social icons

Facebook Twitter Youtube Pinterest Blogger Email Rss


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BOOK #3, "Caught Up In the Rapture" by Sheneska Jackson, 52 Books in 52 Weeks

This is a novel written by Sheneska Jackson. It is about two young people who want to attain great success in the music industry in South Central Los Angeles. There is 26 year old Jazmine Deems, who has a wonderful talent for singing, but her overbearing, preacher father won't support her and wants her to go to college and have a "normal" career. Jazmine has had no luck with men and has practically given up on finding love. Jazmine has an outgoing friend named Dakota, who's parents are already in the music industry. Dakota takes Jazmine to a music  event, where Jazmine's music demo ends up in the hands of a music executive named Bobby Strong who works for Black Tie Records. Bobby Strong is striving to impress in hopes of becoming boss when his own boss leaves Black Tie Records. However, there is a younger exec who is also vying for the position name Kirk Walker. Kirk Walker has just signed Xavier Honor, otherwise known as X-Man to the label. Xavier is a gangster who is headed in the wrong direction. He hopes his shot at becoming a rap star and hitting it big will take him out of the street life.

Jazmine and Xavier hit it off at the party and begin dating. They try to make their relationship work, hoping that their careers don't get in the way. But there is a war going on within the record label. If Jazmine's career takes off, Bobby Strong will shine. If X-Man's career takes off, Kirk Walker will shine. It doesn't help matters, that Bobby Strong has a drug habit, and a failing marriage.

Jazmine and Xavier hit many road blocks on their way up the music ladder. Jazmine has issues trusting men, while Xavier is trying to run from a past that may just stop his music career before it even gets going.

The novel is told from the point of view of characters Jazmine and Xavier. This does help the reader get a good understanding of what each character is facing as they struggle with imminent crises. However, at times the story moves too slow and at times it moves too fast. There is a feeling of inconsistency throughout the book, that may have been improved if the author had let the characters resolve their issues in a timely fashion that would lend itself to a normal rise and fall pace. Overall, the book is a good read, it could quite possibly be categorized as a young adult novel if it weren't for the strong language and gratuitous profanity.

I highly recommend Sheneska Jackson's debut novel, "Lil Mama's Rules". It has a better flow, a comfortable pace, climaxes where there should be and it sustains its momentum.

** 2 STAR

Favorite Quotes/Excerpts from "Caught Up in the Rapture"

"Dakota says I'm weak when it comes to Daddy, but she just doesn't understand."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book #2 Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Angela's Ashes is a memoir by Frank McCourt. Set in Ireland and America in the 1930's and 1940's, the memoir takes us through Frank's impoverished childhood. At the start of the memoir, Frank is living in Brooklyn with his parents, Angela and Malachy. Malachy is an unemployed drunk and Angela is struggling to provide for the family. Frank is left to care for his young ailing siblings. Angela becomes weary at Malachy's continued drunkenness and Frank is left to console his mother as they struggle with having no food to eat and no money. The family moves to Ireland in hopes of a more prosperous future. However, once in Ireland, Malachy continues to drink heavily, crushing Franks hopes of a bright future. Frank finds solace in the tales his father tell about a Irish hero who saves his country, which leads to Frank's love for storytelling. He also finds joy in his new sibling who he believes was brought to him by an angel. Despite his impoverished surrounding, Frank is optimistic. Yet, his mother is fighting depression due to Malachy's drunkenness, unemployment and lack of responsibility towards his family. 

Frank also fights discrimination at school where he is treated differently because of his low social status. Frank takes on two jobs to help his family. Frank also deals with gripping issues such as unemployment, hunger, poverty, alcoholism, illnesses and death. The greatest opposition to Frank is the people around him who treat him as if he is less than. Later, Frank falls for a woman, who dies of consumption, leaving Frank devastated. Frank saves enough money to get back to America. Although he is sad to leave behind Ireland and his family, Frank is optimistic about his future.

This is a fine book told in a sharp, witty, narrative that exudes the admiration that Frank has for his family. We see how a father who never wants to accept the role, avoids his obligations at all turns. A mother, who struggles to care for her children, mothers what seems to be out of obligation even resorting to incest to keep her family from being homeless and starving. Angela's heart and happiness was left in America and it is easy to see why Frank felt he could have a better life if he returned there. This is a gripping story told from the view of a starving, determined child...battling pestilence, neglect and mired in poverty. As a reader, I felt Frank's desire to be triumphant. And I never once doubted he would do just that, but I sure wanted him to hurry up and get there. Angela's Ashes is a moving story that at times is humorous but at all times feels honest and true.

***** 5 STAR

Favorite Quotes/Excerpts from "Angela's Ashes"

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood... nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book #1, The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips, 52 Books in 52 Weeks

A dynamic, heartbreaking novel narrated by 13 year old Tangy Mae. The setting of this book takes place in 1958 with the Quinn family which includes, Tangy Mae a black girl who lives with her mother, Rosie in rural Parkersfield, Georgia. At the start of the novel, Rozelle, "Rosie" is quitting her job and goes home, telling anyone who will listen that she is dying. Rosie nine children don't believe her, however, they would never dare to tell her so. Rosie continues with the farce that she is dying, instead of admitting to everyone around her that she is pregnant with her 10th child. Now that Rosie is pregnant, someone will have to bring in extra income. Rosie wants Tangy Mae to quit school and take a job as a maid. Tangy Mae, the brightest of the Quinn children, is determined to finish school and will do anything to graduate from high school.

Rosie who is so light skinned, she can pass for white, categorizes her children by race; White, Indian and Negroes. Tangy Mae being the darkest, is treated the worst. Often believing she is unlovable, Tangy Mae is self-conscious and feels guilty at times for wanting what little bit of happiness others find around her. Despite what Rosie does to her children, they generally return home, if not to help Rosie, for fear of the rage she might inflict on the younger siblings. The poverty the Quinn's live in, could easily be their main oppression, but at the core, it's Rosie's apathy and abuse towards her children that is the central detrimental force. This novel is gritty, graphic and in your face. Delores Phillips, does not hold back. The central themes of oppression, poverty, mental illness, racism and familial love effectively resonates throughout the book.


This novel is the definition of a dysfunctional family. A band of siblings, bound by love for each other, that they would endure at all cost to keep each other safe, while struggling with the desire to be free from a mother who is wrestling with her own demons. A powerhouse of emotions, readers will laugh, smile and at many times want to choke the living daylights out of Rosie.

**** 4 STAR

Great Quotes/Excerpts from "The Darkest Child"

"She took pleasure in categorizing her children by race. Mushy, Harvey, Sam, and Martha jean were her white children. Tarabelle, Wallace, and Laura were Indians-Cherokee, no less. Edna and I were Negroes."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Lena's Ramblings

My photo
I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at and You may contact me via email at:

Join My Other Fantabulous Followers!

If I Had My Way

If I Had My Way
Available Now! Please Get Your Copy Today!

Popular Posts

Blogs I Love and Frequently Read