Monday, March 20, 2017

Lets Talk Books!!!

It's no secret that I love books! As a writer, in order to grow, books should be a huge part of the 'becoming a better writer' process. When I'm not writing, you can bet your last dollar that I am nose deep in a good book. Avid writers make the best storytellers! *quote me on that*

This year, I plan to write more reviews on the books that inspire me. For me, it's more than being entertained when I'm reading. There has to be some kind of take away message.

I set a goal to read 45 books this year. I think it's doable. So far, I've read five or six. I forget. I'll check goodreads to confirm later. I could read more but I do have my own books to write.  

Today's book is Mercy, Me by Donna Hawk!

Donna and I met a few years ago at the Louisiana Book Festival held each fall in downtown Baton Rouge. Her smile was what I remember most during our meeting. She was friendly, polite, and also trying to keep warm because it was cold that day. Even when the sun beamed down on us, the wind refused to be defeated. We chatted briefly about books and writing, introducing ourselves to each other. But due to all the foot traffic of anticipating readers, our conversation was cut short. Her table was a few tables down from mine. Before the festival ended, she returned to my table and purchased my debut novel Deadly in Stilettos.  

Donna and I soon connected via social media, Facebook to be exact. We don't see each other often or speak regularly, but we have managed to build a growing friendship online. This proves that using social media in a positive way can create positive and lasting relationships with people who are likeminded that you probably wouldnt've connected with otherwise. Donna lives in Kansas and seeing as though I've never been there, we probably wouldnt've crossed paths had it not been for the LBF. I've become friends with many of my peers using social media. I've discovered amazing authors and gained wonderful readers via social media. For that, I am truly grateful! Give it a chance. You never know who God will connect you with. It may just change your life profoundly. 

Weeks ago, Donna reached out to me about her latest release Mercy, Me. She asked if I would read her book and give an honest opinion of it. I was delighted, honored that she held me in such regard. Not many authors reach out to other authors about their work. That alone, tells me what kind of person she is. 

She gifted me the book, and I commenced to reading. A few days into the book Life happened placing my reading on hold. It's funny how the enemy will try its' best to keep you from keeping your word. Well, it didn't work! I'm finished and my review is written below.  *sticks out tongue*

Throughout my review, I took quotes from Mercy that touched me in some way.

"I want to hide. I want to live in a dream and never surface. I want to live a world where I'm accepted for who I am withour apology and without prejudice." --Mercy

My Review:

The story is about a teenager named Mercy, living with her parents in the city of Fiddler's Green. Mercy is deemed an outcast by everyone she comes in contact with due to her beautiful, vibrant, big orange hair. So much so that she is released from school because her appearance frightens her peers beyond disbelief in my opinion. How can someone be denied an education for looking different? Sadly, it happens daily; has been for a very long time. The only way this kind of behavior will end is change. A change in heart, mind, body, and soul! In the words of Mercy, "People are frightened by the prospect to adapt than it is to embrace it."

Mercy's parents are cowards to me. There is no way in the world that my child would be banished from school, not allowed to attend any school functions, or mistreated anytime she steps foot outside our home for looking different. They accepted the school's decision telling her she must get a job and make her own way. Mercy is relieved in a sense. She is ready to come into her own and live. She doesn't allow the negative stares and comments to change who she is. Her positive attitude made me cheer for her like a groupie at a Prince concert. (I love Prince!!!!  Rest in Paradise.)

"Their attitudes will not affect mine. I will be me, no matter what." --Mercy

She took the negative energy radiating around her and channeled it into strength to discover secrets not meant to be discovered about her life, the city she's called home, and the passed looks between her parents. When she meets a brown stranger, she knows there is more to the world than just living in Fiddler's Green. She's never seen someone look like him, so different like herself; yet, beautiful. She is immediately drawn to him. His name is Caston, Mercy's mysterious rescuer on more than one occasion. They quickly become friends. 

I don't want to give away too much of the story because it is one to add to your favorite books collection, so I will keep some things to myself. I know Donna won't have a problem with that either. Buy the book!!! LOL.

Caston comes along right in time to help Mercy learn the many truths about her existence, Fiddler's Green, and other hidden secrets meant to keep the people of the city unaware of. The more time she spends with Caston, the more Mercy feels connected to him. He is like a breath of fresh air where she has felt suffocated most of her young life. 

"We are just alike, yet nothing alike at all. The thought gives me comfort." --Mercy

My favorite part of the story is when Mercy finally opens herself up to the possibility that everything she has ever known or been told, is untrue. To decide what I'm speaking of I'll use Mercy's words again without giving away too much of the story.

"I danced in the rain. It was breathtaking!" --Mercy

My heart smiled...

Two people, different in appearance; yet the same when it comes to being labeled an outcast for not looking the way society deems acceptable. 

"No one can know the pain unacceptance causes without living through it." --Mercy

As a woman of color, I can relate to that statement. 

Caston is "brown" like me, and like me, he doesn't see color as being different. He is simply there to help a friend, a friend he has searched for all his life. If the world set aside the barriers that make us different, we would all soon realize that we are not that different at all. Sure we like different things, believe different things, but more often than not, our likes and dislikes, our intellect, our humor, our hobbies, our passions, etc. are more alike than we could imagine. 

Hate and prejudice are taught behaviors. And lets be honest to ourselves. If something isn't taught, we cannot learn it. It's the cycle of how the mind works. 

Mercy and Caston's relationship was inspiring to say the least. The world needs more people like them even if they are fictional characters in a book. 

My favorite quote from Mercy still gives me chills. I read it over a dozen times to embed it in my consciousness. 

"It lingers heavily in my brain, eating at my worth like a starving child." --Mercy

She's speaking about hate, prejudice, crudeness, being mean to someone for no reason at all except for the way that they look. 

If an orange haired girl and a mysterious brown skinned boy can set aside the fact that they look different and learn to love each other without fault, we should take note and love each other just the same. It shouldn't matter where I came from, or what color skin I have. It shouldn't matter how much money my family has or not, or my level of education. We should all live in the pursuit of LOVE!!! 

Now don't be naive! There will be individuals who are simply evil, who refuses to embrace change. It's their ignorance that will keep them in a war with themselves. They will be held accountable for their actions in the end. Don't allow anyone like that to make you question your character, integrity, or love. It's not worth it. It takes more energy to hate than to love!

Mercy, Me is a gem of a book! The message of love and acceptance is profound throughout this story. I challenge each of you read it for yourself. It just may inspire you, giving way to the change needed to affect someone who is stuck. Be the change you want to see in this world...!

I give this book 5 stars!!! It's worth that and more. There is nothing like a book that makes you think, makes you uncomfortable, and leaves you wanting to be a better person. The seldom messages intertwined throughout the story are alluring. I found myself smiling as I came across them, knowing that Donna poured herself fully and completely into creating a work of intergrity and sophistication. Mercy is wise well beyond her years, yet her innocence is capitivating. Her inward thoughts of Caston made me laugh because I once felt those emotions as an inexperienced teenage girl. 

I hope this isn't the last of Mercy, Caston, and little Felix. You'll have to read the book to find out who Felix is. I want to know more of their promising future together. *hint, hint* 

I like to know the backstory of the story. I guess it's the writer in me so I asked Donna if she wanted to share any details regarding Mercy, Me. This is what she had to say.

Words from the Author:

I wrote Mercy, Me as a “favor” to my sister who was teaching in a middle school at the time. She still had students who were uncomfortable with bad language and sexy situations. She challenged me to write a story that all young/teenage readers would like but with no language and very little sex. I think I did it! I love young adult, but even though these days you will find everything inside the YA titles, there are still those readers, or their parents, who are uncomfortable with it. I’m very proud of this book. I’m happy with the tolerance and acceptance it shows as Mercy grows as a person.
Thank you all for Kickin' It With KeKe today. Tell a friend. Share via social media. Subscribe and/or follow for upcoming posts. 

Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed please email me at

Until next time, Be Inspired, Be Encouraged, & Be You!

Purple Hugs,
KeKe Chanel

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Getting Back to ME!!!

Getting Back to ME…

First, I should start off with Happy New Year!!! I know it’s the first day of March, but technically, it’s still the beginning of 2017. I hope you guys are well, pursuing greatness and conquering your fears. 2016 was a very trying year for most; however, we cannot become stagnant in our thinking, learning, and living our best life. If you’re in a negative head space, take a deep cleansing breath and exhale. Let go of the “can not” and focus of the “can.” Leave the “I don’t know” and “coulda, woulda, shoulda” in your rearview. There is no room for negative energy: people, places, or things in “the now.” Choose to live, laugh while you do it, and learn along the way.

Having a positive attitude is the blueprint to a solid foundation for a healthy and productive life. It starts with a healthy mind. A healthy mind produces a healthy body, which is the link to fulfilling your God-given purpose. A few years ago I wanted to change my eating habits, not that they were bad but there is always room for improvement. Green smoothies helped transform my life. I lose weight, slept better, felt energized, and looked amazing in and out of my clothes.  J Well, months into my progress, all hell broke loose. I noticed my hair started falling out and a few other personal abnormalities. Doctor visit after doctor visit, I became depressed. I stopped my smoothies thinking they were the reason. Fast forward after spending hundreds of dollars on co-pays, the cause was discovered and I had to undergo major surgery. I’m still battling, but I’m not where I was this time last year. I’m finally getting back to being ME.

Life will sometimes throw a curveball or three, give you lemons, and everything in between. Obstacles come to strengthen us, to inspire us, or to push us to the next phase in our lives. It’s called growth. It’s called resilience. It’s called ‘I refuse to be defeated.’

Well, I’m proud to report that today I started my green smoothies again. I am ready to say good riddance to the unwanted weight I gained recovering from surgery. I am ready to get rid of insomnia keeping me up at night. I guess as a writer the insomnia isn’t all that bad, but hell, I need to sleep. LOL. Our bodies need rest to function properly and effectively.  And since it’s Ash Wednesday, the start of lent, what better time than now to make a sacrifice for personal, physical, and spiritual growth!  

The picture above is of the green smoothie a had today. It consists of: kale, green apples, honey, and water. I make a pitcher of it each morning and sip on it throughout the day. I don’t eat any cheese, which I absolutely love, bread, pasta, beef or pork, or any white sugar during this time. I do yoga and meditate to help keep me in a good head space because it’s easy to get distracted. I hear the cheese calling me now.

Our bodies need a good detox every now and then. Detoxifying is ridding the body of unhealthy substances removing harmful organisms, chemicals, and toxic metals while cleansing your colon, liver, and kidneys. Green smoothies are one way I choose to detox. combined with drinking half my body weight in water and green tea. I am well on my way to getting back to ME.

Now I’m not telling you to change your life and follow my practice you have to do what works best for you, and please consult with your physician before starting any regimen. Remember, a healthy life equals a healthy YOU!

I’ll update you guys on my progress.

Until next time, Be Inspired, Be Encouraged, & Be You

Purple Hugs,
KeKe Chanel