Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Play For Your Love (For Your Love Series) by Ashley Nicole

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Play For Your Love Ashley Nicole
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In order to find love, you have to take a chance. You have to open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt. You have to expose yourself in a way that you usually wouldn’t; allow others to see vulnerabilities that you try to hide. 
Journalist Aria Smith tried that three years ago and it ended in disaster. Now, she’s just trying to focus on moving up the ladder in her career. She’s just been handed the most coveted interview in sports writing, so it looks like she’s well on her way. 
Basketball star Tory Barker is fresh off of a championship season and is in high demand right now. He’s riding high off of his success, avoiding drama as he does so. His usually introverted and stress free lifestyle is upset when he comes face to face with Aria. She’s everything he never knew he wanted and everything he plans to get. 
Aria’s not sure she’s ready for the likes of Tory. Yes, he’s a sweetheart. Yes, he’s easy to talk. However, living life in the limelight was never her dream. Nor, was dating a basketball player. She’s throwing up strong blocks every time he makes a move. Tory knows she’s worth it and is more than ready to play for her love. Can he win is the question…
Play For Your Love was well done. It was well-written, humorous and even romantic. But when it delved into sexual assault, I gave this promising read the side eye.

Aria is a writer. She writes for her friend's popular magazine; which brings her into contact with baller, Tory. Aria is interviewing the up-and-coming basketball player on his endeavors and his plans for the upcoming season. The plan was a phone interview, but because of many scheduling conflicts, they meet in person. When they meet in person, sparks fly.

Both are hesitant to start something but love is not taking no for an answer.

Love was on front street in Play For Your Love. The way the relationship developed really gave the reader something to root for. Tory was everything you look for in a book boyfriend: successful, attractive, warm and giving. Aria was also a solid character. She had a rough reality, had a shaky family, but was also warm and fun. Her relationships with her friends were humorous and fun.

The real issue is the way the sexual assault was presented and dissected in this story. Without being too spoiler-y, Aria is a sexual assault victim. However, it doesn't appear realistic but creates the conflict that was initially missing from the story.

I can see where the author was going with this section of the story. But, I felt untrustworthy of the MC, and disturbed with the handling of sexual victims. That's not to say the author was being gross and dismissive. It was off-putting in its presentation. I can't really explain without giving too much away. But, this is a fair warning.

Otherwise, it's a decent read that's worth reading.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Single AF (Social Experiment, Book #1) by Sherelle Green


Single AF Sherelle Green
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SINGLE: Unmarried or not involved in a stable relationship. 

The pure term ‘being single’ makes me want to gag every time I hear it. To me, the worst part is the fact that you’re constantly reminded of your status. Like, do you really think I can forget I’m single? I’ve dated more Mr. Wrong’s than I can count, and now, the network that I work for wants me to share my f***ed-up dating history with the world. To make matters more humiliating, my arch nemesis — aka Mr. Missed Opportunity — has a front row seat to my walking, talking mistakes.  
To say working with Meeka on this assignment is bound to go badly, would be an understatement. We’ve never gotten along, and I have a good reason for staying clear. Everything about her screams … extra! So, of course when our network needs me to assist her with her project, I’m intrigued to hear what her exes have to say about their past relationship. Maybe I’ll get some insight into her character or validate my assumptions. Or unbeknownst to me, I might just find myself connecting with this loud, crazy woman more than I ever thought I would. They say don’t mix business with pleasure. Funny, I never liked that rule.
Single AF had a promising start that quickly turned into a lackluster though amusing middle and later ending.

Single AF stars Meeka, Tone and their supporting cast of friends. Meeka is crazy. At least that’s how she comes off. Mostly, she’s just an insecure woman camouflaging her relationship and abandonment issues. She does so with overzealous and mostly amusing random acts of insanity.

Meeka was a fun character, and the story was equally fun—to a certain degree.

The romance between her and Tone was less fun. While I enjoyed the fun-like banter between the two; once they got serious, I wasn’t so sold on their partnership.

It felt insta-lovey, because though they bantered, and there was a build-up to their pairing—it felt forced. There wasn’t much emotional connection. It felt surface and things just kind of happened between them, expectedly and in a quick moving manner.

Their lovemaking and romance were silly. I thought even the serious part wasn’t serious enough. This book is mostly humorous with little seriousness—which is fine, but I personally would have liked equal parts of both. There was an immaturity to Meeka’s character I didn’t care for. But, that’s me.

Readers looking for a good laugh will enjoy Single AF; especially if you are single AF. It’s not lacking in relatable content.

I’m not totally in love, but I’m far from disappointed. I’m standing in the middle of the road on this one.

If you like your romance novels fun and light with a little angst—this is the perfect read for you.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Heartbreak U by Johnni Sherri


Heartbreak U Johnni Sherri
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Four diverse young women meet after attending a very popular HBCU; each at a crossroads in their lives. Born and raised in the heart of Brooklyn, Franki doesn’t take crap from anyone. After relentlessly being hurt by the men in her life, she finds herself using them for the one thing she believes they’re good for. Sex. But when she’s labeled for her promiscuity and a new tragedy strikes, how will she recover? Paris, on the other hand, has led a life of privilege out in Beverly Hills; one that didn’t include very many minorities in her circle. When her mother sends her off to an HBCU in hopes that she’ll reconnect with her people, she finds herself culture shocked. Asha, the local girl, is a complete slacker when it comes to school and anything else that doesn’t align with her future plans of becoming a basketball wife. She is a user and a mastermind manipulator that will ultimately have to pay a price. Then lastly there’s Hope, the good girl. Raised by her father and brought up in the church, she’s been sheltered most of her life. But when she falls hard for the big man on campus and gets her heart crushed to pieces, will she persist? 

Told from each character’s distinct point of view, this narrative is about each young woman navigating the dynamics of sex, love and heartbreak in college. Being outcasts in their own right, these four young women ultimately forge a very unique bond.
Heartbreak U is heavily romance and relationship-based. It is thoroughly entertaining, but the girls lacked the closeness I was expecting. 
Paris, Asha, Hope, and Franki are from four different worlds. They could likely, if possible, be from four different universes. They differ in every way. And, when the four came together as roommates, the differences were stark.
College is a precarious time for any adult, and watching these four ladies navigate college, love, and life—brought back memories. My experience at college wasn't nearly as dramatic but I remember showing up to campus and moving into my dorm—not having the slightest clue who I was, or what I would be doing. It is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery, and it is also so for the four.
Though the ladies had little-to-nothing in common, there was a shared growth process, which mostly took place in their relationships. There were a lot of firsts: first love, first times, first time for opening up.
They learned a lot about themselves as it pertained to how they navigated love. There wasn't a lot of self-discovery outside of that. It was the relationships they developed, romantically, that brought about change, growth, and revelation. 
While I didn't completely understand every single relationship, there were takeaways from all of them: Learning to love completely, letting go of inhibitions, learning to trust and re-finding your faith, and learning to be open-minded. 
The characters are like onions, and now that I'm aware we're getting more stories, we've just barely revealed the first layer.
Asha was hard to love. She brushed the girls off and typically gave off attitude, but you get to see a little of why she's like that. Hope is a sheltered church girl with so much to learn—and learn she does. Franki's had a tough-go but with the love of a preacher's kid, learns that there's more to life than the hurt she's had to and continues to experience. Paris is spoiled. Attending this HBCU is the first time she's been in a place where she's not the only black person. She seems to take in all in stride, just barely being shocked by it all.
The book is good. But, there's a lot more to dive into. The story ends off in a cliff-hanger, which was shocking. There's no sign that this book is a series—so the way the book ended took me by surprise. I'm still not sure if this is a good or bad thing. I'll let you know when the next book releases.
The book is worth getting into, if not for its realistic take on college life. Though I found the lingo to be a little dated (I'm from New York, we've stopped saying Ma as a term of endearment some time ago. So, hearing it always catches me off guard.) the book is very now, and I think readers of any age will appreciate this take on college life.
I will warn you this book contains rape. So, if this is a trigger—do not pass go. While I felt that portion of the book isn't handled as well as I would have liked—I respected that it was included. Only because this is a part of college life that's normally ignored, so I respect the author for trying to talk about it. It's delicate. So, this is fair warning. 
It unpacks a lot, and for a series, it's a great start. I'm interested to see where the author takes this story and the characters. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Going Through "Power" Withdrawals? 10 Urban Fiction Novels To Feed Your Need Until The Show's Return

Aerial View and Grayscale Photography of High-rise Buildings

I don't know about you, but as a Power fan my favorite part of the show is hearing the theme song:
"They say this is a big rich town," will have any Power fan ready to go.

I was inspired to create this post because I miss having something to tune into every week—I'm having tv withdrawals. I need something juicy and dramatic to watch. I look forward to the show's return.

I know people shy away from Urban Fiction—but pull your nose down, sis. There are good titles out there—and here are a few I think you should try:

I don't think Teri Woods gets enough credit for being a pioneer in Urban Fiction. 




5. Hood Rat by K'wan (Standalone)




10. Alibi by Teri Woods (Series)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Romance Novels Written by African American Authors I've Read That I Would Have Voted For if #RITASSOWHITE Didn't Exist and The Playing Field Was Level

Pink Flower Petals and Pink Envelop on Top of Sand

There are a few things I can honestly say I'm passionate about. Books and black voices are two of those things, I am passionate about. 

I knew nothing about the RITAS. I'm still in the dark about some specific details. However, I couldn't help but notice the list being specifically and almost wholly "white." This doesn't surprise me. I've been watching authors of color take a back seat in literature for quite some time now. The shock more so comes from the ignorant comments being made that belittle and demean works by authors of color as if they are not worthy for a nomination, let alone to win. That's disgusting and people need to and can do better than that. 

Without getting myself all worked up, here are a bunch of romance novels written by authors of color (mostly black) that I've read that I would have definitely nominated and voted for. 

Does not include thugs, drug deals, the mob, or ebonics. *Please read this in the most sarcastic voice you can muster*

These novels are in no particular order but were released last year.