June 17, 2018

Series Sunday: Sistah Speak 3rd Annual Family Reunion


#SS3for3

Join the Sistahs in Dallas for the 3rd Annual Sistah Speak Family Reunion!


Friday, July 27 Sistah Speak Game Night - cash bar and munchies, casino and board games, including the Sistah Speak Spades Tournament, Game of Thrones Monopoly, Texas Hold Em Poker, BlackJack, Cards Against Humanity, and more.

Saturday, July 28 Sistah Speak Family Reunion - complimentary cocktail hour, dinner, a commemorative reunion t-shirt, and special edition swag bag. We also will have raffle give-aways, a DJ to keep us dancing, and a photo booth with complimentary pictures to help us remember the night.

Sunday, July 29 Sistah Speak Farewell Brunch - meet at a local brunch spot to commune over food on our last day together. Cost of brunch is not included in ticket price.

Reserve your hotel room at Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park using a special Sistah Speak Family Reunion rate. Subject to availability so book now!

Our Texas-sized event will allow us plenty of time to shop, eat, and enjoy each other for the weekend. 3 days for our 3rd annual reunion! Share your excitement on social media by using hashtag #SS3for3


Don't miss any Sistah Speak scoop! Sign up for our newsletter here.



June 15, 2018

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.

"Two beloved icons separately end their lives amid questions about depression, despair and the children and legacies they each leave behind."

Kate Spade 1962-2018
A Fashion Icon's Private Pain
"The midwestern 'Katy B' had a happy-go-lucky flair with handbags that made her a household name. But behind the colorful whimsy lurked a dark—and deadly—depression."

Anthony Bourdain 1956-2018
A Food Rebel's Final Days
"He traveled the world in search of indigenous food and untold stories but struggled with profound loneliness. Inside the adventurous, insatiable life of a culinary rock star."

~ People Magazine - June 25, 2018 Issue 

June 14, 2018

Life of a Migraineur: Whole Lotta L


Roger the Squirrel scrambles up to the roof. A neighbor opens their doorwall letting in the summer breeze. The air conditioning kicks in letting me know the temperature is warmer than 72º in here. In reality, these sounds are faint. The normal person would not be disturbed. But to a migraineur, the sounds are magnified. I reach for my pillow and throw it over my head. I adjust my therapeutic eucalyptus-scented eye patch; it's lukewarm but I have no strength to swap it out for one of the colder ones stacked in my freezer.

I am not sure how many hours passed but I roll over. A wave of nausea and dizziness hit me. With urgency, I throw the pillow and comforter off. Stumble to the bathroom and drop to my knees at the toilet bowl. Time for a good 'ole hug with my porcelain friend. The dry heaving starts and finally, the vomit comes. And comes. And comes a bit more. Surely there is nothing left on my stomach when I see bile. Spent and exhausted, I lean against the bathroom wall for who knows how long.

This is usually when I play the medication gamble game. Should I take another dose of migraine meds and risk throwing it all up? Literally dollars down the drain. This medication is too expensive to take on a whim. Any migraineur will tell you it's levels to this shit. Either take the medication at onset or preserve it for another attack and tough this one out.

I close my eyes and pray the pain goes away sooner rather than later. But God only helps those that help themselves, right? So I muster enough strength to stand, open the medicine cabinet, grab my medicine and walk to the kitchen. I reach into the back of fridge for the mason jar filled with icy water. It is prepped and ready for occasions such as this. Why? Because even the sound of pouring water will hurt. This way, I only have to hear my own swallowing of the pill.

Might as well grab a few cold compresses while I'm here at the freezer. I make my way back to the bathroom, toss the bath rugs out, kick the door closed and lay on the floor. Ah, it's so cold and hard. Quite comforting! I curl up in a fetal position using my arm as a makeshift pillow. The other arm is holding one of the cold compresses around my neck while the other is tied across my forehead. And I just lay there. In the cold. In the quiet. In the dark. Again I lose track of time but it doesn't seem long before I doze off into a heavy sleep.

When I finally wake up and leave the bathroom, I am relieved the pain is damn near gone. Then I look at the clock on my iHome. Wayment—what time is it? I peek through the blackout window curtains. Damn. The whole day is gone. Wasted. I call my Neurologist and leave a voicemail with details of my latest migraine attack. Either he or the resident will respond during normal business hours. I already know what the conversation will be. It is time to consider new treatment options, more aggressive than the current aggressive prescription cocktail. And of course it comes with side effects. Don't they all?

So I have a choice to make: whole lotta weight gain or chronic pain? I should just fake being well.

  

June 13, 2018

The President is Missing


"It's hard to be humble when they play a song for you every time you enter the room, when the world financial markets hang on your every word, and when you command the world's greatest military arsenal, but if you need to knock yourself down a few pegs, try checking your stool for blood." ~ pg. 44 

This is like a joke: What do you get when you join a bestselling mystery novelist and a POTUS? A political thriller. 🥁ba dum tss🥁

The President is Missing is the most anticipated book of 2018. Largely because I am a long-term fan of James Patterson and will read almost anything he publishes. I have high respect for his craft and dedication to the written word. But when I saw the co-author's name revealed in a newsletter, I had to rub my eyes, close the email and re-open when my reading glasses were securely on. President BILL MUTHAF'IN CLINTON?! Writing fiction with thee James Patterson? What an unlikely pair yet it just may work. You can't name two better men to join pens and write a cyberterrorism thriller. 

I immediately added The President is Missing to my TBR and faithfully checked my resources for an advance copy. I looked up tour dates but the duo was not coming to these parts of Michigan. I entered a giveaway but I never win those. There wasn't even a free preview available like so many of Patterson's other books. This project was kept tight until publication date of last Monday, June 4.

"Think about how different it would be if we reached beyond our base to represent a broader spectrum of opinions and interests. We'd learn to listen to one another more and defame one another less." ~ pg. 506

I set the DVR to record all interviews with Patterson and President Clinton. Imagine my disappointment when the media turned all but one interview into a blame game conversation about Monica Lewinsky and the "Me Too" movement. Excuse me—can we talk about the book and not something that happened two whole decades ago?!

Anyhoot—I finally got the thick hardcover in my hands. (I did not spring for the $225 signed edition.) The beginning of the book does not follow the customary short chapters that we are used to in Patterson novels. I wonder if those were written by Clinton because the difference in writing style was so obvious. The problem with highly anticipated books is the level of expectation. Readers expect a good ass story, a page-turner, a dramatic thriller. A book worthy of staying up late reading (twice) to finish 500+ pages. To add to my reading experience, I buddy read with my Chickadee and kept in touch with others on social media currently reading too. This is a book you must discuss while reading instead of a quick chat afterward.

"The Wild, Wild West, this cyberterrorism. This new, scary frontier. Anyone sitting on a couch in his underwear could undermine the security of a nation." ~ pg. 231 

So you are wondering how was the book, right? Wait no further for my review. It was everything I could expect from a great storyteller and someone with political inside scoop. Like my Chickadee always points out, Patterson drops gems under the guise of fiction. He wants us WOKE. Pure genius idea teaming up with President Clinton to reach even more readers. Cybersecurity is real and demands action—in between the pages of fiction and within the real life Administration. I won't give any details away but bookhearts can expect to read about causes of impeachment, mock hearings, water crisis, national security measures, all the moving parts/positions of White House officials and foreign policies. I do not steer my bookhearts wrong—read the thriller of the year, The President is MissingIf nothing else, read Chapters 59, 60 and 128. (🗣Preach, Patterson)

Title: The President is Missing
Authors: Bill Clinton & James Patterson
Published: June 2018
Pages: 528
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

 

June 12, 2018

The Summer List


"I saw her, and perhaps felt a small, vicarious thrill at her daring, at becoming the custodian of her secrets." ~ 55%

Laura and Casey were once inseparable. Floating in the pool, looking at the stars, and teaming up for scavenger hunts in their town. It all went wrong one summer evening when a betrayal was revealed. It sent Laura running, leaving her best friend Casey behind.

Seventeen years later and the women reunite for one last scavenger hunt. Each clue is a bittersweet reminder of their summers together. Like most women's fiction, a secret is unraveled that could tear them even further apart.

Perhaps it was the expectation that The Summer List is comparable to one of my favorite books ever, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. Or maybe it was the nostalgia of unbreakable bonds of girl best friends. But I am in the minority of other reviewers; this book was just okay. Not mesmerizing but worth it if you want to read chick lit this summer. A story everyone can relate to!

Happy Early Pub Day, Amy Mason Doan. The Summer List will be available Tuesday, June 26.

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: The Summer List
Author: Amy Mason Doan
Published: June 2018
Pages: 384
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤

June 10, 2018

Series Sunday: Better Late Than Never

(Reverend Curtis Black Conclusion) 

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 Better Late Than Never, the conclusion to the Reverend Curtis Black series by Kimberla Lawson Roby. Here we are fifteen books later when this family saga comes to an end. It begins with Curtis getting devastating news about his estranged sister. Meanwhile, Charlotte has her hands full with their unruly 12-year-old daughter. The overwhelming urge to take a break from church is literally driving Charlotte to drink. Finally, good and evil are main characters.

"You don't sound okay, but I certainly understand why you don't." ~ 13%

Was it wrapped up nicely in a tight bow? Hmmm, depends if you are a wrapping paper or gift bag kind of person. I personally prefer gift bags. I like to dig in and pull out goodies one-by-one. Within the first few chapters, Kimberla masterfully gives readers a reminder of what happened over the years with all of the characters: from Reverend Curtis Black himself to his mistress-turned-wife Charlotte, on down to their daughter Curtina. Better Late Than Never could easily be read as a standalone but it won't have the same impact as a fan of the series since book one. Those goodies I mentioned will not have the same effect either.

Was it a stunning conclusion like the book cover says? Not really. But at this point, nothing stuns me any more when it comes to Reverend Curtis Black, his family or mega-church congregation. Money, notoriety and power have always been the common theme in this series. Every possible scandal has been explored already. Let's keep it real—it was time for this series to end. Yet in Better Late Than Never, Roby focuses on an unexpected past throwing fans for a loop. Revealing Curtis' horrific childhood secrets shows how it ties into the Black family today. Now it all makes sense!

Happy Early Pub Day, Kimberla Lawson Roby. Place your pre-order or library hold, bookhearts. Better Late Than Never will be available Tuesday, July 31.

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.

Author: Kimberla Lawson Roby
Published: July 2018
Pages: 320
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤

June 8, 2018

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.

"I know the exact date I went from being a nobody, minding my own business in my corporate retail job, to being 'internet famous'—and inadvertently making a lot of girls cry."

~ Well, That Escalated Quickly by Franchesca Ramsey 

June 7, 2018

Lit Tidbits: Celebrity Book Clubs

Author: Anthony Ray Hinton
Published: March 2018
DescriptionAnthony Ray Hinton was arrested and wrongfully charged of capital murder in 1985. He believed the truth would eventually set him free. But with our justice system, it takes a lot more to prove the innocence of a black man in the South. He spent years on death row before he won his release in 2015. This memoir tells his dramatic 30-year journey.

Author: Catherine Steadman
Published: June 2018
DescriptionA young couple embark on their dream honeymoon to Bora Bora. They discover a mysterious bag filled with riches. Their subsequent choices trigger a sequence of events that will change their lives and their marriage. This psycho-thriller is a tale of when paradise goes wrong.

June 5, 2018

The Mother of Black Hollywood


"...medical science believes bipolar disorder is partly caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. Neuro what? Dopey who?" ~ pg. 146

Some may know her as Ruby in black-ish. Those of us who have followed her career over the years know her as Angela Bassett's mama, Tupac's mama, Taraji's mama, Gabrielle Union's mama, Whitney Houston's mama, Anthony Anderson's and Raven-Symone's mama. Hence, the nickname "Mother of Black Hollywood." Whether she is singing, dancing, or stealing scenes as the main or supporting character, she is respected as one of the most versatile entertainers today. A true triple threat! This talented woman is Jenifer Lewis, born and raised in the first self-governing black town in Missouri called Kinloch. Born in 1957 as the youngest of seven children. Living a grandeur life in 2018.

Her memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood" walks readers through her upbringing, career, mental illness diagnosis and current state of mind. Jenifer Lewis is my new auntie-in-my-head. I hate that I missed her book-signing at the African-American Museum in Detroit. Word on the street is she went in; no holds barred style. I must meet her! She goes beyond keeping it real. She keeps it one hundred times one hundred. Some people may think she is loud or dramatic. But that is a misinterpretation. When Auntie Jenny speaks, best believe it is something worth listening to. And definitely worth reading.

"Not even me can stop me!"

It also co-signs what my Chickadee always told me: journal thoughts, feelings and experiences on paper. It is a great habit to develop. The Mother of Black Hollywood is proof; it was written based on Jenifer Lewis' own journaling. As I am sure it was a part of her self awareness and healing process in therapy too. This here is a woman comfortable in her own skin, not afraid to come out of the darkness and share lessons learned.

The Mother of Black Hollywood is very good. Need more convincing? Watch her interview with The Breakfast Club. She talks with great candor about life off-screen, bipolar disorder, dick addiction, and professional athletes using their platform. Maybe then you'll be curious enough to read her life story. Dare I say this is required reading for millennials!

Title: The Mother of Black Hollywood
Author: Jenifer Lewis
Published: November 2017
Pages: 240
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

 

June 3, 2018

Series Sunday: Die Trying

(Jack Reacher #2) 

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 Die Trying, the second book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. Talk about a book that opens with a bang! A dentist is killed in the first couple pages because he was brave. Then a young disabled woman is kidnapped off a Chicago street in broad daylight. Can't a chick pick up her dry cleaning without getting nabbed? It just so happens that Jack Reacher is at the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped right along with the woman. They are taken to an undisclosed location and held for an impossible ransom. Reacher tries to save them both or die trying.

"They can be that specific?" ~ pg. 190

Because the book was published in 1998 (twenty whole years ago), some details are a bit dated. It caught me off guard when fax machines were being used regularly and cell phones were not primary means of communication. One thing that is still relevant today though are bullets. Lee Child writes about guns, ranges and bullets like he invented firearms. The jargon was not overly used or hard to understand. If anything it adds to the suspense and action.

"Like we said, there are maybe sixty million Americans ready to be tipped over the edge." ~ pg. 355

My Gawd do I enjoy a thick ass paperback. I kick up my feet on the ottoman with a cold refreshing beverage on my left and a tasty snack on my right. Even though Die Trying is well over 500 pages long, I finished this book in a few days' time. Surprisingly, there was no unnecessary dialogue or description. Absolutely no filler! Every chapter was vital to the story. This takes great author skill and good reader patience.

It is going to take me quite a while to catch up in this series; Die Trying is only book 2 out of 23. I am sooooo tempted to read out of sequence but since I own most of the paperback editions, I will read this series at my leisure. Any bookhearts care to join me?

Title: Die Trying
Author: Lee Child
Published: July 1998
Pages: 552
Edition: Paperback
Challenge: Perpetual Jack Reacher
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

June 1, 2018

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.

"After all these years, Curtis still thought about many of the terrible things he'd done to so many people."

~ Better Late Than Never by Kimberla Lawson Roby