Book Review · Books

Red Lip Theology

The title sucked me in and the contents through me out of my comfort zone like a touch down in a football game. This book dropped me headlong into what it’s like to be a black woman in the black church. I’m as much of a white girl as you can get, so this was a cultural journey I got to experience through the eyes of Candice.

The author was raised by her single mom. Though they didn’t always see eye to eye they still loved each other throughout their disagreements and tears. When suddenly Candice’s mom passes she discovers just how toxic the church can be when she was needing her church family the most.

This book is Candice’s faith journey, her experience of the being raised in the black church and how it shaped her. Not only does Candice share about how she’s come into her own faith, but how stepping outside the spiritual system she was raised in has helped her grow in ways she wasn’t expecting.

I’ll be honest. I facilitated between agreeing one moment and the next trying to not be horrified. I have had my own outside of the box journey and dipped my toe in areas of spirituality that I’ve skedaddled from in abject fear and repentance. We won’t know otherwise unless we explore. It’s not easy to decide to journey to what can be viewed as the wrong side of the spiritual tracks.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Red Lip Theology by Candice Marie Benbow from Convergent Books, care of NetGalley. The views shared are mine and fully my choice. If you are looking for a book on faith that will challenge your old school ways then I recommend checking out this upcoming 2022 title. I think I’m still mentally processing all I’ve read. Thank you for being bold when others would rather you be silent. Thank you Candice.

Book Review · Books

Carry The Dog

Some books burrow a place into your soul. Carry The Dog has done just that. The last page has been read and my brain is reeling from this novel. This novel is NOT for kids or teens. If you are sensitive to dark topics then you may want to proceed with caution. It’s dark. Pitch black, can’t see ANYTHING in front of your face. The only thing you can do is listen to the main character, Bea’s thoughts.

How do you survive a childhood overshadowed by a famous mother? To have a parent whose loved and hated by society for producing what she considers art? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if that perspective is twisted and marred?

Bea is on the cusp of the big 60 and her childhood that she thought was ‘normal’ keeps throwing her flashbacks. She’s trying to survive. One cig and drink at a time. Thankfully she has her younger sister, of sorts, Echo to keep her grounded.

When Bea’s ex tries to worm her into agreeing to allow someone to do a documentary on her mom she’s confronted with a past she’s trying forget. How does one process trauma? She thought ignoring it would make it disappear, but when Bea tries to confront her aging father, she realizes sometimes you’ve just got to dive into the pig sty and face crap head-on.

This novel tackles the intricacies of family on a whole different level. What is a family? Can a fractured one be pieced back together? Is it possible to pick up the shards of a disassociated self and make her whole again? How does our own perception morph between childhood and adulthood?

I received a complimentary physical and digital copy of Carry The Dog by Stephanie Gangi care of Algonquin Books and NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own volition. Thank you Stephanie, Algonquin Books and NetGalley. This novel is Gone Girl level on the psychological front. I almost couldn’t stomach it, but I’m glad I did.

Book Review · Books

I Won’t Die Alone

Do you like comic books and/or graphic novels? If so, you might enjoy this short book about the end of the world that’s filled with different types of quotes with modern cartons of animals. Maybe it’s my mindset, my mood, but I know artwork is in the eye of the beholder. You either love it, or not so much. Sadly I’m in the last category. I wanted to like this book, but for some reason the artwork brought back Richard Scarry’s short story: Goodnight Little Bear. That artwork creeped me out as a little kid. I think for me it’s just not my personal cartoon style preference.

I received my complimentary digital copy of I Will Not Die Alone by Dera White and illustrated by Joe Bennett. The views are mine and my own choice. Please don’t let my review detour you. Check out this comic later this fall.

Book Review · Books

Petals Of Rain

Rica’s life draws you in from the very start. This memoir is poetic, dreamlike, yet hard hitting in spots. Rica shares her life with you: the good, the bad, the hopeful, the shocking. Her home life growing up isn’t the greatest unless she’s at her grandparent’s house. At a young age she meets a cute guy who she marries young. Here is her ticket to a better life. After a few years and they’ve got two little boys: KJ and Sym. The latter is a wrecking ball of anger that is hard to keep at bay.

Rica tries church to see if adding this social element will help her family. For awhile things seem to improve. The boys start to get used to going and her husband seems to be settling in. That is until the one time he seems to disappear after they are all situated in their pew.

When Rica’s husband gets verbally abusive towards their son that is her last straw. The family she’s tried her darnedest to keep in tact is having a monumental shift. No more house or life like she’s known. The boys aren’t too thrilled with the life changes, but it is what it is.

Following Rica on her journey to find herself and place after all she’s been through is insightful. It’s hard to put down her story. Rica is inspiring. She writes as though you are sitting across from her over coffee and she’s sharing her deep soul with you.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Petals of Rain by Rica Keenum from The Book Reality Experience care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice.

Book Review · Books

A Socially Acceptable Breakdown

Poetry is deeply personal. It’s laying your soul out to be examined line by line. No poem is the same. A poem tells a story. Your story. They can be simple, complex, quirky, funny, sad, disturbing and so much more. A Socially Acceptable Breakdown is an epic book. Patrick’s poetry is a wild ride. He’s dealt with anorexia, depression, death of a family member, figuring out his sexuality and more. He gives you a peek into his life. The good, the bad, the what just happened?

If you are a fan of poetry then this book will be a must to add to your collection. These poems are gems to read, mull over and think on. I already want to reread it. I received my complimentary digital copy of A Socially Acceptable Breakdown by Patrick Roche from Button Poetry, care of NetGalley. The views are strictly mine and of my own will. This book inspires me to keep on writing my own poetry. It’s therapeutic and a great way to safely get out your thoughts and gives you a record of what you’ve been through.

Book Review · Books

Self Love Poetry

I’ll confess the title had me thinking something vastly different. This collection of poetry is stunning, thought provoking, moving, shocking and most of all POWERFUL. I almost finished it in one day. I couldn’t stop reading. Each poem spoke to me. I wanted to pause, to highlight and take notes. I’ll have to wait till it’s released, but it’s already sitting on my Amazon wishlist. Yes, it was that great of a read.

Poetry is primal and personal. It digs into your soul like it’s a pumpkin and your guts get squeezed out, but underneath all that orange slime are seeds that take root. These seeds water your soul with hope, bravery, compassion, humor, love, acceptance and joy. This poetry won’t leave you empty. It will inspire to keep going.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Self Love Poetry by Melody Godfred from Andrew McMeel Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. If you enjoy poetry I highly recommend this book of poetry. I think it will make a great gift this upcoming fall.

Book Review · Books

September 11th, 2001 The Day The World Changed Forever

It’s a day no one can ever forget. It was a regular day until it wasn’t. It splashed on the TV on repeat. The images on our TV seared into our brains, never to be removed. Two planes fly right into the Twin Towers. Buildings that appear sleek, tall, majestic, part of the NY city skyline. I’ve personally never seen them in person, but from images you can see their grandness. These tall towers couldn’t take it and they fell like stones. Almost 3,000 lives were lost. People who went to work there or people visiting gone in mere moments.

The aftermath of this horror spawned a war against the terror that was inflicted on America that day. What would it be like to be in a different country looking from the outside? When you’ve heard your own country’s view on a life alerting event it’s refreshing to hear how the same event is seen from a different perspective. This graphic novel is from the viewpoint of a French woman who was just a young teen when September 11th happened. This is her story of how this event affected her and the events that occurred after to her own country.

This graphic novel is thorough in going over the events of September 11th, the war that happened after and the other life changes that occurred because of this act of terrorism. It’s been over 20 years since that day. This book is a great recap. The artwork is modern and brings it to life. This topic is important and it’s something we never want to forget, but it’s definitely for a more mature audience. I wouldn’t recommend it for elementary school age. I believe it would be a good conversation piece for older junior highers and definitely high schoolers.

I received my complimentary digital copy of September 11th, 2001 The Day The World Changed by Baptiste Bouthier and Illustrated by Héloise Chochois from Europe Comics, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. If you want to grab a graphic novel that makes reading about history not boring, encourages a discussion and an important read, then I’d grab a copy later this summer.

Book Review · Books

Born In Lockdown

All of us can relate to how 2020 changed our lives. The good, the bad, the pure evil. This collection of poetry is powerful, insightful, gut wrenching, challenging and hopeful. If you enjoy poetry you just may fall for this collection. Each poem is unique and opens us up more to how this world event has altered our lives. No matter which aspect spoke to you: masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, lockdown, hospitals, tests, death, recovery, getting the jab, etc you will find something that will resonate with you.

This poetry collection inspires me to continue writing my own poetry. Yes, the main topic is not a pleasant one, but it seems most of the time that poetry is birthed out of hardship. Yes, romantic, cute poems exist, but we usually gorge ourselves on the more dramatic, sad, weepy lines.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Born In Lockdown by Tolu A. Akinyemi from BooksGoSocial, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. I don’t usually read poetry, but this is an author I’m going to keep an eye out on for any new content. I definitely want to read his other works. Thank you NetGalley for helping me discover a new favorite author.

Book Review · Books

To Shatter Glass

To Shatter Glass provides an array of poems that showcase the challenging life the author has lived so far. Sister Sharon dealt with alcoholism in her family, death and many other challenges.

I feel that Sister Sharon brings to life the turmoil of wanting a special Christmas, but not knowing if your parents are going to chose celebrating it or choosing booze instead. Another theme she describes is the loss of family, something no one is ever ready or prepared for. Especially when that family member is young. Sister Sharon also, writes about her faith journey.

I received my complimentary digital copy of To Shatter Glass by Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ from Paraclete Press and Iron Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. The poems in this collection are vivid, sobering, thoughtful and inspiring.

Book Review · Books

Sick Girl Secrets

Natalie thinks her life in high school is going great, until being sick morphs into having surgery and needing a wheelchair. Why does life suck? Kids at school can be jerks. A wheelchair will just be like a big red bull’s eye shouting to her school that something is wrong. Natalie doesn’t want to stand out in that way.

Day one of going back to school Natalie decides to ditch her new set of wheels and stashes it near the school at an old abandoned house. By the end of the week of physically walking everywhere she is shocked that someone stole her brand new wheelchair. Natalie is too zapped to move from the spot where her chair had been. After she is found by her aide and gets a talking to, Natalie caves to using her wheelchair at school.

One day in the bathroom Natalie encounters the one known disabled girl named Riley. She’s in a wheelchair and is very loud in her clothing and makeup choice. Natalie wants to avoid her like the plague. Why be associated with the school outcast?

Eventually Riley gets Natalie to befriend her. Natalie realizes that Riley is human with feelings and is a great friend. They hang out on the weekend and are excited for the upcoming school dance until the principal has other plans.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Sick Girl Secrets by Anna Russell from West 44 Books, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my choice. This novel written in verse deals with an important topic we don’t really discuss in school or socially as a society. Disability can be obvious, but also, invisible. Not all illnesses can be seen on the outside. Some are internal or mental. School can be a challenging place to try and fit into, let alone having to maneuver a wheelchair, crutches, etc. This story was fast paced, sweet, thought provoking and a satisfying read. Look for this upcoming fall release.