Friday, February 17, 2017

#BookReview: MATTERS OF CONVENIENCE by Roy L. Pickering, Jr.

Summary: Marshall yearns for Audrey but she sees a future with James. When her personal and professional plans veer off course, their relationships are shuffled. Can it work out with Marshall after he provides support at a critical juncture? Or is it doomed to fail when paths cross with James, secrets are revealed, and commitments are put to the test? Matters of Convenience examines the repercussions of unpredictable timing and rash solutions, asking if happiness results from choice, fate or serendipity.

Review: Can men write romance novels? That was my initial thought when the author of Patches of Grey reached out to me asking for a review of his latest work. I racked my brain trying to come up with any other romances that I've read that have been written by men and couldn't. Do men not write romance? Are they not capable of writing romance? Pickering answers all of those questions in Matters of Convenience.

Audrey has everything going for her. She has a great job, good friends and impeccable taste. She’s been unlucky in love, but that’s okay because she’s focused on her career and a possible promotion. Her best friend, Marshall, provides the male shoulder she needs to lean on occasionally, so she has male company, it’s just platonic.

It’s undeniable that Marshall is in love with Audrey. They tried dating years ago, but where he felt flames, she barely felt a flicker. Marshall has comfortably settled into the friend zone while he watches Audrey date other men, believing that one day she’ll realize that he’s the only constant in her life and should be the man in her life.

James has played the fields for years. As his friends move into steady relationships, marriage and kids, he’s content to date several women. A BMW (black man working) in New York certainly has his pick of women and he takes full advantage of it.

When James meets Audrey, he’s immediately taken with her and theirs is almost a story book romance, but almost doesn’t count. Pickering could have taken the easy route and given readers their happily ever after and wrapped the story up with a nice bow, but nope. He explores what happens if there’s no happily ever after and it’s a bumpy but enjoyable ride.

Pickering’s characters are interesting and he uses them well. I found myself rooting for James and Audrey, of course, but I also wanted Marshall, Sarah and others to find their happy endings. A true sign of a good book and characters is that they stay with you after you’ve finished the book and these characters did. If Pickering decides to stay in the romance lane, I have a feeling he’ll do well.

427 p.
Published: November 2016
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from author, opinions are mine.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

#BookReview: AMERICAN STREET by Ibi Zoboi

Summary: On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola must learn that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

Review: It can be difficult to play by the rules when you don’t know what those rules are. So finding herself in Detroit without her mother and with family she only knows from phone calls is a bit overwhelming for Fabiola. Readers of a certain age will remember when we first met Omar Tyree’s Flyy Girl, Tracy Ellison, over 20 years ago. Fabiola’s Detroit cousins, known as the Three Bs (brains, beauty & brawn), Chantal, Donna and Princess are Tracy meets the Gross sisters from the Proud Family, hardened in ways that Fabiola isn’t. Is it that Fabiola is rooted in Haitian tradition and culture, while her cousins have become Americanized? She’s not preoccupied with trendy clothes and weaves or getting her nails done. Her simple wish is to be reunited with her mother, whatever the cost.

I love that even as Fabi begins to adjust to life in Detroit and learns about the family business, she never loses who she is. On the outside, she does dress differently, goes out with friends, and keeps a few secrets, but she still loves her natural hair, she still says her prayers at night, she’s still a bit naive and she can still differentiate between wrong and right. She’s a typical teenager, but has stronger convictions and moral codes than most. Ibi Zoboi never lets her lose that throughout the story.

With a foot firmly planted in both the crossroads of Haiti and Detroit and American Street and Joy Road, she faces difficult decisions when it comes to her cousins, her aunt, her mother and her new love. Fabi sees Papa Legba in the homeless man on the corner where others see a bum. It’s her deep faith in Vodou that allows her to see him for who he is and, because of her faith, Zoboi is able to bring a bit of mystical, supernaturalness to the story. It's this faith that keeps Fabi believing that one day she'll be reunited with her mother.

Now let's talk about this gorgeous book cover! It caught my eye while I was browsing the publisher catalog and I immediately knew that I wanted to read the story before I even knew what it was about. Publishers have to know that covers mean things and can make all the difference when it comes to a reader picking up a book. Also, it's important to note that though the main character is in high school, this is a great read for all ages. Ibi Zoboi has such a way with words and characters that I’m looking forward to whatever she puts out next.

336 p.
Published: February 2017
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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