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Book Review

    The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl: By @IssaRae

    Recently I received an email from Audibles letting me know that I had six credits so far and I had to use one soon before a new one could be added to my ever growing collection. So off I went in search of an audio book that I could listen to while I’m shuffling folders and papers around my desk for eight hours. As I scrolled through the list of books I saw a familiar cover. 

    At the end of March I attended Wondercon and was fortunate to be at a panel that discussed books, the writing process, authors, etc. On the screen was a list of books including The Misadventure of Awkward Black Girl. When I saw this book listed in audible I had to check it out.

    I must say from the first few pages I knew I was going to fall in love with this book. Right off the bat, Jo-Issa “Issa” Rae Diop talks about people who could not pronounce her name properly. Immediately I laughed aloud. I have an old school first name and my last name is Chisolm, similar to the famous Shirley Chisholm. Clearly, you can see the difference there. My last name is spelled with one H but I’ve seen it spelt with two H’s just like Shirley’s. I say this to say that many times people have actually corrected me on the spelling of my own name. As if I am purposely leaving the extra H off. Issa went through the same trials and it felt good to know I wasn’t alone there. 

    The pace of the story is very well written. It goes through her life but the areas that I enjoyed the most was chapters that gave readers advice. Things like blacks and asians and why aren’t there more couple’s out there with these two races,  the difference between being awkward and nerdy or how about co workers. Knowing different types of coworkers. That made me laugh aloud and as I listened to the list of different coworkers I found myself scanning the office looking for those particular individuals. 

    Hearing her speak (Yes, Issa-Rae narrates this novel on Audible) about the different artists of the 90’s, the different albums. Made, 112, Brandy, Mya. All of the nostalgia is ripe of the picking as you go through Issa’s life. Simple things like tape decks, cd players and buying 12 cd’s for a penny. You will immediately remember growing up and going through the exact same pace as Issa. 

    My own past aside, this is a wonderful debut biography that provides readers with an understanding of what it means to grow up and not know what you want to be or where you’re going to go. You start off going through the motion and eventually you may continue to go through the motion until you stop on something that makes you happy to get up in the morning. It may take a hard event to bring you to your goal, as it did with Issa, or it may come naturally but in the end you should trust yourself and follow your dreams. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a must read for laughs, strength and purpose. 

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    diy MFA – Knowledge without going to College!

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    Get the knowledge without going to college!

    If I were still in school going for a MFA degree then I’d consider this book to be my student handbook

    Recently, as of May 2016, I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Accounting and Finance. A huge accomplishment and solidified even further when the diploma showed up on my doorstep. It put everything in perspective but at the same time I made me crave continuing education even further. A doctorate? Maybe one day. 

    No, this time I was considering what I love to do more than look at spreadsheets and numbers. I wanted a degree in writing. Having never had one before, always going down the business track of life since I ventured into college years ago, I knew I couldn’t just jump into getting a MFA degree. 

    A Master of Fine Arts degree is what you need to be a writer. I’ve heard that a few times and I will admit, I sat around wondering the same thing. Is this really needed? Surely writers at least have a degree in Creative Writing, right? That is a start toward a MFA degree. But is it needed to become a published author? Well, this book will tell you that it is not and goes into great detail to prove its point. 

    Written by Gabriela Pereira, with a foreword by Jacquelyn Mitchard, diy (do it yourself ) MFA (Master of Fine Arts) explores the writer’s option to perfect their craft within 288 pages of information that proves that a MFA degree is nice to have but not necessary. 

    With so many how to do books on the market from how to write suspense (review on that coming later), using POV, character development etc, it’s easy to say that the author is correct. Why would you need to go through getting a MFA degree when there are so many books on the market that is just as good as racking up tuition fees.

    diy MFA gives you a little bit of everything from creating compelling characters, bringing said characters to life, choosing the right POV and even how to generate ideas on demand. Having never gone the route of a MFA I can say it is refreshing to get an idea of what it would be like if I ever decided to go down that road.

    However, can I say that this book can replace anyone’s idea of getting a MFA? Well, no, I can’t do that. Why? If you want to go for your MFA degree then no amount of words that I say (or type) will change your mind. Some people will want the experience, learning from someone in the front of a classroom and having that interaction that a book just cannot provide. To you who feel this way then I applaud your reserve and wish you the best in your education. diy MFA even explores this in the second chapter of the book with myths that people believe about a degree in MFA. Such myth’s such as: 

    1. You need an MFA to Teach Writing
    2. The MFA is a shortcut to Getting Published
    3. An MFA Program will force you to make writing a priority

    Without you having read (or maybe you have) the book, I can tell you the simple answer to all three of these myths is an outstanding no. However, the book goes into further detail and I would suggest you read it if you feel the answer should be yes for one or more of the above. I can tell you honestly for myself I was on board with #3 as being true. How I saw it was I’m paying money for this degree so it’s going to make me use it and make me sit down for hours on end (when I’m not doing my full-time job) and write, write, write. The book answers this by saying “If you can find time to write only by putting your life on hold and plunging into a graduate program, then your writing career isn’t going to last very long.” Now, I never figured I would put my life on hiatus but the author has a point. I am going to go 2 + years for a degree in the hopes it makes me focus more and write? Can’t I do that now? Train myself to do that now without a degree? Yes, yes I can. 

    I am still in the middle of completing this book so I cannot give a full review, and I’m not going to. What I want to do is review this book by chapters that inspire me and in the long run will help me improve my writing.

    I obtained this book while attending the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference and it was, and continues to be, a great piece that I purchased that weekend. In no way will I say that this will completely take away the idea of going for a degree in writing. I’d be lying if I said that, however, it sure has silenced the thought for the time being. I look forward to moving forward and learning more in the weeks to come.

    If you’d like to purchase this book, learn more about it or the author then click the image above and go directly to the website dedicated to diy MFA. 

    Have you purchased diy MFA? What did you think? Would you purchase this book if you haven’t? Do you feel a person does/doesn’t need a MFA to become a good writer? Let me know in the comments below. 

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    Book Review – New York Night

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    As someone who was born and raised in New York, any chance I can get to read or review a book by a author from the city or a book with the city in the title I jump on. I don’t know. It’s just how I am I guess. That’s what I was excited to read this installment by author Stephen Leather, New York Night. The title grabbed me in more ways then one. Firstly, the title was a play on words in my mind. One thing you always hear about New York City is the fact that you can get things done in a New York Minute. Swapping out Minute with Night takes me to a place of knowing something is about to happen in night, maybe more nights. No way to tell until I’ve read the book. Second, any book that is a thriller is something that I know I’ll enjoy since I am a fan of them so that led me even further to read the book. 

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    Book Review – Forging Of The Knight, The Stolen Thief

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    If you are familiar with Hugo Negron then the Forging of a Knight series is one that holds strong in the world of fantasy. Now, Hugo is back with a new entry into Forging of a Knight that continues the drive of fantasy storytelling.

    Legend has called them the Ruinous Ones, the Dokahlfar and the Vartahlfar, evil elves and their dwarfish minions that controlled an unknown technological magic, daring to seek power beyond that of the tree and the root. They warred against their own kin, the high elves, and were defeated, fleeing into the dark, driven from the light they had wished to corrupt.

    Glaive has gone missing – a secret assignment for the King gone awry. Qualtan decides to search for his half-orcne friend, and in the process, uncover the truth behind the Ruinous Ones. The knight must risk all to escape from a strange new land, fraught with perils and danger, without the benefit of his magic sword. Worse, he will be accompanied by others, servants of Those That Stand in Shadow, in a fragile truce to find freedom…or die.

    Forging of a Knight – The Stolen Thief is a thrilling journey that leads you into a  deeply immerse moment where the characters are tested through life’s tribulations. From beginning to the end, it is clear that the author continues to flow within his element and pulls the reader along for the ride. Those who enjoy stories of knights, magic, swords are in for a true treat.

    And speaking of treat…here is an excerpt from the novel:

    “Go!”

    Figures in shadow responded to the sharp command. They darted to and fro, staying close to the darkened corners and shady recesses of the many stalwart buildings that comprised the warehouse district. Their footsteps landed softly on the brick-paved streets, halting at crossings where pendants of lit glass betrayed their presence. The evening was late. A pale moon dangled low, veiled by shifting streams of lazy cotton. The smell of the sea was strong; sleeping ships were moored nearby, jostling on gentle waves. More footsteps. Other night-stalkers appeared, huddling to whisper direction and gauge approach. Although there should have been little worry of passersby at this hour, they were wary, for there were others in the night as cautious as they.

    “There. Look there!”

    An outline barely discernible in the gloom stood atop a flat roof. It bobbed and soon disappeared.

    One of the intruders smiled, flashing small fangs. They were right not to have brought more men, he thought. Sentries had been posted throughout, and had they selected strength of arm vs. tenacity of stealth, their plans would have been easily foiled. The avenues zig-zagged through a labyrinth of crowded storage houses and cluttered lots. Another sentry was detected, again high above the streets.

    “I can barely see him,” an intruder said, straining his vision to the sky.

    “I can’t see him at all. Are you sure?” said a second intruder.

    “He’s there. I can see him. Another reason why I’m here with you lot,” the toothsome intruder said. “Keep low and marry the walls.”

    Passing by a train of idle wagons, the intruders came across a wandering guard keeping vigil during his evening shift. He barely nodded, continuing on his way, for he knew the spies on the rooftops were keeping silent watch over the area, and had been observing him. He held back any recognition of the intruders; after all, he had been expecting them.”

    Love what you read? Pick up your copy below:

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    Book Review – The Children of Darkness

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    The Children of Darkness if a dystopian unlike any other. Author David Litwack  examines theocracy  and how can be lost. He also gets the reader to answer the question on whether it is better to have the freedom to think for oneself or whether safety and security is the best approach. 

    This is a dystopian fiction is set a thousand years in the future where society is devoid of technology.  As a lover of technology, this fact has my attention as I couldn’t imagine living without my cell phone or computer but I digress. The story makes it so that basic things such as maps have been banned. The populace has decided to return to a very simple way of living. This is called the time before “The Darkness.”  
    Everyone  who resides here lives by the rules of “The Temple of Light.” which is the belief that the Vicars and The Temple keep the Darkness from returning by using what is known as “temple magic.”

    What is the truth? Well, I’m not going to spoil it for all of you but you will want to find out. Trust me!  
    The stars of this vivacious novel are Orah, Nathaniel and Thomas who have all been friends since childhood. All three live in the tiny community of Little Pond. When Orah is sent out of the city to receive a “teaching”, Nathaniel decides to go after her to save her from those “teachings” which are said to cause harm to all those who’ve had them previously but he is captured and placed in prison. Awaiting the fate of his friends, a secret is revealed to Nathaniel that has the potential to change the world forever.

    David Litwack has created a world that is vivid and written with stunning detail that creates a new religion and shows fiction through beings wanting to understand how to deal with good versus evil.

     

    Don’t miss out on this dystopian page turner. Grab your copy now below and check out the Q&A with the author of The Children of the Darkness, David Litwack.

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    Book Review – Raining Embers

    Resistance, disabilities, arrange marriages, war and destinies. 

    Those are only a few words to describe the beautifully written story titled Raining Embers. The universe is well-written from the start and pulls the reader in from the first few words. Raining Embers has an extremely strong sense of setting. You are encompassed into the story, as one living in Latysia, from the start. Jessica does an amazing job taking the reader from reality and pushed into the tale of learning ones self worth and overcoming shortcomings. 

    Raining Embers works as a story that readers look for when they want to escape reality because it does what a book should do. From the beginning, you are in the midst of what is going on. The action, the magic, it’s all there for you right away. I personally was proud to read and review this story on the back of this knowledge before I even finished the book. As a lover of books, escaping reality and feeling like I’m there witnessing it all first hand is an attribute that not many can do. Jessica Dall does this. Raining Embers does this. 

    Raining Embers has a lot of fantasy but it’s not just the fantasy that draws me into the book, it’s the characters. Characters can make or break a book. These are the characters we follow from beginning to end so we want to enjoy being with them. 

    Palmer has an unusual hearing problem, so he works hard  drawing attention to it but partakes in the suffering it causes. Brier becomes so ill because of her sense of smell and her reaction to different scents. She is bed-ridden for long periods, as she awaits her arranged marriage to another wealthy family. Despite their disabilities, which is essentially invisible to the eye, what can be looked upon as a problematic issue is transformed into a special power. Disabilities, in Raining Embers, are not made fun of but celebrated and even made to showcase that someone who is different can ultimately be the one to solve intricate issues. 

    The buildup of the world is the beginning and the character driven plot continues with a steady pace all the way until the end. Sit back and enjoy each character growing and adjusting to the changes around them among a word that is dark and filled with danger at every turn.

    From start to finish, Jessica Dall’s Raining Embers is filled with intrigue, a little romance and two young people who discover who they are in a world torn apart by heightened differences.

     

    Check out Raining Embers today!

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    About the Author

    Jessica Dall finished her first novel at the age of fifteen and has been hooked on writing ever since. In the past few years, she has published two novels,

    The Copper Witch and The Porcelain Child, along with a number of short stories that have appeared in both magazines and anthologies. 

    In college, Jessica interned at a publishing house, where her “writing hobby” slowly turned into a variety of writing careers. She currently works as both as an editor and creative writing teacher in Washington, DC. 

    When not busy editing, writing, or teaching, Jessica enjoys crafting and piano, and spending time with her friends and family. She can most often be found at her home in Maryland with a notebook and her much-loved, sometimes-neglected husband.

    Get to know Jessica Dall by selecting any of the following:

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaDall

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jkdall

    Website: jessicadall.com

    Raining Embers on Red Adept Publishing: http://bit.ly/RAPRainEmbers 

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    Book Review – Show Time

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    Raise your hand if you remember a television show titled ‘Big Brother’? How about the television show “Survivor’? Both are great shows that shined a spotlight on what happens when people are left to their own devices and must support themselves while in the presence of others. Those others, of course, being producers and millions watching all over the world. Well, if you love those shows, or shows like that, I have a treat for you and trust me, this is not a trick.

    Phil Harvey’s psychological thriller will not set your mind at ease. In fact, it will make you squirm, exactly what you want from a thriller. ‘ShowTime’ takes readers by the hand and dumps them on a remote island Survivor style but unlike the television show this version gives you a great reward of $400,000.00 only if the contestants remain on the island. That means, injury, illness or starvation means nothing. No one leaves until time is up.  Twisted, huh?

    Seven people (four guys and three girls) are the brave individuals who sign up to live together on an island for seven months. All of the contestants have issues within their own lives. It wouldn’t make for good television if they didn’t and author Phil Harvey knows it. Little by little he reveals the background of each of the participants and it is then you realize that each of these individuals should definitely remain on the island for the entire stint of seven months. Therapy is expensive. The prize money will come in handy when everything is said and done. If they all don’t perish first.

    I bet I know what you’re thinking, who are these contestants who want fame and fortune? Well, they are:

    Group One

    Ivan, a ex Navy Seal who has no problem doing whatever it takes to survive.

    Rudy, a athletic man black man

    Maureen, a redheaded who bared it all for the viewers alongside Rudy

    Group Two

    Ambrose, a nice guy who has gambling debt taller then he is.  Despite this he becomes a good leader and proposes a plan that has the potential to not only keep people alive but also earn the hefty payout. The only problem is, Ambrose didn’t count on the devil within leaving his plan to fall apart piece by piece.

    Cecily, a portly woman who abandoned her family

    Ashai, a lesbian who is not afraid to throw down and may have bi-sexual tendencies

    Solo Member

    Valentin,  suffered a sexually abusive childhood which leads him to unwilling trust anyone else. This choice leaves him no other option but to live out the seven months alone.

    Producers of the show only care about one thing: ratings. Sexual tension, a death (or two), and cold winters where food is scarce all lead to viewership. Promising bonuses if ratings go sky high, the producers showcase their true intentions. It’s all about the show.  Hidden microphones, cameras in strategic locations and camera’s in trees give viewers the ability to never miss a beat. We (the viewers) are introduced to the conflict, the sex and the struggle to live.

    The dialogue is crisp, the words flow across the page seamlessly and the action is exciting. Phil Harvey has created a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, leaving you to wonder the best question you could ever ask while reading: What happen’s next?

    Show Time is a gripping  world of cynics and survivors. It’s a fun, absorbing read and you will not stop until you reach the last of the page.

     

    Promotion(s)

    Show Time is available from 10/28 – 11/3 on the following platforms for just .99¢

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    In addition, visit  Gumroad to get electronic copies of Show Time plus Phil Harvey’s short story collection Across the Water: Tales of the Human Heart for just $1.99.

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