Tag Archives: african american

Book Review: Preparing My Daughter For Rain:: notes on how to heal and survive. by Key Ballah

Self Published Published Aug. 24,2014 106 Pages
Self Published
Published Aug. 24,2014
106 Pages

A collection of poetry for daughters, future daughters and women about how to heal and survive. 

This is going to be short review and that is because I do not have the words to describe this other than deep and powerful.  I wasn’t expecting much and that is because its been a hit and miss for me with poetry; mostly because I am not at a point in my life where I am sad nor am I obsess or desperate about love and being in love (long statement I know).

But anyway, this book, this poetry moved me so much. To say I am not an emotional fragile woman at this moment, would be a lie. The words were so honest but followed so beautifully without the fillers and the whimsical ideas. It reminded me of my past and made me feel for my future. It also made me think of mom a lot, which is the purpose but I really thought about my mom and who she was before kids.

I love this book and although I go it for kindle unlimited, I have every intentions of buying it for my library. I fell for this book and I think each time I read it I will learn something new about myself, women and my mom.

Powerful…powerful read I would recommend to all women for themselves and their daughters.

5 Pickles 

NetGalley Review: Break My Heart by Rhonda Helms

Kensington To Be Published July 28, 2015 240 Pages
To Be Published July 28, 2015
240 Pages

Megan Porter isn’t the average math student. Graduating with honors and guaranteed (as long as she passes) a spot at her school’s graduate program, Megan is on her way.

But her senior semester quickly goes on shaky ground when she meets her new thesis adviser and professor Dr. Nick Muarmoto. Young, extremely intelligent and passionate, he offers Megan exactly what her maturity level has been looking for.

When Megan realizes this is more than just a school girl crush, the two decide to embark on a forbidden relationship but with Nick’s career at risk and possibly Megan’s future, how can the two grow in love better yet hide it?

Surprise. I am completely in love with this short read. First let’s talk about diversity. I am so glad to see a non stereotypical main female college student (you know the one that has a horrible background story and is a hot girl dressed in geek clothing) who is sassy, knows what she wants and is well grounded and liked. I am also glad to see that she is black. It is so important to see characters who aren’t white all the time. There are other races.  I am also glad to see the main character isn’t white either but Japanese; again diversity is an amazing thing.

The storyline was to the point and perfect. I loved Megan and I loved how she fell in love. She still remained sure of herself but at the same time couldn’t knock the fact that this man was changing her life. I also loved the fact that she just was a good person; no attitude unless you provoked her (in the only scene I felt she should have given more attitude).

However, here is where the book fell short for me:

Nick didn’t have much personality. Yes, he loved his job and what he taught. Yes, he wasn’t a flat board but he didn’t have a spark that made me feel what Megan was feeling.

I also didn’t like how there wasn’t much description of what Megan looked like. I couldn’t picture her face, her shape or even the sound of her voice. All I know is she is black.

But beyond that the pace of the novel, the realism and the juicy scenes really made this an enjoyable book.


4 Pickles 


Adult Book Review: Debbie Doesn’t Do it Anymore by Walter Mosley

DoubleDay Published May 13, 2014 272 Pages
Published May 13, 2014
272 Pages

Debbie Dare is loved,adored and obsessed over by men she knows and doesn’t know. Wearing a blonde wig and blue contacts she is considered the Queen of Pornography. But one day changes her life. Experiencing an unexpected orgasm, she returns home to find her husband has dead in the most unpleasant way with an aspiring actress. 

Now drowning in unforeseen debt Debbie quits the porn industry but must deal those trying to collect. On a mission for redemption and to wash away grief, Debbie returns to her estranged family as well as to the child she was forced to give up.  

I love when authors talk about forbidden topics. African American porn stars is one of those topics you rarely hear about. So I appreciate this.

What I love about this book was how everything made sense. Nothing seemed really fair fetch other than Debbie’s lack of emotion for pretty much everything. I like how the author was able to not focus too much on her pornographic career and more on the what now. It was able to make Debbie’s story realistic but not without a twist of fantasy to keep the book going.

When I say fantasy I don’t mean in the terms of witches and wizards but in the terms of gangsters, fights and life threatening situations. This is a form of fantasy to me because I live a quiet life in suburbia.

None the less, what I didn’t like about this book was Debbie’s almost zero personality. She had no real emotion to things. Yes, that is a form of grieving but she was just a blank slate to everything. I also thought it was weird that she was considering suicide but not because she thought it but because someone else did.

I thought this was a creative read, a bit slow and maybe a basic ending but everything was there. Overall,

3.5 Pickles.

NetGalley Review: Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

Pamela Dorman Books Published Jan. 1, 2014 384 Pages
Pamela Dorman Books
Published Jan. 1, 2014
384 Pages

Charley Bordelon’s father has left her 800 acres of sugarcane land in Louisiana. At a chance to start over, she and her daughter leaves behind Los Angles to work for a what is consider a white man’s job and to live with her judgmental grandmother.

Completely lost in what she is doing Charley must deal with a homesick (rude ass) daughter, her half-brother, who she hasn’t seen in over ten years and desires she didn’t think she still had on top a down on its luck farm.

This book was very good idea. However, it was a dry read. Not much is really going on in this book really until the last few chapters.

Baszile has talent as a writer. It is there within the development of characters, scenery and the relationships between whites and blacks in the South.

But Charley does a lot of complaining, a lot of break downs, unsure-ness and a lot of allowing people to walk over her. It was hard to continue reading because I cannot say that I like her or for the most part any of the characters in this book.

Her brother was an ass and felt that everyone should bow down to him because he almost did something. Her Grandmother was too much. I understand her position in the family but it was a bit overkill that if she didn’t have it her way you was the worst human on this earth. Finally, her daughter needed to get her ass kick. Rude and disrespectful characters not just children is a huge pet peeve of mine and man that girl was horrible.

I feel that this book had so much to offer but there was too much down time and not enough issues for a lack of better term to fill the gaps. There also wasn’t enough back-story into the family, the father or even Charley.

Overall, 2 Pickles.


Guys. . . .  I have some amazing news that I need to share. Quick Five© was picked up by an up and coming magazine!!!!!

Isn’t that amazing! I would like to thank every author that agreed to an interview with me and every person that has read them no matter how brief.

Here is my other news: The company is looking for freelance writers to contribute to their online as well as their physical magazine. This is a paid position. So send your resume to:


As far as I know they are simply looking for writers who write well. So email them for more details. Maybe we will get to work together :)


Book Review: Crime Partners by Donald Goines

Billy Good and Jackie Walker, former prison friends, are getting by doing odd jobs. Unhappy with their situation they meet up with Kenyatta, a man ready to take back the streets and make big time money.

But with big time money from the streets come problems; drug pushers and crooked cops are the lease of their concerns with flying bullets around.This is the first book out of the Kenyatta series and I fell in love. If you like crime and a fast pace read this book is perfect for you. The writing was extremely intense but it wasn’t too complicated for you not to understand what was going on. It was also detailed but at the same time blunt. I was completely amazed reading this book because the author wrote the story extremely well. Donald Goines wrote about what was going on around him and rumor has it what he was involved him, so the story is very realistic. The writing is so smooth and clean that you get lost in the story very fast and before you know it its over.The characters were very developed and I was rooting for Kenyatta, who for the most part is the bad guy. What I didn’t like about the book was how short it was. There was still so much more I needed from this book and although it ended well enough, it was still missing something. There is a book two so I just need to read the second book.
Overall, I give this book 4 Pickles. It was a quick read that build up so well and ended so smoothly with the perfect cliff hanger but something missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it.




Book Review: Sugar (Sugar Lacey #1) by Bernice L. McFadden

               Plume  Published Jan. 2, 2001             240 Pages
Published Jan. 2, 2001
240 Pages

In Southern towns, especially African American towns, people do not like the boat to be rocked. Sugar makes her way down to Bigelow, Arkansas and brings life and action to a once quiet town.

Hoping to find peace, Sugar settles down only to be stirred by the judgement of the town folk and the demons of her past.

This book was amazing. McFadden created a complex character without making her annoying, needy, bitchy or self centered. Sugar had issues . . .  lots of them and she is trying to get away from that but in order to do that you have to come to terms with your past.

The book itself flowed very easily and it didn’t feel forced. There also wasn’t a lot of stereotypes and I greatly appreciated that. McFadden kept the book old school but not too old where you didn’t feel some kind of connection. I also loved the fact that she kept the ethics of the South very strong throughout this book.

Sugar is a prostitute . . . not by choice. She was abandoned as a baby and three women who happened to be in that field raised her. She is supposed to be the bread winner but Sugar doesn’t want to live that life anymore so she leaves. However, the town quickly finds out about her past and begin to shun her. This isn’t all of Sugar’s problems but its a big chunk.

Although Sugar is complicated you do feel a connection to her. She is lost and she is looking to change her life around and be accepted. I chalk that up to great writing. Overall this book gets 5 Pickles

Book Review: A Love Noire by Erica Simone Turnipseed

           Amistad   Published June 29, 2004            320 Pages
Published June 29, 2004
320 Pages

Norie is a “righteous” African American PHD student that is all about black pride and sticking it to the man. Attending a book signing, Norie meets Innocent a VP Banker from Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, and although Innocent is attracted to her Norie is on the fence because she considers him “Bourgie.”

Taking a chance Norie begins to date Innocent and they both begin to realize that unexpected love is the most complicated of them all.

Not even three chapters in and I knew I didn’t like the book. There is nothing wrong with an African American female or male being considered “righteous” however, that point does not need to be made every other line in the first six chapters.

Norie was trying so hard not to like African Americans with money and I didn’t understand why. Let’s make this clear I’m African American and I know why but the reader does not know where it is coming from until well after Norie and Innocent begin dating. What’s the back story? Why was she so mad at those with money?

The author tried to make it seem that African Americans with money feel some type of way with afro wearing African American females that have an outspoken opinion and that Innocent was the different one from the brunch. Now there is not an issue with the rich not liking the poor or middle class or vice versa. My issue is there is no need to constantly remind the readers that this book is about African American lovers. I know she is an African American woman and I know he is an African male; it’s in the summary. I felt it was immature as a writer to not be creative enough to describe what Norie and Innocent looked like without bluntly saying it.

I also really didn’t like the language Turnipseed used when Innocent was talking to his friend. What type of bank VP is cursing like he is a frat boy and not a grown man? Also why is there so much cursing period? It was as if African Americans do not know how to speak without adding a curse word.

The book was poorly written and the ending was sloppy and really forgettable. How is it that after a year of dating Innocent believes the relationship is too intense for him? WHO SAYS THAT!? You wouldn’t have made it a year if that was the case.

Overall the book gets 4 out of 10. The book felt forced, and  unrealistic. I really do not understand what Turnipseed was trying to prove with this book but it didn’t work.

Book Review: The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate

    Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill         Published Sept 13, 2011                  272 Pages
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Published Sept 13, 2011
272 Pages

Powerful story but too many things left unsaid.

Josie Henderson is an African American woman who loves the water. She spent her entire life trying to know the ins and outs of the water and ultimately became a marine biologist-actually-the only African American senior-level scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

But Josie isn’t as successful as she believes. Yes, she has the career and a white husband but she left home running away from her father, her brother, who struggle with addiction and her mother who watched it all happen and was too late to help.

With her brother’s latest stunt of Rehab over things fall apart more quickly than anyone, especially Josie, anticipates.

Told in four different voices this was a good book. It was also believable to the point that you believe this is book is someone’s’ life story.  You see the struggle with all the characters and their lives, past and present. But even with that there are things that I didn’t quite understand. Why did her brother begin drinking and using? What happened to him that caused him to begin drinking? He was married with a house, car and a good job. Josie didn’t fall to addiction because of what she saw however she had other problems.

Also I didn’t understand Josie. I get the fact she was running away from home and avoiding. I even kind of get the fact she didn’t want to have children. What I didn’t get was how she was treating her husband. She married a white man but then turned around and complained about him not understanding her culture or music after she meets a black male who is on the same career level as her. She doesn’t tell her husband anything but opens up to another male both physically and emotionally mainly because she felt a connection to him because he was black.

As in for things left unsaid I wanted to know what her brother couldn’t face. His father was able to get clean but he couldn’t why? What happen to Josie? She was a mess in a half.  Also what happen with Josie and her husband? He knew something was going on but didn’t bluntly say anything.

As for the writing there were no issues. Southgate drew me in well mainly because beyond the addiction it wasn’t a book talking about how Josie fell off the track and had to pick herself up right or even her brother for the time. They both got into a really good high school on scholarship, graduated and went to college. I loved that because although there was issues at home and hint of teasing at school the book didn’t stress a past struggle outside the addiction running in the family.

Overall this book gets 9 out of 10. I love when all I can complain about is the characters themselves and not the writing.

Book Review: Merge/Disciple: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion by Walter Mosley

This book is two short stories that have nothing to do with each other.

           Tor Books   Published Oct 1, 2012            288 Pages
Tor Books
Published Oct 1, 2012
288 Pages


Raleigh Redman won the lotto but before that he was regular guy working 9-5 in love with a girl who left him out of no where. After winning he quits his job and decides to read the last gift from his father, a collections of lectures in the Popular Educator Library. While on night reading out of no where a tree branch is in his apartment asking for food.

Out of curiosity Raleigh feeds it and watches grow while also questioning if what he is doing right. By feeding this creature Raleigh opened the door to a new world.

This short story was amazing; from beginning to end. I had a wonderful time reading it. Raleigh himself was a dull and boring character but Mosley was able to bring him to life by the characters around him. However, what I liked about Raleigh was he thought things through; he didn’t just jump at a decision which I though was awesome. Also he wasn’t a whinny brat about it; he was a grown man that had to make a choice.

Overall this story gets 10 out of 10. Wonderful.


This story was not as good ad Merge. Hogarth “Trent” Tryman is a lonely forty-two year old man who works at a dead end job. No friends no want to be girlfriends, just his mom (he doesn’t live with her). One day he gets a message from someone named Bron who tells him he needs his help to alter the world. At first Trent doesn’t agree but is proven Bron is the real deal and goes with it. But soon his conscious doesn’t sit well with some of the actions he is doing and not only is his life in danger but so is others.

The book started off well enough but it didn’t catch my interest. I loved the whole man on the computer technically controlling this man’s life and him going back and forth with his conscious. But for a lack of better term the story was boring. Nothing about these words kept me wanting to read more. There wasn’t the same passion in the words as the first story.

I did like the good things Trent was doing with his new power. It made me respect him but he was boring and didn’t enjoy himself even a little. It made him actually seem like a sad man that really didn’t know what to do with himself.

Overall this story gets 6 out of 10. For a man being controlled by a guy or being on a computer it was pretty boring.  

Tania Lasenburg is a communications major that plays video games and cyber stalks Gym Class Heroes. Follow her on twitter @mrztanyapickles