Book Review – Prince: A Private View by Afshin Shahidi

Book Review – Prince:  A Private View by Afshin Shahidi

 

 

I love photography and capturing moments no one else sees. I love studying other’s works and seeing how they’re able to describe a moment, using a single frame.

When I first saw, photographer, Afshin Shahidi’s post on Instagram, about his upcoming book on Prince, I was so excited. Not only because he is an excellent photography, but because it was about PRINCE.  Prince is one person I wanted to photograph, just for my personal collection. His presence, alone, told more than words ever could. Whether on tv, magazines, or concerts, Prince had an energy about him no one could touch, and I longed to capture a moment in his life.

 

 

When I first opened the package, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the photos would be great, but I was not expecting the reaction I had. As I flipped through the pages, my body went through a roller coaster of emotions. From laughing, at some of the silly pictures, to total awe, at the photos of him performing, and feeling my heart clutch with pain, as I saw the pain and loneliness in Prince’s eyes, in reflective moments, Shahidi’s images touched me to the very core.  Shahidi’s photos take us into the world of two people, who were not only business men, but dear friends.  Some of the pictures feel so personal, as if I am listening to a conversation I shouldn’t be hearing.  While others, such as the concert pictures, made me feel like I was there in the crowd, singing and dancing to hit after hit.  Then, there are the candid shots.  The one’s where he’s up close and personal, and you’re staring into Prince’s eyes, and you can feel him in the room with you.  His eyes put you in a trance, much like his guitar solos, and all you can do is surrender and embrace the journey, as you transport to a Universe where time didn’t exist.

 

  

 

Not only are the pictures captivating, but so are Shahidi’s words. You can feel the fondness and love he has for his friend, in his writings.  As he shares his memories, you can feel the admiration for Prince’s work ethic and dedication to his craft, fans, and band family. You can also feel the emptiness and void left from Prince’s passing.  As he takes us back in time, to tell of the escapades and personal conversations, I felt like I listening to an uncle telling stories of how he and his friend met and him reminiscing about the good old days.

 

To me, this book is more than beautifully taken pictures. It’s more than a glimpse into Prince’s life; it’s a memory book of a special friendship, which went beyond a camera lens.

https://www.amazon.com/Prince-Private-View-Afshin-Shahidi

*All photos belong to Afshin Shahidi

My Struggles God’s Glory by F. Denise Wiggins

My Struggles God’s Glory, by F. Denise Wiggins, is a story of a young woman, Denise, fighting her way through life while trying to keep her faith in God.  Denise shares her fears, struggles, relationships, love, and faith in a very blunt manner.

We are introduced to a young and pregnant Denise, who has no idea how to care for herself, let alone a baby.   Her mother is the person who actually tells her she is pregnant, even though she is months into the pregnancy.   The relationship between Denise and her baby’s father is far from ideal. And as you can imagine, for a teenage mother, it gets worse before it gets better.

The relationship between Denise and her mom is also complicated.  Denise represented hope to her mom and when she got pregnant, as a teenager, that hope faded.  This led to emotional and physical challenges for Denise.  But through all the bad relationships, emotional, and spiritual setbacks, her mother stood beside her, even when she had to let her walk alone.

The author shares some of the most intimate details of her failed relationships.  She brings the reader into the world of a young single mother with multiple children and of a married woman trying to build a family.

One constant throughout the book, is Denise’s faith in God.  Even when she is questioning her faith and God’s plan, she still holds on to it.

For a short read, this book covers a lot of issues many women face.  Single motherhood, dating, unemployment, family, and faith.  It also reminds the reader, some of the struggles one goes through are self-inflicted, but all can be overcome if you have faith in God.

“Clout” – Book Review + Interview with the Author

Product Details

I am a lover of books and I love reading books by up and coming authors. Imagine my surprise when I found out one of my co-workers wrote a book. His name is Quincy Lucas.  And because I am a big supporter of people following their dreams,  I immediately went to Amazon and downloaded the eBook.

The title of the book is “Clout” and it’s a short read.  This book is different from most books I’ve read because it is written as a play. To be honest, it kind of threw me off in the beginning because I am used to novels. The setting, for the book, is the music industry.  The lead, Adrian “Hits” Barrow, is a former MC turned “hero”.  Right off, one of the characters is murdered by someone he thought he could trust. Adrian is hired to find the bad guy but he has a story of his own, which leaves the reader wondering, is he really a good guy.

The book starts off kind of slow.  The dialogue, between the characters, is short and the reader doesn’t see much development of the characters until the end. As the story develops and the protagonist is introduced, the reader gets a better understanding of what the book is really about.  I wish the author would have given more background on the characters, closer to the beginning,  to draw the reader in more.  The writing style is confusing at first, but I really enjoyed the story.  Check out my interview with Quincy Lucas below.

Quincy Lucas – Author of “Clout”

1. Who is Quincy Lucas?
 I am the product of a 16-year-old mother and absentee father.  I was born in Wilson NC to a very humble beginning.  My mother moved away around my 12th birthday, due to crack addiction, and my grandmother Ollie Mae Rhice took control of raising me until she died.  I was 18 when she passed in 1994.  Due to my mother’s addiction and a few other tidbits, I was picked on quite heavenly; the neighborhood joke if you will.  See, back then drugs weren’t the cool thing they are now.   Back then, you were strange or an outcast if you or your family partook in dope.  I went through a series of events regarding bullying until I turned 16, then I received my first working gun.  The first gun I received came from my great-grandmother, Esther Rhice, a 22 revolver.  It was so old, the gun pin crumbled into dust.  To round this up, because I could go on, I try to be humble, loyal, and calculating, if the situation calls for it.
2. When did you begin writing?
I began writing in college 1995…Saint Augustine’s College, while I was taking  a creative writing course.
3. What or who inspired your book “Clout”?
 Clout was inspired by my love for hip-hop and my life.  I don’t have many friends; I consider hip hop my friend.  It has truly given me solace. As a kid growing up, with what I consider the bullsh*t,  hip hop was the proper lifeline for me because certain artists expressed the same viewpoint and sentiment that I had about a lot of things.  I felt like it was made specifically for me. I know that’s a little narcissistic, sorry , but that’s how I felt and feel.  And so, when I’ve been through some of the things that rappers talk about,and someone gets exposed for telling a lie, it upsets me because people out here really have it hard.  So I decided to infuse some of my life in with the music world and see what would happen if a certified rapper slash hitman, if you will, began to sort of regulate the rap game. Oh, by the way, he kills people as well as he helps them.  A nice way to balance out his hero complex.
4. Why did you write the book as a play and not a novel.
 It was originally written as a teleplay. It was a pilot for a  TV series which Starz vetted, for around 2 months. I got hooked up with a guy named Ken, who turned his screenplay (full length movie) into an E-book or E-Script. He sold quite a few this way. He suggested I do the same, since Starz passed on it.  Oh, it’s quite funny how we now have Empire and Power, but no worries, as my work went out in 2013 and is copy written. Also, this is as series, just like a TV series would be and the next installment should be up soon.
5. The music industry is used as the setting for your book.  What does it represent to you?
 I used the music Industry, specifically hip hop,  because it’s sexy and it reminds me of all the throat cutters in the street. Since I can relate to both, and they are so relatable in real life, it just made sense. Also, hip hop is a music of struggle, the have not’s, the dope addicts,  and the outcast. This is what this is about.  This serves to “put something on your mind to think about”, not just rap, cars, and girls.  It’s a character study.
6. Is your protagonist based off anyone in real life?
My step pop Eugene Smith. He taught me how to look after myself.
7. What are you working on next?
The next installment to Clout and a new title called “Rules Among Men”, fiction.
It was great to sit down and talk to this up and coming writer. I support anyone who decides to follow their dreams. I look forward to reading the next installment. If you are interested in a short read, download Clout on Amazon.

Reggie Stacks – Ghetto Heaven

Reggie Stacks is an up and coming writer who just released his latest book, Ghetto Heaven.  I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Stacks to find out the details behind his new book.

First, I want to say congratulations on your new book. I found it a very interesting and entertaining read.

Thank you very much and I’m very honored to be a featured guest.

So  tell me about Reggie Stacks. Who is the man behind the book?

Hi I’m Reggie just your everyday regular Joe.

What was your thought process when writing this book?

That I found my new million dollars!!  Naw seriously I just set out to make it the best read I could.  I knew I was tired of reading the same ole same and thought my story was one to be read.

The lead character Curtis is a complex individual, to say the least. What or who was your inspiration for him?

Curtis is that dude for real.  I have to say honestly I was my own inspiration behind Curtis my alter ego.  I share a lot of experiences with Curtis but I wanted to portray him as above life character but down to earth and real at the same time.

Curtis, Mario, and Jessy seem to have a familiar love, hate, protect relationship. Were their characters based on family or friends in your personal life?

I think those characters accurately portrayed the real life persons that they were based on.  Mario was my want to be me, hardheaded, in training nephew.  Jessy was my partner in crime. Of course for the books sake I’ve changed names and incidents made them more fictional but yes they are characters from my personal life.

You explore the world of sex trafficking in this book.  How do you think your female audience will react to the way you portray women as property?

Very interesting I thought I would get more fall back from that but so far I haven’t.  From the interviews I’ve done, book signings, people I have spoken with you are the first to broach that subject.  Makes me think did they really read the book or get the underlining message.  I wanted to bring awareness to this growing problem many don’t realize but like I said no one has mentioned it once.  I don’t know if they uncomfortable with the subject or just missed it.  Either way so far women have been my biggest supporters so…

The character of Lisa seemed to hold a special place in Curtis’s heart, is she based off an old girlfriend or secret crush?

Why do I get the impression you already know the answer to that question?

I have my suspicions, but it doesn’t hurt to ask…lol

Despite his strong ride or die attitude, Curtis seems to open up and become more “human” as the story progresses.  Was it your aim to make him a more likable character to the female readers?

Funny when I wrote this tale I never thought about that it’s just the way the story unfolded.  Like I mentioned before I wanted him to be larger than life but real at the same time.  If you think he became more human as the story was told.  Your opinion will quickly change in Part Two.

How does a man with a love for the extreme fall for someone like Michelle?

What can I say opposites attract!  Lol.  Naw seriously she was persistent.  C’mon now, Curtis was like any other man.  He wanted a respected innocent like lady and a freak at home.  Let’s not forget Michelle was an undercover freak, right up Curtis alley.

The way the story ended leaves a lot in question.  Will there be a follow-up to the book or perhaps a prequel to learn how Curtis became the man he is?

Ghetto Heaven is the first in a trilogy that’s already written. In the follow-up, (Paneili), it will start where Ghetto Heaven ended.  Become the man is in which way?  I thought I went in-depth in explaining that Curtis non-trusting, paranoia ways stemmed from his relationship with Sincere.  In installment 3 readers will be taken back to the beginning.

It will be interesting to find out how Curtis go into the game.   How he became “larger than life”.

After everything you have been through to become who you are today, what advice would you give to others about life and achieving their dreams?

It may sound cliché but I have to say follow your true dreams.  Don’t give up, let life’s speed bumps slow you down, haters deter you and stay persistent.  I wrote the 1st 2 books while still in the belly of the beast.  I had so much negativity around me, in my ear telling me I couldn’t do this.  Even when I had gotten out and told people family and friends that I had written a book I still got told I couldn’t get it published.  I didn’t allow the non-believers to stop me, the nay sayers to crush my dreams when they said no one would buy my book.  I published the book myself and yes its selling people are buying it.  What they didn’t count on was the same motivation and drive I used to propel myself to the top criminally I used positively.  Gotta love that.

What’s next for Reggie Stacks?

Well gotta say I want to spend the next 6 months to a year just promoting Ghetto Heaven.  I have this new internet show I’m doing “Kick back with Stacks” I want to see how far that takes me.  It’s something I never intended or thought would happen so I’m very excited about that. I would like start on my first screen play soon, that’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.  In the mean time travel, do more book signings, and meet my new fans.

Ghetto Heaven is a great read but beware it is very graphic.  Mr. Stacks  is very detailed about the world of sex, partying, and violence.   The details of Curtis’s business is what makes you want to keep reading, just to see how far he will go.  You will not be disappointed.

You can also check Reggie Stacks out on the internet at “Kick Back with Stacks” and also check out his Facebook page, Zo Publishing Presents.

Ghetto Heaven

Congratulations to Reggie Stacks on his new book, Ghetto Heaven.  I can’t wait to read it and give my review.  Also, congratulations to my sister, Alicia Cannady, on her first editing job with Mr. Stacks.