My Top 5 Favorite Books of the Year

This year has been a great year in books. As I get older I am finding that I am choosing more books not only entertain but make me a better and more aware person. I love reading about strong women overcoming great odds. I hope by reading books like this a little of their strength will pass on to me.

5. Final Girls by Riley Sager
Quinn Carpenter survived a horrible mass murder right out of a horror movie. She belongs to a trio of women called the “Final Girls” since they all were the last ones standing after horrible crimes. But one of the Final Girls has died under mysterious circumstances, and the other Final Girl has shown up on Quinn’s doorstep. What does it all mean!!
I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. I half expected it to start out slow like most mysteries and build but it had me at the first page. Once you start it, you won’t be able to not finish it.

4. The Unkillable Kitty O’Kane by Colin Falconer
Only one word describes Kitty O’Kane, survivor. Born in the slums of Ireland and raised by an abusive father, she goes on to be one of the few survivors of the Titanic, and the sinking of the RMS Lithuania in WWI. Just how much tragedy can one life handle? If you’re Kitty O’Kane a lot. Despite every set back, she finds a way to keep moving forward.
Though some of the historical facts in this book might be off, it’s still a testament to the human spirit. Kitty suffered through abuse, wars, famine, bad relationships and somehow found the will to keep going. If it had been me, I don’t think I would’ve made it. She was dogged in her pursuit of happiness, vowing she would never return to the slums of her childhood, or be under the thumb of a man. I love a story about a strong woman making her own path by whatever means necessary. I also loved that she wasn’t perfect, she made some very clear mistakes which came back to bite her but she learned from them. I want to get this one in hardcover so I can treasure it forever.

3. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays by Scaachi Koul
Koul, a writer for BuzzFeed, through hilarious essays gives us a peek into the life of a millennial Indian-American woman. She touches on topics like interracial dating, growing up as the only person of color in her school, body hair and other joys of womanhood.
I love when a book literally makes me laugh out loud. And though I am not Indian, and don’t come from immigrant parents, I still found Koul’s essays relatable on the level of being a millennial women of color in today’s world. I love the how she shared about the prejudices within the Indian community which I knew about but didn’t know all the facts. At the end of every chapter she shared email conversations between her and her father which were so funny. For me, Koul is one of those writers that I look up to. I only hope to be as sharp and as hilarious as she is one day.

2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr is high school girl who witnesses the shooting death of her childhood friend, a young black man who was unarmed, by a police officer. The drama that follows is life defining, not only for Starr but for her family and friends.
This book is right on time considering all of the deaths of unarmed black men by police in recent news. In this book you get a front row seat to the lives of those directly effected by these deaths. I cried with Starr, I laughed with her, I got angry with her. I wondered how would’ve handled witnessing something like that. How I would’ve handled news outlets and even friends disrespecting my dead friend. I love when a novel makes you self reflect, but still is an enjoyable read. I recommend this book to everyone no matter their age or race. It definitely gives some very good perspective on what it’s like being black in America. They’re currently making a movie based on this book and I hope they do it justice.

1. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid 
In a country that’s never named somewhere in the middle east war has broken out. It’s terrible timing for Nadia and Saeed because they have just fallen in love. In a very short time they entire lives have turned completely upside down and they are forced to flee their home or die. There are rumors of doors that have popped up around the city that lead to different countries. Are these doors real? Real or not Nadia and Saeed have got to try.
This book is so relevant because at this very moment in places like Syria and Yemen conditions are abysmal and the people are desperate to flee. I love how Hamid presented a somewhat magical solution to the problem, because honestly it seems that fixing these countries is an impossible feat that no man can handle. Saeed and Nadia’s relationship is so interesting in this book because they’d only just began their relationship when all hell breaks loose. Now they are going through this crazy traumatic event together. Will they still be together when it’s all said and done? You’ll have to read and find out.
This book gives light to the immigrant experience and all the hardships that come with that. I definitely finished the book with a better understanding and more empathy for my immigrant brothers and sisters. In a country where they are regarded with contempt and hatred by the people in power, books like this are absolutely needed to wake the sleeping.

 

 

 

 

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I Am My Own #Goals

Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction. 

When my friend Terasha thought up this blog challenge “I am my own #goals” I inwardly groaned. The phrase brings to mind someone who is out there getting things done personally and professionally and doesn’t need to look to social media for their goals in life. Personally and professionally I’m flailing and I have been guilty of coveting the lives of people on social media who seem to have it “together”. Life has literally taken a bat to everything I held dear, so while I am rebuilding, all of my goals are under construction.

I’m trying to be okay with being on this undefined road. They say there is something to be learned from every season of your life and I want to give myself the chance to learn from this experience. What I’m learning is that just like seasons change, goals change too. You could be moments from the finish line and realize this wasn’t the right race for you. And that’s completely okay, there is no definite map.

I’m discovering that comparing yourself with others is pointless. We scroll through our feeds seeing our peers sailing through life, living out their dreams or so it seems. Social media only shows a slice of that person’s life, not the whole pie. That person may have fought, cried, and bled to get to where they are. They could be terribly unhappy while still smiling in their Instagram post. I can’t compare my entire life to a slice of someone else’s. I have to figure out what is right for me, and what I want to accomplish and I won’t find that on social media, I am my own #goals.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

New Year, Better Me: Pursuing Peace in 2017

It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense.

 

 

 “For the one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not]. Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile (treachery, deceit) He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right.

He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].”

1 Peter 3:10-11  AMP

 

I am on the pursuit for peace. Peace with God, peace with myself, but mostly peace with others.
Since I’ve been at my current job I have struggled with some difficult personalities, that’s nothing new in itself but when coworkers offended me I would hold on to that offense. I’d let it fester, replaying what they said in my mind over and over. Eventually it would turn into resentment, negative thoughts towards that person, and ultimately unforgiveness. I’d eventually move on but it would take some time, a lot of prayer, and a lot of scripture.

But what if I didn’t have to do all that?  What if I could save myself the time and stress and not let it bother me at all?

Easier said than done I know. It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense. I can choose to not to let it take up valuable real estate in my mind. So instead of reacting negatively and harboring resentment and unforgiveness, which is sin, instead I can rise above the anger not letting it disturb my peace.

“Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger,
And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]. “

Proverbs 19:11 AMP

I love that verse. It’s my honor and glory to overlook an offense. Nothing is gained from harboring resentment, but by letting it go God can be glorified. How you ask? Well we live in a world that LOVES confrontation. Just watch any reality TV show or scroll through your Facebook feed. There is plenty of videos of fights and vague venting. The world feeds on strife and discord. So when an employee comes for me, they are expecting clapback but I’m not going to give it to them. Instead of reacting with attitude I can peaceably communicate my concerns, rejecting worldly behavior and embracing Godly behavior.
If the conversation does not go as planned, or I don’t think a consensus was reached. I must not take that anger home with me because it will lead to sin.

“In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ephesians 4:26-27

On a less spiritual note, letting someone disturb my peace gives that person power over me and that is just unacceptable. I won’t let trivial work stuff control my mood or my day anymore.

One thing I have done to help with my pursuit of peace is write down Proverbs 19:11 on a sticky note and tape it to my desk. Whenever I start to feel irritated or frustrated I read it. I’ve also added asking for peace to my daily prayers.

I’m interested if others have struggled with offense and peace. What helps you get through it?

My Top 5 Books of 2016

2016 was a great book year, I read a total 25 books this year and they were all good but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.

 

2016 was a great book year, I read a total 25 books this year and they were all good but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.

  1. The Line by J.D. Horn
    The Line is the story of Mercy Taylor a magic-less girl in a family of witches. After the family’s matriarch is murdered Mercy is thrown into the center of the upheaval that follows. This is book 1 in the Witching Savannah series.
    I listened to this book and it really made Horn’s writing come alive. This story kept me on the edge of my seat with its twist and turns. I loved the main character Mercy, she was strong and witty. I recommend this book for those of you who love fiction but may be looking for something different. Or those who love supernaturally themed books.
  2. All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
    This novel follows the life of Wavy, the daughter of a meth dealer and a meth addict. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Kellen one of her father’s thugs. As Wavy grows up their relationship changes into even more unlikely romance.
    This book grabbed me from page 1 if I’d had more time I likely would’ve read the book in a few days. Greenwood is the daughter of drug dealer herself and her writing was startling straightforward. She dived into the most depraved parts of her characters minds without hesitation. Wavy and Kellen were unique characters that I won’t soon forget.
  3. Helen Of Sparta by Amalia Carosella
    We all know Helen of Troy as the woman that empires warred over. But in this story we get to know Helen before she became that woman, when she was just Helen a willful princess of Sparta. Betrothed to a man of questionable sanity, Helen sets out to find a different husband. Men from far and near come to get a chance to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. But only one man steals her heart.
    I loved that someone finally thought to give Helen her own story apart from Troy. Carosella makes Helen out to be a woman who knows her own mind, desperate to be in control of her life. I admired her persistence for changing her fate when most woman in her position would’ve given up.
  4. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
    This story centers around 3 black teenagers in a tight knit church community in Southern California. Nadia, her best friend Aubrey, and her boyfriend Luke who also happens to be the pastors son. When Nadia finds out that she’s pregnant, her and Luke are faced with a tough decision. That decision will have lasting effects on everyone’s lives.
    Narrated by the “Mothers” of the church, I was drawn back to my own childhood in southern California when I went to a small black church. Brit Bennett is a masterful writer, every sentence was like a piece of poetry. She’s inspired a life long fan in me, I will be on the lookout for her next book.
  5. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
    Natasha & Daniel could not be more different, they’ve grown up in separate worlds but those worlds clash on one fateful day in New York City. But their new love is threatened by the fact that in 12 hours Natasha will be deported back to Jamaica.
    There were so many elements to this novel that made it more than you average love story. Not only did tell the story of Natasha & Daniel, but it also peered into the minds of the cast of characters they meet that day. Also interracial romances in YA books are kind of rare (Daniel is Korean) so it was a nice thing to see. I read that it will be turned into a movie, I hope it does the book justice because it was amazing.

What are some of your favorite book this year? And what are some of new releases your looking forward to in the 2017? 🙂

Everyday Inspiration, Day Nine: Writing and Not Writing

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to the dashboard, refreshed?

-WordPress, Blogging University
Two words and two words only answer that question. Live music.

 

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What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to the dashboard, refreshed?

-WordPress, Blogging University

Two words and two words only answer that question. Live music.

Next to Jesus and writing, music is one of my great loves. There’s nothing like an amazing piece of music to stir you up. Music can transport you back in time, make you wonder, make you dream. Music is the musicians heart, live music is that heart on display.  The artist will tell you why he or she wrote that song, what inspired it, and the music will take on new meaning. Maybe it was deep deep love, or ugly heartbreak, or the miracle of new life.
I live for that, I live for the story of how the music came to be, because it inspires me to take the stories of my life and create something with it.

Isn’t that what all art is? Taking the human condition and creating with it.

 

*Original Photos

Everyday Inspiration, Day Six: The Space to Write

georgebernardshaw
George Bernard Shaw and his writing shed he called “London.”

 

Roald Dahl, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw, Dylan Thomas, Michael Pollan, and Henry David Thoreau. All noted authors or poets but they had one more thing in common they all had writing sheds.

For these authors their writing sheds was a way they could get away from distractions and focus on their writing. Michael Pollan was quoted as calling his shed “a place of solitude a few steps off the beaten track of everyday life.” These sheds were actual converted storage sheds or sometimes cottages and huts. George Bernard Shaw actually outfitted his with a turntable so he could push it towards the sun as it moved during the day for natural light.
I currently write at a small desk in the sun room of my apartment but it’s a shared space so it’s not very private. My roommate aka my Dad also uses the desk so his mail tends make it’s home there. I have a desk in my room but I find it to be suffocating and too distracting. I dream of having a writing shed of my own someday nestled away in a garden. With big windows, a small couch and a desk. Some where I can be alone with my thoughts with only the sounds of nature. No traffic, no neighbors, just sweet sweet solitude.
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Photo credit*

Photo credit*

Readers and friends!
Anything that you’d like me to write about?? I’m taking ideas! Just head over to my Contact page and leave a comment. Looking forward to hearing from you 🙂

Everyday Inspiration, Day One: I Write Because…

Writing is how I process my life, a lot of times I don’t quite know how I feel about something until I start writing about it. It helps me make sense of my chaotic mind.

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I write because…

It connects me to the world around me. Ever since before I could read I have been obsessed with stories of people’s lives. The love, heartbreak, ups, and downs that mark us and make us individuals but also unite us. The written word is how these human experiences can be shared with the masses. So someone I don’t know and will never meet can share their story with me and I can share my story with them and we can share that bond. And through this bond we can learn something new or find a fresh perspective on something old. Maybe your experience will help me in my life, maybe we’re two of a kind.

Writing is how I process my life, a lot of times I don’t quite know how I feel about something until I start writing about it. It helps me make sense of my chaotic mind.

I love words. I love how words can make us feel something, whether it’s good or bad. I love how a person can string the right words together in just right the way and transport me to another time and place.

It’s my gift. God gives us gifts because he wants us to them. My goal in life is to make the most of everything God has given me.

 

*photo by Negative Space