Abandoned Property: The Eviction Chronicles Part 2 by Kai Mann

Posted on

abandonedproperty2
Publisher/Date:  Scriblical Vibez Publishing LLC, June 2013
Genre(s):  Family, Romance, Self-Love
Pages:  282
Website:  http://kai-mann.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

ABANDONED PROPERTY by Kai Mann, the sequel to 30 Day Notice, proves that losing family, money or your soul can sometimes set you on the path, for better or worse, you were destined.

30 Day Notice was Mann’s first installment in Eviction Chronicles, and it was a journal into the life of Kori Maitland. It was being literally trapped in the closet with a gun to her head that set her life in motion, leaving behind her four children to escape her boys witnessing the pain and discomfort being a lesbian trapped in a straight marriage. She knew God was steering her life to something greater. Moving from Florida to Chicago, Detroit and California, then back to Detroit, she encountered a series of trials that seriously tested her faith and sanity.

Abandoned Property continues her story, but ties in stories of five people Kori collided with on her journey, from her husband she left to the women’s she’s loved. Jerard, Darius, Jay, Layla, Karina and Coco had all in some way been discarded in some fashion, and each one’s reaction to their abandonment impacts Kori’s life.

Jerard has been left to raise four kids after Kori’s departure; Darius deals with his sexuality after his father leaves his family for drugs; Jay can’t seem to forgive her mother’s neglect; Layla is forced to begin life again after her husband skips out; Karina is facing motherhood alone; and Coco feels the ache of her mother’s rejection when she comes out at 17.

With this many characters and their separate issues, it would appear that Mann’s story would be convoluted, but that could be far from the truth. It has great focus and I could see that, just like reality, every character’s life has a unique purpose and reason for being in Property. From childhood hurts to love affairs gone wrong, their hurts are magnified and felt as the story progresses. None of these characters were cookie cutter. What Mann reveals is how their abandonments serves to either propel them forward or set them back; how each chooses to use their insecurities, daddy issues, questioning sexuality or self-doubt; and how they dump their issues onto Kori by simply leaving or staying. Some truly loved Kori; some showed their love in destructive ways.

Abandoned Property permits us to see why the people were in her life for a reason. It paints a detailed, complete picture of what Kori underwent when she moved from place to place and couldn’t find a healthy relationship. And I wanted her to find real, unconditional love. Essentially, that’s what all them were looking for. How they try to obtain it is the compelling part.

I felt like Mann really brought Kori full circle. I felt a better connection to her (although there’s still a small part of me that questions leaving her kids). The writing is more cohesive in Abandoned Property, mostly because it wasn’t all narrated by Kori as in 30 Day Notice. It’s a solid effort. Now I just need to know what’s next, Kai Mann? I wonder what the future holds for Kori, but as long as she has herself to rely on, she should be okay.

[rating-report]

Reviewed November 2013

About Kai Mann

Kai Mann grew up in Fort Myers, Florida and currently resides in Detroit, Michigan. She is the author of two novels in the Eviction Chronicles called 30 Day Notice and Abandoned Property. Kai began writing at a young age and has always wanted to write a novel but knew that meant she would need to experience life before that could happen.

Kai came to the conclusion in the latter part of 2008 that the Creator had given her a story to tell and in 2009 she started writing her first novel 30 Day Notice. That year Kai would also become an independent contract writer for Examiner.com and hold the title of Detroit’s Best Friend Examiner. In her role as an Examiner, she purposefully writes articles to incite a deeper level of thought when it comes to friendship.

In 2011 Kai published 30 Day Notice under her newly created publishing company called “Scriblical Vibez Publishing, LLC”. The name came out of a need to publish content that she believed would challenge others to think and create a vibrational change in the universe. She believed the Creator gave her the name to remind her that she was responsible to scribe biblically while creating a message type vibe.

Kai is a proud member of the Motown Writers Network where she volunteers at conferences, workshops, and assists in publishing content on the network’s site.

In 2013 she published Abandoned Property her sophomore novel. In the same year she helped to produce a DocuSeries called Out Loud in the D. While the DocuSeries is still in progress, Kai is presently working on her next project a book of poems called Living on Lafayette Street.


Letters to My Bully edited by Ifalade Ta’Shia Asanti and Azaan Kamau

Posted on

letterstomybully2ncod

Publisher/Date:  Lulu, Aug. 2012
Genre(s):  Life Guide, Self-Help
Pages:  180
Website:  http://gloverlanepress.webs.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

“And in between the Silence, Listen to the Voice that whispers,
You’re good. Overcome.”

Somber and bittersweet, LETTERS TO MY BULLY edited by Ifalade Ta’Shia Asanti and Azaan Kamau is an uplifting work.

It documents letters, essays and poetry written by authors to their tormentors, usually their peers or loved ones, with the purpose of showing teens and adults that they are not alone and with time, life does get better. The 35 authors featured in Letters, including CSI: Miami actor Robert LaSardo, have been beaten, humiliated, tortured, but in spite of what they endured, they still impart positive messages, and prove that the best revenge is living well.

As noted in Letters, their harassment was due to any number of reasons bullies chose to focus on: sexuality, skin color, weight, intelligence, socio-economic status, etc. It also paints abuse at the hands of family members and lovers, turning their homes into haunted houses in the one place that’s supposed to be safe.

Letters shows another side to bullying in that the abused, without an outlet for their pain, can as easily turn their hurts onto someone else, using their clenched hands and sharp words to give love and hate. It’s a vicious cycle that must stop.

One specific thing I took from Letters is that as the adults, we are the ones who can lessen or end bullying. How we treat others starts at home, and our children learn most from what we teach and what they see from us. Beyond saying it gets better, how about we make it better. Show them they are more than what some bully says or does to them. Most of the former victims felt helpless and wondered, why me, and at the same time, wanted love more just as much as being rescued. When 160,000 bullied children miss school every day and bullying is the number one cause of suicide for 11-16 year olds, something has to be done.

Letters is what editors Asanti (The Bones Do Talk) and Kamau (Stiletto), accomplished authors and poets both with numerous titles, wanted to contribute to this epidemic. Kamau is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Glover Lane Press, which also published the co-edited Tapestries of Faith: Black SGLBT Stories of Triumph, Family, Love & Healing. The book’s flow was nicely paced and included statistics about bullying. The only weak spot was that some of the poetry didn’t grab me as much as the personal essays.

I’d recommend Letters to teens and adults, especially to in need of healing from their pasts. The most powerful message sent from Letters is that each one survived. There’s a great energy and almost small appreciation to what they went through to prove that anyone can overcome.

YOU DID NOT WIN. I am a fat lesbian (albeit a slimming one as I lose the need for protection) who loves herself and doesn’t give a damn what anyone says about her state of being. I love my body and love my experience of love as a lesbian. I am no longer trapped in the coffin of your bullying and while I do not believe good comes because of evil, I believe good comes despite evil. The good that came for me despite your evil words and deeds is that I am stronger, more vocal, more attentive and more resistant than I used to be, or than I ever guessed I would be.

Reviewed October 2013


Dying to Live by Harmonie Reigns

Posted on

dyingtolivePublisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Mar. 2013
Genre(s):  Abuse, Drama, Romance
Pages:  224
Website:  http://harmoniereigns.wix.com/harmonie#!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Why is it that everyone can see the signs but you? Or do you see and ignore the red flags?

Is it cute how she dotes on you, asks you when you’ll be home, always wants to know your constant whereabouts? Or is it suffocating but you don’t know the way out?

Can she make love to you like no other, toe-tingling, mind-blowing sex that tells you just how much she loves you? Or is that just the calm before the storm, or it’s to make up for the blows she sent to your face earlier?

It was all those things and more for Naomi Harris in DYING TO LIVE,  the newest novel from Harmonie Reigns. Naomi is pursued by the charming Sheena at the party of one of best friends, and soon after is enamored of the way she’s treated by the soft stud in the beginning of their relationship. (What she should have done was take stock of how pushy Sheena was in pursuing her at the party.)

Of course, Sheena has her game-face on, sending flowers, cards, candy and jewelry to her office, making Naomi the envy of her friends. It was charming how attentive Sheena is, popping up at work to take her to lunch or to see Naomi’s beautiful face, but Naomi begins to feel suffocated by the attention. And she realizes she’s spending less and less time with her loved ones, her family and group of five best friends: Lynzi, Tina, Star, Dena, and Zela.

Of the five, Zela is one who recognizes Naomi’s predicament and knows something ain’t right with Sheena. She sees the signs of an abusive relationship, because she’s been there. Naomi knows it, too, but writes off Sheena’s behavior as “caring.” “She just doesn’t want to lose me.” “Maybe I was wrong.” Anything to justify Sheena’s atrocious behavior.

Yet after cracked ribs, a broken nose and being cheated on, Naomi finally has enough — and that’s when the real game begins for Sheena. She always told Naomi that if she couldn’t have her, no one else will. And she means it. Which also means that Naomi is in a fight to get her life back, even if she has to take one in the process.

Dying to Live is a very involved book, one that portrays the fallout of an abusive relationship and what it does not only to a woman’s pyche, but how it affects the woman’s family and friends. Naomi is lucky she has a big support system, as some battered women do not. Naomi’s friends, who each have a personality all her own, added life to a story made somber by the dark subject matter. Dying can be a tad melodramatic at times and the writing could be tighter, but Reigns deftly details the emotions and thoughts of a battered woman trying to put her life back together.

Reviewed July 2013


Broken in Soft Places by Fiona Zedde

Posted on

brokeninsoftplacesPublisher/Date:  Bold Stroke Books, May 2013
Genre:  Bisexual, Romance, Drama
Pages:  264
Website:  http://www.fionazedde.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Leave it to Fiona Zedde to come up with a tantalizing theme for her latest book – polyamory – a subject that black folks might do, but don’t talk candidly about. Being a part of a couple that openly allows the other to have sex with someone outside their relationship is usually left to whispered conversations. Zedde shows us in BROKEN IN SOFT PLACES that it’s not only possible, but there may be a reason why people engage in or stay away from this type of coupling.

Sara Chambers could never resist the enigmatic Rille Thompson since their first meeting at a college party, Sara as an innocent freshman to senior Rille’s big-lesbian-on-campus status.  Sara spent a good amount of time wishing Rille could be hers only, however, Rille resisted being tied down to anything singular in nature, including her lovers – be they female or male. Sara and Rille attempted to find freedom in each other for different reasons, but their feverish connection proves combustible right before Rille graduates.

Fast forward to present day, and the pair found their way back to each other, despite the many wounds Rille inflicted on Sara way back when. Much hasn’t changed, except now Sara is an attorney and Rille is a physics professor. And they have someone else occupying their bed. A man named Steven.

Sara never liked this arrangement from the start, and it weighs on her, never having Rille to herself, a situation Sara has allowed since their college days. The good thing is Sara recognizes why she stays with Rille, a woman with no self-control, and why being with Rille makes her feel somehow feel whole. Or does it? Can she untangle herself from Rille’s dominance as she allows monogamy to pass her by? Will she keep allowing her heart to be baby-sat by a woman someone who doesn’t know what love is?

Layers upon layers disintegrate the more you get to know the people in Broken in Soft Places. I can’t say enough about the flawless writing Zedde endows the reader, words coming together seamlessly and alluringly like Zedde knows how to do. She also dug deep in her portrayal of the war-torn Sara and Steven, and to a smaller extent, Rille. *sigh* Rille is so callous and as I read, she just got under my skin (the sign of a good character). I couldn’t stand how she treated Sara, and really anyone who stood in the way of her pleasure principle (Freud would have a field day with her on his couch). Yet, I did feel some sympathy for her that she couldn’t open up herself to love. And frustrated that Sara couldn’t find the love she wanted and deserved.

Reviewed June 2013


 5 Quick Questions for Fiona Zedde about Broken in Soft Places5qqlogo

Polyamory is such a taboo subject in the black community. And you’ve written Broken In Soft Places, such an invasive book about it. What was your motivation? Is it a taboo subject? I didn’t realize that. I know it’s not overtly accepted in most mainstream spaces but I think many people live it. There are women who know about and accept their wife or husband’s other lover. Couples that regularly have threesomes or identify as swingers. Groups of friends with benefits. My motivation for writing Broken In Soft Places as I did came from needing to talk about one of the elephants in the room; something we all know about but seldom explore in fiction. These polyamorous relationships exist but discussing the truth around what happens with the people involved is what can be considered taboo.

What do you say to readers who are surprised by the three-way relations in your novel? That’s a good question. I’ve already had readers express a certain amount of shock by the plot and characters of the novel. My response is that I wanted to write something different, true and challenging. I don’t exactly think of it as controversial, but it could be thought-provoking. I’ll always write lesbian characters (like Sara) but their sexual relationships may not always be monogamous or even easily defined by the constructs of accepted social behavior. And their stories, just like in real life, may not end as expected.

Sara is a fractured soul and Rille is a free spirit if I’ve ever seen one. What did it take to write both characters who seem polar opposites? I started off writing about Sara and all the pain she was suffering. And it was through her “broken” spirit that Rille’s character was born. I wondered what type of woman would Sara be attracted to and why? When the answer came to me, it wasn’t about how this woman would look and identify, but about her attitude in the world. This attitude is what Sara wants to embrace for herself. She desires freedom. She wishes she didn’t care what the world thinks. She wants to be stronger. Rille is the embodiment of all these yearnings.

Have you ever been in a poly relationship? No, I haven’t. I’ve been approached about being in one; it isn’t for me.

If you could have a threesome with any celebrities, whom would they be? Michelle Rodriguez and Eve, but Michelle would have to be tied up. I’ve heard she gets violent.


Pit Crew: How to Survive a Spiritual Pit Stop by Renair Amin

Posted on

pitcrewPublisher/Date:  Glover Lane Press, Dec. 2012
Genre(s):  Lesbian Real Life, How to Guide
Pages:  98
Website:  http://www.renairamin.com

Rating: ★★★★½ 

PIT CREW: HOW TO SURVIVE A SPIRITUAL PIT STOP, is both author Renair Amin’s testimony and a gift to anyone struggling with life and its many bumps along the way.

Her life saw tragedies of rape, a miscarriage, and family loss. She experienced being institutionalized, homeless and on drugs. Enduring what she felt God unjustly thrust upon her, Amin started taking stock and realized everything is a pattern, a track so to speak. And instead of letting life keep taking her around and around in confusion, she knew she needed support to get her life back in stride.

Hence the Pit Crew. Crafted from the Disney/Pixar animated movie Cars, Amin’s book revolves around the concept needing a set of trusted people in your life to fix you, uplift you, and check you when you need it.  Simply put, nobody can do this life alone, and Amin gives you the tools to see who’s important to your journey.

Amin explains the roles your pit crew plays – from the Crew Chief (God), the Car Chief, the Jackman, the Tire Changers/Carriers, the Gas Man and Utility Man – each one has a special role, and all work together to make you better. Her model doesn’t absolve you of personal responsibility, though. You are ultimately in the driver’s seat, and the decisions you make – especially whom you allow in your Pit Crew – is all on you. She emphasizes this with the thoughtful questions for discussion at the end of each Pit Crew description. You have to do the work. Also, learn to be still and learn your life lessons.

Amin, a minister, motivational speaker, and  life coach, writes with honesty and a desire to help women winding around a never-ending track with no finish line in sight. There is a never a time we won’t have issues in our lives, problems in our relationships and troubles on our jobs, but Amin’s book makes the bumps easier. Her own story, as a catalyst to writing this book, is poignant. I admire her courage share this story – her story – with the world.

Thank you, Renair.

Reviewed June 2013

Read the Catching Up With… Interview with Renair Amin


Domestically Cursed: A Story on Partnership Violence by Renair Amin

Posted on

domesticallycursedPublisher/Date:  Glover Lane Press, Apr. 2013
Genre(s):  Lesbian Real Life, How to Guide
Pages:  39
Website:  http://www.renairamin.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

When your back is against the wall – figuratively and literally – in an abusive relationship, you can either sign your permission slip for the beatings to happen again or you can fight to save your life. Although it took more than one instance for her to decide which way to go, Renair Amin finally figured it out in DOMESTICALLY CURSED: A STORY ON PARTNERSHIP VIOLENCE.

Though the media would have one to believe same-sex abuse doesn’t happen or is not as dire or critical because it’s two women or two men, it is. According to lambda.org, the rates of domestic violence in same-gender relationships is roughly the same as domestic violence against heterosexual women (25%). Amin knows the devastating effects, and Dometically Cursed is her contribution to stop this epidemic…or save a life.

Domestically Cursed is Amin’s time in a relationship she knew from jump would be no good for her. She was 21, dating Chris, a woman twice her age. Amin wasn’t exactly what Chris wanted, but she tried to make it work. Her age and inexperience led her stay in an over-her-head relationship, with many nights of torture from the woman who supposedly loved her.

Hindsight being 20/20, Amin had her instincts about the relationship. Her friends expressed concern. Her mother warned her against it. Even Chris warned her, telling her, “I beat my women.” She brushed these red signs aside. Nothing could deter Amin from being with this woman. Chris’ aggressive nature drew her in, but it soon was used against her to abandon her friends, be talked down to and be beaten on a regular basis. She had signed her permission slip, so to speak, to allow it to happen, but it couldn’t continue.

This is where Amin’s story takes off. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word story because this was her life. She survives the abuse, and fortunately, realized what void Chris filled in her life to allow her stay in such a dysfunctional relationship. Any woman reading Amin’s words can place themselves in her shoes, if they haven’t already been there themselves. She conveys what an abuser really is. She also provides invaluable resources to get help for women stuck in this situation. Because there is a way out.

Amin – minister, motivational speaker, and life coach – can attest to that.

Reviewed June 2013

Read the Catching Up With… Interview with Renair Amin


HIGH – On Love & Addiction by April Joy Bowden and Jeanie RAINBOW Bell

Posted on

highonloveandaddictionlesbianrealife

 

 

 

 

Publisher/Date:  AuthorHouse, Mar. 2010
Genre:  Lesbian True Life
Pages:  148
Website:  http://www.apriljoybowden.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Choosing between love and addiction is a difficult decision – when both lift you up and can take you crashing back down.

Whereas drugs have the ability to destroy lives and relationships, only love has the power to bring you through and fight the disease.

This struggle is depicted in HIGH – ON LOVE & ADDICTION, written by April Joy Bowden and Jeanie RAINBOW Bell. Bowden is also the author of the poetry book, The Other Side of Joy.

Jeanie and April’s relationship began like any typical love romance. Their eyes met across a dance floor, and while they didn’t seem like each other’s type, they fell in love and soon moved in.

At first glance, Jeanie was good on paper: she had a great job, owned a home, drove a nice car, had a good upbringing, kept up a neat appearance, and treated April like a queen.

But soon after moving in, strange messages were left on their voicemail. Then Jeanie pulled disappearing acts for days on end. She missed or ruined holidays. That’s when April knew when Jeanie had a drug problem.

The rest of HIGH navigates April and Jeanie’s long journey to getting Jeanie well. What should have been years spent together and creating a family were instead lost to Jeanie’s addiction, relapse and recovery. When Jeanie was sober, she and April had the best time together. When the habit took over, everything took a backseat to getting the next high or, in April’s case, finding Jeanie.

The good thing is that Jeanie and April survived. Through their entries, Jeanie learned what her addiction was doing to her lover and herself, while April endured her own recovery from love.

For those who’ve had an addict in their lives, HIGH – On Love & Addiction is a detailed account of what the struggle is like on a day-to-day basis. Their entries are frequent and slightly repetitive, but that’s the realness of dating addict. One day at a time.

Reviewed December 2012


Lion’s Den by Azure

Posted on

lionsdenPublisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, May 2012
Genre(s): Romance, Young Adult
Pages:  304
Website:  http://lionsdenbyazure.wordpress.com

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Chaz is 22, a recent college graduate transplanted to Chicago to start her career as an IT engineer and a life away from her family. What she finds in the Windy City is drama LION’S DEN by Azure. It follows her, though some of it is by her own doing.

At the novel’s onset, a night out leads to meeting and falling for an older woman named Samantha. It’s good for a while, yet Chaz recognizes her options – younger, sexy ones – and settling into a committed relationship becomes a chore.

Not when she has Jazmine. And Lori. And white girl Kelly. Plus a few others.

All Chaz’s bed hopping does a have a root, though. Coming out at 19, she wrestled with living in a Christian values home where her sexuality was a sore spot for her parents, her dad especially, as well self-esteem issues stemming from being treated as the ugly duckling. Therefore, Chaz only felt attractive when around the lesbian community. It’s a high-speed carousel from woman to woman, and you can feel dizzy just reading.

That’s my issue with Lion’s Den. From all the partying, sex and drugs, has Chaz really learned anything? Lord knows she’s smart and aware of her shortcomings, which is great; she’s also young and allowed to make mistakes, but her life choices pained me at times.

Azure is a good storyteller, and Lion’s Den has plenty of action. However, the writing was choppy, there were excessive grammatical errors, and not enough dialogue. However, young adults could relate to Chaz, and hopefully for them, it will be a cautionary tale.

Reviewed December 2012


Living With 3 Strikes Against Me: Life Through My Eyes as Black, Female and Gay by Ericka K. F. Simpson

Posted on

livingwith3strikeslesbianrealife

 

 

 

 

Publisher/Date:  Amazon Digital Services, Inc., Aug. 2012
Genre:  Lesbian Real Life
Pages:  149
Website:  http://www.ekfsimpson.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

After authoring countless novels, such as the outstanding I Am Your Sister, Ericka K. F. Simpson has finally written her own life story in LIVING WITH 3 STRIKES: LIFE THROUGH MY EYES AS BLACK, FEMALE AND GAY.

The messages Simpson imparts descend from her reactions and responses to life experiences. She started writing Living when she was 23 and was still learning her way in the world. Now she’s summoned the courage and confidence to be herself and share this knowledge with others.

Simpson has a testimony. Growing up in a religious household, it didn’t feel right having crushes on girls. She tried to deny it by dating guys, but it was a losing battle. What she felt was real. Denying it and carrying the pain literally made her sick, developing stage 3 colon cancer; stress and anger from trying to please others festered into a tumor that could have killed her. Only then did Simpson begin to live for herself.

Living is divided into seven categories, ones that talk about her early life, love, women, religion and parental controls; a section of Simpson’s poetry is included, as well. These segments provide insight into the author, who displays a maturity that should rub off on younger black lesbians.

Simpson offers these gems:

Love: “Trust me, there is someone out there who will appreciate you for who you are. They will love you the way you need to be loved and most of all, they will fight for that love. Wait for that person, wait for that moment, wait for that kind of love then you fight to keep it.”

Sex: “The point I’m trying to make is this, whether you have good pussy or bad pussy, clean or raunchy, give good head or no head, you’re offering something that all women have the ability to provide. And your pussy being ‘well used’ don’t make it better than most.”

Religion:My point is, for those of you who are gay and love God, worship Him anyway. Don’t let the church make you feel ashamed to love God and someone of the same sex. People do not know your heart but God does and He’ll know if the relationship you have with him is real.”

If you read Living With 3 Strikes Against Me and take it in, you will be blessed with information and humor that you can apply to your life. It’s said that God places people in your life for a reason, and Simpson’s story is definitely not in vain.

Reviewed December 2012


Girl in the Mirror by Alix B. Golden (Aug. 2012 Pick of the Month)

Posted on

girlinthemirrorpotmlogo

 

 

 

 

Publisher/Date:  I Bleed Ink Publishing, Aug. 2012
Genre:  Romance
Pages:   204
Website:  http://www.alixbgolden.com

Rating: ★★★★½ 

You can’t run from your past, and you certainly can’t run from the GIRL IN THE MIRROR.

While the prequel to this novel, Girl, Shattered, is available now, Mirror is its full-length story from blogger turned book author Alix B. Golden with many layers – a surprise love, suspense, drama, parental woes – yet the center of them is Christen Calhoun. The by-day bank teller is uninspired by her job and only finds comfort in her camera; it doesn’t pay the bills, and it doesn’t suit her father’s dreams for her.

Neither does dating women. Especially the ones Christen involves herself with. Still reeling from her last burn with thieving ass Alicia, she decides a no-strings attached relationship is exactly what she needs in Kam, a writer she meets online with a girlfriend. Christen sees nothing wrong with the two having a fling. At least that’s how it begins. It ends just as badly.

*girl in the mirror shakes her head*

Christen could never tell her Pops about these dead-end hookups. Since a young girl, it’s always been just the two of them after her mother’s passing. He never understood her decisions – staying in Savannah after graduation instead of returning to Atlanta, why she couldn’t find a man and make him a “Grandpappy” – nevertheless he did want to see her happy.

The problem is Christen can’t please herself. She suits her personality to the women she dates, and every bad romance she gets her further away from whom she is. When she looks in the mirror, the truth stares back, but then loneliness sets in and fools her heart into thinking it’s love.

It’s only when the worst imaginable happens that Christen returns home to find the love she needs – and makes the girl in mirror finally smile back.

Golden’s Girl in the Mirror shines. What I liked most about Mirror is its dimensionality. The storyline took several twists and turns, tying nicely to make an enjoyable novel. In Christen, you see a woman with so much potential go from settling to avoid being alone to realizing her true reflection is what’s important.

Reviewed August 2012


The Other Side of Joy by April Joy Bowden

Posted on

othersideofjoyPublisher/Date:  AuthorHouse, May 2012
Genre(s): Poetry, Romance
Pages: 100
Website:  http://www.apriljoybowden.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Since elementary school, April Joy Bowden has nurtured her love of poetry. It was her release, her connection to the world, her first love.

Bowden’s long-time courtship with verses birthed THE OTHER SIDE OF JOY, a moving work of poems about the emotions and passions manifested by love.

The North Carolina resident and full-time photographer breaks her book into four sections: joy, pain, intimacy and ecstasy. With each, she supplies the rules, and the words she utilizes to describe each facet are truthful and familiar. It’s evident she’s lived it.

The glass remains shattered on the floor
Life’s little remainder that this was the last time the Storm would walk through my door
The broken pieces of my soul, my life, my heart
A subtle hint, a blatant call that we are truly apart
No time, no reason
To mend, fix or repair
Four long years to love, to laugh, to care

What’s also interesting about Joy is the storytelling found in her poems. Bowden is vivid in her depiction of desire.

I awake prior to the sunrise
As my eyes open
Behold the beautiful caramel kissed woman who lay beside me
In the moonlight
Her bosom glistens
And every curve has a story to tell
A story that because I’ve listened
I know so well

In a small amount of pages, Bowden says and expresses a lot in The Other Side of Joy. You can also check out Bowden’s co-authored memoir, High: On Love & Addiction, revealing the ordeals in loving a woman consumed by drugs, which is just as genuine and heartfelt as Joy.

Reviewed August 2012


30 Day Notice by Kai Mann

Posted on

30daynoticePublisher/Date:  Scriblical Vibez Publishing, Dec. 2011
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Pages:  216
Website:  http://www.kai-mann.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Sometimes, the ending of a relationship is telling. It reveals truths about the woman you were in love with, things that make you wonder if you really knew her.

And a breakup pushes you to reevaluate your life and purpose, much like main character Kori Maitland, the heroine of 30 DAY NOTICE by author Kai Mann.

When her relationship of five years disintegrates, it leaves Kori broken. Though she’s given a 30 day notice from her love, Kori never thought Layla would end it, despite the hurdles and dysfunction that occurred during. Layla did what she had to do for herself, but Kori can’t seem to muster the same self-worth to pull herself out of the heartbreak.

It paralyzes her. During the 30 days, Kori begins to examine her entire life to figure out what got her to this downward path. At the same time, she moves back to Detroit, her old stomping grounds where she runs into people from her past – some who uplift her, others who take advantage of her spirit.

In truth, her life has been no crystal stair. In her current situation, disturbances once dead resurface. The ghosts of leaving her marriage and children behind to be her authentic self haunt her.

Every setback – and there are several – devastates her core. Being used, being discarded, being alone. It’s all there.

Yet Kori is a fighter. And she knows God has a plan for her.

That’s the crux of 30 Day Notice. Although the writing could use more showing than telling, the novel is direct and honest, as you sympathize with Kori; we’ve all been there in some form or fashion. This is a great story for lesbians dealing with separation from their families or finding themselves at a crossroads in life.

Reviewed June 2012


If You Love Me, Come by Claudia Moss

Posted on

ifyoulovemecomePublisher/Date:  Mariposa Publications, July 2011
Genre(s):  Romance, Mature Lesbians, Self-Love, Straight Books with Lesbian Characters
Pages:  376
Website:  http://www.claudiamoss.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Following your heart is one thing; listening to spirits is divine in IF YOU LOVE ME, COME, the lovely novel by Claudia Moss.

Spirits are what led Freenonia Roberts to the Techwood Home projects one March night, nearly striking a boy named Mookie with her gray Mercedes, and sends her on a different path than she ever imagined. The owner of a thriving bookstore, Free’s life seemed enviable, with a small circle of friends and book club members, a doting mother and a head chef boyfriend. The night she meets Mookie’s sometime baby-sitter, Miz Too-Sweet, it begins a new relationship that only the spirits could align.

Seeing it as her personal mission, Free brings the Atlanta housing project an experience they wouldn’t forget, while Miz Too-Sweet spins life stories that provide the young woman, and, eventually, those around her, light in darkness. Free contends with whether she made the right decision to leave her boyfriend, J.T., even with his demanding ways. Rhonda, her baby sister, covets Free’s storied existence and doesn’t think her own is as fulfilling as a teacher, mother and wife. Sharmayne, Free’s best friend, leaves her dreadful marriage to Vince behind, shedding her closeted sexuality. Pinky, Mookie’s mother, attempts to find love through her three baby daddies, but nothing could cure the longing for the woman who abandoned her after childbirth.

All four women have crosses that seem too much to overcome. And all four discover, through spirits sometimes unknown, that love is the answer.

If You Love Me, Come is a beautiful book. I savored every page, where the story shifted from various points of view, as well as the Southern wisdom within its pages. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, Mama Day by Gloria Naylor.

Mostly though, I was enamored by the many examples it showed of what love truly is.

Reviewed January 2012


Mental Silhouette by Renair Amin

Posted on

mentalsilhouettePublisher/Date:  Dodi Press, May 2011
Genre: Poetry
Pages:  82
Website:  http://www.renairamin.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Renair Amin’s MENTAL SILHOUETTE comes in many shades of love, pain, anger, and finally, light.

Divided into four colorful sections, the poems found in Silhouette read like a diary of Amin’s innermost feelings and opinions – as an author, spoken word artist and minister.

First is the Red Shadows section, featuring poems about the splendor of love.

My wish is that I will always love you
Even when faces have changed
And presence is no more
That we will revert back to memories of joy and bliss

The darkness emerges in Amin’s Blue Shadows and Black Shadows, including powerful verses about life’s disappointments in people and society. The aches are palpable.

I feel like I am drowning beneath the sound of thunder
You have no clue what it is like to be me
There are times when things swallow me
Times when the gallows be hanging me

THE DEVIL WILL NOT BREAK ME

Ending on the best note, the glow of White Shadows is the brightest. Amin offers the hope and peace she’s found within spirituality. These poems seem her most personal.

As I lie down before you
Penetrate my soul because I
Know what I want
But tell me what I need
Saturate me with unfound knowledge
Humble me into you because I am proud
Strengthen me because I’m weak

In Mental Silhouette, Amin shares her journey through her work, her jewels that allow her to release her experiences and put them into an effort that is moving, to say the least.

Reviewed January 2012


Be the Sun Again by Teryn

Posted on

bethesun-194x300Publisher/Date:  LM Inc., Nov. 2009
Genre(s):  Coming of Age, Self-Love
Pages:  324
Website(s):  http://www.bethesunagain.com, http://www.lmwrites.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Where there is love, there is pain, says a Spanish proverb, and that’s the best way to sum up BE THE SUN AGAIN.

It is the story of Cicely, a girl who begins her life damaged by neglect from an unfeeling mother and absent father. She also bears the weight of her attraction to girls and an attachment to self-inflicted pain. Cicely’s only salve is praying, hoping God would remove her from the horrible situation.

In the meanwhile, Cecily finds Brenda, a girl who saves her by simply appearing on her doorstep. Their love of God unites them, and Cecily believes she’s found someone to live for. She and Brenda begin a young love affair, but soon addictions end their first pangs of love.

From there, Cecily flows from woman to woman, using love as a way to nurse her wounds. From the one-night stand with Alicia to Dawn, who showed what love could accomplish, and to the countless women who in some way, commiserated with Cecily’s afflictions. Through these relationships, the cutting becomes a deeper injury than medicine could cure, but she still manages to hold onto God.

After every breakup, God reveals to her what she should take from them. That, I believe, is the message of Be the Sun Again – relying on Him to help show you the way. It took Cecily loving many to finally love herself, and women who read Sun should learn from her. Being a victim is no way to live; finding your purpose is really what God intended.

Reviewed February 2011