Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Review: Forgive Me by Stacy Campbell

Forgive Me by Stacy Campbell

Years have passed and so much has changed in the lives of Aruba, James, Victoria, Winston, Tawatha and their friends.

Aruba is on the mend after tragedy has struck too close to home for comfort. Knowing that she’d need more familial support than her life in California could offer, she makes her way back to Georgia. A once flourishing, thriving, beautiful, successful woman, Aruba has been reduced to being a tenant in the dark world of depression.

After losing his family and hitting financial rock bottom, James has finally manned up and become the person Aruba always knew he could be. Too bad he was a day late and a dollar short. He has everything a man could ever want, except the woman who holds his heartstrings.

On a technicality, Tawatha has been released from prison for the horrendous murder of her children. Now is the time to show her estranged family, friends and herself just how far she’s come at making changes in her life.

Victoria is a whole new woman. Changed in ways that only deep hurt can bring, she’s nothing like the selfish, narcissistic, mean woman of yesteryear. Now if she can only lay the past to rest and allow the demons to rest once and for all, she just may find a second chance at happiness.

Aunjanue has grown up to be a beautiful, intelligent, gifted young lady, despite all the trauma she’s lived through in her young age. All is going well for when her mother is released from prison. This sends her entire life spiraling.

There was so much going on in this story in a very good way. I love the depth of the characters, their growth, their frailties and humanness. I love that Stacy Campbell is not afraid to delve into deep issues in her writing and allows her characters to mature. This was a much more emotional story than the first to me, because even in the midst of life going well, sometimes curveballs still spring up to blindside us, reminding us that we are all only human, doing the very best we can at any given time. Characters that had me giving a virtual side eye in book one have garnered my empathy and support in the sequel. Campbell’s characters are so real, they feel like people we see every day. She understands the importance of adding the little details, nuances, thoughts of the characters, and visuals that transports a reader right into the heart of the story, making one feel as if they are walking along story inside the pages of the book. Well done!

5 star

Reviewed by, Tumika Patrice Cain

Book Review: Dream Girl Awakened by Stacy Campbell

Dream Girl Awakened by Stacy Campbell

Aruba has had it! When she said for better or worse she hadn’t counted on being married to a man who wouldn’t stay employed, who was a consummate cheater, and who had the audacity to hit her. For ten years she has supported him, made excuses for him, provided for him, only to have her efforts thrown in her face. Her wallet cannot stand another financial hit from his fiscal irresponsibility…and neither can her heart. What it is a lonely, frustrated, wounded heart supposed to do? Pushed to her limit, she comes up with the perfect plan.

She who has the most complains the loudest and Victoria is the loudest complainer known to mankind! The stay-at-home wife is completely deprived of all that is good in the world living in her 7000 square foot mansion, driving a dated two year old Mercedes, scraping by on a $3000 a month allowance, and bossing around the nanny who raises her preschool age daughter. She repays her benefactor for his kindness by complaining, shopping endlessly, and withholding sex. After all, gracing his world with her beauty should be more than enough to keep her kind, sweet, loving, successful husband satisfied. She has him totally wrapped around her little finger and he should be happy to be there! Doesn’t he know who she is???

James is God’s gift to womankind. His long dreadlocks, amazing smile and thick athletic body has left women swooning for decades. He has a wife any man would kill to have. She’s beautiful, sweet, successful, and supports him through thick and thin. But apparently it’s not enough. Although a gifted hair stylist, he is frequently without work. To make matters worse, he becomes an increasing financial burden on his already stressed out wife, by using her earnings to support his ‘extracurricular’ activities, which come in the form of random women. Convinced she will never leave him, he continues on with life as usual.

Winston is a beautiful soul. Groomed since birth to become the success that he is, he is everything his parents raised him to be. Honest, philanthropic, intelligent, successful, and loyal. Not to mention a complete heartthrob. He’s the perfect man….that is to everyone except his wife! What is an overworked, lonely, unappreciated man to do?

Tawatha has four kids by four different men, and she has her eyes set on the fine man who works at her firm. She took one look at him and knew he was the one. Her long list of past mistakes has her self esteem in tatters, however something in him makes her want to be a better version of herself. That is until the lies he’s spewing come to the light, costing her everything.

Stacy Campbell has written a thoroughly engaging tale of what the grass looks like on the other side. As the lives of these characters intersect, nothing is quite what it appears to be. They are each very relatable in their own way. This story really draws on a reader’s emotions. This is a story that shows quite clearly what happens when good, decent people get caught up in other folk’s madness and pushed to the limit. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

5 stars

Reviewed by Tumika Patrice Cain

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Review: Destiny's Captive by Beverly Jenkins

Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins

Noah is the youngest of the Yates clan and very different than his older siblings. A tragedy in his young adulthood has changed the artistic, sensitive, sweet man into a wandering sea captain who is most comfortable living his life on the open seas.

When a band of marauders kidnap him and steal his ship he has only two things on his mind: find his vessel and exact revenge on the one who dared cross him that way. That the culprit is a woman doesn’t change a thing!

Having searched high and low for this female bandit, Noah is frustrated and unsure where to turn. Then luck would have it that their paths crossed by way of a mutual acquaintance. She knew instantly that she was in trouble far beyond any she’d ever been before. Only this raven-haired beauty had no idea just how her troubles would play out.

This is the third book in the Yates family trilogy. Beverly Jenkins, as always, have written an thoroughly engaging tale that jumps off the pages. Her male characters have a charm that makes a woman wish she could crawl into the pages for more time in his presence. Pilar, the female star of this romance, at times had me wanting to ring her neck at the selfishness she showed Noah, despite all of the compassion this flawed woman received from both he and his family. Each of the books in the series was complete and highly enjoyable, and this one was no different. Jenkins has certainly found her niche in the realm of love and we, the readers, wait with baited breath for the next release.

5 stars

Reviewed by Tumika Patrice Cain

Book Review: My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari

My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari

Simeen was the fun-loving, spoiled only daughter in her family of five. Content to living it up and enjoying her teenage years without worries, life as she knew it came crashing to a screeching halt at the tragic death of her parents. Orphaned, she was left in the care of her two older brothers, who were barely of legal age, each trying to find his way in the world to make a great life for himself, and her leeching aunt and uncle. As Simeen sank deeper into depression and grief, her world became smaller as she closed out most of the friends she’d had. That is until one brother forced her to go out and celebrate her birthday.

Far down the beach in a town of her native India she met Nirvaan and Zayaan, two friends who were thick as thieves and who shared everything. They were the answer to unspoken prayers in many ways as they rushed to her aid that night as she hovered on the edge of oblivion. What formed was a deep and abiding friendship, an unbreakable bond that would last a lifetime.  

Their’s was a friendship that was so much more, but almost unexplainable. Few people understood it. Some even balked at it. Still they carried on, that is until one night tragedy struck again, changing the trajectory of their lives.

Years later, as the wife of Nirvaan, the awesome threesome reconnects to live out a bucket list of items on Nirvaan’s list. He’s dying from cancer and wants to spend whatever time he has left living 
this life to the fullest, with his two favorite people by his side.

The tragedy that separated the friends years before continues to live in the silence that exists between them. Each has done what they could to make the best of a horrible situation. Sometimes those choices were good, sometimes not, but one thing was certain: every choice impacted the life of all three of them. The only question that remains is will they be able to lay it all to rest before Nirvaan breathes his last.

This is the first book I’ve read by Falguni Kothari. Written in the first person of Simeen telling her account of their lives, I found the writing style of this author to be very satisfying. The characters were extremely believable and there was amazing book chemistry between these three main characters. A deeply emotional story, My Last Love Story touched on heavy topics like last rites, religious prejudice, loving more than one person simultaneously, and infertility. I loved that Simeen wasn’t beautiful, brilliant or perfect. She was an average-looking woman with a temper and a long list of faults that endeared her right to this reader’s heart. At times I was saying to her “Just tell the truth and set you all free for heaven’s sake!” as she struggled with the right way to handle the wrong she had endured. For anyone who has ever loved, lost, and been sucked in to the destructive grasp of another person’s selfish decisions, this book is for you. It was extremely well-written and the editing/formatting were exceptional. This author and her team knew exactly what they were doing and they nailed it!
5 well deserved stars

Reviewed by Tumika Patrice Cain

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Author Interview: Tonya M. Barber

Say What?? Book Club is pleased to introduce author Tonya M. Barber. Tonya is a multi-faceted author who writes in several genres, although she is known most for her beautiful love stories. Not only is Tonya a gifted writer, she also writes wonderful poetry that can be found in a number of creative settings. If you are not familiar with her works, I encourage you to give her a try.
 ~ Tumika

Tonya M. Barber

Tell us about yourself. 
When I am not writing, I am working at my other job 40 hrs a week. During the time I am free, I have been known to bake cakes, make homemade scented candles, or watch old movie classic with the likes of Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, etc.

Tell us about your newest work and what inspired you to write it.
Falling in Love with Christmas was about a young woman name Noelle who had everything going for her, a successful business, a loving family, and a man who would walk on hot coal bare footed for her. He was her knight in shining armor. Imagine how happy she was when the love of her life proposed on her favorite holiday, Christmas. Unfortunately, tragedy struck and Noelle's hopes of having a wonderful life with her fiancĂ© Sean was stolen from her. What used to be the most wonderful time of year became a nightmare she never thought she'd wake from. With the weight of the world already on her shoulders, Noelle was asked to take on a task of which she was not ready for. Then, the unthinkable happened. That thing called love showed up at a time when she was not ready nor willing to open up for it. It was just too soon to move she thought, but Landon Taylor thought otherwise. From the moment he first laid eyes on her, Landon became mesmerize and knew the instant spark he felt was a premonition of great things to come between him and Noelle. Sadly, she didn't feel the same way. Will Noelle be able to say no to love again when the right man comes along at the wrong time? Furthermore, will she honor a dying friend’s wishes to step in and care for her daughter after she has passed on? Noelle doesn’t think so. Find out if love truly conquers all in this wonderful tale of loss, love, and mended hearts.

The idea of a new romance came to me around Christmas time which has always been my favorite holiday so I thought why not make it a Christmas romance.


He stopped abruptly. Slowly, he turned on his heels to face me. The expression on his face stirred up my emotions, causing tears to roll down my cheek. I did care for him. I did, and I knew the hurt I witnessed in his eyes, his expression and his words were my fault. Truth be told, it was unfair what I was putting him through. As he waited for words to be spoken, I couldn't bring them forth. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. It wouldn't budge. He turned back around and resumed walking without saying a word.
Say something, anything, I thought.
"You don't get to capture my heart then walk away, leaving it shattered like a pile of charred glass."
Coming to a halt again, he spun around. This time his eyebrows furrowed as his forehead creased. He began to slowly walk back towards me, leaving a few feet between us.
"And you don't get to enter me into a competition where winning is impossible. I can't compete with a dead man, Noelle. I won't. Not anymore."
"I never asked you to."
"No, you didn't. You just threw me in the rink to battle with a man I can't see, hear nor feel. All these months I've been fighting with a ghost. At least if he was alive I'd be more willing to spar for your love. Perhaps, I'd have a chance at winning, and even if I didn't, I would lose with my dignity still intact." Closing the gap between us, he leaned down, placing a feather soft kiss on my forehead. "Goodbye, Noelle."
“Landon, don’t.”
“Don’t what?” He snapped. “You said you couldn’t be here. You said you needed more time. Well, take all the time you need, but don't expect me to be waiting in the wings.” He chuckled. “What a fool I was for thinking I could get you to change the rules.”
“What rules?”
“In the beginning you made it clear nothing would come out of this. You said not to expect anything other than two people having a good time. How foolish I was for thinking I had surpassed the friendship mark.”
Landon loved me. That, I was sure of before the words ever flowed from his lips. Consciously, I had no idea what I was doing. Measuring him up to Sean was not my intention. I cared for Landon, and I couldn't let him walk away without letting him know that.
Barely above a whisper, I replied, "Thank you for being so patient with me. You may not believe it, but I do care for you. I just need you to know that before you walk away."
Immediately, I let go of my hold on his waist, freeing him like the seagull I observed flying across the sky moments ago.
Landon gripped me tight and kissed me with a fiery passion that made my entire body tingle.
"I love you, Noelle. I really do, but I can't do this anymore. I am in agreement with you now. You're not ready for this, any of this, and it has very little to do with Sean. I hope that sometime in the near future, you will get out of your own way and let love find you and embrace it when it comes. You deserve it, baby."
We stood, momentarily holding hands, staring into each other's eyes. Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming sadness. As I ogled him, observing his bloodshot eyes fill with tears, my heart ached all over again. A sense of mourning consumed me like a car being sucked into the funnel of a tornado. With the tip of my thumbs, I wiped away the fallen tears from his eyes. I too began to cry for a love that was perfect at the wrong time. In my heart of hearts, I was well aware that this love would surely be one I would regret losing.
Landon released my hands, turned on his heels and walked away, never looking back.

Purchase link: 

Is there a general theme present in your work? If so, what is it?
Yes, there is. People tend to think that there is a time limit on mourning. They presume that, if you move on too quickly it would mean that they didn’t really love the person as much as they believed, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Such as in this story. You may not be ready for it, but you’ll find it’s what you need to help mend the broken pieces.

Who would you say is your target audience?
18-year-old and older.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
With every project, I hope to encourage. My goal is to give the reader a story not only to entertain but to inspire them in some way. There always has to be a meaning for me or else what’s the sense in writing?

What is one thing you wish you had known about this industry that would have made your journey easier?
I wish I would have researched the industry more, learned what publishing entailed before self-publishing my first book. Knowledge is definitely power. Preparing myself before starting would have saved me a lot of heartache, money, and aggravation.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
I would say, don’t give up no matter how hard it gets. To me, writing is not easy, nor is the publishing process. You’ll find that you may not have the support you think you should have from family and friends and that can be discouraging, but you must be your own loudest cheerleader. Belief in yourself is what is going to push harder to strive for greater things. Always remember that not everyone will like your work and sometime the feedback can be devastating. Take the good as well as the bad. Use the negative as a tool to help you improve your skills.

If there was one message you could get across to your readers from your most recent book, what would it be?
That you can’t run from what’s meant to be. There’s a blessing in every situation and there is a reason for being in each other’s lives.

What do you find easiest about writing?  Hardest?
Well, unlike many other authors, I don’t find writing easy at all. I can’t say I’m going to sit down and write every day. I am not one of those writers. The words do not come to me that easily. The most difficult part I would say would have to be the editing process.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is when I’m so into the story I feel the emotions as if I’m living in that moment. I literally feel as though I have taken on the identity of that character. It feels real. So for a few moments I get to escape from my reality.

What books have you written?
My recent works include: A Journey Through The Window of My Soul, The Journey Continues, Drama in the Bricks, The Other Side Of Me, Changing The Game 1,2,3, Misty's Blues, Not Like My Mama, and I Can Love You Past Your Pain.

What makes your current release special?
This book is special because it is so full of emotions. It covers everything from love, sacrifice etc. It also lets a person know that no matter what life throws your way, you can survive.

What genres do you currently write?  Are there any others you’d like to try?
Contemporary African American Fiction, Romance, Poetry, Urban Life. I would like to try my hand at the supernatural.

What is your next book project?  When can we expect it?
I am currently working on two projects. One is Noelle’s which is the second book in the Falling In Love With Christmas Series. The other is I Chose You, Choose Me which is an Interracial Romance novel about a firefighter and a school teacher.

How do you handle negative reviews? Is it ever okay for an author to lash out at readers for an unflattering review?
It isn’t the negative reviews that bothers me. It’s the personal attacks on the authors. I will say my first negative review made me want to lash out. It was because the reader made it personal. I agree you spend your hard earned money you have a right to say how displeased you are with a product, but give some insight on why you didn’t like it and that’s it.

What lessons have you learned since your first book was published?
I’m still learning how important editing is. It will make or break you. It’s hard finding a good, professional and affordable editor. A lot of self-published authors can’t afford the quotes they are given. People say invest in yourself. Writers would like nothing more than to be able to have the best quality work, but if you don’t have it what do you do?

How do you encourage yourself to keep going during those times when you are frustrated and want to throw in the towel?
Believing that I am a great writer helps me to push past all that. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to give up, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, but I’m a great story teller and the way these characters carry on in my mind I must make them come to life.

If you could have a conversation with one of your characters who would it be and what would you say?
I would have had a conversation with Noelle. I would tell her that allowing someone new into your world doesn’t mean you love Sean any less, and that everything has a time and season. Landon was God sent and should be accepted in spite of what she thought the reactions of others would be. I would praise her for taking on such a huge task of raising a child that was not her own. They didn’t see it in the beginning, but Noelle, Landon and Lyric all needed each other.

Follow Tonya on social media: Barber

Tonya, thank you for taking the time to share your passion, your writing, your insight with us. We wish you continued literary success!

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Book Review: Worth the Drive by Mara Jacobs

Worth the Drive by Mara Jacobs

Katie is the breathtakingly beautiful one in the trio of friends she has shared a lifetime with. But being beautiful is not all it is imagined to be. After years of friendship and marriage to her longtime love, Ron, have come to an end, Katie finds herself devastated and needing to redefine her life. A simple pleasures type of woman, all she’s ever wanted was a committed marriage and a child of her own. The toll of infertility has stressed her marriage beyond the breaking point, sending her husband into the arms of another woman. As her dream of lifelong marriage and parenthood come to a screeching halt, Katie finds herself depressed, disillusioned and broken. Living in the small town where everyone knows, and discusses, everyone else’s business certainly doesn’t help matters.

A business opportunity comes up for her friend Lizzie. In an act of intervention meant to save Katie from herself, she travels with Lizzie to get away and soak up some rays in Texas. It is there that she meets Dario, a sports figure whose career she has followed for years. The attraction is instant, the connection real, but neither is looking for anything beyond the now and are startled by what they feel for each other.

Dario, the Spanish golfer, is a man of great talents, although not a man of many words. His gracious ways and lilting accent lure Katie right in. He seems to be just what she needs to get out of the rut she’s been in since parting with her husband. Will a chance encounter be enough for these two, or will they find themselves wanting much more than a one-time connection?

In book 2 of the Worth series, Mara Jacobs has written yet another tantalizing story that grabs a reader’s attention and holds it until the end. I love the depth of her characters and how she makes the reader embrace their humanity. They are flawed, broken, insecure, beautiful, foolish, complex and so very relatable. She writes in such a way that a reader has a multitude of emotions for the characters, at times eliciting great regard for them, while at other times wanting reach through the pages to shake them for their actions. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, definitely worth a 5-star rating.

Reviewed by Tumika Patrice Cain

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Book Review: RETURNED by Marlon McCaulsky

Returned by Marlon McCaulsky

Tragedy has been a part of Ben’s life since he was just a young boy, when his parents went missing and were never found. Although he was loved and cared for, the burden of not knowing whether his parents were dead or alive has taken a toll on him. Years later he is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. As he fights for his life, he pushes away all of his friends, knowing that inevitably death is coming. An experimental treatment in New York is his only hope of surviving. However, circumstances go intensely awry and he ends up the only survivor and key suspect of what happened on that flight. With only a few memories of what happened, he goes in search of the one person who he believes can help him make sense of what has happened. What he discovers is enough to make him think he’s lost his mind. He discovers that blessings and miracles come in unexpected packages, but will he believe enough to embrace what is before him?

Marlon McCaulsky is a very versatile writer. This short work of sci-fi is well written and engaging from start to finish. The characters are relatable, the element of emotions is almost tangible. Even though some details of the story are ‘other worldly,’ it’s very easy to see oneself in the role of any of the characters. McCaulsky sheds light on how quick we are as people to destroy what we do not understand, and how the need to conqueror overrides our innate sense of compassion far too often. As with his signature way of writing, he’s included layers of self-reflection and accountability. I would love for this to have gone more in depth, but all in all, Returned, is a very satisfying read.

5 stars

Reviewed by Tumika Patrice Cain