Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review - The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson - July 30, 2011

The Skull Ring

Kindle Book
Published 2010
Source:  Provided to me for review by Scott Nicholson

About the Book:

 Dr. Pamela Forrest is determined to bring Julia's memories to the surface, hoping to heal Julia's panic disorder. The therapist keeps returning Julia to a night twenty-three years ago when Julia was four. A night of hooded figures, strange chants, pain, and blood. The night her father disappeared from the face of the earth.

Julia rebuilds the past a piece at a time during the mind-wrenching therapy sessions. But the line between the past and the present begins to blur. Julia finds a silver skull ring that bears the name "Judas Stone." The same ring had been worn by one of the hooded figures who scarred her both mentally and physically on that long-ago night.

Someone is leaving strange messages inside her house, even though the door is locked. The religious handyman, who has a key, spends a lot of time in the woods behind her house. Her boyfriend Mitchell becomes distant and violent. And the cop who investigated her father's disappearance has followed her to the small Appalachian town of Elkwood.

Now she has a head full of memories, but she doesn't know which are real and which are the creations of Dr. Forrest. The shadows of Julia's panic are growing larger and darker. But succumbing to madness seems safer than heeding the whispers of the master who claims ownership of her body and soul.

About the Author:

Author Scott Nicholson has written 12 thrillers, 60 short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. He's also a freelance editor and journalist. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, successfully eludes stalkers, and generally lives the dream. He's online at


Nicholson has written hundreds of songs and poems and was a musician in a former life. a newspaper reporter, he's won three North Carolina Press Association awards. He's had the usual collection of odd jobs: dishwasher, carpenter, painter, paranormal investigator, baseball card dealer, and radio announcer. Now he haphazardly trades words for magic beans and uses "haphazardly" as often as possible while decrying the overuse of adverbs.

Entering the digital era with a vengeance, Nicholson is relasing orginal titles and collections while conspiring to release interactive books in the near future, building audio files, video, and collaborative fiction projects. He operates Haunted Computer Books and Indie Books Blog to bring a variety of voices to readers.

Nicholson won the grand prize in the international Writers of the Future contest in 1999. That same year, he was first runner-up for the Darrell Award. He studiedCreative Writing at Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. He has been an officer of Mystery Writers of America and Horror Writers Association and is a member of International Thriller Writers and inaugural member of the Killer Thriller Band.

Unfortunately, they never taught him to write: he had 105 rejections before his first story sale and over 400 before he sold a novel. He hasn't learned much from his mistakes but thinks he'll probably improve with practice. If nothing else, he's become a better liar.

His website features author interviews, articles, and fiction excerpts. Bad relationship advice. Humor. Gardening tips. Subliminal tricks to sell his books. That sort of thing.

Frequently asked questions
Freshdirt: Scott's journal
The Vault
Scott's appearances action!
Finalist, 1998 Writers of the Future
1999 Hubbard Gold Award
1999 First Runner-Up for Darrell Award
Honorable Mentions, 1999,2000, and 2002 Year's Best Fantasy & Horror
Locus Magazine new & notable list, 2002
Semifinals, 2002 Chesterfield Film Writers Competition
Finalist, Stoker Award for Best First Novel, 2003
Semifinals, 2003 Chesterfield Film Writers Competition
2006 Year's Best Fantasy & Horror
Favorite Writers: William Goldman, Ira Levin, John Steinbeck, Shirley Jackson, Dr. Seuss, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Elmore Leonard, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, Stephen King, James Lee Burke

Favorite Music: The Cure, Robyn Hitchcock, David Bowie, The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, XTC, Kate Bush, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, Hank Williams, Natalie Merchant, Beatles, Who, The Strokes, Clem Snide, The Smashing Pumpkins, Tegan And Sara, Pink Floyd

Favorite Movies: Il Buono, il Bruto, il Cattivo (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly); The Princess Bride; Shrek; Night of the Living Dead; The Shining; The Big Lebowski; Carnival of Souls (the original, of course); The Outlaw Josey Wales; Magic; Silence of the Lambs; Sling Blade; Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Unforgiven; The Shawshank Redemption; She's Having A Baby; Little Miss Sunshine; Cape Fear; A Simple Plan

Favorite Artists: Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Peter Brueghel, Francisco Goya, M.C. Escher, Heironymous Bosch, Albrecht Duhrer, Dr. Seuss

Decadent Delights: sushi, pickled okra, olives, artichoke hearts, brie, tomatilla salsa, cheesecake, sweet potato pie, butter-broiled garlic, squash casserole, frozen lime bars, iced coffee (gee, I must be preganant)
Drop me a line at hauntedcomputer AT to say hi or sign up for myfree newsletter.

My Review:

Excellent - I look forward to reading more of his books!

The story takes place in Elkwood, North Carolina.  When Julia was 4 years old, her dad disappeared.  She has some kind of scars on her stomach, and she thinks it was part of a satanic ritual.  She isn't sure how involved her dad would have been in this ritual. Also, Julia thinks she is being stalked by some kind of a creep.  She is going to counseling with Dr. Pamela Forrest to try to help her.  Dr. Forrest is trying to help Julia remember what happened to her when she was younger. It's really hard for Julia to go back to those memories, and she would rather just forget about them.  She is having weird dreams too.

There is another character in the story that is trying to help her, but she is warned to stay away from this person.  It's hard to know who she can really trust.  Not only does she see some kind of creep, but there is something weird going on with her digital clock and the blocks on the coffee table.

When reading this I could tell Scott Nicholson has a sense of humor.  Here is  a quote and you will see why:

"A Creep in a jeep? Sounded too much like Dr. Seuss to be dangerous.  Silly.  A coy boy with a toy, bark in the dark, a mental muddle puddle.  Still the adrenaline jolt tingled her nerves at a hundred amps and caused her fingers to twitch."  (Kindle loc. 113-114)

 I also liked this quote:

"A real man doesn't mind a little meat on the bone."  (Kindle loc. 782-83)

I read a lot of this book in the car on a family trip.  I went to a concert that night (Slayer/Rob Zombie!!).  When we got back to where we were staying at 1:00 a.m., I couldn't sleep so I tried to read more of this book.  My ears were ringing, so it was a little tough to concentrate.  Plus, it seemed like it was going to get really scary, and everyone else was sleeping.  I decided to put the book down until the next day.  It really didn't end up as scary as I thought it would be.  I know there was talk of creeps and everything, but it wasn't an overly scary book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and was not sure who in the book could be trusted and who couldn't.   It was full of suspense and really kept me guessing.  I really look forward to reading more by Scott Nicholson!  The ending was totally unexpected too!

My Rating

4/5 Diamonds - Recommend!

Buy the book at:

Disclaimer:  My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.

© 2011, Cheryl of Black Diamond’s Book Reviews. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than blackdiamondsbookrev.fatcow.comUrban Image Magazine, or Cheryl’s feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Friday, July 29, 2011

First Lines Friday (from Money Can't Buy Love by Connie Briscoe) - July 29, 2011

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a new bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. Here is what you do:
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author so that other FLF participants can add the book to their TBR Lists.

"Lenora stood above the polished chrome faucet in her master bathroom, razor blade held firmly in one hand, and thought of slashing her wrist."

~ Money Can't Buy Love by Connie Briscoe

© 2011, Cheryl of Black Diamond's Book Reviews. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Black Diamond's Book ReviewsUrban Image Magazine, or Cheryl's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review - Anna J Presents Erotic Snapshots, Vol. 2 by Anna J, Dwayne S. Joseph, T. Real, Treasure E. Blue - July 27, 2011

Anna J Presents Erotic Snapshots, Vol. 2

by Anna J, Dwayne S. Joseph, T. Real,Treasure E. Blue
Published July 17th 2011 by The Writers Edge Publications

About the Book:

In this second edition of Erotic Snap Shots, you will be blessed with the hottest stories from an all MALE cast of writers. Every man has a fantasy, and now you will get a bird's eye view on what men really want.

In Anonymity, Dawayne S. Joseph brings you lust like you've never had before. He's searching for the ultimate, erotic high. She's searching for an erotic thrill she would never forget. They are two strangers at a party in which Anonymity is the requirement for the evening. Will they risk breaking the rules for a brief moment of lust or will they keep up the charade?

In The Ultimate Blind Date, T. Real introduces you to Myeisha Crawford. After being on a man strike for a year, she finally decides to allow her best friend Jasmine to hook her up on a blind date with play boy Marcus Jones. From the past she has had the most terrifying encounters when it comes to blind dates, but in one night all that will change. Welcome to the Ultimate Blind date.

In Boy Candy, Treasure E. Blue brings the noise like no one else can. Jasmine Gray and her husband Russell, former NBA superstar, are at the end of their marital bliss and she cannot wait until the divorce is finalized. With the divorce pending and millions of dollar in assets and real estate at stake, Jasmine is ready to move on with her life of independence and get her groove back. Jasmine has bigger needs, a need that hasn't been quenched in years by her cheating husband; a sexual healing. Just when everything is within her grasp, she encounters a much younger man that awakens every sexual fiber in her body. She spins her web in a game of sinful seduction, only to find her new found Boy Toy is playing the game for keeps.

Dwayne, T. Real and Treasure definitely brought their A game likes it's never been done before in this second volume of Anna J Presents: Erotic Snapshots! This string of Erotic Snapshots being presented to you by Anna J. features some of your favorite authors and a few soon to be favorites. Get ready for the ride and have a loved one close by. You never know when or where things might pop off!

My Review:

I just had to get this book when I saw that Dwayne S. Joseph wrote one of the short stories.  Plus, at $2.99 on Kindle, you really can't beat that price!  I haven't read anything by any of the other authors, but I do look forward to reading more of their books.

Anonymity by Dwayne S. Joseph was a very sexy story.  I could really feel the anticipation of the characters as they lusted for each other.   I really didn't want the story to end!  Dwayne is one of my favorite authors and always puts 110% into his writing.

The Ultimate Blind Date by T. Real was also a great short and erotic story.  I look forward to reading more by T. Real!

Boy Candy by Treasure E. Blue was the last and longer story of the three.   Jasmine thinks she is going to really put something over on her husband Russell.  She won't stop at anything to get what she wants.  She gave her niece some advice and surprised me by the way she acted toward her.  At least her niece put the advice to good use!

I highly recommend that you read Erotic Snapshots Volume 2!  It was a very quick and erotic read!  It was a good way to introduce people to these three authors and give readers a taste of their talent!

My Rating

5/5 Diamonds - Highly Recommend!

Buy the book at:
Amazon (on Kindle for 2.99)

About the Authors:

Anna J.

Find out more about her at:!.  Her newest book, Hell's Diva, can be purchased at Amazon.

Dwayne S. Joseph

Truth or Dare by Dwayne S. Joseph comes out on September 27 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.  You can find out more about Dwayne S. Joseph and his books at   I have read most of his books, and have the reviews on my blog.  Also, you can read his book In Strict Confidence.  It is available at for only $.99 per chapter.   A new chapter comes out each month and it's an awesome book!

T. Real

T. Real is coming out with his first book Homicide City in September.  You can find out more about him at

Treasure E. Blue

Find out more about him and his books at:

Disclaimer:  My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.

© 2011, Cheryl of Black Diamond’s Book Reviews. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Urban Image Magazine, or Cheryl’s feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review - Regression by Rickey Teems II - July 25, 2011


Kindle Edition
Published February 1st 2008 by NoGuile Books
  (book 4 of 13 - 3rd Quarter 2K11 Reading/Reviewing Challenge)

About the Book:
What if you woke up one morning to find...Hip Hop banned throughout the country? African-American athletes boycotting U.S Olympic teams? Welfare abruptly cut-off to the public? School classrooms assigned by ethnicity? Black students kicked out of colleges? Secret Hispanic plans to regain control of Southern California? Presidential plans to lock up all members of one culture? Racial restructuring of the entire United States? Aeneas Mayes just wants to move on from the troubled streets he was raised on and get his life together to be a better example for his son, Naashon. But when he wakes up late for his African-American History mid-term one morning, he quickly learns that his troubles are just beginning. One by one, racially charged decisions by the U.S. government are seemingly turning back the hands of time on civil rights, and Aeneas and the Black community are soon slapped with a first-hand history lesson of discrimination and injustice. The action is non-stop as Aeneas is now forced to rely on his street savvy and some of the unlikeliest of allies to get his son and loved ones back to freedom. But when local law enforcement receives assistance from the military to handle the riotous uprisings throughout urban America, the stakes rise beyond control. And when his best friend is apprehended and thrown in confinement camp for African-Americans, Aeneas will have to make a decision that will impact every life around him. Sound like the Civil War era? The turbulent 60’s? No, it’s 2008, and this is: Regression.

About the Author:

Go to his website at to find out about him.

Excerpt from the book:
 “Mr. Mayor, Mr. Mayor! The camera’s are ready to roll, sir! We need you to take your position at the podium. Please sir, this way!”

The attractive, female aide guided the well-dressed, closely-shaven, Hispanic man to the four-foot wooden stand with a City of Los Angeles Emblem etched on the front. A handsome, Middle Eastern man adjusted the numerous microphones to the appropriate levels. The lady shifted the knot on the Mayor’s blue tie and straightened his dark-blue, Brooks Brothers suit jacket. He winked at her before she stepped away from the stage.

With her out of his sights, he was faced with an audience of reporters from various local news stations and publications. Security saturated the room, keeping a close eye on the few feet that separated the journalist and broadcasters from the slightly elevated stage the Mayor was standing on.

He surveyed the room once more and took a deep breath. He whirled his right index finger in the air as the cue to start. Red, record lights came on as the small contingency of cameras focused in.

The media loved him, and his political prowess was undeniable. There were already talks from politicians across the U.S. that he would be the next Governor of California. He looked significantly younger than he was, and epitomized charisma and charm. Even a recent scandal with a mistress that led to his wife filing for divorce hadn’t tarnished his image too much. His Hispanic heritage had played a significant factor in being elected mayor in the predominately Latin city. But despite a nod of approval from the current governor of the state, and even a late confirmation phone call from the United States President himself, this particular announcement had the potential to be career suicide.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, fellow Angeleanos, I want to thank you for taking time out of your schedules in light of the short notice provided to you. Thank you.” He thumbed through a couple of index cards and then continued. “As many of you are now aware, several executive decisions have been handed down on both domestic and certain state levels that would have previously been considered unprecedented. Clearly, we are in an era of change.” Despite his Hispanic background, there was little evidence of an accent. “For too long now, we have watched as the rights and freedoms allowed to us in this great country have been taken for granted by many and taken advantage of by many others. Well, it is time for change. The government has made clear that no longer will our hard earned tax dollars be utilized on undeserving individuals or measures, which is why we are restructuring the classrooms and ending government assistance. No more will destructive outlets be permitted to contaminate the young minds of our future generations, which is why rap music has been banned throughout our U.S. We will no longer sit around and watch as the fabric of this mighty nation comes unraveled at the threads.”

Everyone was sitting on the edge of their seats. With the recent amount of extreme legislation passing that had shocked the country, even members of the media had no insight as to what could be expected. Wave after wave of special interest laws were being handed down that, just one week prior, would have seemed unthinkable.

“It is imperative that we embrace the same spirit our founders established this land on. Today, we have experienced tragedy like none other of late. City-wide riots have left so many father and husbandless, mother and wifeless, sister and brotherless, childless. To the brave families of the fallen police, sheriffs, and school officials, I promise you that we will not allow this misfortune to continue. Early stats have shown a direct link to the recent violence and one particular ethnicity,” he paused as the eyes of everyone in the room grew with him in sight. “For that reason, from this moment forward, all African-Americans, at work, at school, on the street, no matter where, that are deemed threatening by local law enforcement authorities, will be detained on site and placed in restrictive confines.”

My Review:
Excellent - Really made me think
Rap and hip hop is banned!  If anyone sells, buys, or listens to it, they are breaking the law.  Yes, didn't you know that there is a link between rap music and crime?  Aeneas could not even believe it.   Not only that, but now they also believe that they should divide classrooms by race for better learning purposes?  I mean, whites, Mexicans, Asians, and blacks all have different learning needs from each other right? ---- Hogwash!

I don't know about you, but all of this really pissed me off---literally!  I know this is just a book, but it didn't feel like it while I was reading it.  I put myself in the story and just imagined if rap was banned and classrooms were divided by race.  It was like it was back to the times of segregation.   I could not believe that a book really had so much impact on me.  I really was mad while I was reading this book.  Can a book really do that?  Believe me when I say that it can.

"The district just implemented some new seating regs for the busses," the driver explained.  "You can still sit anywhere you want, just has to be behind row fifteen.  Just behind that emergency exit door there, and only on the right hand side," the driver turned and pointed to the general direction he was referring to. (loc. 236-39 on Kindle).

Imagine the poor kids how they felt when they couldn't sit with their friends because they were a different race.  Yeah, because  you know that the color of your skin makes a difference right.  Come on!  You think that's bad, well I'm telling you that it gets much worse.  You will have to read the book, but trust when I say that it will make your blood boil no matter who you are.

Rickey Teems II really wrote a book like one I've never read before.    He brings the issue of segregation to the present times, and I really felt afraid for the African Americans in the story.

Regression was really eye opening to me.  Rickey Teems II did an awesome job in shocking me from the beginning.  He didn't stop there though.  The story was well developed and very believable.  I found myself very afraid for some of the characters. The ending was definitely something I didn't expect either.  I recommend this book!

My Rating

5/5 Diamonds - Highly Recommend!

Buy the book at:

 Amazon $2.99 on Kindle!

Disclaimer:  My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.

© 2011, Cheryl of Black Diamond’s Book Reviews. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than blackdiamondsbookrev.fatcow.comUrban Image Magazine, or Cheryl’s feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Author Spotlight: Shaka - July 21, 2011

Author Spotlight:  Shaka

Interview With Shaka

First of all Shaka, I would like to thank you for taking the time out for this interview and being on Black Diamond's Book Reviews!  

Cheryl:  If you have to describe yourself with one word, what would it be?

Shaka:  Creative

Cheryl:  Could you tell me a little about yourself?

Shaka:  I was born and raised in Detroit.  Around the age of 13, I began to dabble in drugs and by 14 I was fully immersed in the culture. I got shot several times at the age of 17, and by age 19 I was sentenced to serve 17 to 40 years in prison and ultimately served 19 years. I was released June 22, 2010 and have spent a lot of time mentoring and trying to grow my business.

Cheryl:  When did you start writing and how did you get started?

Shaka:  I have been been writing since 1992; however, I didn't begin taking it serious until 1999.

Cheryl:  Do you have any rituals that you use when you are writing?

Shaka:  I like to listen to real loud hip hop and rock and roll.

Cheryl:  How many books have you written?

Shaka:  I have four novels complete along with a poetry book.

Cheryl:  What is the main source of inspiration for your writing?

Shaka:  Reaching and inspiring at-risk youth to reach the heights of their potential is my ultimate goal as a writer.

Cheryl:  Is there a place you go for inspiration to write?

Shaka:  I am inspired by the energy of day to day life.

Cheryl:  Are you reading anything right now?

Shaka:  I have been too busy to read lately.  Every time I try to find a moment to read, I am being pulled away by business. However I really miss the luxury of reading.

Cheryl:  What are some of your favorite books and authors?

Shaka:  My favorite books are mostly non-fiction:  Autobiography of Malcolm-X, Assata Shakur's autobiography, Blood in My Eye by George Jackson. I also love Dopefiend by Donald Goines.

Cheryl:  Has writing your own book changed the way that you read?

Shaka:  Yes it has.  I am more critical of writers, and less patient when it comes to writings that have a slow start.

Cheryl: Are you able to read when you’re writing and if so what books inspire you when you’re working on a novel?

Shaka: I can't read anyone else's work when I am working on my own, because it makes me feel guilty for not writing.

Cheryl:  What is a typical day in your life like?

Shaka:  Chaotic LOL. Typically I am out networking and making business connections.  Recently I opened my book store, and so now my days are spent trying to promote and market my books.

Cheryl:  Are there other books you love or writers you admire that are from your local area?

Shaka:  Donald Goines is my favorite author from Detroit; however, I love all the writers that are out here doing their thing in the book game.

Cheryl:  Who was your favorite character to write, and why did you like that character?

Shaka:  My favorite character is Damu who appears in Crack Volume 1 & 2.  What I like about Damu is his sense of family loyalty and his intelligent and strategic approach to business in the streets. He's not the typical high school drop out drug dealer.  He's a sophisticated gangsta who appeals to the streets, women, and everyday people.

Cheryl:  Did you have to do much research when working on Crack Volume 1. If so, do you tend to write first or research first? 

Shaka:  I do some research just to make sure the story has continuity and flow. However, I write first and come back and tighten up anything I may not know as I am writing.

Cheryl:  When deciding to write Crack Volume 1, did you know right away how the story was going to go, or did the story unfold as you were writing?

Shaka:  The story unfolded as I wrote it.  I knew I wanted to write a story with strong characters, and I think I accomplished that.  However, it was important for me to allow my characters to be who they were designed to be.

Cheryl:  What’s next for you?

Shaka:  Well, I just released Crack Volume 2, Crack Volume 1 is in the process of being turned into a movie, and I am looking forward to releasing a new novel called Flagrant Foul as well as my memoir at the end of the year or at the beginning.

Cheryl:  What three artists would I find in your Ipod or CD player?

Shaka:  Charlie Picasso, Tez N Tone Connect Game, and Jay Nutty and Blackface--all local Detroit rappers. I love the vibe and energy of their music.

Cheryl:  If I came to your home and looked in your refrigerator what would I find?

Shaka:  Turkey,  fish, chicken and Simply lemonade.

Cheryl:  What is one food item that you can’t live without?

Shaka:  Chicken

Cheryl:  What do you like to do when you are not writing (hobbies, etc.)?

Shaka:  Network, exercise and hangout partying

Cheryl:  What famous person do other people tell you that you most look like?

Shaka:  hmm not sure.

Cheryl:  What is the one thing about yourself that others would be shocked to know?

Shaka:  That I am not as mean as people say I look.  I am a softy at heart

Cheryl:  What advice would you give to those aspiring writers out there?

Shaka:  Stay true to your vision as a writer and take the time out to hone your craft.

Cheryl:  Choose a book title for the story of your life.

Shaka:  My second chance at a second chance.

Cheryl:  What is next for you in 2011?

Shaka:  Looking forward to introducing Crack the movie to the world along with my documentary.

Cheryl:  How can your readers contact you?

Shaka:  I can be reached by phone 313-720-5546, via email, website facebook Shaka Senghor or they can visit me at Drop A Gem Book Boutique located inside FAME SHOP 10608 Joy Rd.

Thank you very much for taking the time out to answer my interview questions!

Good News Banter LIVE (Shaka Senghor) from You Tube

If you are influenced to buy Crack Volume 1 after reading my review, please let Shaka know on his Facebook page.  This is for a very cool contest!

See my friend Orsayor's Review: Crack Volume 2: Lockdown  
If you are influenced to buy Crack Volume 2 after reading Orsayor's review, please let Shaka know on his Facebook page.  This is for a very cool contest!

Shaka is a man with purpose. Locked up for more than eighteen years, he has used his incarceration as a vehicle for change. Through years of study and self-reflection, he has transformed himself from an uncaring “thug” into a principled, progressive man who refuses to allow his circumstances to define who he is or what he’s capable of. Once a very angry, bitter young man, it was books that saved him from self-destructing and allowed him to see beyond the barbed-wire fences that held him captive. In an environment where hopelessness and despair grow like weeds, writing became his refuge. Eventually, he began writing creatively, tapping into the growing interest in street/hip hop literature. The author of six books and countless articles and short stories, he is inspired by revolutionary prison writers like George Jackson, Malcolm X and Donald Goines. Unlike other street lit authors, Shaka doesn't celebrate the violence and desperation in our community; he raises critical questions about the state of Black America in his writing. You can purchase a copy of his first published book, "Crack Volume 1," at

© 2011, Cheryl of Black Diamond’s Book Reviews. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than blackdiamondsbookrev.fatcow.comUrban Image Magazine, or Cheryl’s feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review - Derailed by D. Skies

Derailed by D. Skies
Paperback230 pages
Published May 15th 2011 by La' Femme Fatale' Publishing (first published May 1st 2011)
Source:  Purchased (also won a copy along with Olive Garden Gift Card!)

(book 3 of 13 - 3rd Quarter 2K11 Reading/Reviewing Challenge)

About the Book:
Ever have dreams that took your mind to places reality couldn't? Kristle wanted it all, money, power, and lavish possessions. But being a poor girl from the South side of Chicago, she had no idea how she was going to get it all. She busts her butt to get her finances to a generous amount using her dope girl skills when it is all whisked away on a whim. Kristle is left without a pot to piss in and has to regain her life back by fending for herself anyway she can. She finds a way to make some money and learns to live off civil means. But as things are starting to look up again they come tumbling back down with a house fire. Just as Kristle is about to give up she encounters a man that gives her a strange note. The note introduces her to an opportunity of a lifetime with a few stipulations. It's a game that needs to be played in a timely fashion or Kristle is a dead girl. If she successfully completes her task she gets more money than she's ever seen before in her life. What she doesn't know is that the tasks are not ordinary and the person making her play the game is someone she least expects.

About the Author:

D. Skies aka Shante Harris grew up on the south side of Chicago. At the age of 10 she began writing poems and short stories for her teachers. They encouraged her to submit some of her work into competitions. D. Skies was not able to do so because she had so many others things on her plate having to help care for her sisters and mother. She also learned to play the clarinet and alto saxophone at that time.    

Soon after entering high school she became pregnant with her first daughter. Though D. Skies was faced with becoming a teenage mother she did not let that stop her. She finished high school and even went on to attend college at The International Academy of Design and Technology, without any help from her child’s father. She found comfort in teaching herself to play the acoustic guitar. In 2003, her daughter’s father tried to step up and become the father he should have started out being, but he was tragically murdered. After which D. Skies still pressed on to continue her studies.  

After meeting up with some women whom she thought were her friends she came into some run-ins with the law which forced her to leave school. D. Skies fought her case and ultimately came out with 3 years probation. She decided that was her wake up call to get her life back on track. In 2005, she met her husband and in late 2006 they began dating. The following year they became pregnant with her second daughter. After giving birth she enrolled herself back into school attending Kennedy King College and joining the Honors Society Phi Theta Kappa. She began her writing again and this time it evolved into full-fledged novels. They then became pregnant with her third daughter in 2009. The couple then wedded in November 2009.

D. Skies graduated in December 2010 with an Associates of Arts degree with Honors and are now attending Chicago State University in pursuance of her Bachelors of Arts degree in TV and Film Making. She has recently finished her first book entitled, Derailed, which is due to debut in late Spring 2011. D. Skies plans to continue to write novels that are inspired from her upbringing and dreams. Her goal is to bring life to her writings by directing and producing them into movies. D. Skies’ motto is “A strong woman is not born, she is made.”

My Review:

Wow!!!  It's a page turner!

Kristle's life was doomed from the moment she was born.  Her mother Kenya was only 14 years old when she had her.  Kenya was a crackhead who seemed to only care about herself.  She would go out to find drugs and leave Kristle behind.   When Kristle got older, she began a business of her own.  She was doing very well for herself too, but then something happened and she was back to square one.  She wanted to find the woman known as the First Lady.  It was supposed to have been a rumor, but she wanted to think she was real.  She wanted to be as powerful and successful as the First Lady was supposed to be!  Eventually, Kristle got a note.  It was a game she had to play.  One wrong move, and she would die.

What I liked:

The Characters - Kristle and Kenya was unforgettable!

The chapter titles - I would find that I would start reading the chapter then flip back to the first page of the chapter to look at the title again because it gave a little bit of an indication on what was going to happen.  

The game that Kristle had to play -   I got hooked and couldn't wait to see what would happen.  

The concept of the First Lady - I kept wondering who the First Lady was and if she was real!

What could be improved:

There were some some spelling errors and wrong use of words.   Also, when someone spoke in a quote it was in one paragraph, and the next paragraph would be the rest of the sentence after the quote.   It seemed like it should have been all in one paragraph separated by a comma. 


I thought this was a great first book by D. Skies!  I enjoyed reading Derailed!  It kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next! Kenya and Kristle are characters that I won't forget!  I wonder now if there will be a second book.  I was left wondering who is was at the end!   I highly recommend this book!  

My Rating
4/5 Diamonds - Highly Recommend!

Buy the book at:

Disclaimer:  My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.

© 2011, Cheryl of Black Diamond’s Book Reviews. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than blackdiamondsbookrev.fatcow.comUrban Image Magazine, or Cheryl’s feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

June Overview


23   Wednesday and Thursday's Winners - Week With An Author
27   Differences by Brian W. Smith
27   The Pussy Whispers by Dean Jean-Pierre
28   Scarred for Life by Fredric A. Almond
28    Wikked by L.M. Blakely
30    Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RubiconReader: 'The $64,000 Question'

RubiconReader: 'The $64,000 Question': "Today I participated in an internet conversation about how African American (AA) books and authors are not getting their due. This was bas..."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shaka -- You Tube Videos - July 17, 2011

I reviewed Crack Volume 1 by Shaka yesterday.   

You can see my review here: Crack Volume 1 by Shaka.

Not only is the book awesome, but the author, Shaka, is really someone who is trying to make a difference.  He comes from Detroit, Michigan--my home state!  

Here are some videos from You Tube that I would like to share with you.  

Crack Volume I Book Trailer

Crack: Volume 2 Book Trailer

Here is one of Shaka himself talking about his life, his book, and Drop a Gem Publishing.
He truly is a gem!

Shaka -- Behind the Pen

This post would not be complete without posting his latest You Tube video.  
He captures what Detroit is really all about!

Believe: In this City

If I have inspired you in any way to buy:


Then, please visit Shaka on his Facebook page and let him know that I inspired you!  It's for a very cool contest!


Cheryl of Black Diamond's Book Reviews and Urban Image Magazine.