Leadership Lessons: My Review of OMARI AND THE PEOPLE

I don’t quite remember how I came across this novel. Don’t remember if I saw it in the Amazon ad emails and the cover struck me. Don’t recall if I was searching for something and it came up in the search. Perhaps the reason I can’t remember how I found the book is because I didn’t find it. I believe it found me. The novel was definitely entertaining. But it was much more. It was edifying. It had loads of lessons about leadership. And that is why I believe I was drawn to it. That’s also why I gave it a roaring and resounding five stars.


Omari is a thief. A Good one at that. So good that he was able to amass a large amount of wealth. But his estranged wife ratted him out and with his back against the wall, he decided to burn his house down. But he ends up burning down the entire city. This act starts a whirlwind adventure that includes salvation and starvation, war and feasting, love and deception. We see Umal, the Old Mother, who transforms over the course of the novel, showing us just how mysterious she is. We meet Umbarak, the uneasy at first but soon fast friend. We meet the sneaky Bin Aswad, a classic villain who stays the course through the journey, providing inner turmoil. And what would any story be without love interest? Saba Khan, appears as the apple of Omari’s eye. But perhaps also the poisonous apple that would lead to his destruction. Omari transforms from thief to chief, leading a people through an unforgiving and oddly alive desert, to a destination they’re unsure of. And isn’t that just like life and leadership? Big tasks. Lots of characters. Adversity. But how do you perform in the midst of it all? What types of decisions do you make when people are counting on you? How do you lead people you dislike, in the spirit of fairness and not selfishness? These are the challenges that Omari faced. I found myself turning the pages and finding nuggets within them to make me a better man and leader.


I loved the novel overall but wished at times that less detail was given. The reader gets details about side actions I thought were unnecessary and caused drags in some spots. Other than that, the novel was outstanding. I’m glad I found it. Check that. I’m glad it found me.

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NEW RELEASE SPOTLIGHT

Today, I have the great pleasure of spotlighting the work of prolific author,  Chicki Brown. “Born to be Wild: Book One in the Lake Series” is available now!

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Blurb:
A quiet bookworm, Tangela Holloway has always been content working at her an independent bookstore in the sleepy little town of Eufaula, Alabama. But lately, Tangie discovers that she’s bored and frustrated, especially since the man she’s been dating for two years seems to care more about his business than he does her. When Reese Turner rides into town on his Harley, Tangie’s heart feels like it’s beating for the first time. She not only sees the most exciting man she’s ever met, but also a chance to experience something other than backyard BBQs and fishing at the lake.

After ending a drama-filled relationship with a high-maintenance fashion model, Reese wants nothing more than to make a road trip to Florida with his motorcycle club. Never did he expect a quick stop at a small town bookstore would introduce him to a shy bookworm who makes him re-think his vow to remain single and unattached.

Purchase Links:
Kindle – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072R147RV
Nook – http://bit.ly/2twWU9M
Paperback – https://www.createspace.com/7262080
UK Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B072R147RV

Excerpt:
This particular Wednesday I sat between the shelves on the rolling black stepstool unpacking a box of books I’d ordered for the history section that was filled with biographies of former local residents and family histories. Soft jazz playing from the small shelf system kept me company when my part-time assistant wasn’t around. I was engrossed with recording the incoming stock and sorting it out when heavy footfalls drew my attention from the task.

“I’ll be with you in just a second,” I called out, set the stack of books on the floor and quickly stuffed the packing material back into the empty box. I was trying to organize the pile of books and papers when the deep timbre of a voice sent a ripple of sensation down my spine.

“Sorry to disturb you.” Black leather boots with silver hardware came into view. My gaze traveled from the boots, up a pair of sturdy thighs, past the black tank which displayed wide, caramel-colored shoulders. Well-formed muscles were evenly distributed over his lean frame, which had to be at least six feet tall. But his face was what did immediate damage to my nervous system. Scruff covering the angular jaw of his GQ-worthy face gave him a rough edge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a good-looking man. It took me a couple of seconds to stand and get my brain and mouth working together to produce some intelligible words that didn’t sound like stuttering.

“I’m sorry. May I help you?”

“Yes.” He took off his sunglasses revealing eyes that were so dark they appeared to be almost black and handed me a piece of paper. “I’m looking for this book on motorcycle repair. Do you have it in stock?”

Without even looking at the title, I knew it wasn’t one I carried. “I don’t, but I’d be glad to order it for you. It should take two to three days. Can you wait that long?”

He smiled and I had the startling sensation that my bones were melting. “I’m on my way to Florida, but I’ll be coming back through in a few days. Can you order it for overnight delivery just to be certain?”

“No problem.” It took everything I had to make sure he didn’t see the way my hands were shaking when I handed him an order form and a pen. “Would you mind filling this out for me?”

He grinned. “I wouldn’t mind doing anything you ask.”

The whole room tilted, and I glanced away from his penetrating dark gaze. While he completed the form, it was all I could do not to gawk at him, so I pretended to be busy straightening up around the register.

“Here you go. I appreciate this. It’s a birthday gift for my buddy.”

“Would like me to gift wrap it?” I asked, simply wanting to hear him talk some more.

“Could you?”

“Of course, Mr…,” I glanced down at the order form. “Turner. No problem.”

He didn’t move to leave, and I suddenly felt uncomfortable with the way he stared at me.

Author Bio:
Contemporary women’s fiction/romance author Chicki Brown has been featured twice in USAToday. She was the 2014 B.R.A.B. (Building Relationships Around Books) Inspirational Fiction Author and also the 2011 SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine) Author of the Year. Chicki was also a contributing author to the Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor (Special Cancer Awareness Edition).

A transplanted New Jersey native who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, Brown still misses the Jersey shore, the pizza and the hot dogs.

Nia Forrester, Beverly Jenkins, Iris Bolling, Lisa Kleypas, and J.R. Ward are among her favorite authors.

You can connect with Chicki via the online contacts below.

Online contacts:
Blog: http://sisterscribbler.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Chicki663
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chicki.brown
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/chicki663/
Amazon Central Author Page: http://amzn.to/l2kjXQ
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/qcsiMD

 

 

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Excerpt from HEART OF STONE (JULY 2017)

“Those deacons have been looking for you,” Lakeisha told Cap Morgan. “Wearing black masks. Kicking in doors. Pointing guns. They’re going to kill you.”

Cap smiled. “I ain’t worried about them.” He looked around the home library where he was sitting. Pine wood floors below Persian rugs. Wine colored leather settee cushioned chairs. The fire place roared and warmed him. He was too busy lounging to worry.

“You need to be careful,” Lakeisha said. “What they did to Randy…”

“Listen to me. I’m going to make them pay for what they did to my homeboy. You hear me?” Silence. “Lakeisha?”

“I…I’ve heard things about the deacons. Stephen Stone.”

“Are you talking about them being bulletproof?”

“Well…yes.”

Cap guffawed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Bullets can’t penetrate their skin. You’ve heard the stories.”

“They wear Kevlar!” Cap settled his laugh a bit. “Body armor. They were wearing it that night at Club Pimpin’. They’re not bulletproof.”

He shook his head. Took a pull off of his cigarette. Blew the smoke into the air.

Lakeisha said, “Still, how are you going to fight them if you can’t get through their armor?”

“Who says I can’t?”

###

HEART OF STONE (JULY 2017)

http://jamesfantbooks.com

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Excerpt from HEART OF STONE (JULY 2017)

When Oak was in the drug game, he kept Ebony at a distance. Because girlfriends were not immune to ammunition. They were not exempt from drug convictions. If the cops raided the house and found dope and drug money, Ebony would get arrested along with Oak. The cops could care less about her claim of innocence or ignorance. No way could she be around all that money and not know Oak was slanging. That thought pricked Oak’s heart. Because he did married Ebony. And now, if the cops raided their house, they would find something far more damning than dope and drug money.

HEART OF STONE 

JULY 2017

http://www.jamesfantbooks.com/News-or-Reviews.html

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A Sweet Read (Review of The Sweet Spot by Joan Livingston)

cover

Edie Sweet’s disposition is identical to her last name. She is sweet and lovable, the type of woman who never meets a stranger. She’s sweet in spite of losing her husband, Gil, to the Vietnam War. But maybe she’s a little too sweet and lovable, because she doesn’t make the best choices when it comes to men. This is clearly evident in her affair with Gil’s brother, Walker: a married man. The town of Conwell is too small and interconnected for extramarital affairs. Edie’s and Walker’s is an affair of astronomic proportions; the kind that can cause grief for generations to come. Will Edie survive it? What role will a scarred stranger play in her survival?

I loved the way Joan built Edie. She was sweet but flawed. Aren’t we all? And Walker? I pitied the boy because he had it bad. In love with his brother’s woman but stuck in an unhappy marriage where he can’t express that love openly. Joan also paints for us the struggle Walker has with his parents. They clearly loved Gil more. Why do parents do that? Why pick favorites? Don’t they know that favoritism can have detrimental effects for years and years. That the affected child can grow into an adult and still deal with it? Take it out on their children. Even on their spouse?

I loved the dynamic between the Sweets, St. Claires, Crockers, etc. How the Sweets were looked down on in Conwell because patriarch, Benny, worked the town dump. You see this kind of thing in small towns, small communities, and unfortunately in churches. I can’t stand it, though. No one should be ostracized because of their lineage. No child should be picked on at school because someone feels that their family is beneath others. I could get on a soapbox about this issue but I don’t want to belabor the time or space for this review.

I enjoyed this novel and would love to see what’s next for Edie. Hopefully Joan Livingston will follow up on the good folks of Conwell in a subsequent novel. I’m sure it would be just as sweet a read as THE SWEET SPOT.

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Excerpt from Heart of Stone (The Stephen Stone Trilogy, Book One)

Winter attacked Shalom, South Carolina with several inches of snow. In a city that boasted of pale beaches usually beaten with sweltering heat year round, temperatures now dipped to record lows. Patches of ice found solace on dark waters of the harbor. And fishing? Forget about it.

The weatherman said it was due to the hurricane that hit late that summer—the one that flattened houses and killed hundreds. But some believed that the strange weather had something to do with what happened at Club Pimpin’. The Death Angel came through there that evening and killed those three drug boys, devoured them with fire and brimstone. And when the Angel of Death moves in a place that powerfully, it can’t help but upset the atmosphere’s equilibrium. Make it cold when it’s never cold! People blamed it on the boogie man. But Detective Warren Price believed the culprits were flesh and blood. Real men in black masks whose motive was money—plain and simple.

– Heart of Stone (The Stephen Stone Trilogy, Book One). 

JULY 2017

http://jamesfantbooks.com

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Reflections on Friendship – Review of LeTara Moore’s Reflections in the Music

reflections

I enjoy reading stories about friendship as a friend is truly a precious commodity. The group Whodini recorded a song called Friends and the chorus sings, “How many of us have them?” If you are blessed to have a friend, just one true friend, then you are rich. But if you have two or more people that you can truly call friends, well you are in another tax bracket all together. You’ve struck oil, found gold. Reflections in the Music, a Novella by LeTara Moore, deals with friendship between three women. Will their treasure appreciate over time? Or will it depreciate under the immense pressures of life?

The novella introduces Pea, Sherri and Melissa and gives you a sense of their personalities as well as their interaction and growth, which is basically the crux of the story. I loved the way LeTara referenced music in her prose. I pulled up Minnie Riperton’s Inside Me as I read because Melissa was listening to it. Then the story led me to another Riperton tune: Baby This Love I Have and I realized two things – 1) Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest sampled Minnie Riperton heavily, and rightfully so because her music is dope and ahead of its time; and  2) LeTara Moore is a music head just like me! She teaches readers about the history behind Purple Rain, the movie and album. I never knew that Vanity was supposed to be the leading lady (although I’m glad things worked out like they did because Apollonia…good gracious! Apollonia!!!). The novella motivated me to learn more about R&B history.

I loved the friendship between Pea, Sherri, and Melissa. How they come together in times of need (even when that need isn’t explicitly expressed…no spoilers). I also loved the way that LeTara didn’t try to end things with a neat and pretty bow. We may not like to admit it, but sometimes things don’t end neat and pretty. They end how they need to end, I guess. Hopefully with people gaining strength and insight and learning from their mistakes.

I would’ve liked to see more dialogue in the story. There were long blocks of narration that I believe could’ve been relayed differently via the characters actually speaking to each other. Also, I wanted to see a deeper development of each character. However, this is a novella so perhaps the length constrained the space necessary for LeTara to dig deeper into why Sherri was so vain, why Melissa was such a prude, and why Pea would be reluctant to tell a special man in her life something vitally important. Maybe Ms. Moore will expand each story in subsequent novels. If so, I’d love to read each expansion.

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