Sunday, September 16, 2007


Letting Loose
Joanne Skerrett
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1423-5
Published: August 2007
Mainstream Fiction

Rating: 3 ½ Stars-GREAT
Reviewed by: Rhonda Jackson Joseph

In Letting Loose, Joanne Skerrett takes us on a journey with Amelia Wilson. This upstanding lady has a life full of drama--well, at least there is mad drama happening all around her. Her high school students think she’s too uptight to be given much respect. Her mother and brother expect her to drop everything to bail them out of any trouble they find themselves in, and they’re in trouble quite often. Amelia’s best friend Whitney battles almost debilitating mental illness. Her roommates Kelly and James are the only people around her who don’t bring drama with them, that is, until they visit the exotic Caribbean island of Dominica and set Amelia up with a blind date hundreds of miles away from their home base in Boston.

At first, Drew Anderson seems too good to be true: he’s rich, smart, gorgeous, and lives on a romantic tropical island. Amelia falls for him quickly and completely and then finds tarnish on her golden boy. As she skirts the cultural and moral issues that threaten to stop her happily ever after, Amelia finds herself growing more than she ever thought she could. Readers are very fortunate that Ms. Skerrett has brought us a delightful tale that shows ‘right ain’t always right’, and ‘wrong’ just might be the path to happiness.

Just Can’t Enough
Cheris Hodges
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1975-X
Published: August 2007

Mainstream Fiction

Rating: 3 Stars - VERY GOOD
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Celina Hart is on top of the art world after being commissioned by a gallery in Paris to paint a mural. However, her happiness is short-lived when she receives a letter from her father, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years, asking for her help before it’s too late. Darius McRae walked away from a successful career as an attorney in D. C. He moved back to his home town of Elmore, South Carolina, to take over the family business and mend his broken heart.

Celina and Darius grew up together, but lost touch when Celina’s mother finally tired of her father’s infidelity, moved them to Chicago. Celina walks next door to thank and pay the young man who has been keeping her father’s lawn mowed while he’s been ill. She and Darius come face to face and it is lust at first sight. Their problems start when Darius begins to fall for her, but Celina is too busy trying to sabotage the relationship because she still believes that every man acts like her father. Meanwhile, Darius begins to have trouble with someone vandalizing his store, he has an idea who it is but the police don’t take him seriously until Celina’s life is in danger.

Just Can’t Get Enough is a story about people entering into relationships with too much baggage. It is about learning to forgive those who have hurt you and realizing that you cannot judge everyone by the actions of one person.

Play The Game – Doug Dixon
Dafina Books
ISBN: 978-0-7582-1358-7

Mainstream Fiction

Rating: 3.5 Stars - GREAT
July 2007
Reviewer: Renee Motley

Moving to Atlanta was just what Mya LeVeaux needs after finding out that her ex-boyfriend is engaged and her father is performing his wedding. There she meets Stephanie Hall and Tangie Jackson and they soon discover that they have a lot to learn about the game of love.

Stephanie is in a live-in relationship, for the sake of her son, with her just-out-of-jail boyfriend. Putting up with his unemployment and lack of interest for their son is getting old quick. She senses it is time for a change, both in mind and spirit. Tangie is on her second divorce with no shame. She’s looking to have a good time with no strings attached. And if they just happen to be married then so be it as long everyone know the rules of the game.

Doug Dixon has written a novel with a realistic touch on the stress and strain of relationships. Even though the characters are developed well, he does provide a bit too much detail for my liking. I found myself wanting to see what was going to happen near the end of the book.

The writing is crisp, but predictable. It’s a fast and entertaining read.

Moment of Truth
Sophia Shaw
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Dafina Books
ISBN: 0-7582-2028-6
Published: July 2007

Rating: 3 ½ Stars - GREAT
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Candace Carter a free-spirited, motorcycle riding and talented artist, doesn’t believe in happily ever after, because most of the men she’s encountered have been turned off by her independence. She moved to Orlando, Florida when she decided that she would paint full time. Adam Jackson is the owner of a construction company who has buried himself in his work to keep from dealing with the void in his life that existed during his marriage and after the divorce.

Candace and Adam meet at his friend, Yvonne’s, house-warming party. They are thrust together when Yvonne’s husband, Calvin, volunteer’s Adam’s help after Candace tells them that her contractor has disappeared leaving her kitchen in disarray. Adam arrives while Candace is working and misinterprets her relationship with the male model, but his overall distrust of women causes him to think ill of her. However, their attraction to each other is undeniable. Neither of them realizes that their budding relationship may be putting Candace’s life in danger, and when she is kidnapped, Adam vows to do whatever it takes to get her back.

Moment of Truth offers some insight into the damage that can be done to a relationship when someone is not completely honest about themselves or details of incidents from their past. It is also about taking responsibility for one’s actions. This story shows how unfair to make assumptions about someone’s life while denying them the opportunity to explain the situation.

The story is set in and around the Orlando and Ms. Shaw does a great job of painting a picture of their surroundings with words. This book is a quick read, and I enjoyed it even though it drags a bit towards the end.

She Creeps
Alex Hairston
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1882-6
Published: June 1, 2007

Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars-VERY GOOD
Reviewed by: Rhonda Jackson Joseph

“Bridges of Madison County” has come to Eden, North Carolina—with much more drama. Naomi Gaffney had the epitome of a dysfunctional childhood. She was a mere child when her father was jailed for murdering her mother. She was then raised by a miserable aunt who heaped endless abuse on the already wounded child. To top it all off, she married an older, controlling man in order to escape the trauma.

Instead, she stepped out of the pan and into the fire. Naomi feels herself withering within her marriage and she is ripe for an affair when the right man comes along. After many plot twists and suspenseful events, Naomi decides to remain in her marriage and make the best of it.

In She Creeps, Alex Hairston has the uncanny ability to show us Naomi’s journey to self-realization with no fairy tales. Very well written, the characters are who they are, and Mr. Hairston gives no apologies for them. Although the decisions Naomi makes may not be too palatable as she seems to find herself in the exact same situation in the end of the book as before--and the people around her do not seem to have learned any lessons--we are actually forced to look deeper and realize that these realistic characters and their lives completely mirror real life.

Stay out the Kitchen
Mable John with David Ruiz
Harlem Moon
ISBN: 0-978-0-7679-2166-4
Published: June 2007

Christian Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars-SUPREME
Reviewed By: Tamika Johnson-Hall

Albertina Merci is back in full effect! I was a huge fan of Sanctified Blues and fell in love with this tell it like it is character. In this book we meet Albertina's friend Mr. Mario, the owner of Mr. Mario's Downhome Cafe who has a heart attack. Mr. Mario claims that his love of soul food is over and promises to live a healthy life. Though Albertina is around to provide pastoral support, it is clear that Mr. Mario may be looking for a little more than a godly relationship.

How will Miss Albertina deal with the flirtatious nature of a man who doesn't believe in the power of God? You'll have to read to find out!

The Ex Files
Victoria Christopher Murray
Touchstone Books (Simon & Schuster)

Christian Fiction
Published: June 2007
Rating: 4.5 Stars -- EXCELLENT

Reviewed by Patricia Woodside

If you are a fan of Victoria Christopher Murray's work, she does not disappoint with her latest novel, THE EX FILES. In this inspirational story, Ms. Murray joins a few old friends with some new faces. Sheridan , still recovering from her divorce, has to decide whether there's enough room in her heart for her new beau...and her ex-husband. Asia , certain that marriage was the natural conclusion to her long-time affair, is stunned when the former ballplayer ends their relationship. Vanessa is reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Kendall grapples with getting revenge against the woman who stole her husband.

These four women, all hurting from relationships gone bad, wrestle with their faith as well as their jobs, their children, and all the other challenges that life affords. Pastor Beverly Ford, an inspiring character common to a few of Ms. Murray's books, shows up here too. She brings these women together for a weekly prayer group, hoping that they'll find the strength and solace they so desperately need. But will prayer be enough?

As with Ms. Murray’s prior books, THE EX FILES is not for the faint of heart. She pulls no punches, delving into a realism too often missing from inspirational/Christian fiction. Between the covers are real-world problems that many people, including Christians, face. There is child custody and sexual abuse issues, lesbianism, suicide, extreme illness, and more. But as always, Ms. Murray handles these issues with aplomb and gives the reader an uplifting, satisfying read.

Dirty Game
Shannon Holmes
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
May 2007
ISBN: 0312359012

Genre: Urban Fiction/Street Lit
Rating: 2 Stars - OK
Reviewed by: Danni Jackson

Kenny “Ken-Ken” Griffin was a hustler. He was forced to leave his hustling days behind and work as a cab driver to care for his daughter, Destiny, when his wife, Maria, was killed during a hustle gone wrong. Because of his previous life on the streets hustling, Kenny is set to do whatever it takes to keep Destiny from the streets. But at seventeen, she is left with no choice but to turn to the streets when he’s shot and ends up paralyzed after a robbery. Destiny is a fast learner and picks up all the tricks of the hustling trade courtesy of known thug, Jerome “Rome” Wells. And soon Destiny gets pulled deeper and deeper into the game. Destiny does what every little girl does and tries to hide her activities from her dad so she won’t disappoint him. But her secret gets out and Destiny now is faced with the question of will her activities help or hinder the bond she has with her father. The question that Destiny must also answer is what she is willing to sacrifice in the game.

Dirty Game is an okay read and the characters are well developed. However the grammar in the book is a bit extreme and pulled me out. The use of the slang throughout the book was meant as a way to connect and identify with the characters, but it only served as a hindrance and slowed down the reading of the book. The story suffers by the overuse of slang and ebonics as well as for the grammar; they are all major distractions in this read. While the story does work at building the drama there is no real payoff as it fizzles out while the reader is left waiting for some sort of encounter to jump off.

I enjoyed Shannon’s Holmes other works but Dirty Game is a good story which could be better.

Girls Fro Da Hood 3
Kashamba Williams
Mark Anthony
Madame K
Urban Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.

Published: April 2007
Urban Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed by: Dianthia Lemons

"Brooklyn's Finest"

Fire and Marcy the loving daughters of their mother Adrianne are living and working in Miami making the money strippin and doing it well. They are very well aware of their mother's heroine addiction. When something really bad happens to Adrianne, Marcy and Adrianne show that their love will push them to put their lives on the line for the revenge they feel in deserved.

Ms.Williams does an exceptional job bringing the reader into the character's lives. Very colorful and though out. The story line moves along and each character was well developed, enjoyable reading.

"Snake to Snitch"

Latasha Lovely and her roommate Lexi are two of the hottest strippers dancing in one of the hottest strip clubs in Atlanta. Latasha likes to make the money and when she is propositioned by Dom Pooh to make more money, she jumps at the chance. Her mistake was inviting Lexi into the mix. At the first sign of trouble, all bets are off but there's just a little problem. Dom Pooh wants something that is his. Latasha must decide what's best for her, SNAKE OR SNITCH!

Mr. Anthony does well with the story even though it seems he was looking over Ms. Williams shoulder with the stripper's as characters. Definitely not reading for the younger crowd. The story gets a little mixed up during the chase and the outcome predictable but all in all an good read.

"Star Quality"

Star Marshall is someone every little girl wants to be, an R&B diva. But everything that glitters is not gold and the skeletons fall out of the closet all too quickly. Behind closed doors her true nature is exposed and little does she know, someone is trying to expose her story. Love always seems to complicate things in the end and Star will come through it all.

Madame K puts together a story that is confusing in the beginning. She puts everything out in front and throws in another story with predictable outcomes. A daughter lost a mother found and someone dies. More is needed in the beginning of the story before Star's secret is exposed. The minor characters need more depth to help the story line along.

Lawd Mo' Drama
ISBN -10: 1-59309052-8
ISBN-13: 978-1-59309-052-4
Tina Brooks McKinney
April 2007

Mainstream Fiction
4 stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewer Regina Hightower

This sequel to All that Drama is such an entertaining drama about LIFE , all topics are covered in this book single parenting (Leah), doggish ex-husband (Kentee),a special needs child, a special friend in a abusive relationship with a married man (Sammie). This book can and will teach you how to grow strong develop into maturity overcome pain and frustration and just change period. All in all they are just trying to make it from day to day and avoid trouble (drama) it reminds me of the old saying where angels go trouble follows. you will fall in love with some of the characters and hate the others. Be sure to read All That drama so that you will not be lost . Ms. Brooks-Mc Kinney knows drama when she see it maybe she should write a soap opera.

Thug Matrimony
Wahida Clark
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1255-0
Published: April 20, 2007

Urban Fiction
Rating: 3 ½ Stars-GREAT
Reviewed by: Rhonda Jackson Joseph

Hand beaded wedding gown by Vera Wang? Check. Ballroom at exclusive hotel? Check. Room full of loved ones? Check. Ex-fiance` of the bride and his posse, all strapped, and a member of the groom’s party shot down? Well, maybe not at just any wedding; only a thug wedding.

Wahida Clark brings us into the gritty world of thug love with Thug Matrimony. Though Kaylin called their wedding off, Angel Smith and Kaylin Santos must still run their thriving business (their stronghold in legal dealings) while finding their way back to each other. Angel decides to take the threat of Snake’s reappearance in her life into her own hands, and returns to the dictates of the streets to deal with him. And Kaylin, too, finds that the pull of the underground is too strong for him to stay away from it forever.

Clark gives us what is almost impossible for the layman to obtain otherwise: a realistic look into the lives of those who walk on both sides of the law. The picture she paints is graphic, harsh, but always real. Most importantly, she shows that thugs are no different than any others. They have insecurities. They raise families. They have aspirations to better life for themselves and their loved ones. Thugs live hard and they die hard. And in between the two, they love hard.

Jacquelin Thomas
Penguin Books
Published March 2007

Christian Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME
Reviewed by: Camellia Johnson

Redemption is a moving, inspirational and compassionate novel written by Jacquelin Thomas. She takes the modern day Hosea which is Warner and Gomer which is Marin to depict God’s love for us. Marin started on top of her game but when it came to her career and marriage she was at a fork in the road. The decision she made affected her entire life. Not only hers but Warner’s and their children. The root issues of low self esteem and desperation caused a ripple in her marriage. Marin wanted someone to love and approve of her life and career.

Something that’s seen throughout the book is the effects of negative words of parents that affect their children for years. Marin’s mother Shirley constantly said negative things to Marin that became part of Marin’s deep-seated resentment towards her family. One thing to take away as a parent would be to tell your children what they are regardless of what they look like or act like.

Redemption also shows even how death can be part of God’s will for your life and destiny. Who Warner thought was his ordained wife and who he ended up with was no surprise except to Warner. The book will have you first read the book of Hosea and then re-evaluate your life and choices.

Deliver Me
Farrah Rochon
Leisure Contemporary Romance
Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
ISBN: 0-8439-5862-6

Published: March 2007
Rating: 3 Stars – VERY GOOD
Reviewed by: Trina Love Abram

The attraction licking the heels of Doctors Eli Holmes and Monica Gardner makes for an intriguing read. Eli is a player. The only woman he won’t pursue is one with Dr. in front of her name. Eli relaxes this rule when Monica arrives at Methodist Memorial. Her “hazel eyes and head full of silky hair” both distracts and attracts him.

Eli loves his mom but tires of dodging her dating bullets. After raising three sons, she wants grandchildren. So she takes their dating into her own hands.

Monica flees St. Louis nurturing a broken heart from a relationship riddled with betrayal. She relocates to New Orleans, hoping to cleanse her soul.

Instead of the attraction leading to instant ardor, the two form a partnership; Monica pretends to be Eli’s girlfriend to stop his meddling mother’s matchmaking. In exchange, Eli helps Monica with an important banquet. As the partnership develops into more, can Eli abandon his player ways and Monica trust again?

I enjoyed this novel and recommend it. The ruse is comical, and the flirty, comfortable banter between the two is exciting. Even with frequent verbosity and an ending that seemed rushed, this witty story will entice your romantic senses.

Holy Hustler
P.L. Wilson
Q-Boro Books
ISBN: 978-0-9777335-5-2
Published: February, 2007

Urban Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars-EXCELLENT
Reviewed by: Rhonda Jackson Joseph

Embezzlement. Adultery. Fornication. The antics of the pastor’s sons at Sweetwater Powerhouse of God are enough to make even the most faithful man of God lay his entire bed on the altar, praying for his family. Or at least they would if the pastor wasn’t Pastor Ethan Ezeekel Goodlove, III.

Pastor Goodlove enjoys the many perks that come with heading up one of the biggest African American churches in Houston: money, a fine young wife, and all the illicit, undercover homosexual encounters he can stand.

In the meantime, his sons Damien, Barry, and Reginald are embroiled in their own drama. Damien is a serial adulterer. Reginald has allowed his father’s verbal abuse to drive him to expensive prostitutes and embezzlement. Barry is finishing a degree and is marrying a princess from a fellow church. He is also being blackmailed.

P.L. Wilson has created a vividly accurate, and yet wonderfully entertaining, account of life in some Southern African American church conglomerates. By bringing us into their world and touching on very serious issues in the African American community such as our personal relationships with God, sexual harassment, HIV infection, and negligence in managing financial affairs, Ms. Wilson gives us much to think about—and much to anticipate in the sequel to Holy Hustler.

A Fresh Encounter
Ann Clay
Priorty Books
ISBN: 0-97253634-9-2
Published: January 2007

Inspirational Fiction

Rating: 4.5 Stars-EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewed By: Tamika Johnson-Hall

Ann Clay does a great job of challenging the reader mind, body, soul, and spirit in her book A Fresh Encounter. The book is divided into five sections: Devotion, Praise, Reflection, and the Temple. Once finished with the book, the reader will experience scripture, poetry, passages that draw attention to how we manage our time, energy, talent, and money.

The reader will learn how to reflect on life lessons, hurt, disappointments, and how to experience God on a deeper level. Well done, Ann Clay!

Sex In The Sanctuary
Lutisha Lovely
Dafina Books

Mainstream Fiction
Published: January 2007
Rating: 4 Stars -- EXCELLENT
Reviewer: Patricia Woodside

From a title like SEX IN THE SANCTUARY, one expects…sex. In the church. And Lutisha Lovely does not disappoint. But that’s the least of the story.

Derrick and Vivian Montgomery pastor a prominent church in Los Angeles . They enjoy the kind of marriage that everyone hopes for. They are partners in love and in life, supporting and honoring each other in every possible way. They are raising two well-behaved, intelligent children and have the respect of their family, friends, and congregants.

King and Tai Brook pastor a similar church in Kansas City . Yet their lives directly contrast those of Derrick and Vivian. Tai suspects King of being unfaithful. He has been before and each time she’s forgiven him. But things are different now. King and their four children have been Tai’s whole world. When she suspects his latest infidelity, Tai takes steps that impact not only their marriage but also her outlook and what she wants out of her life.

Through her Sanctity of Sisterhood conference, Vivian hopes to help women be the best they can be in service to the Lord. Can she help Tai? What about Hope, the single member of Tai’s church who, after a few bad relationships, is no longer hopeful? Or Millicent, the determined single member of her own church who has already picked out her very resistant target…uh, intended?

Readers of inspirational fiction be warned! Ms. Lovely’s tale is far more sexually explicit than the average inspirational novel, even if the scenes are tastefully done. Church folks
do have sex, don’t they? SEX IN THE SANCTUARY provides an honest look at love and romance in the lives of four saved women and will provide laughter and inspiration for all, whether married or single and searching. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. You won’t either.

Take Me There
Leslie Esdaile
ISBN: 0-978-0758212993
Published: October 2006

Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars-SUPREME
Reviewed By: Tamika Johnson-Hall

"Take me There" was a sexy and romantic read; I couldn't put the book down!

Readers will have the pleasure of meeting shy Philadelphia CPA Karin Michaels who is used to having people dictate her life. When her boss falls ill she is required to meet the sexy Jacques Bernard Dubois, a.k.a. J.B, a sexy rap star from St. Lucia. Landing the account for her firm. She is all set to travel to the Caribbean to help straighten his books when her boss decides to send another account executive. Opting to go against the wishes of her boss, dump her overbearing boyfriend, and ignore her meddlesome mother, Karin flies to the Caribbean on J.B.'s private jet.

From there readers will see that not only is the sun hot in the Caribbean so is the romance!!

STILETTO 101 "Don't Let The Stiletto's Fool You"
Lenaise Meyeil
Precioustymes Entertainment
ISBN: 0972932534
Published: May 2005

Urban Fiction
Rating: 1 1/2 Star - FAIR
Reviewed by: Dianthia Lemons

Modesty Yameyeia Blair is a young lady who was born to a teenaged drug addicted mother and a drug dealing father. She was raised in the hood and learned how to handle herself and supply herself with the latest gear using either her looks or that good old five finger discount.

When her High School Counselor dismissed her and let her know that he expected her to end up pregnant, on welfare and on the road to continuous poverty, Modesty paid attention.

She needed to get out of town and when she was accepted to Lane College, that became her ticket for change.

Ms. Meyeil started out with a character and story line that could have been interesting. The character maintains the same actions and attitudes throughout the book. The supporting characters have minimal depth or blending with the main character. It was okay for reading but it left me wanting more.

Hittin’ Numbers
Author: Unique J. Shannon
Publisher: Precioustymes Entertainment
Genre: Urban Fiction/Street Lit

Rating: 3 Stars - VERY GOOD
Oct 2005
Reviewed by: Danni Jackson

Five college students from Howard University meet and become friends –
Tre'Von “Von” Webster is a business major hailing from Brooklyn, New York
“ILL” Will Hutchinson III is a tech-rat from suburbia and has lived a sheltered and pampered life

Bruce “Beezo” Thomas is a future music producer is from Carson City, Nevada
Day'Quan “Don Q” Warren is the son of a congressman and senator and grew up in Annapolis, Maryland

Marc “Sparks” Cross is a future accountant from Atlanta, Georgia.

The guys meet on campus and become friends, forming The Tree Top Crew. They have fun living it up on campus partying, going to class and enjoying life. As the crew is getting ready for Spring Break, Will learns news that will jeopardize his return to school after the break. Will might not have tuition money because of a financial mishap. So the guys scheme up a way to get the money for Will’s tuition.

But what was supposed to only be a one time heist, robbing a numbers spot for Sparks’ uncle, turns into a series of robberies and murders when they get robbed for the money they stole from the first heist. So the crew comes up with another scheme. This time it’s a three heist spree. But the spree turns up to be the ultimate test of their friendship and brotherhood bond.

Full with the usual fare of drugs, sex and violence as most books in this genre, Hittin’ Numbers is a thrilling read. This story shows that life is sometimes the best teacher of hard lessons that the boys wouldn’t learn in school. Hittin’ Numbers teaches life lessons and shows the consequences from hasty and ill thought out decisions made with greed on the mind.. If you have not read Mr. Shannon’s work, this is a great primer. Hittin’ Numbers was a quick, engrossing read that takes readers on a journey through friendship and life in the fast line.

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