Category: ‘African-American Novels’

Above All Things

September 3, 2017 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Above All Things by Deborah Raney

Have you ever discovered a big secret about your spouse? Was the secret so big that it affected your marriage?

Judd and Evette are happily married, expecting their first child. Judd receives a phone call: his former fiancée is hospitalized and for the first day time, he’s become aware that he has a six-year-old bi-racial daughter. He needs to come and get his child (Jolie) since the child’s mother cannot care for her.

Evette is stunned to hear this news. She has mixed feelings about bringing a biracial daughter into their home. Judd is just as stunned as he wonders why his ex never shared that he’d fathered a child.

This novel touches upon a lot of deep subjects. The main themes are race relations and forgiveness. Overall a good read. The author did a great job with research regarding African-Americans. I especially liked how she addressed the issue of Jolie’s hair – extremely realistic.

So, have you ever discovered a big secret about your spouse? Was the secret so big that it affected your marriage?

Like A Brother

May 10, 2017 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Like A Brother by Maurice M. Gray, Jr.

Have you ever loaned money to a family member? Did they pay you back?

Jeremiah (Jay) is always there to support his family. His support is so strong that his family takes advantage of his kindness – putting his life at a major disadvantage. His dating life is also somewhat complicated since he has a crush on Jenisse, a woman to whom he’s been connected for years. He wants to move forward with his life and date others, but, something is holding him back.

This book shows how complicated familial relationships can be. It’s hard to make the family dynamic work, especially when folks have a lot of issues from which to overcome. God has the answers to our problems and it’s important for folks to own up to their insecurities and issues. Overall, this was a good, insightful read.

This is a unique romance novel told totally from the male point-of-view, which was refreshing. It tells of the struggles that a good, intelligent man can face while trying to date. I think it’s hard for some women to realize that there are good men out there, good men that are struggling to find a good woman. So, when women complain about not being able to find a good man, then they should read this book, see how it is from the other side (the man’s point of view).

So, have you ever loaned money to a family member? If so, did they ever pay you back?

 

Spin It Like That – YA Novel – Free Dec 1 – 5, 2016

December 1, 2016 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Spin It Like That by Chandra Sparks Splond is a YA novel that’s available for free until December 5, 2016. Download a copy for yourself and your teenager! I haven’t read this novel yet, but, I do have it on my TBR list!

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Richardson has a love for music. When she gets on the turntables, her gift for spinning and rhyming earn her admiration and respect. She’s also talented academically, but her parents disapprove of their daughter’s hobby, hoping it’s a phase she’s going through. Still, Jasmine finds it hard to deny the joy and freedom she feels when she’s playing music that makes people smile and dance. After a local contest, Jasmine attracts the interest of some music-industry honchos. Then the attitudes of the people around her seem to change and she’s forced to face some tough situations. Suddenly it becomes harder for her to tell who’s really happy for her and who’s totally a fake. But when the music is in your heart, and your talent shines bright, sometimes all you can do is…spin it like that.

Blessed Assurance

October 20, 2016 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Blessed Assurance by various authors

If you could take a Bible story and re-tell it in a modern way, which story would you choose?

This was a nice change from my usual Christian fiction reading. These are short stories. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a collection of short stories. These tales take Biblical stories and re-tell them in a modern day setting. Out of all of the stories, these were my favorites:

Traveling Mercies by Maurice Gray – this story is a modern day rendition of the Good Samaritan. When Matt is attacked near a group of onlookers, the only person who helps him turns out to be a prostitute named Samaria. Samaria is dealing with a lot of issues, including her lack of faith. I loved this story – it shows that even Christians sometimes turn their backs on those in need, and that non-believers are sometimes the only ones who will offer assistance.

Baby Blues by Patricia Haley – this story is based upon Sarah and Abraham

When Sarah has trouble conceiving, she convinces her friend Gayle to have a baby with her (Sarah’s) husband. Sarah’s demands causes a strange love triangle and leaves a lot of hurt feelings between the threesome. This story proves that we need to wait on God’s timing for everything.

The Best of Everything by Victoria Christopher Murray – this story is based upon Hannah

When Hannah and her husband Brandon have trouble conceiving, Hannah is stunned that there is no medical reason as to why she can’t conceive. Her desire to conceive dominates her life and causes problems in her marriage. Her husband’s ex-wife’s attitude towards her makes her angry – after all, Brandon has had several children with his ex. This story shows us that we need to be patient and trust in God for all that we want. We need to trust that God knows what’s best for us.

Jacquelin Thomas’s A Change Is Gonna Come is based upon Tamar. Dinanna’s life takes a drastic turn when her half brother rapes her. Her father does little to help her with her plight. This story show how we need to lean on God during the darkest of times. At times, even our family members abandon us during our darkest times.

If you could take a Bible story and re-tell it in a modern way, which story would you choose? How would you tell your modern day Bible story?

Shades of Chocolate – A Wonderful Review

October 18, 2016 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

I received this wonderful review for Shades of Chocolate! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, then you should! So far, this title has gotten almost 75 Amazon reviews!

Book Review: Shades of Chocolate by Cecelia Dowdy

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Sweet Dreams – Chapter 1

June 3, 2016 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Sweet Dreams will be released on June 23rd as an e-book.

This is the first chapter:

Chapter 1

Rain pounded on the roof of the stretch limousine. Thin streams of water slid down the closed window. The rain reminded him of his unending tears. He’d never cried so much in his life. Tired of staring out into the gloomy day, Sterling focused on his two brothers. His bottom lip quivered as salty wetness spilled down his cheek. He swiped the moisture away. Toughen up, that’s what he needed to do. He needed to be strong. Burying Dad had been awful and now he had to hold himself together before they had the meal at his home for the funeral guests.

The car swerved. His brother, Leon’s neck-length dreadlocks bounced as he jerked forward. “Watch it!” Leon’s voice boomed at the limo driver.

“Sorry about that.” The driver peeked at the threesome in the rearview mirror. “High winds out there, just hit a rough patch.”

He couldn’t take his brother anywhere without acting a fool. “Don’t pay my brother any attention.”

Leon pulled a small flask from his backpack, poured amber liquid into one of the glasses provided in the back of the limo.

Louis, Leon’s twin, wiped his wet eyes, his mouth mashed down. “Man, don’t get wasted.”

Leon gritted his teeth, clutched his booze. “Don’t tell me what to do.” He gulped the liquid during the hour-long drive from the gravesite. It was mighty tempting to grab that flask and toss it out the window. No, he couldn’t do that. His brother would act even worse if confronted. Ignoring his brother, he focused on the raging Florida storm. The leaves from the palm trees lifted in the wet summer breeze as they passed stretches of deserted beaches.

The threesome remained silent during the rest of the journey. When skyscrapers, hotels and city streets zoomed by, signaling their arrival into Miami, Sterling sat up straighter in his seat. He squeezed his hands into fists, his eyes watering. Again, he blinked his tears away. He focused on Leon. The empty flask tumbled from his fingers, his eyes partially closed. Drool dripped from his mouth. How disgusting.

He grabbed tissues from the box on the floor, shoved them into Leon’s hand. “Wipe your mouth.”

Leon pressed the tissue over his full lips, his hooded eyes appeared glassy and unfocused. Leon dropped the tissues on the floor, his thin body swaying. They’d be home soon. He’d barely have enough time to get everything ready for the guests. He didn’t know what he’d do about his crazy brother.

He closed his eyes, leaned back on the leather seat. Fatigue settled into his bones like hot glue. He’d been awake all night, baking sweet treats in the bakery he ran with his father. He wanted to serve the baked goods during the after-funeral meal as a final memory to his dad.

He closed his eyes. Maybe if he could just rest for a few minutes, he’d find the energy to make it through this day. The limo stopped. Sterling opened his eyes, smiled. Home, finally. He was just one step closer to getting through this awful day. He said a few words to the limo driver before he rushed to his front door. Fat drops of cool rain slithered down his face. He glanced back, spotted Leon shuffling behind him. Louis’s deep angry voice sliced through the humid air while he fussed at his twin.

Sterling unlocked the door, but before he could open it, Leon kicked it, crashing it open. The door swung into the wall, the loud racket filled the otherwise silent house. Leon shoved Sterling aside, stumbled into the house, water dripping from his hair. Sterling grabbed Leon’s shoulder, pushing him into a chair. “Man, would you sober up?” Leon’s hooded eyes remained glassy.

Sterling sighed, rushed into the kitchen to get the boxes of desserts he’d baked. He kept his eye on Leon. His brother continued sulking in the chair like a wounded cow. Gritting his teeth, he placed the cookies on the tray as thoughts of his father filled his tired brain. He recalled how often he and his dad had made these vanilla cookies in their bakery. He hurried with his task, wanting to finish before the guests arrived.

Louis approached the table, clamped his hand on Sterling’s shoulder. “You need some help?”

“No, I’ve got this.” This was his tribute to his dad. He needed to be the one to arrange the treats on the serving table. He’d always been closest to their father.

“Why did Daddy do that?”  Leon’s slurred, drunken voice grated on his nerves. Sterling winced, dropped one of the vanilla cookies. It landed on the floor in a sugary heap. Why did Leon have to refer to Dad’s unfavorable terms on his life insurance policy now? He’d been complaining about it while they drove to the burial site. He figured his brother would at least wait until another day to bring this up again.

He lifted the ruined cookie, tossed it into the trash. He closed his eyes. Jesus, help me to mend the rift between me and my brother.

He finally pushed the box of cookies aside, rushing to Leon, grabbing his arm. “Man, would you calm down?”

Louis followed behind him obviously wanting to help. “You know how stupid he acts when he’s wasted.”

Leon jerked his arm away, narrowed his eyes. He pulled a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from his pocket. His partially unknotted tie hung loosely around his neck and brown spots of booze tainted his shirt. Leon stood and stormed to the table, grabbing a cookie and throwing it on the floor. He crushed the confection with his foot. Sterling grabbed Leon’s shoulder, turning him around. “Stop it! Now!”

Leon jerked away, pushing a cigarette into his mouth. He flicked his lighter, attempting to light his cigarette.

“Ugh!” Sterling grabbed Leon’s arm. “Cut it out! You know you can’t smoke in my house!” He hated the acrid scent of cigarette smoke.

Leon jerked away, still trying to light his cigarette. Would this day ever end? Sterling grabbed Leon again. Louis attempted to take the lighter away and Leon dropped it, the flame catching onto the carpet.

Louis stomped the flame, creating a black smear. He grabbed Leon’s other arm and they pushed Leon against the wall. Louis spoke through clenched teeth. “You idiot!”

Leon glared at his brothers. When they finally released him, he calmly picked up his lighter and lit another cigarette. He then cursed, his mouth set in a hard, tense line. “You guys can’t tell me what to do. I’m smoking.” Leon puffed on his cigarette, as if daring his brothers to stop him.

Sterling eyed the cookies he’d been setting out before dropping onto the couch, weary, tired, suffering from enough drama over the past week to last a lifetime. Louis plopped down beside him, running his hand over his forehead. “My head’s killing me. You got any aspirin?”

Sterling made a trip to the bathroom and got the bottle of pills for this brother. He then refocused on the cookies and cakes. He wiped his moist eyes as visions of his dad danced through his head like a non-stop movie. Leon shuffled around the living room, smoking his cigarette, mumbling as if in a trance.

He eyed the desserts he’d prepared in loving memory of their father: Bright red velvet cake smothered in white cream cheese frosting, vanilla sugar cookies, lemon pound cake and a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with nuts. The delicious sugary scents of the sweets were now tainted with the nicotine smell from Leon’s cigarette.

He sniffed, turned away, wiped his eyes with a tissue. Louis glared at his twin. “I hope Leon doesn’t act a fool when everybody gets here.”

Sterling rubbed his tired eyes, downing two of the aspirins with a cup of water. “You tried to stop him from drinking. He never listens to us.” Although Louis and Leon were identical twins, their personalities were as different as night and day. Louis was always apologizing for Leon, as if he felt responsible for Leon’s crude behavior.

Leon’s voice boomed from across the room while he dropped into a chair. “Why would he do this?” He glared, his cigarette dangled from his mouth. “Why?”

Sterling forced himself to stare into his brother’s eyes. “I told you, I don’t know! You’d better get yourself sobered up before the people come here to eat.” The thought of his drunken brother acting foolish around his father’s friends was almost enough to make him puke.

Leon took another drag from his cigarette. “You make me sick. Dad always favored you and treated me and Louis like crap!”

“Would you stop?” Sterling turned away, ignoring the ugly truth that tumbled from his brother’s mouth. He’d always been so close to his dad. He recalled that a lot of his school mates didn’t get along with their fathers.

That wasn’t the case with Sterling. He supposed that their shared love of baking had helped them to create a bond as thick as a corded rope. He took deep breaths, the ugly truth from his brother’s mouth haunting his mind. The twins had always been on the fringes of the close relationship he’d shared with their father – almost as if they were on the outside, looking in.

“Why would Dad make you the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy? Why?” Leon’s deep angry voice cracked throughout the living room like thunder.

Sterling shot out of the chair, stormed toward his brother. The good Lord knew he wanted to make everything better. But, he couldn’t do that until Leon stopped drinking. “I don’t know.” He took a deep breath. Jesus, help me.  “I don’t know why Dad did this. We can talk about it later.”

Louis approached his twin. “Come on, Leon. I’ll drive you home so that you can go to sleep.”

Leon shook his head. “No, don’t want to.”

Sterling checked his watch. The guests would be arriving soon and he didn’t want Leon around. Leon glared at them. It looked like he needed to repeat Louis’s suggestion. “Let Louis drive you home. This is hard on all of us and we need to deal with it.”

Leon cursed again, dousing his cigarette in the paper cup he’d used as an ashtray. “Easy for you to say.” He stood, and jammed his index finger into Sterling’s chest, speaking in a low voice. “Dad made you the sole beneficiary. Is he trying to tell me and Louis that we’re not good enough, that we’re not really his sons?”

Sterling squeezed his eyes shut. “Leon, I don’t know.” He glanced at the wall, sniffed, his eyes again becoming wet. “You and Louis– ”

The fist that slammed into his jaw took him by surprise. White hot pain seared his face as he stumbled against the wall, knocking a picture onto the floor. “Ugh.” He held his jaw as Leon attempted another blow. He pushed his brother away, resisting the urge to pummel Leon’s face.

Louis grabbed his twin. “Cut it out!”

Tears streamed from Leon’s eyes as he glared at Sterling, balling his hands into fists, as if resisting the urge for another blow. “I. Can’t. Stand. You.”

Sterling swallowed, stunned. This was the first time he’d seen his brother so tormented and out of control. “Calm down.”

“No!”

When Leon stormed toward Sterling, his fisted hand swerved toward Sterling’s face. Sterling blocked the clumsy punch. “Ugh!” Lord, I want to knock the daylights out of my brother. But, I’m so angry now, if I start hitting him, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop.

In The Midst of It All

October 24, 2015 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

In the Midst of It All

In The Midst Of It All by Tiffany L. Warren

Do you know anybody who’s involved with a cult? Have you ever joined a cult?

Zenovia has always been a loner. She has a schizophrenic mother, and she must watch her mom closely, hoping she doesn’t have one of her “spells” while in the company of others. She can’t have friends because explaining her mom’s condition to others just proves too difficult – plus, they would simply not understand. Things change for Zenovia when her and her mom receive some visitors from a church called The Brethren. Zenovia’s life makes a huge change when her and her mom are befriended by this unconventional, friendly congregation.

This book took me back in time, a long time back. So many things that the Brethren practiced, their weird beliefs, reminded me of my childhood, back when I was raised in the Jehovah’s Witness religion. The things that Zenovia and her mother faced, even the cavalier attitude of the Brethren regarding mental illness, was very realistic. This book is quite truthful in the way that a cult twists scripture and instead of having salvation by grace, they believe that salvation is granted by the heads of their church, which is totally wrong.

If you want to know what it’s like, being in a cult, then this is an excellent book to read. I highly recommend this novel.

So, have you ever been in a cult? Do you know anybody who has been involved in a cult? If so, what happened? Were they able to leave that toxic religion?

The Lawyer’s Luck

February 16, 2015 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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The Lawyer’s Luck

When future lawyer Lawrence accidentally shoots Realie for stealing his horse, his life drastically changes. Realie is an escaped slave and she’s so close to freedom, but now, she has a major setback. She’s been shot and now she’s injured. She’s in no condition to travel.

For some strange reason, Realie finds herself drawn to Lawrence, whom she calls Lawyer. He seems determined to help her, plus he’s a free and educated man. What would he want to do with the likes of her? Besides, they’re from two opposite worlds – all Lawyer seems to know about slavery is what he’s read in the newspapers, he’s never been a slave.

This book had me mesmerized from the first page. It’s well-written and the characters really came to life. Lawrence’s and Realie’s attraction is deep and real (no pun intended), and in spite of their being total opposites, you can see how they suit one another.

This book is the prequel to the Milford College Series! Can’t wait to read the rest of them! 🙂

Her Gifts by Linda Beed

December 10, 2014 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Her Gifts by Linda F. Beed

Do you pray for your husband/wife/significant other daily?

Treva Scott is ready to be a business owner. She’s a unique woman who loves to create dolls, plus, she’s an ex-military expert markswoman. However, while trying to fulfill her dream, she comes across some obstacles. Some of her familial relationships are shaky – dealing with her sister’s attitude proves trying on Treva’s nerves.

Treva is in a relationship with an amazing man, Brian Chin. But, she’s unsure about their future together. Brian prays for Treva everyday, which I thought was so sweet! They’ve been dating for awhile, but Treva wants more from their relationship.

This was a nice, sweet Christian story that I highly recommend. The characters were so real and vivid, and I believe most people can relate to the family issues that the characters faced.

Do you pray for your spouse/significant other every day?

Hope In My Heart – A Collection Of Short Stories

September 17, 2014 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Hope In My Heart by Alexis A. Goring

This was a nice book of heartwarming short stories. Most of the stories focused on finding love. There were three tales in this collection and each of the characters had to overcome some sort of obstacle as they searched for romance.

In Love Unexpected, a car crash surprisingly brings two lovebirds together. In spite of her animosity, Chandra sees potential in Sebastian.

In The Best Gift, Christina wants to lose some weight to fit into the bridesmaid’s dress for her sister’s wedding. Meanwhile, Jordan’s mom is desperate for her to get married, and gives her an ultimatum: bring a new beau home for Christmas, or, get sent to Sweden. When she re-encounters her old boyfriend (Brian), old sparks are rekindled. Meanwhile, Joshua is shocked when his girlfriend breaks up with him. She doesn’t like that Joshua’s life centers upon her. Joshua realizes he needs to strengthen his relationship with God – God needs to be the center of his life.

In Peace and Love, another Christmas-themed story, three people are seeking some kind of joy over the holiday season. Elle is an unemployed artist and she’s searching for the perfect job. Eric, a divorce attorney, is still reeling from the pain of his parents’ divorce – his parents split when we was a child and he’s never forgiven his mom for abandoning him. Kristine was adopted and before she gets married to Derek, she’s determined to find her birth mother. She’s hired a private investigator to help with the search.

These wonderful stories would make good reads during the holiday season! You can finish a story in one sitting. Such a nice treat for the holidays!