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.

Personal

Dear Gabby

Dear Gabby,

Your case has captured the world. I’m just sad it had to be because you had to end up being a domestic abuse statistic. It should have been prevented and averted.

I’m sorry that the police didn’t see the real signs and save you. You were so distressed and upset, while Brian was being all cocky and chatty with the police. There was no real concern coming from Brian that you we’re having an anxiety attack of sorts.

My personal observation from watching the police body cam footage was disturbing. Being condescending towards a woman in true distress is infuriating. Gabby was petrified and her distress seemed to be played down instead of being taken seriously. A little spat wouldn’t have someone being as upset as Gabby was. If she was the true aggressor in the fight with Brian she would have been angry I’d think, but no she was extremely upset.

Your case has brought to mind that abuse is not merely something that can be physical. It can be emotional, psychological, financial and spiritual. Culturally we just think of it as being physical. How many are out there, both men and women, who are being psychologically and emotionally abused? No, physical signs that show red flags. This abuse can seem invisible unless someone is brave to speak up.

I hope your case will open the door to more conversations about DV and how as a society we can become more aware of the signs. You won’t have died in vain. Thankful your parents are working to help others escape it.

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.

Detox

Detox Interview

Thanks to my BFF Ashley who inspired me to join her in a 90 day social media detox. She thought it’d be fun to interview her on how her detox is going so far. Below are her thoughts and answers to my questions. Enjoy. It just may inspire you to join us.

What inspired you to do a 90 day detox?
I was on my phone too much. Mainly on FB. It’s highly addictive and there is mostly politics on there. It’s really depressing now. You’re hearing you get reprimanded for certain posts. I find myself scrolling for no reason. Now I don’t see the point with FB, they’re silencing people. It’s become not a respectable company. Social media is addictive. Doctors have said it’s a bad habit of hunching over and people don’t talk to each other any more. For example when, having family time family members will just be on their phones. The evolution of technology is doing more harm than good.

Why did you pick 90 days instead of 30?
I think 90 is more of a challenge. Having a longer time to go without it is more beneficial.


What positives have come out of this so far? I’m more productive. I feel relieved, liberated and free. I don’t have the urge to check my social media. I’m able to concentrate on certain things. Now when I get off work I immediately plug my phone in to charge it and leave it there.

What negatives have come out of this so far? I find myself having the urge to check my phone to check the time. I only check my email and text messages. It shows how the addiction to technology has developed. If you don’t check your social media when you have it you may get anxiety.


What advice would you give to someone contemplating taking a detox off social media?Start small. For example try to set an alarm to only check your social media for a certain time frame. Get to a point where you challenge yourself to be off it for 90 days and see how it affects you, good or bad.

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

Over It

If you are a girlie girl then this book cover is going to make your heart happy. Pink everywhere. I haven’t liked pink since the first grade, but it’s starting to grow on me.

Kelsey talks candidly about how growing up in the evangelical world there are silent expectations. If you are a perfectionist then this is a challenging combo. You may feel the need to measure up culturally and spiritually. Is this realistic? It’s not. It causes anxiety and stress. Kelsey tries to measure up, but never feels arrived.

College felt like it would be a fresh new beginning. Being away from home can make you feel all grownup. That is until Kelsey discovers partying. As a perfectionist she does it with abandon.

When Kelsey Mets Chris at college she knows there is something special about him. There is something forbidden. He is a PK, adored by his family and church. He was Mr. Christian popularity. Everything seemed all sparkly, until Kelsey realized the underbelly wasn’t all charm.

Growing up in the evangelical world, a woman has her place. Kelsey wasn’t raised to speak up. Things aren’t that bad she reasons. Abuse only counts if it’s just physical. Kelsey dives deep into what it was like to be in a toxic relationship.

I received my complimentary copy of Over It by Kelsey Grimm from Worthy Publishing. The views are mine and of my own will. I’ll confess at first I felt like this book came across a tad spiritually fluffy, but not to worry there is spiritual meat in this memoir. I commend Kelsey for opening up about her experience. If the topics of toxic and abusive relationships are triggering then I caution you as you read this book. Kelsey is a survivor and an inspiration. Thank you Kelsey.

Book Review · Books

Holy Hot Mess

Christianity can scream for perfection, especially when it comes to women having to come across perfect in their looks, life and schedule. I’ll confess. I like to look at the author photo. I wasn’t disappointed. The author, Mary Katherine is stunning. Honestly I was afraid I was in for one of those cheesy, feel good Christian books. I wasn’t wrong. MK’s book is one of those such books, but it’s not all warm fuzzies and hot cocoa.

MK tackles some deep topics. There are topics that I can really relate to. The chapter on growing up and wanting to be accepted and be friends with a particular girl at school, well I’ve been there and got burnt as well. Going to church and not being in the mood to go? Yes, I am guilty of that more times than I can count. But you know what? I miss that family atmosphere. Yes, there is always going to be church drama. Imperfect people crammed into one building all trying to learn about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit that equals a recipe for spiritual/faith drama.

I loved Holy Hot Mess. MK never is condescending or uppity, she gets right across from us and shares her heart, soul and some extra leftovers because she doesn’t want any of her readers to be left hungry or left out. She is funny, serious, vulnerable and most important readable. She doesn’t dumb down the tough subjects, but her writing is conversational, personable and memorable.

I received my complimentary copy of Holy Hot Mess by Mary Katherine Backstrom from Worthy Publishing. Views are my own and my own choice. I am so thankful I got to read this book. I love getting to discover new favorite authors. Thank you Worthy and thank you MK. I can’t wait to go read more of your books.

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

The Essence Of Nathan Biddle

Kit is a deep soul who adores his girlfriend, Anna, until the day he gets his own personal Dear John letter. Why can’t she love him like he adores her? She’s gorgeous, smart and did I mention gorgeous again? Kit feels stuck in a rut. How can his life go on like normal?

Kit is so distraught over the breakup he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he goes on a little joyride with his ex job’s vehicle, crashing it. Kit swears he experiences an NDE and died at the scene, but was revived by Anna’s stepfather, the Ghoul. Now with a busted leg he’s stuck healing at the hospital.

Waiting in the wings to be noticed is his friend’s sister, Sarah. She’s even smart, or smarter than Anna and she’s equally as gorgeous. Will Kit give her the time of day that she deserves? It’s like Kit is for Sarah, what Anna means to Kit.

While mending in the hospital Kit has to see a shrink. Oh, the horror. What can he say? He wasn’t trying to die. Going over his life with the shrink he has to come to terms with his uncle’s dark past, to piece together a mystery so bizarre he can’t believe he’d even consider something so wild as a possibility. What’s the true connection between himself, his uncle and his cousin, Nathan who sadly passed? Is his uncle truly cuckoo?

I received my complimentary copy of The Essence Of Nathan Biddle by J. William Lewis from Greenleaf Book Group Press, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and provided of my own will. This novel is a chunk, but keep reading because you’ll want to find out what happens. This book does a great job of showing just how deep a first love can be and how catastrophic a breakup is. It gives a great example of how one can wrestle with what you are taught about life and how that affects your reaction to what life throws at you.