Black Cake

I loved this book. The way it was written and the trials and tribulations that the characters experienced. This book had me in a chokehold! I loved learning about the history and how the author told the story of Jamaica and the culture. What I enjoyed about the characters were how Eleanor, the mother, told the story of her past/present and how her life affected her children’s past/present and their future without them even knowing what was to come.

I’ve never seen a mother, like Eleanor love and sacrifice for her children, even though she knew she’d cause them pain. She kept so many secrets from Bennedetta and Byron, that they internalized so much pain for each other in a time when it should’ve been love; there was no way they could’ve known their mother had so many skeletons in her closet. Now, Bennedetta and Byron also had a rocky relationship, but the foundation was sealed with love. I’ve never seen a character like Byron lack compassion and assuming his sister was just not trying to hold herself accountable, but if he only knew the things she experienced is why she was the way she was. Without giving any spoilers, let’s just say, Byron spent so much time having pain towards his sister that he could’ve used that energy to help them both heal.

Reading Black Cake and the history behind the recipe, and how the author incorporated the meaning behind it, in connection with Eleanor and her children was truly one for the books…pun intended. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be on the lookout for more books by this author.

The Vanishing Half

If you’re looking for a big ending, don’t expect it with this book. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was decent, but I think how it ended is what makes everyone, including myself feel like… eh. I’d give this book three stars, and that’s honestly because the ending just felt disappointing.

The Vignes twins, Desiree and Stella grew up in a time where being black, and passing for white was something they could get away with. Stella was the sister who decided to change her life and live as a white woman, disappearing and leaving her family heart broken. The book moves back and forth between the sisters and their daughters lives. Stella’s daughter Kennedy is spoiled and although she has an inkling that the stories her mother’s told her about her life growing up aren’t true, her suspicions are never confirmed until she meets her cousin Jude in the oddest of circumstances.

There are tons of emotions for the characters as the story progresses. Desiree decided to “stick to her roots” and live a boring monotonous life, while Stella did the complete opposite. I got the impression that although Stella changed who she was she truly was never happy, even with all the positives in her life. Stella was always living a double life, always needing to keep up the lie until she couldn’t any longer. Desiree lived in her truth and although it was difficult she only ever truly wanted the love of her sister.

Desiree and Jude’s relationship is less strained but still holds secrets. Jude leaves their small town of Mallard, ends up waitressing and that’s where her and Stella’s relationship starts to unfold. Honestly, the secrets and how the story unfolds between the mothers and their daughters was written well, but I think the ending would’ve felt finished if Stella decided to be who Desiree always imagined. Imagine having a piece of you feel like they couldn’t be themselves, so the only option they felt they had to do was be someone different? Desiree searched for years for Stella and then out of the blue, Stella shows up and demands that her niece stop telling the truth all because Stella just didn’t want to live in the past.

Love Radio

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle was light-hearted and funny. Even though Prince could give everyone else advice, when it came to Dani, he was stuck like a deer in headlights! Dani challenged Prince to take her on three dates, and within those three dates she “should’ve” fallen in love with him.

I appreciated that Ebony kept up with current events and wrote about topics such as trauma, family struggles and navigating emotions. The two main characters, Prince and Dani where probably the most mature/ old soul young teens I’ve ever read lol. I loved how Ebony allowed Prince and Dani to learn each other and themselves as the story progressed.

Reading Love Radio I definitely felt as if Dani was a character I could relate too. Reading her story and seeing her grow as a character, a writer, and a lover of books, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired to continue to write. Dani knew what she wanted and didn’t succumb to the pressures of teenage-life. Prince, provided a safe space for her and was the youngest DJ host to give out love advice- although it was hard for him to take his own advice. Isn’t that the hardest thing sometimes? It’s easy to help others but harder to help ourselves. He tried his best navigating DJ life, being a student, navigating love, and being the support to his mother who has Multiple Sclerosis and loving on his little brother.

A different aspect of the book which I wasn’t expecting was all the history behind the evolution of music. The setting of the story is taken place in Detroit and while I’ve always known Detroit is the birthplace of music, it was cool to learn more. I loved this book and it’s safe to say Ebony LaDelle is my new favorite author. I haven’t read much Young Adult, love/Romcom novels but I’m here for it!

If Beale Street Could Talk

I was excited to read this book but was sorely disappointed. The book was very slow and I had to force myself to finish it. I like to read a book before seeing the movie, but I can only hope the movie does a better job at telling the story.

While I was able to keep up with the story line, I felt like the character development was just subpar. Besides the one character, Fonny getting arrested, there was nothing else that kept me intrigued. The ending left me feeling like… that’s it? Whatever the opposite of a cliff hanger is, that’s how I felt.

The one positive I would take away is the love Fonny and Tish had for each other. There love was genuine and Tish’s family did everything they could to try and help Fonny. Fonny’s family on the other hand pretty much left him in jail, and didn’t seem to provide the emotional support Fonny needed after being accused of raping the woman.

Over all, I’d give this book 2 stars. I was hoping for something different but it just wasn’t delivered.

Inevitable Encounters: The Hero of my Love Scene

Hey Friends! I’m back with another book review. I enjoyed this book so much! I randomly found this book on my kindle unlimited suggested for you searches and if I’m being honest the cover caught my eye ;). I’ve been reading a ton of mystery and psychological thriller so I’m glad to be in my romance/spicy bag for a while.

The main character, Winter becomes involved with Kody, her knight in shining armor. Winter tries to avoid her attraction to Kody because how they met, *spoiler alert* was a bit unexpected. What else would a knight in shining armor be without saving a woman in the dark from her attacker?! As the story unfolds, both Kody and Winter are clearly drawn to each other, but since Winter’s been out the dating game for some time, she’s hesitant and doesn’t want to pursue the relationship since Kody travels for work frequently. With the help of her two best friends, Chloe and Jessica, Winter navigates back into the dating world. I enjoyed the way the story was written, and the author had plenty of twist. I was engaged with the story line and never got confused or bored. With Winter I could relate to her in some ways. I would rate this book a 5 /5 and I can’t wait to read the other two books within this series.

The other two books in the series are:

Inevitable Encounters: In Love with my Past, Present

The Right to my Wrong: A Frenemies to Lovers Romance

Keep in mind, this cover and the subsequent covers on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited will look different compared to the paperback versions. Feel free to add me as a friend on Good Reads, the link is below.

Happy Reading!

We Made It

In this closing to 2020 I can imagine everyone has been through A LOT. Still, in the midst of a pandemic there’s two thing I’ve learned and that’s to trust the process and focus on the good. I will provide tips that have worked for me and that I plan on continuing into the new year. Also, I’ll be sharing some positive highlights that have happened to me… everyone needs a little sunshine sometime :).

My mom and I have spent a lot of time together during this pandemic and we’ve leaned on each other more in this year than ever before. I say that to say, love on those around you. I’ve been blessed that no one in my family has had to deal with the loss or even have symptoms of COVID-19. I also know plenty of people who may have lost family members or simply had to fight the virus themselves. I’ve felt like I’ve said “I’m sorry for your loss, my condolences to you and your family” too much this year, and I pray, I know in 2021 I’ll be saying it less. Emotions have been all over the place but this year just felt different, clearly. It was a breath of fresh air to realize I knew there was one person who I could always rely on, even with our own problems happening.

Or even having to let people go, that too was something I dealt with this year. People change, their actions become more prevalent, you don’t need anymore added stress or negativity. If they aren’t bringing you positivity and light leave them in 2020. I digress.

As intense as this year has been, in just a years time I’ve been able to cross off goals I wrote down back in August! I published my second book and have sold some copies, passed one of the two test for my Masters, received a B in the most stressful class I’ve ever taken (if you only knew how many tears I shed from anxiety), accepted a teaching job to start in January, and will be moving into a better apartment come March. Trusting the process is not easy. I am preaching to the choir when I tell you even before all the good I didn’t feel like this year could get better but I had to change my mindset. It may sound trivial but I promise it really was helpful to me. When things started to align it felt weird because so much sad had happened. Honestly, I was probably focusing on the negative too much and not the good.

Tips to try:

  • Positive thoughts
  • Meditation
  • Yoga/stretching session
  • Read
  • Therapy

I hope to all who read this, the new year brings you and your family peace and blessings! We’ve all experienced something that I’m sure we didn’t think we would survive but we did. Let this new year be different, try the tips that helped me, and I pray things turn around for you as well. I’ve always been a believer of manifestation but this year just forced me to believe in it more. You can and will have a better 2021, I know we will.

Love & Loss

If 2020 has taught me anything it’s to continue to love yourself and those around you. This year alone has been tough with the pandemic, people dying famous or not, every day life, depression, anxiety, loss of jobs, just throw the year away. 2020 is trash and there are still some months ahead (face plant emoji).

This post was going to focus on self preservation. I myself haven’t been in the mood to write much or even continue to work on my craft of doing spoken word. I haven’t been motivated.

As I write this I am reflecting on loving those around you. A few hours ago I watched a funeral service of a friend of mine I grew up with. He and I weren’t as close the older we got, but I’ve always said I never wanted to know someone too pass away. Death is not an easy thing. People grieve and heal differently and loosing someone that you know, no matter the circumstance is just sad. You think of their family and loved ones and how much hurt they must be experiencing. Like my mother and so many other people have said before “give me my flowers while I’m here.” Death of a human being always makes me wonder too, who all would miss me when it’s my time. We honestly don’t know when we may leave this earth, that’s why it’s so important to try and stay positive. Tell your loved ones or people you love them while they are here.

This year COVID has taken hold of everyone and everything. Gatherings and celebrations are different, even funerals. All I’m saying is continue to spread love. Continue to focus on you, your goals, your dreams and aspirations.

Like I mentioned I originally wanted this post to be about self preservation and I think it’s fair to say I’m learning more about protecting myself and my peace. For those who don’t know, I host bi-weekly events on my Instagram live about different topics, and last week was about self preservation. Since then, I’ve just been trying to focus on me. I cannot and will no longer worry about other people or try to be the listening ear. Now, I’m not saying if someone comes to me and ask for advice or needs my help I’m going to turn them away. I am just choosing to be selective about how much energy I put into people. I’ve said before I know the energy I give isn’t reciprocated at all if often and I’m okay with that. I know me being who I am is what makes me so special, it’s my gift to the world.

What prompted my original thought of my self preservation post was having a conversation with someone who I considered a friend. We, I would say, had a disagreement. What bothered me about the conversation was this person choose to laugh at me expressing myself. If it’s something I don’t appreciate and I know I don’t do to people is laugh at their expense. Doing so, in my opinion makes me feel like you’re not really listening to my point of view, and you’re making me feel like my opinion doesn’t matter. Laughing at someone who is being transparent and honest, at least for me, will make me not to want to be open and honest with you at all, ever. I said what I needed and wanted to say as clearly as I could. Your response wasn’t warranted. Your response was like you were brushing off my feelings, and for someone who I thought was my friend it hurt. It’s okay, I can clearly see that what we were discussing bothered you. You didn’t like what I had to say and your laughter was your response. I truly don’t think you were hearing what I had to say. Like my mom says, “you can only control your actions.”

Trying to wonder, figure out, understand, why people act the way they do will only drive me crazy. The rest of this year I am self preserving, by any and all means necessary. I can’t continue to explain my side to a person who just doesn’t get it, wither they realize they are hurting my feelings or not. My focus is to keep my energy as high as possible. I’m already battling enough at times mentally I can’t try to fix other people, or explain why I feel the way I do. Please, don’t read this and get the impression that I am feeling the need to explain my side all the time, but when I have a conversation with said person and they blatantly laugh at my thoughts/opinions/feelings, that’s not cool. We don’t have to agree all the time, but I would never and have never laughed at someone’s honesty. The crazy thing is, the conversation we were having, we’ve had it before, but I guess sometimes people don’t know how to express themselves. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. I’m not sure. But what I’m not going to continue to do is have my voice be diminished because people may not like what my point of view.

In closing, have you done everything you can to protect your peace? Have you contacted that person who’s crossed your mind multiple times? I’m not saying you have to be buddy-buddy with a hater you may have, but life is too precious. Continue to build your brand. Continue to protect your peace. Check on your loved ones too, no matter the circumstance, you don’t want them to pass and you wish you would’ve done something.

I love you and thanks for reading.

Everything smells like smoke

On Wednesday April 29, 2020 there was a fire at my apartment complex. Wednesday started out as a normal day for me but ended in a way I never expected. Early afternoon I started to smell smoke so I walked around my apartment and figured out it was coming from the bathroom. I was nervous for a second because I thought something in my place had caught on fire. My candles were burning just fine, I checked my stove and all the eyes were off.

So then I stepped outside and I see my neighbor and we both asked each other if we smelled smoke. She told me her smell was strong in the living room. Another neighbor, who I’ve never seen popped up and asked if we smelled smoke and I told him yes, in my bathroom I did. His smell was coming from the kitchen. Prior to even smelling the smoke I heard a loud boom, which I didn’t think was anything bad, I just assumed it was someone dropping something heavy. Later on I found out from my neighbor who said the smell was coming from her living room, she told me it was our other neighbors vape pen that exploded.

Thankfully the people who lived in the apartment weren’t home, unfortunately their cats didn’t make it. The Fire Department arrived and cleared out the smoke. I couldn’t stay in my apartment because of the smokey smell. Even with me airing my place with the door open, windows, and fans going while the firefighters did their job. The leasing people didn’t even communicate with the fire department from what I could see when I was outside waiting in the parking lot/side walk area outside of my actual building.

Living in my space isn’t safe anymore. What makes it worse is that my leasing office hasn’t said anything to anyone about the fire or how to help. They haven’t offered to move those who were affected last Wednesday. I’m disappointed and ready to move. I can’t live in a place with the smell of smoke. I’ve been back and forth from my place to air it out as much as I could and I’ve been staying at my parents but that’s not enough.

I didn’t realize until yesterday when I went to clean it from top to bottom that my anxiety would come so strongly.  I want you to imagine everything smelling like smoke. Not knowing what does and doesn’t smell like smoke so you clean everything. Even in areas where the smell wasn’t as strong I smelled smoke. In closets, on my clothes, walking through the door. I cleaned everything and still the smell was there. I have carpet, so the soot and smell of smoke will be stuck there until the carpets are pulled up. Cleaning my bathroom tile and seeing the soot come off took me over the top. I couldn’t believe it. I knew it would probably have a little soot but the more I wiped I felt like the sponge was dirty and I just sprayed it with my cleaning spray and started wiping. Tears were flowing and my breathing wasn’t even.

How is this possible? I loved my place simply because it’s mine. It is quiet. Forgetting all the negative things that I’ve experienced while being a resident at my complex I don’t feel safe. This incident has made me want to move even more, and let’s not forget that my rent will be increased. A few days before the fire, my complex sent out an email stating the follow, “As you know, your lease is about to expire and we have great news for you! In an effort to ease the burden to you caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are offering you a revised and reduced 12 month renewal! To increase flexibility for all, we are also offering you the option to renew on a month-to-month basis without any increase or premiums.” Am I missing something? How are you offering a “revised and reduced 12 month renewal” but rent is going up?! That’s not reduced. Reduced means less not more to make smaller not larger. Furthermore, if you’ve stated “…to ease the burden to you caused by COVID-19 Pandemic...” shouldn’t you as the leasing company help those who were just recently affected by the fire to which you haven’t sent out any emails about that at all. You aren’t easing any burdens if you can’t address the biggest issue, and if you know this pandemic is a problem, you’re not doing anything to make things easier for your residents. How is it that you’re still able to take rent from the people who were affected by the fire and not contact them in anyway shape or form, but then expect a new lease to be signed? Shaking my head.

This is all so sad, unfortunate and unfair. I just want to be back home in a safe environment, and this is in no way safe at all.

Why not Workout?

Working out hasn’t always been a thing of mine. People assume that because I’m petite and have a slender frame that I’m “in shape.” Totally not true. I would go through spurts of working out and or stretching to get exercise and try to live a healthier lifestyle, but that desire would slowly die out. Workout over. Being in shape, over.

Being an athlete in high school was fun and exciting. I was a fencer. Yes, the sport with the swords and mask, like Zoro (insert straight face emoji). The thing were people say “En guard” which just means “get ready/go.” It wasn’t something any of my teammates or I said if rarely, it mainly came from our coaches. Anyway, I digress. High school was the last time I was probably in the “best shape of my life” (super cliche I know) lol, but it’s true.

Since COVID-19 seems to be taking an extended vacation I find that working out has helped my anxiety as well as just giving me something else to do besides eat, watch tv, talk to my homegirl Ms. Asia Michelle, or my sisters Kim and Khaleeah. Besides finding a new found hobby, thing, whatever you want to call it, I’ve been pretty consistent. I’m proud of myself. Also with the help of YouTube and my brother I’ve been feeling good. I have tried to take days off to rest but I find it just makes me want to slip back into not wanting to work out so on those days I tell myself I’ll just stretch, but I end up working out anyway. I was excited to start this new found idea of mine that I ordered a weighted ball (10 Lbs), a step ladder, a kettle bell (5 lbs) and resistance bands. If I’m being honest, whenever I worked out it was only to get abs and a plumber bottom, and while that’s still the goal lol, I find that I just want to be in shape and it’s a great feeling. I work up a nice sweat and I can start my day. Yes that means I try to workout in the morning. I’d rather not work out in the afternoon/evening because in my brain that won’t give me time to do the other leisure things I like to do.

In this new normal I hope you can find a hobby, tasks, an old past time, something to keep you busy. For me it’s been trying to work out and stay in shape.

Get moving! Get to those ideas or hobbies you’ve been putting off! We have nothing but time.

workout meme
A real life representation of me after working out. 

The Hate U Give

the hate u give cover

So… I usually am not one to watch the movie before reading the book and I promise you I wouldn’t have done so, but I remembered I saw the movie while reading and I was very upset with myself. It’s just not something I do so I felt like I failed at life (yes I’m being sarcastic). The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas is nothing short of amazing.

I’m a huge fan of the movie but I would say without a doubt the book is better. In all cases. I’m a nerd. I have nothing bad to say about it. I’d be lying if I said the main characters in the movie weren’t who I pictured while reading. That’s part of the reason I like to read before I watch the films so I can come up with my own opinion of who and how the author wanted to have the characters portrayed. Even for the characters who weren’t the focus, like Maya, Kenya, Hailey, and Seven ( played by Lamar Johnson) I remember what they looked like but small details in the book my brain is thinking…is this really what they looked like when the movie came out. Example, Seven had dread locks in the book, I don’t remember the actor who portrayed him having them, not a biggie it’s just how my brain works.

What I will say, the father, Maverick played by Russell Hornsby I envisioned how I embodied the character on film exactly as the father in the book. It’s kind of like how you’re so used to seeing certain characters play certain roles; like how the All State Commercial guy “Are you in good hands?” will always be the father in Love & Basketball in my head. “Can’t should never be in a man’s vocabulary” (if you know the movie you’ll understand the reference). Anyway, mini rant over. Maverick was this strong, pro-black everything, f*** the police, street man who wanted the best for his children, even if circumstances didn’t always present itself that way.

The Hate U Give  is the type of book that will always be prevalent. It was published (2017) during a time when police brutality seemed to spread like wild fire around the country. This book is a reminder that children of African American race in instances will not be provided justice.

The main character Starr fought hard for her friend Khalil who was wrongfully shot by a white male cop. As to not give away the entire story, I’m sure you can guess what the outcome was. Either way, the book touched on a subject that I’d say most people would say you can only sway one way, there is no in between. Race is a touchy subject. Police brutality is a touchy subject. If you’re a lover of books like me, you’ll enjoy the read and it will remind you of what kind of society we live in.

Should you be a huge fan of Angie Thomas or just a lover of books The Hate U Give is actually part of a trilogy series. She just released On the Come Up. This is about a different character, Bri, who goes through police brutality amongst others things in the same neighborhood like in The Hate U Give. Thomas also will be releasing Concrete Rose (at a later date) which is based 17 years before The Hate U Give. Concrete Rose follows Maverick as a young man.


Happy reading friends!