Sherri Shepherd pens new book, 'Plan D'

"The View's" Sherri Shepherd was 197 pounds when she first took her seat on the stage as a co-host on the popular ABC talk show. Today, she's 40 pounds slimmer and has penned a new book titled Plan D, outlining how she changed her lifestyle and how you can too. Subtitled, How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even If You Don't Have It), Sherri's new book is a tribute to her mother, who died at age 41 from complications of diabetes, and her son Jeffery, whom she daydreamed was looking for heaven because that's where his mommy was.

In Plan D, Sherri, who suffers with diabetes, outlines a three-set plan for achieving a healthier lifestyle. It reads:

Eat a low-glycemic diet
Make exercise a party of dail life
Remake your relationship with food

"I was a fried food person ... If I wanted to live for my son, so he doesn't have to place a red rose in a chair {in memory of me].

'42: The Jackie Robinson Story: The Movie Novel'

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB) when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The movie 42, which hits movie theaters this month, depicts his life story. 42: The Jackie Robinson Story: The Movie Novel is a "movie tie-in novel" written by award-winning author Aaron Rosenberg and it includes an 8-page full-color insert of photos from the movie. Historically accurate, the book contains racial slurs.



Dr. Maya Angelou pens new memoir: 'Mom & Me & Mom'

Poet and essayist Dr. Maya Angelou has written six bestselling autobiographies, in her seventh Mom & Me & Mom, she delves into a very personal subject – her relationship with her mother Vivian.

Angelou opens up about struggles and triumphs, and what it meant to be Vivian's daughter –a woman who though petite is larger than life. Angelou shared in previous bodies of work that her grandmother reared her in Stamps, Ark. Although she felt loved, there were still feelings of abandonment until she was a teenager when she reunited with her mother – who she called "Lady."

In an interview with NPR, she shares why: "Well, she didn't look like a mother to me. She didn't remind me of my grandmother, who we called Mama. She wore lipstick. And she had record players and she played music, loudly and danced, in the middle of the dining room floor. She said after a few weeks, 'You're going to have to address me,' and she asked, 'What would you like to call me?' I said, 'I'd like to call you Lady, because you're very beautiful and you sound like a lady.' She said, 'All right, I'll be Lady, so everyone must address me as Lady from now on.' So all sorts of people know her only as Lady."

Then they shifted from a quarrelsome to loving relationship: "But after a few years she won me. She won me over because she was kind. And then she was also funny. So I liked all that. And she just won me over. And then I heard myself calling her Mother, and before I knew it I was calling her Mom."

Mom & Me & Mom is now available in stores and online.




Dr. Martin Luther King's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,' the Gospel of Freedom

Fifty years ago, on Good Friday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed his freedom. He was arrested and placed in the Birmingham jail where he penned one of his masterpieces, the "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Crossing Georgia’s borders (where his Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference was headquartered) into Alabama, King refused to “sit idly by” and be content with injustices inflicted on his brethren throughout the south, particularly Birmingham, a city with unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches.

He says in part, “…just as the Apostle Paul left his village  … so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.”

Dr. King wrote this letter rebuking criticisms received by fellow clergymen, the eight “moderate” clergymen who branded his non-violent campaign "unwise and untimely," and him an “outside agitator.”

In his new book, Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation, author Jonathan Rieder highlights the letter’s timely message, it’s depth and profundity. Rieder interviewed Dr. King’s colleagues and listened to rare audiotapes of King speaking in mass meetings in 1963. With Gospel of Freedom, Rieder offers scholars, academics and readers insight into King's larger body of work.

'The Deal, The Dance, and The Devil' Review

Why you should read “The Deal, The Dance, and The Devil”, by Victoria Christopher Murray”

Victoria C. Murray, a native of Queens and a true writing genius. Murray has won six African American Literary Awards for best Christian fiction, best novel, and Author of the Year-Female. Murray has also received her second NAACP Image Award nomination for Destiny’s Divas.  Murray has not only written over 14 adult novels, she also wrote her first Christian teen series in 2008.  With over one million books in print, Victoria Christopher Murray is at the top of her game and considered one of the top African American authors.

Here are 3 reasons to read The Deal, The Dance, and The Devil. –LiLi

Excellent conversation piece for book clubs

This book is an urban day “Indecent Proposal”.  We as humans always think and say what we will and will not do in certain situations.  However, until you’re physically placed in a situation where you must make a divine judgment call that will affect everyone in your household;   you never really know how you would handle it.  Without giving the best part of the book away for our readers, I will give you little insight on the book.  The book introduces a couple that has been together since their teenage years.  In the book-the happily married with three beautiful children are thrown some unexpected curve balls and life as they know it is completely changed.  This book is definitely a page turner and your heart will ache for this family.  I think this book is so relatable with what’s happening in today’s society, with people all over the world out of work and needing to make adjustments within their lives.

Good clean reading

This book is perfect!   The story line is so realistic, and well written.  The book captures the very essence of some issues that modern day couples are facing today.  It shows the complexity that life brings and gives hope to weathering the storm.  I love Victoria’s books, and this one is FANTASTIC!  You’re not going to want to put this one down!

Pillow talk for couples

After reading this book, you’ll feel the need to pose the “what would you do” question to your significant other.  Is money and financial stability really worth sacrificing your soul?  Can you re-establish the bond in a relationship that’s been broken so traumatically?   This was a GREAT read and made for interesting discussions!


Dr. Dennis Kimbro pens news book: 'The Wealth Choice'

Dr. Dennis Kimbro has written a new book titled The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires – the sequel to the author's highly acclaimed book, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice. An authority on business and entrepreneurship, Kimbro conducted a seven-year study of 1,000 of the wealthiest African Americans.

The focus group comprised of business leaders, entrepreneurs and celebrities including Bob Johnson, Cathy Hughes, Spike Lee, L.A. Reid, Lisa Price, Daymond John and Tyrese Gibson answered a 118-question survey during face-to-face interviews. They shared when they first learned about money, sacrifices they've made and the impact of discipline on their success. Through their stories, the author hopes readers will develop similar habits to reach long-term success. Here, Dr. Kimbro outlines the best practices followed by wealth creators.

Nine Principles of Black Millionaires

Passion: A Focus on Unique Strengths: Refuse to undertake tasks where they cannot perform at their best. They ask the question: “Where can I apply my talents/gifts to render the best advantage?”
Autonomous & Independent: Deep need for internal control; deeply driven to compete; intense goal-orientation; highly motivated self-starter.
Industrious: Strong work ethic; not afraid of hard work. Workaholic mentality; bias for action.
Creative & Innovative: Recognize the power of ideas; future oriented; possess the ability to execute their ideas.
Never Consider the Possibility of Failure: Not afraid of failing; they find promise where others find pessimism; willingness to learn from failure.
Teachable: Inquisitive; strong desire to know; quick to absorb and apply new information.
Strong Sales Skills: They possess the ability to influence, persuade, and motivate others. They view themselves as thoroughly prepared, completely competent sales people. They know that people will make you rich or poor depending upon how you serve them.
Savings/Frugal: The first step to entrepreneurship. “The wealthy are wealthy because they act poor; the poor are poor because they act wealthy.”
Spirituality: They maintain a close relationship with their Creator and a belief that the Almighty has a plan for their life; a faith that provides inner strength: “If you possess the faith, God will provide the power.”

Ziggy Marley writes children book, 'I Love You Too'

Five-time Grammy Award-winner and reggae icon Ziggy Marley has penned a children’s book titled I Love You Too. Illustrated by Agnieszka Jatkowska, the book is based on the song “I Love You Too,” from his 2009 Grammy Award-winning children’s album Family Time.

"This book is close to my heart because it was a spontaneous exchange between me and my then 3 year old daughter Judah," says Marley, son of legend Bob and Rita Marley. "It expresses something so true; it should be repeated as often as possible."

A father of six, Marley is married to Orly Agai and they have three children from their union: a daughter named Judah Victoria, two sons: Gideon Robert Nesta and Abraham Selassie. His older kids, Justice, Juri and Daniel are from a previous relationship.

I Love You Too is available as an e-book via Nook and iTunes, and limited-edition hardbound copies are available at Barnes & Noble.

"Children are wonderful, and they add to my whole life. I wish I could keep having them," he says during a recent acoustic performance at at The Grove in Los Angeles.

The golden-tongued Maya Angelou is today’s Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes is one of the most well-respected and well-known names in African American poetry. He was the father of the jazz poetry; his poems married the two genres – creating melodic turns of phrase that we gravitate to even today. A part of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes was an incredible stand-out in Harlem, writing poems that would soothe the soul, as well as stir up courage. Aside from being a jazzy wordsmith, Hughes was an activist who sought to right social wrongs by using his voice. He stood up for not only African Americans' rights, but for peace and unity among those whose opinions differed socially, politically or spiritually.

While Hughes was a university student, a woman who would come to be known as the phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou, was born. Angelou began her work as a poet not long after the Hughes' death. Her writings illustrate her experiences, hopes, fears, triumphs, controversy and heartaches.

Angelou has a résumé so extensive that includes organizing for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference  and working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her heartfelt and soulful writings deem her the heir-apparent to Hughes.

Maya Angelou is by far the greatest poets of our time, and too is well-respected for her body of work. She was even tapped to recite a poem at President Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration where she read "On the Pulse of Morning."


'Girl' by Jamaica Kincaid is a crash course for life

Jamaica Kincaid, who was born in Antigua in 1949, has been a very well-respected award-winning writer for many years, but one of her prominent pieces from recent history really strikes a number of chords – if you allow yourself to take it all in as a child and/or a parent. "Girl" is a dialogue between mother and daughter. At times, the tone may sound a bit harsh, and at other times, maybe even a bit preachy; but when you really consider it, it’s a combination of the hopes and fears that any parent has. It is these feelings that force us to oftentimes come across very demanding, and possibly, from the child’s perspective, demeaning.

I suspect that the diatribe is an amalgamation of instruction and advice given over an extended period of time, and not really a sermon belted out all at once, but that’s just this writer's viewpoint. We don’t usually cram a lifetime of guidance into a single afternoon. That said, you can truly feel the heart of the mother trying to sound strong but fearing that her child will fall by the wayside. She makes several references to her daughter wanting to be a woman of questionable morals – to put it a little gentler.

As I read this short story/prose poem, which I strongly recommend to anyone, there was a certain point near the end that gave me that little tear-in-the-corner-of-your-eye thing. It was when she says “this is how you make ends meet” that really summed up the hopes and dreams of any parent. As a parent, you worry to no end, and you preach, and you pray, and it’s all in love. You just want your child to be OK. –mark anderson

Gordon Parks in L.A. (Lower Alabama)

A new generation of film aficionado was introduced to the character of Shaft when Sam Jackson starred in the 2003 re-make. While it was a fresh attempt at modern storytelling, the film didn’t quite have the same intensity or ‘storytelling without words’ feel that the original had. What was missing? The touch of famed photographer Gordon Parks.

Had Parks’ not been acclaimed as a photographer, acquiring the sometimes burdensome ‘first’ title of anything may have been daunting. Not so for Parks, the first African American to direct a major Hollywood movie, The Learning Tree. Parks also wrote the score and screenplay.  His next film, Shaft, was a major box office hit and was one of the highest grossing films in 1971. Starring the testosterone laden Richard Roundtree in the title role of detective John Shaft, Isacc Hayes’s theme song for the film won an Oscar.

A native of Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born November 30, 1912. After the death of his mother, Sarah, Parks left his father, Jackson, to tend their vegetable farm and began a journey of a lifetime to explore the world. He was 14 years old.

While still in his mid-20’s, Joe Louis’ wife, Marva, admired Parks’ fashion photography. Relocating to Chicago, Parks worked intermittently for several government agencies documenting by camera migrant workers and veterans. This was interspersed with work for Vogue and Life magazines. He had a distinct eye for the subject, forcing the viewer to see its very element or the beauty of the matter. Parks would seek that beauty in the ugliest of situations as if he was determined to show the world that there is grace in nearly all creation. Such was the case when he spent time traveling the deep South in the mid-1950’s. Parks’ work assigned humanity and dignity to those subjected to segregation and Jim Crow.

At segregated water fountain. Mobile, 1956.

Untitled. Mobile, 1956.

Outside looking in. Mobile, 1956.

Untitled. Shady Grove, 1956.

Black schoolroom. Shady Grove, 1956.

Atlanta air terminal. 1956.

Recommended Reading

A Choice of Weapons by Gordon Parks & forward by Wing Young Huie (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2010)

Half-Past Autumn by Gordon Parks (Bulfinch, 1998)

Field of Vision: The Photographs of Gordon Parks (Library of Congress, 2011)