New writings

Hello followers!

I have been away for a year, writing, living, trying to stay positive. I’m going to try to come back here and create new content, in the meantime check out some more of my personal writing on my Tumblr here.

Thanks!

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30 Days With a Kindle

I was that girl who was totally against e-readers. I was all, “I’d never get an e-reader, I love having a book in my hand and collecting books on my bookshelf!”

Then I realized I was broke and not getting an amazing discount on books anymore and the books I wanted were never at the library when I wanted them, so I started looking up e-readers and mentioning to my mother that maybe I’d get one “someday.”

I got a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday last month. I was a little nervous. I had a stack of books I got for Christmas and now this shiny new e-reader that I wanted to fill with books. I didn’t know how I was going to juggle it all or if I would even like reading a novel on a device.

After a month with the Kindle, I’ve found that I’m reading more than I ever had (take away the enormous amount of time on my hands or that instead of obsessively writing like I usually do when I’m in a bad place, I’m obsessively reading.) I’ve read seven novels on the Kindle so far (two were short novellas I got for like $1 from Amazon), along with reading books. Like I said, my reading has become obsessive. 

What I love about my e-reader – The thing I love the MOST is climbing in to bed, turning all the lights off and curling up under the covers with my e-reader. It makes reading in bed so easy and comfortable. It’s easy to hold and it’s easy to turn the page. 

I’ve recently started highlighting memorable passages in books. I think this feature is going to come in handy the more I read. 

I love being able to “preview” a book from the Kindle store. I read the first 15-20 pages of The Goldfinch and I could not put it down.  I HAVE to read it. It’s next on my list.

The display on the Kindle really feels like your reading a book. I don’t see my reflection in the screen. I can change the brightness. It doesn’t feel as different from reading a physical book as I thought.

What I miss about books – There have been a few occasions I’ve gone to the bookstore to look at the book I’m reading on the Kindle and just find my place to see how far I’ve read. Even though the e-reader tells you what page you’re on and the percentage you’re at, there’s nothing like having a bookmark in a book and seeing how much you’ve read.

Also, there are some books I’ve read that I’m going to buy when they come out in paperback. For the only reason being they were so good I want to share it. I love passing along a good book and though it can be done with an e-reader, it’s not the same.

For now I’ve been going back and forth, reading a book one night then reading my Kindle the next night. I don’t think there will come a time I’m exclusively Kindle. I love having a stack of books. I love sharing books. I love the feeling of opening a brand new book.

But I love my e-reader. I think it will introduce me to new books and authors.

Books I’ve read on my e-reader:

Takedown Twenty – Janet Evanovich

All That Glitters – Alisa Valdes

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell (Loved this way too much)

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

Turn it Loose – Britni Danielle

Bared to You – Sylvia Day

Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward (Must read)

Physical books I’ve read recently:

The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd

Good Lord Bird – James McBride

Sula – Toni Morrison

Brother, I’m Dying – Edwidge Danticat

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5 Things I Learned Working at a Bookstore

It’s been one year since I left my position as a customer service representative at a bookstore – a job I had for six years. When I look back at my twenties, over half of it was spent working surrounded by books. That job put me through four years of university and one year of post grad. It gave me the flexibility to take time off to study. It introduced me to people who will be my friends for the rest of my life.  The year I’ve been gone from that job has been hard, since working there became a safety net. I could work other jobs, go hard with school, take trips and always come back to that job. Here are some things I learned:

1)     I LOVE to read – I’ve always been a reader, but I don’t remember what my reading habits were like before I started working at the bookstore. Working there encouraged you to read. Not only could you buy books at a 30% discount, you could also borrow books, read them and return them. I discovered so many authors and series because of these perks. I never would have picked up Game of Thrones, or found Oscar Wao, or started reading the Stephanie Plum series, or black Harlequin romance novels (my weakness) if I wasn’t around books every day. I was forced to know what was new, what was on Oprah the day before, what books I had personally read that I could recommend. I had to be a reader in order to be a good employee. Now I have an overflowing bookshelf. I pass books on to my mother and sister and family members. I remember saying to a customer one Christmas season, “There’s nothing better than giving a book as gift!” and he looked at me like I was crazy.

2)     Books made me smarter – Because I was around books constantly, there were times when I’d find something interesting and flip through the pages. I read non fiction books about black history, education and war, I read biographies about child soldiers and strong women, I read historical fiction that taught me about slavery, African history and Haiti. My world opened up the more I read. I know I am smarter now than I would have been if I didn’t have the access to books I had while working at the bookstore.

3)     Work can bring great people in your life – Some of the greatest friends I’ve made in my twenties have been people I’ve worked with at the bookstore. I’ve travelled with them, had drunken nights with them, inside jokes that only us bookstore people will understand. There was a time when I looked forward to going to work because I loved the people I was working with. That’s something very special that I feel lucky I got to experience.

4)     Starbucks is addicting – I didn’t drink Starbucks before I started working at the bookstore. There was one right inside our store, so I started visiting there trying out new things. With the suggestion of some coworkers, I tried a frappuccino one afternoon. It changed my life. I would literally buy one every time I worked. I remember specifically I was there during Christmas time, it was snowing hard outside and I went to Starbucks to get a frap. That was when I knew I had a problem.

5)     Bookstores are important – I watched book sales decline at my store. In my last year I was expected to know about toys, gift products like scarves, nail polish and blankets, and features of an e-reader. I resisted all of it. I knew about books and I wanted to sell books. I still visit my old store and buy books from there when I can because books are important. I loved seeing kids and their parents cuddle up in a corner of the kids section and read a book (as long as they cleaned up after themselves). Or seeing the same women come in every month for their Harlequins. Or taking part in the midnight releases of Harry Potter or Breaking Dawn. There was a sense of community in our store. I’d be out at the grocery store or the mall and people would recognize me from the bookstore. There were regular creepy customers. There were fights and drama that kept us gossiping. That place really did become home.

I’ve visited my store a few times this year and every time I go back I miss it a little. Some of my friends are still there. The store is still the same. I still have the urge to tidy the shelves when I walk by. I was there maybe three years too long, but I look back on my time there with fondness. I learned a lot.

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Books that saved me in 2013

By no means was this year easy. Change is hard. I am not good with change. This summer I was unemployed, broke and depressed. I spent a lot of my time at my local library. Gone were the days I could afford to buy any book I wanted. I realized how important libraries are. I loved being able to pick up books I would never buy and discovering new writers. Reading got me through the hard times. Here were some books I read this summer and this year that kept me going:

Americanah – I tracked this book down in a library half an hour away from my house, I wanted to read it so bad. I spent a week blissfully immersed in this book. I would sit outside for hours until the sun went down, not wanting to stop reading.  Americanah tells the story of a Nigerian couple who fall in love in high school and both immigrate to the U.S. It’s part love story, part immigrant story, part critical look at race in America. The writing was amazing. Amazing. It’s the kind of writing that made me feel like I should give up and try even harder at the same time. I cried at the end because it was over. I love a good love story.

Eleanor and Park – Speaking of love stories. I love a good teen love story as well. I bought this book hoping I’d love it. I wept through the last twenty pages. These characters leapt off the page and seemed so real. I have never been in love but this book showed me what it would be like to be sixteen and feel these emotions you never experienced before. I loved that Park was Asian. I loved that Eleanor was fat. I loved the ending (though some people hated it). I loved the writing. This is a book I will pick up again and again.

The Awesome Girls Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men – Ernessa T. Carter is my favourite writer. She writes the kind of novels I wish I could write. 32 Candles, her first novel, is one of my favourite books of all time. Awesome Girls is her second novel that includes some characters from 32 Candles. This book consumed my whole life. I laughed, I cried, I was forced to look at my own life critically. I have passed it around my house. It’s a perfect book club book. You can sit with girlfriends and discuss the themes in this book for hours.

Calling Me Home – This is a book I would never buy. I saw it in the library, read the synopsis and borrowed it. It’s about an old white lady and her young black hairdresser taking a road trip to a funeral. On the way the old lady tells the story about her first love, a black man in the segregated south. It took a while for me to get in to it, at first it reminded me of The Help too much but by the end, of course, I was bawling. It was a devastatingly beautiful love story. I will never forget this story.

Maya’s Notebook – Again, I saw this book at the library, picked it up on a whim. It’s about a young American girl who runs away from home and is sent to her grandmother’s village in Chile. It’s a mystery, suspense and also a novel about the importance of family. Maya’s relationship with her grandparents reminded me so much of my own. I loved it so much.

Judging from this list, every book made me cry, but I think that’s the sign of a good book. I love a book that draws me in, makes me feel connected to the characters and care what happens to them. But most importantly, I didn’t have to think about my own life and I could get lost in another world. That’s why books are important.

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My Tumblr

On this blog I rant about pop culture, music and books but on my Tumblr is where I post fiction snippets and poetry. (Plus some photos, gifs and quotes to keep me going.)

Please check it out, post a comment, tell me what you think.

Akosua.

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I’m Over Scandal

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I’ll admit, I was never a Gladiator. I got in to Scandal late. A few weeks before the second season premiere, I binge watched the first season. I loved the writing, the quick dialogue, the twists at the end of each episode and looking at Columbus Short. I couldn’t wait to live tweet the show with the rest of Twitter.

Now, in to the third season I just don’t care anymore. I had my moments when I cared. I loved when Fitz and Olivia would have their tortured love monologues. When Fitz got shot I screamed in horror. I loved reading tweets about the show and being part of that crew of Scandal watchers on Twitter. If you’re on Twitter on Thursday nights and you don’t watch Scandal, you have no idea what anyone is talking about.

It was in the middle of the second season, after Fitz found out about the voting fraud and killed Verna that I felt like the show lost its way. I didn’t care about B-613. I didn’t care about Jake or like him with Olivia. I didn’t care who the mole was. I found that the only character I really cared about was Huck. The “Seven Fifty Two” episode was one of the best episodes of TV I’ve seen in a long time.

I love Shonda Rimes. As a writer she is my inspiration. But I saw the “Daddy!” reveal at the end of the second season coming. And now in to the third season with her father being so abusive and the head of B-613, it’s getting a little far fetched.  I haven’t watched the episode with Olivia’s mother yet but just the idea that her father faked her mother’s death and  kept her locked away for over twenty years is just…dumb. I’d prefer if Olivia’s parents were some regular folk who happened to have a daughter who became super smart and successful.

Olivia is best when she’s kicking ass, telling people what to do and being a boss. I’m sick of seeing her so weepy. I’m sick of her curling up in to the fetal position whenever Fitz calls. I hated that she fought so hard to save Jake’s life. These men treat her like crap but she keeps going back to them, which is the major flaw of her character. She can fix other people’s lives but hers is screwed up. It’s getting boring. I want to see Olivia smack people down. I want her to have a relationship with a new guy (Harrison, maybe?) who’s normal. Fitz and Olivia can only chase each other for so long.

And that rape scene. Others have written about it much better than I ever could. I’ll just say, it was uncomfortable to watch and unnecessary. I always liked Mellie, she didn’t need to get raped for her to become a more sympathetic character.

I don’t watch the show on the edge of my seat anymore. I watch because I like the writing, I like Huck, Harrison, Mellie and Cyrus. It’s still an entertaining way to spend an hour. I’m just not emotionally invested anymore.

Anyone with me out there? Anyone not feeling Scandal anymore?

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Washington Heights – A Show Abandoned

Washington Heights on MTV is an example of a show that failed not because it wasn’t good or didn’t have a devoted, core audience. It failed because the network it was on didn’t believe it would succeed and did absolutely nothing to promote it.

MTV doesn’t make reality shows about young people of colour, so Washington Heights, a show about Dominicans and Latino’s living in upper Manhattan was a nice breath of fresh air. Instead of it being Jersey Shore with brown faces, it was about young people trying to make it and do something positive with their lives and their art. It was a show that a lot of people gravitated to and loved, including me.

The early reviews of the show were positive, though some of the chatter on Twitter was saying it was boring or staged, it seemed like people were watching. However, Washington Heights debuted the same week as Buckwild, a show about young people in rural Virginia that was already seen as the new Jersey Shore. The Buckwild cast were on the Today Show, Access Hollywood, on MTV’s website, Tumblr page and all over their Twitter feed. It was obvious from the beginning that Buckwild was the show MTV was pushing, and Washington Heights just happened to be premiering the same week.

After the first episode aired, support for the show pretty much dropped completely. MTV live tweeted the first few episodes, but made negative comments about the show. R&B artist Miguel picked all the music for one episode and took over the MTV twitter feed to live tweet, but it was barely promoted and there was no mention in the episode that Miguel had picked the music. Barely any commercials for the show aired, the cast did very little media and perhaps the most crucial thing was the lack of reruns. MTV plays it’s signature shows, Snooki and JWow, Teen Mom 2, Catfish: The TV Show in marathons on the weekend. For a new show like Washington Heights, getting a big audience was important, especially since the ratings for the debut episode weren’t that great, and showing a marathon on the weekend would introduce more viewers to the show. It never happened. Now with one episode left, MTV Canada has pulled the show completely from its television line up, only showing it online and MTV US has pushed it back to 11 pm on Wednesdays.

It’s pretty clear that Washington Heights will not be getting a second season and it makes me angry because MTV never gave it a chance. The question is, why?

JP Perez, the star of the show, pitched the idea to MTV. It’s his show and his creation, which is something to applaud. The fact that MTV would put its time and money in to a show about Latino’s that showed them in a positive light was a step in the right direction. But it didn’t give MTV the standout personality like Snooki, it didn’t have shocking moments like Catfish, or drunk kids getting in to fights like Buckwild. Does that mean there isn’t a television market for young people of colour to be positive on TV? Do we have to settle for the Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta?

It’s frustrating that MTV didn’t do everything they could to promote this show and allow it to become successful. But like many other Washington Heights fans, the show will always stay with me. It was fun to watch, the cast members were lovable and talented and smart. I hope they’re able to use the show to make their dreams come true.

Shame on you, MTV, for letting this show go.

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