Reviews

I’m an eclectic reader, and all of my reviews are on Goodreads and Amazon.  Here is just a summary of some of the books I’ve gotten around to reviewing which I’ll try to keep updated.

If you’d like me to read a book, please in-box me, especially if it is in the AARomance or IRRomance genre.  I’m always happy to read a good romance! #JustLove

L.S.Bergman Reviews 2015-2016:

Choose me by Kim Golden tells the story of Jess a black girl from Philly who while studying in Edinburgh has a chance meeting with Chris, a white photographer also hailing from her US hometown. It’s love at first sight for both of them, and although they pursue their relationship abroad with gusto, Jess begins to develop serious doubts about their chances of surviving as a mixed race couple once they return to the USA. Kim builds these interracial tensions really well in her storytelling, drawing on a wealth of detail and subtle nuances about Scottish culture, and the interplay and tensions of racial difference, which pulls at the reader’s heartstrings. You empathize with Jess’s struggle to either follow her heart or give into the perceived pressures of conformity she interprets around her. I found myself feeling the pain of this frustrated love, where, on the one hand, you want to shout at Jess for being a coward, and curse Chris out for not having more balls to fight for what he wants. Beautifully told and illustrated, with lovely attention to the details of the living abroad experience, this is a rich read with a very sweet climax! This was my first Kim Bolden book, but it definitely won’t be my last!

 

Sister you are more than your assETS, Angelia Menchan I started reading ‘Sister you are more than your assETS’ late one night, and couldn’t put it down!!! You know that feeling when a truth and a refreshingly honest writing style just grabs your attention and holds it. Well, I sure had that experience with this book. Angelia Vernon Menchan shares her wisdom through a series of personal real-life stories. With each offering, the reader immediately senses both the genuine love, behind everything this author is trying to convey, and her wisdom. She’s so sincere about all of her experiences and intimate with her pain regarding the experience and role of black women that I could sympathise with so much of what she was saying. We’ve all seen, had or heard of similar stories in our own lives. But it is refreshing to listen to Angelia’s wise words of awareness, devoid of condescension or bitterness. This author embraces her worthy cause with openness of heart and courage. Young women generally are under an awful lot of pressure today, but young black women? It is so hard for some to realize the importance of self-love, self-respect and their own ability…we are all gifted in whichever way! In this worthwhile read, Angelia Vernon Menchan offers her best intentions to help young women on their way, with light, warmth, humble sincerity and just plain goodness! I love this book!!!

IA Initiate by John Darryl Winston This is the story of Naz, an 11 year old boy growing up in the Exclave a semi-fictional place in urban America. This book is so rich and full of complicated twists and turns, I found myself struggling to write this review. How not to do this book an injustice? Where to start?

Well, I can start with, “I loved it.”

Poverty, struggle, gangs, drugs, economic decay, family breakdown and domestic violence, this is what Naz and his sister witness all around them on a daily oppressive basis. Naz’s outward existence is one of constant struggle in a heartless world, the Exclave. Yet, Naz himself manages to remain so full of heart, a true hero from the start.

The reader is drawn immediately to Naz’s character. I loved Naz’s goodness and his honest desire to stay out of trouble, keep to the straight and narrow, in his broadening search for the meaning of all the mysterious things that are happening to him.

In my mind, his ability to achieve a way out from the Exclave is never in doubt, but it is Naz who doesn’t quite recognize his own special ability and struggles for clarity in a sea of doubt. You find yourself totally empathizing with his crappy situation and his hidden talents. You are rooting for him from the first to succeed and get his stuff together for him and his sister to be able to create a better life.

The weird and the wonderful, the downright despicable and offensive, the soft and the sweet; every unwinding moment of Naz’s turbulent life is accepted by our hero with heartwarming honesty and humility. He knows he’s not crazy. He trusts he’ll figure himself out. And, when he does, it is a beautiful thing to behold.

Winston’s clever use of Sections to define this Exclave and the feeling of societal control and the importance of strong ties has an Orwellian touch, with a dash of the Hunger Games imagery. The Exclave is painted as a “Godforsaken place”. Winston’s writing is exceptional, as is his descriptive talents and attention to detail, his effective use of shifting timelines, draws the reader deeper into Naz’s painful history, his complicated strategies of urban survival with a suspense-filled supernatural twist. You can’t help but empathize with Naz as he undergoes this personal awakening, finding his own voice, along with an unknown courage and power, the likes of which make his sister, the feisty Meri , proud.

The IA Initiate by John Darryl Winston is thought-provoking on so many levels. It is a challenging, enjoyable read which will have you reflecting for days! But, don’t take my word for it, I recommend you read it for yourself!

Untenable by D. Simone Joseph This book was recommended on an on-line Book Club, and my interest was immediately sparked. As a massive music lover, and rap/hip-hop fan, I love to read real-life dramas concerning love in the music industry. ‘Untenable’ tells the familiar tale of the strains and stresses in trying to hold down a steadfast relationship with a megastar rapper. Except, this novel has a nice angle, and that for me was the catch.

It was the storytelling, the writing.

D. Simone Joseph’s voice is authentic and engaging throughout. Her writing delves into the complex character which is Eli, The Prophet, his rise from college graduate to megastar rapper, and his long-standing relationship with college first-love beau Hope, a science graduate and successful entrepreneur. She tells this story with a lot of heart and intelligence.

The relationship between Hope and Elijah grabbed me for several reasons.

Firstly, I liked that Hope was all woman, beautiful, soft and warm, but definitely no push-over. She has a kind of Zen strength throughout the book, and you can’t help but root for her through all of her pain. Usually in these kinds of stories, there’s so much star-gazing going on, where the woman is always the inferior party, economically and intellectually to the celebrity lover. While Hope is not famous, she is a together, intelligent, career-woman who is going places.

Secondly, I loved how Eli is anchored to Hope, no matter what. He may be promiscuous, but the ways in which the writer manages to show Eli’s honest portrayal of his own flaws while animating Hope’s tolerance, not as a weakness but as a strength, is very well done. It brings a lot of empathy to both characters.

The love between Eli and Hope is beautifully illustrated with the use of lots of shifting timelines. The storytelling is humble, unpretentious and warmhearted, and not suffering from any arrogance or cockiness. It was a refreshing read in the art of keeping it real, with a well-fleshed out understanding of the rap/superstar lifestyle. This writer definitely has soul, and you feel it on every page. So all you readers who like a good bad-boy rap story with a sweet HEA, I can only recommend this great read.

Purity, by Jonathan Franzen Jonathan Franzen’s, ‘Purity’ is an incredible and challenging read.

It is a work which attacks general ideas of individual identity and idealism with a very broad net. Typical for Franzen his interwoven characters are not particularly likeable but challenging, enthralling and realistic at many levels.

In Purity, Franzen is going up against different notions of social narrative and construction and how this reaches its vain extremity through the modern-day internet, but also earlier through all-pervasive political structures, and forms of control.

Who controls us? Is it a messed up parent or two, who frankly may have their own ghostly neurosis to blame? Or is it societal conditioning, whether political pursuits like Communism come into play, or the modern day search for popularity or ‘likes’ on social media channels. And the flip side of his argument is that in the end, whether at the hands of the Stasi or buried in the cyber cloud;

No personal secrets are safe.

Franzen challenges and totally deconstructs, then bins youthful idealism, and other broad metaphors of our time, especially in his character ‘Pip’ Purity Tyler. She has it all; a kooky intelligent mother with secrets, no idea of her father, cash-poor, longing for a man and a cause. Pip is sweet, likeable, identifiable but adrift. Her quest to find her father, to figure her life out, castes her into the hands of Andreas Wolf, a famous Wikileaks Assange-like character with the capability of finding her father.

Yet, with Franzen, things are rarely that simple.

He then draws you into Andreas Wolf’s own messed-up upbringing in Stasi controlled East Berlin in the lead-up to the fall of the Wall. Franzen explores similar themes with Wolf’s character, a very sickly and psychologically troubling relationship with his beautiful mother, a father who is ‘big-up’ in the Communist regime, with a son, the charismatic Andreas, intent on shining a mirror or ‘Sunlight’ onto all of the shams, and hypocrisy he sees around him.

Then add to this, Annagret and Katya, Leila, Tom and Annabel, and finally back to Pip. His characters’ stories, each contained in mostly independent sections, all make you feel as messed-up or less-messed up as you go along…so, empathetic is the word I’m searching for, in a non-judgmental kind of way as the complex interwoven story unfolds.

The moral? Does there have to be one?

Well, without giving anything away, I think it’s deconstructing the whole notion of ‘Purity’. Purity is a theme which returns at many levels through this work. Aren’t we all flawed in some way? Everyone has a secret hidden somewhere behind a certain well-orchestrated personal identity, even though we work so hard to maintain our socially acceptable guises in daily life. He deconstructs this well, as he does class but if I have to find sticking points, for me, it would be these two.

Racial difference is given a feeble peppered mention, Hispanic hints in Ramon, for example at the beginning. But there is no large character other than the reporter Leila with any juicy ‘ethnic otherness’. Racial difference is generally peripheral. It’s not Franzen’s preferential area of focus here. He tells the cultural ‘human’ story, like Andreas’s German mother’s link to the UK, with an enthralling historical ‘cultural’ twist.

The second down side for me was the general characterization of women. The women in Purity were generally all terribly manipulative, sexually and psychologically, and the ones that weren’t bailed out quick, like Colleen, with Pip being the only sort of middle-ground. His female characters are all presented as victims with unknown superhero powers to mess totally with the heads of the men they encounter. Hmm, thanks a lot! Anyway, even in this regard, Franzen made me think, got me flustered, needing to put down the book for a day or two, and so on…

Purity is Franzen at his best though. It is a fierce, fast-paced novel. There’s murder, a complicated unraveling plot spanning different geographical locations, torturous psychological intrigue, a lot of sex, and also humor.

Franzen’s writing remains exceptional as always, well thought-out and researched. You may not agree with him, but frankly I don’t think he cares or wants you to. He triggers you to think, and to question. And, for that, Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’ has discussion points a dozen!

22” Rae Lamar I really enjoyed “22” by Rae Lamar. It was a sweet “starting-over” story for Nina who, having uprooted herself from a heart wrenching experience in Atlanta, has moved to Florida and has ended up working in a gift shop in a classy resort.

Nina is lonely, still in pain from her previous relationship. And, despite wanting to find someone, she is still haunted by guilt and the feeling that no-one would be able to fill the void in her heart.

Nina’s big sister, Faith, has also given her a gift of a roommate as company, Krissy, her feisty niece, who they are sort of co-parenting together. Due to Faith and Nina’s age difference as sisters, Krissy is more like a little sister to Nina, a little sister with serious spunk. I really enjoyed the sisterly banter between Nina and Krissy, and the role change as Krissy gives Nina the ‘confidence’ push she needs to engage herself, when a gorgeous stranger (Dean) comes calling!

Rae Lamar tells the love story, between Nina and Dean, well, with humor, sensuality and warmth. The plot is full of playful twists, which I enjoyed, although I did get a little confused at times. In any case, I really liked Rae Lamar’s imagination and writing style and look forward to checking out more of her work in the future.

Getting Schooled by Christina C. Jones So, what is Reese’s perfect ‘trifecta’ in a man?

In her mind it is a man who is fine, intellectual and a little bit rude. As a bright grad assistant, working under her professor mother’s reputable academic umbrella, Reese crosses paths unexpectedly with Jason.

Ex-military, bright and academically driven, not to omit ‘beyond fine’; Jason is a mature grad student with a difference. He possesses everything Reese has been searching for in a man, even though she is too hard-headed at first to admit it.

This is a meeting of equals, and every encounter infuriates, challenges and excites. Neither party is particularly used to backing down or giving in. Their mutual obstinacy, previous traumas, matched with an irrepressible attraction for each other are some of the sides that need to be handled in order to give their budding attraction for each other the chance of making it to the next level, ‘a full-blown relationship’.

This was another engaging, well-written, and enjoyable read from Christina C. Jones. I relished Jason’s revelation, but I don’t want to be a spoiler here, so you’ll just have to read the book! Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see an author willing to grapple with a difficult issue like this, while still being able to integrate it in an empowering unapologetically sexy way into the love story.

Loving Gianni by Nikki Walker I enjoyed ‘Loving Gianni’ by Nikki Walker. This was an easy read, with a nicely styled IR relationship between London, a talented self-employed professional organizer, and Gianni Rossellini, a relative of her employee, with whom London has agreed to help restore an elderly aunt’s neglected estate into some semblance of order.

The attraction between London and Gianni is immediate, charged and sexy. The storyline was unusual and interesting, and I enjoyed watching the chemistry unfold between the two. The dialogue and general writing style was very sound.

If there was one personal sticking point, I found her prose was sometimes a little long. I would have preferred the author to have let her characters do more of the ‘showing’ instead. In any case, this is more of a stylistic preference than a criticism. I liked the amount of thought, originality and depth which went into this story.

Loving Gianni is a commendable read. It was my first Nikki Walker book, but it certainly won’t be my last.

The Right Time, Delaney Diamond I am always excited by a new Delaney Diamond release, and ‘The Right Time’ more than delivered.

‘The Right Time’ tells the story of Ransom Stewart, a high-powered lawyer stuck in a treadmill of ambition as he seeks to make partner in the law firm, and Sophie Bradshaw, a stewardess struggling to sort her own conflicted feelings out in an unfulfilling rocky relationship.

Ransom is a handsome workaholic, with a touch of the bad boy player about him, and the last thing he was looking for on a trip down to the Bahamas was getting really caught up in a woman. A chance meeting on a flight thrusts Ransom in Sophie’s path, and nothing could have prepared either of them for the chemistry of that unexpected encounter.

Serendipity is a funny thing.

After a second unexpected re-connection everything between Sophie and Ransom seems destined to be. However, life is rarely that easy. Throw in a reappearance of Sophie’s high-powered boyfriend into the mix, along with other interesting twists, and the reader is hooked to see this one out!

The author’s use of dialogue is excellent throughout, as it drives forward the storyline, letting the characters come to life through their own personalities. Although the reader suspects what is coming, I enjoyed the twists and turns, as the author manages to add further layers of uncertainty and tension. This is clever writing, although I could have done without one of the extra high-points! It sure did get the reader impatient though, and frustrated with the toing and froing between Sophie and Ransom. I kept strategizing in my head and hoping for the HEA!

Delaney Diamond’s writing is modern, bold and adventurous. I especially like her use of international settings, mix of different cultures and varied backgrounds. She does this well, with sensitivity, without layering it on too thick.

Sophie’s bi-racial background, this time with a black highly intellectual dreadlocked father, and an open-minded ‘alternative-thinking’ white mother, is also a refreshing complement to the depth and breadth of maturity within the AA and IR genre. The author does a great job in speaking to and including this broader discourse.

So, another very cool, satisfying read, with the reappearance of some familiar characters, some hot scenes and nicely interwoven touches. Congrats Delaney Diamond, I really enjoyed and highly recommend, The Right Time!

Always in My Heart, A.C. Arthur I didn’t expect to like Always in My Heart as much as I did, but all of my pre-conceived notions were quickly cast aside in the first few pages!

The thing about this story that really did it for me was the perfect balance between a kind of unique romantic possibility, yet one which remained believable due to just the right sprinkling of depth.

Eva is a beautiful young black woman with a treasure chest of hidden talents. The course of her troubled life has forced her to put her desires, such as her artistic ambitions, to the side, with her other gift of dancing becoming a functionary necessity to pay the ills.

Eva is a stripper at a slightly sleazy strip-club TEASE. Her best friend and now ex-fellow-stripper, Kenya, has moved into the role of professional ‘call-girl’ at a fancy new luxurious gentlemen’s club, The Corporation. Both beautiful women share a deep friendship and an appreciation of the bumpy road which has got them to where they are.

Tagging along as an observer one night to spy on Kenya’s new gig at The Corporation, Eva didn’t expect to be propositioned by a gorgeous guest, nor did she expect to find herself impossibly drawn to the man.

Rico Bennett is a wealthy entrepreneur from a large successful family who is committed to his work , so much so that his private life remains jilted and stubbornly single. When Rico takes up an offer to check-out The Corporation one night, he figures he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. But, when his path crosses Eva’s, he knows he’s in trouble.

A passionate romance ensues which is immediate, sexy and warm.

Rico is the guy that immediately recognizes this diamond in the rough, and refuses to let Eva go, choosing instead to believe in her potential, her gifts, and see his ability to offer her a means of nurturing them both.

Eva seems to spark something fundamental in Rico’s soul, and the love satisfaction Rico feels for Eva is both addictive and healing to his own unfortunate track record with women.

Rico becomes convinced Eva is the one.

A.C. Arthur does a brilliant job with creating two strong, well-rounded, characters. I really liked Eva from the start. She was bright and determined, definitely not a push-over, but also unafraid to show her humble and vulnerable sides. She’s been dealt a tough pack of cards in life, but remains driven, optimistic and relatively untouched by bitterness.

Rico, despite his savvy business acumen and swagger, has this warmth and vulnerability about him which Eva manages to draw out further. You instantly like and end up rooting for both of them, hoping that they’ll be able to hold it together and sort their troubled situation out.

When tragedy strikes, A.C. Arthur grapples very well with the topic of police brutality and unlawful killings by law enforcement officers. There are strong present-day echoes of the Black Lives Matter campaign. This is a socially and politically charged theme, which the author manages to treat in a morally sensitive and very humane, well-thought-out, way.

This novella was a very pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect it to be such a page turner. It had just the right amount of context to keep you hooked, with strong likeable characters and well-edited prose. I really liked A.C. Arthur’s plotline, the twists and turns, and her writing style. I can only encourage any enthusiastic romance reader to give it a read. Always in My Heart will not disappoint…I loved it!

She was Born with a Veil, Angelia Vernon Menchan Miss Menchan tells a sweet story of second chances, forgiveness and starting over for Arnia. Arnia Watson’s return home to bury her late godmother, Ava, ends up more than ruffling a few feathers. Intelligent and beautiful, Arnia’s re-connection with past acquaintances leads to her decision to renovate elements of her late Grandmother’s home, in the process of which Arnia is repeatedly thrown into the unexpected path of handsome and single Melton.

I loved the attraction between Arnia and Melton, and I was especially taken with Arnia’s special gift, which is a kind of clairvoyance that she was born with. Arnia is able to read thoughts and see things. Her observations help mold a character who is confident. For, even though Arnia has returned to bid farewell to her closest relative, she manages to keep a steady hold on her emotions while also taking the re-kindling of old ties in stride.

Arnia Watson is a woman who knows what she wants, and knows her own strengths, and doesn’t have time for those who dwell on an overly sentimental slant to life. Arnia sees things clearly, and shows courage in her choices and her ability to move forward with her life. The author does a great job in weaving her strengths into rich and compelling dialogue.

She was born with a Veil is a solid and engaging read, with pretty descriptive flourishes and a large dose of wholesomeness thrown in to boot. I very much enjoyed following Arnia and Melton’s story and look forward to reading more of this prolific author’s work in the near future.

Significant Others Sandra Kitt This story held me, sucked me in and then blossomed into this broad, detailed stage. Significant Others could easily have been two or three books. It is a well-written love story between Patricia, a school counselor, and Morgan, a high-powered corporate executive and divorced single father. When Patricia intervenes to support Morgan’s biracial teenage son’s difficulties in fitting-in at his new school, their attraction for each other sets in motion a beautiful friendship. This book has a host of other interesting characters as well, along with their significant backstories, which the reader gets to know along the way, making the book a very rich read.

Sandra Kitt weaves complex themes into the narrative, grappling with a host of engaging issues from teen development, single-parenting and the complexities of the biracial adult and youth race experience. The later theme really grabbed me. The author deals eloquently with the in-betweeness of race and builds an authentic understanding off some of the issues of inclusion and exclusion involved, along with the compromises and emotional urges of belonging neither exclusively to one race or another. Interesting stuff. This was an enjoyable read, worthy of 4.5 stars.

Finding Kennedy, Jacinta Howard Well, I struggled with this review because I was going to preach and gush, I really was! This book, Finding Kennedy. This author, Jacinta Howard. They’re just both that darn good!

Yup, that’s it. No flowery words, no verbose text. None of that is necessary here. Besides, if I had to describe all that I liked about this book it would take too long.

Jacinta uses her ‘senses’ in her writing like no tomorrow. Everything has an image, a fragrance, texture, smell, and sound. The music. Now, I’m a music lover, as Jacinta Howard evidently is as well. So, instead of , wording it out, why not try a metaphor with this review instead?

For me, you know that feeling when a friend recommends you seriously need to check-out a song you’ve never heard before. And, when you switch to the track , it runs something like this…

The intro…something about this books vibe immediately grabs you, like the riffs of the guitar (who’s the dude? OK, Travis…and believe me Jacinta’s words gonna tell you exactly how sexy and sweet his sound is), then the instrumentation comes in (the return to the band…The Prototype, old characters still doing their sensual creative thing), the base hits that chamber in your gut and resonates just before a voice like none other (who’s the chick?…the beautiful, sweet, but hurting…Kennedy) makes your spine quiver, and you are like what the…? Yup, this love story between Kennedy James and Travis Broussard is dripping in all of that sensual descriptive brilliance. It is that good.

Jacinta Howard, for me, both in the knowledgable depth and descriptive breadth of her writing, hits this story way out the park. She’s not just a brilliant perceptive writer; Jacinta Howard is a writer whose soulfullness is evident on every page.

Finding Kennedy was easily the best book I’ve read so far this year. So, how do you go about rating it? Something my eight year old would say resonated…Give it 6 out of 5 stars! And, I dare any reader not to ‘want’ to do the same.

Dawn of Aris Rae Lamar I loved this book, and its follow-up, not to mention the unique writing style. Having read several of Rae Lamar’s books, Aris’s story told in Dawn of Aris and then its follow-on The Aris Effect are my favorites so far. I am happy to say I’m a fan!

Luke and Aris, well, where to start? Luke was this gorgeous professional guy, and the unexpected attraction between him and his beautiful neighbor Aris was not only well-written, their intense ‘opposites attract’ chemistry was off-the-scale and endearing! Aris was this high-maintenance, scatter-brain creative type and although I could totally understand her, her immaturity at times was a little annoying. Luke and the rest of the fully-fleshed out characters, however, more than made up for this.

Rae Lamar is a natural writer, with a unique style, able to swiftly draw you into Luke and Aris’s world for an enjoyable, engaging sexy love story. I wasn’t bored by any aspect of this book. Both books are well-written, and so worthy of 4.5 stars!

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie This book deserves ALL of its accolades and more! I am such a fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing, but ‘Americanah’ remains my favorite work of hers.

In this novel about the migratory experience of, a young Nigerian woman, Ifemulu, in studying, working and living as a black woman in the United States, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie opens up a multifaceted and challenging discourse of race in the West, layered into a beautiful love story.

‘Americanah’ is a challenging read because it delves into many aspects of the black experience and offers an in-depth understanding of the diversity of that racial experience through a broad international lens which spans Africa, the UK and the United States. The author dares to say what needs saying. She gives a fearless unapologetic commentary of the many cultural nuances of race, the different ways in which it is projected and understood, along with the contradictions, the hypocrisy, challenging the reader to think for themselves and join her in being big enough and bold enough to examine the discussion from all sides.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s observations about the black experience, often told steeped in humor, are incredible to me. The author tells what is essentially a love story, between Ifemelu and Obinze, but with startling realism, diversity, depth and love.

‘Americanah’ is an unputdownable exemplary read from start to finish. It will bring you to the brink of tears, stir you to anger, and tickle you to laugh, often. Believe me, there is something in this amazing book for everyone. It is one of those reads that remains on my re-read shelf for those moments from time to time when you need just that pick-me-up and a bit of a reality check.

Reviews 2017:

Schooling his Son? Angelia Vernon Menchan Once again the author has delivered an engaging read which initially feels like a modern parable on the lessons and importance of fathering, but builds to a larger, more holistic, conclusion.

Kent Markham, his wife Cena and son, are the perfect family, until their only son starts to slightly derail. When Kente’s academic prowess takes a dip, and other issues arise, both father and mother begin to dissect their individual roles as parents amid the surfacing difficulties.

Material over-indulgence and the difficulties of puberty have presented themselves as challenges for both father and mother.

Determined to get a firmer hand on their teenage son, Kente, his father commits to playing a bigger role in his son’s life, recognizing a deficit in his relationship with his son, something he intends to rectify immediately.

His beautiful and intelligent wife, Cena, backs-off and agrees to support her husband taking the lead on the homefront, while she concentrates on holding down the business angle.

If only slight tweaking was enough. Relationships are rarely that simple.

For a start, Kent doesn’t know the meaning of half-measures. Pouring everything into guiding and supporting his son, with all of his father-son time, effectively means less time to help and support his wife. Initial successes soon become clouded by new external stresses.

Angelia Menchan demonstrates well in this story the multifaceted nature of parenting both in relation to the child and in trying to reach some sort of a consensus apropos each other as parents and lovers. The author goes to real lengths to show some of the sacrifices involved in parenting and how important it is for parents to be real partners with each other. There are many lovely intimate moments in this story between father and son, and sweet maternal flourishes which underpin what is effectively a story of familial love and the time, the effort and, ultimately, the amount of love and trust needed to hold a family together.

Naughty Girls, Kya Chronicles, Author Deep 4.5 stars!! This was one hot read! Fanning. Okay, so I don’t read a lot of erotica, but I do enjoy to dip in now and then, except when it came to Kya that was an understatement. I enjoyed this steaming ‘hot’ contribution by a new author writing in this erotic milieu. From the outset, the reader is thrust into Kya’s world, a world of potent sexual frolics , a rollercoaster ride of hook-ups with lovers ensuing, many streams of pleasure flowing, and all synonomous with the characterization of a woman who is intent upon having ‘it’ and whose pleasure seeking doesn’t pause to catch a breath. This is a sexy read that will titillate the reader to join the author on an erotic journey through the art of pleasure seeking, dispelling of all parameters, to allow the free-flowing intentions of a liberated woman intent on living her times, her truth and her game … her way – repercussions be damned!

The Hand of Fatima, Ildefonso Falcones ‘The Hand of Fatima’ was a simply epic book, made all the more real and entralling as I read it while recently touring Moorish Spain. Falcones’ historical knowledge is astounding. His writing vividly brings to life the sophistication and brutal fall from power of Moorish civilisation, its conflict and takeover by the rise of the Christian kingdom and the gains and losses encapsulated within the terrifying reign of the Spanish Inquisition. This book feels a lot like an ‘academic’ love story, played out between the hero Hernando and his beautiful love, Fatima. Hernando’s mixed ethnicity and belief spans both sides of the conflict, both Christianity and Islam. His character perfectly brings out many aspects of this clash of civilisation and the intense spiritual and political struggles involved. Amidst much brutality, Falcones paints an incredibly detailed backdrop for a beautiful love story to unfold that has the reader acquiring what feels like a comprehensive historical education in the process of reading. A thoroughly enjoyable 5 star read!!!

Homegoing Yaa Gyasi This is the kind of book that carries your soul! Uplifting. Challenging to the point of making your skin crawl, and humbling in its sheer grandeur. I mean, I started writing a long-winded review for this book several times but each time I gave up because the words felt inadequate. I stalled and stumbled because, simply put, this book was … brilliant! The breadth and depth of ‘Homegoing’ is astounding. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read, like a long sensual stream of consciousness it possesses that perfect mix of amazing soulful writing, grit and heart-wrenching fervor, with a challenge to the reader – to get to know your history. Respect. This author is simply awe-inspiring, the scale of the project so praise-worthy. She ‘outs’ many truths about slavery and the transatlantic slave trade and the development of a new country, the United States of America, that are oft uncomfortable, all weaved through the descendants of two sisters. She does this with incredible skill. In my opinion, 5 stars is simply inadequate. This is a ‘must’ read. It’s just that darn good!! I loved this book and this author’s writing voice!!!