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Professional Reader

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mama's Boy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley AVAILABLE TOMORROW

ReShonda Tate Billingsley is back and with a page turner that will leave you holding your chest...gasping for air. ReShonda stepped up her writing game in this book, tackling a current headline that is all to familiar.

A Note from ReShonda
As a journalist, I have come across an array of stories in my twenty-five-plus years in the industry. Some of them have provided fodder for just plain ol' good drama. Many of them-no, most of them-have sparked that little "What if?" light bulb in my head. This book was born from one of those "What ifs?"

I'm always posing questions to my readers on social media as I travel: What if you won the lottery and your ex-husband came back and said your divorce was never finalized and he and the woman he left you for want half? (The Devil Is a Lie); What if you have a one-night stand with your best friend's husband and he dies in the hotel room? (What's Done in the Dark); What if your son commits a crime, can you turn him in? I'd like to think that as a law-abiding citizen, that answer would be a resounding yes. But as a mother, that answer isn't so black and white, especially if you throw in something that has been dominating the news: race and law enforcement. I don't know about you, but for me, that changes the dynamics. And that's where Mama's Boy was born.

I hope you will enjoy the story, even if you don't agree with all the characters' decisions (hey, what kind of writer would I be if you liked everything?).


Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Gallery Book (Simon & Schuster)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1476714959
ISBN-13: 978-1476714950

About the book
When her son is in trouble, a heartbroken mother finds the courage and faith to save him, in ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s powerful family drama—a novel as timely as today’s headlines.

The breaking TV news rocks Jasper, Texas, to the core: a white police officer is fatally shot in a scuffle with three black youths—and a cellphone video captures Jamal Jones, the sixteen-year-old son of esteemed Reverend Elton Jones, escalating the tragic encounter. Now, as the national spotlight shines on a town already rife with racial tension, Jamal is a murder suspect on the run. And all of Jasper—even the Reverend’s congregation—rushes to judge the boy they thought they knew.

But Gloria Jones knows her son best, and she races to find Jamal before the law does—to the outrage of her workaholic husband. Once she finds him, she has to decide whether to turn him in or help him run. With ruthless prosecutor and Houston mayoral candidate Kay Christensen hungering to put another young thug behind bars, Gloria will face her biggest battle yet. And when long-hidden secrets and shocking lies come to light, throwing Jamal’s case and his destiny into a tailspin, all Gloria can do is pray that the truth—and a mother’s unconditional love—will be enough to redeem the mistakes of the past and ultimately, save her son.

If this isn't enough to peek your interest, you can read the first chapter by visiting

Mama's Boy get's five stars and a fist pump.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Monkey on My Back by Debbi Morgan Available Now

I've been a Debbi Morgan fan the first time I saw her on an episode of What's Happening. Even though she only had a recurring role, she lit up the room. I remember saying to myself, "I want to be like her when I grow up." I mean, what child doesn't want to be like someone that they see on television? Years later, she was cast as Dr. Angela Baxter on All My Children...later becoming Dr. Angela Baxter Hubbard. Again, her presence lit up the room. I was happy when I found out she's a Tweeter(Twitter). But, I was beside myself the first time she responded to one of my tweets. I mean I think I had to regain my composure...guess you can say I'm groupie. 

Debbi has a new title to add to her resume...Author. When Debbi tweeted that her memoir, The Monkey on my Back would be released this summer, I immediately added the date to my calendar. I had to have it. Today is that day. The Monkey on my Back is available nationwide.

About the book: A deeply personal memoir spanning three generations of women, this is the intimate autobiography of Emmy Award–winning actress Debbi Morgan, best known as Angie Hubbard on the long-running soap opera All My Children.

Raised in the South Bronx and beloved for the diverse and captivating characters she’s played, Debbi Morgan enjoyed a thirty-year tenure on All My Children before joining the cast of The Young and the Restless and later appearing opposite Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson in several films. But this book is not about her career, and it’s not about Hollywood. It’s not even about her rise to stardom. Charting her family history as well as her own life from childhood to the present in this compelling memoir, Debbi reveals the fear, doubt, and insecurities she’s struggled with for much of her life—and how she escaped a vicious cycle of pain to find self-confidence, happiness, and success.

Early on in her family history, an ugly pattern of abuse developed into fear, insecurity, self-doubt, and emotional trauma, which passed down from one generation to the next. From her maternal grandmother, who was beaten by her husband as they struggled through the Great Depression, to Debbi’s mother, who became pregnant as a young teen and suffered the same abuse as her mother, down to Debbi, who internalized the physical abuse she watched her mother endure, a deep-rooted fear plagued all three generations of women. But through it all, Debbi endured, and with a good dose of humor and self-compassion, she emerged with the deepest love of herself—and her mojo quite intact!

Told with intense emotion, candor, and a barrage of belly laughs, Debbi shares a deeply moving, explosive, yet inspirational journey about what it took to break the cycle and emerge as a confident, fearless woman.

My review: Without a doubt, one of the best memoirs that I've read in a very long time. I applaud Debbi for her transparency. It takes a lot open up to the world and discuss personal issues that not only happened to you, but other family members. I could feel the "monkey" that Debbi spoke of as I turned each page. As I read the final page...the last sentence, I felt that I was able to exhale with Debbi. The "monkey" was gone. I recommend this book to everyone. It receives a five star review and a fist bump. 

**I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Stand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray Available June 30th

  1. A “stand your ground law states that a person may use deadly force in self-defense without the duty to retreat when faced with a reasonable perceived threat. (Taken from Google)

"A black teenage boy is dead. A white man killed him. Was he standing his ground or was it murder?"

Victoria Christopher Murray tackles that law in her upcoming heart wrenching novel, Stand Your Ground available June 30th. Readers, please beware that you will need a box of Kleenex to even get through the first chapter. The emotions of a mother and father when two policemen, one black and one white are standing at their front door, having to deliver the news that their son is dead. You can read the first chapter on

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (June 30, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476792992
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476792996

Why did Victoria write Stand Your Ground?

"Not again," were words that kept reverberating through my mind on February 15, 2014. We were just a few weeks away from the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin's murder and as I watched the verdict come down in the first trial of Michael Dunn (the man who murdered Jordan Davis) I felt like this country was taking giant leaps backwards. 
            It had happened again. While Michael Dunn had been found guilty of attempted murder, the jury couldn't reach a verdict on the murder charge for Jordan Davis's death.
            Of course my social media timelines blew up. People were upset and rightfully so...though, I didn't understand the specific reactions. People attacked the men and women of the jury, and then, there were those who were once again calling for America to boycott one of its own states. "Nobody go to Florida!" became the social media mantra.
            That confused me -- I didn't understand how people could get upset with Americans who had not only stepped up to fulfill their jury duty, but who were following the law. And it was even more confusing that people wanted to boycott Florida when two dozen other states had some version of the same law. So what...were people going to boycott every state? Were they going to boycott the states where they lived?
            I couldn't make sense out of what I thought was nonsense. I couldn't understand why people were attacking juries and attacking states, and not going after the real culprit. Why not make this a political rallying cry? Why not register thousands of people to vote? Why not go after the law?
            Yes, people are behind the law, but not the people who would suffer under a boycott. And not the people who fulfilled their civic duty by serving on the jury.
            It was that night and those reactions that started the seed of this novel to grow inside of me. I so wanted to get people to understand that the law was the problem. I wanted people to understand the law better, I wanted people to know that Stand Your Ground is not a defense in itself, it is part of self defense.  And though I had never been through anything like this myself personally, I wanted people to really think about the families in these situations. Maybe all of that would get us to finally stand our ground...stand up and do something. Do something that would matter, do something that would count.
            And while this idea began to brew inside of me, one of my friends on FaceBook said, "Victoria, you should write a book about this." Others agreed, saying they believed that I could teach something. That was when I knew that I did have a platform to reach thousands of people about this -- I could do it through entertainment; I could do it through a book.
            It was my editor who challenged me to add layers to this story and to show both sides of this tragedy.  It was my publisher who gave me the title.
            And so it was on and I was ready.
            But then, I wasn't as ready as I thought. When I sat down and thought about these women in Stand Your Ground -- the mother of the victim and the wife of the shooter, it became such a difficult book to write. Of course, the emotions that I had to write for the mother were clear and obvious. What I didn't expect was to feel for the wife of the shooter. These were two women who were suffering -- in different ways -- but still, they suffered. And as I lived with both of them in my head for all of those months, I suffered with them.
            Another thing that surprised me a bit about writing this book was the language. I always believe in being true to my characters, but to this point, profanity hasn't had any place in my novels. Not that there is much inside of Stand Your Ground; but I'm sure you can imagine that the N word -- a word I abhor -- comes up a time or two.
            But if I wanted to write the truth, which I always try to do, if I wanted to speak to the two opposing sides of Stand Your Ground, I had to speak their language -- especially the language they would use in this particular situation.
            So, I went with my characters. And I took this journey. Never before can I say that a book I've written has changed me. But writing this one did. It wasn't writing this book alone that changed me -- it was that I was half-way through writing this book when Eric Garner was choked to death in New York, and then Michael Brown was executed in the streets of Ferguson. I wrote this novel while those incidents and the aftermath played as background music in my mind.
            And I changed.
            I wrote and I changed. I wrote and I became an Angry Black Woman.
            My prayer, though, is that I will channel that anger in the right way. I was able to work some of that anger out in the pages of this book. Now, I hope that I'll be able to work that anger out in a way that will help to change America -- for the better.
            And that begins with repealing Stand Your Ground.

            We must know the facts. We must never forget....

Now that you've had the chance to read the first chapter...and now that you have a better understanding of why Victoria wrote this novel, I hope you'll head over to Amazon or Barnes and Nobel and pre-order your copy. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Spotlighting Kimberla Lawson Roby

I’m so honored and humbled to spotlight my good friend and big sister, Kimberla Lawson Roby. Kimberla's latest title, The Ultimate Betrayal releases tomorrow. This is the 12th novel in The Curtis Black Series.

Check out what’s going on in The Black Family this time around.

Alicia to her ex, Levi:  “Levi, I can’t do this with you.  I’m hanging up, and if you care anything about me you’ll never call me again.  You won’t send me messages, you won’t send me anything.  You’ll just leave me alone, so I can remarry Phillip in peace.”

Levi to Alicia: “You don’t mean that.  I know you think you do, but you really don’t.  Your mind is telling you one thing, but deep down, you know where your heart is.  You wanna be with me as badly as I wanna be with you.”

Phillip to the church congregation about his fiance, Alicia:  "I simply couldn’t be happier about remarrying her again, and I thank God for giving us a second chance.  I love and adore her."

Melanie to her husband, Brad:  "You lost ten thousand dollars, and you’re acting like it’s no big deal?”

Brad to Melanie:  “I never said it wasn’t a big deal...I promise it won't happen again.  I know I lost a lot of money last, year, too, but this really was the last time.”


It’s been four years since twenty-eight-year old Alicia Black, daughter of Reverend Curtis Black, divorced her second husband, the most womanizing and corrupt man she has ever known. Since then, Alicia has been dating her first husband, Phillip Sullivan, a wonderfully kind and true man of God whom she’d hurt terribly by cheating on him. Alicia has worked hard to prove herself worthy of his trust once more, and when he asks her to marry him again, she couldn’t be happier. But Levi Cunningham, the drug dealer Alicia had an extramarital affair with, has just been released from prison, and he has completely turned his life around for the better. Still head-over-heels in love with Alicia, he will do whatever is necessary to win her back. Remarrying Phillip is the one thing Alicia has wanted for years, but she can’t get Levi out of her mind. Alicia and Phillip aren’t the only ones in the middle of a crisis. Their best friends, husband and wife Brad and Melanie Richardson, are struggling to keep their marriage together. Workaholic Brad is never home and has begun losing thousands on bad investments. Or so he says. Melanie, who is certain there’s more to the story, is determined to get at the truth. At the same time, her frustration and stress cause her to eat a lot less, and she behaves in an extreme fashion. Alicia worries that she could be suffering from anorexia, but Melanie steadfastly denies it. Their friendship begins to suffer, and it isn’t long before they’re talking to each other like enemies. Fresh betrayal leads to consequences no one saw coming, and Alicia’s relationship with Phillip might not be the only thing that needs saving. But is it already too late?

Series: A Reverend Curtis Black Novel (Book 12)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 9, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455559563
ISBN-13: 978-1455559565

New York Times Bestselling Author Kimberla Lawson Roby has published 21 novels which include A CHRISTMAS PRAYER, THE PRODIGAL SON, A HOUSE DIVIDED, THE PERFECT MARRIAGE, THE REVEREND’S WIFE, SECRET OBSESSION, LOVE, HONOR, and BETRAY, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR, A DEEP DARK SECRET, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, ONE IN A MILLION, SIN NO MORE, LOVE & LIES, CHANGING FACES, THE BEST-KEPT SECRET, TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING, A TASTE OF REALITY, IT’S A THIN LINE, CASTING THE FIRST STONE, HERE AND NOW, and her debut title, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, which was originally self-published through her own company, Lenox Press. She has sold more than 2.6 million copies of her novels, and they have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine, Barnes and Noble,, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle to name a few, and both BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and CASTING THE FIRST STONE were #1 Blackboard bestsellers for four consecutive months in both 1997 and 2000. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997.

Kimberla is the 2013 NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, the recipient of the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Author of the Year – Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York, the recipient of the 2014 AAMBC Award for Female Author of the Year, the recipient of the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for CASTING THE FIRST STONE, the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, and in 2001, Kimberla was inducted into the Rock Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame (Rockford, IL).

Kimberla’s novels deal with very real issues, including corruption within the church, drug addiction, gambling addiction, infidelity, social status, single motherhood, infertility, sibling rivalry and jealousy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental illness, care-giving of a parent, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, and overweight issues to name a few.

Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will.  Her 22nd title, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL will be released June 9, 2015.

Contact Kimberla via:
Twitter: KimberlaLRoby

Thank you Kimberla!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chatting with Marcena Hooks

Today, I welcome Marcena Hooks to The Reading Life with Yolanda. Marcena is another contributing author for The Dating Game anthology published by Brown Girls Books.

 Briefly, introduce yourself to the readers.
I am a native of Oklahoma, and relocated to California about two years ago. I am a married mother of two working on my MFA degree in Creative Writing. The love of reading and writing was inspired and instilled in me by my mother, and I hope to pass that love on to my children.
Please tell us what your story; Just Call Me Honey is all about? I love the title by the way. Just Call Me Honey is a story of two people Delaney (a.k.a. Honey) and James who are on a journey to try love again after being in bad relationships. They lead secret “double lives” but see themselves in each other. They figure it would be better to work through their redemption together as a couple.
Paperback: 334
Publisher: Brown Girls Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1625176745

You’re at the night club with your date, what’s that one song that will get you up on the dance floor?
Even though I haven’t been to the club in ages, I love this question! Without a doubt, it would be The Electric Slide.
If your short story was turned into a made for TV movie, who would you want to play the roles?
Wow, I haven’t thought about this. Maybe Malik Yoba as James and Sanaa Lathan as Honey. If this ever came true, I’d love to be a part of the casting call and/or auditions if that were allowed.
Is this your first published work? If no, please tell us your other works. How does it feel to be a published author?
I am blessed and honored to be published in The Dating Game; it is my third published work. I am also included in The Motherhood Diaries and The Motherhood Diaries 2, two anthologies by ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Being published is still unbelievable at times, and I long for the day my name will grace the cover of a book.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading novels for school including Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Are you working on anything new?
I am working on my workshop submission for the summer residency at school. I’d also like to develop a sequel to Just Call Me Honey into a novella.
How can readers stay connected to you?
I’d love to connect with readers via Facebook and Twitter: @Marcenahooks

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chatting with Cherritta Smith

Today, I welcome Cherritta Smith to The Reading Life with Yolanda. Cherritta is another contributing author for The Dating Game anthology published by Brown Girls Books.

Briefly, introduce yourself to the readers. 

Hi, my name is Cherritta L. Smith.  I’m the mother of three beautiful young adults and a native of Las Vegas, Nevada. 
Please tell us what your story; Sunday Love is all about? I love the title by the way.
My story is classic but difficult.  One of love, disappointment, infidelity, and triumph between two characters Romell and Carmella who happens to share breathtaking moments on Sundays.

Paperback: 334
Publisher: Brown Girls Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1625176745

 You’re at the night club with your date, what’s that one song that will get you up on the dance floor?
I don’t really go to clubs but if I was at a function where music was played and the DJ spun I Can’t Describe by J Hud (Jennifer Hudson) on the one and twos that would most definitely get me up out of my seat, and on the dance floor.
If your short story was turned into a made for TV movie, who would you want to play the roles?
I would love to see Wesley Snipes bring my character Romell to life and Taraji P. Henson as Carmella.  My character Carmella is kind of a handful so Taraji would do her justice and Wesley Snipes is an Alpha male which would be a perfect fit for Romell.
Is this your first published work? If no, please tell us your other works. How does it feel to be a published author?
Sunday Love is my first published work.  I’m blessed to be surrounded by great people and to share my first experience of being published with Princess F.L. Gooden, Richelle Denise, Kay Trina Morris, Keleigh Hadley & Gina Johnson, Patrice Tartt, Victoria Kennedy, Tania Renee Zayid, LaChelle Weaver, Gina Torres, Trenekia Danielle, Natalie Woods Leffall, Cheryl Ashford Daniels, M.C. Walker, Marcena Hooks and Loureva Slade.  It has been a phenomenal ride.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Faith Evan’s memoir titled Keep The Faith and it was written by Aliya S. King.  I read a lot of fiction and nonfiction books.  I was told by my mentor, Victoria Christopher Murray, that the more you read the better writer you’ll become.  So, I make sure that I write and read every day.
Are you working on anything new?
I have a book coming out soon with Richelle Denise and Princess F.L. Gooden.  Also, I’m currently working on a biography and my debut novel. 
How can readers stay connected to you?
Readers can find me on Facebook under my name Cherritta L. Smith.  I’m on there constantly.  I love the on spot interaction with people.  I’m on Twitter: @gsplwriter. My email address is