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Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: Guilty By Association by Pat Simmons

Guilty By Association by Pat Simmons

Review by Tavares S. Carney

Now That We’ve Found Love

As a youngster, Kevin “Kidd” Jamieson grew up desiring, yet lacking, the dedication time and attention of a father. Having lived with his younger brother, Aaron, and mom, Sharon, Kidd faces a dramatic shift in the lifestyle he is accustomed to upon finally meeting his other siblings and extended family. Throughout the novel, readers will find Kidd facing many challenges. These challenges include deciphering between genuine love and acceptance versus guilt driven hand-outs, finding love, and feelings of obligation to his younger brother and mother and more.

When I first began the novel, I found Kidd to be a man acting like a kid, thinking that he needed to get out of his own way. I was happy when Kidd finally allowed his Jamieson family to step in, encouraging and motivating him to strive for more out of life. Initially, this arrangement was met with much opposition. I liked the way the author showed family dynamics of the Jamieson clan and, in my opinion, Ms. Simmons does a great job of allowing Kidd to wear his heart on his sleeve when it comes to his feelings of not having grown up with his biological father.

Other characters in the story, Grandma BB and Eve, provided comic relief and an emotional breakthrough, respectively. I often found myself laughing at Grandma BB and rooting for Kevin and Eve.

This is a good read and I would definitely consider another selection from this author.

Review by Tavares S. Carney

*Author solicited review.

For more on the author, please visit:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When Rain Falls by Tyora Moody

When Rain Falls by Tyora Moody

Review by Tavares S. Carney

Past Meets Present

In her first novel, author, Tyora Moody, introduces readers to Candace Johnson, a recent widow and mother of two children, and her best friend, hotshot defense attorney, Pamela Coleman. Having suffered painful losses early in life, the two friends share an unbreakable bond. As the plot unfolds, readers learn of Candace’s grief, and how it affects her interactions with others, as well as Pamela’s secrets, and how those secrets ultimately, affect the livelihood of not only Pamela, but the people around her as well.

I was immediately engulfed in the storyline, finding myself unable to stop wondering what happened in the past and what was going to happen later in the story. Supporting characters Darnell Jackson, Beulah, Mitch and Yvonne Harris, Serena, The Colemans, Aunt Maggie, Avante and Hillary help move the story along. I found myself prematurely accusing more than one of them of some type of wrongdoing before learning some truths. I absolutely loved Beulah’s support to those around her, and while I grew to like Pamela, I did not necessarily agree with everything she does in the novel. I also came to understand Candace and Maggie’s relationship and am sure several readers will empathize.

This is definitely an interesting read. I cannot rightfully label this book Christian fiction alone because suspense and mystery also looms. While the author weaves spirituality throughout, I can fathom readers who typically do not read in the Christian fiction genre enjoying this particular selection.

Some of the topics that surface in this novel include life after loss, crime and punishment, police brutality, adultery, revenge, surrogate parenting, forgiveness and friendship. Unlike any other Christian fiction novel I have read, I am already anticipating the next release in the Victory Gospel Series. What does the future hold?

Review by Tavares S. Carney

*Advance copy received for review.

Interview with Tyora Moody

When did you have your first inkling that perhaps you’d like to become a writer/an author?

I can remember writing short stories in high school and college, but it seemed to be something I grew out of mainly because I started to pursue more of my love for design. The desire to birth a story returned in 2006.

Have you always written in the format you are writing now? For example, have you written or do you write novels, poems/poetry, short stories, sketches, film and/or theatre scripts, song lyrics, magazine articles, etc.?

For the 10 years, I mainly wrote nonfiction pieces likes devotions, bible studies and how-to articles.

When did you first share your writing publicly? How was it received?

I have had good response to my nonfiction writing over the years. In 2010, my short story, Birthing Pains, in the anthology, Home Again: Stories of Restored Relationships became my first published work of fiction. The anthology and my short story was well-received. It was a very encouraging experience especially since I wasn’t sure I could write a short story within the required word length.

Do you write full-time? If so, was writing your first career? If not, what did you find particularly easy and most challenging about becoming a full-time writer?

No, I wish. I’m an entrepreneur, so I spent quite a bit of time during the week running my small business. I used to be more of a weekend writer. Now I’m finding I have to slow down on projects so I can write more during the week. With a book deal comes a contract and deadlines to ensure your book is released on time.

Have you yet to encounter adversity and adverse opinions? How do you deal with adverse opinions and views to your work?

Not yet. I would take any view of my work as an opportunity to grow.

Did you attend any workshops/conferences to assist you in honing your craft? If so, which ones?

Yes, I attended a few writer’s conferences. In 2006, I attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. I only had may be ten-fifteen chapters of When Rain Falls written at the time, but I decided to enter the writer’s contest. I won second place with my first forty pages. That gave me the motivation to continue the story.

In 2010, Tiffany L. Warren offered pitch sessions at the Faith and Fiction Retreat (check it out this year in Texas at I decided to attend and pitch to the four editors. It took a few months to hear back from anyone. There were two rejections, but December 2010 was an answer to a prayer. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity and finally being able to share When Rain Falls with readers.

Anyone else in your family a writer or have other talents?

I have heard of members of my family who have attempted to write a book. I’m not sure if they completed the book. I think I’m the first one to publish a book.

Any one or more people have a great influence in the person/talent you are today?

My tenth grade English teacher was very instrumental in helping me develop a love for creative writing.

If you could take one book with you to a deserted island, which would it be?

The Bible. Plenty of wisdom, inspiration and stories wrapped in those 66 books.

If you could take 5 CDs with you to a deserted island, which would they be?

Okay, that’s a hard one. Probably a CD each from CeCe Winans, Israel Houghton and Yolanda Adams. I love Christian Hip Hop, so I would have to change up a bit with some Trip Lee and Lecrae. LOL!

What famous person would you like to have dinner with? Why?

You probably heard this before from plenty of other writers, but probably Oprah. Mainly because I know she is a bookworm and loves literature.

Would you like to collaborate with anyone on a novel? How do you feel about collaborations?

I don’t know. It’s been a journey writing one by myself. I would consider it if an opportunity was presented to me in the future.

In 5 words or less, describe your character.

Quiet, but bold. I think all my life people mistake my quietness as shyness. I like challenges!

What is your website?

Readers can find me online at:

What other projects are you working on?

I’m currently working on the second book in the Victory Gospel Series. The next book in the series, When Memories Fade, will be released March 2013.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Introducing the Morgan Love Book Series (for girls age 7 to 9) by Stephanie Perry Moore

About the Books

The Morgan Love Series is a chapter book series written for girls, 7 – 9 years old. The series provides moral lessons that will aid in character development. It will also help young girls develop their vocabulary, english and math skills as they read through the stories and complete the entertaining and educational exercises provided at the end of each chapter and in the back of the book.

A+ Attitude

Morgan is sad and mad at the world because things are not going the way she wants. Why does my daddy have to leave again to save the country? Why do I have to go live with mommy and her new husband? Why does my mommy have to have a new baby? Why do I have to go to a new school? Why do I have to make new friends? Why? Why? Why? Though she is having a hard time adjusting to all the new things in her life, especially her new baby brother and stepdad, Derek, Morgan makes up her mind that no matter what is going on, she is going to have an A+ attitude.

Speak Up

When Morgan discovers that Antoine and Alec, the new kids on her block are big bullies she doesn’t know what to do. When she goes back to school, she finds out that Alec is the also the new kid in her class. When her friend Trey, stops hanging out with her and the others and hangs out with Alec instead, she is worried. She doesn’t want Trey to get into trouble nor have the other kids think she’s a tattletale. Morgan is having a hard time knowing what she should do. Should she continue to keep quiet or is it time to speak up?

Something Special

Morgan, wanting to fit in with the crowd, teases a large girl and a special-ed kid at school. When she is caught she has to go to the principal’s office. When she finds out how much her teasing hurt her classmates she feels bad. Later, while playing together, Morgan and her cousins all share a secret wish. Morgan wants to be prettier. Drake wants to be taller. Sadie wants longer hair. When she goes to vacation bible school Morgan learns that God made each person just the way they are for a reason, even those kids she laughed at and teased. Just the way they are, is okay and they are all something special to God.

Right Thing

When Morgan lets her best friend, Brook talk her into doing something her mommy tells her not to do, she gets into trouble. But that does not stop Morgan from disobeying her mommy again. When she ignores her mommy and takes her iPod to school, she not only gets in trouble but is badly hurt by one of the older girls. She learns that when she doesn’t obey her parents she is not only letting them down but God too. The next time Brook tries to talk Morgan into doing what she knows is wrong; Morgan decides to do the right thing.

No Fear

Don’t be afraid. Have no fear. That’s what Morgan’s parents and grandparents were always telling her. But she was having a hard time doing what they said as she thought about the big test coming up and wondered if her daddy was on the navy shipped that was recently attacked. When Morgan shares her fears with her mommy, her mommy tells her about the good news from God and about Heaven, Morgan begins to understand why her parents and grandparents are always telling her to have no fear.

Purchase the Books Online at:

About the Author

STEPHANIE PERRY MOORE is the author of many Young Adult Christian fiction titles, including the Payton Skky series, the Laurel Shadrach series, the Perry Skky Jr. series, the Faith Thomas Novelzine series, the Carmen Browne series, and the Beta Gamma Pi series. She is also the co-editor for the impactful BibleZine, REAL. Mrs. Moore speaks with young people across the country, showing them how they can live life fully and do it God’s way. Stephanie currently lives in the greater Atlanta area with her husband, Derrick, a former NFL player and author, and their three children. Visit her website at

Monday, February 13, 2012

Precedents: Simmer Before You Boil

It’s February, the month nationally recognized as Black History Month in the good ole U.S. of A. Today is Monday, February 13, 2012 – the first day of the work week, when most of us start anew. While some of us are morning people - the early risers always ready to go, others of us dread the return to our business routines, battling our blankets ever so effortlessly, moping to the restroom to freshen and ready ourselves for the work day. Today was one of the latter scenarios for me. Why am I telling you all of this you ask – because this information sets precedence for the mood I was in when I checked my boss’ mail slot for mail delivered over the weekend.

For some odd reason, the February 2012 issue of the ABA Journal(The Lawyer’s Magazine), is just now making its debut. In it, I found the following:

Anyone that knows me probably knows my nostrils flared immediately after reading this – “We just can’t get any credit – hmph.” My first thoughts were negative in that, “Here it is Black History Month of all months, and “they” just can’t let us have ours. WE started the NAACP but in typical fashion, credit is not being given where due.” Hold your horses now . . . fast forward 10 minutes later . . . I immediately pumped the brakes on my ill-warranted emotions . . . nostrils back in sister . . .

After doing a quick Google search, the information is indeed true. According to the NAACP official website, Mary White Ovington indeed answered the challenge of William English Walling to “revive the spirit of the abolitionist movement.” (Hodak, ABA Journal, Feb. 2012, p. 72) After fact checking these two individuals’ names, I digress and have learned something new today. Maybe some or all of you knew and have been privy to this information, for others like me it’s never too late to learn something new. Call me what you want or perhaps I’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere to not have known this but I’m not afraid nor embarrassed to admit that I didn’t.

On another note, the lesson I take away from this and the message to all my blog readers is this – it’s okay to receive a helping hand to help pull you up to where you need to be, no matter the race, creed, color, or ethnicity. Thus the word play in the title of this post – William Walling and Mary Ovington had preceding actions that influenced what evolved into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Today, my research allowed me to simmer before boiling.  The slow simmer, the emotion that took precedence before fully-surfaced anger.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Product Review: The Naked Bee's Orange Blossom Honey Lotion

"All The Good Stuff, None of The Bad Stuff"TM

Product Description: The Naked Bee - Orange Blossom Honey Lotion combines organic aloe vera and sunflower oil with moisturizers and skin conditioners like honey, spirulina and hyaluronic acid to soften, heal and promote healthy skin. The Naked Bee - Orange Blossom Honey Lotion contains no propylene glycol, dyes or pigments and it is not tested on animals. Orange Blossom Honey is Naked Bee’s most popular fragrance.

The Naked Bee hand and body lotion is 70% organic. Naked Bee products are also Paraben-Free, have no propylene glycol or mineral oil, no dyes or pigment and no lauryl or laureth sulfate.

Personal Product Review:

Packaging/Price - For Orange Blossom Honey Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion to be marketed as a natural product, and the fact that this lotion isn't available everywhere, I think the pricing is fair for the 8 oz. lotion pump bottle.  The lotion comes in a durable plastic bottle, with labeling that has complementary colors (think orange and honey).  The average retail price is $13.50.  I paid $13.00 at Amazon.  Other sites such as Uncommon Scents retail this item at $14.95.  If you shop around, you just may be able to save a buck or two.

Aroma - I absolutely love this smell.  My personal description is that of freshly peeled oranges (think how the citrus smells on your fingertips after peeling an orange) tamed by the smell of sweet honey.  When first applying the lotion, it smells like "Smarties," the candy, as my daughter says.  However, after a couple seconds, the pungent smell become more of a mild, pleasantry.  Note: I first smelled this product when a colleage applied it daily and I thought it was perfume.  I finally asked her what she was wearing, and sure enough, she shared with me Orange Blossom Honey by The Naked Bee.  She also relayed that she first smelled this lotion when another colleague applied it.  So I'm warning you, people will ask you, "What is that you're wearing?" or you may get a, "What's that smell?" in a good way, of course.

Results - The consistency of the lotion is not too thick or creamy and my skin doesn't feel too oily after the application.   The added bonus is that this product smells great.

Availability: Direct individual consumer product purchases from The Naked Bee are not available; however, you may locate retailers who carry their products here - Store Locator.  You may also purchase from various online retailers.

Would I recommend this product? Absolutely.

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Name-Calling Week 2012


No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.


No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled "The Misfits" by popular author, James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression. Motivated by the inequities they see around them, the "Gang of Five" (as they are known) creates a new political party during student council elections and run on a platform aimed at wiping out name-calling of all kinds. The No-Name Party in the end, wins the support of the school's principal for their cause and their idea for a "No Name-Calling Day" at school.

Motivated by this simple, yet powerful, idea, the No Name-Calling Week Coalition created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children's publishing, consisting of over 40 national partner organizations, organized an actual No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation. The project seeks to focus national attention on the problem of name-calling in schools, and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities.


Anyone who wants to work towards eliminating harmful name-calling, harassment and bullying in their school can be a part of No Name-Calling Week, whether you are a teacher, student, guidance counselor, coach, librarian or bus driver. Curricular materials are primarily aimed at middle school students, specifically grades 5-8, but may be modified for older or younger students. These materials may be downloaded at, or you can order the Resource Kit and create your own activities for your school or community.  For questions about ordering the Resource Kit, please e-mail 

For general information, please e-mail:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Review by Tavares S. Carney

Roadblocks, Detours and Open Doors

Being the mother of a young, impressionable black male living in an urban area, I was intrigued by The Other Wes Moore being based upon events detailing the lives of two young boys living in the same neighborhood, whose lives began similarly yet became stark contrast as adults – one being an upstanding scholar, the other serving life in prison. I began to think that perhaps I would read about some “enlightening” or “defining” moment when one Wes Moore veered right, and the other Wes Moore veered left. To my surprise, that single “moment” was never exacted.

The author does not attempt to debate the topic of nature vs. nurture, or either as the primary reason either Wes Moore’s life is as it is today; however, he does share each boy’s story, the roads traveled and how they ended up where they are present day. Some of the stories were very serious, some funny, some eye-brow raising and some even sad. There are many tales, and I’m sure all readers can relate to at least one.

What I gather from this novel is that some opportunities are more available to some than others, be it through parents who have good jobs, or through parental networks of friends and colleagues. Opportunities taken, missed and lost come to mind when speaking of opportunity. From an education standpoint for example, private school may be an option for some, while public school is the seemingly only option for others. Still, this is not an excuse to not succeed because there are often ways to get around these so-called and perceived “roadblocks.” Let’s take earning scholarships, and seeking the assistance of friends and family to help pay tuition, for example. These are examples of how to get around perceived roadblocks.

Utilizing resources available to us can help shape us into the citizens we will become in the future. Knowing that these resources exist is even more crucial. Many do not take advantage of these resources because they do not know they exist. The “Call to Action” at the end of the book details numerous organizations offering educational assistance, mentoring services and more.

I also enjoyed reading about “the other” Wes Moore, the one whose life could have easily been the successful Wes Moore’s. As the other puts in his own words, “the chilling truth is that his story could have been mine, the tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

About the Author (excerpted from

Wes Moore is a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, promising business leader and author.

Wes Moore was born in 1978 and was three years old when his father, a respected radio and television host, died in front of him. His mother, hoping for a better future for her family, made great sacrifices to send Wes and his sisters to private school. Caught between two worlds, the affluence of his classmates and the struggles of his neighbors, Wes began to act out, succumbing to bad grades, suspensions, and delinquencies. Desperate to reverse his behavior, his mother sent him to military school in Pennsylvania. After trying to escape five times, Wes finally decided to stop railing against the system and become accountable for his actions. By graduation six years later, Moore was company commander overseeing 125 cadets.

On December 11, 2000, The Baltimore Sun ran an article about how Wes, despite his troubled childhood, had just received The Rhodes Scholarship. At the same time, The Sun was running stories — eventually more than 100 in all — about four African-American men who were arrested for the murder of an off-duty Baltimore police officer during an armed robbery. One of the men convicted was just two years older than Wes, lived in the same neighborhood, and in an uncanny turn, was also named Wes Moore.

Wes wondered how two young men from the same city, who were around the same age, and even shared a name, could arrive at two completely different destinies. The juxtaposition between their lives, and the questions it raised about accountability, chance, fate and family, had a profound impact on Wes. He decided to write to the other Wes Moore, and much to his surprise, a month later he received a letter back. He visited the other Wes in prison over a dozen times, spoke with his family and friends, and discovered startling parallels between their lives: both had difficult childhoods, they were both fatherless, were having trouble in the classroom; they’d hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and had run into trouble with the police. Yet at each stage of their lives, at similar moments of decision, they would head down different paths towards astonishingly divergent destinies. Wes realized in their two stories was a much larger tale about the consequences of personal responsibility and the imperativeness of education and community for a generation of boys searching for their way.

Seeking to help other young people to redirect their lives, Wes is committed to being a positive influence and helping kids find the support they need to enact change. Pointing out that a high school student drops out every nine seconds, Wes says that public servants — the teachers, mentors and volunteers who work with our youth — are as imperative to our national standing and survival as are our armed forces. “Public service does not have to be an occupation,” he says, “but it must be a way of life.”

Moore lives with his wife Dawn in New Jersey.

*No payment or gift-in-kind received for this review.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: One Day It'll All Make Sense by Common

One Day It’ll All Make Sense by Common
with Adam Bradley

Review by Tavares S. Carney

“Letters to Grow On”

If one were to make a summation of this book in Common’s hip-hop lyrics, I would definitely say One Day It’ll All Make Sense is the author’s “Retrospect for Life” as he reflects upon his life from where he is today. The reason I emphasize present day is the fact I gather this entertainer has aspirations he has yet to even pursue.

In this semi-autobiographical memoir injected with letters from his mother’s perspective, Common shares his life experiences as he garners fame as a hip-hop artist, and later actor. He shares his wins, his losses, his struggles and his triumphs. In between he talks about growing up as a young black male in Chicago, his friends, his loves and his family. In retrospect, he takes nothing and no one for granted.

What I like in particular about this book are the letters the author writes to individuals who have in some way or another helped shape the man he is today. Whether or not these individuals remain constants in his life, the author openly shares lessons learned from each of them. These people may or may not have known prior to this release that a part of the author’s growth can be attributed to each of them. I also enjoyed reading his mother’s take on people, places and things, some of which only a mother of a teenage boy can relate. The clear message throughout One Day It’ll All Make Sense is that our life experiences shape us as human beings.

Because I am a fan of the hip-hop artist, actor, and now author, this book intrigued me because Common is widely known and accepted as a “conscious rapper,” who by my own definition speaks of relevant issues and not always the stereotypical.

The title is aptly fitting, sending a message that no matter what we go through “one day it’ll all make sense.”

For more on the author, please visit

Review by Tavares S. Carney

If you found this review helpful, please vote here:
*No compensation or gift-in-kind received for this review.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Give A Little - It Means A Lot

This past Christmas holiday, some co-workers and I managed to give a little.  As it turns out (and of course, we knew it would) our small gesture meant a lot to the young women at Alternative For Girls.  It warms the heart to help those less fortunate.  This thank-you letter makes me smile.  Simply knowing that your contributions help someone along the way brings a sense of joy and fills the spirit with hope for tomorrow. 

I challenge any and everyone reading this to consider adopting a family or organization for the holiday season in 2012.

Many Blessings,