It’s Monday & a lot has happened since my last post

March 20, 2023

My last post was on Feb. 27 and since then the following has happened:

1. Spring break! I was on spring break from March 5-11, and I spent the week with a friend at a resort on Playa Bayahibe in the Dominican Republic. The weather was perfect, the beach was perfect, the water was perfect, the company was perfect–everything was perfect. It was so good to get away and be warm and near/in beautiful water and to do nothing but sleep, eat, read, and get in the water.

I was going to post while I was there, but I decided to unplug from all social media and just be present. Here’s a pic that encapsulates what my week was like:

a pic of me wearing sunglasses on the beach
rough life, I know


2. Then, I had to fly home. On the first flight, there was no wi-fi and no in-flight entertainment, which would have been fine except I finished my book with about an hour or so left in the flight and needed a break before starting my next book. On top of that–and I have no one to blame but myself–I didn’t/forgot to add movies or TV shows to my phone before the trip. I had to just stare into space for a little while because I wasn’t ready to jump into a new book and I, you know, had nothing else to do.

My second flight got delayed by about an hour or so for a mechanical issue (the inside of the plane wasn’t cooling off), which sucked but was also great because that gave me time to add stuff to ye olde cell phone. I mean, I had already added a couple things because of the layover, but the extra time meant extra time. So, of course, I didn’t watch anything at all on that flight.

By the time I landed and got to my ride, it was about 1:45 a.m. and the driver gleefully announced that it would take a half hour to get to my place, which meant I would get home after 3 a.m. because of the time change. I had forgotten about the time change but was glad he told me so I could change the time on my oven when I got home.

I got to bed–finally–at 4 a.m., which would have been fine except the next day…

3. I went to the Oscars party at the Academy Museum. My friend is a member and wanted to go, so go she and I and another friend went.

I was skeptical about going to watch a screening of the Oscars in an auditorium, but it turned out to be really fun, and even though we weren’t at the actual ceremony, it felt like we were very close to being in the actual room. Everyone got all dressed up (the invite said to wear “Hollywood glam”) and there was food and fun. We learned a lot of lessons about what to do if we go again, and we also understood fully why celebs have glam squads. Let’s just say boob tape was involved and never speak of it again.

Also, I got a pedicure before I left on my trip because I wouldn’t have time when I got back, and my nail polish chipped on the LAST DAY when I was packing up to get on the plane. I was bereft, especially since I only had open-toed shoes to wear.

4. The next day was back to work, which wasn’t so bad because (a) my sabbatical officially got approved [expected], and (b) I got nominated for a teaching award by my students [unexpected]. So, that was excellent news all around.

And to top it all off, it was light outside when I left work because of Daylight Saving Time. I have been in the best mood all week because of the time change haha.

5. I am officially back to the grind–especially because I am on the hiring committee for my department and we got over 400 applications to screen. My eyeballs are melting out of my head, but I decided to take a break and post this.

6. Also, you know between the spring break and the last time I posted, I read some books:

Kiss of the Spider Woman and Two Other PlaysKiss of the Spider Woman and Two Other Plays by Manuel Puig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I assigned Kiss of the Spider Woman without having read it because it will be playing at the local playhouse, so I needed to remedy that before, you know, my students read it. So, that’s the only play I read in this collection.

The beginning was slow for me with all the talk about the movie I have never seen, but I did like that it was layered with meaning. Once the dramatic irony kicks into play–predictably, one could say–the stakes become higher and the play that much more interesting. Heartbreaking ending (that I loved, ha) but it really couldn’t have gone any other way.

View all my reviews

Before I Let Go (Skyland, #1)Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I either had “Before I Let Go” by Maze f. Frankie Beverly or “Before I Let You Go” by Blackstreet running through my head whenever I picked up this book, for obvious reasons.

That said, I did enjoy it. I wasn’t sure at the beginning if I would be into but by the time I got to page 50, I was invested. I appreciated that we truly understood why they broke up and why they were still drawn to each other, and it was believable why both of them would be wary of trying again. I loved the stuff with the daughter as well.

I do not appreciate authors/writers including live footage of my therapy sessions, though, I have to say. That is mostly a joke.

Anyway, I would probably read more by Ryan.

View all my reviews

J.R. Silver Writes Her WorldJ.R. Silver Writes Her World by Melissa Dassori
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m trying to sort out how I feel about this book. It was definitely cute, and I liked that the conflict was very much grounded in the reality of one friend wanting to expand into a different friend group while the other doesn’t. I appreciated that Violet wasn’t cruel to J.R.–just clueless. There is a mean girl element that definitely seems borne out of that idea of being left behind. I appreciate that the adults in the book urge J.R. to try to have fun or to try new ideas/scenarios before deciding she hates them or doesn’t want to do them.

I found the boy/girl stuff a little annoying just because I thought the author was going to go in a different direction than she ultimately did.

That said, this is a book about communication and standing up for yourself and fighting for your friendships if you think they’re worth fighting for and, ultimately, it worked for those things. It is also about not interfering in things that aren’t your business, which I think is a great lesson especially since movies/TV shows often treat these issues differently than they’re handled here.

Love the illustrations!

3.5 stars, rounding down

View all my reviews

A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock, #1)A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best part of this book is one of the male characters facing up to the fact that his wife actually wants to be more than just a wife and mother. Old boy is literally DISTURBED by this knowledge because it never occurred to him. And he’s one of the good ones

The second best part of this book is Thomas laying bare both the arrogance of youth AND the arrogance of privilege all in one go. Also the best laid plans, etc.

That said, I love the look at gender roles and politics here. I like that there are consequences for even what the characters believe to be the most thought out of actions, and I love Watson with my whole heart and soul. The mystery was a little muddled for me, though I did get the gist of most of it. All the threads tied up neatly, but at times I couldn’t remember what was what. That is both a plus and a minus since it’s hard for books to surprise me BUT ALSO I want to be able to follow the storylines–all of the storylines. So the character work saved this one for me.

Also, it is so depressing that there was a war in Afghanistan when this book was set in the 1800s and that just…hasn’t changed. Sigh.

View all my reviews

A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water, #1)A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I was sitting on the beach for spring break, I thought it might be a good idea to read a book about Black mermaids/sirens. Alas, this is not a beach read as there is NO BEACH and only a pool mermaid. Oh, well.

It took me way too long to figure out what Effie was becoming, which is honestly a little embarrassing considering how obvious it was from the beginning. Like, it was as obvious as who Percy Jackson’s dad is. I figured it out before Effie did, but still. I’m blaming vacation brain.

I liked this book in general, but at the end, I feel like I had more questions than answers. Also, I think I would have liked it more if Morrow spent less time explaining Black things and instead just let them be. It honestly made Blackness feel as exotic/otherworldly as being a siren, which I don’t think was the intent of the book at all.

As noted by almost every other review(er) here, I did absolutely love the relationship between Effie and Tavia. So bonus points for that.

The book did also take a few turns I wasn’t expecting, although the treatment of Naema was disappointing.

All in all, though, I do think it was a solid read, and I was interested and invested in what was going to happen to the girls.

View all my reviews

A Cowboy to Remember (Cowboys of California, #1)A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was fun to read on the plane, and I deeply appreciated that the characters didn’t treat Evie like a child. My only complaint, really, is that I would have liked to see more of Zach and Evie navigating their relationship and the fallout of her remembering both her actual past and her new amnesiac past.

Great supporting characters. Love Blaire.

A quote: “I want to feel loved, like really loved. I want to feel that I have something that is mine for as long as I can hold onto it.”

I’m looking forward to reading more of Weatherspoon’s work.

View all my reviews

All but one of those books was read on vacation. Hint and shocking no one: it was the one for work.

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Have a great week, everyone!

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  1. The Widow Badass

    Congratulations on your nomination, Akilah! Sounds like you have been busy in a mostly fun way, too. Nice to read!


  2. kegarland

    Was that Southwest? It sounds a lot like a Southwest flight.

    Anywho, your CA life always sounds so wonderful!

    • Akilah


      I am trying to make being so far from everyone worth my while, for sure. I had a great time.


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