Tuesday, August 28, 2018

New Release Review+ a DNF--Outside Child by Tiffany L. Warren, + Head Games by Mary B. Morrison


Outside Child by Tiffany L. Warren
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All of Chenille Abrams' dreams came true the day she married NFL star Brayden Carpenter. He's the down-to-earth, loving, and protective man she never thought she'd find. And with her own successful career, Chenille plans to be more than just a famous athlete's wife. She's determined to balance work, marriage, and motherhood, as the couple awaits their first child . . .

Until their son is born with a crippling heart ailment. Until a devastated Brayden starts putting his career above everything else. And when tragedy strikes, Chenille struggles to find a reason to go on--as Brayden takes comfort from anywhere but home . . .

Little by little, Chenille picks up the pieces as she and Brayden try to make their marriage work once more. But when he fathers a baby that the mother can't keep, will this be the final blow? Or can they find a way past betrayal into unexpected hope--to at last have a future worth 

2.5 out of 5 stars
If I could describe this book in one word, it'd be: meh.

Brayden is a budding NFL player at the time he meets Chenille. She's this chocolate sista, with sass, attitude and a growing business.

Brayden is the kind of guy that doesn't fit what one would expect an NFL player to be like. He's not described as being very large. I get the impression he's kind of regular, degular-- just fit. He's not running around with a bunch of women. He's kind and seems personable.

He meets Chenille and falls in love with her ebony skin--and her drive.

They fall together--and love and all the rest ensues.

This book is...boring. I can't think of a better way to describe it. It's not poorly written at all. It reaches it's climax far too late to make a difference for the story--we're talking about 91-100% for the drama. Far too late to matter.

Man, I wanted to like this one so much more than I did. But like I said the conflict happens way later in the story. It was a perfect portrait that someone spilled juice on.

I don't have many words or much thought on this novel, just that I was bored.

I want to see more of what this author can do, but I won't be rushing into it.

Read at your own risk, slow-moving, some romance--and not much else.


Head Games by Mary B. Morrsion
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New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison delivers a sizzling, twist-filled tale of four competitive friends, a dangerous bet—and high-stakes consequences no one can afford to win . . .
From childhood games to career challenges, Trymm, Dallas, Kohl, and Blitz have stayed the best of friends—and each others’ toughest competition. These bachelors live to party up, sex it down, and get it all. And now they’re betting on which of them can “date-and-dump” the most women in a month—and post the proof on social media. Winner takes all: a cool million dollars. But this game is about to get all-too-real . . .

Trymm has no problem bedding married women looking for quick-and-dirty satisfaction . . . until he falls hard for one he can’t have. A cynical ex-soldier battling PTSD, Dallas woos a hopeful bride to exhaust her savings for picket-fence promises—just to humor his boys. Kohl enjoys his best one-night stand with a mysterious beauty—but his recklessness backfires big time after he exposes her. And Blitz thinks he’s giving a powerful Fortune 500 executive the business—until he gets played . . .

Now everything they care about most—money, family, and friendship—is on the line. All the right moves won’t keep them safe—especially from each other. And the only way out of the game is to concede or risk everything on a dangerous gamble they can only lose . . .

I do not write DNF reviews, because they don't feel fair to the reader.  I didn't finish the book, so how can I write a full review?  However, some books evoke such strong emotions out of me that I find being silent--darn near impossible.

I've never read any books by this author but I've seen her books around--like a friend of a friend. You don't know them, but you know of them. This was like that. As if I finally sat down and actually got to know this friend that often came around--but never got acquainted with.

This book surprised me, not in its goodness, but in the misogyny, the stereotypes, the hate of blackness, and black women.

The book starts off with the line: "Black women are easy, homies."

Despite rolling my eyes, I trudged on in hopeful hopelessness.

The characters proceeded to push the fu** boy agenda by creating a bet to sleep with the most women and make them fall in love.

Whew, chile the ignorance.

I was even more disturbed but kept going--trying to disassociate my distaste for these fictional characters with my own feelings of disgust. They were aplenty.

However, once the characters private parts starting crawling up the back of his latest big-breasted conquest, and they started unknowingly filming said conquests. I was at my wit's end.

For someone whose tagline reads: "eradicate double standards..." As well as speaking on the side of a victim in efforts to help women understand that domestic violence and rape were not the faults of the women. This book strongly speaks against that.

It's misogynistic, stereotypical--and just plain 'ol raggedy. I may revisit this novel again one day and read it through completely. Just to see if the book can rectify itself but my hopes are not high--at all.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Bae Watch (A Novella) by Tina Martin


Bae Watch (A Novella) by Tina Martin
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He couldn’t help but follow her. He wanted her back. She was his. She would ALWAYS be his. No one else’s. 

Kenzo followed his estranged wife Kira to Johns Island, South Carolina. He’s on vacation and with a new outlook on life, he’s looking to renew and rekindle what he and Kira once had. But after two years of separation, that could be a long shot. 

Kira has moved on with her life, learned to live without her husband who ‘checked out’ on her a year after they married. Now, he seems to be following her around the beach, hinting that he misses her. She can’t help but notice he’s a different person – physically, he’s in shape, has muscles for days – so different than he looked before. Mentally, he’s confident – sure of himself. But she can’t see what he’s hiding in his heart – the pain of losing her. Can one week in paradise bring these two back together? 

*This is a 22,000 word standalone novella – a second chance romance. If reading novellas are not your preference and you prefer longer, in-depth works, you may want to skip this one and check out other novels from Tina Martin Publications.*

3 out of 5 stars
If you’re a second-chance romance lover, Bae Watch is the book for you.

Kenzo was overweight and unmotivated. Kira was in love but overdone, tired of trying to motivate the unmotivated—she and Kenzo split as a result.

While I’m a little disappointed by the way the relationship ended, Kenzo was one step ahead of me and determined to get his wife back.

Out on a beachy paradise, Kenzo executes his moves to win Kira over—despite her resistance. He is determined to have what he believes is his—with his new body and a new outlook on life motivating and backing him.

I admire a man that can pull up his pants and do what needs to be done to better himself. A man with a plan is a very attractive one. 

Kira wasn’t as easy to like. I can’t sit here and honestly say if my husband checked out I’d be able to keep pushing myself to continue to motivate him but I’d like to think that I would. I kind of feel like Kira gave up when it got hard and she deserved or owed it to herself to put up a little more fight but I digress.

I enjoyed watching Kenzo attempts to get his wife back. I'm all about the chase--even if it's for the second time. 

Readers will look forward to this second-chance romance and the love that eventually shines through.

A pretty decent novella--worth snatching up for 2.99 as an e-book.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Stipulations (Moore to Love Series, Book One) by Celeste Granger


Stipulations (Moore to Love Series, Book One) by Celeste Granger
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Sloan Moore, a trilingual translator, and communications specialist proffered her expert services throughout the Southern region, bridging the language gap for business and individuals alike. The one language that Sloan found difficulty speaking was the language of true love. There had been men who entered her life; however, their exit was swift as Sloan struggled to make a real connection with them. Sloan was fiercely independent and unapologetic about the conditions she thought were important to a relationship. She had an amazing career, good friends and a family that loved her. She wasn’t looking for anyone to fix or save her. 
Titus Phillips, millionaire entrepreneur, and philanthropist have a lot in common. He too was unapologetic about his success, spending his days running a profitable business and his nights doing what any handsome, successful bachelor would do. Titus lived life to the fullest, taking no prisoners in his quest to live every day as though it were his last. Titus balanced his high-octane lifestyle with philanthropic endeavors; giving back whenever he could. A chance encounter brought Sloan into Titus’ orbit. The magnetism between the two shifted the earth on its access. Sloan was Titus’ to have, only if he could handle the stipulations. 
Review + Rating
2.5 out of 5 stars
The 90-day rule. 

Okay, this came along in the story before it even made sense; leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth every single time it was mentioned, which was often.

At least initially. 

Sloan decides to wait 90 days to have sex with her newly found, boo, Titus, a la Think Like a Man, Act Like A Woman. 

This seems to be the focal point for this quick-moving insta-love relationship, along with absolutely cringe-worthy sex when it gets down to it, see: love juices and love passage.

First, let’s backtrack a bit.

Sloan meets Titus at a speed dating event, and quite frankly he rubbed me the wrong way right off the bat.

He’s supposed to be this really sure of himself, cocky, but interesting kind of guy. But he just comes off as an asshole. I believe that’s due to lack of development and backstory but I’ll get back to that. 

The implication is that he’s used to getting what he wants—which I am fine with, HOWEVER, make him likable while we’re doing it. 

He’s not very likable, not initially.

Sloan is supposed to be this business-oriented woman, with her usual together, aside from the lacking love life.

In all honesty, her character contradicts her description. She’s not confident. She’s slightly immature, lacks understanding and is not a good example of a solid character.

None of this is to say I hated this book or its characters, it just lacked depth and structure which failed this novel. 

Everything happens so quickly, without background, without merit, full telling, and it took something away from the enjoyment of it. 

But the sex scenes...took me right out.

It read like a historical romance from back when your grandma was reading it with heaving bosoms and love tunnels.

This author goes into cringe-worthy detail of love juices and my not-so-favorite, see: hate, also see: puss.

Look here, do you boo boo. When it comes to creativity and being inventive in novels I am all in. Here for it.

But the way the sex was described had me giggling in complete delusion. I was trying to make light of the fact that I was completely disturbed. There are just certain terms that will always rub me the wrong way. I am not alone. I rounded friends to talk about it, and before I could fully voice an opinion. They too were cringing—called Sloan a juice box actually.

It’s a fairly accurate description. 

Some quotes: (Reader description is advised.)

“...Reaching to the depths of her love passage, Titus’ manhood pushed against her clit causing spasms that generated a flood of love juice from Sloan’ chamber...”

“...the slap of his male fortitude against her wet puss...”

“...Titus roared against her and inside her, spilling his life juice into her womb.”

Just stop. Full stop.

I can’t talk about this anymore. I feel like I’m reading my parent's description of sexy times and I’d much rather not.

Moving on.

Aside from my discomfort, which luckily only occurred a handful of times—this book lacked depth and development. The conflict of the novel was trivial. You don’t really get to know the characters because you don’t get enough backstory to really engage and invest time.

It’s not the worse but it wasn’t the best.

I’d be open to trying another book. But, if I come across sex scenes like these I’m out the door. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pass Interference (Connecticut Kings, Book #6) By Christina C. Jones


Pass Interference (Connecticut Kings, Book# 6) by Christina C. Jones
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My bio might speak for itself, but I still have everything to prove. 
Everything to gain. 
Everything to lose. 
On the field, and off. 

I’m here for a reason, and Nate Richardson isn’t one of them… except, he won’t let me relegate him to a non-factor. Even knowing what’s at stake, he won’t let me pass him off. 

So I’ll adapt. 
Open myself up. 
Dominate my position. 
Defend my right to be here. 

Who says a woman can’t have everything? 
Or, better yet… who says a woman can’t be a King?

4 out of 5 stars
I never go wrong reading a Christina C. Jones novel, and as a mood reader that says a lot. It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, Christina always does me right with a cast of characters I hardly ever forget. 

Sloane and Nate are legit black love goals. A lot of people idolize the relationships out here in the real world, and their relationships are usually social media pretty—but that’s usually it—at least the ones trying so hard to convince us of otherwise. 

This fictional relationship is what these relationships out here aspire to be. Open, communicative, understanding of the other's shortcomings and just bomb, like give me more.

I loved me some Sloane. Strong, smart, business-oriented, knew football--knew her stuff, she was black girl magic personified--and these are the types of stories I love to see. I love seeing black greatness at the helm of businesses in fiction. We don't see it often enough. 

Nate was no slouch. He ran an important sector of his father's business--a liaison of sorts, ensuring the comfortability and respectability of the players. His role was as essential to the Kings' team as was Sloane's. 

I appreciated that the author didn't allow the story to be completely drowned in romance--and having the characters be solely caught up in the other. There was a nice distinction between their careers and their budding romance. This is one of this author's strong suits. It's not all lovey-dovey, it's real life. 

The supporting cast was a treat as always--giving the story that extra umph.

It was an all-around great read, with a solid easy-to-follow plot, engaging characters, subtle plot twists--and a nicely wrapped up HEA. I expected nothing different from this author. She never disappoints.

Get into this series and get into this book. 

Make sure to check out the other books in the series. This book can be read as a standalone--but make sure to read book two first--there will be spoilers for that book if you choose to read out of order.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Pink Slip (The Spies Who Loved Her, Book 1) by Katrina Jackson


Pink Slip (The Spies Who Loved Her, Book 1) by Katrina Jackson
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Kierra was a poor poet looking for a job while she worked toward her dream of becoming a published poet. One day she accidentally becomes the personal assistant to married spies. For the last three years, she's lusted after them, not very secretively, until finally, she decides it's time to move on with her life and gives her notice. 

During her last week of work, her bosses whisk her away to Serbia for a top secret mission that only she can help them complete. And in the middle of dispatching a European dictator, Kierra and her bosses give in to their deepest desires. 

Pink Slip is the first in an erotic/suspense/spy/comedy series that wonders what James Bond's receptionist's life might have been like. If James Bond had a wife and they both wanted to shag the receptionist. But the dirty American version of that. And all of the possible entanglements in between.

5 out of 5 stars
I don’t really read Erotica. It’s not that I have something against it, I just don’t tend to read much of it.

That’s not to say this novel is wholly Erotica, but it is erotic AF. 

Christian Grey is a just billionaire with kinks, in comparison.

Pink Slip is a sexualized, Erotic thriller with a plot and a direction. An unconventional romance you will root for, and may not fully understand.

I was completely blown away by the author’s ability to drag me into this unorthodox tale, but it was so well-written that I forgot all of my inhibitions and preconceived notions—and dove all the way in. Feet first. 

I read with one eye closed initially, and was completely open-eyed by the end. 

Katrina, you are a Queen.

First of all, the story is multi-faceted, layered and does not lack an ounce of entertainment. 

I was so wholly invested and entertained that I’m kind of at a loss for words as to how to fully encapsulate my thoughts into this review—without sounding like a complete baboon.

Kierra was a bright-eyed, poet with a knack for perceived innocence and restricted lust. Kierra was no lamb but she wasn’t a lion either. I could almost picture her with my mind timid, yet strong and completely wanton.

Her character was essential to the development of the bosses she wound up working for, Monica and Lane.

Monica was the boss but Lane was far from a wimp. I admired their shared understanding. They knew what the other needed and balanced each other out. 

Lane is a southern drawl, away from slithering right into your heart. He’s not a wordy man, but he was very charming and will entice any female and male reader if that’s your thing.

When Keirra came into their life, all they needed was an assistant but they got so much more. 

Between unabashed stolen glances, feather-light touches, and promising eyes, you’re going to need some water to get through these sexy times. 

What Katrina did with these erotic scenes was grab the reader by the throat, and then caressed it back to normal. It’s intense and angsty, and it will leave you gasping for breath. 

In its erotic strength, it also presented us with a thrilling background. As spies, you could expect some action but it was definitely thrilling. If your heart wasn’t pumping from the sexual tension than the thrill will do it for you.

You don’t anticipate what happens but when it does, it’s all very will exciting. 

It’s not easy to attempt and erotica novel and combine that with romance and thrill—and keep things both fluid and interesting—Katrina does so effortlessly.

Let me tell you, you will not be disappointed. You’ll be invested in the character and their individual backgrounds and stories.

I am so so impressed. I was completely taken aback by how well this was done and how into it I really got.

A solid story with an easy to follow plot Katrina did her thing with this one. She left us panting for more with the ending that will lead very nearly into book two.

I’m excited for the upcoming black female plus-size meets Asian spy, sexy read, but I will miss my new favorite trio.

Do not do your self an injustice by not buying a copy of this book. Not only will you be missing out on a pretty damn good book—you’ll hurt my feelings, and I know you don't want to do that. 

Kat, you did the damn thing, and you as a reader reading this review deserve to experience that. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Love Is All We Have: A Short Story Anthology From The Authors of B. Love Publications


Love is All We Have A Short Story Anthology: The Authors of B. Love Publications
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In "Love is All We Have" the Authors of B. Love Publications come together for five highly entertaining, emotional, and edifying love stories that are guaranteed to leave you wanting more! 

Authors included are: 

A. Marie Johnson 
Chelsea Maria 
A. Jones 
Alexis Cñe 

Foreword by: B. Love

Review + Rating
Anthology rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Chasing Empty Hearts Chelsea Maria- 3 stars

I’m not sure if it was me, but this story damn near gave me whiplash things happened so fast. That is one of the downsides of short stories, particularly when they’re in an anthology. It’s purposely limited. It was good, but I couldn't keep up.

I really believe had this been fleshed out, it would have been really interesting. I’d like to see this author try out a full-length urban fiction novel.

 Love’s Imperfect Pitch A. Jones-2.5-3 stars

To be perfectly honest, this one was aiiight. For a short story with little time, it wasn’t bad. I loved the brother. He popped in and out but he was hilarious. Give me more of him.

Love Me When it Hurts ShanicexLola-3 stars
This was intriguing but read like a teaser for a novel. Adorable, however.

Meditate On My Heart Alexis Cne-3.5 stars
This was pretty intense with a spiritual pull that I felt in its short pages. A quick and shattering romance, I would love to see fully explored.

Love is All We Need A. Marie Johnson- 4 stars
I really liked this one. I think it was one of my favorites. Rough around the edges, and predatorial, Keanu is one of my favorite types of book boyfriends. The kind whose mere presence causes a shift in the atmosphere. A nice ending to the anthology. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sweatpants Season by Danielle Allen


Sweatpants Season by Danielle Allen
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He has a big…smile. 
It was the first thing I noticed that day until he stood. His grey sweatpants hung off his hips and I didn’t want to look. I really didn’t. 
I’m a feminist. 
I don’t believe in objectifying men. I don’t catcall men. I don’t ogle the bodies of men. I don’t view men as objects of my affection rather than complex people with feelings, wants, and needs of their own. I don’t treat men the way society often treats women. 
I treat men the way I want to be treated as a woman—with respect! 
So, when Carlos ran into me while I was reviewing my interview questions in the park, it surprised me to see my photography classmate out of context. I was also surprised to see as much of him as I did.
It wasn’t just that it caught my eye. It was the fact that it held my attention.
It wasn’t just that it was large. It was the fact that it was visibly large.
It wasn’t just that it was Carlos Richmond. It was the fact that I am Akila Bishara.
And I am not seduced by anything other than intelligent conversation, witty rapport, and meaningful actions.
I am not seduced by a dick print. 
I am not. 
Seriously, I’m not.
Review + Rating
5 out of 5 stars
Omg. Y’all. Y’ALL. This book was the bomb. It was not what I was expecting. It was everything all at once.

Okay, deep breaths, Jazmen. Deep breaths.

First of all, Danielle, come through with this romantic intense drama!

Akila is me, except she’s gotten what she’s looking for. As an aspiring writer with dreams of writing any and everywhere—I related to Akila on a deep level. It almost brought a tear to my eye when she accomplished her goals. It’s deeper than a reader reading a book, at least in that aspect it was.

She was determined and strong, and every time I heard about her kinky curly hair I rejoiced. Yes, to the natural queens embracing their natural beauty.

I really dug her character. Her headstrong-ness, her sass, and her strength were qualities that leaped off the page and kept me engaged.

And despite that, I found a new book bae.

Carlos. Where do I even start?

Carlos is male perfection without being fully physically described. You feel more of his character before you even get to understand his physical qualities.

Danielle touches on the physical but she doesn’t harp on it and I found myself appreciating that because I essentially fell in love with the soul of the characters and not what they looked like specifically. 

It was pretty genius. 

She created love while making the reader fall in love with her story and her characters and that’s no easy feat. 

This book is passionate and angsty and intense and though my fanning hand is tired, I could not get enough. I went through 80-90 percent of this book, in about 2 hours.

I devoured it and abandoned all sense of responsibility.

I can’t even fully describe what I’m feeling without completely rambling.

But this book is just that good.

The pacing was torturing and sweet. The characters were multi-dimensional and realistic. The plot was thick, yet consistent and perfectly paced.

The secondary characters were supporting and engaging. The romance, whew, Y'all. It was everything I would have wanted without even trying. 

I can’t recommend this one enough—and when you get through, don’t thank me. Just don’t take my man, Carlos. He’s not single. 

I know this review is probably more rambly than your used to from me. But a good book will do that to you. At least, they do it to me. 

Please pick this one up. It's not one you want to miss!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Fresh Ink An Anthology Edited by Lamar Giles


Fresh Ink An Anthology
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In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful--you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written--whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.
Review + Rating
Anthology Rating 
4 out of 5 stars 
Eraser Tattoo- Jason Reynolds- 3 stars
I’m not quite sure I understood the intent or the point of this short story. It was however of course well-written but too short for me to grasp its greatness.

But in this case, let’s hope young love wins.

Meet Cute Malinda Lo- 3.5 stars

Another story that’s strong point is diversity. It’s short but lengthier than the first story. An LGBTQ story that tackles the nervousness of two teens who share a love of things comic con related, but on a quick chance meeting find they like more than just their shared similarities.

For its length, it was pretty entertaining and the ending was pretty adorable.

Don’t Pass Me  Eric Gansworth-5 stars
This is my favorite so far. It had what the previous two didn’t have enough time to capture, that’s depth. I related to and understood the MC’s struggle. The struggle of being a person of color in a world where people don’t get that. When he mentions being darker in certain areas because he tried to scrape the color off, as a younger child—I felt that. Outstanding, and that ending—yup that’s writing right there. 

Be Cool For Once Amina’s Mae Safi- 5 stars

Another love. The painful joys of having a crush on the boy that seems unattainable. 

The author did a great job of capturing Shirin’s confident yet nervous personality. Thoroughly impressive and well flushed out for a short story. Another five star read.

Tags Walter Dean Myers- 5 stars
This was the most heartbreaking and current of the bunch. Gritty and raw with a sharp edge, Tags was not what I expected and would love more of. It brought to mind the recent black lives matter-esque novels recently released. 

I liked what he did with this one, alternating conflicting and powerful voices. Well done. 

Why I Learned To Cook Sara Farizan- 3.5 stars
A quick story on culture and acceptance. The family aspect was the best part of the story, and I’m sure this story will touch a couple of readers for its tough realness. Another LGBTQ story.

A Stranger At The Bochinche Daniel Jose Older-4 stars
Quick yet fun with a Spanish flare, would have liked more of this sci-fi tale. The writing was pretty stellar. A good fit for fans of Cassandra Clare's, The Mortal Instruments series. 

A Boy's Duty Sharon G Flake- 3 stars

I liked the historical feel of this story but I honestly didn’t much understand or enjoy it.

A Something In Between Story Melissa de Cruz - 2 stars

This story was a reaaacchh. It tried so hard to depict the struggles of colored people struggling against the consistent presence of racism but it failed, terribly. Not only did it feed the stereotypes it was claiming to rebuke, it was not engaging or realistic. It was unnecessarily angry and aimless. Not my favorite. 

Paladin Samuri Gene Leun Yang- 2 stars
Seems youthful and easy to follow but I don’t quite get the point.

Catch Pull Drive Schuyler Bailar- 3 stars

I know one gay man personally. He’s not transgender or anything and I didn’t know him well at first, as don’t most people when they first meet them. But I knew he was gay without him uttering a word. I just knew. It didn’t matter. He was a person who would later become my person. When he came out to me he was nervous, and cautious, and I was no one to fear. But we later laughed about it when I told him I knew and brushed him off to discuss a more impeding topic, like what we should have for lunch. It was the fact that we were still friends and that I reiterate that, that seemed more important than harping on the fact that he preferred men over women.

This story was kind of like that except it didn’t capture those same realistic and intense emotions for the person coming out. But it did perfectly capture the stereotyped reactions of ignorant and non-understanding teens.

It tried to emulate the process of transition and coming out but it could’ve done better in my opinion.

Super Human Nicola Yoon- 5 stars
This last story was a doozy in its intensity and in the way it’s written. Beautiful, succinct—to the point. I really would have loved to see this story fleshed out or even written as a series. This story is what I expected this anthology to capture. Great read. 

As a whole, the anthology attempts to teach us about diversity, to implore inclusion. While I didn't find that all of the stories did this well, some of them did, really well.

I would definitely recommend even if for just some of the stories. I think this is something that should be ongoing--and is worth reading.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

No Holds Barred (In the Heart of a Valentine, Book, #1) by Stephanie Nicole Norris


No Holds Barred Stephanie Nicole Norris
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Love was no longer on the menu for Camilla Augustina. After her fiancé calls off the wedding not once but twice, Camilla's had enough. In a brazen move, she takes a new position in the windy city of Chicago; leaving her parents, friends, and ex in a bittersweet goodbye. Adapting to her new surroundings isn't easy but as Camilla settles in a chance encounter with an infamous playboy throws her off balance and rattles her world. She hadn't expected to be drawn so meticulously to another but denying the magnetism that lures her is a futile fight. 

As President of VFC Energy, a fortune 500 company, Hunter Valentine is at the top of his game. The renowned bachelor holds no secrets about his risqué rendezvous, and his allegiance is saved for family only. However, when Hunter spots Camilla Augustina, dining alone at the breakfast hut in his building, he can't explain the adulation that runs through his core and shakes his entire world. Lust never weakened him like this, and the inclination of love at first site was silly. But when Hunter decides to prove the sudden rapture is unreal, he may find himself enamored by love. 

*Each book in this series can be read as a standalone*
Review + Rating
5 out of 5 stars 
Let me tell you something. I’ve been reading for a very long time, and I think I’m having more fun reading now, in my thirties than I have in a long time. 

No Holds Barred allowed me to enjoy the types of characters I never knew existed but so desperately wanted and needed. The importance of diversity is never lost upon me, every single time I pick up one of these books and whisper to myself, they get it. They got it and they’ve given it to me.

Hunter Valentine is what I would imagine I want my husband to be. Intelligent, business-oriented, successful, caring and fine as all get out.

Hunter strolled his tall sexy black behind onto the pages and I damn near fell out. He was intense and melinated and I rejoiced. I’m still rejoicing. 

What I enjoyed most about Hunter and about his character was the fact that he was the complete opposite of the portrait society wants to paint of the black man. 

He’s not in jail or selling narcotics. He has his ish together and he’s so well put together. We all want him. Hell, you’ll want him.

His character was strong and domineering. He was very assertive in a not so chauvinistic Christian Grey-esque way. 

He paid attention. He was attentive. He was sexual—Y'all was he sexual—and he was raised well.

When he and his brothers donned aprons to serve the women at the table, I became ooze and slithered out of my chair. I wish. I want. 

Camilla was a journalist with a bright smile and an open heart. She was a perfect fit for Hunter—and though she was pretty much the MC I can’t stop focusing on Hunter, and the black love story Stephanie created for her readers with him at the helm.

I really want to take a second to one thank Stephanie for giving me a story that made it hard to sit still and tired out my fanning hand—but also for creating a cast of characters that were black and not stereotyped.

It may not seem like a big deal, but it is when there is such a lack of such characters and I still have to hunt them down.

This story is well-written and downright steamy. I might have burned a finger or two under the scrutiny and heat of Hunter's eyes, and the chemistry between Hunter and Camilla.

The chemistry between Hunter and Camilla is this novel’s strongest suit. There isn’t a strong emotional feel to it, but between the chemistry, and Hunter’s character, I didn’t much miss it.

The author maintained my interest and gave me a romance to ship.

Well done, and I look forward to trying some of the other books in this series.

My favorite quotes:
“You smell good enough to eat,” she said.
 “Let me know if you want a taste, and I’ll be more than happy to oblige.”

“Believe it or not, Angel, it only takes being without you for a few minutes to want you there again.”

Oh, and did I mention he gives her one of those frequently used nicknames, and it did NOT get on my nerves. It flowed right into the story and fit the mood every time. That’s usually not the case. So, thanks, Stephanie for changing my mind about pet names from wealthy/well-to-do men in books.