April 3, 2020

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. 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.

"The clack of Cole Haan oxfords announces Preston's arrival over the din of hits from the nineties and bar conversation. He likes to make an entrance, and tonight is no different."

~ A Thin Line by D.L. White 


April 2, 2020

I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To

"You can hustle and strive and work your ass off and plan for the future and make vision boards and to-do lists and set your eyes on the prize and then, when you least expect it, everything can blow up in your face and you're back to square one." ~ 81%

How many of us can relate to the statement above? In a new inspiring memoir, titled I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To, Loni Love stops trying to conform, embraces her flaws and tunes into her potential. Despite her last name, Loni grew up in a not-so-loving home. Without giving away her entire life's story, she went from growing up in the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects to earning an engineering degree then making it in show biz. It was not an easy journey.

Loni Love has worn many hats and crossed many paths in her young lifetime. She has been places and experienced more than most people ever would. This fact makes the book cover so perfect! Most importantly, Loni Love stayed true to herself through all phases of her life. It is indeed admirable. I appreciate her straight-talk, the funny lists at the end of every chapter and her sharing embarrassing mistakes, accomplishments and necessary changes.

"I got material out the wazoo." ~ 61%

I am a daily viewer of The Real where Loni Love is one of five co-hosts (all women of color). Her point of view is always appreciated and well spoken. However, I do not find her hilarious. Every now and then she delivers a funny one-liner. And her bits about cubicle life, that one black person in the office and a hard-knock life was chuckle-worthy. But I expected more LOL moments from a comedian.

When reading a memoir, I keep in mind that all things are not as it seems. Truth may be embellished. Situations may be lightened up. The line between fact and fiction might blur. Hence why I read all memoirs with a side-eye. I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To was no exception. My eyes rolled every time Loni Love mentioned the projects where she grew up on the east side of Detroit. "Brewster-Douglass" was mentioned over 60 times. This is no exaggeration; I started to count. Also, I find it very hard to believe that Loni Love graduated from Cass Tech High School, one of thee best public high schools PERIODT, but never once met with a college counselor. She goes so far as to question whether the school even had one. I call bullshit.

"That's a truth some people take a lifetime to learn." ~34%

But there are other sections where Loni Love talks about relationships, a career and opening up to change that resonate with me. For example, numerous people have suggested that I throw deal-breakers out the window and try online dating. I shoo those ideas away every time. But there was something about the way she words her own story of finding love that made me think hmmm, maybe I should approach dating differently.

Overall, Loni Love meets her purpose of providing readers with life lessons. Reminding us to be true to self and not conform to society's definitions. We control our own destiny. I may have issues with some content of the book but it does not negate her success, drive and spirit. I recommend it for every woman of color needing some real talk.

Happy Early Pub Day, Loni Love! I Tried To Change So You Don't Have To will be available Tuesday, May 5.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To
Author: Loni Love
Published: May 2020
Pages: 272
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

March 31, 2020

The Business of Lovers

"Philosophies collided. Reality and fantasy had a big disagreement." ~ 5%

I wait on new Eric Jerome Dickey releases like clockwork. Every April, I can count on a page-turning, sexy fictional novel that shows a colorful portrait of hard-to-forget characters. In The Business of Lovers, we meet two (2) brothers and three (3) women.

Allow me to introduce them. Dwayne Duquesne is hard on times. The formal child star has just been fired from his latest acting role and is broke after paying child support. He returns home to check on his teenaged son and to hopefully make amends with the spiteful mother of his son. Brick Duquesne is taking a break from the corporate world. He put his job on hold after a health emergency and nasty breakup with a woman he still loves. Brick spends his days playing security and chauffeur to escorts. His neighbor, Penny, is a college student in debt. Mocha Latte is a former engineer looking for real love. Christiana is a Cuban refugee playing pimp. It is not long before the trio convinces Brick to become an escort himself. Let the story sexily begin!

"Coochie for cryptocurrency?" ~ 39%

The title is perfect. Dickey pens a page-turner about the family we are born to, the family we choose and the business of lovers. It is oh so unconventional but it flows like a classic EJD novel. Signature clipped sentences. Characters searching for life's purpose while loving on one another. Emotional turmoil and internal debates on morality. Relationships based on lust and less trust. Cash only professions. And an unforgettable cast with alternating points of view. All elements of a good book!

So why not a solid 5⭐️ rating? Through some of the engaging dialogue between the characters, a few interesting things were mentioned that could have been expanded upon. It would've given a deeper look into the psyche of Dwayne and Brick. More background on Penny, Christiana and Mocha Latte would have been appreciated to fully understand why they chose sex work. Sure it was mentioned in a paragraph or two, but more character development could have added layers to the story.

Hopefully this prompts the author to revisit these folks in the near future. Maybe they can cross paths with other Dickey universe characters like Gideon, Margaux, Destiny or Ken Swift. Just the thought excites me! (If none of these names sound familiar, my dear bookheart, you have some reading to catch up on.)

"Time is the novocaine for the toothache in my heart." ~ 89%

Before I go, let me have my chance to shine. Thank you for the acknowledgment. You are welcome, EJD, for my being a loyal reader because without my help, you'd be sitting in a cubicle from 9-5pm unhappy, battling all the characters' voices in your head with co-workers that disregard your previous emails and wishing you were traveling around this great world writing for readers' pleasure. You too are the best of the best!

Happy Early Pub Day, Eric Jerome Dickey! The Business of Lovers will be available Tuesday, April 21.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Business of Lovers
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Published: April 2020
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

March 29, 2020

Series Sunday: 20th Victim

(Women's Murder Club #20) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. 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.

"These vigilantes outnumber us." ~ pg. 201

My Series Sunday pick is 20th Victim, the 20th book in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro. Three public figures. Three bullets. Three cities. Same damn time. Then more murders. Each one of the victims are shot and killed with the target precision of a professional. Also, each victim is found with a large quantity of illegal drugs. This is not recreational use; it is drug-dealing level. Someone wants these criminals off the streets. Vigilante on the loose? Justice shooter? Or stone-cold killer?

The Women's Murder Club (Homicide Detective Lindsay, Chief Medical Examiner Claire, Crime Journalist Cindy and Assistant District Attorney Yuki) scramble to solve their independent cases while keeping a healthy work-life balance. Two of the women are on the outs professionally, while another struggles with ethics/morality and the last woman is standing after a health crisis.

"Got a whole lot of parts on the floor of the shop, but can't make a car." ~ pg. 97

Have you ever read a series and started to dislike one of the main characters? Surely it is not just me. Well, Cindy, the nosy ass crime journalist, really grated my nerves in 20th Victim. What an annoying selfish friend she has become! I dreaded every chapter where she was the point of view. It made me appreciate the other three main characters more. It doesn't help that the lack of suspense and murder mystery took a backseat.

My new dislike for one of the characters is not enough for me to stop reading the Women's Murder Club series. I am still very much a fan. I still look forward to new releases even though 20th Victim was not a fast-paced thriller as the rest, despite the signature short chapters that I love. But please, authors I beg of you, reconsider the character development.

Title: 20th Victim
Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Published: May 2020
Pages: 348
Edition: UK eBook
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson; Popsugar—A Book with "20" in the Title
Rating: 🖤 🖤

March 27, 2020

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. 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.

"I learned everything I know about love, life, and getting ahead in one of the last places most people would ever want to live: the infamous Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, on Detroit's down and dirty east side."

~ I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To by Loni Love


March 25, 2020

The Overwhelming Event

Everybody vs. The RONA

Most states have issued a shelter-in-place. It is not a suggestion; it is an order. Please take it seriously. Whether you are an introvert loving the opportunity to do what you already do, or an extrovert climbing the walls with nothing to do, I have compiled a list of fitty-lem ideas. Yes, I sat down and created this long ass list—all of which I plan on doing myself during quarantine—so you don't have to. Let's stay home!

  1. Read a book.
  2. Write letters.
  3. Call distant relatives.
  4. Organize photos.
  5. Start dream journal.
  6. FaceTime friends.
  7. Binge-watch TV.
  8. Listen to podcasts.
  9. Take a Masterclass.
  10. Wash your hands!
  11. Play Monopoly.
  12. Play Spades or Uno.
  13. Update your goals.
  14. Re-arrange furniture.
  15. Revamp your website.
  16. Create music playlists.
  17. Write quotes on a post-it.
  18. Update/create vision board.
  19. Plan next vacation.
  20. Stop touching face!
  21. Take daily naps.
  22. Reorganize closets.
  23. Research a charity.
  24. Write a short story.
  25. Start your novel.
  26. Start a donation pile.
  27. Delete phone apps.
  28. Find a therapist.
  29. Make homemade gifts.
  30. Disinfect all hard surfaces.
  31. Take your time and shave.
  32. Create a realistic wish list.
  33. Scrub your phone contacts.
  34. Gather tax documents.
  35. Sort and clean jewelry.
  36. Host a virtual dance party.
  37. Join a virtual happy hour.
  38. Clean fridge/freezer/cabinets.
  39. Brainstorm ways to hustle.
  40. Make alcohol-based sanitizer.
  41. Draw in adult coloring book.
  42. Stand and admire self in mirror.
  43. Explore homes for sale online.
  44. Compare insurance quotes.
  45. Take care of mental health.
  46. Set a budget and cut spending.
  47. Practice language in Duolingo.
  48. Download three (3) credit reports.
  49. Pamper (facial/pedicure/massage).
  50. Deep-condition hair or beard.
  51. Stay Home. Stay Well. Save Lives.

March 24, 2020

It's Not All Downhill From Here

"And when I die, I don't want it to be because of some stupid shit I did to myself. Or because of what I didn't do for myself. And from the look of things it does not look like we get a do-over." ~ 77%

There is nothing like a sudden change of plans that makes you re-evaluate what you're doing for the rest of your life. For 68-year-old Loretha, it is the unexpected death of her husband to make her put things into perspective. She has to summon all her strength and push on with the help of lifelong friends. Lo is determined to prove her good-intentioned mother, her jealous twin sister, her estranged daughter and everyone else that it really isn't all downhill after a certain age and circumstances.

By the third chapter, the book had me asking aloud, "damn, is it all downhill from here?!" It was too early in the story. But oh how I appreciated the timing of it all. McMillan's writing style remains the same in that she covers an extended period of time but only highlights the major moments. No mundane or unnecessary chapters. No filler paragraphs. And it didn't feel like big plot holes or character development jumps. Like a true friendship, you can go weeks without speaking but catch-up like you never missed a beat.

"Nobody should have to hide who they are inside to please people on the outside." ~ 20%

The women in It's Not All Downhill From Here go through some shit. Death, addiction, age, illness, parenting and unconditional love. Yes, it's a lot but also what makes it a good novel. This is what grown black women go through every single day. We carry the weight of the world and our families. We often put others' needs before our own. As an unfortunate result, we neglect our own health and goals in the process. Does it mean life goes downhill when we reach a certain age? No, and Lo proves it between these pages. I appreciate McMillan's writing characters that grow along with me.

Bookhearts, you have one week to gather your coins and settle in for this new novel! I would not call it a page-turner but more like a steady read. There were times I wanted to yell at a character to stop procrastinating, stop bullshitting, ask and accept help, or reach through the ink and shake some sense into her. And at other times, I could read with background noise and not miss much. I recommend It's Not All Downhill From Here for close girlfriends and female book clubs. You will most certainly relate and have a good long conversation about friendship and life's unexpected trials.

Happy Early Pub Day, Terry McMillan! It's Not All Downhill From Here will be available next Tuesday, March 31.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: It's Not All Downhill From Here
Author: Terry McMillan
Published: March 2020
Pages: 368
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤