#GiftGuide: Best Music Albums in 2017

There were too many earworms in 2017 that I decided to narrow down my musical fangirling to an album only list of the Top Ten. The great thing about music is that it’s subjective so your favorite may not be here. If I missed one, comment below. Maybe I’ll make a playlist for 2018.

10. Ryan Follese by Ryan Follese

The lead singer of Hot Chelle Rae goes solo and heads back to his country roots with his first pop country solo album. Croon along to One Thing Right or jam out to Roots, either way you’ll fall in love with Ryan’s singer-songwriting talent and musicality.

To read the full review, feel free to float your boat.

9. Alessia Cara’s Know It All

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This Canadian pop rocker will have you realizing your beautiful and not alone at that party you didn’t want to go to but are now stuck at.

To join our Wild Things Club, visit here

8. Tomorrow We Live by KB

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Tampa native and Reach Records rapper KB just released a new album October 20 but to here the one that had my haters looking at me sideways and believing we will win, check out the rapper’s second album.

I won’t play anymore games, I’mma just do it.

7.  Identity by Colton Dixon

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How do you identify? Well with one listen of Colton Dixon’s third studio album I was renewed in my faith as a believer in Jesus Christ and realized why each of us is marked with his fingerprint because he designed us with a unique call and purpose. To find out more about the brand new life and how love came down, check out Colton’s newest album.

For all that matters, visit here.

6. All is Vanity by Christina Grimmie

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Her final musical project is her debut album. Post-humanous and with her signature supernatural vocal range, Grimmie shares song that showcase her r&b musicality and lyrics that showcase her huge heart and that she was okay with having standards.

For full review and to read my memorial post, join Team Grimmie

5. Lifer by Mercy Me

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Christian rock supergroup is back with a project even i couldn’t imagine. Every song on it is repeat-worthy and will have you happy dancing even if your answer doesn’t come right away.

To join Team life, visit here.

4. ’91 by Jamie Grace

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Jamie Grace is back with her first independent release but third studio album that represents the Christian music from the nineties she grew up on.

To join Team ’91, feel free to get your dance on.

3. All Things Work Together by Lecrae

With his first major label release, Lecrae will inspire and sow hope as he will make all who listen to this album see that he’s no stranger to hip hop music but instead aims to reach higher.

To find hope in all things, visit here.

2. Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato

Six albums later and Demi Lovato is no longer apologizing for who she is. Instead, you’ll catch the singer-songwriter in raw and real vulnerability that will make you fall in love with her artistry.

To meet Lovato and all her daddy issues, visit here.

  1. Waves by Rachel Platten

Some of you may not know this but Rachel Platten was the first major artist to support The Smart Cookie Philes directly and her sophomore album proves she’s not done making waves or putting up a fight, she’s just not going to apologize because she’s not perfect for you.

Love her or leave her alone, she’ll keep dancing on broken glass. 

Happy Holidays and I hope 2018 is the year you start #ESPRESSOYOURSELF

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#GiftGuide: Best Books I Read in 2017

New this year, I read 58 books according to Goodreads so I wanted to share some of my absolute faves in a gift guide fit for the smart cookie in your life.

Know someone who loves to read? Wrap one of these or all of these and place it under the Christmas tree to look smart this Christmas.

Without further ado, I will work my way up from 10,

10. Instagram Graphic

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

Calida Jokobi doesn’t see it that way. Surviving an abusive relationship with a sadistic, manipulative man changed her. She has spent the last two years carefully constructing her new persona with two goals in mind: to keep the remaining pieces of her heart safe and her deepest secrets buried. One man puts it all at risk.

Malcolm has been a part of Calida’s life for as long as she can remember. A friend. Her first teenage crush. Now he’s asking for something she swore she’d never give again: her heart.

Calida must decide if she should risk the fragile façade she’s created and give Malcolm the chance he’s asking for.

They say love can heal all wounds…

Malcolm Frankel wants to prove to Calida it’s true. She survived a hell most people couldn’t fathom. He’s been by her side fulfilling whatever role she needs him to play. All except the one he wants most. It took nearly losing her to make Malcolm realize he couldn’t keep denying his feelings.

He knows no one goes through an ordeal like that and comes out unscathed, but the closer they get, the more he learns just how deep Calida’s wounds go.

She’s the only woman he’s ever loved, and Malcolm is ready to put his own heart at risk for a chance at mending hers.

To read my review and for purchase links, visit here.

9. B.S. Incorporated by Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss

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If you just finished re-binging The Office on Netflix and need something to fill the gaping whole that remains because they decided not to bring it back for a re-boot, read this equally funny novel about a company that could rival Dunder Mifflin for sure.

For my review and for some share-worthy quotes, please visit my Meryl Streep room.

8. Magician’s Workshop I & II by  Christopher Hansen and J. R. Fehr

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Chronicles of Narnia meets Harry Potter in this allegorical novel about children that live in a society where their color decides whether they will train with the town’s magician’s in the exclusive workshop.

For my full review of both novels and some pinterest-savvy quotes, visit my wardrobe.

7. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

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This book was one I randomly decided to read on a whim but was glad I made such a rash decision because as an acquaintance solves the mystery of what happened to recently disappeared Lizzie Lovett, town popular girl, you will learn some life lessons that will share more truth than lies.

For my full video review, please visit the mysterious campground.

6. The Door Keeper by Steen Jones

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Fantasy isn’t really my genre but that’s why I was as surprised as you are that I completed reading this book in one day!

For full review and the gist of the magic that awaits behind that door over there, here’s the key.

5. Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

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A young adult novel equivalent of an earworm it shares the story of how music moves us and keeps us moving.

For full review, feel free to press play.

4. Proof by Ted D. Berner

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A science fiction novel based on Genesis 6:4 that exposes all those conspiracy theories you always wanted to know were true or not.

To find out all the secrets, enter at your own risk.

3. Family First by D.D. Bridges

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An urban fiction novel following an elite African-American family that takes in a juvenile delinquent who shows the family what it means to be truly misjudged.

For my full video review, court is adjorned. 

4. Fairytale by Danielle Steel

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I wasn’t a fan of Danielle Steel until I read this book. Now I want to read all her books. She’s the queen of a great plot progression and romantic story line.

To journey to the wine country of Southern California, click here.

 

  1. The Father Effect by John Finch

 

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Becoming a dad is easy but being a father is harder. See what kind of effect you leave on your children by reading John Finch’s memoir style book.

For full review and to purchase the novel, find encouragement here.

Congrats to all those in my Top Ten list. If you want to see your book in this list in 2018, be sure to contact the Smart Cookie asap at wittywriterpoet26@gmail.com.

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Until next year, have a happy holidays and may 2018 be the year you choose to #ESPRESSOYOURSELF

 

#BookReview: Not Broken by @authormekajames #DecTheShelves

I’m a sucker for a good love story and I love realistic romance novels. Sure, I won’t lie and pretend the sex scenes aren’t nice but that keeps me reading is characters who are multi-faceted, humanistically flawed, and still grin and bear their struggles.

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In walks Calida, our warrior princess. She’s a single mother with a heavy backstory (one that readers can unravel by reading this author’s first novel, Fiendish) although you aren’t required to do any additional reading in order to fully catch that Callida is entirely shaken up and a man unraveled her in ways that distorted her thought patterns and mind constructs for love and romance.

If you are looking for something to read that keeps you warm and begging for more, check out #NotBroken at these fine retailers:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2zzycc6
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2AUmoBH
B&N: http://bit.ly/2yLzN0S
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2zPjleu
iTunes: http://apple.co/2gBxIKN

Enter to win my #Christmasgiveaway here!

 

#BookReview: Stripping Down by Sheila Hageman @SheilaMHageman

I feel as though I’ve seen Sheila Hageman naked. I don’t mean that in a dirty sense but Sheila has let it all hang out. I’ve seen the scars from her childhood where her dad gave her little attention before she watched him and her mother divorce. I’ve watched her brazenly announce at the age of nineteen to her mother and stepfather that she was going to become an exotic dancer. I’ve laid eyes on the stretch marks from giving birth and becoming a new mother all while having to watch her mother dying.

All this raw realness reads like a conversation with a candid friend who truly understands the relief found in sharing your story to heal and help others heal. A friend who wants society to see the damage of how women feel pressured to use sex and sensuality in order to be seen, acknowledged, and believe they are loved.

Her honest memoir won’t leave you feeling cheap and uncomfortable but will make you face the truth of the matter ringing out within her words.

As a Christmas gift, I want one lucky reader/follower to experience Sheila’s struggle with excepting her body and everything that comes with being a female for yourself. To enter, visit her starting December 15 2017.

 

She Lays Down by Stylistic Moods is a great read @inkitt #bookreview

To read this book in it’s entirety, you can visit here.

Inkitt is a brand new platform in book publishing. It offers writers a chance at publication if your finished novel reaches an increasingly popular amount of reads, using analytics that show how interested readers were while reading it.

It’s like Wattpad but better because you could see your book in print, and Inkitt is entirely generous to it’s authors because they know how hard it is to write a book as well as how hard it is to find the right publishing house for it.

With that said, I was asked to read this book because I am a member of Inkitt’s book club. Yet, this book actually kept my interest far more than two books that were on my queue, and I chose to finish and review it over those other books.

Some days even found me reading large sections of the book because I had to know what was going to happen next. I very much am obsessed with books like that.

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#ATWT: Lecrae’s first major label release proves inspiration is in “All Things”

I don’t know about you but I’m…look what you made me do.

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I’m one of those chicks who likes to ride with my top down listening to Jesus music. It’s partly because of the way I was raised. I actually wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of secular music growing up until I rebelled against Christian music for a few short years when I was trying my hand at being the female version of Slim Shady. I was obsessed with Eminem at 13 and still have yet to get over his Curtain Call album. Turns out, rapping isn’t my calling but at least I had fun figuring that out.

Someone who is a natural lyricist is Lecrae. He was the first Christian hip hop artist to have a #1 album on the Billboard Hot 100 but he didn’t just walk out of the gate and into overnight success. His first album Real Talk was released via the independent label he co-founded in 2004 and it started the 116 clique movement. He refers to his music as “hip-hop that he uses to share his Christian faith,” and it is this outsider attitude that has taken him from rapper to anomaly with a Grammy win, a BET win, and now a signed contract with Columbia Records. Lecrae Moore has quite the life story, and is definitely real life proof that all things do work together.

Song by Song Review

Always Knew: The perfect track to break the glass ceiling as a major label artist. The musicality of the entire album is a definite head nod to all of Lecrae’s “day ones and the crew” with elements from Real Talk and his Church Clothes mixtapes. Lyrically, this track discusses his Reach Records days to transitioning to a major label artist with his album displayed in Times Square.

Understanding me ain’t for the simple& elementary

Facts: Emulating Church Clothes style and musicality  discussing current themes about racial divisions and stereotypes

Just know if you rock the boat you better have a life raft

Broke: A song about how the struggle makes you stronger, it boasts how God takes all the broken pieces & makes you the righteousness of God through Christ. Also is about wealth in character being far more valuable than any and all material wealth

Hard times made for a good life

Blessings: A song of thanksgiving and praise, gospel gone ghetto, about being grateful & counting all God’s blessings.

Whatchu Mean: With a catchy backbeat, it discusses someone who’s words and actions don’t balance out. On this track featuring new Reach Records artist, Aha Gazelle we find them blocking out haters and pursuing dreams.

Hammertime:  Lecrae tells the listener to work hard at what they want to achieve in life. Musically, it samples the 90’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

If we living what we talk about, you don’t talk a lot

Come and Get Me: Favorite track on the record because it’s the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet, and it is unapologetic rebel music, with sleigh bells carrying the back beat.

Tweet: #ATWT is the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet with a substantial testimony @lecrae https://ctt.ec/OHePu+ via @tscphiles

Lucked Up: Another reason I respect Lecrae as an artist is because unlike other hip-hop artists that get on hit song charts by bragging about how many women they get with, he always has a song that boasts his life for his wife and showcases his softer side, and that’s what this track is for this album.

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Wish You The Best: A song about the power of forgiveness despite how the relationship came to an end.

Can’t Stop Me Now: As I am a white female who was born in the 90’s, the first thing that came to mind when I heard this track was that it reminded me of Sailing by ‘NSYNC in musicality and style but a Caribbean element creates a song about letting go of depression and doubt.

I’ll Find You: Featuring Tori Kelly, this dream collaboration talks about God finding you in the midst of the pain or trial

8_28: Based on Romans 8:28, the title track is a lyrical tale about how all things work together for those who love God & are called according to his purpose.

Cry For You: It was originally written as a journal entry and not going to be used for the album, and Lecrae recorded it in one take with authentic emotions and tears in the corners of his eyes, it discusses having weaknesses, flaws, and a thorn in the flesh. Almost a letter to God about the fight of faith.

Worth It: Gospel Baptist Church musicality sets the scene for this track about how God looks at us with unconditional love even in the midst of our sin and mistakes because “the price paid determines the value.”

Overall, Lecrae’s major label debut knocks it out of the park and has all the original reach of his past projects with a new testimony: all things do work together.

The Father Effect by John Finch will leave a mark on you and how you relate to dads everywhere

pablo114Maybe you don’t have a dad or never knew your birth father. Or maybe you had a father who created a distance between you and him because he chose work over you, the bottle over you, or strip clubs over you. No matter what may have gone on and what the relationship between you and your father is like, most people male or female have a father wound that not only deserves healing but needs a healing.

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That’s where this book is something you must read if you truly are seeking a healing for your father wound. It will show you the perspective of a man who suffered with a father wound due to a tragically early absence, and it caused him to not even realize he was also neglecting his own three daughters.

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Once he came to terms with his own father wound, he was able to properly love his family the way God intended. After all, our heavenly father is the model of the way fathers must love and lead their family.

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No matter your own story, you will find pieces of it in John Finch’s own personal narrative and you will most likely shed a few tears along the way but ultimately, this book will hopefully lead you to find the overall healing we all not only deserve but so very desperately need.

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To pre-order the book, out October 24th everywhere books are sold, please hurry here! 

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