The Unkind Hours – Dwayne Alexander Smith

The Unkind Hours is the latest exciting thriller from Dwayne Alexander Smith, the author of terribly underrated Forty Acres. (You need to read Forty Acres if you haven’t already!)  We meet an ex-baseball player Steven who’s married to Nichole. They are happily married and have a little girl named Luna who is four years old.   She’s the apple of her father’s eye.  Steven and Nichole work together in their successful home decorating business.  It seems as if they have the ideal life, as if nothing can touch them, until something tragic happens that will alter their lives and make Steven do the unthinkable.  Smith explores the difficulty of doing the right thing by placing Steve in a moral predicament the reader is not likely to forget.  Is there real justice out there or should we take matters into our own hands.

Everything about this books screams excellent thriller for summer. Steven is the main character and is written in a fairly realistic manner. The story turns mostly around two characters so all the other characters are secondary.  However, that doesn’t make the story boring.  The strong dynamic between these two characters is what makes The Unkind Hours so suspenseful.  The pacing of the book is fast-moving enough with its short chapters and twists and turns.  The plot is interesting and Smith throws in enough surprises to keep the reader not only occupied with the story, but keeping us guessing on what’s to come.  Smith has even added a little surprise touch towards the end of the book that made me grin from ear-to-ear.  Can’t tell you what it is because that wouldn’t be fair to you. You’ll get it as soon as you read it.

Sadly this book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger because I was expecting the story to be tied up at the end.  This being said the villain in this novel is going to be an excellent character for Smith to play around with in future novels.  We’ll have to stay tuned to see when and if a part 2 comes out of The Unkind Hours.

The Unkind Hours, 340 pages, Damn Good Books

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended to: lovers of thrillers, readers who enjoyed Forty Acres, summer beach read!

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 10 – Favorite Antagonist

Day 10Favorite Antagonist   I to think a bit to decide who I would put for my favorite IMG_2458antagonist.  It has to be Dr. Kasim from Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith!  This character is introduced about one third of the way into the story and he is introduced like a slithering, silent, snake waiting to strike.  If you get a chance to read Forty Acres keep your eyes on Dr. Kasim.  I do hope Smith decides to write a part 2 to this novel because it really needs one and that’s coming from me who is really a fan of part twos and series.

What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

“Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all—no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions…

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay dwayne-alexander-smithalive without becoming the very thing he hates.

A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.” (Forty Acres, inside flap)

My copy:  Forty Acres, hardcover 369 pages

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 6 Make it into a Movie!

Day 6 – Make it into a Movie! – I absolutely could not decide on one.  Impossible! There are so many good ones that could be turned into fantastic films.  So went with the following img_2443five:

  1.  The Supreme’s at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat “Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat diner in Plainview, Indiana is home away from home for Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean. Dubbed “The Supremes” by high school pals in the tumultuous 1960s, they’ve weathered life’s storms for over four decades and counseled one another through marriage and children, happiness and the blues.
    Now, however, they’re about to face their most challenging year yet. Proud, talented Clarice is struggling to keep up appearances as she deals with her husband’s humiliating infidelities; beautiful Barbara Jean is rocked by the tragic reverberations of a youthful love affair; and fearless Odette is about to embark on the most terrifying battle of her life. With wit, style and sublime talent, Edward Kelsey Moore brings together three devoted allies in a warmhearted novel that celebrates female friendship and second chances.”(The Supreme’s All-You-Can-Eat cover description)
  2. Buck – “MK Asante was born in Zimbabwe to American parents: a mother who led the new nation’s dance company and a father who would soon become a revered pioneer in black studies. But things fell apart, and a decade later MK was in America, a teenager lost in a fog of drugs, sex, and violence on the streets of North Philadelphia. Now he was alone—his mother in a mental hospital, his father gone, his older brother locked up in a prison on the other side of the country—and forced to find his own way to survive physically, mentally, and spiritually, by any means necessary. Buck is a powerful memoir of how a precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers—outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. It’s a one-of-a-kind story about finding your purpose in life, and an inspiring tribute to the power of education, art, and love to heal and redeem us.”(Buck, inside flap description)
  3. Forty Acres – “What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel. Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all—no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions…Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.”(Forty Acres inside flap description)
  4. Kindred – “The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.”(Goodreads description)
  5. One Crazy Summer – “In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.In a humorous and breakout book by Williams-Garcia, the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers.”(One Crazy Summer back cover description)

My copies:

The Supreme’s at Earl’s All-you-Can-Eat, paperback 407 pages

Buck, hardcover 249 pages

Forty Acres, hardcover 369 pages

Kindred, papberback 264 pages

One Crazy Summer, paperback 218 pages

 

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Author Interview: Dwayne Alexander Smith talks about Forty Acres

I picked up IMG_0494Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith, while browsing on Amazon.  After reading the premise of the novel I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know more about it.  So September started with a bang!

I definitely made the right decision.  Forty Acres, is about a young upcoming African-American Civil Rights lawyer who gets involved with a secret organisation of affluent African-American businessmen.  Little does he know, they are resolute in the idea of  preserving slavery where they are the masters and white people are their slaves.

The novel is extremely engrossing, a real page turner, and very difficult to put down.  Smith’s writing is fully descriptive and his clever way of telling the story explains the legacy of slavery in details that the average person may not be ready to read, but tells the cold hard history that is never told in history class.  Martin Grey, the main character, is intelligent and a bit of an idealist and at times does things that we as the reader know are a bit reckless but we can’t help but like him and root for him, all the same.

The reverse racism is presented as a way for these African-American men to “even the score” as they put it.  Smith incorporates many important themes in this novel that make it a thriller with substance, although some critics may have felt that he could have and should have gone deeper.  I was surprised at the length and depth Smith’s story went to exposing the problems of race in the United States.  He covers the details of slavery but most of all he delves into the way African-Americans feel at times in society today.    We haven’t had many contemporary novels of late get into the details of race the way  it’s dealt with in Forty Acres.  It’s a novel that will make you reflect, question your ideas of race and racism, and at times cringe.  After I finished Forty Acres I kept asking myself,  “Could this happen today?”

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Dwayne Alexander Smith. Check out the interview below to learn more about this budding novelist.

1.  I really enjoyed reading Forty Acres. Could you tell us how you came up with the idea for this story?

Forty Acres started out as a sci-fi story, believe it or not. A black astronaut crash lands on earth, but in the past, during the period of American slavery. Unable to speak due to an injury, he is captured an held captive on a plantation with African slaves. I loved the idea for this story because it would give us a modern black man’s view of slavery. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the story work the way I wanted. After lots of rethinking Forty Acres took on the form it has now.

2.  With all that’s been going on racially in the United States at the moment, how has your book been received?

I think that the book has been received well considering the tough and uncomfortable subject matter. Slavery is a touchy subject in the United States. Many readers who are looking for something entertaining to read, won’t easily select a thriller centered around such a sensitive topic. Surprisingly, the book has been better received in Europe.

3.  I can say being a black American that I was very proud to see your book placed on the new releases wall at WH Smith in Paris. How have you been accepting the attention?

The attention from readers around the world has been the best part of having Forty Acres published. Right before sitting down to answer these questions I read an email from a gentleman in the UK who loved the book and just wanted to let me know that. Also, a week ago I found out that I have been nominated for a NAACP Image Award. I was blown away by this news. The attention is great and very addictive.

4.  I heard that Forty Acres started as a movie script. Could you tell us a bit about the process of adapting a movie script to a novel?

Well, Forty Acres was never actually a script, it was an idea for a script. I’ve never actually adapted a book into a screenplay, but I hope to have that problem if and when the Forty Acres movie rights are acquired.

5.  Martin Grey is an interesting character, but most of all Dr. Kasim, who is one hell of a villain. Will there be a sequel to 40 Acres or other novels with Martin Grey as the central character?

Yes there will be a sequel. Will that sequel be published by a major publisher or self-published by me is the only unknown. Book sales will be the deciding factor. Regardless of how it reaches the public I do plan to write a sequeI. I have the story figured out and yes Martin will play a central role. Also, I think a lot of women will be happy to know that Martin’s wife Anna will have a much larger role.

6.  Forty Acres is centralized primarily around black men. What were you trying to accomplish with that dynamic?

From the very beginning, when Forty Acres was a sci-fi tale, I just wanted to find a new way to tell a story that involved American slavery. It’s amazing that more movies aren’t made about slavery, considering its lasting impact on American culture.

7.  Are there plans for Forty Acres to be adapted to film?

No plans as of yet but there’s a small army of people in my corner, agents, managers, and lawyers, trying to make that happen. The truth is that Forty Acres scares a lot of producers. It’s controversial and very in your face and that projects like that tend to make the powers that be in Hollywood queasy. It’s going to take a producer with vision and courage to bring Forty Acres to the screen. It will happen, it’s just a matter of when.

8.  Are you working on a second novel? If so when will it be released?

I am working on another thriller called White Widow. No one has seen it yet so there’s no publishing deal or release date in place. Right now I’m just laser focused on making it as good as possible. Forty Acres has a lot of fans, many of which have stated in reviews that they are eager to read my next book. The last thing I want to do is let my newly found fan base down. For that reason I’m working really hard to get White Widow right.

9.  What advice can you give to other black writers that are trying to write, to get published, and recognised?

I get this question a lot. The advice I give doesn’t just apply to black writers but to all writers who are trying to break into a writing career. I firmly believe that the best way to grab the attention of publishers and readers is to have an amazing idea for a book. Dozens of thrillers about cops chasing bad guys cross the desks of editors everyday. What’s going to make yours stand out? I’ve wanted to write a novel for a very long time but I knew that when I did I had to have a killer idea, an idea that would demand attention and interest. When I came up with the idea for Forty Acres I had a great time telling people because I loved to see their stunned expressions. That’s how I knew I had a solid concept. So my advice to writers is simple. Before you sit down to write, spend as long as it takes dreaming up an idea that will set mouths agape and widen eyes. When you nail that you’ll know that you’re on the right track.

Big thanks again to you Dwayne Alexander Smith for taking the time out of your extremely busy schedule to answer these questions.  Good luck with your future writing!