Love and Vandalism

Love and Vandalism.  Laurie Boyle Crompton. 2017. 366 pages. Sourcefire Books. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] They had me at graffiti.  They kept me with this heartbreaking/uplifting story. Rory is the town’s secret vandal. She’s been tagging lions under the cover of night, somehow dodging the watchful eye of her sergeant father who’s forbidden her from art. She’s remained anonymous until Hayes catches her one evening, but instead of turning her in, he turns her into his own personal tour guide.  It’s definitely blackmail, but Rory sees an opportunity to complete her magnum opus – painting a lion on top of the town’s water tower. This is definitely a compelling story that tackles several sensitive topics.  Hayes is recovering from an addiction, so it’s quite interesting to see how how he comes to terms with the damage he’s done to others near him and how he tries to put his life back together in a new place.  Rory initially seems like an angsty teenager who just wants to rebel for the sake of being combative. Her fractured relationship with her  suspicious father and near idol-worship of her artist mother factor prominently. It’s not immediately clear why her father is so adamant…

To Me I Wed

To Me I Wed. K.M. Jackson. 2017. 368 pages. Dafina. [Source: ARC provided couresty of NetGalley.] Lily is great at her job – she plans exciting events, whether weddings or birthday parties.  However, no matter how happy she says she is with her single-hood, being asked when she’s the next to get hitched is getting old.  What better way to shut up the critics with a spectacular wedding … to herself? To Me I Wed has a pretty interesting concept. What made me want to read it was the idea of Lily being surrounded by people who expected her to simply wait for Mr. Right to sweep her off her feet, but instead she opts to show them that she was whole on her own.  The wrench thrown in by her attraction to Vincent makes for a lot of tension, sexual and otherwise.

Sin of a Woman

Sin of a Woman. Kimberla Lawson Roby. 2017. 320 pages. Grand Central Publishing. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Without question, Kimberla Lawson Roby’s Curtis Black series books are always masterfully written in comparison to her other works. Unfortunately, Sin of a Woman failed to reach the relatively high bar. It’s intriguing that she elected to almost duplicate the plot of the most recent saga of Dillon Black with Raven, but appropriate. There was a ton of potential to show once again the self appointed calling, rise and ultimate fail of a misguided “pastor.” However, riddled with redundancy in the background of the characters and the current interactions, the book didn’t fully captivate or advance. Drawn out to unnecessary lengths, the actual deceptive action could have happened a lot sooner granting more time to highlight the growth of other characters. Raven was predictable, Porscha was unbelievable (especially her ending sermon), and Dillon and the Black family were essentially unnecessary. For the first time ever, I’m thinking Mrs. Roby may need to find another set of characters. How much more can the Black Family endure and/or be apart of?!

A Blessing & a Curse

A Blessing & a Curse. ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Victoria Christopher Murray. 2017. 288 pages. Gallery Books. [ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] They’ve done it again! I swear, I never think there’s anywhere else for these characters (and more importantly the duo) to go … yet somehow Reshonda and Victoria find away to take them to the next level. The idea of Jasmine & Rachel being sisters seemed unrealistic until they started weaving the tale. Then it seemed so possible and as a long time fan of the series made you wonder “how did I miss this possibility!?” Expertly written, it’s still impossible to tell one writing style from the next. 5 stars and I’m literally salivating at the idea of FINALLY finding out just who Mae Frances is. I hope Victoria and Reshonda keep up their collaborations, this book is proof they’re still capable of taking these characters further!

Her Secret Life (Jojo’s view)

Her Secret Life. Tiffany L. Warren. 2017. 320 pages. Kensington Books. [Source: ARC provided couresty of NetGalley.] “She’s a series of beautiful contradictions” … my favorite line in the book as Graham simply explained Onika. Similarly, the line  encompasses my emotions about the main character … I was always conflicted. My feelings of empathy were  a direct contradiction to the disdain I felt for her superior, entitled attitude. Onika was so caught up in focusing on the bad hand she was dealt as a child that she failed to realize that the adult negativity was all the root of her own doing and poor decision making. The showcase of how one lie will ultimately beget many others was a valuable and continuous lesson. In addition to how failure to accept your flaws will stunt your ability to grow despite them. An ideal book for many teachers for it’s clear message without forcing hard topics. 5 stars for the effortless way Ms. Warren wove this tale, as a D.C. Native and fellow Greek, she was true to the culture and environment and it only aided the overall work.