Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Dawn of The Dragon: The Dawn Series Book 2 by Aundriel H Washington

Title: Dawn of The Dragon: The Dawn Series Book 2
Author: Aundriel H Washington
Print Length: 177 Pages
Publisher: Aundriel’s Press
Publication Date: September 15, 2020


What if you saw a giant blue dragon in your neighbor’s backyard?

That’s how fantasy writer Aundriel Washington kicks off chapter one of book two in the Dawn series. With a 129 ft wingspan and standing twenty-five feet tall, Xavgon blocks the sun. Riding on his back is the central character Kalera, who draws some unwanted attention as she lands her dragon on Rocheblave Street in New Orleans. The police, National Guard, FBI, and military surround Kalera and her dragon. The girl and her creature, whom she refers to as her son, are coming from the Zaylen Realm, the world Kalera got sucked into in book one, Palera Dawn.

Xavgon freezes time to give them a chance to figure out how to escape the authorities. They run into the house of Kalera’s boyfriend Zaron and are joined by Musfall, her friend, and voodoo priest. They must find their way back to Zaylen to defeat Zaylen’s ruler, King Ager. To do this, they set out on a mission to Gros Cave, the door to Zaylen. Their first mission is to go to the Saint Louis Cathedral, where Musfall’s priest friend is a cave diver. Together, Kalera, Xavgon, Zoran, Musfall, and Kalera’s dog Rome, set out on a mission that takes them through a whirlwind of adventure and revelation.

This book maintains good action. I love the first chapter-opening, which reminded me of the movie Bright with Will Smith. I can imagine the authorities terrified as they surround a residential area where a large, fire-breathing creature has landed. Dawn of the Dragon is book two in a series, and for this, I don’t think the author needs a prologue. The way chapter one opened is good enough to capture and maintain the reader’s attention.

The author also did an excellent job of recounting what happened in book one so that readers new to this book can understand how all of this started. I also enjoyed how Xavgon communicated with Kalera telepathically. When she thinks about Harriet Tubman, for example, the dragon asks, “who is Harriet?” It helped the magical aspect of the book come to life.

 

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 3/5

Authenticity / Believable: 3/5

Overall: 3/5*

Dawn of The Dragon: The Dawn Series Book 2 is available now on Amazon


My book review registry is still CLOSED. These are reviews booked before the unexpected loss of my mom. I will be reopen for new submissions at a later time. Be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here to learn more.

The Mistake

This poem was inspired by Maya Angelou’s “We Wear the Mask,” and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Mask.”


Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

We define grief as tears, not smiles
heartbreaking groans, and complaints
an emotion-gripped body that bends and aches
a display of physical pain is how we mistake
what it means to grieve.

We lookout for people who are visibly sad

a distraught tone of voice, a mind gone mad

a person who neglects to eat, but drinks

or maybe have a hard time falling asleep.

The physical signs of a distressed soul are what we see for ourself

and to this, we say, “careful now, of your mental health.”

 

But what of the people who are not so physically troubled?

 

They wake up each morning

their heads held high.

They could wallow in self-pity but prefer to fly.

They spread their cheeks, so we see their teeth,

and somehow, deep underneath the grief, they smile.

Their shoulders do not droop or bow or lean,

and from their eyes, no tears be seen.

We run to them for advice, and in their ears, we spill our guts

“They are pillars of strength, no matter what,”

we say

and this is the mistake.

 

Right there in those smiling faces, see the invisible rock.

The chains of depression’s coffles

it’s whips and lash and knock

its uninvited entry when our smiling support goes home

and lay their pillars on their pillows 

before crying themselves to sleep.

 

In a world as destructive as this one, 

they need not make it known 

that even the happiest person 

still cries and loathes and moans.

Even the most joyous of us, with praise smeared on our lips

have some load to carry, 

we wish to be helped with.

But if physical anguish is the only measurement

by which we weigh grief

then these people don’t have a chance

of attaining such release.

 

And yet, where would we be without these rays of light

who helps us, if for a moment, to believe all is right?

Where would we be without people with such faith?

Those who pull us from the grave, 

even as they stand on the edge of death and wait?

Too solid to bend and too proud to break.

They go on permitting us to believe 

pain is but a physical thing.

 

This is the mistake.

The Fragility of Life

“Come celebrate
with me that every day
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
– Lucille Clifton

Last week, Saturday, October 3, 2020, I buried my mother.

On Tuesday, September 22nd, we learned she might night make it. That night I spent the night in the basement on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy episodes with a glass of wine. I couldn’t sleep, but you will inevitably fall asleep on the sofa when you are downstairs in my house. We’ve had the couch for a while, and it has claimed many victims who promised themselves it was not comfortable enough to tame them. What also happens is I lose service down there, and while I drifted, my phone rang and rang, but I couldn’t hear it.

Finally, I went upstairs, and my phone rang again. My heart dropped. There is only one reason people call that early. I accepted my sister’s call and asked, “why are you calling me so early?,” although I already knew the answer.

“It was the twenty-third of September. That day I’ll always remember, yes I will
Cause that was the day that my mama died”

The next day, September 24th my aunt, my late dad’s sister, also passed.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash

I didn’t talk about it, but my Uncle John passed earlier this year on May 28th, two days after my birthday, and on June 2nd, a dear friend and brother passed.

The world also lost Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known best for his role as Luther from Set It Off. He passed the day we buried my mother.

I need no more reminders of how fragile life is, and that’s what sticks out to me the most in my time of silence as I seek to process all this death.

I think we are all aware of this delicacy that is life, but it becomes much more real when a loved one passes. It is then that we realize how insignificant we are and precious too. The insignificance is the weakness of our flesh; how it so easily topples and breaks down. The preciousness is the breath of life, without which we are lumps of clay.

It made me think about how we treat each other. It wasn’t until Yah breathed into Adam the breath of life that he became a living being. We are nothing without this power, and yet, we treat each other as if the breath pulsing through our veins differs from someone else’s. We treat each other as if the Almighty can’t call our spirit back at any moment.

What right do I have to mistreat someone when I return to the Earth just as they will? What right do I have to judge someone’s life or mock their pain when I know that I bleed just as they do?

What right does any of us have to think we are better than anyone else when the sun rises and falls on all of us, righteous and wicked, alike?

There are so many promises we make to one another at times, such as this. We promise to be there for one another, we promise to keep in touch, and we promise to appreciate the time we have.

But these promises do not last and are only remembered at the next funeral.

Our life is like the wind, a breeze that comes and goes. How I wish we could be consciously aware of our own lives’ fragility as we live and not only in death.


Don’t forget to grab your copy of My Soul is a Witness and leave a review as reviews help to expose the work of Independent Artists.

Why I Say “Thank You” (and why you should too)

Image Cred. Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

This post is longer than I would like, but I think the message is necessary.

If you’ve been following me online for any significant amount of time, you know I am always saying thank you or reintroducing myself to new readers. I do this because of my firm belief in the phrase, “people don’t have to support you.”

Let me tell you a story.

My husband was driving, and I was looking out the window of the passenger’s seat as we passed by the brick houses, mansions, and condos of downtown Atlanta. “This probably where most of the celebrities live,” I joked. We talked about how movies never show the city’s complete image by filming movies in less wealthy areas. Since we are both from Chicago, we talked about Chicago films where we didn’t recognize the city because it was on the side of town we have never lived.

As we drove, we passed by a fancy-looking hotel where a man stood. He leaned against his suitcase, a white sign on its top with black ink that read: “I lost everything.”

My smile faded, and my heart felt heavy as I realized he was homeless. He didn’t look like those fakes that try to scam people out of their money, either. Something about his vibe told me he was not joking. He had really lost everything.

The US economy was already bad, but since the COVID-19 Pandemic, things have gotten worse. People are out of jobs, out of money, out of homes, and out of hope. Any little they scrape together is reserved for only the most essential items. If someone spends money buying books or t-shirts, or anything that is not greatly essential (okay well, books are essential to me but I mean, like food), it means so much more to them, and they deserve a thank you.

Why EC?

Because they didn’t have to do it and sometimes, they couldn’t do it, but they invested in you.

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash

Entrepreneurship has been on the rise a lot lately, and as an entrepreneur, I think that’s a good thing. I have always stood for the underdog and will still rally around the concept of Independence. There is a humility about small, independent businesses that I love. Plus, every large company started as a small business. And since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the countless black deaths, it has encouraged more people to support black-owned businesses and independent businesses.

This awakening means that while many people are struggling, many people are also thriving even amid this Pandemic. However, I am disappointed to see a lot of bullying among entrepreneurs, both large and small. Some people are shaming people with 9-5s when truth be told, most entrepreneurs in this economy have 9-5s, and their business is the real side hustle. That or their spouses have 9-5s. There’s nothing wrong with this, but some people think there is. People also throw shame when they try to bully people into supporting them.

Bully others into supporting them?

It means making people feel small and insignificant for not buying your services or product. It means threatening to cut people off because they didn’t support your business. It means neglecting to consider all the other things people have going on in their lives right now and that maybe they don’t have the extra money to spend or perhaps don’t have the time.

Image Cred. Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash.

Ignore social media posts for a second and think about what someone may go through behind the scenes.

  • Maybe they cried their eyes out this morning.
  • Maybe they prayed on their knees, drowned in tears.
  • Maybe they were going to lose their home or apartment or children.
  • Maybe they lost their job, career.
  • Maybe a family member died.

Maybe people have other things on their mind that take precedence over buying your bar of soap.

And if you think someone’s being fake for wearing a smile through their storm, then you need not look passed the smile of Chadwick Boseman, who battled cancer while filming movies and never complained.

Image Cred: Creative Commons License | Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Black Panther”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. | Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, US

I watched my sister-in-law battle and eventually perished from cancer. My dad, too, so I know what Chadwick did was not easy from personal experience. And while everyone is praising his silence now, that is not how we treat the “regular everyday people,” we know in actual life who battle in private. We call them phony for not opening up as we think they should. Sometimes people don’t talk, not because they are being fake or secretive, but because it’s just none of your business. Let’s allow people to give their testimony in their own time.

My point in all of this is that no one is obligated to spend money with a business only because it exists. Anything that anyone chooses to give, including time and information, is a gift. I always say “thank you” because people don’t have to support me.

People support businesses that offer something they need, whose message or value system aligns with their own, helps them solve a problem and companies they trust. Someone might enjoy eating bread, and you may launch a bread business, but that bread lover is still not obligated to support you. Maybe over time, once you’ve gained their trust and they’ve sampled your product, they may try it and when they do, say thank you.

Why EC?

Because they didn’t have to do it, so show some gratitude.

To better conclude this point, I will again turn to Tyler Perry as an example.

For the record, this isn’t about Perry’s personal life. I will not comment on him dressing up as a woman, Madea, or his elite status because its none of my business. I am commenting on some basic business practices I see from him as an outsider looking in that many newer entrepreneurs can learn from. Everything else is for an entirely different conversation.

Image Cred. Creative Commons License | AMFM STUDIOS LLC | Filmmaker and actor Tyler Perry being interviewed in 2016.

From a business perspective, you see the same stories and the same actors in Tyler Perry’s films because Perry has a good understanding of his targeted audience. He knows the persona of the people who like his stuff, and he focuses on giving them what they want. Many beginner entrepreneurs can learn from this. Instead of guilt-tripping people into supporting your business and trying to sell to everyone, find your targeted audience or that specific group of people you want to reach based on shared interests and market and direct your attention to those groups.

This means that if only five people like your post, that’s a good thing because chances are those five people are genuinely interested in what you offer. Listen, I’m a damn good writer. I know this to be true. But I also know it to be true that everyone doesn’t want to read what I write, and that’s cool because I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. I work to serve my audience no matter how small, and I appreciate all the support and time my people invest in my writing.

And for that, I say thank you.


My Soul is a Witness is Available

Check it out below. (thank you!

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Storm Wrack and Spindrift (Remnants Book 3) by Margaret Pinard

Title: Storm Wrack & Spindrift (Remnants Book 3)

Author: Margaret Pinard

Print Length: 259 Pages

Publisher: Taste Life Twice Publishing

Publication Date: December 2, 2019

 

About.

The MacLeans have suffered being thrown off their land, emigrating to the New World, surviving in the forest wilderness, and losing their father Gillan in a bizarre murder. Now, ten years later, the two youngest emigrants will split the family across an ocean.

Sheena pursues a future back in Scotland with her husband Gordon Lamont. Alisdair dreams of university and a chance to reform the political system in the colony that denied him justice for his father’s death.

But the British Empire of the 1830s has yet more obstacles to throw in their path. When the only school in the province only accepts Anglican students, what will Alisdair do? When Sheena finds herself in a role of authority over families like her own, how will she cope with the isolation?

And when both their hopes of peace and stability are dealt a telling blow, how will they stay true to their fighting spirit?

STORM WRACK & SPINDRIFT is a dramatic story of family survival and personal struggle set against social upheaval. While voter enfranchisement was advancing in London, and slavery finally outlawed in the Empire, the tiny stage of rebellion in a backwoods colony farm could still have deep repercussions. Every life is precious, every decision important–which is why the early struggle for Responsible Government and other civil liberties continues to encourage us today.

 

I enjoyed reading about the MacLean family, especially since the author did such an excellent job transporting readers to the era of the 1830s. The descriptions and dialect are authentic, and any lover of historical fiction would enjoy the natural flow of reading. I enjoyed the back and forth between Sheena’s experiences in Scotland and Alisdair’s challenges with the family on the farm. I sympathized with his conflict with wanting to study law but not wanting to leave the family who needed his help. The characters are undoubtedly the stars of this book. I love children, so I am fond of Mairi and her bond with Grannie. They are so sweet together, and even though Neil (Mairi’s dad) is sad, the author did an excellent job portraying his misery. Speaking of grief, prepare yourself. This book has its moments.

Suppose a Historical Fiction novel is going to be set during a time when slavery was alive and well. In that case, the author will do well to mention it in some capacity to make the story even more authentic (because of slavery’s worldwide influence). Thus, I love the mentioning of the Slavery Abolition Act that “abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa as well as a small number in Canada. It received Royal Assent on August 28, 1833, and took effect on August 1, 1834.” (Latasha Henry, Slavery Abolition Act, 2020) The government compensated slave owners for the value lost from freeing enslaved people and Sheena was not having it:

“And is there any proposed fund for the slaves, since by abolishing slavery, we admit we had no right to own other people in the first place?”

“Well no—”

“No, of course not.”

I liked the detail about Rhoda, Sheena, and Gordan’s widowed housekeeper, taking part in abolitionist demonstrations and the mention of Wilberforce’s death. Passing in 1833, William Wilberforce was a “British politician, philanthropist, and leader of the movement to abolish slavery.” (Wikipedia) I liked how the author connected Wilberforce to the family on a personal level by adding the detail about Rhoda’s involvement with him and showing readers the impact his death had on her.

While I enjoyed this story, I do not think it can be read as a standalone novel as marketed. As the third book in the series, I felt a bit lost in the beginning because it felt like something was missing, i.e., everything leading up to the MacLean’s family’s life on the farm.

The epilogue is intriguing, and I wonder if the author would consider adding another book to the series, possibly centered on the experiences of Mairi.

 

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 3/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

Storm Wrack & Spindrift (Remnants Book 3) is available now on Amazon!


My book review* registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

*Note that poetry books and non-fiction books will have a different rating system than fiction books.

If My Books Shall Die

jez-timms-unsplash

I read James Baldwin today

and realized I was carrying his bones

in the crooks of my arms,

and that if my books shall die,

then I have labored in vain.

 

I have swam through centuries

and ran years in someone else’s shoes,

I have climbed mountains

and crawled under valleys

only to bleed death.

I have wasted my time

carving obsession into paper

with invisible ink,

Words fallen like stars

on deaf ears.

 

If my books shall die,

then let me not be born.

Take me back to the safety

of my mother’s womb,

the privacy

of not yet existing

if my works have been in vain.

 

If my books shall die,

then I do not exist.

Not on the tops of your shelves,

or faced down on kitchen counters,

or underneath your children’s beds.

Honor me

in the palms of your hands

and not standing next to Grandmother’s old picture in the living room—

Grandmother is dead

and I do not wish to die.

 

Give me my flowers today

and accept the life I offer you

in the form of metaphors

On silver platters,

For I am feeding you

with silver spoons

and all you’ve got to do is eat…

I offer you

the best of me.

 

And when I am dead,

no longer among the living

crack open a book written by me

and feel my breath on your skin.

Hear my voice resurrect

from inside an ancient pen,

Watch my tongue dance,

See my lips move

and witness passion soar from beyond the grave.

 

If my books shall die

then my words did not really contain life,

But if my books shall live…

What are you waiting for?

Go to your bookshelf,

Resurrect me

and carry

my bones.

What Are You Sacrificing?

Last week, I planned on introducing a new Black History Fun Fact Friday. I also planned on revealing the cover to the poetry contest magazine to my social media (which I will do tomorrow, time permitting). This was a busy week for me (more than usual). This isn’t to say that “busy” is a measure of importance, but last week was a hectic one for both my personal and professional life. But also, it was a good busy (more like a focused busy). I got a lot done and gained some clarity. And although I still have emails, I haven’t responded to and travel to prepare for I am sitting down in the few hours I have here before running errands to talk to you guys and send an important message to my email list.

I find that how we direct our focus determines what will show up based on how we have prioritized. Those things we put first or last will naturally manifest in our life and align based on what we give more or less attention. If I know I have coursework due on Wednesday, for example, but I scroll social media until the final hour of when the work is due, chances are I won’t do well, and it won’t be because I am ignorant or incompetent. It will be because I did not set my coursework as a priority this week and give myself time to think through the assignment. Instead, I scrolled social media, which means I have set it as a priority over my coursework and are thus reaping the consequences of that choice. It doesn’t make it social media’s fault, and it doesn’t make social media an evil entity, but it was not the proper decision on this day.

I use social media because it’s an easy example, but I believe this can apply to anything from business practices to relationships and friendships.

What are you sacrificing?

I realized that whatever we pay attention to means sacrificing something else in its place. If we focus too much time on gossip and negativity, we are sacrificing something else in its place. If we spend too much time on social media, we are sacrificing something else in its place. Sometimes the sacrifice is not all bad; it makes sense depending on what is a priority at the moment. Sacrificing an hour of work to sleep and refresh is not a bad thing because, with rest, we can have better clarity to do the job. Surrendering a TV show to post something of value and substance to social media that will help someone else is not a bad thing. You see, I also learned this week that our priorities might change from day to day. What was most crucial yesterday may not be most important today.

From this point forward, I will be more conscious of what I am sacrificing when I am spending my time doing something because I know that whatever I focus my attention will manifest based on those things of which I have set as a priority.

Instead of saying, “I don’t have time,” I will say, “what am I willing to sacrifice to get this done? What am I willing to give up to do this?”

Those are the real questions.