Thursday, July 21, 2022

New Review : Queen of Urban Prophecy : Aya de León


5 out of 5 books

Aya de León slayed the story of Queen of Urban Prophecy. From the first word, Aya took me back to the eighties and nineties when the queens of hip hop were making strides in the industry. Her storyline was relatable as well as common as it pertains to her mother and father’s relationship. The turmoil that Deza and her sister Amaru had to endure in their formative years mirrored the life of the great Mary J. Blige.

Deza was humble and upcoming in the rap industry also known as hip hop. Notoriety knocked on her door when she freestyled a rap song about a young lady whom she called by name was gunned down by the police. She was dubbed by the moniker, Queen of Urban Prophecy. Doors opened for Deza. She was given a grand opportunity which she may not have otherwise received if her labelmate hadn’t taken another business opportunity.

Deza dealt with touring, relationships, chasing the love of her mother who cared more about her man than her children, while she stood up for something to keep from falling from everything. Through the ups and downs, Deza remained respectable and stayed true to herself.

I recommend this read to anyone who truly loves hip hop and our female emcees.

Reviewed by Lacha’ J

Get your copy of Queen of Urban Prophecy today!

New Review : Sister Friends Forever : Kimberla Lawson Roby


3.5 out of 5 books

I love a good book about friends and when I saw that Kimberla Lawson Roby’s novel SISTER FRIENDS FOREVER was to be released in 2022, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The novel centers around four friends: Serena, Michelle, Kenya and Lynette. They are all in their early forties and have known each other since elementary school. Serena and Michelle have taken a vow of celibacy after attending a church conference. Serena is questioning if she will find her Mr. Right as Michelle will soon be united in marriage to her fiance in a few short months. Kenya is happily married with two children. All is perfect in her world with the exception of her husband’s baby mama from hell. Lynette is recently divorced with two teen daughters. She is attempting to rebuild and move on after her divorce with a few interruptions from her ex-husband. With each of them navigating through unexpected situations, their friendship is the one thing they can all count on.

SISTER FRIENDS FOREVER is an interesting and fast-paced read. The plot kept my interest with the surprises and drama. I was invested and  I wanted to see how each of their situations played out. The characters could have been fleshed out more because I didn’t feel the chemistry within the friendships from the ladies, it felt more like four women who know each other and meet up from time to time. Despite the lack of camaraderie, I enjoyed the time I spent with these ladies. 

Reviewed by Paula Allen 

Pre-order your copy of Sister Friends Forever today!

New Review : Bed Stuy : A Love Story : Jerry McGill

4 out of 5 books

BED STUY is a modern day, May/December romance written from a male perspective.  Author Jerry McGill introduces us to Rashid, a young black male, who is a waiter who lacks ambition.  He has also been hired to model for the very famous sculptor Muriel Auslander.  Muriel lives pretty much as a hermit and has a very brooding and miserable disposition. Rashid is able to gauge her moods when he comes to model and adjust his behavior accordingly.  Rashid catches the eye of Rachel, Muriel’s daughter.  Rachel, twenty years his senior, is a musician who is married with two children. 

Rashid and Rachel enter into a clandestine relationship as lovers. Rashid develops strong feelings for Rachel which was surprising seeing that the time they spend together is awkward, dark and depressing. There is no chemistry between the two and  Rashid longs to be included in Rachel’s world but she manages to keep her homelife separate from her secret life with Rashid. As Rachel starts to unravel in depression and substance abuse, Rashid takes notice and starts to question if this is what he wants in life.  Does that include a future with Rachel?

McGill penned a romance that intertwines race, age, substance abuse and trauma. Although the chemistry between the two is lacking, Rashid’s emotions are portrayed in a manner that is raw and touching.  I also enjoyed the growth that he shows as the novel progresses. I found myself rooting for both Rashid and Rachel’s happiness although I felt they did not belong with each other.  BED STUY is a moving, bittersweet tale that will tug at your heart. 
Reviewed by Paula Allen

New Review : You Don't Just Wake Up Strong : Fabian Thorne


4 out of 5 books

Fabian Thorne is on a mission to inspire anyone who has gone through or is currently going through trials, tribulations or setbacks.  Born with a debilitating cancer that took his sight in one eye, he continues to persevere despite the challenges he faces.  He develops a love for the sport of football and is determined to play.  He has a successful run playing football until an injury derails him.  Thorne has a strong faith in God and is so determined, so he takes the lemons he was given and turns them into lemonade. 

After being incarcerated for fifteen months due to his employment with a ruthless mortgage company, Thorne keeps his trust in God and strong principals: self-awareness, faith, gratitude, staying focused, and surrounding himself with winners. He overcomes the odds and starts his own fitness business and is a motivational speaker. 

YOU DON’T JUST WAKE UP STRONG is a motivating memoir that shows all things are possible if you believe and don’t give up.  Thorne endured a lot in life but he always manages to come out on top. Truly inspirational!   

Reviewed by Paula Allen 

Get your copy of You Don't Just Wake Up Strong today!

New Review : Wahala : Nikki May

4 out of 5 books

WAHALA is the debut novel by author Nikki May.  The book centers around the friendship of the trio: Ronke, Simi and Boo who all met while attending college. The girls bonded through the common bond of being bi-racial, the children of European mothers and Nigerian fathers. Ronke is a dentist who owns her own practice. She lost her father when she was very young. She is still connected and embraces her Nigerian roots and is constantly looking for “her daddy” in the men that she dates.  She is in love with her current boyfriend Kayode, of Nigerian descent, but her friends feel with his unreliable ways he’s just using her. Simi is very focused on her career as a fashion marketing director, married to Martin who spends the majority of his time in America supporting his client.  Simi is very materialistic and does not share the same goals with her husband which drives her to deceptive means which she keeps the secret closely held.  Boo is married to Didier and has a young daughter Sophia.  She works part-time as a science researcher and is dissatisfied with her life as a wife and mother.  

Simi introduces her childhood friend, Isobel, to the trio and that is when the WAHALA which means trouble in Nigerian starts. Isobel is a child of the very wealthy and infamous Babangari family.  She is fun, flashy and caring on the surface. She subtly infiltrates herself within their friendship with friendly advice and provides a listening ear to all their problems and worries. Isobel’s charismatic spirit easily draws the women and it allows her to easily gain their trust.  Ronke didn’t particularly warm up to Isobel so she was the catalyst Isobel uses to cause discord and trouble amongst the friends. 

Nikki May created a great tale of the dynamics of friendships as well as betrayals which turned these friends of over ten years to frenemies. Although Ronke, Boo and Simi’s lives seem very successful, they each held insecurities that drove Isobel’s plot for them to flourish and take root. I was enthralled with the fusion of culture and customs in the book. The chemistry of the characters and the pace of the plot made for a very enjoyable read.  I really enjoyed the story and will highly recommend it. 
Reviewed by Paula Allen

New Review : You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty : Akwaeke Emezi

5 out of 5 books

A tragic accident. Deep sorrow and grief. The need to feel alive again. These are the experiences of Feyi Adekola.  After five years, it is time for Feyi to move past the tragic accident that took the life of her husband.  A Nigerian artist, Feyi puts her emotions and sorrow into her artwork which manifests in subtle details that many who are experiencing the same grief will recognize and appreciate. At the assistance of her best friend, Joy, she starts to attend social events and date again. She meets Nasir Blake, and they develop a great relationship although they agree to take things slow.  Nasir invites Feyi to vacation with him on the island where he grew up. 
Upon arrival to the tropical paradise, Feyi is surprised to discover Nasir’s father is a renown celebrity chef. She’s even more surprised by her strong attraction to the very eclectic, Alim Blake.  Alim is a free spirit who is very comfortable in his fluidity which has been a problem for Nasir and his sister.  With his many celebrity connections, Alim secures Feyi an opportunity to show her art in exhibit featuring art of the Black Diaspora.  This extends her time there and the hours Feyi and Alim spends in the house alone draws them together as kindred spirits in their grief and survivor’s remorse.  The feelings of grief give way to a deep yet forbidden love.  After all, Nasir brought Feyi to this tropical paradise with hopes of having a future with him, not for her to fall for his father. 
YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY is beautiful story. I don’t know what my expectation was going into the book but the feels this book gave made for a very pleasant reading experience.  I love the dynamics of Feyi and Joy’s friendship, the freshness of embarking on a new relationship with Nasir. However, it was the depth of emotions that Alim and Feyi shared, all which were not pleasant happy feelings that set this book apart.  This is an excellent read by an author that is new to me, yet I plan to seek out more of her work. 

Reviewed by Paula Allen

New Review : Couples Wanted : Briana Cole


4 out of 5 books

The follow up to The Marriage Pass, COUPLES WANTED focuses on Bridget and Roman who have a very successful marriage that they want to keep exciting. This all changes when they meet swingers, Corinne and Patrick. Patrick is instantly obsessed with Bridget and encourages Corinne to entice the other couple into joining in their lifestyle. Bridget and Roman are intrigued as well but need more time to get onboard. As the old saying goes, "curiosity killed the cat", it holds true when Bridget and Roman advance down the slippery slope. 
Corrine and Patrick pursue the couple with Corrine attending events where she knows she will run into Bridget.  She even gets Bridget booked to work an event for the Shadow Lounge, the club that sponsors the swinger events.  After the first event she attends with Patrick, they are all in.  The consequence of that decision starts Roman’s obsession with Corrine. Corinne's long held secret is revealed and explodes on both couples’ relationship.
Briana Cole has done it again. Relationship drama is her specialty, and she engages the readers to keep the pages flipping. We even see an appearance from Dorian from A Marriage Pass. Wow, what a ride.

Reviewed by Paula Allen

Get your copy of Couples Wanted today!

New Review : The Marriage Pass : Briana Cole

3.5 out of 5 books

When a couple take a unique approach to salvaging their marriage, they find they bit off more than they can chew.  Briana Cole is the queen of dramatic relationships.  THE MARRIAGE PASS follows couple Dr. Dorian Graham and his wife, Shantae as they try to navigate a successful union that meets both of their needs.  For their one-year anniversary, Shantae propositions Dorian with a marriage pass – one night of passion with a stranger, no questions asked.  Dorian fails to adhere to the rules of the marriage pass by choosing a partner who is off-limits and continuing the affair.  Things get really heated and the drama ensues when the truth is revealed. 
Fans of reality television will enjoy this book! It was a messy wild ride.  The secondary characters had drama of their own that kept the plot moving.  An entertaining read!
Reviewed  by Paula Allen

New Review : Miss Pearly's Girls : ReShonda Tate Billingsley

4 out of 5 books

As a resident of Arkansas and a fan of Reshonda Tate Billingsley, I had to grab MISS PEARLY'S GIRLS. The story centers around Pearly Bell's four daughters, Maxine, twins Stella and Star and the youngest Leslie.  Upon graduating, Stella, Star and Leslie fled Smackover Arkansas for better lives, leaving behind a bed of secrets that only Mama Pearly knew about.  When a health crisis lands Mama Pearly in the hospital, all the girls return home, some for the first time since leaving.  Mama Pearly's dying wish is that each daughter reveals the secret she has been keeping.  It's a tall task for the sisters, but they cannot deny her wish. 
Maxine is the oldest daughter who remained in Smackover with her mom.  She’s the wife of a local Pastor and harbor resentment towards her sisters for leaving home and leaving her to ensure their mother will be okay.  Stella is a publicist for the Atlanta Falcons.  She has always had big dreams of leaving Smackover for a more lucrative and glamorous life.  She never saw herself ever stepping foot in a town like Smackover again in her life.  Stella’s twin sister, Star is married with children and is content being a homemaker. She did not pursue a formal education but chose love instead.  Leslie is the youngest of the girls.  She has always felt like the odd man out, as her looks was so different from her siblings and the resentment shown towards her by Maxine.  As each sister expose her secret, the revelation will tear down their already fragile relationships, yet allow opportunity to strengthen and rebuild them.
Reshonda Tate Billingsley never fails to deliver.  She is an awesome storyteller who managed to combine heavy subject matter with a bit of humor and a lot of love.  I highly recommend MISS PEARLY’S GIRLS. 

Reviewed by Paula Allen

New Review : The Perfect Affair : Angela Henry

  4 out of 5 books THE PERFECT AFFAIR is a gripping psychological thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end. When Paige Nichols me...