Book Review, books, Self Discovery

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen- Book Discussion

I finally finished reading Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen. If you’re over thirty, it’s a must read. I saw myself and many of the intricacies of the relationships in my life interwoven between the pages. Initially my goal for the book was to use it to relaunch my Facebook book club- Pretty Dope Reads. But then I got the better idea to use my blog as a host for book discussions. That way, readers could access the discussions independent of Facebook. 

The discussion questions have been curated in a way that doesn’t give away any of the details of the book. That way, they can be answered by any general audience but also those that have read the book and have actual context. 

Pretty dope right?

This is a trial run for now. Regardless, the engagement won’t determine if I’ll continue doing it this way or not. Cause one thing about me, I’mma read a book and talk about it til I’m black and blue in the face. Especially a good one. 

But I’ve done enough yip yappin’. Here are the discussion questions. 

  • How many items have you checked off your life goals checklist? What’s left? What’s in the way?
  • Why do you think parent’s avoid discussing certain topics with their children?
  • Is there/was there an elder family member that is/was always a safe space for you? Why?
  • In your current friend group, do you share all the tea at once or are you selective even in the friend group? Would you get offended if your friends were to hang out without you?
  • When was the last time that you should have stood up for yourself but you didn’t? Why not?
  • Has anyone, family or not, advised you to focus more on your man/woman and not on your career? What was your response?
  • Have you ever been blindsided by the abrupt ending of a relationship (personally or professionally)? How did you respond to it?
  • What has been the best advice an elder has given you concerning men/women?
  • What do you do to remind you not to “lose yourself” in the monotony of life?
  • Have you ever had a major fight/argument within your friend group(s)? How did you reconcile?
  • If there has been a major loss in your life, how did you overcome it?

Feel free to share (giving credit where it’s due of course) or discuss within the comments or we can chat via email. Feedback is welcomed.

Book Review, Discover, Self Discovery, short stories, Uncategorized

Seventy Moons- Ezekiel Walker Book Review

If you haven’t already, please go back and read my blog titled Black As I Wanna Be: Chopping it Up with Ezekiel Walker. There you’ll find a detailed recap of our first encounter. Since then, we have kept in touch, kept each other motivated creatively, shared laughs and a multitude of ideas.

In this book, Ezekiel puts us in the backseat of his car accidentally turned mobile home as he transitions from a life he comfortably knew in North Carolina to a series of misfortunate events in Indiana. He describes the journey through all five senses using carefully crafted language and humor. While reading I felt raw emotions and shock at the conditions he was willing to be in for the sake of chasing a new opportunity. I was just as frustrated as he was being “sold a dream” in Indiana.

Now I wont spoil the book for you but you already know how I am. I singled out a few of my faves and I’m giving you a basic recap.

It was the first time in my life when I truly felt disposable and insignificant

Prior to his move to Indiana, Ezekiel informed his family and friends that he would be moving to Indiana for a career and living with a “mystery line brother” until he was able to get on his feet. He knew that if he would have told his family that he didn’t really have a plan in place, they would have discouraged him from leaving. He knew that there was no other way.

In Night On the Town we get the firsthand encounter of what it was like for Ezekiel to sleep in his car for the first time. We see how he determines exactly where to park and sleep and the precautions he takes to ensure his safety.

In I’m Just a Nobody and Ye, pt III, Ezekiel admits his feelings of having the tables turned on him going from being an intake coordinator for a Veterans homeless shelter to needing shelter himself. This experience allowed him to reflect on his performance as a former coordinator and reexamine if he truly was as helpful and attentive as he should have been.

Skeme is by far my favorite poem in the book and I have received Ezekiel’s permission to post it here. This poem set the mood for how I want to continue in my very own journey.

Tonight I

Smile without shame

Laugh without pain

Recall without regret

Sigh without stress

Joke without pause

See without fog

Speak without stutter

Plan without clutter

Feel without despair

Live without care

Eventually (a few poems later) Ezekiel is able to secure a job that puts him on his feet again. He proves that the willpower to survive will give you the strength to endure anything that life throws your way.

This collection of poetry serves as a reminder of the light at the end of the tunnel. Life is about taking chances and stepping all the way outside of our comfort zones and into the unknown.

You’ll soon find out once you read it for yourself.

Book Review, Discover, Self Discovery

Manuscript Found in Accra- Paulo Coelho

Warning. You may or may not interpret this book as I have. That’s okay. You may hate this book. That’s okay too. We simply have different perspectives that affect our understandings.

A love from my tribe told me that reading this book would change my life. She was right. The Alchemist is already my second favorite book after Their Eyes Were Watching God. Any chance I get to share my favorite quote, I’m taking it.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”

It just so happened that I was in the bookstore and I came across Manuscript Found in Accra. Talk about the Universe looking out! I was anxious to dig in.

The book isn’t broken into your typical chapters. Instead it focuses on the truths that a man named Copt shares with a group of townspeople. The truths he discusses are defeat, solitude, change, beauty, direction, love, living in the present, sex, community/friendship, elegance, work, success, miracles, anxiety, the future, loyalty, weapons and lastly enemies.

These are the truths that resonated with me.


In solitude, they will discover the love that might otherwise have arrived unnoticed. In solitude, they will understand and respect the love that left them. In solitude, they will be able to decide whether it is worth asking that lost love to come back or if they should simply let it go and set off along a new path. In solitude, they will learn that saying no does not always show a lack of generosity, and that saying yes is not always a virtue.

This was a hard pill to swallow. Despite my social media presence, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time in solitude. Most days I come home just to spend time in silence with my own thoughts. I don’t turn the TV on. On occasion I may even play instrumental music. This minor routine has given me the most clarity and focus that I’ve never had in my life. My creativity has kicked into overdrive. I’ve taken all focus off of relationships to focus on my health and pursuing my passions whole-heartedly. I realized that solitude was actually the void that needed to be filled in my life before I can be open to receive anything else such as love or even success.

For me, these words don’t necessarily have to apply to romantic love. In solitude I was able to rediscover the love that I was neglecting to give myself. I found myself falling in love with me all over again. It’s also allowed me the opportunity to reflect, forgive myself and move forward from the moment and actions that proved that I wasn’t loving myself.

However, when applied to romantic love, I could also relate. I’ve been reflecting like hell. It’s amazing what we miss when we are caught up in the moment. I am able to see past relationships at face value. Strange right? It’s helped me realize that I’ve only ever loved one person unconditionally (or it could have been stupidity) and how dangerous of a state it is to be in so I need to treat unconditional love more delicately.


Everything changes whether we accept and recognize it or not. The Universe has a funny way of telling you everything that you need to hear at the moment you need to hear it.


And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine; that kills you far more quickly.

As it stands I spend forty hours of my life ever week pursuing the passions of someone else when I could be working on my own. It was confirmation that the time has come for me to transition out of my current role.


Because ever since your goal found out that you were traveling toward it, it has been running to meet you.

I cried when I read this. I cried because I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I kept rereading and crying even harder. I’ve been putting so much time into this blog, into my poetry, into my writing in general. I’ve also been laying the foundation for Pretty Dope Right? to expand to other areas of interest and the journey is becoming easier. More opportunities are presenting themselves for me to showcase my gift.


Life is too short for us to keep important words like “I love you” locked in our hearts.

Maybe I just give love too freely. I’ve always wondered how and why other people don’t. Other people give up on it. I likely never will. I think what drives me is knowing that one day I’ll actually get it right and everything else in between was just a warmup.


Elegance tends to be mistaken for superficiality and mere appearance.

I wonder why people get so caught up in physical attraction. I’ll be honest, even sometimes I get tired of hearing about it. I always ask, well how do you know that beautiful people are good people? People also assume that when you’re beautiful, you’re exempt from negativity, loneliness, pain etc. I assure you, that’s not the case.


As many of you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with anxiety in 2015. These past three years have been one hell of a fight trying to control it without medication. I’ve managed to keep the panic attacks at bay but the anxiety has never fully gone away. One of my minor indicators of me being anxious is biting pen tops. I have to remind myself that “I’m good” or that “regardless of what I’m anxious about, the sun and moon will still take their turns coming out so no worries.”

It will never disappear, but the great wisdom of life is to realize that we can be the masters of the things that try to enslave us.


Therefore, your enemies are not the adversaries who were put there to test your courage. They are the cowards who were put there to test your weakness.


Have you read Manuscript Found in Accra? What were your interpretations of it?


Discover, Self Discovery


So I’m only a few months shy of my ten year high school reunion. Yes it’s already been ten years since the Northern Vance High School Class of 2008 has been together. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting Mr. Pearce’s AP English class being convinced that Emily Dickinson was the greatest American poet. If no one else, I’m especially stoked to see a few familiar faces.

What a coincidence. Tangled by James W. Lewis is just about that! Tangled gives us the dramatic unfolding that takes place at the Monte Clara Class of 2005 high school reunion. I wish I could give you all the juicy details but then you wouldn’t be compelled to read it.

But here’s what I CAN tell you.

James does a fantastic job of placing readers into the heart of the fictional drama. The fact that I’m around the same age as most of the characters added to the effect of the emotions and frustrations that the characters experienced throughout the book.

The books chapters are divided into characters. This allows readers a glimpse into each characters perspective while still keeping them all interwoven up until it goes down at the reunion. Gerald, Lisa, Greg, Aanya, Quinton and Yara could very easily identify as people that I know.

Everyone knows that life happens. James introduces each character by catching us up to speed on how their lives have evolved since high school. The stories are very familiar. The hopes and dreams that we have post-graduation are often deferred for various reasons. He details how these deferrals have affected each character. It was easy to relate to where I thought I’d be in life at this age. Like Lisa, I too thought that I’d be a homeowner, business owner, wife and mother by now.

Gang, I really wish that I could go into greater detail but I can’t. You’ll have to read it for yourself and then we can discuss.  Tune in Saturday April 28 at 4:30pm EST via Pretty Dope Reads Book Club to discuss Tangled on Facebook Live with my book club. Make sure you read that facts that James shares at the end of the book in addition to reviewing it on Amazon. Oh yea, and tell a friend to tell a friend too.

*A very special thank you goes out to the author, Mr. James W. Lewis himself. Thank you for reaching out to me and getting a copy of the book in my hands. I am forever grateful.



random thoughts, Self Discovery, short stories

Moscato di’Asti Please: We’re Going to Need More Wine Book Review

From the moment I started reading the introduction, I knew I was going to laugh and cry. Gabrielle Union is an amazing storyteller and I could totally see myself sitting down with her sharing stories over wine and snacks.

I’m a huge fan of hers. From her movies to her line in my favorite store (New York and Company) to her sexual assault advocacy right on up to this here book. It comes as no surprise that I selected it to be not only the first review for 2018 but also the first book that I’d discuss with the book club I launched this month (FB: Pretty Dope Reads Book Club).

I won’t take too much of your time. Go read the damn book for yourself!

What this book is not…….fiction. If you’re looking for all the elements of a fictional story, you won’t find them here. It’s a collection of her life stories. Some of them pure tee foolery and fuckery, while a few others were pretty traumatic.

No worries, I’ll share a few. Y’all go read the damn book.

My parents gave me the pep talk when I started school, the same speech all black parents give their kids: You’re gonna have to be bigger, badder, better, just to be considered equal. You’re gonna have to do twice as much work and you’re not going to get any credit for your accomplishments or for overcoming adversity. Most black people grow accustomed to the fact that we have to excel just to be seen as existing, and this is a lesson passed down from generation to generation. You can either be Super Negro or the forgotten Negro.

I’ve heard this said a million different ways a million more different times. I definitely feel this in the workplace as soon as I sit down. I have high hopes that this spill doesn’t have to continue being passed down. But it ain’t lookin too pretty. I don’t foresee it stopping any time soon.

Another major story that struck a nerve was when she received burns on her scalp in an effort to have bone straight hair. I remember doing the same. Scalp on sizzle but determined for my hair to be flatter than a pancake. We sit. We suffer. And we pick the scabs over when they form. Been there. Done that. She tied this into how by age twelve, no one had told her that she was pretty as she was. That shit blew me away. And I can almost guarantee that she isn’t alone. It made me wonder, at what age does self-care/acceptance and appreciation need to be taught?

The story that tore me to shreds was when she described her rape. I mean every detail. She put us readers in the room with her as it was happening. I felt all of her emotion in the writing. It serves as a reminder of how powerful words are. For her to mentally and verbally relive that moment for the sake of this book required an amount of courage and strength that I don’t think I’ll ever have.

Let’s see. What else. Oh yeah. Sorry y’all wont get a reaction up outta me about the ass eating story. Nope. Not today.

Below are two of my favorite quotes from the book.

When we refuse to be exiled to the shadows as we mature, we get to be leaders who choose how we treat other women.

At the end, we are our stories, some shared and some lived alone

Kudos to Gabby (because we are definitely homegirls now). I hope that she continues to share her stories with us and that we never run out of wine.