Before I Forget

WHAT HAPPENED TO restaurateur, magazine publisher, celebrity chef, and nationally known lifestyle maven B. SMITH? One day she was in the spotlight on television shows, negotiating book deals and then . . . nothing! What happened to B. Smith was early onset Alzheimer’s disease. BEFORE I FORGET: Love, Hope, and Acceptance in our Fight Against Alzheimer’s by B. Smith and Dan Gasby.

AT THE TIME this book was published, 200,000 people had early onset Alzheimer’s disease and their symptoms started before 65 years of age. “Some 5.2 million Americans are living with the disease and about 500,000 of those die of the disease each year . . .[with] a new case every sixty-five seconds.”

THIS TOUCHING SNAPSHOT into the life of B. Smith focused on the time between the Fall of 2010 through June 2014. Through flashbacks you are taken back to when the early onset signs first appeared to when the signs became too obvious to ignore – she was ultimately diagnosed in 2013. Unfortunately, as time passed B. Smith became another casualty to this progressively, debilitating disease and unwittingly became “one” face, a “known” face that became one of “the” faces of the Alzheimer’s disease.

B. SMITH and HER FAMILY wanted her story told before she “disappeared” totally into the world of Alzheimer and to serve as an option of support for other families going through the same situation. Her story mimicked the stories of so many untold victims’ “BEFORE I FORGET” experiences. The real theme of the book is not only B’s journey, but all of the others who unwittingly became a part of it . . . the unsung heroes/heroines of her family (immediate and extended) the people who want their voices heard too.

HER HUSBAND, DAN wrote of longing for the woman he fell in love with and married. He wrote about his struggles, his denials, his selfishness; while unnerving can never compare to the person trapped and losing her memory. Like a ball of yarn being unravelled and rolling on the floor, the loss of control is scary. Dan’s honesty and his guilt helped the reader better understand his new normal way of life and how his fear of handling his business almost cost B. her life. This “new normal” is now the way of life for countless people lost in the fog of Alzheimer’s.

BEFORE I FORGET is another reminder, another wake-up call, another alarm to become aware, stay vigilant, and continue to work for a cure because according to the numbers we all have or may become the “B. Smith” in our family. Remember, Alzheimer’s becomes personal when you can put a face to it. Speak about it, learn about it, do something about it to help heighten the awareness and help spread the word – anything you can do is valuable and priceless.

Let’s BOND over BOOKS:

  • Recommends reading and/or sharing this book
  • Rates BEFORE I FORGET: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in our Fight Against Alzheimer’s as CHALLENGINGLY CHARISMATIC (301-500 pgs) . . . Borderline lengthy – it better have a good ending!

 

Disclaimer: BONDing over Books received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review

 

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Brainwashed

brainwashedMERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINES BRAINWASHED as “A forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes, and accept contrasting regimented ideas.” Tom Burrell, a marketing professional with over 45-years experience wrote BRAINWASHED: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority  to share his unique perspective on the brainwashing of Black America.

Mr. Burrell used an advertising and marketing platform to show the reader how advertising shapes the attitudes and behaviors of society. This institutionalized negative strategy was simple – flood the airwaves with consistent, concentrated negative messages that tell and/or remind (both subliminally and/or openly) that there is something wrong with being Black and before long those negative thoughts will become second-nature.

He also writes about the history of a deliberate and strategic marketing campaign to disenfranchise African-Americans from the inclusion of a “Single society with two outrageously parts: one built on a vicious, governmentally sanctioned destruction of human freedom – all with the same history-making pen” of Thomas Jefferson. BRAINWASHED is about the brainwashing of not only Black America, but America as a whole.

BRAINWASHED addresses several topics, such as: Why are black and beautiful still contradictions? Why can’t we stop shopping? Why can’t we stick together? Why is there still disproportionately negative media coverage. These are examples of some of the conversations often discussed in the African-American community. Mr. Burrell takes a heartfelt and straightforward approach to dispelling these myths with  pertinent, timely, and for some eye-opening information.

THOUGHTS For Your SOUL:

  • “The disparities of news coverages regarding black lives and non-black lives . . .
  • We [African-Americans] “over-indexed,” spending disproportionate amounts in every product category related to cleanliness, . . . primarily to compensate for being historically stereotyped as dirty.
  • The greatest achievement was the conquest of the minds of most of the people of the world.” This quote by historian, John Henrik Clarke as he examined the propaganda which was central to the European domination of the planet in the 15th and 16th centuries.

There are many people who say, “Not another book about the struggle, issues, or victimization of black people.” For those people, until African-Americans are able to have honest dialogues and honest conversations with White-Americans, along with the respect of being heard and not silenced there will always be “these” kinds of books. BRAINWASHED was thoroughly enjoyable and will give you the opportunity learn at least one thing about African-Americans that you did not know before which will begin to dispell the myths of black inferiority.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Let’s BOND over BOOKS rates BRAINWASHED as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . Just the right mixture of content and pages.

Between the World and Me

Between the World and MeYOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT to be you. And no one should deter you from being you. You have to be you. And you can never be afraid to be you.” Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote these poignant words to his teenage son in “BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME.”

21st CENTURY AMERICA serves as the backdrop for the author’s reflections, observations, fears, frustrations and warnings about growing up as a black male in the United States. When Mr. Coates saw the familiar look of anger in his son’s eyes it touched a nerve deep in his gut. The look meant that very little had changed for a black male since he was a teenager.

AS HIS SON TRANSITIONS into manhood, the author wants his son to understand that while the dream is to “experience” a normal childhood, unfortunately for some black males that “experience” could be deadly.  As a father he must warn his son that “the difference is that you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact.”

THOUGHTS for YOUR SOUL:

  • I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world ad then chained me in the next.”
  • “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a  well-considered act in conformity with natural law.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“CAUTION” IS THE OPERATIVE WORD. The price one pays for living long enough to enter adulthood. Interwoven on every page are examples of the “unspoken” daily stress of being black in America . . . And yes “Black Lives Matter.” In a perfect world it would not matter, but unfortunately America’s reality isn’t perfect. We are reminded of this daily through thoughts, words and/or deeds.

THE CASUAL, CONVERSATIONAL WRITING STYLE is well-suited for this topic. For many, race relations is a touchy subject to talk or write about. “BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME” reminds us that people don’t see or live life the same way. The conversation must continue. As a nation, we have to find a way to communicate and hear one another through and above the anger.

TA-NEHISI COATES REMINDS US of the gap “BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME,” that is constantly growing wider not narrower.  This book is not an indictment on all people, white or black, it is one man’s personal story to his son. For some, the written word is more powerful than the spoken one.

Let’s BOND over BOOKS rates BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME as EASY & ENGAGING (150 pages or less) . . . straight-forward, light and to the point.

Permission granted from PenquinRandomHouse

Peace on That: The Peacemaker II

peaceonthat3JAMES “POPS” JACKSON ALWAYS SAYS, “*Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” Sometimes all it takes is one instance, one word or action that you can’t take back and it changes the course of your life. PEACE ON THAT: The Peacemaker II by T.L. Criswell is a compelling story about a man’s path to destruction and his hope for redemption and forgiveness.

JAYSON “Big Man” JACKSON HAD IT ALL: The money, the power, the status, but he had a secret. A trail of money, deceit and lies led straight to his door and before he knew it he was in over his head. Jayson’s fall from grace was a ‘bought lesson.’ Choices can either uplift or ruin, but they will always teach a lesson.

SECRETS PLAYED A BIG PART in this book. Some secrets were meant to protect, but those secrets ultimately caused  pain. The father (Pops) carried a secret to his grave and the son (Jayson) carried on the legacy. As Jayson’s life unraveled so did his secrets.

THOUGHTS for your SOUL:

  • ” If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way. If you don’t then you’ll find an excuse.”
  • “What good is an apology if it’s not said when it matters the most?”

PEACE ON THAT is full of twists and turns. The characters are realistic and easily identifiable. As a reader, it’s hard to find a favorite; just when you find yourself rooting for one, another one shows up. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try apologies are never enough, misunderstandings don’t get resolved, feelings stay hurt, but in the end, life goes on.

THERE ARE NO ANSWERS only actions that pave the way to forgiveness, accountability, and redemption. Big Man wanted and needed a second chance. Hopefully, it wasn’t too late.

Let’s BOND over BOOKS  rates PEACE ON THAT as CHALLENGINGLY CHARISMATIC (301-500 pages) . . . borderline lengthy — It better have a good ending . . . and it does!

Permission granted by the author, T.L. Criswell.

*Quote from Jim Rohn

Good is Not Enough

GoodIsNotEnough[1].300IN THE WORLD of Corporate America, the bar is higher, the race is longer, and the prize is harder to hold on to unless you learn how the game is played.” There’s a saying in the black community “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” GOOD IS NOT ENOUGH – and Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals by Keith R. Wyche and Sonia Alleyne gives you the inside scoop so you can be prepared to have a fair shot at playing the game.

GETTING AHEAD IN CORPORATE AMERICA or basically any company where there is some level of hierarchy is never an easy feat and even more challenging if you are a woman, Black, Latino or Asian or some other societally deemed minority. The path to the proverbial corner office can be so lonely that you may feel like you are working “In a non-supportive environment or without the help of engaged mentors, minority professionals can become disheartened and frustrated.”

GOOD IS NOT ENOUGH discusses the many obstacles and hurdles that can derail career advancements for entry to mid-level professionals. Not understanding the company culture and the “unwritten rules” can easily turn you into an employee that is labeled as “unpromotable.” Once that label has been placed on an individual it is very easy to have feelings of resentment or as the author, Keith Wyche, states being “POPO,” (pissed off and passed over).

THOUGHTS for your SOUL:

  • Never assume that just because you are doing great work, you will get noticed and rewarded.”
  • “The frustration for minority professionals is not knowing the real reasons for certain consequences not being able to properly assess or decode the information that you are receiving.”
  • “Significance demands that you take the focus off your own pursuits, accomplishments, and possessions, and identify ways in which you can leverage your success for the good of others.

IF YOU’RE A WOMAN the chapter dedicated to overcoming gender bias and gender-based stereotypes, as well as race-based stereotypes “Which in many business environments can leave them outside the power circles” is a must read for you. There are many unique challenges women face on a daily basis and the information and solutions shared are eye-opening, practical and priceless.

The two most impactful chapters are the ones entitled:

  1. “Be More Prepared Than Everyone Else,” especially if you happen to be a “UMO” aka Unique Minority of One.”
  2. “Must Have Skills Every Senior Leader Needs,” being able to not only understand but master the mechanics of an income statement and balance sheet.”

THE OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES will always be there and can occur in any organization regardless of size. The name of this game is to be prepared. GOOD IS NOT ENOUGH is a valuable resource that should be recommended reading for every college-bound senior and required reading for EVERY Black, Latino, Asian male and female regardless of occupation or station in life. Scattered throughout the pages are coaching tips, individual examples and the humility of a man who has embraced the mantra that “when we do give back, we move beyond success to significance . . . and significance leaves a legacy.”

Let’s BOND over BOOKS  rates  GOOD IS NOT ENOUGH as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . just the right mixture of pages and content.

Permission granted by the author, Keith R. Wyche.

Selected Poems of LANGSTON HUGHES

Selected poemsLHWHEN I GET TO BE A COMPOSER, I’m gonna write me some music . . . .” The iconic poet extraordinaire, Langston Hughes personally hand-picked the poems in the SELECTED POEMS LANGSTON HUGHES and gives us insight to some of the subjects that he cared deeply about.

WHAT DOES POETRY MEAN TO YOU? Poems are unique – much like finger-prints . . . No two people read or experience the poems in the same way. Poetry is to be appreciated like a great glass of wine . . .  Shaken not stirred and aged to perfection.

HAVE YOU EVER READ  the same poem over and over again and it touches that you the same way? Probably not, because at the time you read the poem you were at a different stage in your life and the experiences you had since the last time you read the poem would influence your understanding and/or appreciation of it.

LANGSTON HUGHES SPEAKS a lot about love and the everyday experiences outside his front window. His SELECTED POEMS reflected the conditions of the time in the 1950s (and earlier), the racism, street life,  despair, hopelessness, death, etc. He used his voice to speak for those whose voice was silenced, and those who felt that they didn’t have the strength or right to have their voice heard.

WHAT IS VERY INTERESTING and profound is that his poems are relevent today. Black people are still finding themselves in less than optimal circumstances, still fighting to be heard, respected . . . recognized. Women are still finding themselves in less than optimal circumstances, still fighting to be heard . . . respected . . . recognized . . . loved. Men are still finding themselves, well you know . . . the more things change the more they stay the same.

THOUGHTS for your SOUL:

  • **”He carries . . . His own strength… And his own laughter, his own today . . . And his own hereafter – This strong young sailor . . . Of the wide seas.”
  • ***”Freedom is a strong seed . . . Planted in a great need. I live here, too . . . I want freedom just as you.”

Still Here (a BONDing over BOOKS pick)

I’ve been scarred and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, sun has baked me. Looks like between ’em, they done tried to make me. Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’But I don’t care! I’m still here!

“IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that the poems included in SELECTED POEMS were chosen by Langston Hughes shortly before his death. He wanted to preserve from six of his published volumes, from the privately printed, limited edition, Dear Lovely Death, and from his previously unpublished work.”

LANGSTON HUGHES SPOKE to our humanity and wrote of our commonality, our pain, our joy, our hopes and our “. . . Dream within a dream, our dream deferred . . .” Poetry isn’t for everybody. Not every line rhymes, nor part of a rap song lyric. You don’t have to “get” it, you just have to “feel” it.

Let’s BOND over BOOKS  rates SELECTED POEMS LANGSTON HUGHES as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs) . . . just the right mixture of pages and content.

*Excerpt taken from “Daybreak in Alabama.” **Excerpt taken from “Young Sailor.” ***Excerpt taken from “Democracy.”