Review: Unlock Your Dream: Discover the Adventure You Were Created for

Unlock Your Dream: Discover the Adventure You Were Created for Unlock Your Dream: Discover the Adventure You Were Created for by Philip Wagner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unlock Your Dream is like saccharin to the soul. Serving as the foundation to a vital discussion centered upon finding and realizing God’s impetus and dream for your life, Wagner enables, prepares, and liberates you, empowering you to give life to your dreams and goals and live with extreme satisfaction. He reignites the fire within the hearth of your being, helping you to grasp the “God-sized” dream residing in your midst. Further, he sobers your mind as you learn how to manifest that dream.

While fanning this flame, Wagner will make you chuckle, momentarily questioning his actions. Yet, through many functional vignettes, he shows how to distinguish between the myriad of difficulties faced when electing to propel headfirst into unlocking your dream.

Wagner has penned a pragmatic, yet individual and soul-searing, guidebook that will gently push you to achieve your noteworthy and God-sized.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Subliminal Sins : The Sin Series Book 2

Subliminal Sins : The Sin Series Book 2 Subliminal Sins : The Sin Series Book 2 by C.D. Blue
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a tantalizing foray between good and evil, we peer into the life of an abused woman and the inevitable magnetic pulls she has toward one man. Decidedly taking a stance to avoid love and its dramatic entanglements, Bianca Baudoin enters into a subliminal experience, colored with pain, ecstasy, and generational curses.

Emotionally introspective, the story chronicles the reconciliatory love between two married adults, sadly pulled apart when one their spouses is found dead. Mixed with mystery, intrigue, and vivid sex scenes, the smoothly, unfolding tale is driven by mounting attraction between Bianca and Omar. Blue creates magnificent tension, constructing the uncertainties in their feelings and patterning complications and misunderstanding followed by sensual reconciliation.

Though slightly sexually voyeuristic, Blue uses a “soft focus” to overlay this emotional love story with broad strokes of trust, betrayal, and forgiveness. Along with hurricanes and destructive tidal waves, sex and love yield one of mankind’s most commanding, prodigious, and radically transformative storms. The breadth of the human experience is clearly seen in this story – love, lust-ridden power struggles, sexual surrender, emotional solace, and persuasive temptations. Subliminal Sins encompasses it all!

Cleverly employing synesthesia, a literary device where words take the form of a medicinal salve, stimulating the release of responses using multiple senses, Blue leverages this technique in communicating her ideas to the reader. This is clearly evident in the love scenes, which shamefully I indulged in (after chastising myself for skipping them). Her ideas are vivid, adding layers of meaning to the text merely for our reading pleasure. Frankly, the love scenes were like poetry-in-motion! With a few words, the numinous potency of her skillful symbolic illustration of love and romance seized all of my senses.

While reading the story, I agonized over how the title fit. Addressing the question of where the sublime exists in this tale can be seen in Blue uses boldness and grandeur in her characters’ introspective dialogue, raises their passions to the highest degree possible, and gracefully expresses skillful application of feelings. Blue stretches and surpasses all rationality through ostentatious thoughts, drawing the reader out of their communal philosophies regarding the existence of soulmates and plunging them into a cerebral abyss where they must think and perceive in a mode beyond familiarity.

Blue crafts the sublime in language and thought, with irresistible prose enthralling the reader. The sublime, then, is masterfully crafted in a delicate force of language overcoming rationality, causing the reader to submit to unfathomable beliefs, feeling an overwhelming awe of the literary experience that just transported them into the subliminal.

The concept of the sublime pollinates and brings forth an experience normally accessible using mystical models. Moreover, the literary birthing experience is one of transcendence into love and the aesthetic appreciation of human nature.

The experience, afforded by this story, touches on the anthropological dimension. For, it is about what it means to be an emotionally tormented woman longing for sensual wholeness, while simultaneously experiencing the fear of the unknown. Far too often, women have defined themselves by their desire for, and ability to acquire, romantic transcendence. However, Blue creates a literary masterpiece, serving to encourage the reader’s romantic transcending reconsider any existentialist philosophies regarding soulmates and spiritual attraction.

While I used to subscribe to the fallacy of the existence of soulmates, I no longer embrace this ideology. Like some women, I no longer exhaust myself with unnecessary emotional labor in refusing to confront the sublime feelings of desire and the harmonious human interplay of reason and imagination.

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Review: The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century

The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century by Adam Kirsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Intellectually authoritative epistle on the significance of the global novel. Covering authors like Attwood, Adichie, Ferrante, and many others, the author presents a stunning dissertation on the preeminence of studying and reading narratives written by non-white authors.

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Review: Copycat

Copycat Copycat by Kimberla Lawson Roby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Women are complicated beautiful creatures, whose attitudes and behaviors are shaped by numerous factors. Whether biological or psychosocial, these behaviors combined with environmental and socioeconomic determinants can lead to disaster for their loved ones.

Traci, a well-known black author, befriends a passionate supporter of her literary art, Simone, living in her hometown, igniting a fiery, parasitic alliance. Wielding her admiration and irascible fascination of Traci as a skilled Samurai, Simone begins chipping away at every detail of her role model’s life, yielding the perfect copy. As a young girl, Simone loses her identity of self as a result of sexual assault and other traumatic childhood experiences. As the damaged daughter of a drug-addicted mother, she succumbs to the fate of absorbing the identities of others. Plagued by deep-rooted emotional issues, Simone spends most time alone until she meets Traci at a local hair salon.

Simone has high aspirations of becoming a romance novelist. Albeit naively, Traci believes she has finally met someone who shares her passion for writing and an ethereal literary connection forms. Later, as Traci's family witnesses Simone's transformation, the toxic fascination comes to light, disentangling the fairytale world as voices from past begin to speak.

Roby, though not in the eyes of some, expertly shares the psychological makeup of each woman, through allegories and character behaviors, while also laying the foundation for a suspenseful tale. Moreover, she carefully threads psycho-spiritual insights, interwoven with admonitory advice for the female author. This is an important theme in women’s fiction. While there appears to be increasing focus on adultery and other lascivious behavior in mainstream womens fiction, Roby takes on a more opaque, almost noir issue – mental illness in African-American women. Perhaps, it is the society in which we live that predicates what we look like and how we succeed. But, when a woman loses her sense of self at a young age, it forces any female reader to ask if she is being her true and authentic self. Could it be a reaction to austerity and asceticism? Possibly. But, introspective fiction, where the tough subjects are brought to light, is a necessary vice in order for us to survive.

Though short, this novella is rich and rewarding, allowing for the development of a psychologically thrilling tale featuring common issues successful women of color face. Roby developed both the protagonist and antagonist in a manner that would have been overly done were she to satisfy the structural demands of a traditional novel. Moreover, she purposely and concisely provided a detailed exploration of the actions and mindset of women, one of whom may have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and provided a concentrated focus on the story of two women who needed female companionship, and almost lost everything because of it.

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Review: Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel

Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With revealing and introspective first-person narration, the plot follows conventional methods. The characters are skillfully delineated in the exposition; the central conflict lies within the Tiffanie herself as she considers using her body to gain intimacy and only later realizes that this supposed sexual satisfaction is, in fact, exacting a heavy price. The reader is taken steadily toward a moment of truthfulness, when she finally reveals the reason for her pain. The story does not ends abruptly, though there is a denouement that satisfies and leaves one believing in the power confronting evil. Moreover, readers are left wondering if she has confronted the very thing she fears.

Despite intentions to remain emotionally removed from their story, Tiffanie and Damon move subtly into self-reflection. Each begins searching for understanding and meaning. Though, she languishes in sorrow and he embraces rationality, if only momentarily. This more honest tone takes over the story as Tiffanie’s mood becomes confessional, revealing pain and loneliness rather than a flat recounting. Murray wants readers to see that for this sexually unsatisfied Christian wife, self-awareness follows and is a consequence of impetuous, self-damaging actions. Enter Trey, the novel’s antagonist and a scholar of the streets and lust. Tiffanie is faced with the ultimate choice. The choice between the hearth (home) or the furnace (Trey), and uncharacteristic of a preacher’s grandchild, she wants both. While managing to only share the details with her best friend, she begins to recoil from the destructive desire she develops for Trey. When Tiffanie realizes her love for Damon exceeds the confines of sexual fulfillment, she realizes she is merely the victim of her mother’s faults and almost curses the day she was born. Appearing to be a slave to lust and the mistress of repression, Tiffanie struggles between the two facets of her character. However, this pattern of restlessness, dissatisfaction, and emotional destruction continues until she finally realizes is happening.
What Murray seems to do in Lust is construct a kind of summary of sexuality, in which she attempts to integrate sex with other aspects of human experience. Moreover, lust is used here as a metaphor for the human condition. The human longing for relational passion is the central doctrine. It is a source of both aspiration and destruction, the most fundamental ingredient for survival and, in the struggle between license and restraint, the means by which human beings exercise their freedom.

Exquisitely and powerfully, Murray presents the story of a young woman’s effort to face a family secret that has held her emotionally hostage, preventing her from arriving at both sexual and romantic happiness.

Upon delving further into the story, I believe it portrays a dissatisfaction almost inherent in the lives of women – the inability to experience passion and peace and the ephemerality of marital (or relational bliss) in the midst of emotional turmoil. The explicitness and concern with a woman’s sexual satisfaction, and subsequent relinquishment of her heart, exists in Lust, but Murray is less intent on rendering the reader into shock through blatant exhibitionism.

Murray renders, though will all the delicacy and appropriateness required of Christian fiction readers, the reader to see Tiffanie as one of us. She is not a warped, lustful woman wrapped in her own self-imprisonment; but, a woman (our sister, daughter, or best friend) whose initial avoidance of love reveals the tragic-comic dimensions of our own lives and the subsequent effect of lust.

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Review: Revenge of the Mistress

Revenge of the Mistress Revenge of the Mistress by Cydney Rax
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Between spilling secrets, hiring hit men, and reformed philanders doing the perp walk down the wedding aisle, Rax rewrites the age-old adultery script. If Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850s novel was published today, the scorned female protagonist would start a TwitHub, with the hashtag #SideChicksMatter.

In the Revenge of the Mistress, the idyllic matrimonial union goes left, with a swiftness. If the next 36 days is any indication, Nicole Greene no longer remembers what is means to be a side chick. With her devious, yet magnificently scrupulous, ways, she pledges never become the “modern-day” slacker wife.

March 12 - the day only seen in fairytales - is the beginning of the end for the new Mrs. Rashad Eason. Having schemed and seduced her way into his arms, she cannot live up to what Rashad ultimately desires. Realizing this after several emotional disasters, he turns to the former Mrs. Eason, leaving Nicole to fall into the lovingly fatal arms of Ajalon. Sealing her fate, Nicole fails to understand that certain memories should serve as a warning of what should be left alone. With vivid flashbacks of her past, she devises a plan to make sure no one can have what she had.

Written with compelling power, this book speaks to the sanctity and covenant of marriage. Moreover, as the story unfolds, the delicate nature of marriage and its inevitable susceptibility to the machinations of “side chicks” jumps off the page. Furthermore, Rax emphasizes the slippery slope of love and the revolving intensity existing between love and hate. The message is clear - purloined desires, even those acquired through illegal means, have the power to kill.

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Review: Wives, Fiancees, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta

Wives, Fiancees, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta Wives, Fiancees, and Side-Chicks of Hotlanta by Sheree Whitfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Taut with melodramatic scenes, agrarian sexual capers, adversarial dalliances, this story had me turning the pages at lightning speed. The idea of a young woman with goals and dreams getting caught up in the conspiratorial schemes of those closest to her was heart wrenching.

Sasha Wellington,forced to take the hand she has been dealt, must be willing to play the game and not get played. Leaving her home town and arriving in Atlanta was anything but luck for this budding Georgia peach. Living in Black Hollywood was nothing like she thought it would be.

In this gritty, amatory novel by Sheree Whitfield, we meet a naive woman with a one-year plan to rise up in the fashion world. With her flamboyant gay friend and a libidinous new acquaintances, Sasha sets out on a roller coaster ride she will never forget. At its zenith, Sasha’s newfound bliss is cracked to its core.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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