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Book Review of Blood Money: The Beginning by Toni Coleman

Blood Money: The Beginning
Toni Coleman
(Seraphim Publications)
4 out of 5 Stars

toni coleman blood money book review on amazondotcom

Blood Money by Toni Coleman is roller coaster ride through a world where the music industry and criminal activities are mutual bedfellows. Jameelah Cole marries her long-time boyfriend, inherits a multi-million dollar record company and gets a huge house complete with two million dollars in cash in its safe. Not bad for a “little girl from Compton”, right? Wrong… Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jameelah’s female intuition leads her to be suspicious of her boyfriend, Michael Mine. Being the CEO of G-Styles, women throw themselves at Michael left and right since its the hottest West Coast record label out. Jameelah is naturally suspicious when Michael rushes to drop her off and go handle some “record company business”.

Michael meets up with the other woman and swiftly swooshes her to his mini-mansion. In the throws of passion, Michael becomes the victim of a serious jack move. His late-night rendevous steps to the side and lets two burglars beat Michael to a pulp and demand the location of the money hidden somewhere within the house.

Gun in hand, Jameelah finds Michael hogtied and hanging onto dear life as the two hooligans hold him hostage. A couple blasts from the shotgun sends the floozy flying out of the room like a ghetto roach and the thugs splattered on the floor like extras in a horror flick. The shots also partially paralyzes Michael, but he survives. That would have been highly unlikely if Jameelah wasn’t a woman that shoots first and asks questions later.

While laid up in the hospital, two of Michael’s closest business partners plan and plot like vultures over the remnants of Michael’s anticipated demise. Bruce Kelly shares ownership of G-Style records with Michael. Ruthless by nature, this red-haired Irishman will stop at nothing to make the business moves that keep him financially secure and keep his business partners satisfied.

The sexy R&B crooner Alan Wise is G-Style’s flagship artist. He was Michael’s bestfriend when they were petty thugs on the rise in the drug game. Allan becomes rapped up in Bruce’s evil manipulations just like everyone else who is too afraid to cross Bruce’s path. Allan’s loyalty quickly shifts from Michael to Bruce because he believes he is going to take Michael’s place as a partner in G-Style.

At the hospital, Michael not only asks for Jameelah’s hand in marriage but also give her all of the inside details of his business operations. Michael had been working on transitioning his interest in G-Style records into his own record company. Jameelah pays attention but has no idea how what she learns in that hospital will be crucial to her survival both physically and business-wise.

Michael’s untimely passing brings much more than his past lovers out of the woodwork. Micael’s former partner in crime and business, Bruce, begins to set in motion the steps neccessary to make G-Style records a burgeoning music empire. He also feels he now has the room needed to turn the record label into a perfect money laundering operation for his “silent partners”.

As Jameelah sorts through the things left to her by her forward-thinking husband, she happens upon the stash of money Michael was getting robbed for. Jameelah and her best friend Renee hand-count one million dollars only to realize they only made it halfway through the total stash. The money turns out to be more of a curse than a blessing for reasons you’ll have to read in Blood Money.

Unbeknownst to both Bruce and Allan, Michael’s secret marriage to Jameelah gives her control over Michael’s interest in G-Style and its transition to a new record label. Her private attraction for Allan come to the forefront as they meet for a sensual encounter that is deliciously guilty and too complex for either party to truly understand.

Blood Money is the perfect title for this fast-paced, action-packed thriller that will keep the reader off-balanced and rushing through the pages for the next plot twist. Blood Money: The Beginning is the perfect title not only because of the money’s origin but also the resulting outcomes the money generates for those who are connected to it. As the marriage and its implications come into play, all three parties attempt a deadly game of chess full of death, deception and dishonesty never experienced before in Urban Lit.

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Book Review: Good to the Last Drop, by Elissa Gabrielle

Good to the Last Drop
by Elissa Gabrielle
(Peace in the Storm Publishing)
5 of 5 Stars

book review good to the last drop elissa gabrielle on amazondotcom

There are three kinds of books. There is the book with a plot you can predict. Then there is the book where you can’t figure out the plot, but you end up shaking your head in disgust as the scenarios unfold. Finally, there is the book that is totally unpredictable yet is able to provide thoroughly amusing surprises. Elissa Gabrielle’s debut novel falls into the third category. Good to the Last Drop contains a world as strange as the secret lives we lead–all the way to the end.

Good to the Last Drop follows Amber through the first couple of months after her marriage to the love of her life Khalil Devereaux. Khalil cheated on Amber numerous times while they were in college. The fun stops when he meets up with the shameless Shayla McNeil. His involvement with the insatiable Shayla is both intense and inexcusable. His moments of infidelity result in a daughter, Lexis, and a mentally annihilated Amber.

Since that incident, Khalil is a man trying his best to live down the embarrassment of his indiscretions. The distance he keeps from Shayla makes her eternally bitter and perpetually available to Khalil’s sexual advances.This voracious vixen is the type that unknowingly lives up to the phrase “you can take the rat out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of the rat”. That same distance makes Khalil a long-distance phone call father; one that Lexis couldn’t identify in a police line up if Khalil’s life depended on it.

Shawn is a college buddy  to both Amber and Khalil. He is really the glue to Khalil’s relationship with both Amber and Shayla. Shawn is the voice of reason when Khalil fails to guide himself. He was the shoulder to cry on when Amber was devastated by Khalil indiscretions. Shawn not only convinced Amber to take Khalil back; he stays in contact with Shayla and even visits Lexis on Khalil’s behalf.  He finally finds the love of his life with Aaliyah, a beautiful model that has a mysterious past.

Gabrielle’s cast of characters are rounded out by Amber’s friends Keisha and Scott. Keisha is a close friend from Amber’s job at a convalescent home. She is a dark skinned bomb shell that works as hard as she kicks it. Scott is the flamboyant diva that has no shame in his game. He is classy in style and quick with the quips. Both friends subconsciously fight for Amber’s attention and time. When in each others presence, they shoot the dozens like nobody’s business.

Gabrielle’s writing style is multifarious. She can make her readers cry just as easy as she can elicit laughter. Sometimes she is able to get the reader to do both at the same time. For example, the scene where Amber visits Khalil’s mother for the first time since being married is classic. Written from Amber’s perspective, this scene was funny and touching at the same time. Amber’s dislike for Khalil’s mother only rivals in hilarity Amber’s apprehension towards Khalil’s fast-talking, crack head sister.

Gabrielle took a very interesting approach to telling the story of Amber Devereaux. Although Amber is the central character, each chapter is told through the perspective of the characters who are closest to Amber. Gabrielle was able to keep each character’s voice distinctive and true to their way of thinking regardless of character’s sexual orientation or gender.

Gabrielle’s characters and their situations will come alive in front of your eyes. The synergistic effect of letting each character tell their portion of Good to the Last Drop was very powerful. The characters’ individual stories gave Good to the Last Drop a totality that simply can not be achieved by the voice of Amber alone. With their stories combined, the characters of Good to the Last Drop created an intoxicating world of inhibitions, intimacies and ironic incidents.

Reviewed by Joey Pinkney

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