Showing posts with label Barbara Neely. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barbara Neely. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

BWMW Reads ~ Author Terris McMahan Grimes's Two Theresa Galloway Books

Book #1 in Grimes's Theresa Galloway series:
"Theresa Galloway knows a call at three a.m. means trouble, especially when it's from her septuagenarian mother.  Mrs. Barkley, always keenly watching her deteriorating Sacramento neighborhood, phoned to report that something nasty was sure going on with an old friend next door.  And she was right.  Within hours the neighbor would be brutally murdered, and a little boy would be missing.  Theresa hates to admit it, but Mama usually does know best... until she insists Theresa has a better chance than the police to track down the killer and find the child."

Book #2 in Grimes's Theresa Galloway series:

"Her mother said there'd be days like this, but today's shock of her life is the red-haired stranger who moved into her mother's Sacramento home, claiming to be her father's "love child."  Being an African-American career woman juggling a stressed-out husband, two kids, and a meddlesome mom who is a magnet for trouble is more than enough for Theresa–who needs a long-lost brother? 
But what really sends Theresa over the edge is when that very same young man is suddenly missing–and then turns up as a corpse."

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

{What This Chile's Been Reading} Sisters in Crime Situation

Hel-looo-oooooooo.  What's up, y'all?  What is everyone over yonder reading?  Trust you're all doing well out there in this heat.

All right...
Books/Authors Mentioned (links are all Amazon affiliate)...

A bit of blog postie on my little reading "project" at Comic Towel 

Most of you guys are familiar with these ladies, but for those in the back...

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Do you ever start a mystery series and it takes you years to complete it? Or, if the series is on-going, it takes you years to catch up with the latest release? Too many books, two little time? Or is it the other way around?

Either way...

I also find myself starting new (usually exciting) mystery series each year. I also find myself juggling too many series each year. Then I find myself losing sight of one or two series each year–in favor of a new love. And, hell, each year I’m spending more money on books instead of reading what I already got! (Or that's speculation and not fact–I'll have to check my wallet.) So with all that in the air, there comes a season of buckling down and finishing what one has started ages ago. And that season is now.

So with that all in mind... here's my latest focus...

I must finish the last two books in Barbara Neely’s Blanche White series. As well, I have to finish the final book in Nora DeLoach's Mama series. Both series written by black women mystery writers. Both carrying respective protagonists sharing her unique crime-stopping traversals through the genre. I began both series years ago, and have been collecting/reading entries in each series off and on for too long. Until now–this week.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Barbara Neely Colors Blanche

So let’s talk a bit about Barbara Neely’s second book in her Blanche White series, Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, for just a hot second.  Jumping from her first murder investigation; amateur sleuth and black domestic worker, Blanche White, finds herself in Maine this time.  She's invited to an all-black resort, by a wealthy black couple introduced in her previous adventure.  It's both a work/play situation for Blanche.  Still, the resort is a place where Blanche spends her time tucking her feet in sand, while chatting with a slew of uppity black folk’.  And of the likes she's never seen!  Yet, in response to her reception, Blanche will also find the opportunity to teach her pseudo-adopted niece and nephew about race and inner discrimination.  Otherwise, involving herself in solving a local murder and suicide takes presidence to all her troubles.  
While conscientious–but highly unafraid–of those side-eyeing her in the resort as she snoops, there’s some romance swirling in the mix of Blanche’s vacation.  And it's a romance that may or may not have a tie to the death of an antagonistic resort guest, who found herself dead after a live stereo slipped into her bath.  But who knows?  Right?  With a wealth of secrets abound, Blanche will get to the bottom of everything with whatever trick and connection she has available to pump information from.
Now Let's Talk a Little
While the mystery aspect of the book suffers, I have to reiterate how much I appreciate black female authors writing in this genre.  Rarely will you find an honest, sincere character such as Blanche.  If that alone.  And no other place will you find an author using her character’s voice to not only solve murders, but also give conversation to issues forever stuck in the black community.  In Blanche Among the Talented Tenthsuch conversations involved black colorism and inner prejudices.  Particularly prejudices understood in those who uphold the “one drop” phrase as a source of privilege.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness TBR (Video)

*****T H E C H A L L E N G E S & B O O K S*****
My TBR (all links are Amazon affiliate) mixed with written reviews of related material:
1.  The Food/Craft/Hobby Cozy ~ I chose is Susan Wittig Albert's Witches' Bane (Book 2 in her China Bayles series).
2.  The Person of Color in Lead ~ I chose Blanche Among the Talented Tenth by Barbara Neely (Book 2 in her Blanche White series).
3.  The Christie/Poe Complex ~ I'm going with Poe again.
4.  The Rule of True Crime ~  I'm going with the queen of True Crime, Ann Rule.
5.  The Syndicating Spell-Caster ~  Madelyn Alt sounds good for me with the 4th book in her Bewitching Series, No Rest for the Wiccan.
6.  The Whispering Pet Whisper ~  My girl Rita Mae Brown is at it again.  I'm taking her on with the first book in her Mag Rogers series, A Nose for Justice. 
7.  The Baggage Claims ~  Oh how I love Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series.  It's about time I got to the 3rd book in her series, The Mummy Case.  
8.  The Not-So Kid Gloves Sleuth ~ Going with Nancy Drew on this one 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness: The Preparation Book Haul

I’ve been a Barnes and Noble member for years and recently found the benefit of using the member card online.  FREE SHIPPING!  Where have I been?  (Oh, I’ve been on Amazon where they upped their free shipping price margin.)  Nonetheless, with #MarchMysteryMadness coming up, I needed to stock books to fulfill the upcoming mystery reading challenges.  So those, and some books I've collected from a couple of used bookstores, are featured in this haul post.  Many are from familiar series I plan on tackling #MarchMysteryMadness with–furthering my excitement for the challenges next month.

1.       Finally got a copy of Burn Marks.  It's book six in Sara Paresky’s V. I. Warshawski private-eye, hard-boiled series.  Now I’ve passed this particular 3rd edition hardback many times at the used bookstore.  Until now.  It’s right where I’m at with the series, so I went ahead and grabbed it.  The book is in great condition.  For a 1990’s release, the pages are super clean and crisp.  All that aside, this one has got to be a winning chapter in the Warshawski series.  You see, another one of Warshawski’s distant relatives is coming back in the picture.  And she's all set to hire her niece to solve a murder.  (For more on my Sara Paretsky reviews, see the LABELS at the bottom of the post.)
The other three books will feature on my #MarchMysteryMadness TBR video...
4.      Blanche Among the Talented Tenth by Barbara Neely.  Blanche is back!  I've had the third book since forever, but since I have to read a series in order, it has sat on my shelf awaiting book two.  Until now!  A black, domestic housekeeper solving murders makes a boy's dreams come true! (Visit Barbara Neely LABEL below for my thoughts on the first book in the series.)
5.       I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, book four in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.  YAY! It's finally in my hands!  Bookstore after bookstore I’ve searched, after reading The Red Herring Without Mustard [book three].  Actually, I would have to drive over the mountain to another Barnes & Noble in the valley to get a copy of this book.  Though I couldn’t see myself attempting so with a recently replaced crankshaft, and a cracked axle boot.  I feared my car wouldn’t pull the hill.  So I’ve ordered the book instead and can’t wait to continue with Flavia and her murder-solving mischief.  (For those unsure of what I’m even talking about, click the Alan Bradley LABEL below for all things de Luce.)

6.      The Goldfinch by Donna Tart.  Always, always wanted to give this book a go.  With all the acclaim and praise, it slammed onto my reading radar.  I was curious, and finally found this crisp copy for $4 at my public library’s bookstore.  With it in hand, I drew the attention of a staff member who stopped to gloat her love/hate relationship with the book.  This, naturally, fueled my excitement.
7.      No Rest for the Wiccan.  Another “I been to bookstore after bookstore” book.  Book four in Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching Mystery series required an online order as well.  I have a soft spot for this cozy mystery series about a witch solving local murders.  But I’ll digress for now.  (Click the Madelyn Alt LABEL for my thoughts on the previous book.)
8.      Two copies of Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles cozies.  That’s entry two [Witches’ Bane] and three [Hangman’s Root].  I’ve craved these hard-to-finds after discovering the first book while browsing the used bookstore.  And loved it.  (For my thoughts on the first book, click the Susan Wittig Albert LABEL below.)
Well, that’s it guys.  I’ve been hauling the hell out of books so far this year–and can’t wait to get into them all.  I have a copy of Buffy Season 10: Old Demons on the way also.  And in an attempt to use my Kindle more, I ordered/downloaded Marcia Muller’s Ask the Cards a Question.  It's book two in Muller’s Sharon McCone series.
So basically I’m back in my reading playground.  Cozies.  Female sleuths.  And murders.  With a splash of literature on the side.  Anyway, happy reading and all that jazz!

Monday, December 15, 2014

How Blanche Sees It

"Blanche White, a forty-year-old black domestic with big thighs, a wry sense of humor, and a jaundiced view of the rich, is a most unlikely and reluctant sleuth.  When someone is killed in the wealthy household where she is working–and hiding out from the Sheriff–Blanche would just as soon mind her own business, given that she's already got her own troubles with the law.  But since she is the most likely suspect unless she uncovers the real killer, Blanche puts her considerable wit and intelligence to work.  With the help of the remarkably efficient old-girl network among domestic workers, Blanche attacks the tangled web surrounding the murder to try and nail the true killer in time.  In the process, Blanche provides a running commentary from a black, working-class, feminist perspective that is new to the mystery genre and rare in any fiction."
~ Blanch on the Lam

Blanche on the Lam is book one in Barbara Neely’s Blanche White mystery series. As noted in the synopsis [see above], the series is unique in how it follows the misadventures of an African American domestic housekeeper who inadvertently finds herself solving murder mysteries. It's a type of character and hook damn near unheard of inside the mystery literary form (African American author Nora DeLoach comes close), and just as scarce inside literary fiction.  Wait, I take that back because black authors have been writing about domestic workers long before The Help.  (There was a little shade there.)  

Nancy Green, the face of Aunt Jemima
Nonetheless, Blanche is the type of character unlikely to find herself perceived as anything other than a stereotype. An Aunt Jemima trope probably springs to mind first, or something else in line with the mammy caricature shaped back in the antebellum days.  However, Blanche is amusing, smart and intuitive; she isn't so Aunt Jemima.  And while she's also compassionate toward the "right" people, her image and character is nowhere near syrupy and sweet like the pancake mixing maven imaged after black activist, Nancy Green. Oh no. Miss Blanche White is highly aware, extremely real and confrontational (albeit furtive) in her dealings with law enforcement, employers and murderers.  Basically those willing to flex their position and privilege over her.  I should also mention she's not afraid to be physical when need be.

I decided that instead of sketching on the mystery, race, class, and societal statements decorating Blanche on the LamI would share some of the best passages that umbrellas fragments of each topic.  (Which were all wonderfully done except for a few typos and spelling errors.)  It’s sort of what I came into this series hoping for, those little nuggets of wisdom and insight provided by someone of Blanche’s status and position. And there were plenty. Some I understood and identified with immediately.  Especially because I, myself, am black living with unspoken generational “codes” regarding manners and attitudes when faced with contempt.

So let’s get started. I hope you enjoy these enough to check out the book yourself…

Blanche on Black Folk Superstition

"The way her hand had itched and throbbed at the same time as she'd stood in her kitchen reading the court summons; the way the glass she was drinking from just before she left the house for court had suddenly developed a crack while she held it to her lips.  She'd ignored both events despite her claim that reading people and signs, and sizing up situations, were as much a part of her work as scrubbing floors and making beds."

Blanche on Code

"She heard a noise on the other side of the swinging door and quickly slipped on the bright-eyed but vacant expression behind which she'd hid from the woman so far.  Blanche had learned long ago that signs of pleasant stupidity in household help made some employers feel more comfortable, as though their wallets, their car keys, and their ideas about themselves were all safe.  Putting on a dumb act was something many black people considered unacceptable, but she sometimes found it a useful place to hide.  She also got a lot of secret pleasure from fooling people who assumed they were smarter than she was by virtue of the way she looked and made her living."

Blanche on Sympa

"This was the second or third time this boy had been on her wavelength.  This thing with him was beyond her Approaching Employer Warning Sense, which alerted her to the slightest rustling or clinking of a nearing employer....  So what the hell does it mean? she wanted to know.  Sympa.  It was a term her Haitian friend Marie Claire used to explain relationships between people who, on the surface, had no business being friends.  Still, an unknown white boy?"

Blanche on Darkies' Disease

"Blanche had never suffered from what she called Darkies' Disease.  There was a woman among the regular riders on the bus she often rode home from work who had a serious does of the disease.  Blanche actually cringed when the woman began talking in her bus-inclusive voice about old Mr. Stanley, who said she was more like a daughter to him than his own child, and how little Edna often slipped and called her Mama....  What she [Blanche] didn't understand was how you convinced yourself that you were actually loved by people who paid you the lowest possible wages; who never offered you the use of one of their cars, their cottage by the lake, or even their swimming pool; who gave you handkerchiefs and sachets for holiday gifts and gave their children stocks and bonds."

Blanche on Night Girl

"'Them kids is just as jealous of you as they can be!  That's why they tease you,' Cousin Murphy had told her.  'They jealous 'cause you got the night in you.  Some people got night in 'em, some got morning, others, like me and your mama, got dusk.  But it's only them that's got night can become invisible.  People who got night in 'em can step into the dark and poof–disappear!  Go any old where they want.  Do anything.  Ride them stars up there, like as not.  Shoot, girl, no wonder them kids teasing you.  I'm a grown woman and I'm jealous, too!'"

Blanche on Confrontation

"There it was again.  Blanche checked his eyes for malice but found only laughter of the teasing variety.

'You ain't mocking me, are you, sir?'

His eyes widened slightly.  'Sensitive, aren't we?'

'Isn't that what you hoped... sir?'

She braced herself for his pulling rank and putting her in her so-called place.  Instead, a hint of red crept up from his neck.  He brushed back his already perfect hair and managed a contrite smile.  He didn't apologize, of course.  That was far too much to expect from a pretty boy who'd probably been admonished only twice in his life, and never by the likes of her."

Blanche on Couth

"She didn't consider picking up people's funky drawers from the floor a normal part of her work.  She expected her employers to put their soiled underwear in a hamper and their soiled tissues in the wastebasket.  She considered his behavior as a sign of what her mother called 'couth,' and a good indicator of whether or not she could expect any respect from a customer–and whether she'd be with that customer for very long."

Blanche on Storytelling

"Their rhythm, the silences between their words, and their intonation were as important to the telling of the tale as the words they spoke.  The story might sound like common gossip when told by another person, but in the mouth of a storyteller, gossip was art."

Blanche on Race Memory

"For many years, Blanche worried that it was fear which sometimes made her reluctant to meet white people's eyes, particularly on days when she had the lonelies or the unspecified blues.  She'd come to understand that her desire was to avoid pain, and pain so old, so deep, its memory was carried not in her mind, but in her bones.  Some days she simply didn't want to look into the eyes of people likely raised to hate, disdain, or fear anyone who looked like her.  It was not always useful to be in touch with race memory.  The thought of her losses sometimes sucked the joy from her life for days at a time."

Blanche on Privilege

"He was a rich white male.  Being in possession of that particular set of characteristics meant a person could do pretty much anything he wanted to do, to pretty much anybody he chose–like an untrained dog chewing and shitting all over the place.  Blanche was sure having all that power made many men crazy.

Blanche on De-Jackassing

"While he might have defended blacks in court, it didn't mean he considered her his equal, any more than her employers did generally.  Usually it took three to five cleaning sessions for a new employer of the racist jackass variety to stop speaking to her in loud, simple sentences.  It took an additional fifteen to fifty substantive contracts before she was acknowledged as a bona fide member of the human race.  Now here was Archibald already past the testing-your-intelligence phase, being mindful and grateful that she'd been smart enough and quick enough to help him out of a difficult situation with Mumsfield, one he clearly hadn't been prepared to handle.  It gave Blanche and idea."

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