Sunday, December 28, 2014

Virtuous Deception by Leiann B. Wrytes Review

The typeset of the book was done very well.
There were very few errors (maybe 3 to 4) in the entire book. Those of which included spelling and a missing word here or there.
I loved the cover of the book. I thought that it was very fitting and professional. The back cover was nicely done also. Neither was cluttered.
I was a little confused when I read the book description. I felt that the description could have been written out a little more. There was way more to the book than the synopsis expressed.  As I was reading the first two chapters I was a little confused due to the synopsis, but as the book proceeded it was out of this world. The storyline was awesome and flowed perfectly. There were twists and turns on every page. Leiann B. Wrytes did her thing with this novel. There was no way of knowing what was going to happen next. As soon as I thought I had it…I was wrong!!!! This book shows the ultimate six degrees of separation. I thought it was an awesome read.  I am looking forward to A Virtuous Deception 2.
I would give it 4.5 Pens!


Gods and Gladiators by Jaye Shields Review

First off, the cover is beautiful! Caught my attention immediately and the typesetting is good.

The story is set in ancient Rome. Ares accepts a challenge to spend a month as a human gladiator in Rome. The Olympian gods devised the challenge to prove the Romans weren’t as mighty as they (the Romans) thought. Ares’s first act to gain some gladiator glory came in the form of a reenactment of Sabines.

The story flows, although I would definitely recommend boning up on Roman history and Greek mythology so the characters make sense. I am a history buff so I rate it five stars. The author paints an almost tangible picture—as I read, I could see the gladiators in the Coliseum.
The wrench in the works comes dressed as a woman named Eirana, one of many women enslaved by the Romans. This was almost predictable. Typical guy-meets-forbidden-girl-and-must-rescue-her scenario.

Due to the setting, it didn’t come off as cliché as I expected, which was a very pleasant surprise.
Even with my penchant for mythology and general enjoyment of the supernatural, it took me four chapters to really get “into” this book. While the action is fantastic and the scenes are well-written, had I judged it by the very beginning, I would probably not have finished.

Overall I rate this novel three out of five stars, because without a background in mythology the story would be hard to follow. Readable but definitely within the niche of history and mythology buffs who don’t mind a slow build.

3 Pens

-Rani Titali

Brooklyn Boys by Sabrina A. Eubanks

Out Now

So Smart Ya Stupid Review by J.Gail

So Smart Ya Stupid

Oh, where do I begin…

I enjoyed this book from cover to cover. The characters were interesting, well-developed, and (in the case of Shawn) downright infuriating! As far as books go, this one is very well-written. The author obviously put a great deal of thought into the characters and plot, from Kay’s figure to the breath of the neighborhood drunk, Brian. The storyline is expertly woven, with enough detail to paint a picture but not so much that the original vision is lost. Beautifully typeset and edited. Five stars all around! And the cover is ok.

I love when a character evokes real feelings. Shawn took me from three to thirty eight (angry) really quick with the way he treated Kay. I kept hoping she would get him from under her skin.
They are the tragically mismatched couple—two damaged halves trying to make a whole with no clue how to begin. Their relationship—wait, codependency is a better word—is so gritty and raw at times. I could feel Kay’s frustration when she begged Shawn to stay in those nights. I could feel his agitation when he went out anyway. Their feelings are tangible that way; it almost makes you want to put the book down for a moment to clear your head. Alas, this page turner is not easy to set down.

I found myself crossing my fingers and almost praying that either Shawn would leave Kay alone for good OR that Kay would wise up and break the detrimental cycle of their codependency. She eventually acquires physical distance but her heart is still there. There is progress. There are steps forward and steps backward.

By the end of this series of well-written debacles (and by debacle, I mean the messes the characters continually find themselves in!)…I won’t give away the ending, but know you will be both riveted and horrified. It was a pleasure and privilege to review this. Again, five stars.

I give this novel 5 Pens

- Rani Titali 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Love and Happiness by Michelle Cuttino Review

This book was a page turner from beginning to end. I love the cover because it fits well with the title. The typesetting was good along with the editing.This novel is filled with lies, betrayal, lust, infidelity, and loyalty. Ayana is a woman that has feelings for Jasmine, Marlon, and her stepsister Roxanne. She wants to leave her abusive lover Jasmine alone but is to scared to walk away. Marlon in my opinion was a cover up because she tried her hardest to be with her stepsister. Roxanne on the other hand was in a relationship with Mark who she didn't love but stayed with for the sex.Mark and Royal has one connection and that's his ex finance who Royal hooked on drugs and caused to have an overdose. Now he has to pay Royal money to cover the finances for her funeral.  Royal is a user , player, and gets this woman hooked on drugs in order do what he wants. I loved that this book was edited well and that i could relate to the story.  I cant wait to read more from the author.

I would give this book 5 stars

Pen by Mary Davidson.

The Lesson by Cynthia Blue Review

The Lesson

Title: The Lesson

Author: Cynthia Blue/Jamila Mathis
Date of Publication:  July 2014

Cynthia Blue’s/Jamila Mathis’ “The Lesson” is an interesting story of love misguided. The story opens to Robin Terry meeting with his mentor on discussion of his educational and career paths. During this relaxing encounter the conversation gets around to Robin expressing some uncertainty and ill-ease in his current relationship and contemplating greener pastures.  The mentor gives Robin something to consider in the form of a “scorned woman” story, before he haphazardly makes a decision that could negatively impact several lives.

While the novel progressed in a logical order, it didn’t fulfill me as a reader. There was a lack of clarity and limited originality. This novel proved to be a frustrating read due to varied grammatical errors such as subject – verb agreement, misspellings, lack of proper punctuation and multiple wrong terms (my favorite being “doctrine degree”). Scene descriptions were held to a bare minimum when they were given at all. 

The cover art adequately represented the context of the novel. Yet, the cover was boring. A couple of the characters had amazing potential if developed further and the storyline lacked excitement. There were also several instances of thoroughly unnecessary repetition.

Ultimately, this novel left me feeling disappointed! I came away wondering if anyone at the publishing company actually read; let alone edited this book. I believe that the author has been done a great disservice. The novel read more like a first draft than a completed work.
I give this novel 3 pens

Auntie Roni

My Mother's Boyfriend by Matthew Ramsey Review

My Mother’s Boyfriend

Title: My Mother’s Boyfriend
Author: Matthew Ramsey
Date of Publication:  August 2014

This novel left me exhausted! From the beginning until the very end of this story my foot was itching (to kick someone’s behind). I actually read this book twice in one week to make sure I understood the intensity of Tiara’s selfishness and horniness and her mother’s blatant stupidity!  In Matthew Ramsey’s “My Mother’s Boyfriend” I had the jaw dropping revelation of just how wrong a situation can go when selfishness, lust, deceit and manipulation get packaged into one slick as oil teenaged young lady.

The title tells the story; or does it? Not really. The real story here is just how desperately broken the focal character (Tiara) is. Can she be fixed? Absolutely. Does she want to be fixed? Nope! I could not sit still reading it. JSYK: Mom (Tasha) could use a lil’ glue and some band aids, too. This novel had me moving through a maze of emotions from pity, to anger, to sadness and a little twisted sense of joy, here and there.

The dialogue between the characters is very relaxed and plausible, while proceeding in an almost tangible fashion. I could smell Jason’s cologne. I could genuinely sense Tiara’s false bravado and insecurity. I heard Tiana sing a youthfully flirty rendition of “Spotlight”. I felt the spittle fly from Tasha’s crazed mouth during the “Marcus” confrontation. The clarity and cohesiveness of Matthew’s writing throughout the development of the characters has won me over. I’d really like to pick this author’s brain to see how he discovered this siren.

The books cover art suited the story well. Will you notice the smugness in underdressed teen’s smile? Or maybe the scar on the male figures right jaw, just above his shadow of a beard? Perhaps it’s the writing on the wall? Each of these elements helped blend the story. There were no offensively apparent grammatical errors and the typesetting is immaculate. But, the wrapping on the package solidified for me that Mr. Ramsey takes his craft very seriously. I look forward to reading more of his work.

I give this novel 5 pens
Auntie Roni

**JSYK = just so you know

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Conversation with Carla Dean, The Editors Edition

Editing is an extremely important aspect in novel writing. It cleans the story up, brings clarity and also helps it flow. Editing ensures the story you are trying to tell is at its best, and portrays a strong appearance. However there are times when people wonder where they can find an editor, so today, My Urban Books introduces you to Carla Dean, an editor everyone should know.

My Urban Books: Why should authors care about good editing just as much as they should care about having a good storyline?

Carla Dean: If authors expect readers to invest in them by purchasing their book, the author should first be willing to invest in their work by hiring a professional editor. The reader should find reading the author’s book to be a pleasurable experience, not one that gives them a headache because of numerous typos, inconsistencies, and other issues that could have been resolved had the author not skipped the step of having their manuscript professionally edited.

My Urban Books: Besides making a manuscript stronger and legible, why is having it edited important?

Carla Dean: Depending on the type of editing performed, it can help to make the author’s story more believable and not far-fetched, even if the story is a work of fiction. For example, during developmental editing, the editor will do some fact checking and ensure the timeline is correct. In one manuscript that I edited, the author used the title of a movie that hadn’t been released during the time period the story took place. Good catch on my part. You’ll be surprised at how many readers pick up on those things. Having a manuscript edited will prove to the readers that you care about providing them with the best story possible and are not just concerned with making a quick dollar. In my opinion, investing in the editing of your work separates those who are serious about their writing from those who are just doing it as a hobby. And for those who may argue that editing is too expensive, many editors, including myself, offer payment arrangements. It’s best to wait until you can put out your best work than rush to put out a book that will be frowned upon. Once that negative review is out there, you can’t take it back.

My Urban Books: How long have you been an editor? How did you get your start in the business?

Carla Dean: I’ve been editing for over fourteen years. My start came when an author by the name of Michelle McGriff responded to my post on the RawSistaz’s forum. At the time, I was looking to review books since I had a love for reading. However, Michelle was in search of an editor for a few manuscripts she had written. She gave me a chance to prove my skills and here I am today…still doing what I love and so much more in the literary industry, such as publishing authors under my company Artistic Words Publishing.

My Urban Books: Editing can be a repetitive job, how do you keep yourself doing the job correctly and giving it your all?

Carla Dean: With each manuscript, I treat it as if it was my first assignment and I have something to prove. When you have that type of attitude, you’ll always want to do your best. 

My Urban Books: When taking on a client what are some of things you make them aware of automatically?

Carla Dean: I treat each client as an individual. So, what I may suggest to one, I may not have to request of another based on the phone conversation we have prior to us working together. However, one thing I can’t stress enough is the fact that editing is a process that should not be rushed. Allow the editor the time needed to do their job. Some manuscripts require more work than others. It’s okay to check on the progress of the editing. However, if you’re contacting the editor every day for an update, you’re taking the editor’s focus off your manuscript and slowing down the process. Also, authors, make sure you put on your thick skin. It’s not wise to be sensitive or get on the defensive during the editing process. You have to be open to constructive criticism. I want to be able to give you the best advice regarding your manuscript without having to worry about hurting your feelings. Remember, I’m on your side. This doesn’t mean an editor has the right to be harsh with their delivery of the constructive criticism, though. I have heard of a few editors who are guilty of having torn down an author so bad that they were discouraged from writing. My suggestions are to help make your work the best it can be. My job is to enhance, not harm. My goal is not to tear you down, but to build you up through constructive criticism. I’m your editor, not your friend. Therefore, I do what I’m getting paid to do.   

My Urban Books: Are there specific genres you edit? If so, why only those?

Carla Dean: I don’t limit myself to editing only certain genres. Over the last fourteen years, I’ve edited everything from poetry to urban fiction to paranormal romance.

My Urban Books: What is the everyday life of an editor? What makes your work ethic different from other editors?

Carla Dean: For me, no two days are the same. As for my work ethic, I have been told that my down-to-earth nature makes authors comfortable with working with me. Also, I am driven by my passion for editing. While the money helps to support me, it is not solely my motivation. My motivation comes from helping authors fulfill their dreams of putting out a story that others can enjoy.

My Urban Books: What do you encourage authors to ask when in search of an editor?

Carla Dean: Inquire about their years of experience, what type of editing they provide­– whether developmental editing, line editing, or proofreading, and if they can provide referrals for other authors they have worked with in the past. Also, it would be a good idea to request a sample edit. By doing so, the author will get a feel for the editor’s style and know if it will work for the type of book they have written.

My Urban Books: Besides editing, what other services do you offer? And which is your favorite to do?

Carla Dean: The list of services I offer include critiques, rewrites, developmental editing, line editing, proofreading, typesetting, and e-book converting. I also provide a typing service for those authors in need of having their handwritten manuscripts entered into Microsoft Word. My favorite service to provide is developmental editing because it allows me to enhance the author’s work more than if I were only hired to provide line editing or proofreading.

My Urban Books: With eBooks becoming the next big thing has business increased, decreased or remained the same for you?

Carla Dean: For me, business has remained about the same. I guess I can contribute that to the fact that the caliber of authors I work with, most of whom are repeat clients, recognize the importance of editing and don’t skip this vital step, even if only releasing their work as an e-book.

My Urban Books: What are the most common errors made by new authors?

Carla Dean: One of the most common errors made by new authors is thinking their manuscript only has to go through one edit before being published. If you expect others to take you seriously as an author, you have to treat your work like a business and not a hobby. Even manuscripts written by veteran authors go through AT LEAST three edits, which are developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading. Also, be sure to get beta readers, who are not friends and family members, to provide honest feedback on your work. This will allow you the opportunity to know where to go in and strengthen the story before moving forward with editing.

My Urban Books:  What advice would you give authors pertaining to editing their manuscripts?

Carla Dean: 1. Self-editing is good, but don’t rely solely on yourself to catch everything wrong with your manuscript. Hire a professional editor 2. Budget for editing; include it in your publishing expenses. Cheap is not always better and seldom is. So, don’t expect that “bargain” price to result in professional results. 3. Allow the editor enough time to edit your work. Chances are if they are good at what they do, they are in high demand. Therefore, your manuscript may not be the only one they are working on. Practice patient. It will be worth it in the end.

My Urban Books: How can authors contact you who are interested in your services and what are your guidelines?

Carla Dean: Anyone who is interested in my services can contact me via my website at or on Facebook at The guidelines are listed on my website. Authors can also request a rate sheet via the homepage.