It’s Time for a Watch Party!

HNMM  - TV Premiere Key Art

Malala Yousafzai is a well-known name around the world! Besides winning the Nobel Peace Prize, starting an organization to provide girls around the world with an education, she wrote a book about her life all before the age of 18! Now watch the book come to life through the film, He Named Me Malala.

Who doesn’t need an excuse to get their friends together and support a great cause? On Monday, February 29, 2016, at 8/7c get your snacks together and watch He Named Me Malala  commercial free  on the National Geographic Channel. Learn more here. 


Thanks to the National Geographic for my Watch Party Kit!



You even help bring 12 years of safe, free, quality education to girls around the world by spreading the word on social media – it’s that easy!

Visit and create a custom Facebook profile video to show your support. For every person who participates through March 10, 21st Century Fox will donate $1 to the Malala Fund. A $1 donation will also be made for every tweet using the hashtag #withMalala during this time period, for a total donation of up to $50,000.

  • Host a watch party: Share your passion for girls’ education and invite friends and family over to watch the film. Sign up to host a watch party in your home or community.
  • Live tweet with @MalalaFund: The Malala Fund will be live-tweeting from @MalalaFund using #withMalala during the broadcast. Follow along for behind-the-scenes photos and stories, as well as information on how you can take action for girls’ education.
  • Fill a Schoola bag during your viewing party: Have your friends and family gather gently used clothes and fill a Schoola Bag. Send it in a 40% of the proceeds will go to the Malala Fund! It’s an easy way to get a lot of people involved, raise awareness and funds, and it costs absolutely nothing! Read more about the program and request a bag here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Get  ready for the event by reading my past blogs about Malala: 

See you on Monday to live tweet! Follow me: @Ms_ShininLight


Book Review – Work Song by Danielle Allen

Book Review
By: Nicole Howard

My Mini Summary: Realistic fiction meets romance and with an accent of GIRL POWER! 

Author: Danielle Allen
Publisher:  E by M

I have read and reviewed almost all of the books Danielle Allen has written. Work Song is her latest release and she has found a way to do something a little different than what I’m used to from her.

Work Song addresses a few topics that could be great conversation starters for book club discussions including family dynamics, body image shaming, and work relationships. The one that stood out the most was being a woman in a male-dominated field. It is not uncommon for women to grow up watching sports and being as knowledgeable about them as men. However, doing this socially and professionally is a different story. In Work Song, the protagonist, Tatiana Green is serious about pursuing a career as a sports journalist but she also publishes writing about fashion. She gets the opportunity to meet the ESPN’s head writer and she uses the pseudonym Pat Daniels instead of Patti Daniels. The question is if this is misleading because it’s a neutral name that would most likely be seen as a man when in a sports publication. Patricia addresses this question for Tatiana when they met during an extravagant work event. This brief moment becomes a game changer for Tatiana later in the book. It reminds me of a recent feature guide in O, The Oprah Magazine about being your truest self where Ada Calhoun tells her story about using a pseudonym.

(See page 122 in the November issue. The article is Call Me What You Will – Ada Calhoun).

Does using a pseudonym make you less authentic? J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter Series) used one instead of her full name because her publisher didn’t think a woman’s name would appeal to the male young reader audience (Bio here).

Will Tatiana continue to pursue this dream even though it’s not a common field for women? If so, will she be successful or quit?

(Read this featured post from Tatiana Green)

The speed of her books usually read like a romance meets a suspense mystery. You can’t put the book down until you figure it out. The speed of Work Song is a little slower with fewer flashbacks and twist and turns BUT Allen still delivers the “OMG” moment. Since the speed is slower you are caught completely off guard. This surprise made me want to smile with pride as if Tatiana was my friend or even me. The best part is realizing she alluded to it and if you don’t pay attention you may miss it. One trait I enjoy about her books is the realism for a work of fiction. I can imagine the whole book as it plays out in my mind. (I think someone has a future as a TV drama writer somebody call Shonda!)

Check out my interview with the author here. 

Now for the romance, Tatiana doesn’t have the best relationship history. Her ex-boyfriend’s words continued to haunt her that she was not capable of loving someone, in other words, she’s selfish. The reader is casually introduced to the love interest who she works for the same company, Sports Central and they only communicate through e-mail. There is no pressure for her because they have never met. So they learn about each other through these exchanges and share their love of movies all without speaking or meeting in person. Pretty much the original possibility of a “catfish” situation without relationship apps like Tinder and OK Cupid. It’s all fun and games until her “work best friend”, Wesley Barnes, accepts the opportunity to relocate to work in her office. Just the thought of having to see him every day raises intense fear especially since one of her close girlfriends had a negative work relationship experience.

She continues to deny that she can fall for this man because she has to remain a professional in the workplace. Once he arrives they spend time together and even as she begins to stop denying that she is developing feelings she fights it and him the whole way. Eventually, she has to choose between finally removing the false claim that she can’t love someone and the career opportunity of a lifetime. It is clear she is not supposed to have both. Danielle Allen finds a way to bring up so many relevant life topics in less than 400 pages that will make you stop and think can YOU have it all?


Find it on Goodreads:

Find it on Amazon:

When society tries to put you in a box, knock the walls down. –Tati Green

“You have a pretty face” is such a back-handed compliment. It’s like telling me that my face is beautiful, but the rest of me is not.

Despite what society says, my curves are hot. My love life, on the other hand, is not.

My mom says I’ll never find love because of my weight.
My sister says I’ll never find love because of my personality.
My almost-fiancé says I’ll never find love because I’m incapable of loving anyone.

My mom and sister are full of it, but my ex kind of has a point.

At twenty-seven years old, I’ve never been in love. I date a lot, yet sparks never fly. But when I experienced the heart-pounding, skin tingling feeling for the first time, I didn’t think it would be caused by a guy I’ve never met. And I damn sure didn’t think he would end up holding my future in his hands in more ways than one.

Book Review – Big Magic By Elizabeth Gilbert

Book Review
By: Nicole Howard

My Mini Summary: When you think being a creative person is no longer worth it when you’re frustrated with what you once loved to do. Read Big Magic to help you find your way.

Title: Big Magic
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Pages: 288
Publisher: Riverhead Books

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talks about being creative and a writer have always been my go to when I want to doubt my goal of becoming an author. I also saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak during Oprah’s Life You Want Tour in Washington, DC. While reading Big Magic, I felt like I could hear her voice. It was as if I was having lunch with a  writer friend. For those who are advanced in their “creative” careers, I’m not sure if they will see anything new or inspiring. For me, I had a few ah-ha moments

Check out Elizabeth Gilbert on the NEW Season of Super Soul

Fear is boring! What an easy way to remember to be fearless. A reminder that when you live in fear you miss out on experiences that can teach you something new. Gilbert points out why we are fearful and how to get over those feelings. Another big point was to be curious this is where the magic happens. The best part about this book is the honesty. Gilbert doesn’t make her story of being a best-selling author as something of mere magic but continuing to do what she loves daily. To sit down and write even when there isn’t exactly something to say. To pursue the small questions that may lead to the big magic moments like how she came to writing the Signature of All Things. For me this is an exchange of letters to a writing friend to say keep going, don’t quit now, if it’s what you love, love it back.

For more check out her podcast Magic Lessons.

Read more book reviews here.


From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Join me on snap chat!

The time has come to join the snap chat world. Join me! Let’s snap about books.


Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Review by: Nicole Howardimage

Ruby was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Dark Truth in Fiction – It’s that feeling I got watching Cicely Tyson and Viola Davis in the episode of How to Get Away with Murder or watching the Color Purple. When you know that art is imitating life. As you read the book Ruby, you might see yourself in the main character or Ruby Bell might remind you of someone you know. The book is set in a small town in East Texas and presents topics that will make your heartache, because you know the words are fiction but can also be someone’s reality.

Cynthia Bond’s writing reminds me of the magic I felt flying off the page when I read,  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. You find yourself underlining prose that makes you stop longer than necessary once you reach the end of a sentence.

Cynthia finds a way to balance the horrific details of racism, murder, human trafficking, and rape with a beautiful love story between Ephram Jennings and Ruby Bell (See resources on these topics). The love Ephram shows toward Ruby is breathtaking, beautiful, and a reminder of the power love has to restore.


Woven into the story are symbols that remind me of the voodoo images in the Disney movie, Princess & the Frog, set in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cynthia Bond adds in the “Dyboù” this evil spirit that takes over the characters who abuse Ruby. There are also spirits of Ruby’s children that haunt her, throughout the book she is seen outside taking care of them. These actions among many others have given her the reputation of a girl who has lost her mind, she is no longer sane, she’s seen as dirty, and is an outcast in the town. Even with the negative reputation men still flock to her home to do what they please knowing no one will protect her. At times I get lost with the addition of the “Dybou” and the spirits. I think it is due to the mystical feeling versus the realistic story line. You have to figure out for yourself what these elements bring to the story and what is the author trying to say?

I would suggest learning more about what inspired Cynthia Bond to write the book. Her inspiration includes her family dealing with racism and murder, her own past dealing with abuse, and the stories she heard working as a social worker. The interview in O Magazine (March issue) is an informative resource (Read an excerpt here) or read her Q&A .

(Watch more clips from the Super Soul Sunday episode: here)

OBC_Twitter4Overall, Ruby is a page turner that shows us the events in life beyond our control can effect us, but don’t have to break us. It’s a reminder that we all could use a little genuine love and help to restore us.

Look out for the next book in this trilogy coming soon.

Check out Cynthia Bond online:

Twitter: @cynthiabondruby

Did you read Ruby? Tell me what you think in the comments or on twitter: @Ms_ShininLight #ShininLightBookWorms


Read an excerpt of the book here provided by Crown Publishing Group.


Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.


Heartache – Danielle Allen


Review By: Nicole Howard

Heartache is a page turner that will have you cheering for the characters. Your heart will race as you read the well written love scenes.

Heartache is the first book in a new series for author, Danielle Allen. It is a mixture of mystery and sexy romance between the main character Roman Harper and his “friend” Bianca or “B”. It will keep you reading as you try to solve the mystery. Along the way you will get beautiful visuals of the art Roman Harper creates for a living. You will learn about his best friends and his enemies. Love happens to knock Roman Harper over no matter how hard he tries to run or deny it. Does he finally let his guard down and fall in love? Will he continue his success as an artist? Will his past destroy his future?

heartfeltcoverRead Heartache and you will not only answer these questions but yearn to know what happens next in the second book of the series, Heartfelt. This book will be available May 21st!

In the meantime, read Heartache and let me know what you think. @Ms_ShininLight

Follow the author online:


Social Media Links:






Roman Harper is known for being three things:

A talented artist…

A charismatic loner…

And most notably, an unintentional heartbreaker.

Even though he doesn’t mean for women to fall in love with him, Roman Harper has left a string of broken hearts in his wake.  But after a lie tore his world apart eight years ago, Roman doesn’t let anyone get too close to him. Sex is sex and love is…completely out of the question.

Using the past as motivation, Roman pours his heart out onto his canvas.  His heartache inspires some of his best work. And at twenty-eight years old, his art is finally getting the recognition that he’s always desired. But when Roman wakes up on the morning after his successful event with no recollection of who left the cryptic message on his bathroom mirror, everything changes.

What I’m Reading: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison


During my daily, walk through the aisles of Barnes and Noble, I’m pretty sure I’ve memorized the book covers by now. BUT I finally noticed something new! I didn’t know Toni Morrison had written a new novel. So, I have to put Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (you know the author of Gone Girl) on the shelf until I finish this book. Book review coming soon.

In the meantime, check out some of the other books I’ve reviewed.

Read more about this book:

Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child—the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment—weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.

At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”

A fierce and provocative novel that adds a new dimension to the matchless oeuvre of Toni Morrison.

A Super-Soul Sunday You Don’t Want to Miss with Paralympic Bronze Medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” Finalist Amy Purdy

Oprah Winfrey with Amy Purdy on “Super Soul Sunday”. Photo Credit / Harpo, Inc.
Oprah Winfrey with Amy Purdy on “Super Soul Sunday”. Photo Credit / Harpo, Inc.

If my life was a book and I was the author how would I want this story to go? – Amy Purdy

Amy Purdy will be the guest this Sunday, February 22 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. At the age of 19, Amy was diagnosed with Meningococcal Meningitis and the doctors had to amputate her legs below the knee. Months later she had a kidney transplant. After these experiences, she decided to continue to pursue her goals. Amy entered the USASA National Snowboarding Championship winning medals in three events and was the 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist.

Her story is one that will inspire you to take whatever life throws at you and make the best of it. The way Amy Purdy decided to do what may have looked impossible to others should remind us all to keep going. She did not just change her life for the better but continues to help others as well by co-founding Adaptive Action Sports. This non-profit helps create opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities to get involved in action sports like snowboarding.

Be sure to check out her book, On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life On-My-Own-Two-Feet-600

Amy will talk about the power of visualizing your dreams. Watch this clip to hear about what she visualized after her life drastically changed.

About “Super Soul Sunday”

“Super Soul Sunday” is the multi-award winning daytime series that delivers a timely thought-provoking, eye-opening and inspiring block of programming designed to help viewers awaken to their best selves and discover a deeper connection to the world around them.  Recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with two Daytime Emmy® awards, “Super Soul Sunday” features all-new conversations between Oprah Winfrey and top thinkers, authors, visionaries and spiritual leaders exploring themes and issues including happiness, personal fulfillment, spirituality, conscious living and what it means to be alive in today’s world.  The series is produced by Harpo Studios and executive producers are Tara Montgomery and Andrea Wishom.

About Adaptive Action Sports

Created in 2005, AAS is a non-profit organization that helps those with permanent disabilities get involved in action sports. AAS has partnered with ESPN and runs “adaptive” action sport competitions at the summer and winter ESPN X Games. These events were instrumental in getting adaptive snowboarding added to the 2014 Paralympic Games.

Elizabeth Gilbert answers my question during Facebook Live Q&A


Headshot photo courtesy of OWN Communications / Photographer Jennifer Schatten

Today, best selling author and Oprah’s Life You Want Tour Life Trailblazer, Elizabeth Gilbert, answered questions on OWN TV-Super Soul Sunday’s Facebook page.

My question was:

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?


Today I take my vow to always write! Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert!

Demetria Lucas – Debuts New Book, Don’t Waste Your Pretty in Washington, DC

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Demetria L. Lucas (aka “Belle”) the creator of debuts her second book – Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love in Washington, DC. She hosted “Conversations With Belle” to celebrate the debut of her book at Eighteenth Street Lounge on Tuesday, September 23rd. The event included complimentary signature cocktails, a relationship & dating Q&A, and book signing.

Today she spoke with undergraduate and graduate students at American University about her writing career from starting her blog on to working for Essence Magazine.  She also answered questions on relationships and being a confident woman. “Focus on what you’re good at.” said Lucas when asked how to confident. This event was hosted by American University’s Association of Black Journalists (@AUABJ) .  Look for a full event recap tomorrow.