An Excellent Year for K’wan | African American Fiction (and More)

This month’s selections are all continuations or true sequels to previous works (and in one case a mass-market reprint) by the author. Readers hooked into the series will be able to plunge right into the new story, but newbies may need to check online summaries to get up to speed.


Street lit continues to gain legs with dozens of titles produced annually. Here’s a look back at the best of the best of 2012 as determined by the Street Lit Book Award Medal (SLBAM) committee of librarians. The winners were nominated based on reader popularity in school, academic, and public library settings. Author K’wan (see right) definitely hit the trifecta last year! Use this third annual list as a handy reader’s advisory tool.

For a full list of the other honorees, go  to :

Adult Nonfiction Winner
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness. (New Pr., 2010; pap. reprint 2012)

Adult Fiction Winner
K’wan. Animal. (Cash Money Content., dist. by Atria: S. & S.)

Young Adult Winner
Carter, Nikke. On the Flip Side: A Fab Life Novel. (KTeen/Dafina: Kensington)

Emerging Classic
K’wan. Animal. (Cash Money Content., dist. by Atria: S. & S.)

Author of the Year

OrangeReviewStar A Column Gets a Reboot | The Word on Street LitIce-T & Hinojosa. Mirror Image. Forge: Tor. May 2013. 320p. ISBN  9780765325143. $25.99. pap. ISBN ISBN 9780765332196. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429944878.  F
Ice-T, star of television’s Law and Order: SVU, ponies up the next episode of the street life of Marcus “Crush” Casey following 2011’s Kings of Vice. After serving a 20-year bid in the joint and still reeling from his son’s murder, Crush finds himself in a gangster midlife crisis when his woman Carla demands stability in their lives. But he channels his inner gangster by godfathering New York City’s gangs and exposing police corruption. Backed by his right-hand dude Champa and an uneasy alliance with rival Armenian gangster Alek Perosian who may be his mirror image, Crush aims to pull off one more major heist of priceless cars. Crush hasn’t lived this long by making rash decisions, but love and loyalty may cloud his vision. VERDICT There’s a procedural vibe here and the story reads long with its excessive details of Crush’s setup, but Ice-T’s slang rings true. Electronic surveillance gear rivaling James Bond films plays a big role as Crush’s crew scams the cops while planning the robbery. A rousing action scene provides a satisfying finale, but hardened street lit readers may be frustrated with this “clean” novel short on sex and violence.

Campbell, Sasha. Consequences.  Dafina: Kensington. Apr. 2013. ISBN 9780758269430. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9780758269430.  F
In this sequel to Confessions (2010) we learn relationships are difficult, especially when one of the partners cheats. Cheats? How about being pregnant with another man’s baby…and proud of it! Nikki Truth and Trinette Meyers-Montgomery are BFFs, but both deal with consequences of their marriages gone wrong. Nikki’s husband, Donovan, has pulled two National Guard tours in the Middle East and comes home to St. Louis. drinking hard with scary PTSD moments. Trinette is messing around with her boss, Jrue, but lets her husband believe he’s the father of the baby she’s carrying. That’s some bold stuff. Drama drenches this story and with nowhere to turn, Nikki asks callers for her radio show “Truth Hurts” for advice. Seems everyone in the world has relationship issues. VERDICT There’s plenty of nasty creeping in Campbell’s story and readers drawn to soap-opera plots will be satisfied with Trinette’s cold-hearted plan. This solid purchase isn’t exactly a romantic tale, but both women are desperate for a happy ending.

Clark, Wahida. Honor Thy Thug. Cash Money Content, dist. by Atria: S.& S.  Apr. 2013. ISBN 9781936399390. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781936399406. F
The latest installment in Clark’s Thug series (after Justify My Thug) comes with a boatload of drama. Her tale of many shifting points of view and interconnected storylines opens with a brutal massacre in Decatur, GA, involving the killing of Faheem Mujahid’s young son. In Los Angeles, Trae and Tasha are trying to set their marriage right while a Chinese gangster threatens their shaky peace. Then we switch to New York where Kaylin and his wife Angel have been kidnapped by Kaylin’s brother, Kyron. All circumstances can be traced back to the backstabbing that occurred in earlier titles, but readers may quickly grow weary of the rapidly shifting points of view. VERDICT Clark’s fame will prompt requests for this title, but her Thug series is spinning out of control with no compass. A large number of characters give voice to alternating sections and to further muddy the waters, many have “K” names—Kyron, Kaylin, Kendra, Kendrick, and King Rick. Lacking a tight storyline, this work is a jumbled and rushed effort. [See Prepub Alert, 10/15/12.]

McGill, Caroline. A Dollar Outta Fifteen Cent: An Urban Love Story of Sex, Money, and Murder. Pocket: S. & S. Jun. 2013. ISBN 9781476734170. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476734187.  F
Portia Lane, a 25-year-old exotic dancer from Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, is intent on finding love and happiness, but she is also all about making money and is willing to take risks to make a dollar outta fifteen cent. After stepping off a strip club’s stage, she turns tricks for admirers at a rate of $500 an hour. Portia’s street wise enough to get money upfront before entering the VIP room, but she has a weakness for Jay who makes her hormones jump double Dutch. In turn, his gangster attitude falls apart around Portia, but he knows he doesn’t want a slut for a wifey. Portia’s girl crew has her back, but this hot mama doesn’t seem to care about anyone’s problems but her own.Painfully soon, Portia realizes that “you always hurt the one you love” is more than simple song lyrics. VERDICT First published in 2004, McGill’s debut is old-school urban fiction featuring an intricate storyline that snaps with realistic slang and straight-from-the-streets situations.At less than $10, the mass-market paperback version is well worth an investment, yet I found myself impatiently tapping my foot when the pacing was slowed by long descriptions of designer clothing draped on characters. That annoyance was balanced by a wowzer climatic scene. Replenish your stock of McGill’s entire series.

Perkins, Suzetta.  In My Rearview Mirror.  Strebor: S. & S. (Zane Presents). May 2013.  ISBN 9781593094751. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781451696349.  F
North Carolina’s political landscape is the stage for this sequel to 2008’s Behind the Veil.  Margo Myles, now 45, has just given birth to twin boys. Raising twins is tough, but worse again is that her marriage to Jefferson is off the rails. Jefferson’s five-year stint in prison had Margo relying on Malik Mason for, um, comfort. Of course now there’s a question about the identity of the boys’ father. Drama, sure, but that’s nothing compared to North Carolina’s senate race between Malik and Dr. Shelton Wright. Three of Margo’s four grown children back Wright’s campaign. The fourth, Ivy, is married to Malik. Recapping the story: Malik may or may not be the father of Margo’s twins, but now is married to Margo’s adult daughter! This potentially fascinating family get together won’t happen because all these folks hate each other. Keep your eye on Toni Gillette, a hottie with an agenda. VERDICT Perkins’s lengthy tale is on the epic side with some clunky dialog, but who can resist a mother and daughter sexually tied to the same guy? The best line from this mini-series type story? “The man I loved gave his soul to a whore.”

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