Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Life After Death by Sister Souljah

Title: Life After Death
Author: Sister Souljah
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Published: March 2, 2021
ASIN: B08BZVTLWX
Pages: 349

I purchased this book when it dropped in March and promised to share my thoughts. That was nine months ago, and I want to deliver on my word.

The Plot is in the Title

Life After Death is the much anticipated second sequel to Sister Souljah’s explosive bestseller, The Coldest Winter Ever. The first thing I noticed is the plot is in the title.

Winter Santiaga is still in prison and negotiating a deal with her brother-in-law, Elisha, for a reality TV show on her release. But before Winter could make her grand debut, she gets shot.

And this is where the story goes to a place I did not want to go.

The rest of the book are the details of Winter’s experience in the after-world. Neither heaven nor hell, she floats around in a kind of purgatory.

What in the American Horror Story is going on here?

There is a bit of a twist at the end, but unfortunately for me, it was not enough to save the book. It also didn’t help that I predicted the twist from the beginning so I didn’t even have the satisfaction of that to help how I would rate it.

Urban Fiction? Paranormal? Sci-Fi? Magical Realism?

Pushed as an urban fiction novel, Life After Death actually reads like a paranormal story. The book is heavy on religion and metaphysics and I found it dark and hard to get through.

The beginning leading up to the bizarre other-world was not too bad, though I did think the Life After Death Winter sounds a lot less mature than the Winter from the end of book one. To understand what I mean let’s do a quick recap of the end of The Coldest Winter Ever.

At the end of The Coldest Winter Ever, Winter is still street, but has been humbled after serving seven years in prison. With eight more years to go, she is shackled and accompanied by guards to attend her mother’s funeral. She talks about how breathing is different, the feel of the sun on her face and the smell of the food.

As the book comes to an end and Winter sees the family, her middle sister Porsche rolls up in a Mercedes Benz dressed like a million bucks. Winter can already tell the road she’s headed and thinks about warning Porsche about the life she’s living. She decides to let it be. The girl will have to see for herself.

Fast forward to Life After Death.

This Winter is negotiating a deal for a $50,000 per episode reality TV show, hooded three-quarter-length mink coat, Python sky-high boots, red Gucci driving gloves, an activated iPhone, and a red carpet welcome out of the door.

Mmkay.

It would seem she would be far removed from that kind of lifestyle by now.

Preachy

There is a lot of talk about Islam that came across as highly preachy. I don’t mean bits and pieces here and there. I mean whole pages about how Allah does what Allah pleases, Allah chose the language of Arabic as the language of the Holy Quran, so forth and so on. As one reviewer summed up:

“My only criticism is the strong Muslim leaning; without spoiling, I felt the portrayal of the nuns in the convent was unnecessarily offensive. An interesting read! But if you’re looking for a TCWE II you will be disappointed.”

Winter’s Life After Death journey is an experience into the world of the deeply spiritual practices of Islam as Souljah sees it. After she enters this world, everything feels like a sermon with Winter’s life as the conduit, the vehicle from which the message is given.

Put plainly: it feels like Souljah wanted to write a book about religion because of the trauma of the 2020 Pandemic and used her most famous character to do it. According to her Instagram:

“I wrote LIFE AFTER DEATH in 2020, a year of great loss, huge disasters, raging fires, violent storms, virulent viruses and the whole world shaken by the body count. Everything everyone worshiped besides GOD was either brought to a complete stand still or vanished into thin air.” – Sister Souljah

I get it, but readers feel deceived. They thought they were buying the follow-up to what is arguably one of the best urban fiction books of their young adulthood, only to read about Souljah’s “EXTREMELY polarizing and generally terrible opinions and belief,” as one reviewer puts it. 

“I didn’t buy this book to read Souljah’s religious and uber conservative rhetoric, I bought this book to finish Winter’s story. If she couldn’t write that she should’ve just said that instead of giving us a weird ass bestiality scene and making Winter make increasingly erratic and poor decisions to justify the religious crap she stuffed the plot with.”

The marketing gave us the impression the book would pick up where The Coldest Winter Ever left off. In truth, it is a different book. Fans of the novel say it’s not supposed to be the same, but the promotion says otherwise. Even the covers are similar.

“People who are saying “This is not supposed to be the Coldest Winter Ever” – it is literally the follow-up to TCWE lol!!! Of course we were expecting an extension of it!” – Amazon Customer Review

I believe this would have been better received had she created an entirely new character with no connection to Winter.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

I do want to give Souljah credit for attempting to pen something deeper than your traditional Street Lit. You can tell she wanted Winter to evolve and that she had a message she wanted to give her readers.

You can also tell by how many people said they “waited 20 years for nothing” did not read the first sequel. If you read A Deeper Love Inside, Souljah’s religious messages are not a total surprise. Although, I didn’t enjoy that book either.

“Unrealistic. Dragged. Boring. Depressing. It was in need of a serious plot twist that never came.” – Amazon Customer Review

I would have worded it differently (knowing what it feels like as an author to get such feedback), but this person is spot on.

The religious parts in Life After Death would also make more sense to readers of the Midnight series:

“Its written for Souljah fans who have read the Midnight series. Not that the story is particularly relevant, but there are A LOT of references to Islam that might not make sense entirely except Midnight explained them in his series.”

I do believe there is an audience for this book and that had it been marketed to that audience as a standalone novel in the paranormal or even religious genre, readers would have had a better idea of what they were getting.

“If she wanted to write about these kinds of things don’t mislead the readers into thinking we were getting another Winter experience, clearly it was not. The story is  hard to digest. The only reason a lot of us purchased it was under the guise of it really being an actual sequel to one of the best reads.”

“Souljah wrote the book that SHE wanted to write, not what her readers wanted to read.”

I can only rate this book two stars. It is two stars instead of one because I did enjoy the start of the book. It seemed promising until Winter went into the sunken place.


Note: I was not paid for this review. I bought the book, read it on my own time, and these are my thoughts. To have your work reviewed through my paid service, you must register your book here and it must rate 3-5 stars to be published on this blog. Reviews of books I read on my own are published regardless of rating. 

About That Last Post

Hey Family, 

So, every now and again, I will accidentally publish a post from my phone. This is because the preview and publish buttons are right next to each other in the WordPress app. I always preview my posts at least a thousand times before posting. 

I removed the last post with the title “Why Are People So Hard on Self-Publishers,” because I published it by mistake. I would let it slide, but it’s not even halfway finished. 

I realize these posts are going to your emails, and it can be frustrating to get that error message. If you tried clicking on the link and you received an error message, I apologize for the inconvenience. Those links are broken because I have removed the posts. 

That author post will be ready soon, and I appreciate your patience.

One Cool Strategy for Busy Bloggers

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Blogging takes up a lot of time and staying consistent, whether that’s blogging once a week or every other day, isn’t easy.

But it could be more manageable.

Republish Your Content

Who says you can’t share the same content again? Whether that is an interview you did, a radio show, or a blog post, every once in a while, you can reshare an older post by rescheduling it to republish.

Even though it is an earlier post, it can still apply to the current time. For instance, if you wrote about Juneteenth this year, you can reschedule that post to publish again on Juneteenth next year. Between this year and next year, you would have met more readers and gained more views. It will also surprise you to see how many of your current readers did not see the post the first time around.

Go through your blog posts and choose a post that resonated deeply with your audience you feel is relevant enough or important enough to repost.

Using myself as an example, Thursday, I republished a Throwback Thursday Jam by Minnie Riperton.

First, you will need to edit the post. I prefer the classic editor because it’s easier for me.

Next to the published label, click on edit and change the date and time to the day you want to republish the post.

Once you have chosen your new date, click ok and schedule.

I will not republish this video because I already did, but if I were to keep it this way, this post would publish again on August 2, 2020, at 12a EST, and new people will see it.

The first time I posted this song was back in 2017, and when I republished it last week, it received more views from people who had not seen it.

It reminds me of publishing in that your book is always new to the people who have never read it.

Your post is always new to the people who have never read it.

You can also share some of your older posts/articles on social media. People who don’t know you and never read your work will probably become new followers of your blog for more value.

I have found some cons to doing this, I must mention. If you are blogging on WordPress (which is the platform I am always referring to since I blog here), I caution on reposting blog posts that have been re-blogged a lot. The republished version will have a new link meaning that backlinks to your article that someone may have shared with their audience on their blogs won’t work.

A backlink is a link created when one website links to another and is suitable for SEO or search engine optimization. This is why I said you could also share the posts as many times as you want on social media without reposting it. In this way, you can edit the post and share it without breaking the original link. I would also recommend avoiding reposting too much. Fresh content is always preferable.

Don’t have time to blog? If you have been blogging for a while, you possibly have tons of content sitting right there to republish and it only takes about ten minutes.


Note: Republishing is easier and more effective if you have built up an archive of posts. You can’t repurpose content if there’s no content.

Click here for more blog tips!

It’s National Poetry Month!

It’s National Poetry Month!
I am Soul is 99cents on Kindle and $8 in paperback through the end of April.

Signed Paperback

www.yecheilyahysrayl.com/bookstore/i-am-soul-poetry

Amazon Kindle

www.amazon.com/I-am-Soul-Yecheilyah-Ysrayl-ebook/dp/B078FS2ZJT


What are you reading or re-reading for National Poetry Month? Here’s my list so far!
  • The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (1968 – 1998)

 

  • Maya Angelou Poems: Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie, Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, And Still I Rise, Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?

 

  • If Only There Was Music : The Poetry of Forbidden Love by Nonnie Jules

The Effort Will Release It’s Reward (If You Do Not Give Up)

Copyright 2018 | Emily Rose Photography

I published my first book in 2008 and the first book I ever sold in 2010. But it wasn’t until 2015 that I learned to define what my author’s voice was, to establish an author platform, to reach people, and to truly understand what it meant to be an Independent Author. In the beginning, my books were poorly edited and formatted. I didn’t know anything about Amazon, reviews, buying my own ISBNs, imprints, nothing. (I wasn’t even on Social Media, so I couldn’t take advantage of this free platform).

I was green, inexperienced, and made no money. It took me five years (2010-2015) of publishing poor quality books to learn, and even now, I am still learning how to publish books the right way. Whatever fruits I reap now are the result of years of work, study, research, and doing it wrong repeatedly until I understood that practice only makes perfect if I am doing it right. It took me years to realize that publishing book after book (the wrong way) was doing nothing for my growth until I was ready to put in real work. It took me years to learn that this was a marathon and not a sprint. My point? It took me years to get here.

Dear Future Author, why do you want to publish a book? 

This question seems simple, but the answer is a lot deeper. The answer will require you to first define who you are, who you are writing for, and why what you are writing is important to those people. Are you writing to make a difference in the world? To educate, empower, lift, heal, and inform? Or do you just like the idea of being a published author?

One means chasing the “prestige” that comes with publishing books.

The other means putting in real work even when sales are low when you want to give up, and when no one is clapping, liking, or supporting you.

One means wanting to appear glamorous for the gram…

…and the other means doing the work in private, not just in public.

IF you are willing to do this and IF your intentions are genuine, then the effort will release its reward as long as you do not give up. 

The Most Important Lesson I Learned in 11 Years of Publishing my Books

The little girl licked the wooden spoon that came with her ice cream.

“Bet you don’t know my mama name,” said Zoey, the five-year-old daughter of my husband’s client. We were relaxing on the couch, watching Netflix, and eating ice cream. Mine was gone, but she was still eating hers in that gross way children do, ice cream residue around her mouth and dripping from her fingers. I hoped she’d hurry and eat the thing before it melted all the way. It was a hot Sunday.

“Krissy,” I said proudly.

“Krissy what?”

Ole snap. What is the woman’s full name EC? Kristina? Kristy? Kristy Anne? Dang. I forgot the woman’s name. I’ve just been calling her Krissy or Kris like everyone else.

“You tell me,” I said playing it off.

Did I just reverse a question on a five-year-old? Yes. Yes, I did.

“Her name is…her name is…hmmm.”

Zoey seemed confused. I should have felt bad. I didn’t.

“My mommy’s name is—-”

“You don’t know it either,” I teased.

“I know she’s mommy but… just call her Krissy,” waved Zoey, licking the wooden spoon.

“Works for me,” I laughed.

This is what I was doing all day. Watching Netflix and talking to five-year-old Zoey and one-year-old Ziggy. Well, Ziggy and I did not exactly speak. There was something about he had to boo-boo and then he took a nap.

This was my weekend a few months ago. I went on a call with my husband. My husband is an HVAC (Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration) and Maintenance Tech. As a Universally Certified technician, this means he can pretty much work on anything from a home AC system to a restaurant’s refrigeration system. This day, he was installing three toilets for this family, which meant that I would hang out with the wife. I rarely tag along with him on his calls, but he asked me to, so I went. I wasn’t doing anything, anyway.

We were there all day, and the family even made dinner for us. I learned the wife is from Chicago, my hometown, and the husband is originally from Jamaica. I enjoyed the Tilapia and Rice dishes served and had never had a whole fish before! Like, they fried the entire thing, one big slab. Boom. On your plate, ha!

My husband and his client spoke extensively about several things. Somewhere along the line, my book came up, and my husband gave him the link to my website along with links to other things they discussed. (I can assure you I was not an important part of the conversation.)

But when we got home later that evening, the husband sent my husband a text saying that he had purchased a copy of I am Soul.

“Aww,” I crooned. “That’s sweet. Tell him I said thank you.”

Now, for the most important part of the story….

How many times did I ask them to buy my book? Zero.

How many times did I discuss the book with the wife? Zero.

I did not bring up my work at all. What I did was play with the children, watch Netflix, and converse with the wife about food. We talked about why I couldn’t be a vegetarian and other things.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my 11-year journey of publishing books is the importance of connecting with others and building genuine relationships.

People buy from people they have a connection with. This may be an already formed relationship/friendship, similar interests, personality, hobby, belief system, faith, passions, membership in the same groups, clubs, or similar spirits or vibes. These are the people who will support you. You don’t even have to force it, manipulate or chase. This means that relationships (directly or indirectly) is a major factor in selling books.

Just be yourself and let the vibe of that authenticity light the path, drawing the people to you who are meant to be in your presence.

Personal Examples

(because I am really not just talking out the side of my neck)

I met TV Personality Tinzley Bradford through my connection with Lisa W. Tetting. I turned around and sponsored, attended, and performed at Tinzley’s mixer last year and met TV One and Talk show host Chere Turner, CEO of Behind the Beauti Tenisha Bibbs, Singer, and CEO of Advudcate Arts LLC Cami Tippin, and 2x Best Selling Author Oliver T Reid. Then, I attended Oliver T Reid’s writer’s masterclass and met publisher Kelly Cole, also a 2x Best Selling Author and owner of one of the fastest growing Black-Owned Book Publishing companies in the U.S. I met Indie Bookstore owner Nia Damali through Indie Bookstore owner Marcus and through Nia I met Vivica A. Fox. A recent example is my meeting of Founder and Owner of B Infused Natural Detox Waters Brianna Arceneaux. Brianna is more like a niece as she is the sister of my brother-in-laws daughter. She is also the founder of a women’s organization Sagacious Women of Business, dedicated to mentoring young women in business and victims of sexual assault. She has been mad supportive of my work, and we intend to do much business together.

The point here is I have bought books by authors I didn’t know and have had my books purchased by people I didn’t know all due to the power of a single connection.

If you remember nothing else, remember:

Lifting others is how we lift ourselves.

p.s. The mother’s name was Kristina.


Don’t forget to preorder

Keep Yourself Full in ebook below!

Free with Kindle Unlimited

****

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

CLICK HERE TO MARK AS

WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

(This book will be available in ebook and paperback
when it releases on August 6th)

About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest: Entry Submission Acceptance ENDS TONIGHT!!

You have until 11:59pm EST to get your poems emailed to me!!

When that clock strikes 12:00am I will not be accepting any more entries so yes, you have time to enter after you get off work people!

DO NOT miss out on this. There is NO entry fee to enter and tons of prizes on the line. Money, publishing, promotion, books. Nothing to lose. Everything to gain!

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ENTRANCE GUIDELINES AND PRIZES BY CLICKING HERE.

Submit a poem on self-love / self-care in some way, subscribe to the email list (you need to subscribe so you get updates on the contest) and then email your poem to: yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot)com

Go Go GO!!


Be sure you are also following our sponsors and judges!

Follow Tehilayah’s Blog HERE
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Follow Kathy’s Blog HERE
Follow Tinzley’s Blog HERE