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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The Athlete Student: Sophomore Year By: Eugene D. Holloman | Book Review (ARC)

*note: cover image may no be visible to all depending on device.

The Athlete Student:  Sophomore Year
Genre:Sports, Student-life, Fiction, Quick Reads
Rating: It was ok
Publisher: Holloman House Publishing
Release Date: TBD
Goodreads | Amazon |
Synopsis:

After a rocky freshman year that included outstanding production on the field, unsatisfactory performances in the classroom, an unforgettable breakup and a suspension from the biggest game in school history – Michael “Tootie” Mayberry is ready to demonstrate growth and maturity in his upcoming college sophomore year.

However, while Tootie aims to improve upon a stellar season that made him a freshman All-American. He first has to rebuild a reputation that took massive blows stemming from a cheating scandal that landed him on academic probation. With his future of becoming a professional athlete hanging in the balance, how will Tootie respond to the increasing demands of being a student-athlete?

 

BOOK THOUGHTS:

Much like my impression of book one in this series, Athlete Student: Freshman Year two years ago, this book was a quick and easy read. And after going over my notes for book one, it left the lingering idea in my mind that these books are meant for a much younger audience than I initially remember.

Once that seed was planted it altered my take on the book and the series. With a more critical eye than before, as I tend to think of young readers like my cousin, turning the pages of this book. The thing that strikes me the most about the author’s concept is the level of insight and approach to tell a story like Tootie’s that I am sure mirrors many who grew up in similar situations like his and who live, breathe and sleep all things football just to fall victim to pressure or into a mistake that puts their (his) entire sports career, future, and life in jeopardy.

Then, having to come back to face those obstacles all over again, but have less faith in yourself or from others than they (he) did before. There are a lot of things that make me admire Tootie’s character in that sense, with his self-centered tendencies and impulsive behavior. With the book being as short as it is and not set up by establishing all the characters as book one did, it leaves me little room to discuss much without revealing key elements of the plot.

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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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How To Wine With Your Boss: & 6 Other Tips To Fast Track Your Career By: Tiffany Yarde| Book Review

How To Wine With Your Boss: & Six Other Tips To Fast Track Your Career
By: Tiffany Yarde
Genre: Advice, Social Mobility, Wine, Career Development, Non-Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N|

Synopsis:

Fourteen years of working in highly competitive international corporations will teach a person a lot about relationships, politics, and the “natural order” of things. There’s no one way to the top of a respective field but there are tactics that many people employ to build trust and to make sure their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. “How to Wine With Your Boss” teaches you about positioning, tact, and how to tool your passions.

Wine is Tiffany’s story. For much of her career in accounting, marketing, and human resources, she has used her wine knowledge to connect with people. Inside, she takes readers through the journey of how she built relationships with colleagues who didn’t come from where she came from or necessarily saw the world through her lens. She gives readers an opportunity to build professional development skills while demystifying “wine enthusiasm” and potentially helping readers gain a new curiosity on the subject. People don’t grow in isolation; they grow with other people, so join Tiffany on this wine trip through grape regions, styles, and wine parties. While on the road, she’ll share the bumps she hit, and the resilience she fostered along the way

Book Review:

 

I loved reading How To Wine With Your Boss; the author covers a ton of helpful and relevant topics from mentors to networking, confidence building, finding a professional and personal balance in life, corporate culture, micro-aggression and of course a number of useful details about wine.

With the few topics I specifically want to draw attention to from this book, I first wanted to say how great I felt every subject covered in this book was–from start to finish. Simply because Yarde offers insightful, helpful, and motivational material with a genuinely sincere and honest tone. Moreover, written in a gender-neutral manner as to not isolate potential readers, making it the perfect book to share with my brothers and all of my friends.

A Book For Everyone:

How To Wine With Your Boss should, in my opinion, go on the ultimate list of books to have/read when you are looking for something that will help you to revamp your career and professional networking approach, self-confidence, self-evaluation or you if just want a light-hearted, crash course on wine–this would be the book for you.

Whether you are an intern or a pretty “seasoned” professional in the career world, it is the kind of book you might find yourself rereading, memorizing or carrying around with you long after reading it (like I did).

On a personal level, How To Wine With Your Boss felt like the perfect book suited to my lifestyle and career as a freelancer but with the next-step-guide, I need to transition into a new career venture. Reading this book also felt like a personal journey that would have been detrimental to my twenty-three-year-old-self trying to find her way a few years ago.

Pat Yourself On The Back, You’ve Earned It:

As Yarde’s steps and proposed accomplishment journal idea definitely felt like a self-journey an eye-opener for me as she discusses how branding or re-branding yourself to put your best career-foot forward is by putting your best self forward by showcasing your gifts, skills, and passions. Which is where the accomplishment journal comes in to play as it allows you to put all of the obstacles or goals you have already conquered in front of you, on to a page, that may have gone unrealized.

And it doesn’t have to be work/career centered accomplishments but personal, little ones–even from daily, weekly and yearly to-do lists–that you put down. When I started to do this, I was amazed by how long the list and my entries became in just a short time. This practice of accomplishment journaling with the physical representation of measuring one’s worth, value and potential will stick with you long after finishing the book.

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The Athlete Student: Freshman Year By: Eugene Holloman | Book Review & Scholarship Opportunity!??

Title:The Athlete Student: Freshman Year
Genre: Sports, Student-life, Fiction
Rating: 3.5
Release Date: February 1st 2018
Synopsis:
High school senior Michael “Tootie” Mayberry has a dream of becoming a professional football player—but he faces one obstacle, COLLEGE.  Over 480,000 student-athletes like Michael “Tootie” Mayberry want to play professionally, but less than 3.5% will. They train hard, planting and watering the mental seed that tells them they will reach the pinnacle of their sport. In the process, they often pick the easiest major available, and after graduation, they pay for it.

HOW DO STUDENT-ATHLETES GET TO THIS POINT?

Join “Tootie” Mayberry as he embarks on his college career, balances the stresses of high-level performances on the field and in the classroom, and fights through other challenges student-athletes face.

 

BOOK REVIEW:

My first impression of this book was that it read like a novella because it was not an extremely long story and that it was passable for as an upper-middle school appropriate book for the most part. However, the author was able to touch on a lot of different scenarios as to how life as an athlete in school can be a huge challenge and a bit of a burden.

Such as the pressure to be good, to stand out, to stick to your guns and your passion; on top of the pressure from the media can affect you when aspects of your life start to unravel. With all that being said, I would have liked it if there were better pacing and resting periods in between each issue/obstacle that Tootie faced in this story. The reason for that is because it began to feel like everything was happening all at once the closer I got to the end and it made processing it all (and Tootie’s reactions) a bit difficult.

I think I should also mention that I am NOT a sports person by any means. Which is why I really liked the insight this book gave me about the high school to college football experience; from picking the perfect school or what might feel like the perfect school possibly feels like for athletes. As well as just how much they are pushed, both physically and mentally, in school with having such a rigorous schedule separate from the academic side of college.

Just from my personal experience, I knew and felt the pressure of the projects, test, papers, and studying. So, this book was really an eye-opener. It was also great to see the way Tootie’s s character instantly knew what college was right for him based on his personal aspirations for the future contrasted to the different ideas and expectations from nearly everyone else in his life perceived for the future. Tootie seemed to see those options as “safe” and “basic” schools, which I could really respect because he had something to prove, but at the same time, it gives Tootie a tough and maturing life lesson to learn and experience all on his own.

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Unforgivable Love By: Sophfronia Scott | Review

Unforgivable Love: A Retelling of Dangerous Liaisons
By: Sophfronia Scott
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Retellings, Romance,
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Synopsis:

“A dazzlingly dark and engaging tale full of heartbreak, treachery, and surprise.” – Kirkus

In this vivid reimagining of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it’s the summer when Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball’s color barrier and a sweltering stretch has Harlem’s elite fleeing the city for Westchester County’s breezier climes, two predators stalk amidst the manicured gardens and fine old homes.

Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she craves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.

Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.

But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her worst mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.

BOOK REVIEW:

Unforgivable Love is a retelling of the classic Les Liaisons Dangerous, but I’m not familiar with the original story. What I do know is that this book is filled with this laid-back, passionate and vibrant imagery elegance from start to finish. The love and details of music associated with Harlem and the rippling complexity of each of the characters draw a number of favorable points for this book.

Besides being set in one of my favorite eras, I found that the cockiness of the main characters was something that really kept me hooked almost right away because their confidence and self-assurance was not only entertaining but intriguing; almost daringly pulling the reader into their games with them. Likewise, the characters brought an infectious intensity, twists and at times bits of humor in the narrative.  Like others will, I’m sure,  I really loved the well laid out social intrigue between Mae and her inner circle.

Underneath Mae’s calculating motives and cool demeanor, there’s a girl so hungry for love that I couldn’t help but empathize with. It is clear that the loss of her closest and dearest friend, and first true love has turned Mae against the world and the core motivations behind her plan regarding her cousin comes from a place of pride, ego, rejection and old wounds that haven’t healed around her heart.