Blaxhaustion, Karens & Other Threats to Black Lives and Well-Being by Theresa M. Robinson

Blaxhaustion, Karens & Other Threats to Black Lives and Well-Being by Theresa M Robinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Black women… y’all need this in your life!

I promise you. This is “Knuck if You Buck” meets “I Got 5 On It” meets “No Shorts No Losses.” If you need a cultural reference as to what I’m talking about, then that means this book ain’t for you.

This is to all the homegirls… No matter what, we got each other, and we need to hold each other down. Being divisive and talkin’ sh*t on each other is not what’s good. Black women have held this land down since we got here. It’s in our blood. We carry so much of the world’s burden on our shoulders, and get shi**ed on every step of the way. This time, is ours!

This book is a Black head nod. This book is high five on the black hand side. This book is everything you thought you was missing and then some.

This is a straight up, no chaser… I got you girl… holla if you hear me… that ‘pressure’.

Blaxhaustion, them Karen’s, and these oppressors who have it out for us stay on our nerves. Teresa Robinson is not holding any punches with anybody in this book. She’s speaking straight from the heart and head. She is saying all the things. No filter. As professional as we stay on a daily basis, Theresa is here to give words to all that you’ve wanted to say, think, and perform about race, workplace culture, and politics. She is giving us life, and giving us the permission to be ourselves here. No more holding back… all the cards are out on the table. As COVID-19 is dealing us hard blows, Black people have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. The world is seeing first hand how whiteness has been destroying us, and now with this pandemic exposing all of the systemic racism that was known and unknown, whiteness has had to explain a few things. However, as whiteness does as whiteness does, it gets swept and diverted and converted into other things that take the spotlight out of the wrong they are doing and putting a shining light on other things to explain why there has been such inaccessibility for Black people to get and have the same things as white people.

What 2020 has done was just exposed a lot of the bad wiring behind already damaged foundations. Hell, the last 4 years has brought all sorts of characters out of the woodwork. Theresa though has a loud and clear message: See me. Hear me. Know me. We are not taking it any longer. We are going to punch back. Calling Karen’s and Brad’s out. Ensuring corporate America hears us. Sees us. Setting boundaries and establishing guidelines to set ourselves up for success is now going to be the norm. We have had enough, and we need to not be shy anymore about what we need or want. Being confident to break ceilings. For being persistent and not giving up after a few no’s. Taking time for self, and not allowing anyone or anything to interrupt you.

This book discusses topics on:
– Misogynoir
– Intersectionality
– Feminism
– Race/Coronaviracism (TM)
– Politics
– Mental health
– Karen’s, Brad’s, Todd, etc.
– Whiteness as a collective
– Education
– Workplace culture
– Micro/macro aggression
– Code-switching, and Black Girl energy

This book was everything I didn’t know I needed. It validated a host of emotions I had concerning this past year and the previous 4 years, the current election, and the deaths surrounding unarmed Black people. This book gave life to me. It hit me hard right in my feelings, and gave me a hug at the same time. We, Black women, are all as professional as we can be, and always remember the “work 2x as hard as the white folks” mantra, and continue holding down our relationships, parenthood, and basically performing at a level dangerous to our health, but we do it everyday. Theresa is giving us the space to let it all come out. Let your hair down. Drop the masks (figuratively), and just be yourself. This book is a must read. It ain’t for the faint of heart, but her intentions are for the love of Black people; Black women specifically. Read this book and contemplate as you go along, and you will soon understand how needed this was for your soul. You can thank me later!

Thank you to the author Theresa Robinson for gifting me a copy of her book in exchange for a fair and honest opinion.

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Tales of Elhaanai by Nicole P. Thomas

Tales of Elhaanai

Tales of Elhaanai by Nicole Thomas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A thrilling, adventurous, and fast paced fantasy. Get ready to take a ride!

The book starts off at a fast clip, and doesn’t slow down at all. We meet Alanna Bear-Claw, Queen of Elhaanai, as she’s literally running for her life, pregnant with an unborn son, who is meant to be the heir of the throne. We find out that her husband, King Kaison, was killed, and Alanna is being chased to her death due to the evil sister-in-law who is bound and determined to let her son rise to the throne.

The story then proceeds to fill you in briefly about what’s going on, and what’s next. We meet Wleia, who happens upon Alanna in her final moments, and we see magic take place as Alanna transitions into death. Wleia has now been put onto a mission, and she has to help prepare the heir of the throne to reclaim what’s been stolen.

Born as a twin, Alric and his twin sister Elainea go on a quest to find out how Alric can reclaim his throne, and seek to refine their magical powers so that they will be prepared for whatever battle that comes their way. In their quest, he meets Akronius who was initially sent to kill Alric, but after a turn of events, the three of them, plus a wolf pup, face incredible obstacles into reclaiming the kingdom of Elhaanai. All sorts of dark magic awaits them, including Lady Devona, the evil sister-in-law (Aunt) of Alric, and her ever increasingly menacing son, King David.

The plot of the story is very good, but I got a lot of Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance vibes from this. Seeing that this is a fantasy book, the level of detail, world building, and character development is very scant. Fantasy books in itself is heavy in detail, where you can place yourself right in the adventure, tasting, touching, seeing, experiencing the whole fantasy world with the characters. This fantasy novel does not allow the reader to be really immersed in the storyline because its too short and much is not explained, like the magic system, and there are so many details that are not available that it detracts from the story.

Although I am looking forward to the next installment of this novel, I hope that the next book fills in the details that were missing in the first book. However, I will say that I did not want to put this book down, but I had so many questions and so many details were not filled in that it took away from the enjoyment I had while reading. Overall, I rate this book a 3.5.

Thank you to the author Nicole Patrice Thomas for gifting me a copy of her book in exchange for a fair and honest opinion.

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Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been by Jackie Hill Perry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rating and reviewing someone’s personal memoir is challenging. There is nothing I can say about that person’s experiences because I am not that person, and they are entitled to how they feel, process, live, learn, etc., in anything they do. Their perception is their reality, and it should be respected as such.

In this memoir from Jackie Hill Perry, the content of this book is very personal to her. However, she felt compelled to share her testimony about how she came to faith in Jesus Christ, and how she changed her behaviors and exited the LGBTQIA+ lifestyle. Although this story can be very controversial for many readers, I do believe that her testimony can be helpful for those who have had these same thoughts, beliefs, or ideas concerning their faith and their sexual orientation.

As a born again believer, growing up in church, there is only one message you hear about being gay. Most people lived in fear of being outed, or coming out as gay/queer in church because of the negative connotations that preachers and members of the church had about people’s sexual orientation. I am not here to say what is right or wrong, but I do commend Jackie Hill Perry for telling her story.

What didn’t work for me in this memoir is that I felt she was trying to be too poetic in her writing. Her writing seemed to bring about this feeling that she was trying to explain her decision and convince her audience that she’s transformed into a heterosexual Christian woman. The organization of the chapters weren’t linear, and I felt like she was redundant in some sections. At times, her memoir felt scattered and disjointed, but the content of this book is a difficult subject to tackle even if it is your own life. So many people have something to say about this, and you can feel those gazes and questions and critique in her writing.

Sin is a daily struggle for all. We are all sinners. Whether you are a believer or an atheist, we all sin on a daily basis. We all struggle with something. If you have overcome that struggle (whatever it may be) through the grace and power of Jesus Christ, that is something to shout to the mountain tops. God is our saving grace, and he deserves all the power and glory for any changes that happen in our lives. However, it doesn’t mean that once we become saved that all our problems will disappear. In fact, once you become saved, it becomes a daily war to die to yourself and choose the right path. Something that we don’t do on a consistent basis because none of us are perfect. However, you now have the amazing power through Jesus to not have to do it all on your own power. Prayer does work, and prayer can change things. What God doesn’t do is make you change. He doesn’t force you to do anything. If you love God, then you choose to obey his commandments, and that’s it. Then it’s a constant life-long journey to become more Christ-like and have an enriching walk with God, and your faith.

I believe that God makes us into a new person when we trust in Him and become saved. We put away all the things we used to do, and trust God in what we can’t see (faith) for our future. Every one of us will have to face God on judgment day, and whatever you have done or not done, will be between you and God. Whatever Jackie felt and did, was what she felt was best for her. She explains her trust in God, and she shares her troubles and struggles, which is brave to do. Although I didn’t really enjoy the actual writing, I do understand where she is coming from, and as a sister-in-Christ, I will be praying for her continued life-long journey with God in her life.

God is for everyone. He doesn’t make you give up anything. However, when you believe in God for your life and trust that he has all the answers and has your best interest at heart, then God can help you move mountains, overcome stumbling blocks in your life, and help you restore the connection between you and Him.

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Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump

Everywhere You Don't Belong

Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coming of age story. Claude McKay Love is being raised by his grandmother and her gay male friend Paul, after his parents abandon him at the age of 5. We learn about the South Shore in Chicago, Claude’s friends, and how he copes with the abandonment of his parents, being raised by his grandmother and Paul, navigating the pressures in his life, going to college, and figuring out life in general.

Claude seems to be in a perpetual state of sadness as he deals with the adversities of life. He’s trying to find a place in life for him, but all he realizes is that no one wants him (Black male) and he’s trying to figure out what to do with all of that.

Gabriel Bump introduces so many issues that are really timely and necessary.
– Racism
– Abandonment
– Atypical childhood
– Black Neighborhoods
– Black Trauma
– Socioeconomic issues
– Coming-of-age
– Adulting
– Gang violence

Many parts of this book read like a collection of short stories, and not a cohesive novel, but eventually it all came together for me at the end. Although I really enjoyed the prose-like narrative, I kept trying to figure out what kind of novel this was developing into. The first half of the book read with such power and dark wit, that I loved it. The second half of the book where Claude grows up more seemed much more serious and showing how he was all about trying to be a good, righteous, successful, assimilated, cultured, and lovable person, and pursue his dreams as an adult.

In the end though, we see Claude realize what’s the same and what’s different. The way in which he should go, and what’s at stake, Claude has to make some tough and decisive decisions.

Overall, this book is spectacular and highly recommend to the YA community. I highly suggest that you keep an open mind and think outside of the box with this book. Don’t let the beginning get you snagged. The entire book is worth its weight in gold!

Thank you to Algonquin books and Netgalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book for a fair and honest review. Definitely excited to be apart of the blog tour celebrating the release of Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump.

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Nightmare Detective: The Skeleton King by Monk Inyang

Nightmare Detective: The Skeleton King

Nightmare Detective: The Skeleton King by Monk Inyang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a kid who grew up with a recurring nightmare/dream during my middle school years, this book really brought me back down memory lane! The concept of the book is pretty cool. A middle school kid, Uko Hill, has a recurring nightmare and meets a girl named Toni who turns out to be a nightmare detective. They team up and fight back in dreams, helping to problem solve, critically think, and overcome obstacles in life (either in real life or dreamworld). With the help and advice of his friends, The Council, Uko decides to see what this nightmare life is all about.

Geared towards middle school kids, the plot of the story was pretty good. As a kid, who doesn’t have dreams, or worse, nightmares that may seem to be recurring? I think the majority of the author’s audience will be pretty intrigued and curious as to what happens during dreams, and seeing how Uko handles nightmares. The pace of the story was pretty decent, and I felt really connected to the characters in how they dealt with problems they faced in their lives and in the nightmare realm. Uko Hill seemed like a real kid with real issues, who had concerned and invested friends who cared for him and what he was going through. I really enjoyed that part of his community, and I wished the book gave more details about Uko’s life outside of the dreamworld. However, as great as this book started off, I felt like there were a lot of holes that needed to be filled in, like more world building and character development, but I do understand that this is just the first installment of the series, so I’m hoping that these holes will be filled in in the remaining books.

Having a daughter who will be quickly approaching middle school age, I really think she will appreciate the story and be excited in seeing how Uko and his friends figure out how to navigate real life vs. the Skeleton King, Coyotes, the Reapers, and Chief in the nightmare world.

I definitely look forward to the next installment of the Nightmare Detectives, and I really think kids will enjoy this story and be interested in what will happen to Uko and his friends. I would rate this book a 3.75 and recommend to all middle school kids or kids interested in nightmares/dreams with a grimy underworld feel.

Thank you to the author Monk Inyang for providing me with this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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