One week left to get that special someone in your life the perfect gift. If, like me, they consider themselves a bibliophile or a melophile, they want something of that nature.
I could recommend stationary or bookmarks until I’m blue in the face but book and music lovers want just that. Books or music. Without further ado, let’s dive in to some of my faves I’ve experienced this year that I think would make great gifts.
Time to turn it up with these Smart Cookie approved picks:
YoungBlood by 5SOS
This CD was on repeat for two weeks straight, and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone and everyone. It would make a great stocking stuffer for sure this Christmas.
To read my full review, visit here.
Let The Trap Say Amen by Lecrae & Zaytoven
Whether you are new to the faith, curious about the faith, or saved and serious, Lecrae’s newest mixtape will have you turning up the volume and dancing in praise and worship.
I even workout to this mixtape often so the tempo is just the right amount of gospel and gangster.
For the full review, please visit here
Voice Notes by Charlie Puth
Whether you aren’t a fan or you are, this album deserves a Grammy nod.
For the full review, please visit here.
Shawn Mendes by Shawn Mendes
The Canadian cutie started on vine and now his third album reached a whole new level of “fine.” With collabs with Julia Michaels and Ryan Tedder, this album shows a maturity beyond Mendes young years.
For the full review, please visit here.
Moving on to some lit reads I had the pleasure of checking out this year…
If you love romantic storylines mixed with Christian elements, this is a book you should definitely consider. The best part of this book is that it will still give you all the feels without leaving you feeling like you stepped out of line.
For my full review, please visit here.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
This book took an in-depth yet fictional look at how social media maximizes things that normally would be minimized, and how the big picture is all that you ought to focus on in the end.
For the full review, please visit here.
“A life of the mind requires denial of all other desires,” or does it? A professor reunites with her college sweetheart in this bookish and swoon-worthy romance.
For full review, please visit here.
Her poetry will have you falling in love. Themes range from heart break, first love, forever love, etc.
For full review, please visit here.
If you know an author or musician who isn’t sure what to do about getting the word out about their book or album, maybe gift them with one of my service packages.
Lastly, some bookish people like to sport their love and appreciation for all things books and music, and you can support a bookish or educational cause with every purchase in my official merch shop Cookies For A Cause.
That about wraps it up! Wishing you a very happy holiday season and may the new year bring new moments where you choose to espresso yourself fully and truly!
I purchased the album, totally stoked to own the #1 album, by 5 seconds of summer. Yet, that was two weeks ago, and since I first put it in my CD player, I can’t seem to stop listening to it.
It has now become the soundtrack of all my daily life activities:
- Working out
- Driving in the car
- Karaoke session in the shower
- Writing a scene in my novel
- Computer work
- Playing with my dogs
You get the idea. It’s a definite earworm.
Youngblood debuted at number one in Australia, becoming 5 Seconds of Summer’s third number-one album in their home country. It debuted atop the albums chart at the same week that the title track was number one for a fifth week on the singles chart.
In the United States, it became their third number-one album on the Billboard 200 chart, debuting with 142,000 album-equivalent units, including 117,000 in pure album sales. The album debuted ahead of the Carters’ (Beyoncé and Jay-Z) Everything Is Love, with industry forecasters initially unsure of which album would take the top spot. This made them the first Australian act with three number-one albums in the US. It also led to 5 Seconds of Summer being the first band (not vocal group) to have their first three full-length studio albums debut atop the Billboard 200.
The Australian pop rock band consists of four members:
5 Seconds of Summer consists of Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford, Calum Hood, and Ashton Irwin. Clifford and Hood joined Hemmings in posting covers on YouTube, and Irwin joined the group during their first live gig in Australia, thus forming the band’s current line up.
- Luke Hemmings – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard
- Calum Hood – bass guitar, vocals, keyboard
- Michael Clifford – lead guitar, vocals, keyboard
- Ashton Irwin – drums, percussion, vocals, keyboard
The band cited McFly, Blink-182, All Time Low, Mayday Parade, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Boys Like Girls and Busted as their influences.
The guys write all their own music but this third album showcased a sound and songwriting style that was beyond their years as all four guys are between the ages of 21 and 23.
Song by Song Review (Regular Album version only)
“YoungBlood”: The album opens with a banger of a rock and roll song with pop musicality gives the atmospheric themes of the push and pull of a relationship.
This track especially showcases growth and maturity in their songwriting and artistry.
“Want You Back“: The lead single from their third album tells the story of a love that never truly ends. The song has a more pop electronic sound for cleaner melodies.
“Lie To Me”: A song about a love that doesn’t line up with an old school crooner musicality.
“Valentine“: Almost an “All I Want For Christmas” feel but for Valentine’s Day. It’s about a love that meets in the middle and has no expectations.
“Talk Fast”: My absolute favorite track on the album because of the 80’s musicality and lyrical content about a hit and run romance.
“Moving Along”: Pop musicality with a bit of their old sound, seal with a Nirvana drum solo, comes a song about thinking about someone you used to be in a relationship
“If Walls Could Talk”: Suggestive lyrics paint a sexy alternative pop song about the private lives of two people in a relationship that only the walls of their house, specifically their bedroom, get to witness.
“Better Man”: My second favorite because this song makes my heart happy because it’s romantic and sweet.
From the first note, this song will stick with you, maybe even soften you up. Reminiscing his ex lover, he knows that she brought out the best in him, and though he realizes he should be bitter, dappling in unhealthy habits like smoking and one night stands, he still cares and would die for her, if need be.
“More”: Musically, it is everything you wanted and more. Lyrically, this track discusses a new divide in a relationship that causes problems for both partners.
“Why Won’t You Love Me”: A rock n roll version of “Why Don’t You Love Me?” by Hot Chelle Rae with the musicality of Guns N Roses “Sweet Child Of Mine.”
“Woke Up In Japan”: A poetic look at love being caught within the pockets of time, leaving you feeling jet lag, disoriented, and empty.
“Empty Wallets”: An alternative look at being so in love with someone you are willing to spend all your money on them.
“Ghost of You”: A song about heartbreak post-breakup or after someone passes away.
Overall, Young Blood is something you may vibe with, or it may just become the soundtrack to your life. Either way, it is a musical masterpiece in any genre, country, or light.
Scorpion is the fifth studio album by Canadian rapper Drake. It was released on June 29, 2018 by Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records and Republic Records. Scorpion is a double album consisting of 25 tracks. Its A-side is primarily hip hop, whilst its B-side has been described as R&B and pop.
The album features guest appearances from Jay-Z and Ty Dolla Sign as well as posthumous appearances from Michael Jackson and Static Major, and additional vocals by a variety of artists, including Lil Uzi Vert, Future, Lil Wayne and Nai Palm. The album is executively produced by Drake himself, alongside frequent collaborator Noah “40” Shebib and manager Oliver El-Khatib, and features production from 40, alongside a variety of producers, including No I.D., Boi-1da, DJ Premier, DJ Paul, Tay Keith, T-Minus, Murda Beatz, Cardo and Noel Cadastre, among others.
It was supported by the singles “God’s Plan”, “Nice for What”, “I’m Upset”, “Don’t Matter to Me”, “In My Feelings” and “Nonstop”. All six singles reached the top ten on the US Billboard Hot 100; three of them (“God’s Plan”, “Nice for What” and “In My Feelings”) reached number one. On the July 14, 2018 Hot 100 chart, all 25 songs were listed, beating the record of 22 entries by his previous release More Life.
“Don’t Matter To Me”: As a huge Michael Jackson fan, I was beyond hyped that Drake chose to include an unreleased Michael song on his album and cut it to be an original track. Drake and MJ sing about a broken relationship. After expressing concerns for his girl in the first verse, Drake says that there is no chance for them to rekindle their relationship.
“In My Feelings”:
KiKi, do you love me?
“In My Feelings” is an upbeat, club-mixed love letter to “Kiki,” “KB,” and the members of City Girls. The track rides on Drake’s heartfelt singing and honest lyrics, wondering if they still love him.
The track is produced by 40, TrapMoneyBenny and BlaqNmilD. BlaqNmilD had a hand at producing another track on Scorpion, “Nice for What,” which has similar New Orleans bounce influences.
The track is heavily based on vocal samples, a staple of New Orleans bounce. One included sample is New Orleans bounce track “Smoking Gun” by Magnolia Shorty, mixed with City Girls vocals written to sound similar to that track. Also sampled is “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne, frequent collaborator and the man who brought Drake into an international spotlight.
At the end of the song, Drake samples the seventh episode of the second season of popular TV show Atlanta, which is written, directed, and acted in by Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino. This episode revolved around Drake and was aptly titled “Champagne Papi,” his Instagram username and producer alter-ego.
Days following the album’s release, “In My Feelings” garnered widespread media attention due to a viral video of comedian and Instagram personality, Shiggy, dancing to the song’s hook. The video evolved into the #DoTheShiggy challenge where people would try to replicate Shiggy’s original video. The challenge contributed to “In My Feelings” topping the Billboard Hot 100.
The music video for “In My Feelings” was released on August 2, 2018, starring Drake, Phylicia Rashad, La La Anthony, Shiggy, and Capito & Marley.
“Ratchet Happy Birthday”: is a mellow track with upbeat and longing vocals. Drake paints a picture of a woman who lacks emotional feeling with the backdrop of an important celebration, her birthday.
“Nice For What”: Throughout the song, Drake speaks about female empowerment in the digital age. Women can be found trying to gain a following and live in the light, but that also comes with some resistance and hate. Despite what they go through, Drake shows that he understands and appreciates the hustle. It includes a sample from Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.”
“Nonstop”: On “Nonstop,” Drake flexes his abilities as a rapper and the business moves being made behind the scenes of his music. The song audibly has a distinct Memphis influence, as displayed by Drake’s flow throughout the song.
“God’s Plan”: My favorite off this album, “God’s Plan” is a feel good track that discusses Drake’s future. Being who he is in the industry, he knows that people want him to fail; however, God won’t let him do that.
Another key subject of the song is the separation Drake feels that he needs to have from those outside of his inner circle. Anyone who tries to work their way into his life must have an ulterior motive to benefit themselves.
The last key subject of this song is the fact that Drake is giving back to the life he had once, honoring the people and the environment he also once was in.
The official music video shared a different sentiment though, as Drake took the budget for the video, a whopping $996,631.90, and gave it away to families, schools, charities, and more. It was directed by Karena Evans, who also hails from Toronto, and is a protégé of Director X.
“Can’t Take A Joke”: With “Can’t Take a Joke,” Drake braggadociously details his busy life as a celebrity.
From touching on his home life in Hidden Hills, Calabasas, to mentioning taking vacations and talking about his nightlife antics with his Reps Up Crew, Drizzy boasts about his success in the rap game while notifying his opposition that he jokingly looks down on them, as seen in the chorus of the track:
I be tryna laugh with the bros ‘bout the opps that we know
But they can’t take a joke, ’cause it’s not one
“Survival”: Drake talks about his experience in the rap game by mentioning significant moments from throughout his career.
These moments include his career including his beef with Meek Mill, experiences with Cash Money records, and minor beef with Diddy.
Overall, I vibed more with Scorpion more than Views but one thing is for sure, Drake is a legend that always seeks for substance and truth than to use his music to brag on himself, and that is something I can get behind.
Missed my Views review? Click below to read it now.
I’m sure you clicked this but were a bit confused seeing as Drake’s album Views came out on April 29, 2016. You probably wonder what rock I’ve been under that I just now am sharing my review of this album.
Truth is, being that Drake just released Scorpion it was time to share my views on Views.
Views is the fourth studio album by Canadian rapper Drake. It was released on April 29, 2016,by Cash Money Records, Republic Records and Young Money Entertainment. Recording sessions took place from 2015 to 2016, with both Drake and his longtime collaborator and record producer 40 serving as the record’s executive producers. 40 also primarily handled the production on the album alongside each of these several other record producers such as Nineteen85, Maneesh Bidaye, Kanye West, and Jordan Ullman, among others. The album contains the elements of genres such as R&B, dancehall, hip hop and pop, among others.
The album was supported by five singles: “Hotline Bling”, “One Dance”, “Pop Style”,”Controlla”, and “Too Good”. Views was met with lukewarm reviews from critics, many of whom found it to be an overlong retread of Drake’s previous work. Despite this, it spent 13 non-consecutive weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200. Views became the first album to accumulate one-billion streams on Apple Music.The album was certified quadruple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Views was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Rap Album at the 59th Grammy Awards. As of April 2018, Views sold 1.73 million copies and a total of 5.41 million album-equivalent units in the United States.
“Feel No Ways”: Drake talks about a girl who no longer lives with his ambitious, career-driven lifestyle. She’s “gassed up,” tarnishing Drake’s name, even though their relationship was doomed to fail. Together they were unproductive, and often sleeping in and smoking weed. As he tries to move on and focus on himself, she continues to try and manipulate him when he returns to Toronto. This makes him feel guilty and sad.
“Hype”: Drake uses a similar flow and subject matter to previous songs “Summer Sixteen” and “Back to Back.” Drizzy takes aim at the likes of Meek Mill while comparing himself to Michael Jackson,bragging about dancing with Rihanna, and claiming Views is already a classic. Ironic, considering he’s supposedly “doning the hype.”
“One Dance”: an R&B song with dancehall and Afrobeats inflections, featuring a slowed down sample of the vocals and chord stabs from a 2008 UK Funky house anthem, Kyla’s “Do You Mind,”produced by Crazy Cousinz. This is also this reviewer’s favorite off this album.
“Grammys”: looks into Drake and Future’s music careers. While Drake’s won one Grammy for Take Care and has been nominated several times, Future has yet to win a Grammy, despite mainstream and critical success.
Drake switches flows multiple times throughout his verse, making reference to Jay Z and Canadian rapper Top5. Future, on the other hand, blasts the Grammys and takes a subtle dig at rapper Desiigner, whose hit song “Panda” has been labeled as a Future rip-off.
“Pop Style”: a Jamaican term meaning “ballin’” or “showing off.” The term was famously used on Althea and Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking”, a Reggae one hit wonder which reached number 1 on the UK charts in 1978.
The new verse takes aim at Drake’s critics. He fires subliminals at Meek Mill and Mo-G while continuing to include braggadocious lyrics about his OVO crew.
“Too Good”: is about a couple who go out of their way to treat each other well, while they feel like their love is taken for granted.
Carrying the same Caribbean and dancehall beat as that of “Work,” their most recent duet prior to this song, and “One Dance,” this is the fourth collaboration between Rihanna and Drake (after “What’s My Name?” and “Take Care”). All four songs focus on relationships.
Rihanna and Drake used to be in a relationship—while their recent return collaborations have started rumors that they’re together, Rihanna clarified that she’s still single and their reunion is only professional.
Drake’s third verse interpolates Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan’s “Love Yuh Bad”—and the track includes a direct sample of Popcaan’s verse on the outro.
“Hotline Bling”: “Hotline Bling” is most likely about Drake’s old flame from Toronto, Nebby. She’s had an on and off relationship with the 6 God a few times, and her Instagram account is a constant reminder that she’s never home – always traveling to exotic places, and out wearing almost nothing. Based on the lyrics, it’s as if Drake wrote this song while scrolling through her Instagram page.
Overall, Views is a dancehall Carribean musical compilation of relationship drama and being taken for granted.
See why I prefered Scorpion better
I’ve never wondered if God exists or not. I have, though, doubted God working in my life or that he could fix the broken pieces of my heart, at times. Yet, that is because I was always raised to have faith, and it was a foundation that stuck, even though my church family has changed over the years.
Yet, a lot of people are not like me in that way, they were either raised in a faith-based home and chose to rebel by choosing a whole new faith, or they just saw no use for God in their life.
If you are one of the many who has kept an open mind in terms of God and God’s existence, this is the perfect book to add to your TBR list.
Some features of this book include:
- Reads like a textbook
- very thorough
- presented all sides of the argument without showing bias
- proved that God exists
- ends with a collection of quotes from famous scientists quoting that God, without a doubt, is scientifically proven to exist.
Yet, I won’t just share that this book proves that God exists but once you read it, you will see the many ways that you encounter every day that stand as explicit proof.
Growing up I read a lot of romance even if it was only for young readers. Some of my favorites were Francine Pascal (Sweet Valley High series), Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook), and Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty.
Maybe it was because I had trouble relating to the opposite sex in a romantic way (#singlenotsurehowtomingle) but one of my favorite authors growing up was actually Karen Kingsbury because of her use of biblical themes and verses throughout her book and romance in her plotlines but unlike the authors mentioned above, her books were written in a clean yet still heart-thumping way where I couldn’t turn the page fast enough.
Debut author Sara Beth Williams brings that same Kingsbury-like essence to the genre but with a fresh voice. The storyline kept my interest. The characters had tremendous depth, and the writing overall was very well put together and flowed so very nicely.
Something I’ve noticed as an avid reader of romance is that scenes that contain a little extra heat sometimes read very awkwardly but Williams kept all the spark and had no spoofs.
As a fellow romance writer myself who hopes to release my debut( a rewrite of my previous novels) sometime in the near future, Williams novel reminded me that the genre holds a lot of promise, even from a Christian perspective.
And I am honored to be her friend and colleague. I can’t wait to see what she puts out next, and that is 100% Biblical truth.
When I graduated college, I knew without a doubt I wanted to be a publicist.
Not for all the perks but because I wanted to use marketing in a fun way.
As someone who made a career since her teens as a fangirl, I have a gift for encouraging others and highlighting the good that others say and do.
Some within the writing and music community, especially indie artists, are unfamiliar with the term “publicist.”
A publicist is a person whose job is to generate and manage publicity for a company, a brand, or public figure or for a work such as a book, film or album. Publicists are public relations specialists who have the role to maintain and represent the images of individuals, rather than representing an entire corporation or business.
Publicists are also hired by public figures who want to maintain or protect their image.
Publicists brand their clients by getting magazine, TV, newspaper, and website coverage. Most top-level publicists work in private practice, handling multiple clients.
- One of the publicist’s main functions is to generate press coverage on behalf of their clients and serve as the bridge between clients, their public and media outlets. A publicist manages campaigns and performs other public relations functions. It usually takes many years to develop the media contacts, experience and relationships necessary to be an effective publicist.
- The main role of publicists is to get good press coverage for their clients. One way that publicists can do this is by sending press releases to journalists. A press release is written like a news story; including a headline, and attention grabbing quotes. However, because of the high traffic of e-mails, today, many press releases sent by publicists are lost within the other e-mails that journalists receive.
- Publicists tend to have good working relationships with journalists, TV news producers, and producers. In order to have these relationships, publicists usually network with these media professionals.
- To protect a client’s image, publicists will often ask journalists what questions will be asked during interviews to prevent any surprises and discussion of any unwanted topics.Publicists determine how to manage a person’s or brand’s image by what is being said about them in the media. This pertains to websites and social media. More recently, publicists have the need to network with bloggers and scope out their websites to make sure the content on their client is appropriate.
A typical day for a publicist consists of being on the phone, networking through e-mails, and can make themselves available at all times of the day for when conflict arises.
- Out of the office, publicists go to gatherings to network with media professionals.
The #1 I became a publicist is because I wanted to use my gift for writing from a marketing standpoint. And as someone who published novels before without an ally, I wanted to be that specifically for authors and musicians.
Publicists always do the work with the best interests of the client being served, and most of the times, it is a very thankless job.
If you’ve stumbled upon this post, and you believe you need a publicist with a heart for writers and artists who the world has tried to silence, let me be your voice. Let me help you shine.
Some people hire a publicist but realize they just want book launch publicity and that’s it.
If you have a book or album about to come out, please check out the other service packages I have available.
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.
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.
Switch: A song about being gangster for Jesus.
Can’t Block It: A song for the haters and about the haters.
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.