Butterfly By: Ashley Antoinette : 😬 : | Book Review

Butterfly
By: Ashley Antoinette
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Urban Drama, Gangs, Adult Content/ Adult Fiction, Spin-off from different series,
Rating: Wasn’t for me
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: January 7, 2020

Audible | Amazon |

Synopsis:

Butterfly is the first novel in an all new series by New York Times bestselling author Ashley Antoinette!

“Run away from the boy that gives you butterflies, he’s going to break your heart.”

Morgan Atkins had been told that phrase ever since she was a little girl and still she allowed herself to fall for the boy that made her heart flutter. After losing her first love, Morgan is terrified to love again. She’s settled for a comfortable life with a respectable man. She has everything. She’s living in the lap of luxury and although she’s comfortable, she’s bored out of her mind.

When a ghost from her past blows into town, she finds herself entangled in an illicit affair. It’s wrong, but she can’t fight the butterflies he gives her and honestly, she doesn’t want to. She can’t hide the natural attraction she feels and soon, she’s so deep involved that she can no longer tell where the boundary between right and wrong lies. Her heart is telling her one thing, but her head is saying another. Morgan Atkins has always been a spoiled girl and she tries to have it all, but when she’s forced to choose between a good man and a bad boy, someone will end up hurt. Someone just may end up dead.

Morgan Atkins has been through more tragedy than one girl can bear. Will she weather this storm? Or will the ultimate heartbreak ruin her for good?

**Reviewer note: I would like to mention a warning to readers about the contents of the book: some might be triggering. As the context includes strong adult language and mature material.**

My Thoughts

Mourning the loss of her first love, Morgan tries to move on with her life a few years after heartbreak in London with her twin toddlers, and a wonderfully caring, affectionate and wealthy man who willingly stepped up for the role as their father. She has been blessed with remarkable beauty and Morgan couldn’t hope or ask for a better life. But she isn’t happy.

She knows she should be but cannot seem to put her heart into anything but her children even after being publicly and adoringly proposed to by her boyfriend, Bash.

That is until old friends from her past life and neighborhood show up and almost as if a switch is flipped, Morgan begins to question everything about her new life.

Butterfly was my first read by Ashley Antoinette, so I didn’t know what to expect to read with this book. And I have to say it was a unique experience. The premise of the book was intriguing and gave me the impression that I was going into a story of a woman showing this huge struggle emotionally between an old love and a new one but the further I went into the book the more I realized that my assumption was off base. And it left me with a perplexed reaction to the story and Morgan’s character.

While I am certain there is a BIG audience for this story style, I do not think I fit the mold. Morgan’s character has a lot of flaws, which is usually what makes a character so interesting and entertaining

But Morgan’s actions and thoughts remained in a state of constant contradiction. Not only with matters of the heart but with her children and her struggle to just be honest with herself.

Morgan claimed in the beginning that she put her children first because they were all she had in life that mattered and because they were the last real connection she had with her the love of her life and the kids’ father, Messiah.

Yet it was this detail I felt her character never actually lived up to in the narrative. In my opinion, Morgan does Morgan in Butterfly. An instance that remains true in all her decisions from beginning to end. I don’t mind self-involved characters but since I had such a hard time figuring her character out I was hoping to feel a connection with her based on the bond she had with her kids while her love-life was all in over the place but the connection wasn’t there.

In fact, I got the impression that she was happier to be without them and reconnect with her old life and friends before she had them rather than put real thought into a future love life with them factored into it, putting Bash’s wealth and status to the side, she had other means of giving the thought serious consideration. But she overlooks it.

And while I could understand her character’s impulse to default to old habits out of habit and familiarity. Driven by this repressed need to feel like herself after not dealing with or fully processing Messiah‘s death. Just to turn around and have his children on the cusps of falling into yet another serious relationship in such a short period.

We see Morgan herself call attention to these red flags with the arrival of her old friends Asia and Ahmeek. She makes the clear as day repeatedly, noting her particular attraction to Meek as being strongly tied to her grief over Messiah and lingering feelings of her past. Therefore, because of her repression and indecisiveness, I wasn’t convinced that her feelings came from a real place unlike that of Meek’s as the two grew closer—this is just an assumption on my part with the level of internal struggling Morgan’s character has in the book, it might make you wonder too.

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Awaken The Dragon By: A.C. Arthur | Book Review

Awaken The Dragon
By: A.C. Arthur
Genre:Contemporary Fiction,Sci-fi, Fantasy
Rating: It was ok
Publisher: HARLEQUIN – Carina Press

Release Date: Nov 4, 2019

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

He’s sworn to protect the very entity she was born to kill…

Next in line for the Drakon throne, Theo Masters is the most powerful half human, half dragon in the world. Royal power is the last thing he wants, however. He lives as a human and runs the Legion Security Company. But his new client—a mysterious, beautiful human from a small African village—and the unknown danger she faces may forever change the quiet life that he’s chosen.

Shola N’Gara exists to kill the dark spirit that is attempting to demolish her people. It’s her purpose and her destiny. The gorgeous protector who taunts her with his sexy voice and body is not—especially after he shifts into a magnificent black dragon with turquoise eyes.

A rise in demon activity and the brutal murders Theo’s agents have been reporting start to add up. Someone is making a play, and it’s big enough to change the course of the world as they know it. Now Shola must choose between her destiny and her heart. And Theo must decide if standing by the woman he’s fallen in love with is worth facing his father in a battle to the death.

My Overall Thoughts Were Split:

WHAT I LIKED:

Hands down, the best thing about this book is the concept of these supernatural begins and Dragonlike-demigods being in the human realm, the concept of between realms and soul identities(?!! so cool). Moreover, the fact that the characters are mainly made up of people of color and African descent with this blended incorporation of contemporary and older cultural traditions in the story represented mainly with one of the main protagonists, Shola.

All in all, it was definitely something new to me in terms of context and creativity but a lot of the time the book seemed hard to follow because key details were revealed in spotty locations or broken up by Theo and Shola’s clearly palpable, however, oddly random, sexual attraction for one another.

Romance books are still a bit of a learning curve for myself in terms of breaking down the ratio of how much context/story there tends to be in terms of the attention put towards the main couple’s relationship.  This is why I have been trying to read more of them lol,  but the attempt at these two establishing a connection that quickly with just glances felt rushed every time. If it stemmed from general curiosity or a mutual appreciation for the other’s fighter instinct perspective, for instance, then I might have been on board, but the ship seemed to sail without me.

WHAT PUT ME OFF:

While I liked the mixed elements of the supernatural world and beings coming into play within this story, by the end of the book I did not think the mixing of magic, vampires and Dragonlike-demigods/beings worked well together.

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Destination Wedding By: Jacqueline J. Holness | Book Review

Destination Wedding
By: Jacqueline J. Holness
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Friendship, Relationships, Personal Growth
Rating: It was ok
Publisher: Soon Comes Books
Release Date: Dec 3, 2019

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

Three successful best friends in Atlanta believe they are thriving in the Black Mecca. Bossy bank executive Senalda breaks down men from business to bed no holds barred. Hip hop PR guru Jarena praises the Lord and pursues married men with equal persistence. Famous and infamous radio personality Mimi fights with her fans and for the love of her on-and-off-again boyfriend.

But when an ABC News Nightline report, “Single, Black, Female — and Plenty of Company,” asks why can’t a successful black woman find a man? The friends are suddenly hyper-aware of their inclusion in the sad statistic: 42% of black women who have never been married. Like the women in the report, they are career-driven, beautiful black women living in Atlanta who have everything — but a mate. They resolve to defy the statistic by marrying in a year and have it all by tackling their goal as a project with a vision board, monthly meetings, and more. Project Destination Wedding is born. A “happily married” best friend Whitney is a project consultant.

But as the deadline ticks closer, the women wonder if they can withstand another year of looking for love in the media-proclaimed no-man’s land of Atlanta. Senalda wrests a marriage proposal from the male version of herself, but the proposal comes simultaneously with a devastating secret. Jarena unleashes hell when her call to ministry coincides with dating her married college sweetheart. Mimi faces losing her career and jail time chasing her boyfriend and marries another man in the process. Whitney’s power couple profile plummets when her husband, a pornography addict, announces he would rather pursue photography than be an MD.

Inspired by an actual Nightline report, Destination Wedding charts four women’s journeys as they discover that love is not an experiment easily confined to a timetable.

 

My Thoughts

Despite my ill-favored thoughts on this book at the present, I do think it is a book that I will re-read in the future due to the possibility that I might be able to connect with its context on a more personal level. Moreover, I will say that the tones of the popular TV shows Sex and The City, and Girlfriends were fairly prominent in the story as we got to know the main characters, Senalda, Whitney, Jarena and Mimi, in this book better.

While I liked the concept and motivation behind this book, I could not fully get into the story. Regardless of how much we learn about each of the main characters and the struggles within their love and personal lives. I do love that this book is about these powerful, even insecure but strong-spirited women of color trying to pursue the best aspects of their lives as well as love. They are quirky, mouthy, smart, sassy and vulnerable at time, making them that much more relatable.

Besides the hook for the story’s synopsis, I remember hearing about the statistic and the primetime piece that sparked the inspiration for this book a few years back and was intrigued to read the author’s approach.

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Most Ardently By: Susan Mesler-Evans | Book Review

Most Ardently
By: Susan Mesler-Evans
Genre:Contemporary Fiction,YA Fiction, Retelling, LGBT Fiction
Rating: It was ok.
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Release Date: October 21, 2019

IndieBound | Amazon |

Synopsis:

Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with.

From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats — which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.

My Thoughts

For me, this book was ok. I think this is the type of book for anyone not familiar or who hasn’t read Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice to be honest. Trying to be as abstract as possible here without giving too much away (as it is technically a re-telling) I will try to stick to the things I liked about the characters and the overall tone.

First, I love that the main characters include people of color and taken out of the context of this re-telling, I know that there is another book titled Pride that came out a few years ago that does the same thing, but I haven’t made it to that one—yet.

Getting back to Most Ardently, our main character, Elisa, in this book has strong opinions about those around her. But at the same time, her character came off as a bit timid and shy while around new people and in school. Her counterpart, Darcy, on the other hand, seemed to carry that same level of indifference that we expect from the archetype of the character. And while I actually expected this, I cannot be sure if that was more upsetting, getting what I expected instead of a character more relaxed, friendly and sociable.

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Louisiana Catch by: Sweta Srivastava Vikram | Book Review

Louisiana Catch
By: Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Genre: Domestic Abuse, Drama, Self-Esteem, Personal Growth
Rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Modern History Press
Release Date: April 10,2018

IndieBound | Amazon | B&N |

Synopsis:
Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death, and her dark past, by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate an Annual Conference to raise awareness of violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium bring the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.

Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her trust in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues, both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

 

My Thoughts

In a nutshell, Louisiana Catch centers around a woman, Ahana, who has completely lost her self. She just got out of a marriage that has caused her to break down due not only to the downward glances of those in society but also due to a secret she has never told anyone. Her ex-husband was emotional controlling and both physically and sexually abusive. The domestic abuse in Ahana’s marriage from her ex-husband still lingers around everything in her life.

And while she has the support and guidance of her strong, smart and independent mother to fall back on, that over-protectiveness and sheltered world Ahana allows her mother to place her in, only continues to hinder her. I loved Ahana’s mother; it was clear she was well respected, sweet, kind and knew her worth, but following along Ahana’s journey without her, other readers might pick up on how much influence she really had in her daughter’s life.

When we are introduced to Ahana’s character, she’s stuck at a mid-point in where she is unsure of how and in which direction to move forward in her life and unable to face or talk about her marriage and the sexual abuse.

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The Lost Ones By: Sheena Kamal | Book Review

The Lost Ones
By: Sheena Kamal
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Mystery/Thriller Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: July 25, 2017

 

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: “A brave, unflinching heroine and brave, unflinching writing add up to an extraordinary debut–highly recommended.”–Lee Child

A dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.

It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.

A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.

The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.

 

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Like A Fly On The Wall By: Simone Kelly | Book Review

Like A Fly On The Wall
By: Simone Kelly
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult Fiction
Rating: 3 stars
Release Date: July 11, 2017

 

Synopsis:

From talented debut author Simone Kelly comes this suspenseful novel that crackles with intrigue, sex, and plenty of surprises—perfect for fans of Eric Jerome Dickey and Carl Weber.

Meet Jacques Berradi. Moroccan-born and Manhattan-raised, his genuine, sexy-smooth allure goes hand in hand with a unique gift. Since Jacques was young, he has had the ability to read peoples’ energies, communicate with spirit guides, and even catch glimpses of people’s futures. Now a professional “intuitive counselor,” Jacques’s clients pay him handsomely for his insight. Unfortunately, Jacques’s psychic abilities don’t come with an off switch to tune out the world’s noise, nor do they always provide him with easy answers; recently Jacques has begun having dark, alarming dreams about his beloved father, a Moroccan immigrant who died when he was a boy.

Meet Kylie Collins, an adventurous, Miami twentysomething who is trying to find her footing after being laid off from a cushy music industry job. When a mishap brings them together, Kylie is instantly mesmerized by Jacques’s cool demeanor and intuitive abilities, and he’s captivated by her outgoing charm and breezy good looks. Seeking to learn more about her family history—including the identity of the father she’s never known—Kylie visits Jacques’s office to gain some insight about her future, and about her free-spirited and headstrong Jamaican mother, True.

But on the night that they meet, a rolling blackout cuts off power throughout Miami. Kylie and Jacques, and a few of his clients, head to the only place in the neighborhood with enough light to see: Like a Fly on the Wall Detective Agency. There, Kylie serendipitously lands herself the perfect new job as an apprentice private eye.

As partners, Jacques and Kylie are an unstoppable duo. Can Jacques’s intuition reveal the scandalous history of Kylie’s mother and father? Will Kylie’s newfound detective skills uncover evidence about the death of Jacques’s father? And will the chemistry that charges their friendship bubble over into something much, much hotter…?

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