Promise Land

My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture

by Jessica Lamb-Shapiro

I used to be an aficionado of self-help books. Working in a bookstore put all of them at my fingertips and I looked to them to make my life better. Needless to say, they didn’t change my life completely, but I have picked up wisdom along the way that I find useful.

Lamb-Shapiro takes on America’s “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” culture by exploring some of the most popular books and seminars out there. Having grown up with a child psychologist father meant that she was already well-versed on the subject, but she wanted to go deeper and see what people are spending so much money on and why. Do these books, retreats, and seminars make us happier, improve our relationships, and increase our (self) worth? What comes to light as she makes this journey is that while her father has made a career of helping people discuss their feelings and trauma, the two of them have never broached the subject of her mother’s death when Lamb-Shapiro was a toddler.

I really enjoyed her foray into the world of self-help, especially The Rules seminar (which was hilarious), and I also liked being a voyeur into the healing of the author’s own experience.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Meaningful Beauty Creme de Serum Review

I am by no means a beauty blogger but, I received a sample of #MeaningfulBeauty‘s Creme de Serum as part of the Influenster program and have been using it for a couple of weeks. I don’t have a special skin or beauty routine, just wash, moisturize and go. The only knowledge I had of this product is from seeing part of the infomercial with Cindy Crawford as I’m surfing channels.

I don’t have sensitive skin or any major skin issues, so it’s been hard to notice any significant difference.But I have noticed a few things:
  • My skin doesn’t get that middle of the day greasy feeling that it used to.
  • The temps here in Atlanta have fluctuated from the 30’s to the 70’s and back again and my skin doesn’t feel dry at all or experienced any oiliness from the heat.
  • The effects are long-lasting. After just one application a day, my skin still feels fresh 24 hours later.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with this serum. You can find out more about Meaningful Beauty here and purchase it here.

Miss Anne in Harlem

The White Women of the Black Renaissance

by Carla Kaplan

If you have any knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance or have read any biography of its luminaries, like Zora Neale Hurston or Langston Hughes, you have come across mentions of the White benefactors that helped this movement along. At a time when it was considered cool for White men to hang in Harlem at the speakeasies and such, it was not as acceptable for White women to do the same and still protect their reputations. What they were able to do is provide emotional, professional and mainly financial support so that the artists of the Harlem Renaissance were able to create freely.

Kaplan has done a great job of researching the backgrounds of six of these women because almost all of them (and their families) did everything they could to keep their participation a secret, leaving very little records behind. Because of the lack of information available, the narrative can get a little too scholarly and repetitive at times. However, the knowledge gained about these women, their motives and desires, is worth trudging through the slow parts.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

P.S. You’re Invited…

40+ DIY Projects for All of Your Fashion, Home Decor & Entertaining Needs

by Erica Domesek

The DIY movement is in full swing now and Erica Domesek was one of the first bloggers on the scene. Her blog, P.S. Made This, became popular by showing you how to recreate high fashion looks at home with a little hot glue, some glitter and crystals. This time around the crafts are mostly home decorating related.

The projects seem fun and easy but a little too unpolished for my taste. I really liked the Moroccan tile mirror and the pillow in the Destination DIY section, but a lot of the crafts fell flat for me, especially the fashion ones. One thing I did like is that, in the e-book version at least, this is a Smart Book which includes select videos to help you along as you work.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Butler

A Witness To History

by Wil Haygood

I’ve read parts of the original Washington Post story that Haygood did on the life of Eugene Allen and his years working as a butler in the White House and was looking forward to a more fleshed out story. Instead, this book only covers Haygood finding and befriending Allen and the subsequent making of the movie based on his life.

If you are a movie buff, you will find the part of the filmmaking interesting, but I was disappointed that I didn’t get more of a biography of Eugene Allen.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Secrets of the Southern Belle

How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun, and Never Have an Off Moment

by Phaedra Parks

Normally, a book like this wouldn’t find its way into my hands, but I will admit that being a fan of The Real Housewives of Atlanta made me a little curious. A modern day book of manners, Secrets of the Southern Belle is filled with tips on how to live a fabulous life as a “lady” and how to do things “properly”.

Like most books of its kind, there are guidelines on relationships, keeping a home, work life, and entertaining. Parks’ humor and southern twist makes those old standards fun to read. And yes, she gets a few jabs in, like what to do when someone attempts inappropriate communication with your significant other (looking at you, Kenya) and other reality show related tidbits.

I’m not necessarily the target market for this book, but it could be helpful for young women who need guidance on the appropriateness of certain behaviors and situations. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Solid Gold Seduction

by Zuri Day

Warren Drake is leaving his fancy condo community and building a new home close to the vineyards he’s been overseeing for his family’s company. New construction is exciting, but unfortunately his new neighbor, Charli Reed is not happy with the new fence Warren has put up that keeps her cattle from their main source of water. Because of her late grandfather’s intense hatred of the Drake family, Charli not only distrusts Warren’s offers to make things right for her cows, she also wants to deny her attraction for him.

I read a lot of romance novels that tend to be pretty short, so I’m used to love at first sight scenarios and things moving quickly. Solid Gold Seduction seems to move at warp speed making Warren and Charli’s relationship a little unbelievable, especially when you add in the discovery of gold on the land and the thwarting of a criminal plot. Only my love for the backstory of the Drakes of California books helped me to hang in there.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Runaway Attraction

by Farrah Rochon

After a shaky start with the first book (Styles of Seduction), the Fashioned by Love series is brought to a close with Runaway Attraction. And with the closing comes the solving of the mystery surrounding the ongoing sabotage happening at Roger Hamilton Designs.

One of the victims of the sabotage is Bailey Hamilton, who models for her family’s fashion design company. She is given the opportunity to preserve her and her family’s reputation by doing an interview with documentary producer Micah Jones. Working closely together brings out their passion for each other along with the truth behind who is behind the strange events of the last few months. 

I’m glad Farrah Rochon was chosen to wrap this series up as she is able to craft a story well and tie up all the loose ends of the first two books.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Destiny’s Surrender

by Beverly Jenkins

I have been binge-reading almost all of Beverly Jenkins’ books and I have to say that this one is one of my favorites. Jenkins books are always entertaining to me with their masterful blend of romance and history. I’m inspired and educated all at the same time. In Destiny’s Surrender the continuing saga of the Yates clan, begun in Destiny’s Embrace, tells of son Andrew and his decision to finally start a family.

Up until this point, Andrew has been content to see many different women, including a prostitute named Billie who he”s quite fond of but must give up if he wants to find a respectable wife. A couple months after their last encounter Billie finds herself pregnant with Andrew’s child and knows that she can’t continue in her line of work. When someone threatens the welfare of her child, she sees no other choice than to leave him at the Yates’ ranch in their care and disappear. This throws Andrew’s world, including his new engagement upside down.

Bird of Paradise

How I Became Latina
by Raquel Cepeda

I was already familiar with Raquel Cepeda from her work as a hip-hop journalist and was interested to hear more of her personal story. As a Latina from the Dominican Republic, Cepeda explores the concepts of race, culture and belonging in the telling of her and her family’s history.

The first part of her book is pure memoir: from her parents’ doomed relationship and how it affected her childhood, to her escape into the world of a burgeoning hip-hop movement, Cepeda writes honestly about her identity a need to know her genetic roots. The second part of the book discusses the DNA results she acquired in order to learn more about herself and her ancestry. Her trips abroad and back to the Dominican Republic proved to place the results in context and answer the ancestral, spiritual, and emotional questions she’s always had. A great story of family, identity and belonging.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.