NY Times vs. Essence Bestsellers List Excerpts

*Update: I don’t know why this post looks like this, but I did at least update the book images, I’m not going to take the time to do much more than that. 1/2013

I searched for some Black book news to post, but had some difficulty finding articles with that specification. With that in mind, there’s no need to tell you that I had to get a little creative with this post. I thought it would be interesting to explore excerpts from the hardback fiction on the NY Times vs. Essence bestseller lists. It is said that an author is supposed to hook you with their opening paragraph (sentence even). Here’s the challenge–do you feel these books accomplish that? Based on these excerpts which ones would you be most interested in reading more from? Are you familiar with all the books in this post?


thousand splendidA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (NYT #1)

Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.

It happened on a Thursday. It must have, because Mariam remembered that she had been restless and preoccupied that day, the way she was only on Thursdays, the day when Jalil visited her at the kolba. To pass the time until the moment that she would see him at last, crossing the knee-high grass in the clearing and waving, Mariam had climbed a chair and taken down her mother’s Chinese tea set. The tea set was the sole relic that Mariam’s mother, Nana, had of her own mother, who had died when Nana was two. Nana cherished each blue-and-white porcelain piece, the graceful curve of the pot’s spout, the hand-painted finches and chrysanthemums, the dragon on the sugar bowl, meant to ward off evil. (Read more..)

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Sleeping With Strangers by Eric Jerome Dickey sleepingwithstrangersejd(Essence #1)

“What’s your goddamn name?”

I stared at the huge man who wore the preacher’s collar. He’d been crippled by paid-for violence, dragged down stairs, and tossed on the marble floor. His arrogant face and body bruised by the brass knuckles that were at my side. He was a big man, much bigger than I. He looked like John Coffey, from Green Mile, in a $3,000 suit and gators.

“Who are you? Why are you doing this? What’s your goddamn name?”

I yawned, exhausted from traveling. I told him, “I don’t have a name.”

“What do you mean you don’t have a name?”

I had rented a hotel room near Oakland University. Oakland University was in Rochester,

Michigan. Not Oakland, California. This Oakland wasn’t black. The winters in Michigan were not to be played with. I had on a serious coat, one big enough to shelter my weapons.

From the hotel, I had traveled a few miles away, was creating terror at midnight in the Bloomfield Villas subdivision. On Oak Avenue in Birmingham, Michigan. A sweet $2 million home. Four-sided brick. Four bedrooms. Three full baths. A half bath on the main floor. (Read more…)

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thequickieThe Quickie
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge(NYT #2)

I KNEW THIS WAS a really terrific idea, if I didn’t say so myself, surprising Paul for lunch at his office down on Pearl Street.

I’d made a special trip into Manhattan and had put on my favorite “little black dress.” I looked moderately ravishing. Nothing that would be out of place at the Mark Joseph Steakhouse, and one of Paul’s favorite outfits, too, the one he usually chose if I asked him, “What should I wear to this thing, Paul?”
Anyway, I was excited, and I’d already spoken to his assistant, Jean, to make sure that he was there — though I hadn’t alerted her about the surprise. Jean was Paul’s assistant after all, not mine.

And then, there was Paul.

As I rounded the corner in my Mini Cooper, I saw him leaving his office building, walking with a twenty-something blonde woman. (Read more…)

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whensomebodylovesWhen Somebody Loves You Back by Mary B. Morrison (Essence #2)

A black woman did it all… because she had to. She did it all and she did it well, caring for others while neglecting herself. Four hundred and fifty years of birthing babies for white masters and black slaves sold off to the highest bidder, leaving her to raise her children all alone. Four hundred fifty–plus years struggling for freedom, while black men died, for what they seemingly couldn’t live with today, dignity.

Whose fault was that?

If only a man could teach a boy how to become a man, then the question would be rhetorical. If the black woman birthed the black man, raised the black man, loved the black man she gave life to, then when did the black man begin disrespecting the black woman, replacing her birth name with bitch?

Bitch. Bastard. Incontestably the black man could win at one thing: throwing a boomerang. The black man’s life would forever remain incomplete until he learned how to love and respect the black woman. Good or bad—what he believed was golden—a dick didn’t mean shit when the black man chose not to give back to the black woman what she’d freely given to him. Unconditional love. Respect. Devotion. (Read more…)

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High Noon
by Nora Roberts (NYT #3)highnoon

Jumping to your death was a crappy way to spend St. Patrick’s Day. Being called in on your day off to talk someone out of jumping to his death on St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t exactly green beer and bagpipes.

Phoebe weaved and dodged her way through the crowds of Savannahians and tourists thronging streets and sidewalks in celebration. Captain David Mc Vee thought ahead, she noted. Even with a badge, it would’ve taken precious time and miserable effort to get through the barricades and mobs of people in her car. But a couple blocks east of Jones, the revelry thinned, and the booming music was only a throb and echo.

The uniformed officer waited as ordered. His gaze skimmed over her face, down to the badge she’d hooked on the pocket of her khakis. Cropped pants, sandals, shamrock-green T-shirt under a linen jacket, Phoebe thought. Not the professional look she worked to foster on the job.

But what could you do? She was supposed to be standing on the terrace of Mac Namara House, with her family, drinking lemonade and watching the parade. (Read more…)

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firstladyweberFirst Lady by Carl Weber (Essence #3)

“Hey, Charlene, you ready to get started?”

My good friend and confidante, Alison Williams, smiled as she walked into my hospital room. I tried to smile back when she kissed my forehead, but the abdominal pains I was experiencing wouldn’t allow it. So, I lay there in my bed, grappling through the pain as I watched her sit in the chair next to my bed and pull out some of my personal stationery and a pen. I pressed the button that controlled the morphine drip in my arm, and Alison waited patiently for my pain reliever to kick in. Six months ago, I refused to use any type of pain medication, but now I understood why the Lord invented addictive drugs like morphine and Demerol. Without them, I probably would have died from the pain of my pancreatic cancer weeks ago. As it was now, I was pushing the darn drip button every fifteen minutes. I was on the highest dose there was, which meant I didn’t have long to live, probably a few weeks at best.

I wasn’t afraid of dying, though. I’d lived a good life, married a wonderful man in Bishop T.K. Wilson, raised two fantastic children, and had the honor of being the first lady of absolutely the best church in New York—First Jamaica Ministries. So, if the Lord was ready to call me home, although I considered myself young at forty-four, I was ready to go. The only thing I was afraid of was what would happen to my family—more importantly, my husband—after I was gone. I was now making preparations to be sure my man was taken care of after my death. (Read more...)

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The Tin Roof Blowdown
by Dave Robicheaux tinroofblowburke(NYT #4)

MY WORST DREAMS have always contained images of brown water and fields of elephant grass and the downdraft of helicopter blades. The dreams are in color but they contain no sound, not of drowned voices in the river or the explosions under the hooches in the village we burned or the thropping of the Jolly Green and the gunships coming low and flat across the canopy, like insects pasted against a molten sun.

In the dream I lie on a poncho liner, dehydrated with blood expander, my upper thigh and side torn by wounds that could have been put there by wolves. I am convinced I will die unless I receive plasma back at battalion aid. Next to me lies a Negro corporal, wearing only his trousers and boots, his skin coal-black, his torso split open like a gaping red zipper from his armpit down to his groin, the damage to his body so grievous, traumatic, and terrible to see or touch he doesn’t understand what has happened to him.

“I got the spins, Loot. How I look?” he says.

“We’ve got the million-dollar ticket, Doo-doo. We’re Freedom Bird bound,” I reply.

His face is crisscrossed with sweat, his mouth as glossy and bright as freshly applied lipstick when he tries to smile. (Read more…)

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loveandliesrobyLove & Lies by Kimberla Lawson Roby (Essence #4)

It was all I could do not to curse my husband out—my husband, a man who was never home more than a few days at a time, a man who didn’t seem to care about his wife in the least, a man who was probably sleeping with only God knew whom. Which is why after five years of pleading with him to change and begging him to spend more time with me, I had finally had enough. I was finally in a place where I would no longer tolerate the world-renowned Reverend Curtis Black or the adultery I was sure he was committing.


“So, when exactly are you going to be here, Curtis?” I asked now, gripping the phone tightly.

“I just told you. In a couple of days.”

“I realize that, but I need to know a specific day. What I need to know is the time your flight will be arriving at O’Hare?”

“Well, Charlotte, as much as I hate to disappoint you, I don’t know what time.”

You don’t know? How could you not know?”

“Because I just don’t.” (Read more…)

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Lean Mean Thirteen
by Janet Evanovich (NYT #5)leanmeanthirteen

For the past five minutes I’ve been parked outside my cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds office in my crapolla car, debating whether to continue on with my day, or to return to my apartment and crawl back into bed. My name is Stephanie Plum, and Sensible Stephanie wanted to go back to bed. Loco Stephanie was thinking she should get on with it.

I was about to do something I knew I shouldn’t do. The signs were all there in front of me. Sick stomach. Feeling of impending disaster. Knowledge that it was illegal. And yet, I was going to forge ahead with the plan. Not that this was especially unusual. Truth is, I’ve been dealing with impending doom for as long as I can remember. Heck, when I was six years old I sprinkled sugar on my head, convinced myself it was pixie dust, wished myself invisible, and walked into the boy’s bathroom at school. I mean you don’t know the water’s over your head until you jump in, right? The door to the bond’s office opened, and Lula stuck her head out and yelled at me. “Are you gonna sit there all day, or what?”

Lula is a black woman with a Rubenesque body and a Vegas wardrobe that’s four sizes too small. She was a former ‘ho, currently working as a file clerk for the office and a wheelman for me… when the mood struck. Today she was wearing big fake-fur Sasquatch boots, and her ass was packed into poison green spandex pants. Her pink sweatshirt had LOVE GODDESS spelled out in sequins across her boobs. (Read more…)

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borrowtroubleBorrow Trouble by Victor McGlothin & Mary Monroe (Essence #5)

Baltimore was in the backseat, several blocks away and frowning disapprovingly with the pretty lady on his lap, laughing her head off. Henry gawked at the woman’s complexion, so white she appeared to be carved from a bar of soap. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she threw her arms around Baltimore’s neck, kissed him passionately and then without notice reared back and slapped his face so hard it sounded off. Pudge had been taking it all in from the rearview mirror while keeping one eye on the road.

“Ouch!” shouted Baltimore, messaging his cheek. “What was that for?”

“That’s for the ‘hundred you had me pay that man!” she answered him, in a common manner befitting a very common girl. “A hundred dollars is a lot of money and hard to come by too.”

“How many times do I have to tell you Franchetta, don’t go pushing your luck,” Baltimore reprimanded her. “There are two kinds of people who get pinched, them’s that’s greedy and them’s that stupid. Don’t be stupid.”

“Alright Daddy,” she cooed. “I’ll be on my best behavior now that you’ve come stumbling back around.”

“Okay, let’s see what a hundred’ bought you, other than your freedom papers,” Baltimore jested. (Read more…)

Happy reading ya’ll!!!

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