Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Am I an honest book reviewer?

For the most part I’m a direct, honest person. I was one of those types of children who used to blurt out whatever was on her mind. Yes I was an entertaining (aka sometimes embarrassing) child to have around. Now I’m an awesome adult who has discovered what a filter is and actually uses it. Sometimes.

I adore reading books. I’m meticulous in choosing them because I hate wasting time. It doesn’t help that I’m a finisher. By hook or crook if I start something, especially a book, I will get to the end, unless it is poke myself in the eye bad. The optimist in me keeps hoping the story will get better, until I reach the last chapter and  accept that it hasn’t and I call myself all types of fool for putting the book down earlier.

What do I do with these wretched books which I’d rate a one or a two? I commit the author’s name to memory and file him or her in an imaginary box labeled – “If I ever attempt to read this author again I will find a way to throat punch myself. Hard!” And then I chalk the book up to a bad experience and only think about it when discussing horrible books I’ve read.

I don’t review such books. If a story doesn’t rank a three or above, I don’t review it. Does this take me out of the category of an honest reviewer? I’m trying to figure out the answer to that question. Even books that I rate a three are ones that tend to be on the cusp of a “What in the world?” but I liked it enough to finish it without wanting to throw my e-reader at the wall.

When I write a review I’ll state what I liked about the book and what I didn’t. I’m totally about following the old adage of keeping your trap shut if you can’t say anything nice. That’s what I feel about a book I’d rate a one or two. Those reviews would be a rant about why I hated the book and wouldn’t include anything positive to toss. And as we all know one person’s treasure is another one’s… um – I can’t remember, but I hope you get the gist.

Are you an honest book reviewer?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Relationship drama, romance in Nigeria, and self publishing with Amaka Azie author of Starting Over Again

It's been a very long time since I've done an interview on the blog. When I saw that Amaka Azie had released her third book, Starting Over Again, I got curious about her and her stories. Only an interrogation interview would appease me. I hope you enjoy getting to know Ms. Azie as much as I did.

As an icebreaker please tell us the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done.
In my secondary school in Eastern Nigeria, students frequently fetched water for daily use from a spring situated in a deserted forest. We usually went in groups because there were loads of snakes and scary reptiles located in that forest. One night, I discovered I had no water to use the next morning to have a bath. Nobody wanted to go down there with me at night, so I took my bucket in one hand and a flashlight in the other, and braved going to that forest alone in the dark. Although I was scared as hell, I was strangely excited. With my adrenaline pumping full speed, I raced through the dense forest to the spring, filled the bucket and raced back up. I didn’t realise how frightened I was until I found myself back within the school compound. I almost fainted with relief. But it made me realise I could do anything I put my mind to.

What made you decide to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed books, literature and poems. I can’t count how many times I got into trouble for missing family activities like dinner when I was younger, because I was engrossed reading one book or the other. In secondary school, I wrote many short stories that I passed around to my classmates. They queued up to read my short stories, and sometimes got into arguments about who was next on the queue. In fact, one morning during English class, my teacher, Mrs Iyang, caught a classmate of mine reading one of my stories and seized it. I thought I was in trouble when she called me into the staff room but she simply told me she read and enjoyed it, and that I should consider becoming a writer. I kept ruminating about writing until I met another Nigerian author on Facebook who encouraged me to publish. I’m glad I took that bold step

Why do you write romance?
Oh, I love the concept of love. The excitement of meeting someone new, the emotions of trepidation and anxiety about relationships, advice from friends, challenges relationships bring, fights and break ups to make ups. No matter our previous bad experiences with love and relationships, we keep searching for it.  I find it fascinating that more than half of my adult conversations are dominated by relationship drama. I love it! It’s no wonder I gravitated towards the romance genre. Love literally makes the world go round!

You have three books released and they are all set in Nigeria. Why did you decide to use Africa as your setting?
I was born in Western Nigeria, West Africa, and grew up in different parts of Nigeria. When I was a teenager, I actively searched for romance novels with African characters and found few. It was frustrating. I settled for romance novels with non-African characters, and that made me unhappy about the lack of diversity.

Any time I came across romance novels with African characters, I would go crazy and buy as many of those books in excitement. Helen Ovbiagele was one of the authors who pioneered those novels. When I came across other authors like Kiru Taye, my excitement tripled. I wanted to be a part of filling that void. Writing about a vibrant and exciting Africa that is rarely portrayed in the media. A Nigeria/Africa that I experienced, where education, wealth, love and family exists. 

What made you decide to go the self-published route?
Unfortunately, there are few publishers that cater to the African romance genre. Apart from Ankara Press, most publishers won’t take a risk on romance novels set in Africa. I was turned down from the outset, or told I had to change a few things. When I realised I wanted to share my story the way it was, not water it down, or make it more “sorrowful” to portray the “African suffering”, I decided to self-publish. I wanted full control of my story, including the packaging and book covers. I have seen book covers made to look outrageous because it is an African book. For example, the idea that a book cover with an animal, a lion or an elephant or a monkey on it would authenticate it as African. I find that not only ridiculous, but insulting.

I’m glad I self-published and took control of what I wanted to put out there. So far, I have gotten good feedback from readers. One reader, an English lady, contacted me on twitter after reading Thorns and Roses. She told me she was so glad to read about a lovely side to Nigeria for a change. It made me very pleased.

What do you find most fascinating thing about writing?
The fact that I can create a story from my imagination, and get others to experience it with me, is extremely brilliant. I love creating a world and sharing that world with others so they can see it the way I created it. When I hear from a reader who not only experienced my creation the way I intended it, but also enjoyed my story, it makes it even more worthwhile.

I’ve seen you singing on social media with your daughters. What do they think of you being an author?
My daughters love to encourage me. They keep asking, “mum, how many words have you written today?” They are still very young, and so, not yet old enough to read my books. I look forward to when they can share their thoughts about my stories.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Simply to write. You can talk about it for ages, but until you do it, you never actually achieve the goal. Another is that writing should be a passion about sharing stories. Your story may cause people to laugh, cry, or have serious conversations. People may love your story, or hate it tremendously, but the most important thing is to share your story with passion. It’s a calling that a true writer can’t resist for long.

Author bio

Amaka Azie was born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa. She developed a passion for reading at the age of twelve. Her interest in writing began in secondary school when she joined the press club and her active imagination has captured the interests of many. With multiple stories in her head, she has finally decided to publish. Amaka currently resides on the Wirral peninsula in North West England with her husband and two daughters, where she also works part time as a family doctor. Apart from reading and writing, she enjoys watching crime TV shows, painting and travelling.

You can interact with Amaka Azie via:
Twitter: @AmakaAzie

Abandoned by her husband and left to care for a sick child, Onome is desperate to find a job. After several failed attempts, she eventually lands a job at one of the most prestigious banks in Lagos. She is finally rebuilding her life after her divorce and everything seems to be falling into place. However, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to her new boss, Nnamdi, who is also notoriously known for his womanising ways. Desperate to fight this attraction, she struggles to keep him at arm’s length. She can’t afford to let her growing attraction to him jeopardise her job, and most importantly, her heart…

Scorched by the burden of a scandalous family secret he stumbled upon when he was a young boy, single father Nnamdi, finds it hard to trust women. He has always lived his life lightly, with his relationships free from deep emotions and entanglements. To protect himself from hurt, he has built a wall around his heart. But there is something about his new executive marketing assistant, Onome, that makes him consider a future with her. The more time he spends with her and her daughter, Fejiro, the more the wall around his heart crumbles. And just as he is beginning to warm up to the idea of forever, her ex-husband resurfaces…

Buy links

 Onome heard a soft knock on her hotel room door causing her heart to jump. Her eyes flickered to the clock on the wall. It was seven p.m. She knew it had to be Nnamdi. He was here to tell her whether they got the account or not. Her pulse quickened as she moved from the bed to open the door. Nnamdi was leaning against the doorframe, looking virile in a brown muscle-hugging shirt, a pair of black jeans trousers and white Nike trainers on his feet. His thick curly hair glistened with moisture as if he had just stepped out of the shower. A subtle citrus aroma most likely from a bath gel assuaged her senses.

“Can I come in?” he asked in a relaxed tone. Onome stepped away from the door, holding her breath as his tall frame strutted into her room.

“Did we get the account?” Onome asked nervously, scrubbing her sweaty palms over her bright green cotton shorts. He hesitated, his facial expression serious. Onome’s heart sank. She had let him down, let the bank down. Her stomach knotted with trepidation. “We… we didn’t get it?” she mumbled hesitantly. His lips twitched momentarily, then cracked into a disarming smile.

“Congrats, Onome, you have brought in your first account.”

“Oh my God!” Onome exclaimed, jumping in delight. “I have been so anxious, oh my God!” He opened his arms. Without a thought, she ran into his outstretched arms, wrapping her arms around him. He lifted her, twirled her around briefly before gradually lowering her on her feet.

“I’m so proud of you, Onome.” His deep baritone resonated within her.

“Thank you for letting me do this. I have actually missed doing this, hustling for accounts.” They stood that way, locked in each other’s arms as moments ticked by, neither of them making any move to break the connection. Slowly, the atmosphere between them shifted from elation to sensual awareness. Their eyes locked. His brown eyes, darkened now, dipped to her lips.

“I’m going to kiss you,” he murmured. He sounded as if he was warning her, giving her a chance to back away from him. Onome had no such desire. She had dreamt of kissing him countless times, been consumed with the desire to feel his full lips glide over hers, spent nights wondering if he kissed softly and sweetly or if he plunged in, hard and rough, taking, demanding—
Before she could complete that trend of thought, his mouth descended on hers.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Review and spotlight: Record of Wrongs (Redemption County 1) by Sharon Kay

Title: Record of Wrongs
Series: Redemption County #1
Author: Sharon Kay
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Published: August 1, 2017
Do your past mistakes define you forever?

Cruz Zaffino leaves prison after a serving a decade for a crime he didn’t commit. With his life all over the internet, there’s nowhere he can go to avoid his illicit past. Involved with one of Chicago’s toughest gangs, he made enemies bent on ruining everything he has. Nowhere is beyond their reach.

Every day, Rosie Marlow lives with the scars from the worst mistake of her life. It’s the one secret she has in her tiny, gossip-fueled town. When Cruz walks into her bar, covered in tattoos and dangerous attitude, she’s captivated. His rough sexuality makes her melt, and his harsh experience calls to her own broken soul. But her story is private and buried so deep, she’s never had the strength to share it.

She’s the unexpected light to his darkness, yet he knows she’s hiding something. Sultry summer nights in each other’s arms weaken her resistance and taunt her with the idea of forever. But as his adversaries draw close, can she love him enough to let him go?

My Review
This book started off so sweet that I was a little thrown off balance (in a good way) when things heated up. The attraction was immediate between the hero and heroine, but they took time to get to know each other a little. I liked that. 

After being unjustly imprisoned for 10 years, Cruz was sweeter than I anticipated he’d be. He had his moments of a tough guy who knew how to take care of his own, but for the most part he was a kind. He’d learned his lessons in jail and I liked that he’d grown from the rough teenager he’d been into a mature adult. It tickled me that he was so easily amused by the country lifestyle he’d discovered.

Rosie was pure joy… well, mostly. Where initially you see a woman who has lived an ideal life in a small hometown, there was more to her. She’d suffered. She understood that the consequences of her actions was her fault, but wasn’t ready to forgive herself. Redemption was not only for Cruz, Rosie had her share to partake in, too.

A wonderful story and a quick read filled with action, drama, and a sappy/hot as hell romance.

I give this book four out of five cowboy boot shaped chocolate bars.

I was given a copy of this book for an honest review.

Sharon Kay writes award-winning fiction and can never get enough reading time. She loves winter and black coffee, and is endlessly inspired to write kick-ass heroines and the men strong enough to capture their hearts.

Sharon lives in the Chicago area with her husband and son, and one weekend the idea for her Lash Watchers and tough leading ladies formed in her head, refusing to stay quiet until she put pen to paper. Her characters tend to keep her up at night, as they banter, fall in love, and slay endless varieties of power-hungry demons.

Sign up for Sharon’s newsletter to keep up with her demons, see early cover reveals and be entered in periodic giveaways.
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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Prah, Constantine and Prah Reviews:The Librarian by Christy Sloat

August is here and I hope the sunshine has remained steady and pleasant for you. If you haven’t yet gone on vacation have a good one, and remember to take along a good book. This month we chose a paranormal and as the title suggests, books were a major part of the story.
Remember to hop over to Constantine and Baryeh’s blogs to see what they thought.

The Blurb
He’s from 1892 England, she’s in a small library in 2017. And that's just the start of their troubles.

Emme never meant to stay in Maine. She'd come only to find a librarian for her Gram's library, a custodian for the collection of mysterious books she'd promised to protect. On a dark, wintery night, alone in the library, she takes her first glance into one of the antique novels and finds herself transported to 1892 England staring into the eyes of handsome and dashing hero Jack Ridgewell. As each chapter passes she learns you can truly fall in love with a character in a book, that book boyfriends are real and Emme must choose between the real world, and his.

When the last page is read he's gone and Emme feels the cold loneliness of lost love. Will she find Jack again, or will their love be forever lost? The answer lies within the pages… 

 My Review
Time travel is never an easy concept to tackle in a book. Someone, usually the reader, tends to end up with a headache. In this case the heroine ended up with one as well. In every time travel book, movie or show I’ve experience where the past is involved there is always the concept of not disturbing the present time because if they did then the future would be changed. It takes Emme a long time to grasp this. And I couldn’t understand why – especially since she mentioned it herself when she’d initially woken up in the past.

There were quite a few things I couldn’t understand in story. I wasn’t clear about the purpose of the Librarians – history had been recorded for years without their observations and I’m still boggled as to how they could go back in time and observe the past without influencing it.

Emme seemed like a nice young woman, but I couldn’t relate to her. At least not until she started behaving in a sensible manner. I wasn’t a fan of the insta-love that took place between the hero (one of them) and heroine. One minute she’s meeting Jack Ridgewall, and the next she wants to stay in his time period, forgoing everything she knows for a man she’s met a few times for a few hours. I wasn’t buying it. There were a few scenes in the book where I had to wait in order to understand the purpose or meaning of why they'd been written in.  I’m still waiting.

I give this book three out of five book shaped chocolate bars.

I purchased this book from AmazonUK.

Here’s the AmazonUS link. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Original Nana - Overcoming Fear (of statues)

No I'm not a happy camper, but I'm
there. With the statues.
Taking pictures.
I have a fear of statues. I admit it. I'm not proud of it, but who in the world has ever been proud of having a fear? It all started with the church. Yes those huge statues of Jesus suffering on the cross looming over you. I used to clean my church in high school and college. In the foyer there was a crucifix- Jesus surrounded by John, Mary, and Mary. These statues were taller than my average 5'5 height. When I used to clean in the evening I would rush (translate as run) past the statue to leave. 

Things didn't get any better when there was a report one year of a statue crying blood. Oh boy! I don't think I ever cleaned the church in the evening alone again.

About twelve years ago I went to a museum in Connecticut with my friend's eight year old niece. Of course I couldn't show my fear when we moved through the statue section so I just rushed her through. 

This year I roamed through a museum in London. Turned out that they had a whole section of statues. By my lonesome I walked among the statues and appreciated them. Was I afraid? A little, but I made sure there were other people with me in the area. 

Have I conquered my little phobia - I think I'll have to test it in a church with loads of humongous statues surrounding me - I'm in no rush.

Do have a fear you've been trying to get rid of?

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Destiny Mine is on Audio

I'm so excited. Destiny Mine - book #2 in the Destiny African Series is on audio. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to listen to my characters come to life. I laughed quite a bit because both Esi and Adam are hilarious. At least in my opinion. You can come to your own conclusion. My face heated up when I listened to the scene where they made love. Yes I wrote that.

I tortured Mark Rossman with the pronunciations of the places Adam and Esi traveled to in the Volta Region. He did an amazing job with both the words and the story. If you're a Ghanaian and any of the words don't sound quite right to your ears, the blame is on me.

Take a quick listen (Not to the sex scene- you'll have to buy your own book to hear that).

Here is where you can get your copy. 

Extraordinary midwife, Esi Darfour, is looking to get married.  She’s a master matchmaker but has no luck when it comes to her love life and has yet to find a man worthy of her. Until she has to deal with gorgeous Dr. Adam Quarshie outside of work.

Adam is a player who refuses to get married—ever. His interest lies more in getting her into bed than in having any kind of committed relationship. Esi’s matchmaker instincts warn her to run in the other direction as quickly as possible, but her heart insists she stay…get closer…and see if what they feel for each other can change his mind.

Buy Links

Friday, 21 July 2017

Review: Taffy by Suzette D. Harrison

The Blurb
Welcome to the sleepy, all-Black southern town of Bledsoe, where Colored residents proudly declare “ain’t nothing white here ‘cept milk and teeth.” It’s 1935. A press-and-curl costs a quarter. Records play on phonographs. And a telephone is a luxury.

Meet twenty-three-year-old Taffy Bledsoe Freeman. She doesn’t need her gift of second sight to know her “mockery of a marriage” to a man twice her age is far from good. After a seven-year exile Up North, Taffy travels down-home to the small town bearing her family’s name, plotting her escape from a marriage not worth the price of a press-and-curl. She only needs to retrieve the son her husband banished to her parents’ care, before boarding a train headed for the Windy City filled with liberty and opportunity. Instead, Taffy stumbles into Roam Ellis: her long-lost love and the man Taffy meant to marry.

Twenty-six-year-old Roam Ellis is a “broad-shouldered, hard-bodied” Pullman porter riding the rails coast-to-coast, outrunning the bitter heartbreak Taffy left behind. Now, after a seven-year absence, Roam is face-to-face with his first love. Anger ignites. Old wounds are exposed. But when pain subsides, passion rises, thrusting Taffy and Roam into a hurricane of buried secrets and lies.

Reminiscent of the works of Bernice McFadden, Bertice Berry, and Andrea Smith (The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner) this Historical Romance is bathed in southern lore and sweeping imagery. Lyrical and powerful, Taffy is a story of restoration and redemption that you won’t soon forget. 

My Review
This is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in a very long time. The vividness of the writing was amazing and the tale was told descriptively without being overbearing or boring. The story held a plethora of emotion, dealing head on with issues that made me angry to those which gave me hope.

Taffy was an incredible woman who’d had to tolerate hardship which had made her grow up quickly. As the story progressed her strength, beauty, and good humor shone through although things had been immensely hard for her since she was sixteen.

I adored Roam. Absolutely loved him. He was everything a man should be, including forgiving. His younger self had a hard time dealing with what had happened with Taffy and I couldn’t blame him. His older self was perfection. A strong black man in a time when it was difficult to be one. He knew who he was as an individual, had goals, and worked to reach them, all while loving life (sometimes a little too much). His sense of humor, intelligence, and passionate nature made him one fine man.

The paranormal aspect of the book was intriguing. Taffy’s gift of sight and the story behind how she received it added strength and depth to the story and to the town of Bledsoe.

The one thing I didn’t care for was the head hopping in the book. It took a while to get used to. Other than that minor flaw I found it to be a fabulous novel. Absolutely stunning.

I give this book five out five  train shaped chocolate bars.

I purchased my copy from Amazon UK

Here's the Amazon US link.