Saturday, October 10, 2009

Excess Baggage by Sean Gardner

Everlast Publishing: August, 2009
Reviewer: TS
Rating 3.5

Excess baggage is right! These poor characters have tons of it.

All of these characters are messed up…they all have excessive excess baggage (hence the title of the book) that really keeps them from attaining the relationships they all want. All of the men and women are successful, intelligent and their physical attributes mostly fall in the “pretty people” category. One would never know what’s going on under their seemingly near perfect lives.

The Mr. Gardner does a good job of staying in the present yet adding just enough back story for us to understand why the main characters are so dysfunctional. Without giving to many spoilers to this book, Christopher has been scarred since child hood when he witness a horrific act. The memory of this act has skewed his view of women and what is important in life. Nona has issues of her own. She has a problem letting go of a past relationship, earning her more trouble that it’s worth.

Even though the main story focuses on Chris and Nona, we also get to learn enough about the supporting cast. Dorian has daddy issues, more like lack of a father issues, combined with vague childhood memories, which in turn grew into warped views on relationships. Tara, Dorian's high school sweetheart, has a secret that has weighed on her heart for years. Her need to bury that secret deep in her soul leads her to relationship that help her cover what she does not want to feel.

This book was pretty interesting. The pace was fast and consistent once I got past the first 50 pages. The author switches points of view throughout the story so it took some time to get used to the author's rhythm and writing style. It was a lot at first, but once picked up the rhythm of the story, it was fine. I especially enjoyed the common sense and kindness of Nana, Dorian’s grandmother. She provided sound antidotes and reasoning that helped both Dorian and Tara get through some of their past burdens. She seemed kind and knowledgeable and presented balance to all the craziness going on with the characters.

I would recommend this book, it’ entertaining and it’s a pretty fast read. It also has tons of content that would be great for book club discussions. Remember, EVERYONE has a story and some type of emotional baggage! Enjoy!

(Review book received from author.)

Chaser by Miasha

Touchstone; First Paperback Edition edition: July 2009
Reviewer: LaShonda
Rating: 3

Leah knows she is in love with the wrong man. When Kenny swept her off her feet and moved her out of the projects, she felt like a princess. Leah's princess dreams began crumble when Kenny’s latest get rich scheme has her facing prison time. The only way to avoid prison time is to become an informant against the man she though would make her dreams come true. Does she have what it takes to go against Kenny and save herself. Hard working Nasir is doing his best to distance himself from Kenny but Kenny has information that keeps Nasir from completing breaking all ties. Breaking free of Kenny’s guilt trips may prove to be more than what Nasir bargained for.

Told from the point of view of Leah and Nasir, Chaser by Miasha tells the story of two people trying to escape the grasp of Kenny and his schemes. Leah and Nasir's first person point of view shows the levels of emotions tied to the tug of war between right and loyalty that is shaping their life. Abuse, cheating, killing and snitching are all secondary characters in this urban tale. Leah and Nasir learn that fast money is not always a good thing. The turmoil each character faces in their quest to rid their lives of Kenny keeps you guessing until the final chapter.

Set in Philadelphia, each scene is descriptive and well written. The underlying story of Chaser (accident chasers) offers a look at the cycle of auto body shop, doctors and lawyers in everyday traffic accidents. Urban Lit readers will enjoy this tale of cat and mouse.

(Review Book Received From Publisher)