Book Spotlight: On the Come Up

Reading

Every once in a while, I read a book that inspires me, makes me think, or really just captivates me through the entire story. Most of the time when I come across one of these books  I hide away in my room and binge read, only coming up for air to eat and use the bathroom. All other daily tasks are put on hold until the book is finished.

Angie Thomas’ On The Come Up (OTCU) was that book for me this past Sunday. I managed to read the ENTIRE book in one day. Now, I will say, the last time I read an entire book in one day was also the work of Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (THUG). Now, this post will be about OTCU, but I also want to point out the importance of both books.

OTCU follows the life of Bri, a teenager trying to find her place in the world while also struggling to help her family keep their lights on. She can write, she can rap, her dad was a famous underground rapper, so she sets out to make a name for her self too, thinking this will be her big break to help her family finally “make it.” But what Bri doesn’t calculate into her plan is the media and her image. She doesn’t plan for people to call her ghetto and ratchet. She doesn’t plan to be labeled a hoodlum and a threat to society for sticking up for herself. She just wants to make it by any means necessary.

Throughout the book, we see everything through Bri’s eyes and we are able to see what she’s trying to tell the world, but we also see how the world isn’t attempting to listen to what she has to say. Instead, we see how they are quick to make judgments and place her into the “ghetto black girl” stereotype. But enough of all the summarizing, it’s time to move on to the fun part, if you want to know more, READ THE BOOK!

One of the main components I love about Thomas’ books is the way she writes them. Yes, I know that may seem like a well “duh Jasmine” statement, but it’s rare to find a writer who can paint vivid pictures and transport the reader into the world of the book. From the moment I started reading the book, I was no longer sitting on my bed, I was walking around “the Garden” with Bri, I was going to school with Bri, I was on stage with Bri. It’s an incredible feeling to be so entranced by words on a page that you lose the sense of time and reality.

The other main reason I love OTCU and THUG are for their significance in black culture. To have a black, female author write two books that deal with issues the black community is dealing with right now is huge. From police brutality to gang influence in the community, to overcoming poverty and addiction, to racism and beyond, Angie Thomas has created books that resonate with the struggles of POC today.

These books aren’t just important for POC though, everyone should read these. If they make you uncomfortable good, they need to. Let these books open up discussions you’re afraid to have. Talk about the issues in the book. Listen to what people have to say. It might shock you to learn how people have connected or learned from these stories.

I would like to end this by saying thank you to Ms. Angie Thomas. I know you might not ever see this post, and I know that our paths may never cross, but I just want to say thank you. Thank you for lighting the flame in my soul to get back out and write again. Thank you for using your platform to speak on issues most people are afraid to speak on. Thank you for inspiring me to finally tell my story. To quote Bri, “you can’t stop me nope, nope.”


“Your voices matter, your dreams matter, your lives matter. Be the roses that grow in the concrete. “

Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

January Reading Review

Reading

As I stated in my New Years goal blog, I am aiming to read 52 books this year. In order to reach this goal, I need to read at least one book every week. I’ve started the year off on a great foot! I read FIVE books this month. I’ll give a quick summary of the books and my opinion on if they’re worth reading.


“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” 

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

I started the year off by finally reading a book my therapist recommended to me years ago, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I have tried reading this book on numerous occasions and never really made it past the first chapter because I would find a different “more exciting” book to read. So, I told myself that no matter how long it took, I was going to read the entire book before I started anything else and let me tell you what, I wish I would have sucked it up and read it sooner. I totally get why my therapist told me to read this book, there were so many great passages about letting go of what people think of you and about learning how to properly love yourself. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with perfectionism and negative self-talk.

The next book I read has been a favorite of mine ever since I read it back in high school (thank you Mrs. Johnson and APLAC,) Truman Copte’s In Cold Blood captured me back in 10th grade for its raw sense of adventure and crime. I wanted to reread the book without the stress of it being “homework” to see if I  was able to gather different feelings for it. I’m still amazed at how even though I know the characters were awful humans, I couldn’t help but connect with them and at times feeling sympathetic for them. If you like true crime novels, this book is a MUST read!

I decided my next book should be on the lighter side of things to help keep my reading pallet balanced, so I decided to finally read The Memory Keeper’s Daugther by Kim Edwards. I had tried reading this book multiple times over the past year but always set it aside for some other book that I thought was more interesting. It didn’t help that the story started off slow, but once it got going I couldn’t put it down. I’m not sure how to summarize the story without giving too much away, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself. It’s a feel-good story that makes you angry and sad and happy all at once. If you are looking for a light read that doesn’t challenge your mind too much, this is the book for you.

If you haven’t heard of Educated by Tara Westover, you are truly missing out. Educated has made it on many of the top reading lists, including President Obama’s. I have been dying to read this book since it came out, but like all things, I kept pushing it aside and life got in the way. The book is about Westover’s family and the struggles she faced to educate herself. This book left me feeling empowered and reminded me that if I really put my mind to it, nothing and no one can stop me from reaching my dreams and living my life to it’s fullest. 10 for 10 recommend you add this book to the top of your list!

I decided to get an early start on my Black History Month reading list and finished this month off with Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Jacobs recounted the horrors of her life as a slave, and her never-ending mission to earn her and her children’s “freedom.” Like any story from this time period, it’s not really a happy one, but the strength of slave women is always inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in African American History.

Well, I was able to reach my goal of reading five books this month! My goal for February is to read at least four books, all of which will have some tie to African American history. As always, if you have any recommendations on books you think I should read, please leave them in the comment section and I will add them to my never-ending reading list!

New Year, Better Me

My Journey



“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot

Well, it’s the new year, so I’m sure your social media feeds are full of everyone talking about their resolutions and “new year, new me,” and all that other mumbo jumbo. Well, I’m here to kind of do the same thing. This year I’m going to really start working on making my dreams a reality. So, with that being said, here is what you can expect to see from me in 2019:

Books:

One of my goals this year is to read at least 52 books, so that means I should hopefully read a book a week. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and during 2018 it served as a way for me to relax and escape from the everyday stressors of life. I am always looking for book suggestions and would love for you all to send me suggestions!

At the end of every month, I will post a summary of the books I’ve read along with my personal review of the book and any other fun information I learned from the books over the month.

Health/Fitness:

Another goal of mine is to increase my physical health, I plan to do this by working out at least four days a week. I currently work out at the most amazing studio, with the most badass trainer, Debbie Olivas. Through the course of the year, I will share any and all milestones I reach along with different tips and tricks.

I am also making a commitment to live a nondairy lifestyle due to my “lactose intolerance” and “possible dairy allergy” uggghh. So again, if you have any recommendations on snacks, brands, recipes, etc, please send them my way! I have been a lover of all things cheese and ice cream so you can imagine the struggle it’s been to give up that part of my life.

Mental Health:

In 2018 I dedicated a lot of my time and energy into bettering my mental health and learning how to love myself, so I am going to continue this journey in 2019 because it is a never-ending journey, and there is still so much left for me to work on. If you’ve been following along with my journey, you know that I have been very transparent in the journey to understand my anxiety and perfection disorder, and I want to continue that level of transparency in 2019.

My Brand:

Finally, my biggest goal this year is to start my company, Conley Communications. My vision is for Conley Communications to be a place where people can come and receive marketing, PR, and graphic design services. So, if you are in the need of any of those, please don’t hesitate to reach out and learn more about all that I offer!

August Reading Review

Reading

As some of you may know, I love to read, and I don’t just say that lightly. I am one of those people who would rather read than watch TV unless the Kardashians are on then TV trumps reading, but that’s not the point. My New Year resolution was to read at least one book a month and so far I have read 12 books this year ultimately fulfilling the minimum of my resolution, and sparking a new challenge, read 3-4 books a month.

I have decided that I can’t let these wonderful books be known to only my mind and imagination so at the end of each month I will offer a quick review of the books I read that month and also give a glimpse into the books I plan to read in the following month. So, let’s get this thing started.

I started off this month reading one of the many books I was gifted for graduating college (oh yea I did that btw), anyways, I found out about this book from looking over President Obama’s summer reading list so I figured it had to be good since he recommended it. The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes gives a front row seat to the 8 years Obama was in office. Rhodes served as the President’s speechwriter and one of his top advisors on foreign policy. As someone who grew up during the 8 years Obama was in office mostly ignorant and oblivious to all that went on in the world politically, it gave me a great view of everything that Obama did while in office. I will say though, this was one of the more challenging books I’ve read in a while due to some of the mundane political topics that I just wasn’t fully interested in and slightly went over my head. I still highly recommend the book though, no matter your political views, it was interesting nonetheless and allowed me to see behind the scenes of some of the most important moments that shaped President Obama’s legacy.

After reading such a heavy book I decided to give myself a mental break and read a shorter and less complex book. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is an amazing true story about two people who are worlds apart but become friends through unlikely situations. It’s a story of faith, friendship, and acceptance. I read this book in TWO DAYS, it was that good. I could not put it down. It made me laugh and cry. If you are looking for a quick read that will fill your heart with all types of good feelings I strongly recommend that you give this book a try.

I capped off my August reading by diving into yet another nonfiction book, Long Walk to Freedom, the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. When I say that this book intimidated me, I mean it. Not only is this book a solid 625 pages, it encompasses the life of one of the most inspiring African leaders. Throughout my life, I have heard bits and pieces about Nelson Mandela, but I never really knew who he was or what exactly he did that made him so important. I can assure you that after reading this book all of my questions were answered. Mandela lived an incredible life that was mostly spent in prison or traveling South Africa “underground” in order to not be thrown back into prison. In his autobiography Mandela allows us to see first hand the struggles he went through and the challenges he faced in order to win the freedom of not only himself but for all others who looked like him. It is an incredible story and the last chapter or two of the book truly inspired me to always fight for what is right for the collective whole, not just myself.

I was only able to read three books this month, but two of the three challenged my reading stamina due to their impressive descriptiveness and fact-based sentences. In total, I read 1,291 pages this month and loved each and every second of it.

As I go into my September reading, I would love to hear suggestions of books I need to add to my reading list, I am not picky about genre or topic and would love to hear all of your suggestions! Be sure to drop a title or two in the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive updates on my reading endeavors and any other journey’s along the way.