Book Reviews

The Build Up by Tati Richardson

Join the exciting journey of two highly skilled architects who become entangled in a complex web of desire, ambition, and undeniable attraction in the vibrant city of Atlanta. Despite facing numerous obstacles as Black professionals in a world that often hinders their progress, they strive to balance their personal and professional lives. “The Build-Up” is an emotionally charged tale that takes a deep dive into the complexities of relationships and the power of persistence, guaranteed to capture your heart. Follow these architects as they build their careers and nurture a love that is strong enough to conquer any obstacle. I loved the character development in the story, particularly Ari, who I found myself relating to more than any other character I’ve read. Her unwavering strength and defensiveness are offset by her deep compassion and nurturing nature. When she meets Porter, it becomes challenging for her to keep her guard up as he exhibits some of the same remarkable qualities.

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The Build Up synopsis:
A truly unfortunate first day of work leads to unexpected love in this sparkling debut from Romance in Colour podcast cohost Tati Richardson.

Rumpled and ragged was not how architect Ari James envisioned kicking off her first day at a new firm. And few things can top the horror of her new—and extremely hot—colleague walking in on her at the worst moment ever. Learning that she’ll be working with him on the project that’s supposed to get her career back on top makes it harder than ever to focus on her big comeback.

With a partnership at his firm on the line, nothing is going to stand in the way of Porter Harrison absolutely killing it on his new project: not his obnoxious rival, not his unpredictable brother and definitely not his new coworker whose gorgeous curves he accidentally saw and now can’t get out of his head.

Though neither of them is looking for love, once their creative juices get flowing, Ari and Porter’s connection is obvious. But when their shared goal has always been winning at work, building a solid foundation for a relationship might end up costing them everything…

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You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Synopsis:

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach Jen Sincero serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to:
– Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want.
– Create a life you love. And create it NOW!
– Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

My Review:
With all Self Help books, there are things that you don’t like about it and won’t ever use, and there are excellent points and gems that you’ll take away from it. If you’re reading self-help, you must want to make yourself and your life better in some way or another. This book may not change your life, but may significantly improve it. So read this with an open mind and ask yourself, What can I take away from this? What can I use from this book to make my everyday life just a little better? Here are some Gems and takeaways that I’ll try to implement.

You are a Badass

• Memo pads of affirmations on mirror.

• Self loathing = What can I do instead? What can I learn from this?

“Holding on to my bad feelings about this is doing nothing but harming me, and everyone else, and preventing me from enjoying my life fully. I am an awesome person. I choose to enjoy my life. I choose to let this go.”

DO NOT WASTE YOUR PRECIOUS TIME GIVING ONE SINGLE CRAP ABOUT WHAT ANYBODY ELSE THINKS OF YOU.

Meanwhile, the truth is, the only questions you ever need to answer when making decisions about your life are:

1. Is this something I want to be, do, or have?

2. Is this going to take me in the direction I want to go (not

should go)?

3. Is this going to screw over* anybody else in the process?

Our thoughts are the most powerful tools we’ve got.

The moment you have the audacity to start believing in the not-yet seen, your reality will begin to shift.

THE FOLLOWING IS HUGELY IMPORTANT SO PLEASE PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION: You have to change your thinking first, and then the evidence appears. Our big mistake is that we do it the other way around. We demand to see the evidence before we believe it to be true.

Holding on to resentment is like taking poison and waiting for your enemies to die.

Forgiving isn’t about being nice to them, it’s about being nice to yourself.

• Talk to strangers, we’re all family on this planet.

• Expect, and enjoy, the unexpected.

• Find the humor.

• Join the party.

• Live in the moment.

• Time spent enjoying yourself is never time wasted.

• Share your space.

• Loosen your bone, Wilma.

REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE #1

Put your priorities first–don’t check e-mails or voice messages or Facebook until you’ve gotten into your day and accomplished some of the tasks you want to do. Don’t answer the phone or texts while you’re busy. Other people’s needs can occupy several lifetimes’ worth of our attention, and if you let them, they will.

It’s about respecting yourself, instead of catering to your insecure need to be liked.

This is incredibly powerful, because when you love yourself enough to stand in your truth no matter what the cost, everyone benefits. You start attracting the kinds of things, people, and opportunities, that are in alignment with who you truly are.

About the Author:

Jen Sincero is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author, speaker and success coach who has helped countless people transform their personal and professional lives via her public appearances, private sessions, coaching seminars and, most recently, her latest #1 NY Times Bestselling book, “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life”.

She’s spoken on stages all over the world and has coached full-on super heroes, helping them build their dream businesses, become NY Times Bestselling authors, navigate million dollar business deals, find their soul mates and forgive their bitchy mothers who they now realize were just doing the best they could.

Before becoming a coach, Jen played in several rock bands and eventually wrote her first book, a semi-autobiographical novel called, “Don’t Sleep With Your Drummer.” When her plans to become a world-famous rockstar didn’t pan out, she decided to try being a lesbian instead, didn’t pull that off either, and wrote her second book, the National Bestseller, “The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping With Chicks.” Jen currently lives in New Mexico, and can be found on the web at JenSincero.Com.

For Lamb

An interracial friendship between two teenage girls goes tragically wrong in this powerful historical novel set in the Jim Crow South.

For Lamb follows a family striving to better their lives in the late 1930s in Jackson, Mississippi. Lamb’s mother is a hard-working, creative seamstress who cannot reveal she is a lesbian. Lamb’s brother has a brilliant mind and has even earned a college scholarship for a black college up north– if only he could curb his impulsiveness and rebellious nature.

Lamb herself is a quiet and studious girl. She is also naive. As she tentatively accepts the friendly overtures of a white girl who loans her a book she loves, she sets off a catastrophic series of events that pulls in her mother, charming hustler uncle, estranged father, and brother and ends in a lynching.

Told with nuance and subtlety, avoiding sensationalism and unnecessary brutality, this young adult novel from celebrated author Lesa Cline-Ransome pays homage to the female victims of white supremacy.

My Review:
Thank you, NetGalley and Holiday House, for letting me read this. I literally could not put this book down. I had so many different emotions reading this story, and to realize that Lamb was a real person and a lynching victim is devastating. This book sent me down a rabbit hole of wanting to know more about lynching victims and plan a visit to Montgomery to The Legacy museum. For Lamb was one of my top reads of 2022.

About the Author:
Lesa Cline-Ransome is an American author of picture books and middle-grade novels, best known for her NAACP Image Award-nominated picture book biography of Harriet Tubman Before She Was Harriet and her middle-grade novel Finding Langston.

Seven Days in June

Seven Days In June’ Novel In Works For Television By Will Packer Media & Kinetic Content

Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry – or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered…

With its keen observations of Black life and the condition of modern motherhood, as well as the consequences of motherless-ness, Seven Days in June is by turns humorous, warm and deeply sensual.

My Review
When I picked up this book, I was looking for a light read. It had been a while since I had picked up a romance book. It gave me a Lifetime feel at times full of the trauma of both character’s childhood. It’s a very back-and-forth, complicated romance; I think I was expecting more of a Hallmark feel. I also thought that there were more bickering and petty arguments than romance. This book is for you if you’re looking for a complicated romance book.

Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons, #4)

Synopsis: When the dawn breaks, a hero rises. His power is beyond imagining. Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger--better--than everyone around him. But he wasn't raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it's not like he's earned his powers . . . yet. But power comes with a price. Lately it's difficult to hold back and keep his heroics in the shadows. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and discovers a dark secret lurking in Smallville. Turns out, Clark's not the only one hiding something....

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Synopsis:

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

My Review:
Number 3 of my favorite reads of 2022. I really loved this, and I may be biased as a Bookstore owner. I will say give it some time, a bit of time, it’s slow going. It takes off about halfway; I mean, really… How could I not love this book? The story of a bookseller (relatable) that falls in love with his literary sales rep. She, along with his adopted daughter, brings meaning to his life. There’s tragedy, heartbreak, and laughter. Watch the movie when you get done reading the book, but be prepared to bawl your eyes out to both.

About the Author:

GABRIELLE ZEVIN is a New York Times best-selling novelist whose books have been translated into forty languages.

Her tenth novel, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was published by Knopf in July of 2022 and was an instant New York Times Best Seller, a Sunday Times Best Seller, a USA Today Best Seller, a #1 National Indie Best Seller, and a selection of the Tonight Show’s Fallon Book Club. Maureen Corrigan of NPR’s Fresh Air called it, “a big beautifully written novel…that succeeds in being both serious art and immersive entertainment.” Following a twenty-five-bidder auction, the feature film rights to Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow were acquired by Temple Hill and Paramount Studios. She is currently writing the screenplay.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry spent many months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, was a USA Today Best Seller, and has been a best seller all around the world. A.J. Fikry was honored with the Southern California Independent Booksellers Award for Fiction, the Japan Booksellers’ Prize, and was long listed for the International Dublin Literary Award, among other honors. To date, the book has sold over five-million copies worldwide. It is now a feature film with a screenplay by Zevin. Young Jane Young won the Southern Book Prize and was one of the Washington Post’s Fifty Notable Works of Fiction.

She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best First Screenplay. She has occasionally written criticism for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered, and she began her writing career, at age fourteen, as a music critic for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. She lives in Los Angeles.

Synopsis:

In Hell of a Book, an African-American author sets out on a cross-country book tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Jason Mott’s novel and is the scaffolding of something much larger and more urgent: since his novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

Throughout, these characters’ stories build and build and as they converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art, and money, there always is the tragic story of a police shooting playing over and over on the news.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind? Unforgettably powerful, an electrifying high-wire act, ideal for book clubs, and the book Mott says he has been writing in his head for ten years, Hell of a Book in its final twists truly becomes its title.

My Review:

It took a while to put my feelings into words. This book flooded me with every single emotion. Hell of a Book is a story of self-reflection, self-identity, and trauma, but also a story of how society sees black people and as black people we look at others. It’s also a story of how we become numb to our traumas and as a society repeat the same patterns. There are gems in this book and lessons to take away. It was my favorite book that I read in 2022. If you’re ready to dive deep, this is the read for you.

About the Author:

Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various journals such as Prick of the Spindle, The Thomas Wolfe Review, The Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Measure and Chautauqua. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award and Entertainment Weekly listed him as one of their 10 “New Hollywood: Next Wave” people to watch.

He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and “…hide behind me…” The Returned is his first novel.

The Returned was inquired by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It aired in March 2014 on the ABC network under the title “Resurrection.”

Not The Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher

Synopsis:

How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover in this romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher.

Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

My Review:

This was a quick and light read. I was in the mood for a cat & mouse romance, which delivered. Hannah feels like she doesn’t fit in, being biracial and having tom boy tendencies (which I related to). Of course, fiction wouldn’t be fiction if it wasn’t a bit unrealistic, but that’s what gives you that escape from reality. The perfect guy meets an imperfect girl. They have crazy sexual chemistry & tension. Jack sees past all her flaws and loves her unconditionally, but has to face past pain and childhood traumas. Hannah realizes no one is perfect, not Jack, and she learns to respect and love herself. Not the Girl You Marry gives me 99 – ’00’s vibes, 10 Things I Hate About You/ She’s All That/ How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I would recommend this for a quick Chick Lit Valentine’s read.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher writes edgy, funny, sexy contemporary romance featuring heat, humor, and dirty-talking heroes that make readers sweat. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Stanford Law School, she grew up in a family of voracious readers. She picked up her first romance novel at age twelve when she’d finished reading everything else in her grandmother’s house. It was love at first read. It wasn’t too long before she started writing her own stories–her first heroine drank Campari and drove an Alfa Romeo up a winding road to a minor royal’s estate in Spain. Andie lives in the Nation’s Capital with her French Bulldog, Gus, a stockpile of Campari, and way too many books.