Book Review: ‘The Secret Lives Of Church Ladies’ (Literary Fiction/Anthology). 5 ‘Wow’ Stars #TheSecretLivesofChurchLadies #NetGalley

Thank you to Netgallery for my free copy, in exchange for a honest review. I didn’t know what to expect, as the blurb doesn’t give away much. But wow! I really loved each and every story in this anthology. I read it in one day! I haven’t actually read ‘literary fiction’ for some time, but this really  struck a cord and memorable. The author has a very unique and frank way about her. Let’s get into the review.

Church ladies

Short stories about race and sexuality by a Pittsburgh author whose work on African American topics has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and McSweeney’s.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.

There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preacher’s wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Caroletta’s “same time next year” arrangement with her childhood best friend is tenuous. A serial mistress lays down the ground rules for her married lovers. In the dark shadows of a hospice parking lot, grieving strangers find comfort in each other.

With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.


Kim’s review 5 ‘wow’ stars!

The reviews on Netgallery when I stumbled across this title, under the multicultural interest section made me wonder what I’d find inside the book. I don’t normally read reviews at all. If I want to read, I will regardless of who said what, but I do sometimes just look at star ratings from reviews, many seemed low when I picked up this title. I can’t understand it, as this is a gem of a book! I honestly think no matter your race  or gender anyone can really get into this literary fiction, even if the focus is on women of colour and their experiences.

In all honesty, the blurb does not give away the true beauty of this author’s work, I was pulled in by the blurb, cover etc, but after reading it I feel that this for me was one of those books that took me by surprise, in how good, raw, honest and frank, and engaging these stories are. There is no heavy ‘religious focus’ either, it’s used in context of experiences of women who really wanna break free of all that, or have been chained to it for whatever reason.  And it makes very insightful and thought  provoking reading.

I would say, if you are overly sensitive then pass this up, and save  your one star review for ‘bad language’. If you put the characters into context, time frame etc, you can totally understand the language the characters (not author) use, it makes sense.  In fact if you’re a very sensitive reader full stop, it may not be for you.

There are  more than a handful of stories here, I lost count I was just turning pages really quickly. I don’t have a favourite as I loved them all, but some really hit me and struck me as ‘wow’. There’s one about a young girl, and her mother is dating or ‘seeing’ a married pastor for a decade and what she went through. The ending and ‘moral’ of the story touched me when I reflected. The second one that was highly memorable for me, was the story about a young  girl who had a ‘thing’ for a lady at church, the ending was crazy! Lastly ‘How to  Make Love to a  Physicist’ was touch a beautiful, heart-warming story, showing a woman’s growth and her ability to love herself, and fall in love, and run away and fall in love again!  I loved it. All about two people connecting at a distance, then falling together as maybe ‘fate’ and growing. I could go on,  I loved them all.

Overall, this is a great literary fiction piece of art here, I enjoyed every page and would even read it a second time, later down the line. I felt each story had some kind of moral to it. The characters were just fantastic! Lively, bold, and  at times had me in chuckling. I would read more from this author, and I would love a copy for my book case not just e-book. I wish her so much luck when this drops for publication in September 2020.  5 ‘wow good read’ stars from me!

Book Review; ‘When Love Matters’ ( Non-Fiction), by Jessica Minasian – 3.5 stars

This was a super quick read a few hours if that. Thank you to NetGallery for a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I found this an interesting approach to love and relationships,  but unbalanced for the average reader. Let’s get into the review.



Kim’s Review 3.5 Interesting Stars

Well, after browsing the non fiction section the cover and title caught my eye for sure. The blurb also pulled me in, as well as the advance praise for the book. With my own interest in universal laws and esoteric subjects, I was so intrigued at how this could be connected to relationships, love and even the concept of ‘soul mates’.

Here’s what  I loved

  • The logic.
  • The alternative way of looking at relationships,  love and connecting with others.
  • The idea of a ‘practical’ informative book, using science.
  • This book is for everyone no matter your relationships status.

I  enjoyed the scientific aspect of this book to start with as I read, as it touches on astronomy, how the universe, planets and solar system work. Areas I naturally enjoy this made it very easy for me to follow the direction of the book. However, while it helped hold my interest personally,  it also hindered the book’s overall purpose and main direction – to help others and inspire them when it comes to love and relationships, regardless of  being married, single or looking for love. I felt the heavy delivery of science took the book in a different direction, almost a pure academic direction. Given the genre, I  feel more balance between science and ‘self-help’ ‘inspiration’ is needed.

I would imagine an average reader who does not have GREAT interest or even knowledge in astronomy, astrology or the science of the universe and its function might become turned off quickly.  In addition even if you love these things like me, this probably is not what you may expect, or even hope to read mostly about, based on the book’s blurb and gene.  Too much science  took away the beauty of ‘self help’ and ‘inspiration’ when it comes to the subject matter of relationships, love and soulmates. This was the main downfall for me as a reader.  Too much science, less practical every day language and content.

Overall, it is a very interesting read ( if you like science), and the concept is intriguing, but the approach to delivering the  message  could be better balanced, for general readers and just generally.  Sadly, the book does need a bit more formatting and editing for readability too. But if you love the subject matter of the universe and it’s function, how it impacts on life here on earth this could be for you.  Note that the ‘ inspiration’ or practical ‘self help’ may not be fully gained, due to the balance of the content. 3.5 stars from me. More balance could have easily increased my enjoyment and overall star rating!