July 31, 2013

Stage Daughter

"What is this expression you Americans have about a pot and a kettle? We say something similar in Arabic: The camel cannot see the crookedness of its own neck." ~ pg. 73

Sonya Schoenberg dreamed of becoming an actress until a one-time tryst with a Muslim man led to an unplanned pregnancy. Sonya was forced to put her dream on hold to raise biracial daughter, Razzi. Pre-teen Razzi is enrolled in a performing arts school and going through a rebellious stage. It starts off with Razzi piercing her own ears, failing math, then leads to her finding her father Aziz without Sonya's consent. Never mind that he is a father of two in an arranged marriage and had no idea Razzi even existed. ((O_O)) Sonya is playing the lifetime role of mother; Aziz is trying to convert newfound stage daughter to Islam. All the while, Razzi is determined to make this family a modern-day success.

America changed after the unfortunate events of 9/11. It is the sad reality that people of certain cultures are viewed differently and judged. This is one of the few books I have read that approaches this subject in a fiction manner.

"That was before nine-eleven...I mean, where you came from didn't matter so much back then." ~ pg. 130

I first had the pleasure of reading a book written by Sheryl Sorrentino this past March (The Floater). Sheryl is a practicing attorney by day and still finds time to write. Now that is dedication! I am glad she stepped out on a limb with the characters in her fourth novel, Stage Daughter. It was necessary, especially with current real life events, to bring light to issues such as religious and ethnic prejudice. What prompted Sheryl Sorrentino to write a book with such a powerful message? She explains, "While Stage Daughter is compelling in its lively depiction of this troubled threesome, most near and dear to me are the issues of religious and ethnic prejudice and promotion of diversity that are at its core. In fact, I have come to discover that my true purpose and penchant as a writer is to give life to these topics. Nearly fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech, we still have significant chasms to bridge when it comes to racial equality and cultural acceptance." 

Stage Daughter releases tomorrow. I encourage my bookhearts to read it for the good meaningful story, diverse cast, and the underlying message. Central themes such as healing, forgiveness, unplanned pregnancy, single parenthood, religion, rebellion, sexuality, racism and bigotry are explored within the 300+ pages. This is a very good pick for a diverse book club, complete with 21 discussion questions that will definitely spark positive discussion amongst readers. 

Sheryl Sorrentino welcomes questions and feedback from readers. Check out her official website, Facebook and Goodreads blog.

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: Stage Daughter
Author: Sheryl Sorrentino
Published: August 2013
Pages: 349
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


July 30, 2013

The Diva of Peddler's Creek

"A mile is not a good walk. A mile is a warm-up, city woman." ~ pg. 61

Romance novelist Taylor Beir is persuaded to teach a young boy how to read in Peddler's Creek, West Virginia. Taylor never expected she'd relocate to a middle-of-nowhere, dirt road town but as a favor to her mother, she does. Unfortunately the young boy, Christopher, doesn't want to learn how to read. His older brother is an asshat and the townspeople are hostile. Taylor is determined to make everyone in Peddler's Creek realize she is gentle-hearted good diva and the best thing to ever happen to their town.

The Diva of Peddler's Creek is my introduction to author Ava Bleu. I liked the story with the exception of one uber annoying character: Mary. Every statement was an exclamation. "Hello! Yes! You made a prom dress! We do things to help the town!" Lady, please. Stop it with the exclamations. I'm sure this was intentional to add personality to the character versus an oversight by the editor. Either way, it made reading difficult when Mary was involved in dialogue.

I really liked the setting of the book. I am a city girl just like the main character, Taylor. I felt like I was adjusting to the farmland as she was. When Christopher would call her names and refuse to learn, I felt frustrated right along with her. The author did a good job of writing a realistic main character.

Pick a sunny day this summer. Pull up a lounge chair, admire the cute book cover, check out Ava Bleu's guest post here, view the book trailer below then read The Diva of Peddler's Creek.

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: The Diva of Peddler's Creek
Author: Ava Bleu
Published: October 2010
Pages: 320
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♡


July 28, 2013

Series Sunday: Chasing Cherry

(Maggie and Odessa Mystery #4)

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"Baking therapy should be recognized by the American Psychological Association." ~ pg. 215

My Series Sunday pick is Chasing Cherry, the fourth book in the Maggie and Odessa mystery series by Jill Brock. Ever since Odessa was dismissed from an advertising job and became a dessert chef, life has been anything but mundane. Maggie is a practicing P.I. that voluntarily gets involved in situations. This time the situation is closer to home. Bebe Dunn, the sous chef at Odessa's family restaurant, is charged with murder. Hot shot lawyer Thaddeus Ziemann is hired to clear Bebe's name and wishes the two amateurs, Maggie and Odessa, will stop interfering with this case. Ha! Good luck with that one, Ziemann.

Maggie and Odessa are determined to help Bebe and find the real murderer. Too many obstacles are in their way: lack of criminal law knowledge, a scary bodyguard and his music promoter boss, and Cherry—the only woman who can clear Bebe's name. Chasing down money-hungry Cherry is dangerous and difficult. But it is all worth it to help their beloved Bebe Dunn.

Chasing Cherry is another great addition to the Maggie and Odessa mystery series. Ms. Cupcake and Weather Girl are a hilarious pair. Their chemistry is undeniable. Their antics kept me entertained and flipping the pages. Jill Brock's writing has a way of transporting you to fiction world. I'm looking forward to the next installment, especially after the semi-cliffhanger. Nice writing, Jilly!

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Author: Jill Brock
Published: July 2013
Pages: 278
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♡


July 26, 2013

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Taylor curled up on the bed, tucked her legs underneath her gown, and held out the phone to avoid the full decibel effect blasting her inner eardrums as her mother ranted at her over the quivering line."

July 24, 2013

Guest Post: Morenike'

Author of Taste of Insanity

Welcome to Literary Marie's Precision Reviews. Today we have a special guest post from Morenike', author of Taste of Insanity.

Guest Post:
Life has taught me that your word is your bond and daily I create bonds with avid readers who take heed to the messages and entertainment of  my poetry and short stories. I have been writing stories and poems since the second grade. My passion for reading and writing stemmed from my early introduction to reading by my parents. Reading was essential in my home, my parents' relationship started at a washateria discussing a book; reading and a love for literature created my family.

Although reading was encouraged in my home, my dreams to become a writer took a lot of campaigning to gain the support of my family. As a young girl I wrote about my observations and coupled them with my wild and vivid imagination. My writing abilities were far beyond what an average girl my age could even think of creating. My parents wanted to make sure I had a realistic mindset about my future, they weren't comfortable with their daughter saying, "I want to be a writer when I grow up." Eventually, they began to see my many capabilites and started to support me more, I've been fighting for the support of this gift since the second grade. It is still a struggle today but this journey has made me realize that I would never let anyone take away or halt my gift unless God told me to stop. I have become a vessel for God through my writing. The best feeling of accomplishment is to be able to help others with your gift and I am truly touched when others appreciate and are positively affected by my work.

My goal is to become a world renowned novelist, English Professor, social activist, and one day have my own radio show. I want to focus on African American poems, novels, and short stories that reflect the African American experience and community. I reach out to my audience and peers via Twitter, magazine publications, my novels, Facebook, and via blogging on Tumblr. My first push into the literary world was converting one of my poems, "Shoe-icide," into a mini short film. I wanted to bring "Shoe-icide" to life because it is about materialism, domestic abuse, and HIV awareness in the African American community. I have discovered that my purpose is to elaborate on sexual and domestic abuse, our ability to love, self worth, insecurities, motherhood and fatherhood, and how we are viewed by society. Every time I write a story I feel liberated, any time my work is published I feel inspired and motivated, and whenever someone tells me my words spoke to them I know my word is my bond. Every morning as I listen to Goapele's song, I look forward to the changes I plan to make to my community, word by word, bond by bond, I'm getting "Closer to My Dreams."

"My name is Nija Morenike` Matory and I want to be a writer when I grow up... "

Book Description:

Egypt Roberts is privileged, spoiled, and living the good life afforded to her by her parents and fiancée. Still living with her mother and father at the age of 24, Egypt wants for nothing and is cared for by her childhood nanny and her father's wealth. But after the death of her nanny, the lies that crafted her perfect life unravel and cause Egypt's mental and emotional breakdown.

Meet Andrea Atkins, a young girl with a bright future; although her life is a living hell thanks to a mother with substance abuse issues she has hopes of escaping her life after her high school graduation. But before she can make her escape, Andrea's world comes crashing down after a business transaction gone wrong is interrupted by her mother. Andrea's life is flipped upside down and she retreats into silence; protecting the secret of the night her mother was killed.

Blakely Hammond is a lost and confused soul with no knowledge of her past or who she is due to suppressed memories. A graduate student with dreams of becoming an author and college professor, she is never able to stay on the straight and narrow because of her best friends' schemes. After a scheme gone wrong Blakely is landed in jail for a crime she doesn't remember committing and a best friend that has gone M.I.A.

Tragic events lead Egypt, Andrea, and Blakely to the Rose Program at the Rosa Lee Institution for Women and Children where they discover things about themselves and their lives that they never knew were possible. Through individual and group sessions in the Rose Ward, Egypt, Andrea, and Blakely create bonds with one another and the staff while getting a sample of what crazy tastes like.

First Lines:
"I sometimes wonder [if] I hide my emotions? I do my best to bury my feelings deep within but the older I get the more I realize how toxic that is. Everybody is due for a cry in life but I'm long overdue."

About the Author:
For more information on Morenike', please visit her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter and TumblrClick here to order or add Taste of Insanity to your reading wish list. Stay tuned for my review in late fall.

July 23, 2013

July eMags

I am Living La Vida NOOK with these July eMags:

The Writer ~ 3-Draft Approach

Real Simple ~ Cool Drinks, Hot New Beach Reads, Ice Cream Treats

MacLife ~ Google Reader Alternatives

Essence ~ Serena Williams "It's important to look in the mirror and say I love myself."

Ebony ~ Sexy Any Age: Chaka Khan (60) LisaRaye McCoy (46) Jurnee Smollett-Bell (26)

Jet ~ Tony Award Winner Cicely Tyson "It's Never Too Late"

Elle ~ Shakira Opens Up About Fame, Family, and What It Takes To Be a Winner

Marie Claire ~ Rock the Coolest Nail Trends 

Vogue ~ Fall Fashion: Unique is the New Chic

US Weekly ~ Kim K. First Days Home with Baby / The Royal Baby

Entertainment Weekly ~ 100 All-Time Greatest Movies, TV Shows, Albums, Novels

Rolling Stone ~ Serena Williams: Inside Her Private World


The Longings of Wayward Girls

The woods were a place of imaginative games and innocent wanderers. The swampy area was a harmless place until nine-year-old Laura Loomis went missing in 1974. The search continued for days with no clues found. A few years later, Sadie and her best friend are playing a harmless prank on a girl from the neighborhood. The result...the neighborhood girl disappears like Laura Loomis did.

Fast forward to 2002 and Sadie Watkins is used to being mistaken for one of the missing girls. In fact, saying "I'm not Laura Loomis" has become second nature to her. A boy from her old neighborhood comes to town sparking all of Sadie's old memories. The unsolved mystery and summer prank resurfaces.

The Longings of Wayward Girls had so much potential. The guilt of a grown woman over the disappearance of a girl, possibly her fault. The same grown woman grieving over a miscarriage while figuring out what really happened that summer. I really wanted to like this book. I realize I am in the minority with not caring for it. The premise sounded really good but it fell flat. There was no climax. My reaction to the ending was, "Oh." -___- Reiterating, this is just my opinion that does not mirror the majority. I longed for a better story line to The Longings of Wayward Girls but others may enjoy it.

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: The Longings of Wayward Girls
Author: Karen Brown
Published: July 2013
Pages: 327
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥


July 22, 2013

Wedding Night

"I lean back proudly, feeling like the queen of remote-control honeymoon-fixing, all-powerful in my empress's chair." ~ pg. 241

Wedding Night is a chick lit comedy about two sisters. Lottie is carefree, starry-eyed and a hopeless romantic. Fliss is responsible, sensible, nurturing and protective. The book begins with Lottie breaking up with Richard "The One." Within pages, she rushes into a rebound relationship by way of marriage to an ex-boyfriend. They run off to a honeymoon. Practical sister Fliss is appalled at the news. She is doing everything she can to stop her sister Lottie from consummating the marriage so it can be annulled. Operation Stop Wedding Night in full effect.

Who would've thought someone would sabotage a honeymoon? Let alone your own sister! Wedding Night was the perfect funny story of when honeymoons go wrong. The characters were memorable. I could relate to both sisters. Even though Lottie is cray, she wants the fairy tale of being swept off her feet and in love. What girl doesn't? I can also relate to Fliss' responsible and level-headed side.

Sophie Kinsella is my favorite chick lit author. Wedding Night is another success and great for a summer beach read. Check out the book trailer below and video of Sophie Kinsella reading the first chapter.

Title: Wedding Night
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Published: April 2013
Pages: 340
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♥


Got My Mojo Back, Baby! Oh, Behave!

July 18, 2013

Lit Tidbits

  • Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta seems to be a guilty pleasure to watch on Monday nights. Well Simon & Schuster is publishing a book titled Taking One for the Team by Stevie J. I can only assume it will be about how to get on the "bus." Would you read a book by Stevie J.?
  • The Cuckoo's Calling is a debut mystery novel by Robert Galbraith. It was released earlier this year and received excellent reviews. The Sunday Times revealed the book isn't a debut novel after all. **GASP** Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling! I did not read the Harry Potter series but love mysteries and know that Rowling is a great writer. I've added The Cuckoo's Calling to my TBR list. Stay tuned for a review later this fall.
  •  I recently read and reviewed Easy by Tammara Webber. It was such a great story; the thousands of positive reviews are deserved. An indie author, Jordin B. Williams, apparently thought Easy was so good that she plagiarized it! Did she really think avid readers wouldn't notice?! The book has been removed from sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
  • Juror B37 of the Zimmerman trial recently interviewed with CNN's Anderson Cooper. Her comments caused an online outrage among live tweeters (myself included—see screenshot below). Thanks to the power of Twitter, Juror B37 no longer has a book deal. Juror B37 statement: "The best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book." Ya think?
Juror B37 said it was too time-consuming to go through all of the evidence. That's your duty as a juror! She just wanted a book deal.
7/15/13 8:41 PM

July 17, 2013

On the Run from Reading

Have you ever been in a reading funk? I took a scheduled break from book blogging and reading to finish copyediting projects. Usually I am scratching like a fiend after one week of not reading fiction. But this time? I just cannot muster enough attention to sit and read a book. Perhaps I am picking up duds. Perhaps I am burnt out on reading. Perhaps I'm trying to end my break prematurely and my mind's telling me, "No, girl. Chill. Those books will be there. They aren't going anywhere." But my reading pile and review requests are steady climbing higher while I'm on the run away from book pages. So please bare with me, bookhearts. I'll be back to my regular scheduled blogging soon.

Thanks for your support and understanding.


July 8, 2013

June eMags

I am Living La Vida NOOK with these June eMags:

Essence ~ Turn Your Clutter Into Cash

Ebony ~ Living with Lupus 

The Writer ~ Flattered by Fitzgerald

US Weekly ~ Kate vs. Kim: Due the Same Day

Elle ~ There's Something about Kerry

Vogue ~ Summer's Casual Glamour: 88 Looks to Wear Now

Marie Claire ~ How to Wear the Season's Hottest Trends

Entertainment Weekly ~ Summer's Best TV

Jet ~ Eve Back with a Vengeance

MacLife ~ 20 Killer Mac Apps 

Real Simple ~ Ingenious Organizing Systems

Rolling Stone ~ Daft Punk: EDM's Secretive Superstars Finally Open Up


July 7, 2013

Series Sunday: J is for Judgment

(Kinsey Millhone Alphabet #10)

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

My Series Sunday pick is J is for Judgment, the tenth book in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton. Wendell Jaffe has been dead for the past five years, or so everyone thought. His boat was found drifting off the coast. He left a note admitting to being broke with a bankrupt business and a criminal indictment soon to follow. With no corpse to prove Jaffe's death, California Fidelity paid the $500,000 life insurance policy to his wife. Until a former insurance agents spotted Jaffe at a resort near Cabo San Lucas. Now California Fidelity needs to rehire P.I. Kinsey Millhone to find out the truth: Is Jaffe dead or alive?

J is for Judgment is Kinsey's tenth mystery. It seemed more like a filler in the series than a strong installment. It was only 224 e-pages, but could have been shorter. Many of the pages were recaps or meaningless description. Again, I will stick to this series because it has earned my attention as a fan and I'm interested in seeing where the series goes.

Title: J is for Judgment
Author: Sue Grafton
Published: May 1993
Pages: 224
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥