July 19, 2019

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"She's sitting at the bus stop checking the likes on her Instagram feed and doesn't even notice the man with the gun until he's almost next to her."

~ The Chain by Adrian McKinty

July 17, 2019

What Makes Us

"Laws should never create an incentive for people in authority to do the wrong thing." ~ 13%

How about this book cover though? With its bright ombrΓ© colors and outlines of people holding protest signs. It is eye-catching and powerful. How can you not pick this up off a bookshelf or click a link for more information? Well I am glad I took the bait!

Constant Vigilance is a new program that allows police to pull people over for barely anything. It is not fair. It is not right. So Eran Sharon (pronounced Shah-Rohn) organizes a peaceful protest in his community. It is going well until a small counter-protest group approaches with signs that say "Blue Lives Matter" and "Don't like us? Don't call us." Conflict arises around news cameras and a crowd of witnesses. So what happens? Of course, a viral video captures a heated moment.

Eran knows little about his father. He's tall. He was from Israel then moved to New York. He left when Eran was just a baby. The flood gate of dark family history bursts open when a reporter connects Eran Sharon with a tragedy that happened fifteen years ago. Eran wonders if he is anything like his supposed terrorist father. What makes us who we are?

"Can someone make a terrible mistake and still be a good person?" ~ 85%

The main character was so realistic. He was not a teen that used big words or thought beyond his understanding. I think he was depicted in a realistic manner. Sometimes authors tend to forget the age of characters but not so in this book. Eran was relatable from the first chapter to the last words. Even Eema (pronounced EE-muh; Hebrew for mother) acted how a concerned parent of color would in real life. So the story flowed naturally with no annoyance. In fact, I finished in one lazy day. 

Social justice issues are the focus of What Makes Us. Police brutality is such a national issue; a crisis actually. Other issues include homophobia, racism, reproductive rights, global warming, gun control and immigrant rights. Thanks to authors like Rafi Mittlefehldt for addressing it in books meant for young adults. It helps to spread awareness, remind them of how to look and act while in public and most importantly to be heard. Their voice matters! 

"How much of life is dictated by a random timing?" ~ 45%

Start the conversation! I absolutely recommend What Makes Us for young adults that are passionate about justice. Teachers, add this new book to your syllabus. Parents, talk to your children about social issues. Neighbors, look out for each other while protecting the community. News reporters, do not be so quick to spin stories for click bait. Rafi Mittlefehldt's new novel reminds readers: Try to be better.

Happy Early Pub Day, Rafi Mittlefehldt! What Makes Us will be available Tuesday, October 15.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: What Makes Us
Author: Rafi Mittlefehldt
Published: October 2019
Pages: 352
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 16, 2019

The Path Made Clear

"We only have twenty-four hours in a day. So you have a choice to walk with wise people and stack up more wisdom. Or you can become a companion of fools and your life will unravel." ~ pg. 71

All personal opinion aside, I could not resist downloading the free eBook of Oprah's The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose. Each chapter begins with a quote, Oprah's key lessons and shared experiences from famous figures such as Iyanla Vanzant, Sue Monk Kidd, Ellen Degeneres, RuPaul, Mitch Albom, VP Joe Biden and my personal favorite, Jay-Z. Joined by friends and separated into brief chapters, this book is designed to jumpstart your journey.

I personally believe that every human on earth has a purpose. Some of us tune in and follow that purpose while others never pursue it. But just imagine what the world would be if everyone lived in their true path. If you are someone who is not sure of your life's purpose, this book may help nudge you in the right direction. Did I finish and know my purpose? Of course not. If only it was that easy! However, I am inspired to continue down a clear path.

"What was true was I wanted to live up to my parents' expectations." ~ pg. 39

Whew—ain't that a word! πŸ—£MESSAGE! I have never heard the truth put so plainly. Part of my purpose is to live up to my parent's expectations. To provide a positive influence on my niece and nephew. To travel a path full of support and encouragement with my friends. And finally, my purpose is to not betray myself, to stay true to self, to be okay.

The Path Made Clear is not a must-read. It will not solve the great answer of what your purpose is. However, it will prompt you to think and provide advice. There are quite a few quotes that I wrote onto neon colored index cards and post-it notes. These are the real take-aways from this resourceful book.

Title: The Path Made Clear
Author: Oprah Winfrey
Published: June 2019
Pages: 208
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€


July 14, 2019

Series Sunday: Living Love

(Ivyhurst #1) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

My Series Sunday pick is Living Love, the first book in the Ivyhurst series by Ava Bleu. Ivyhurst is a neighborhood in a newly developed part of town. It is home to Kim and Chris Jenkins, a married couple getting on each other's nerves with two different paths in mind and a young daughter. Kim wants a dream home they cannot afford. Chris needs to work more but his job is nowhere near challenging. Somehow their plans and dreams got lost. How did they get so off track?

"When people talk about love and romance they usually focus on first glow. They rarely talk about how to keep love and romance alive when the realities of life set in." ~ 2%

This novella couldn't be a better title or introduction to a new series. The main couple are truly living love. In less than 60 pages, the author managed to introduce readers to new characters and give us a glimpse of their inner thoughts and everyday happenings. I am not married but something tells me a husband/wife can certainly relate to Kim & Chris.

Meanwhile, I felt like a neighbor with the windows open, eavesdropping on conversations of the couple next door. I am so looking forward to the next book in this new series, hopefully featuring other Ivyhurst residents. Living Love can be read as a standalone romance but I always suggest series be read in order.

Happy Belated Pub Day, Ava Bleu! Living Love is available for $free, my bookhearts. Grab your favorite summer beverage, go to the park or sit poolside with this quick read.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Living Love
Author: Ava Bleu
Published: June 2019
Pages: 59
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 12, 2019

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"If you're ready to make more money, you can. I don't care how many times you've tried and failed or if you're so broke you're selling your bodily fluids for bus fare or how often you've found yourself center stage at the checkout counter, feigning shock and indignation: 'Are you sure? Declined?! That's impossible. Can you run it one more time?'"

~ You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero


July 10, 2019

Seeds of Deception

"A debt owed is not a gift given." ~ 16%

That moment when you are browsing Goodreads, reading direct messages and a book cover captures your attention... Such is the case for Seeds of Deception by Arlene L. Walker. Just look at it. A beautiful shade of blue background with bold dark red lettering and a silhouette of a woman of color with natural hair. For the cover alone, I was interested immediately. Love it!

There is a clash between Cherokee Indians and their former African slaves in the tribal town of Feather Falls Township. On the same day that Sput Louie McClendon is evicted, her husband goes missing. She stumbles upon a dark deep-seated secret during her frantic search. Not only does it affect her family but the whole town.

"Men will be men, but us women—well, but then you're only three-fifths of one aren't you? Niggers aren't people. Not really." ~ 55%

With a colorful cast of characters, Seeds of Deception grabbed hold of my attention from the first chapter. Besides Sput, there is the strong Benjamin that would do anything to protect his family. The wise man in a dress, Two Bird. The Old Crow whom is to be blamed for everything. And a small group of town folk. They all add to the richness of the story that is more folklore than novel.

Kudos to the author for following Toni Morrison's advice. She wrote the book she wanted to read. Seeds of Deception is more than just a new fiction novel. Sprinkles of history shed light on the relationship among the Cherokee, Negroes and blond-hairs, bread payments and land. I sure learned a thing or two so I know you will.

Drawn upon her parents' past, Arlene L. Walker brings readers a novel among the ranks of Warmth of the Sun and Killers of the Flower Moon but the fiction version. I was all in from the beginning but it really got good around 60%. So much so that I read nonstop until finished. Who doesn't love a good plot twist? This author is definitely on my radar now and I look forward to her upcoming books.

"Not holding land in a territory where land was abundant was like being thirsty in the midst of water." ~ 2%

Now that the last word in Seeds of Deception has been read, excuse me while I look up flights to Oklahoma. Time to visit my own Chickasaw tribe with Chickadee!

Happy Belated Pub Day, Arlene L. Walker! Seeds of Deception is now available.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Seeds of Deception
Author: Arlene L. Walker
Published: June 2019
Pages: 210
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 9, 2019

Fashioned by God

"Psalm 30:11-12 tells us, 'You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may since praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever." ~ 25%

Fashioned by God is a 30-day devotional designed to fashion your soul, spirit and wardrobe. We all know beauty lies within but that is not an excuse to look a hot mess on the outside. I was taught to always look your best so you will feel your best. This non-fiction book supports this theory.

Each day offers a Bible verse, spiritual lesson, prayer, style icon quote, questions and actions. By day 30, readers will honor God with a personal style, declutter closets, express personality through wardrobe and have a deeper spiritual relationship. I felt a sense of "girl, this is so me!"

Fashioned by God is what I consider a journal read. The kind of book that you whip out a highlighter and take notes in a journal as you read along. To capture my review and as not to spoil the joy or journey, I am posting a few of my daily devotional notes. Keep in mind that my journey is not your journey. What I take away from that daily devotional is my own interpretation. Yours will most likely be different. It is all the more reason that I recommend this book. I hope that by sharing a few of my notes that you are willing to give this new devotional a try. It gets you going!

πŸ“ πŸ“ πŸ“ πŸ“
06.15.2019 I need to schedule daily quiet time. It seems easy but to actually sit quietly, pray and reflect takes an effort. It is hard to turn my brain off and stop from wandering about my never-ending to do list, what outfit I am wearing tomorrow, what's for dinner, blah blah blah. But worship and peace of mind is a must so in the calendar it goes!

06.16.2019 Oh, this is getting down to the bone. Today's wardrobe action is to begin with the foundation—lingerie. Go through the panties drawer. Examine bras. Throw out. Replace. Breathe.

06.23.2019 Purse Palooza. EEK! The real question is how portable is my faith? Do I carry it everywhere I go? Is my mind too heavy due to clutter? Do my purses weigh me down? Am I carrying a load for no reason? I see where this is going in regards to my life and relationship with God.

07.01.2019 Ooh! I actually created new outfits from the items already in my closet! There are color combinations and fabric matching that I would've never considered on my own. And the best part is it transcends across all seasons. I am free from bondage and have an open mind when it comes to style. Praise Him!

07.02.2019 Growing up in the Midwest, I too have a closet devoted to only coats, jackets and outerwear. I really don't want to get rid of any. Coats are an investment! They are rarely subject to fashion trends. To relate it spiritually, coats are my armor. Protect me from evil. And don't cram the coat closet! Create space.

07.05.2019 Now this is the chapter I need. Drawers! Mine are so stuffed it is overflowing. Some things are buried so far back that I forgot about them. Drawers are meant to sort items in an organized manner so it's easier to find things. When clothes are placed in drawers, they get tossed around eventually. But the author points out how clothes in a drawer can also hold a sentimental value. For example, I have a Sex and the City tank top that always reminds me of when Chickadee and My BFF had a girls' day and saw the movie, followed by dinner and playing Club Keno. Clothes can also have a damaging memory. Fortunate for me, I don't hold on to such items. God guards me!

07.07.2019 Oh this is me all the way. Hangers and clothes in closet have to hang the same way. The open side of hook on hangers face the wall of closet. The Bible also talks about the direction of our lives. It is a pretty simple concept: Go in the right direction!

07.08.2019 Last day of this 30-day devotional. Due to review deadline, I doubled up on a few. Now my walk-in closet is becoming a place of prayer. I am going to put my small wooden chair stool in there along with a basket for my Bible, journal, pen and highlighter. What better place to pray? The closet is a representation of my organization and personality. It is filled with color and I chose everything in it.

Happy Belated Pub Day, Kathryn Graves! Fashioned By God is now available.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Fashioned by God
Author: Kathryn Graves
Published: April 2019
Pages: 150
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€