Thursday, January 18, 2018

Love on The Highlight Reel by Christina C. Jones--#blacklove

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First impressions don’t have to be everything. 

But second, third, fourth impressions create a reputation, and those are hard to break. In the public eye, where everybody is tuned in to your every move, and behind the scenes, where certain people are privy to the real you… or at least what they perceive you to be. 

Jordan Johnson is a man under pressure – from his teammates, fans, family, and the one person who wants to see him succeed as badly as he wants it for himself. He’ll do whatever he has to in order to not let anyone down… and maybe find an unanticipated connection along the way. 

Nicole Richardson is a woman with a purpose – prove herself worthy of her place in a male-dominated field. Fiercely competitive, wielder of tough love and motivation, and terrible at dealing with things outside of her control. Between making sure the players are thriving, and coping with a changing family dynamic, a relationship isn’t even on her radar. 

Denying their chemistry would be a waste of words, but giving in isn’t an option. 

A season on the line. 

Reputations at stake. 

The threat of seeing their personal lives played out on the evening highlights. 

With all of that swirling around them, Jordan and Nicole have to decide if it’s worth the effort to make the play… or take a knee. 

Love Belvin and Christina C. Jones collaborate on a series of football romance, staring two football greats who so happen to be in for the biggest play of their lives: for their hearts. Quarterback, Trent Bailey, and wide receiver, Jordan Johnson, give their all out on the green. But what happens when the two friends encounter true love? 

Take on Connecticut Kings’ finest and journey through their discovery of developing themselves as men, and exploring love. 

REVIEW--FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS
In my absence, I have read a handful of books--(not too many)--none too noteworthy--well aside from Bad Mommy by Taryn Fisher--which I thought was pretty well done. 

Aside from that, nothing has really been doing it for me. Not to mention the fact, that I just found reading to be more than I could sign up for--for the last couple of months (okay, more than a couple). Which is saying a lot, considering I considered myself for a while (see:forever) as a heavy reader. But, to be honest, life and all it's ugliness (and beauty) took me away from reading. It was either reading or life, and life made the choice for me. 

*Deep breath* I say all that to say I hope to spend more time reading this year--and enjoying and savoring books in the way that I used to--which leads me to Love on The Highlight Reel.

Love on the Highlight Reel is what I've been missing and didn't even know it. 

Positive, realistic black love. I know, don't make this a race thing, Jazmen. But it is a race thing--but in a good way. 

There's not a total lack of presence of black love in New Adult--not if you're really looking for it. But it's not among the popular titles that we see regularly--and that needs to change. (We'll save that argument for later. )

Love on the Highlight reel broken down to it's tiniest bits is typical New Adult. Typical New Adult second chance romance. However it's just a bit more than that at it's core. It's positive, it's real--and it's exactly what I needed and wanted from a book.

We've all read the sports trope in New Adult--once one did it well--we got a whole bunch more trying to do the same.

But what I liked its the dynamic between the two love interests. Nicole "Cole" Richardson, was the one pulling the strings, doing the work and being an all around Girl Boss bad ass. Nicole helped run her father's football team the kings. Alongside her brother but they managed different players--differently.

It was just black people doing their thing and I was all. "Yasssss!," and so here for it. 

The love interest, Jordan Johnson--was for all intents and purposes the star player. Cole, and he dated back in college--but things fell apart as they aged--and as Jordan became an NFL player--not for reasons superficial or surface--but because things just happen like that sometimes. 

But, of course neither of them could fight what was always there--love.

What works for the romance aspect of the book-- On the part of Cole, was the struggle to be a proud and competent business woman--while still pursuing a romance that she wanted to have but didn't want to be judged for. And Jordan's pursuit of her--relentless pursuit in a respectable way that both honored and treasured Nicole--without being too "Me Man. You Jane." Macho foolishness. It was that dynamic that worked against them--but also brought them closer together. And it's a treat for the reader to see how that all works out.

The football part of it wasn't too overwhelming but it actually left me with a little sports excitement--and I don't even do football.


The book is very well-rounded in the way it deals with romance, and sports. It's actually pretty fun if you allow yourself to get into it--and I did.


I know I mentioned race--but it's not all about that. I mean I'm black--so of course I enjoyed having the book be about a black couple. But, any person of any race, can and will enjoy this book--because it's just really good reading. 

This is my first book by this author--but I can promise you--it won't be my last,  because honey--this right here is good reading--and who doesn't need another couple to ship--or a book boyfriend to drool over?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Good and Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore Book Review

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When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a road trip to find Adrian Wildes, a famous musician who’s been reported missing, she’s beyond confused. Her brother hasn’t said a nice word to her or left the couch since his girlfriend dumped him months ago—but he’ll hop in a car to find some hipster? Concerned at how quickly he seems to be rebounding, Lexi decides to go along for the ride.

Besides, Lexi could use the distraction. The anger and bewilderment coursing through her after getting dumped by her pretentious boyfriend, Seth, has left her on edge. As Lexi, Charlie, and their neighbor Zack hit the road, Lexi recalls bits and pieces of her short-lived romance and sees, for the first time, what it truly was: a one-sided, cold-hearted manipulation game. Not only did Seth completely isolate her, but he took something from her that she didn’t give him permission to.

The farther from home they get, the three uncover much more than empty clues about a reclusive rocker’s whereabouts. Instead, what starts off as a car ride turns into an exploration of self as each of them faces questions they have been avoiding for too long. Like the real reason Charlie has been so withdrawn lately. What Seth stole from Lexi in the pool house. And if shattered girls can ever put themselves back together.
 

REVIEW
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS

Road tripping with a purpose, Good and Bad is a journey, the reader won't soon forget.

Lexi's brother, Charlie, is in a slump. One day he was away at school, the next, he's a permanent fixture in the house, on the couch, and in every crevice of the house--dripping depression on every crevice of the house.

But, Lexi is dealing with her own stuff--and she has no time to coddle her older brother--who she believes is only heartbroken over a recent breakup. She was terrible, he should be relieved, so why isn't he? Why hasn't he shaken this yet?

Then out of the blue, her brother decides to go find, now-missing pop star, Adrian Wildes. So, Charlie, Zack, and confused Lexi going on a road trip to find him.

Every part of the road trip is an awakening, a moment to reflect over moments of Lexi's life with Seth, her now ex. All of the would've, should've, could've's come to plague Lexi on this journey.

Brilliantly woven in the story, is the juxtaposition of then, and now. Who Lexi is now, and what happened then--all comes to a shattering, and heartbreaking conclusion by the end. But ultimately, it leads to healing , self-discovery, acceptance, and forgiveness.

What's really enjoyable about the book--although it's pretty much a sad story--is Lexi's ability to humorous--despite it all. It's a little sliver of light in an otherwise dark room.

Overall, the characters are pretty solid, all seemingly written with purpose. Each of their stories stand up, without the support of the other--but when together make total sense.

The parents in this book are quietly present, and I appreciated that despite the fact that they weren't core characters--they were still there--both of them, caring in the background.

It's a solid-read, with a meaningful story--great for teens and adults alike.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Release by Patrick Ness Book Review

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Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.

REVIEW
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS

Wildly original--and completely realistic--Release is a whirlwind of a tale, one that will leave you both completely confused, yet satiated. 

Release is a sort-of coming-of-age story. 

Our MC, is out of the closet, sort of. He has one foot in, and one foot out--One entangled in the religious and personal expectations from his parents--and what they expect him to be. 

Everyone knows what he is, who is he--except maybe himself. Adam is on the throes of a short lived, passionate, first time, same-sex relationship. It ended quicker than it started--and Adam is still holding on, at least emotionally.

He's now dating Linus--who's not as oblivious to Adam's not so mended heart--as he may believe. But, Linus wants to love him enough to heal and have him--completely.

While this may not be wholly suitable for a younger audience, due to it's tame but quietly present sexual content--it's perfectly perfect for teens, struggling to find themselves, and even those that are not. 

The most intriguing part of this novel aside from the realistically told life stories--is the odd, and whimsical story mixed in between the pages. The story of the girl murdered, telling her story from the grave.

It was both weird and completely enthralling. The author managed to capture two totally different--but intertwined stories--in a masterful way.

The author also took care to tell a story (the main story) dealing with both religion, and homosexuality--which normally conflict--with respect to both sides--without being brutal and careless to either perspective.

The story itself deals with friendships, families, religion, relationships, and sexuality both delicately and realistically. 

The novel gives off a true sense of hope and forgiveness--all the while allowing the reader to see everything for what it is--but not negating the true beauty of real life.

The scenes (both the main story, and the accompanying story) are well written and interesting--and totally captivating. 

Patrick Ness is a storyteller not comparable to another. While he won't be everyone's cup of tea--he will definitely entertain you.

Overall solid read with an ending that will twist you up. (See: Confused and mesmerized.)

Good Points
Realism with respect to dealing with homosexuality and the church.
Quiet humor.
Realistic situations.
Solid and touching friendships.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Poignant and Thought-Provoking: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds Book Review



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A cannon. A strap.

A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator. 

REVIEW
FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS

I feel like I've been asleep for the last 31 years and I just woke up. I am woke.

Long Way Down, is a knife that cut to the deepest, blackest part of me, and yelled at me to see it. Just see me, and I did. 

Long Way Down, could've been fiction--it read so realistically. I was scrambling to get through the pages, fast enough to finish, yet slow enough to savor, and devour it. 

Back Story: Our MC's brother was just killed. And he's set on living by the street code: Someone kills someone you love--you take revenge--and set it right. 

That's where the story really takes off, on his long way down. He's in an elevator, a gun in his pants--and vengeance on his mind. 

Told in verse (which is my favorite by the way), this story packs a powerful punch--clear, concise and sharply worded. I literally couldn't stop, stopping--after every single punch to the throat, which is what many of these pages were. Punches, wake up calls--look at me. 

Punches of realism, heartbreak, reality, street code, blackness.

I am blown away.

I can't even tell you all how it all happens, because it would give the story away. I won't lie, I want to so badly, if not just to tell you the story--but also to help you understand it. I know, like I'm some expert on this work!

But, let me tell you, the world needs books like these. Books unafraid--unafraid to tell the raw, gritty truth--in all its fictional glory.

Don't sleep on this. Don't do that to yourself. You will not be disappointed. 


]You'll want to take this journey, it'll be a fast one but it's a doozy--in the best way possible.

Powerful, poignant, purposeful prose, poetic.

One question, "You coming?" 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Never Apart by Romily Bernard--I Just Have A lot of Feelings, Okay?

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How many times would you die for love?

What if you had to relive the same five days over and over?

And what if at the end of it, your boyfriend is killed…

And you have to watch. Every time.

You don’t know why you’re stuck in this nightmare.

But you do know that these are the rules you now live by:

Wake Up.

Run.

Die.

Repeat.

Now, the only way to escape this loop is to attempt something crazy. Something dangerous. Something completely unexpected. This time…you’re not going to run.

Combining heart-pounding romance and a thrilling mystery Never Apart is a stunning story you won’t soon forget.

COME THROUGH, ROMILY BERNARD. COME THROUGH!

What a stunning read. I mean wow. I wasn't expecting to feel so strongly about this book. 

THE ABOUT:Grace is stuck in a time warp. Every five days--she relives a single moment--the moment where her boyfriend dies and she has to watch, over and over again.

Every single time she tries to stop it and every single time she fails. 

THE FEELINGS:I have to be honest I didn't read the blurb before today. 

I seen that the book was written by Romily Bernard, and I picked it up. That's it. 

I am oh so glad I did. 

Stunning. Did I say stunning?

It's so beautifully written, that I was completely enraptured by the story. The twists, the turns, the thrills--the mysteries.

All of it was done so well. 

I loved the whole parallel universe deal. It was then and now, and then, and then now. All of it was effortless. Not once did I find myself lost or confused--that sometimes happens when stories are being told this way. But, no, no Romily came through--with that good writing and made it happen!

Image result for it's so beautiful gif

And I just have a lot of feelings, okay?

The story is told in only one perspective--but I felt like I knew how every single character felt--from page to page. 

What's funny about this book is that it reads as multiple genres--and it felt right. It was like a sci-fi, contemporary, thriller romance. Can all books be like this?

Anyway, the characters are solid in this one--you won't be left with any what if's, there's no unanswered questions. Nothing to agonize you with--nothing but beautiful writing here folks. 

Now some of you may disagree--I won't understand it but, some of you will. You'll be wrong--but you're entitled to your opinion. :P

I think for some it may be a bit overwhelming but it was just enough for me. I was awash with emotion and avid anticipation for everything that happened here.

As mentioned, this book is a parallel universe sort of deal--and I think that's what makes it so good. You get the what if, without even having to wonder. What if she chose this or that? What if she didn't go down that road, kind of thing? You'll find it all out. I mean what reader wouldn't love that?

I feel like a discombobulated, inarticulate ball of emotions. I just really love this book. And I don't feel that way often, you guys know that. 

Let me wrap this up, because well, I'm doing this piss poorly. 

Just get the book it's so good. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"His smile turned the words to butter, made the vowels slide." (That is so clever, come on now!)

"I would do anything to be your everything..."

"..If I hadn't come to Boone, I would have never met you and I know I would've missed that--missed you. I would never have known your name or your face, but I would've known the absence of you, the gap that was left in me because you were never there."

*SWOON*

"Everyone thinks grief is this thing you can get away from, and it isn't. One minute you're fine, then you'll hear a laugh like theirs--and" he shakes his head--"grief isn't a thing you live with. It's a thing that lives in you."


FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS