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God Only Knows by Xavier Knight

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Julia Turner, an ambitious educator in her mid-thirties, leaves a high-profile job in Chicago to return to Dayton, Ohio to serve as superintendent of Christian Light, the K-12 private school system from which she graduated two decades earlier. A single mother with an ugly divorce and a complex childhood in her rearview mirror, Julia views her mission as a chance to contribute to her hometown and conquer the demons from her past. But she never expects to confront the one sin she and her childhood friends agree to bury as teens-the accident that left Eddie Walker hospitalized and incapacitated.

Meanwhile, Detective Peter Whitlock, Eddie Walker’s older bother, is still determined to find the person(s) responsible for his brother’s condition. As an unrelated investigation leads to another woman who is involved in the accident, the responsible parties must decide whether they will keep their dark secrets, or tell the truth and let God decide the outcome. 

 

This book centers around a racially charged crime.  Four black girls (Julia, Toya, Cassie, and Teri) meet when they attend Christian Light School in Ohio.  They are truly the minority as the school consists of almost all white students.  One fateful night their lives change – one of them is attacked and with help they are able to fend off the attacker, debilitating him in the process.

Each of the girls has moved on, and more than two decades later has gained success in their lives.  But, the memory of what happened all those years ago continues to haunt them.  

Julia Turner is raising her niece, and after an ugly divorce and tarnished childhood she agrees to go back to Christian Light and act as superintendent.  This might be her one chance to prove that she has what it takes and put all of her demons behind her.  What she doesn’t count on is Police Detective Peter Whitlock, the brother of the boy who was debilitated years earlier, still investigating his brothers crime, determined to bring the people responsible to justice.

This was a very believable tale – I could see how four girls could bond over a terrible tragedy and agree to keep a secret that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.  I really enjoyed how the characters interacted and how the author wove the story between the past and present.  A very good read!

  

Xavier Knight, pseudonym for C. Kelly Robinson, is Essence bestselling author of NOT ALL DOGS, BETWEEN BROTHERS, NO MORE MR. NICE GUY, THE STRONG SILENT TYPE, and THE PERFECT BLEND. Xavier is currently in Dayton, Ohio with his wife Kyra, busy at work on his next novel.

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The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

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When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever.  The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully.  But the program took Melody’s name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately her family.  She’s been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others–everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself.  So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in  another town, she’s stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name.  Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to hunt her down, knows her, the real her, and it’s a dangerous thrill that Melody can’t resist.  He’s insistent that she’s just a pawn in the government’s war against the Bovaro faimly.  But can trust her life and her identity to this vicious stranger whose acts of violence are legendary?

“All farewells should be sudden, when forever.”  This quote by Lord Byron is an appropriate lead into a very exciting, dramatic, and at times heartfelt journey of a young woman trying to become herself…literally.

Melody Grace McCartney has been anything but herself since the day, at the age of sic, she and her family were witness to a brutal mob hit and became part of the Federal Witness Protection Program.  What follows is a brief and at time heartbreaking account of what it is like to lose oneself.  And when Melody, a.k.a. Sandra Clarke, places the fateful call to the Feds saying she feels threatened, mostly out of boredom, she has no idea how truely threatened she really is.

I found this book hard to put down.  I thought that the characters were very believable and well written.  I also thought the premise for the story was intriguing and thanks to the great writing by the author, made the story jump off the pages.

And finally, the twist at the end lets the story end the way it needed to.  Suddenly.  As the reason for Lord Byron’s quote in the beginning of the book become very apparent. 

This was a great debut for the author and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Bravo!

David Cristofano has earned degrees in Government and Politics and Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and has worked for different branches of the Federal Government for over a decade.  His short works have been published by Like Water Burning and McSweeneysHe currently works in the Washington D.C. area where he lives with his wife, son and daughter.  THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE  is his first novel.

 

Thanks so much to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending this ARC to me for review!

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The Bishop’s Daughter by Tiffany L. Warren

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Darrin Bainbridge is your typical playboy in need of love, but not yet ready. He is a freelance journalist trying to break his big story. After a visit from his mother, Darrin gets an idea. He has heard all kinds of stories about “Hollywood” ministers who hold their church services on television, live in nice houses, drive nice cars, and have lots of money and women. Darrin is disgusted by it all especially when his mother Priscilla starts shouting praises for Atlanta Bishop Kumal Prentiss. Darrin decides to go to Atlanta, become a member of the bishop’s church, and expose him for the hustling fraud that he believes he is. He just never planned on falling in love with the Bishop’s daughter.

Darrin suddenly finds himself torn between his new found friend and his possible big break. 

Darrin Bainbridge is a writer, and has been looking for his big break for quite some time.  Even though he is living off of  a trust fund, he feels he really needs to prove something to himself, and everyone else who doubts him.  He knows he’s got it in him, and when he sees Bishop Prentiss on the television a lightbulb goes off.  What preacher out there doesn’t have a few skeletons in their closet and how big would he be if he could expose them?

In order to get the details for his “expose”, Darrin moves to Atlanta and actually joins the church the Bishop is in charge of – Freedom of Life.  He never expects to be so enthralled by the Bishop’s delivery, and becomes and active member of the church.  He begins to wonder if this is one holy man that doesn’t have any secrets.  Is it possible, or will he find out some information that could make his career soar but take down the career of someone he has come to admire?

Tiffany L. Warren is a technology manager who lives in suburban Cleveland, Ohio with her husband and four children. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Farther Than I Meant to Go, Longer Than I Meant to Stay

Thanks so much to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group for sending this ARC to me for review!

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