Happy Birthday to The Smart Cookie Philes!

Today, we are two years old. Wow, how fast time flies!

Some people are unaware of the origins of this site and how it came to be so I figured it was appropriate to share the birth story of The Smart Cookie.

Not being able to find a job once out of college was part of it.

Not being able to find a job that was my dream job and also accepted all of my idiosyncrasies was also part of it.

The Smart Cookie Philes was born on MLK day 2016 because like the GREAT changemaker, I too had a dream, and it wasn’t one dimensional or going to be abc-123 easy to achieve.

So I decided that the right opportunity doesn’t wait for no man, so I created the opportunity for me and many others.

To the untrained eye, this looks like a simple book blog and that was the original intention behind it.

Yet, I am a vivacious reader who also loves everything that music does for it’s listener. How it soothes the soul, makes you feel less alone, and connects people.

I realized then that books and music both connect people in similar ways even though they are entirely different mediums, they both start from the same origin: out of the heart and mind of a creative soul who wants to affect change some how some way in a wave, in a ripple, in a surge of hope.

Yet, I also wanted this to be a site where all people not just writers and musicians could feel welcome because society really provides a heavy load with it’s labels and pressures if you don’t exactly mirror every other person that has gone before you.

So this is a community for the rejects, for the weirdos, for the over-caffeinated writer who grew up too shy to do anything but vivaciously read and learn all the lyrics to their favorite songs and yet, had trouble finding solace and acceptance among those in their peer group.

This is a community for those who decide to dare to be different and are unafraid and unashamed to walk a path not yet walked so that by chance, they can lead the way for others who come after who feel the same way.

This is a community for those who become a part of it to ESPRESSO THEMSELVES however that looks no matter what because we only get one life and we should live it in the most genuine and authentic way we know.

Here at The Smart Cookie Philes we are all smart, strong, and enough. After all, when it comes to cookies, flavors and variety always makes for a more delicious experience overall.

THANK YOU for your continued support of my dream and the beautiful works of others.

Here’s to more years being exactly who you were meant to be and expressing yourself authentically.

So much love,

Chelsea DeVries

Creator of The Smart Cookie Philes

Never miss a crumb of the action by subscribing to my email newsletter That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles.

 

 

#MusicMonday: Let The Trap Say Amen by @lecrae

Lecrae is no stranger to a mixtape. He’s already released three in his christian hip-hop career. That’s why when I found out he was releasing another mixtape, I was totally stoked.

Let The Trap Say Amen released June 22, with Grammy-award winning producer Zaytoven,  is a 13 song project born out of a mutual respect for each other’s work and joined by common faith, the two Atlanta legends came together for a release aimed at bridging understanding and building community, especially in underserved neighborhoods across America often dubbed “The Trap.” The 13-track project touts features from the likes of 24hrs, nobigdyl., and Verse Simmonds, as well as one of Atlanta’s best-loved sons, Waka Flocka Flame.

Song by Song Review

To hear the song, click the hyperlinked title.

Get Back Right: Lecrae talks about his recent success, his journey to becoming a believer in Christ, and his confidence in God with Him on his side. It will definitely have you bouncing whether you are riding in the car or working out to this song.

Preach: A song about once you know who you are in Christ, nothing else matters in the game.

2 Sides of The Game: Lecrae and Waka Flocka Flame share their personal experiences with selling drugs while K-So shares the 2 sides of selling drugs in the street.

Plugged In:  God’s his “plug” instead of drugs. This track discusses about providing for one’s family and making money in the streets.

Holy Water: A song about walking by faith not by sight.

Blue Strips:  Lecrae talks about the addiction to money and how many do anything to gain more. References dead end jobs such as stripping and dealing drugs and how the world glorifies these paths, despite that people are made for “greater.”

Only God Can Judge Me: A song with a bounce and a strong message when people of faith are facing persecution or condemnation from external circumstances, or internal feelings.

Yet: Lecrae shares his ambitions moving forward in his career and boosts his success and longevity in the game.

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I Can’t Lose ft. 24hrs: My favorite song on the album because it has the “righteous meets ratchet” feel as Come and Get Me from Lecrae’s album All Things Work Together.

Lecrae and 24 Hours talk about numerous blessings, their work ethic and haters.

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 Switch:  A song about being gangster for Jesus.

Can’t Block It: A song for the haters and about the haters.

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Fly Away ft. Nobigdyl: Lecrae’s first collaboration with nobigdyl discusses giving up the vanity of this world.

By Chance: Piano driven beat & meaningful lyrics discussing Lecrae’s journey as an artist, living by God’s plan, and the history of 116.

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#AuthorInterview: Meet debut author @ChrisKnoblaugh

I recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Chris Knoblaugh’s debut novel Tribute and I loved it.

#BookReview: Tribute by Chris Knoblaugh

Below you will find my chat with the lovely and talented debut author.

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The Smart Cookie: How did you realize your love of writing?

Chris:  I started writing in middle school. Dark Shadows was on T.V. at the time, and I wrote fan fiction about Quentin Collins, the werewolf on the show. I had mononucleosis at the time, so I was home and quarantined.

The Smart Cookie: You teach middle school as well as have a tutoring business. Would you say you write books for children?

Chris:  I write pieces for my students to use as models. They asked me to write a full-length horror story, so that is how I started. Tribute is my third novel, but the only one I have published to date. My target audience is aged 11-14, and I don’t think of them as children. They are young teens at the age where the veil between reality and fantasy is thin.

The Smart Cookie: What inspired the story in Tribute?

Chris: When I first started teaching, I taught in downtown San  Jose. Several of my students lost friends and family members to the gang violence in the area.

The Smart Cookie:  I noticed there was a lot of mention of scripture in your novel. Do you consider yourself a person of faith?

Chris: I am. However, the scripture is directly related to exorcism practices. In a different novel, I write about voodoo and hoodoo practices. There is always a cryptid of some type in my stories as well as some type of belief practice.

The Smart Cookie:  Tell us more about where the MC Miguel came from.

Chris:  Miguel is a hodgepodge of many tweens I taught over the years. This is my 17th year of teaching, and I’ve met over 2,000 tweens between tutoring and teaching grades 5-7.

The Smart Cookie:  What are your goals with Tribute  and The Cleaners series?

Chris: I want to write books I can use with my own students, many of whom are English language learners. The books are designed to be high interest/low reading level books with enough action and intrigue to appeal to reluctant readers. Interestingly enough, most of the reviews I have on Amazon are from adults as far as I can tell.

The Smart Cookie: Where are you from? Do you have any personal ties to the Latin culture?

This question made me laugh. My Dad worked for the federal bureau of prisons for 23 years as their Chief of Mechanical Services officer. That meant we moved to a different prison reservation about every six months on average. I attended twelve different school systems in eight different states. Moving around as often as I did to many different cities, I grew up with multicultural exposure decades before it was fashionable to trace heritage connections. The other kids I knew with similar experiences were the children of military families. We had a lot in common.

The Smart Cookie: If you could chat with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?

Chris: I’m an adult orphan, so it would be nice to talk with my deceased parents again.

The Smart Cookie:  Any other projects in the works?

Oh, yes. I have drafts of three more novels, and I have plans for more. My goal is to continue writing in retirement.

Connect with Chris at all these places.

Twitter

Her Website/blog

 

 

 

 

#MusicMonday: Speak Your Mind by @AnneMarie Album Review

Even before she had an album, her voice was playing on your radio. Anne Marie’s first entry into the Billboard Hot 100 was her collaboration with Clean Bandit, Rock-A-Bye.

That came out in 2016, and has since peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Speak Your Mind is the debut studio album by singer-songwriter Anne-Marie, released via Major Tom’s and Atlantic Records on April 27, 2018.

It has been certified gold in the UK since it’s release and debuted at #31 in the US on the Billboard 200 chart.

Song by Song Review

To listen to each track, click the title name to be linked to a Youtube video containing the song.

Cry: “Cry” is the opening song from Anne-Marie’s debut album Speak Your Mind. The song is a post-breakup song that shows Anne-Marie’s singing about her love interest crying and probably regretting leaving her for another relationship that didn’t end up working out. Throughout the song she fires at her ex, chiding that he should have realized she’s a ‘piece of luxury’, and that he can never find another person like her.

Ciao Adios:

a pop dancy track about finding your lover with someone new. It has Latin musicality and rhythm

Alarm: an EDM track about having intuition that once a cheat, always a cheater. The breakdown has a Jamaican sound.

Trigger:  “Trigger” describes a relationship between people with opposite temperaments. Anne-Marie implies she is a pacifist, at the mercy of her partner. The song is a plea for them to sort out their issues and make the relationship work.

The metaphor of a gun’s trigger is key in the song. Shooting a gun and ending a relationship are similar in their destructive capabilities, and both can be avoided via other, less violent means.

Then: the singer sings her heart out this mid-tempo ballad. She describes how she truly felt about an ex-lover, and how meaningful the relationship had been–then.

Perfect: “Perfect” talks about the beauty of imperfection and rejects the idea that perfection exists. It encourages people to be comfortable with their flaws and insecurities, and to just be themselves.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S: A pop anthem about being in the friendzone

Bad Girlfriend: The song speaks of Anne-Marie being a bad counterpart to his lover.  it’s clear to see that the man that inspired this song is still sticking around with Anne-Marie cause he is in love and all the flaws she had is nothing to him. And she is accepting the fact she is an idiot in relationship.

Heavy: A relationship that feels more like a burden than a blessing. It has a melodic musicality. It’s my favorite song on the regular version of the album.

2002: Co-written by Ed Sheeran,

In “2002,” Anne-Marie reminisces about falling in love and all the songs that soundtracked that romance.

During the song’s chorus, she references six songs released in the late 1990s and early 2000s, like Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” Nelly’s “Ride wit Me,” NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” and Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.”

The “99 Problems” reference is actually a misnomer, however, as Jay-Z didn’t write that song until 2003.

Can I Get Your Number?: It’s a woman/girl empowerment dancehall song about taking risk and going beyond the norm as Anne-Marie is the one getting the guy’s phone number instead of him approaching her first. Thinking that she should do the first move chanting “…what if this shit is love?” rather regretting for the rest of her life.

Machine: 

A track relating how idiosyncrasies that make us human wouldn’t bother if we were machine.

Other notable tracks on the deluxe version of the album include Breathing Fire and RockABye.

 

#BookReview: Let’s Meet God by Chris Hearn

As a believer, I always love returning to the basics of my faith. That’s why from the very beginning of this short but sweet Bible companion, I enjoyed each entry in this book of FAQ’s about the Christian faith.

This 78 page book discusses the Christian faith in an open-minded and easy to read format. It is written as a frequently asked question page for a website but for Christianity or someone new to the faith. It allows anyone to find out more about God through faith in Christ Jesus, while still remaining scholarly.

#BookReview: Tribute by Chris Knoblaugh

As a kid, I was entirely intrigued for books with the creep factor. Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, I even read a couple Hardy Boys.

I still haven’t mustered up the courage to read a Stephen King novel, and I still ought to read Agatha Christie since I like reading mysteries as much as I love writing them.

Tribute mixes all these authors best features in a story that takes you by the shirt collar from page one. Tribute offers a mythical and cultural look at the dead’s unfinished business and how it affects the lives of those that remain.

With parts that had juvenile appeal and reminiscent of Disney’s CoCo and creepier parts and references that read like The Goosebumps series, readers of all ages will give their soul to the entire novel from beginning to end.

#NewMusicAlert: American Girl & Only Fools Fall In Love by @lifeofdillon

U.K based pop duo made up of David Keiffer and Joe Femi have known each other since high school and have self-declared their music as “acoustic house,” and formed in 2014. They would play gigs at the local pubs after class and their band gets it’s name from a Nepalese surfer named Dillon they met during a trip to Brazil.

Mixing together sounds from an array of genres from around the world—Femi’s Brazilian-Nigerian background heavily influences their newest material—the band has taken their infectious music on tour with the likes of Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth.

Song by Song Review

images (3) As soon as I heard this song, I honestly had it on repeat for days. It relevantly talks about topics of immigration and dreamers but still has that feel good Latin Flavor to it’s pop musicality.

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https_images.genius.com6750065cb3e471cca746e51bfd5edb8e.268x268x1 “Only Fools Fall In Love” finds the duo further honing in on their sharp and slick take on modern pop music. Mixing acoustic guitars with a tight, rhythmic beat work and electronic flourishes, the song centers around an infectious, catchy earworm of a melody and a sentimental lyric that all can relate to.

Watch the music video HERE and be sure to follow Life of Dillon below so you don’t miss all their other new music:

Follow Life Of Dillon:
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

 

 

 

 

#NewMusicAlert: Younger by A Great Big World

Back with their third album to date, I guess you could say that A Great Big World has something to new to say.

Their self-titled album is recorded with a live band and is self-titled because it sounds “most like them.” The duo, made up of two dudes that met at NYU, Chad King and Ian Axel, have released two other albums, their first which included the Top 5 Billboard Collaboration with Christina Augilera, “Say Something.”

Song Review

Younger:    The first single off the album, “Younger”, encapsulates the innocence and naivete of childhood youth, unfolding like a colorful love letter to an adolescence of playing wiffle ball and Super Mario Bros, listening to Maroon 5, and dreaming about the future. It has a fun up-tempo and contains video game sound effects hidden throughout the musicality. Total #TBT.

 

Watch the nostalgic video game-inspired throwback lyric video here.

Connect with A Great Big World in the world of social media:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram: 
Official Website

 

#NewMusicAlert: Strangers On An Island by @BrotherLeo

Brother Leo only cared about football as a child but that didn’t stop his mom to force her son, whose birth name is Ola, to join boys’ choir and take piano lessons. Fast forward to age 17 where he was playing professional soccer for the Trelleborgs FF, he sang during a school function and friends were adamant about him auditioning for Pop Idol.

He signed a deal reluctantly in his native Sweden. Before his Swedish debut, he had a plethora of number one hit credits as an in-demand songwriter for Gnash, Hailee Steinfield, Akon, and more under his given name.

His artist name Brother Leo was assumed in 2018 which is based off Svennson’s more confident and free imaginary twin as a child.

Song by Song Review

Everything On Red: Based on a gamble on a roulette wheel on either red or black, this song is about betting all your chips on the love at first sight you feel when you meet someone new for the first time. Produced by Fatboy Slim, the musicality and feel to the track is reminiscent to island or Carribean music. The breakdown gives the impression that time has slowed and all you hear is your heartbeat in your ears.

Stranger On An Island: Sunny verses of beachside vignettes combined with tropical drums and wild turntable scratches make this track a summer splash, and give you that getaway feel no matter the season. You may hear Brother Leo sing about being stuck on an island but this beachy track will be stuck in your head after just one listen.

Check out the music video directed by Mary Clerete here and connect with Brother Leo below:
Website
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

 

Book Review: The Road Ahead is actually a field guide on how to pick an unsuspected winner in any election.

I was eager from page one to start reading The Road Ahead by Willie Handler because in high school, I fell in love with the subtle humor associated with the genre of satire from reading books like Candide by Voiltaire, etc.

Some who have read my own previously published novels could argue that they contain a satirical tone to romance.

Yet Willie’s book kept me reading from the beginning because his characters had definite quirks, flaws, and a sense of realism to them.

And even though this book was published in 2016 prior to the election of Donald Trump in America, a non-political guy getting elected to lead a nation sure seems like quite a joke based on our past history.

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but what I liked best about Willie’s book is the message that it gets across:

Just because a person didn’t study political science or has a background in politics or public service does not mean they aren’t going to take what they do know and surprise us all in the end.

You should never count anyone out. In politics or in life. People have a way of surprising you in good and bad ways.

In the meantime, I look forward to Handler’s next novel. I’m already anticipating the fits of giggles it will have me in.

To interact with Willie directly, use the information below.Willie Handler Press Graphic.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Cookies For A Cause

 Started in 2016 to allow a freedom of expression for myself and others, and known by most as a book and music blog, I feel that it is time to launch my next initiative within the community.
The mission statement of The Smart Cookie Philes is ESPRESSO YOURSELF and as seen on these designs is the main logo for the site.
I wanted to raise awareness of causes I believe in that follow the same ethics as The Smart Cookie Philes which is why I designed the logo to be the first COOKIE FOR A CAUSE.
Each shirt with this main logo design will benefit Bess The Book Bus. To learn more about this great cause, please visit here:
Each mug with the logo benefits The Smart Cookie Philes.
Thank you for supporting my efforts to be the change within my community.
Signed,
The Smart Cookie
T-shirt
Shirts start at $21
Mug
Mugs start at $15
Sticker
Stickers start at $6

Shipping Info

For influencer opportunities and to be considered as the next cause, please email Chelsea at wittywriterpoet26@gmail.com

If you can’t buy anything at this time, please still share this with all your friends.