Happy 3rd Birthday to The Smart Cookie Philes!

In January 2016, I began this site as a book and music review blog with no idea how big it would grow and GROW it did.

It became a registered domain.

It became a PR firm.

It became a source of inspiration for all creative people to belong to.

It became a hashtag game, a chat, and now it’s own weekly prompt on Twitter.

It became a playlist on Youtube with it’s own videos.

It became a merchandise shop that has given to various causes that people may not be aware of but are inventively helping various sectors within the community such as:

Bess The Book Bus

Adopt A Classroom

And more to be named soon with new product designs.

Most of all, it provides a safe haven for people no matter who to come and feel free to espresso themselves however that may look because life is more fun when you live it on the edge, you color outside the lines, you choose to stand out instead of fit in.

Thanks for keeping this movement going for 3 years.

Come back to the site each day this week for a new giveaway every day. the smart cookie philes presents

The New #ESPRESSOYOURSELF

If you are a reader and a supporter of my Book Blog turned PR firm then you already know the meaning behind #ESPRESSOYOURSELF….

Most people on Twitter know it as a hashtag game that became a chat that is now being condensed (temporarily) to a weekly prompt posted on Monday at midnight, and can be answered throughout the week by any and all within the #bookish, the #writing, or the #reading communities.

The rules are as follows:

  1. The prompt goes live on Monday at 12 a.m. EST.
  2. You must reply to the tweet and use the hashtag to answer the prompt.
  3. You must reply to one -three people in order to keep the conversation going.

I started ESPRESSOYOURSELF as a hashtag game in order to be a sort of reprieve from typical hashtag games I saw on Twitter:

Prompts were posted with fancy graphics and people were answering the question but no one was connecting.

The hosts were even unaware of what was even being tweeted with their hashtag because they didn’t even reply to the tweets.

This prompted the participants to not reply to anyone else, and it was a great reflection of how we as humans use social media:

To disconnect, to brag, to stay in our self-absorbed bubble, to never try to really get to know anyone else.

So stay tuned through March 30 for weekly prompts, and I thank you all for the support of ESPRESSO YOURSELF.

Signed,

The Smart Cookie

#MusicMonday: Pink’s Beautiful Trauma is raw and vulnerable in all her signature colorful ways

P!nk is hands down one of my favorite pop artists and it isn’t because she has the most amazing voice or has songs with popping beats but because she’s 100% herself with everything she puts out musically, and usually it always has connotations of female empowerment and encouraging young women to break glass ceilings and if they happen to not fit inside the box society tries to put them in…oh fucking well.

Beautiful Trauma was released in October of 2017 which meant it was her first album in five years time. The album debuted at #1 during it’s release week before ranking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 200.

When I first listened to it, I wasn’t sure I was a fan of it. Yet, it took a good ten listens for me to realize the amazing artistry hidden within each song and I do hope my review highlights the greatness of Pink’s Beautiful Trauma.

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Song by Song Review

Beautiful Trauma: The title track opens the album with a track about how life’s trauma can turn to beauty over time, and musically describes a love relationship that bubbles and fizzes at just the right temperature to keep one sane.

Whatever You Want: This uplifting power ballad finds the singer fighting for a relationship that seems doomed.pablo (27)

What About Us: Anthem-like musicality made this a great first single off the album with lyrics speaking to the heart of love and trust whether that be between two people or within society as a whole.

But We Lost It: A piano ballad that discusses a relationship that charged with so much positivity (joy, happiness, and peace) but time wasn’t on their side. Almost like a spark between two people that flickers, dims, and dies.

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Barbies: My favorite song on the entire album because of it’s soft musicality mixed with lullaby-like elements. It perfectly expresses that adult moment when nostalgia seems to take over and all you want to do is go back to being a kid with naivete and innocence “playing barbies in your room.” Co-written by Julia Michaels.

Where We Go: Catchy pop rock musicality make this worth a few listens, with a lyrical tale about letting go of a relationship that is doomed for disaster.

For Now: A song about reminiscing an old flame and getting stuck on the highs without realizing the lows.pablo (29).png

Secrets: A song about a truth about life and all of us have secrets or private parts we don’t express to just anyone.

Better Life: A track discussing the highlight reel effect social media has on all of us.

I Am Here: A brand new ballad version of Just Like Fire, expressing realizing you are enough as is ,and you are here in this moment.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken:

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A political yet poetic ballad about 19th century women and incorporates the #MeToo movement.

You Get My Love: The final track on the album emotionally pleading and raw about the gift of her love.

 

#GiftGuide 2018: Gifts For Any Occasion for the Book or Music Lover in your life

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:

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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…

WHEN HEARTS COLLIDE BOOK COVER

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

Indie Spotlight Bundle

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.

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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!

 

 

#MusicReview & #EarwormAlert: Why I Can’t Stop Listening to ‘YoungBlood’ by @5sos

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:

  1. Working out
  2. Driving in the car
  3. Karaoke session in the shower
  4. Writing a scene in my novel
  5. Computer work
  6. 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.

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  • 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.

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“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.

#MusicReview: It’s ‘Scorpion’ Season with Drake’s newest album

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.

Notable Tracks

“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.

#MusicReview: What kind of ‘Views’ does Drake offer us?

#MusicReview: What kind of ‘Views’ does Drake offer us?

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.

      Notable tracks

“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

#BookReview: Does God exist? Silva offers expansive proof.

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.

 

 

#BookReview: When Hearts Collide by @williamsSaraB

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.

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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.

 

 

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Purchase a copy today of this #MustRead!