enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

Having ruined her eyes at a young age reading Stephen King by flashlight, it is only fitting that this Philly native finally come full circle to squint at her own scratchings on the page. Here is one truth learned ….it takes much longer to write a book than it does to read one, especially when one has dropped out of typing class in high school.

Books 2 Check Out – April 2016

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Looking for something new to read? Here’s a round-up of a few novels you should check out (the titles are linked to Amazon, but most are available for purchase at Barnes & Noble, as well):

The Beast of Callaire: A Young Adult Fantasy (The Legend Mirror Book 1) by Saruuh Kelsey
Young Adult/Fantasy

Discover a world of magic and monsters in this fantasy series.

Yasmin is the daughter of a God and a mythical creature. A Legendary, she has power and the ability to change forms every full moon.

When a voice cries out to Yasmin – in her head – and she’s drawn into dreams that aren’t her own, she is led to Fray, a girl who once saved Yasmin from hunters. Fray has memories that suggest she has power no human should have – Legendary power. As Yasmin and Fray grow close, they find themselves caught up in a war of Gods and Creatures.

Craving Comfort by Monique Thomas

For the love of sweets in the form of cupcakes and brown thighs.

Keiko is finally getting back on track and the last thing she needs is distractions. Even if the distraction is a well dressed, sexy business owner named Zora.

The Gloaming by Antares DaVinci and Essence Renata

The Gloaming is an intricate web of science fiction and the erotic that spans beautifully spun tales from two sets of hands. The stories are bedded in a series of collected poems that leave you with the same milky clarity that twilight whispers.

In Search of Happiness by Sonwabiso Ngcowa

Nana is fifteen when she travels from her village in the Eastern Cape to the city. She is overjoyed to be reunited with her family, even if they are living in a tiny shack. But she struggles to fit in at her new school, and she is shocked at the violence shown to Chino and Agnes, her Zimbabwean neighbors. When she and Agnes become close friends, and find love in unexpected places, Nana learns firsthand just how brutal ignorance can be and how hard it is to hold on to happiness.

Irresistible Desires by J L Dillard

When she travels to Miami to spend a long weekend with her sister, Hope Donovan-Sinclair has no intention of starting a hot affair. While her marriage wasn’t perfect, infidelity was not the answer to her problem. But a one chance meeting with a beautiful stranger changes her mind completely.
After a heated argument, Hope gives into her desires and discovers her one-night stand opened doors she’ll never be able closed. Now her secret looms overhead, forcing her into a world she despises until an unexpected turn of events wreaks havoc and backs her against the wall.
J L Dillard, the new kid on the block, delivers a riveting novel about love, passion and revenge that’ll leave you wanting more. This twisted tale filled with surprises and consequences will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Loving You Wasn’t Enough by Fatima Warsame

Ebyan Jama has always led a life of clarity. She knows who she is and is committed to her Islamic faith. She has one passion in life. Music. Gifted with a beautiful voice, she can make it big in the music industry. When she is offered the opportunity to sign with a major record label on condition she takes off her hijab, Ebyan walks away. With her dream crushed and her best friend Tiffany by her side, she heads off to UC Berkeley. It is during her freshmen year at Berkeley that she meets Noreen, a sophomore and an aspiring filmmaker. The unexpected, but electric attraction Ebyan develops for Noreen makes her question everything she thought she knew about herself. As Ebyan and Noreen get to know each other, a deep love blossoms between them. Ebyan fights hard to put out her passion for

Noreen, but finds it impossible. Noreen is perfect for Ebyan, her soul mate, but their love is forbidden by faith and tradition. How will Ebyan face her moral dilemma?

From Fatima Warsame, a new voice in contemporary fiction, comes a unique and powerful story on an unexpected love between two young Muslim women.

Meeting Her by Lee Loveless

Is it possible to fall in love in the rebound? That is the question that Jordan asked herself as she begins to have strong feelings for the famous choreographer Vivian Taylor. A chance meeting put these two women together and created a connection hard to ignore. Will these two be able to move away from the ties of their immediate past to satisfy a mutual attraction?

Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-Sex Practices in Africa by Ruth Morgan and Saskia Wieringa

This unique book documents same sexuality in East and southern Africa. Eight of the chapters have been co-authored by women activists spanning six different countries. They have collected personal narratives on a range of issues related to sex and secrecy. This is an incredibly difficult area to research as many African leaders declare it taboo on the basis that these practices are alien to African culture and an import from the depraved west.

The book demonstrates that there are silenced, traditional, institutionalized ways in which African women contracted same-sex relations. Second, it proclaims the right of African women engaged in same-sex practices or relations to their identities as Africans, as several interviewees state: we, lesbian women, are born here in Africa, we belong here. Who can say we are un-African? Third it gives a vivid portrait of the lives of African women engaged in same-sex relations and practices, portraying the joys of having found love as well as the pains of betrayal and the hatred encountered in their communities, as well as the many shades of emotions in between. This book eloquently testifies that although silence isolates and protects these women, some are beginning to speak out.

The TurnOut Queens: With Just One Taste…They’ll Have You Sprung (Volume 1) by Fabiola Joseph, Christiana Harrell, Renee Wallace, Raynesha Pittman, Ben Burgess Jr., N’Tyse (Foreword)

Sodom and Gomorrah is Washington, D.C.’s premier gay and lesbian nightclub. Beyond the music, bottles, flyers, cages, and V.I.P sections, are the workers who keep the party going on and off the dance floor. Find out what happens once the last records are spun, and the drama follows them home. Sex, betrayal, lies, lust, and love, is never too far behind once these sexy employees clock out. Enter Gomorrah, and sit on the throne with the TurnOut queens.

Turn Me Out: The Novel by T. Ariez

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turnmeoutnovelPublisher/Date:  Amazon Digital Services LLC, March 2016
Genre(s):  Stud 4 Stud, Romance
Pages:  199

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Angel and Ace are best friends who happen to both be studs. When Angel realizes that she has developed feelings for Ace, she devises a plan that will go against everything she’s ever known and believed in. She is tired of the traditions and rules that make her feelings taboo and decides to risk everything. When she finally decides that she can’t take it anymore and throws caution in the wind, will it all be worth the risk?

In 2013, T. Ariez’s short story, Turn Me Out, introduced studs Angel and Ace who found themselves in the precarious situation of being attracted to one another. Two studs in lust? Where they do that at? Though it’s oftentimes inconceivable in our black lesbian community, Ariez made the romance between two best friends believable through her writing and characters in such a brief tale.

Fast forward to 2016, and T. Ariez has expanded her earlier quickie into TURN ME OUT: THE NOVEL, and this version is meatier than I imagined it would be. It broke me in several places. The novel pretty much follows the same basic premise as the short story, but focuses more on the “where do we go from here” aspect and explores Angel and Ace becoming a couple. This is where shit gets real.

Now I’m not a stud. So I don’t fully understand what it’s like be a masculine woman in a man’s world.

But it’s hard not to empathize with Angel as she contemplates her feelings for Ace, who’s as hard as they come. We’re in her head as Angel as she grapples with being in love with her best friend, the person who showed her the ropes of stud life and sheltered her during their teenage years. The lengths she goes through to tell Ace how she feels are real and moving and hard to read at times, but the affection they have for each other is hard-fought and raw. Their love scenes were some of the hottest because of this masculine, loving vibe between them.

My biggest concern, though, was how Angel felt she had change herself to what Ace wanted. Ace, Ace, Ace. It was all I could take not to slam her hand in a car door, mostly because of how she dealt with loving Angel. Her hangups, based on what people would think, about loving another stud were going to be the death of her friendship; I just wanted her to wake up and see what was in front of her. Ace was also spoiled, a stud used to bedding a different femme almost every night, and being in love was something she envisioned as a last resort. Until Angel.

I was so invested in Turn Me Out: The Novel. The resolution Ace comes to, and the fight Angel goes through to prove her love, is what makes this book special. I hope this book will help our community let go of the rigid stereotypes we place on each other and ourselves.

T. Ariez, I’m ready for the next one.

Reviewed March 2016

About T. Ariez

T. Ariez is a Texas native currently living in Dallas. He has been writing since the second grade but only started exploring writing for an audience a few years after graduating high school. He enjoys reading in his spare time, playing board games with his family and watching football.

Sistahs Shop Talk – 3/27/16 – Happy Easter!

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Sistahs Shop Talk is random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.

One Thought…

Happy Easter/Resurrection/New Beginnings:  Easter has, to me, always been a time of new beginnings or a reinvigoration of life. On that note, I count year 2016 as a time of renewed passion for reviewing at Sistahs on the Shelf after its dormancy in 2015. Last year I was in love with reading but not necessarily reviewing, and I have to admit, it felt good to just pick up a book and not think about how to craft my thoughts into a review post. To be honest, I was just burnt out. It happens; I’m human. But thanks to supportive people in my life, I’ve refreshed my outlook, and how I want to run this site, and have a stoked fire about sharing my thoughts with you about the great books I’ve read. So tell me: what helped you get through a rough patch in your life?

What I’m Reading Now…

A Return to Arms
by Sheree L. Greer:
  After just finished When I Was Your Girlfriend by Nikki Harmon (such a pleasant reading experience), I’m gravitating toward A Return to Arms by Sheree L. Greer. This newest book, recently published on March 15, is about activism and romance, and whether the two can co-exist. I’m excited to dig in, especially since I’ve never been disappointed by a Sheree L. Greer book.

Book Quote…

Kiana winced. She didn’t need to look into the other room to see it, the lavender wedding invitation sitting like a strong, elegant tent in the center of her wooden kitchen table. Without seeing it, she could smell it, the vanilla musk whispering from the fold; she could feel it, the heavy cardstock soft against her fingertips as she traced the gold script. She struggled to her feet, the memory of Michelle, of being in love, weighing her down. Though Michelle had been gone just over six months, Kiana ached as if she had just left, as if she just realized that her love was gone for good. “Fuck that invitation,” she said, pulling up on her baggy jeans.

– Sheree L. Greer, Let the Lover Be (2015)

Trolling for New Books…


The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde – Dr. Gloria Joseph
Villarosa Media
Release Date: April 15, 2016 (pre-orders available now)

Told Griot style (a western Africa oral tradition of storytelling to maintain historical ties to the past), this combination anthology and biography brings together a wide range of prominent authors and activists, including Sonia Sanchez, Angela Y. Davis, Jewelle Gomez and Assata Shakur. These contributors have submitted essays, reflections, stories, poems, memoirs and photos that illuminate how Lorde’s literary vision and her turbulent and triumphant life continue to challenge and inspire. The book also contains conversations with Lorde, Joseph’s personal photos and travelogs, and remembrances from her three memorials, in New York, Berlin and St Croix.

Written by author and activist Dr. Gloria Joseph, Lorde’s partner in life and love, the book was born from an interview conducted a few months prior to Lorde’s death. They discussed a comprehensive biography that would tell her story in full, revealing her tenacity, complexity and passion. With that mandate, Joseph sat down to the task of creating The Wind is Spirit.

Visit This Website…


The G-List Society

The G-List Society is an online media networking and entertainment group who caters to the style of life in the urban gay social scene.
The website highlights lifestyle topics and pop culture, spotlights gay personalities and events in exclusive features, and celebrates the achievements of gays and lesbians of color. The G-List publishes its annual BLACK GAYS ROCK! Power 100 list to celebrate Black same-gender-loving (SGL) achievers around the world.

Sistahs Shop Talk – 3/13/16 – A Diversity Haiku

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Sistahs Shop Talk is random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.

One Thought…

Diversity – a Haiku
(to Non-POC Authors)

some things ain’t for you
if you do it, do it right
we gon’ be all right

News Snippets…

2016 Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced:  Finalists for the 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards (“Lammys”) were announced last week. The Lambda Literary Awards celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender writing. The awards ceremony will be held on June 6, 2016 at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit

Below are the finalists in the Lesbian categories:

Lesbian Fiction
Apocalypse Baby, Virginie Despentes, The Feminist Press
Blue Talk and Love, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Riverdale Avenue Books
The Cherokee Rose, Tiya Miles, John F. Blair
The First Bad Man, Miranda July, Scribner
Jam on the Vine: A Novel, LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Grove Press
Like a Woman, Debra Busman, Dzanc Books
Thérèse and Isabelle, Violette Leduc, The Feminist Press
Under the Udala Trees, Chinelo Okparanta, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Lesbian Memoir/Biography
Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef’s Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness, Cat Cora, Scribner
Dirty River, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Arsenal Pulp Press
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein, Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House
Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, Kate Carroll de Gutes, Ovenbird Books
You’re Not Edith, Allison Gruber, George Braziller

Lesbian Romance
Autumn Spring, Shelley Thrasher, Bold Strokes Books
The Chameleon’s Tale, Andrea Bramhall, Bold Strokes Books
Full Circle, Dillon Watson, Bella Books
Heart of the Game, Rachel Spangler, Bold Strokes Books
Infiltration, Jackie D, Bold Strokes Books
Making A Comeback, Julie Blair, Bold Strokes Books
My Best Friend’s Girl, Blythe H. Warren, Bella Books
The Renegade, Amy Dunne, Bold Strokes Books

Lesbian Erotica
Desire Behind Bars: Lesbian Prison Erotica, Salome Wilde and Talon Rihai (editors), Hillside Press
The Muse, Meghan O’Brien, Bold Strokes Books
Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, Sinclair Sexsmith, Maverick Press

To see the complete Award list, visit the Lambda Literary website. 

walkingthetightropeWhat I’m Reading Now…

Walking the Tightrope edited by Abayomi Animashaun, Irwin Iradukunda, Timothy Kimutai, Tatenda Muranda, Spectra Speaks: Walk the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa is an anthology featuring writers from different parts of Sub-Saharan Africa portraying gay and lesbian life. So far it is touchingly honest.

Book Quote…

I sometimes forget how well you know my heart.

If ever I get lost in the woods of pain I feel, you’d find me.

If I ever drown in the seas of sadness that often lap over me, you’d pull me out.

You know the world’s burdens weigh me down, so often you hold me up.

But even more often I forget I love you.

And you remind me.

You remind me in soft subtle hints.

I sometimes forget how well you know my heart.

How well you understand the song this broken instrument plays.

Then I remember you’re my composer.

You wrote the notes that make this song.

You know it well.

So you fill in the missing notes.

When I falter, you stand strong.

When I forget how it goes, you sing my parts.

When I forget, you remind me how well you know this heart of mine.

– a sample of “Broken Instrument” by Tsepho Jamillah Moyo
From Walking the Tightrope

Trolling for New Books…


Turn Me Out – T. Ariez
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Release Date: March 15, 2016 (pre-orders available now)

Angel and Ace are best friends who happen to both be studs. When Angel realizes that she has developed feelings for Ace, she devises a plan that will go against everything she’s ever known and believed in. She is tired of the traditions and rules that make her feelings taboo and decides to risk everything. When she finally decides that she can’t take it anymore and throws caution in the wind, will it all be worth the risk?

This is the full version of the novella previously published by T. Ariez. Read the Interview and Review Chat for Turn Me Out (the 2013 novella).


Fistful of Love – Renee Cronin
Release Date: April 1, 2016 (pre-orders available now)

At the age of 23, social worker, Jeya Wellington was pretty much on her own. The devastating loss of her parents left her bereft and alone. Her best friend, Roman and his family have been like surrogates, but they could never replace what she lost. She needed a different connection. Shortly after losing her parents, she finds love and comfort in the arms of Rayne Watson, a correctional officer.

Rayne was exactly what she needed at the time, but now, two years later, Jeya wants out. She never expected love to come with bruises. She didn’t anticipate losing friends and living in fear. This was not her idea of true love. With the support of Roman, Jeya finds a way to leave. But Rayne isn’t letting go that easily. They made a commitment to each, and she has the tattoo to prove it – ‘Til Death Do Us Part.

Torn between the love she has for Rayne and the instinct to protect herself, is Jeya’s will stronger than her vow?


She’s Just Not That Into You – Aryka Randall
Dragon Fruit
Release Date:  April 5, 2016

As Editor-in-Chief at, Aryka Randall has become the authority on Girl+Girl love, especially for women of color. Now in her first book, She’s Just Not That Into You, Randall tells her story and gets the conversation heated up on queer dating, relationships, open commitments, living arrangements, work, money, love, sex and lust.

She’s Just Not That Into You covers everything from reality checks your friends won’t give you and learning to love yourself to avoiding toxic relationships and why serial dating often leads to disaster – the kind of advice any young woman in love or looking for love needs.

Enter a giveaway for Aryka Randall’s She’s Just Not That Into You at The Fab Femme website.

Visit This Website…

wocinromanceWOC In Romance

WOC In Romance celebrates and promotes Women of Color who write romance novels. Operated by author Rebekah Weatherspoon, this blog features new release and backlist promotions, as well as weekly recaps. The site is a beautiful mélange of colorful book selections, and is trans inclusive and open to gender fluid and non-binary authors of color as well. Follow WOC In Romance on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Goslyn County by A.M. McKnight

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Publisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Nov. 2015
Genre(s):  Mystery, Romance, Crime
Pages:  320

Rating: ★★★★☆ 


A mostly black community with its roots in farming, Goslyn, Virginia lay just south of the State’s Capital. The once small, close-knit county had grown rapidly in the past two decades and boasted a population of just over fifty thousand. But the county’s crime stats had grown as well, and the latest offenses included several break-ins and rumors of a meth lab. Time had brought many changes, and many of the longtime folks of Goslyn no longer recognized their community and longed for days gone by. Goslyn PD Detective Olivia “Ollie” Winston loves her family and friends and shows it through her sense of humor. Just like her neighbors, she too worries about the recent events, and it’s her job to find out who’s behind the crime spree. While investigating three burglaries, Olivia meets IRS Special Agent Maureen Jeffries who is pursuing a tax fraud suspect. Their cases are connected, and both soon discover they have much in common, personally and professionally. 

Last year, I was really into cozy mysteries. Quick and satisfying reads, I was enamored by the kind of mysteries set in sleepy towns where everyone knows your name, and the crimes always wrapped up nicely.

That’s why I was so drawn to GOSLYN COUNTY by A.M. McKnight, a story set in a predominantly black community in Virginia. This mystery-romance featuring detective Olivia “Ollie” Winston finds her trying to unravel the recent break-in of a local tax filing office and the theft of its customers’ personal information. Ollie is good at what she does – rising from beat officer to detective within 10 years – but her small town’s department doesn’t have the technological capability to track down the offenders; that’s where Ollie depends on best friend, Pat Henley-Rice, owner of an IT service provider, to assist in the case. Down with each other like four flat tires since elementary school, Ollie and Pat have this friendship that’s more like sisters, and Pat is refreshingly funny.

Ollie also has help from the feds in this criminal matter, namely IRS special agent Maureen Jeffries, who is investigating a tax fraud case in nearby Atlanta that could be related to Ollie’s break-in. When the two begin comparing information is when *ta-da* sparks begin to fly. Shy around each other at first, the professionals slowly cultivate a relationship with lunches and long conversations. Everything about it is old-fashioned, but not stuffy, and it’s a grown-woman romance.

To tell the truth, the entirety of Goslyn County is grown-folk relating to each other. The richness of the town and the characters are what really drew me in. Every chapter is a revolving look into why people do what they do, including the criminals themselves. We get to know why Ollie and Maureen are hesitant about love, and why Ollie should really watch her back when it comes to her job. That’s one of the things what A.M. McKnight does best with this novel.

Like with any mystery revolving around detectives, the behind-the-scenes of an investigation is important. I got that message clearly in Goslyn County. McKnight places you there, right along with Ollie and Maureen as they both chases leads separately and together. While I think the ending did wrap up a little too quickly, the ride – and the exciting car chase – is what’s important.

I’m glad McKnight is planning a sequel, because I’m raring to see what else little ole Goslyn County can cook up next.

Reviewed March 2016

About A.M. McKnight

A.M. McKnight grew up in the south and practices law as a first profession. She decided to try her hand at writing after getting hooked on reading lesbian crime and romance novels.

Sistahs Shop Talk – 2/28/16 – Book Segregation, Anyone?

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Sistahs Shop Talk is just random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.

One Thought…

Segregation in the Store: An author friend who forwarded this Facebook post and our proceeding discussion offline inspired a lot of thoughts concerning the age-old debate of book segregation. That post mostly discusses Amazon, but it invites another question: when you walk into a physical bookstore, do you prefer African-American fiction to have its own section or to be blended with “mainstream” fiction? I’ve long preferred the African-American books to be chillin’ by themselves, away from the others because it just makes it easier to find the title I want.

And segregation also helps distinguish just how many titles of ours the bookstore carries. Books-A-Million, with their dedicated AA division, is just beautiful to look at. All these wonderful books at my reach, all about our people. When I walk into Barnes & Noble, which mixes AA books in regular fiction, it just looks sloppy to me, because I can see how many books they are (or not) selling in the store. Walking up and down the aisles (like I sometimes do) tells me that they have the smallest AA collection, and that’s a problem. But there is another side, the one that questions why there is a separate AA section at all. It makes our books seem like anomalies, as if we’re not good enough to be in the “regular fiction.” What do you think?

Something else to think about: when you lump our books together, you have Kindred and Giovanni’s Room hanging out with titles like I Jus’ Wanna Leave This Nigga (yes, this a real book title). There’s not a distinction between genres, between classics and romance and science fiction and street lit ― and some feel street lit is taking over most of the shelves nowadays. As an occasional reader of street lit as an escape of sorts, this doesn’t bother me (hey, we all gotta eat), but is this a problem for you? How do you want your books to be shelved?

BTW, the merits of street lit will be discussed at a later time….

News Snippets…

  • A Black Lesbian Filmmaker’s Reaction to #OscarsSoWhite | | Here’s why Charzette Torrence, executive producer, creator, and co-writer of Jillian’s Peak, a new premium scripted digital series featuring the stories of African-American lesbians, won’t be tuning in on Sunday night.

whitenightsblackparadiseWhat I’m Reading Next…

White Nights, Black Paradise by Sikivu Hutchinson: White Nights, Black Paradise follows three fictional black women characters who were part of the Peoples Temple movement but took radically different paths to Jonestown. I found the summary to be interesting, and after reading a smidgen, it seems to humanize the tragedy while incorporating members of all ages, genders and sexual orientations.

blissBook Quote…

“Across from her, Hunter devoured her meal even more completely than she had. Sinclair watched her sink sharp teeth into the chicken bone, heard it snap, then the soft grunt of satisfaction. She made soft sucking sounds then emptied her mouth of the tiny ground up remains on a corner of her dish. Hunter ate with rabbit-like intensity, biting and sucking and spitting in an even rhythm until all that was left on the plate was a small brown and beige pile of ground bones. She finally looked up and caught Sinclair staring.”
― Fiona Zedde, Bliss

Trolling for New Books…

All release dates are tentative.


The Gilda Stories: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition – Jewelle Gomez (with Afterword by Alexis Pauline Gumbs)
City Lights Publishers
Release Date:  April 12, 2016

Before Buffy, before Twilight, before Octavia Butler’s Fledgling, there was The Gilda Stories, Jewelle Gomez’s sexy vampire novel.

This remarkable novel begins in 1850s Louisiana, where Gilda escapes slavery and learns about freedom while working in a brothel. After being initiated into eternal life as one who “shares the blood” by two women there, Gilda spends the next two hundred years searching for a place to call home. An instant lesbian classic when it was first published in 1991, The Gilda Stories has endured as an auspiciously prescient book in its explorations of blackness, radical ecology, re-definitions of family, and yes, the erotic potential of the vampire story.


Lyric & Blake – V. Nikki Jones
Resolute Publishing
Release Date:  April 18, 2016

Astin “Lyric” Boyd leaves her uptight prep academy to start seventh grade at Alcorn Junior High. She quickly learns that public school means screaming teachers, popularity polls, and fashion wars. Lyric is nervous about being the lone new kid until she befriends a nerdy hipster that goes by her last name, Blake.

The inseparable duo want to mix up the social atmosphere at Alcorn, but their efforts spark a bitter rivalry with the Jacks and Jennies. The school year takes a new twist when Lyric and Blake are struck with puppy love and secret admirer messages. Growing up isn’t easy for two savvy girls who wear boy’s clothes and date girls. But their mothers and Alcorn ally, Coach Jackson, genuinely support them. Rumors, break-ups, or the principal’s office won’t stop these friends from conquering seventh grade.

From Resolute Publishing: “Lately, there’s been a lot of talk in the media about the lack of diversity among children’s literature– especially from Black authors. Therefore, we’re proud to publish a culturally relevant book with characters who are gay youth of color. Kids deserve options. Moreover, writers should assist parents by producing quality stories that are not only entertaining, but useful discussion tools.”


The Dawn of Nia – L. Cherelle
Resolute Publishing
Release Date: April 25, 2016

Nia Ellis is grief stricken when, Pat, her mentor passes away. At the funeral, Nia is blindsided by one of Pat’s deep-seated secrets, which sparks feelings of betrayal. Weeks after the funeral, Nia is still figuring out how to handle her wavering emotions and the unexplained secret– until the opportunity for answers forces her to step outside of her comfort zone. Nia believes she is in control of her guarded emotions when sidetracked by curiosity and thrust into a battle zone with Pat’s sisters. Nia’s legal opposition and new love interest offend Pat’s family.

Romance was the least of Nia’s concerns until a fling matures and challenges her lingering insecurities. Nia learns there is a thin line between love and hate when former relationships and loyalties are lost in her circle of friends. In the end, she realizes that Pat’s secret was a blessing in disguise.

Visit This Website…

Lez Talk Books Radio: Lez Talk Books Radio is back! A newly launched podcast co-hosted by BLF Press publisher S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle, manager of Resolute Publishing, the podcast runs on Tuesday nights and the hosts discuss Black lesbian writing and talk to Black lesbian authors about their craft. If you haven’t already, please follow their YouTube channel. Their most recent interview was with K.A. Smith, author of Get at Me and many other short stories.

2 Sides 2 the Rainbow by Unique Waterfall

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2sides2therainbowPublisher/Date:  Amazon Digital Services, Inc., Feb. 2015
Genre(s):  Romance, Drama, Studs and Femmes
Pages:  356

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Say what you will about their love lives, but Ming, Nayla, Angie and Rachel know how to get down to business. The women of 2 SIDES 2 THE RAINBOW are good friends, but have professions that pair them with love interests that intersect in interesting ways. Unique Waterfall shows that the foursome is about their money, but when it comes to the studs in their lives, that’s where they mix business with more than enough pleasure.

Ming, the unofficial leader of the crew, is a lawyer trying to land a deal with the hottest stud in the modeling industry. There’s no way she can lose this account, even when a handsome samaritan stays on her mind after assisting her one night – unless that guardian angel is her new client’s agent. Even with that distraction, I loved Ming’s professionalism through it all; she seems to have her head on straight when it comes to what she wants and when her friends’ drama lands in her lap.

Especially with her friend Nayla. While her friends know her love for women, she’s apprehensive about coming out to her family. Even with her friends’ support, Nayla still can’t admit, even to herself, that she’s a lesbian. Meeting a stud who challenges her denial, Nayla is at a crossroads that one can sympathize with. Her struggle anchors the book and is the most compelling character to watch.

Angie, Ming’s assistant, is trying to find love also, but I mostly see her as comic relief to the other women. Rachel, hotel executive by day and opportunist by night, is my least favorite of the women, only because I didn’t get to know her enough throughout the novel. The stud love interests are passionate in their own special ways.

2 Sides 2 the Rainbow is a mix of fun and drama, but there are a a couple of hiccups: it needs an editor’s red pen in places, and the conversations between the women regurgitate too much what just happened in the scene before. However, Nayla’s struggles, Ming’s relationship and the bond between Ming and Nayla are the major pluses for me. Considering the book ended on the biggest cliffhanger, I’ll be happy to see how the women progress and what new they’ll get into in the upcoming sequel.

Reviewed February 2016

About Unique Waterfall

Unique Waterfall is an Illinois native that grew up on the Southside of Chicago, known as the wild hundreds. Born and raised in the Altgeld Garden Housing Projects, writing was an escape from the reality of living in public housing. The oldest of her siblings Unique was an outgoing but cautious child who always had something to read in her hand. Whether it was a book, magazine, or news paper she was constantly reading and writing. Unique is an avid lover of the arts and the Harlem Renaissance era, this love is what fueled her desire to write poetry. Writing was something that she only did for herself as a release from the pressures of everyday life she never shared her writings with others. But encouragement from her family and friends she started to share some of her writings online. After seeing the lack of positive representation amongst African American lesbians, in the literary world Unique started brainstorming writing a book. But it wasn’t until a tragic event that changed her life that she actually wrote and self published the novel 2 Sides 2 The Rainbow.

Sistahs Shop Talk – February 14, 2016 (Happy Valentine’s Day)

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Sistahs Shop Talk is just random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.

One Thought…

Who Run the World:  I like Beyoncé. Who doesn’t? While I’ve never been a member of the Bey Hive, nor attended any concerts, and I’m not the first in line to buy one of her albums (digitally or in the store), I’ve gotten my life to many of her songs (especially when Get Me Bodied comes on in my car). But Formation is a whole different level of greatness. It shows that Beyoncé hasn’t forgotten where she comes from and shows #BlackGirlMagic is a real thing. From the lyrics to the visuals (a most adorable Blue Ivy, anyone), I’m proud that she is using her platform and her status to send a message. What I’m not proud of is how white folks are losing their minds. This ain’t for you, so don’t try to understand it. To that note, Saturday Night Live has accurately portrayed this dismay in the following sketch, “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black.” It’s a must watch.

What I’m Reading Right Now…

Goslyn County:  I just started Goslyn County by A. M. McKnight, and so far it’s the kind of book I like: a story set in a small black community with simmering romance, richly drawn characters and a mystery to solve. The main character Ollie Winston is a detective trying to piece together a robbery with the help of childhood best friend Pat, while nurturing a budding romance with IRS Special Agent Maureen, who also lends her assistance to the case.

Book Quote…

“They were quiet for a spell—time enough for her to run cold water over the boiled potatoes and peel two or three before adding, “It’s like she the oak tree and you the ivy—just wrapped yourself all around her.” That’s when Ivoe reached across the table and laid a hand on her arm and said, “Momma, that’s exactly what it’s like.”
—From Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett

Trolling for New Books…

All release dates are tentative.

A Return to Arms – Sheree L. Greer

Bold Strokes Books
Release date: March 15, 2016

When Toya meets Folami and joins the activist collective RiseUP!, she thinks she’s found her life’s purpose. Folami’s sensuality and her passion for social justice leave Toya feeling that, at last, she’s met someone she can share all parts of her life with. But when a controversial police shooting blurs the lines between the personal and the political, Toya is forced to examine her identity, her passions, and her allegiances.

Folami, a mature and dedicated activist, challenges Toya’s commitment to the struggle while threatening to pull her back into the closet to maintain the intense connection they share. How ever, Nina, a young, free-spirited artist, invites Toya to explore the intersections between sexual and political freedom.

With the mounting tensions and social unrest threatening to tear the community apart, can Toya find a safe place to live and love while working to uplift her people?

LEZ TALK – edited by S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle

BLF Press
Release date: April 5, 2016
Pre-sale orders available March 1, 2016

A necessary and relevant addition to the Black LGBTQ literary canon, which oftentimes over looks Black lesbian writing, Lez Talk is a collection of short stories that embraces the fullness of Black lesbian experiences. The contributors operate under the assumption that “lesbian” is not a dirty word, and have written stories that amplify the diversity of Black lesbian lives.

At once provocative, emotional, adventurous, and celebratory, Lez Talk crosses a range of fictional genres, including romance, speculative, and humor. The writers explore new subjects and aspects of their experiences, and affirm their gifts as writers and lesbian women. Beginning with Claudia Moss’s “Who Cooks for You?” a lush romantic tale of self-discovery, the collection also includes work from Sheree L. Greer, Lauren Cherelle, K.A. Smith, Eternity Philops, S. Andrea Allen, and Faith Mosley.

Rise of the Rain Queen – Fiona Zedde

Bold Strokes Books
Release Date: July 1, 2016

Nyandoro was born the favorite. As the only girl of her parents’ six children, she gets everything she wants without even asking for it. When the latest thing she desires is the wife of a village elder, she faces consequences she never had to before.

These consequences come with the dawn of a passion she didn’t know existed, a carnal feast of flesh she can’t get enough of. But on the night she gains the ultimate satisfaction from the woman she’d always wanted, she also loses every good thing she ever had. This loss takes Ny from the shelter of her family and home to the unknown wilds of a new world flush with ancient power, and into the arms of an old lover who has always been by her side.

Visit This Website…

Life According to Tania: I stumbled upon Life According to Tania few months ago. Blogger Tania bills her website as “Thoughts of a [mostly] Morally Sane Black Lesbian, + a few good reads.” She reads a lot of black lesbian books, which is always great to find someone who has the same reading list I do.