Book Review: Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones (With Spoilers)

This book takes place between the years of 1979 to 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia. During these two years, more than two dozen children disappeared and were gruesomely murdered. In 1982, Wayne Williams was convicted of killing two adult men and was sentenced to life in prison, however, prosecutors believe that he was responsible for the murders of 23 of the 29 children who went missing and disappeared. Williams, who was 23 years old at the time of the last murder, was never tried or convicted for any of the murders that were attributed to him. All the children who were murdered, or missing were between the ages of 9 to 17.

This story is told through the eyes of 3, fifth-grade students during the times of the Atlanta Child Murders. The book is divided into three parts all told from different perspectives. The first was Tasha, second was Rodney and third was Octavia. Tasha is a young lady, who at the beginning of the story, lived with both of her parents. Suddenly her parents “separated,” and as the murders being to occur in her community, her father moves back into the home. She is the oldest in her family and her family system was very open for communication. Tasha is somewhat of a busy body and is trying to find who she is within the social context of her fifth-grade classroom. Rodney lives with both his parents, but his father is a brute and very stern with him. He’s a very timid and shy – and does not have very many friends. He keeps to himself and begins stealing from the local store, in my opinion, as a way to affirm that he is invisible. Rodney befriends Octavia towards the end of his section of the book, and she has her own chapter. Octavia is a young girl growing up across the street from the “projects.” She lives with her mother, while her father lives in South Carolina as a professor at a university who is remarried. Octavia’s mother works the night shift and leaves Octavia, or “Sweet Pea,” at home alone at night, where she watches the news alone.

What are the most pressing issues in the book? 

I believe that the most pressing issue in this book is not the Atlanta Child Murders, but rather how the community reacts to these murders. I believe that this book put a very interesting spin on these murders. I really think that the way Ms. Jones focuses on these children and their experiences trying to gain acceptance in their worlds, even as a very ominous threat scares everyone.

What principals/characters did you agree or disagree with?

I did not agree with how Rodney’s father treated him. I felt real angry towards that man, and I could not imagine trying to grow and develop under the tyranny that was Rodney’s father. The man was not only harsh, but cruel towards his son. On one hand, I believe that his father was trying to do his best and raise his son to be a “real man,” but I think he could’ve went about it a different manner. I felt like his harsh parenting style did not fit his shy and timid son. I, however, agreed with “Sweat Pea’s” mother sending her to South Carolina. While the murders were not of little girls I think it was appropriate to try and give your daughter a better life. I felt like it was extremely hard for her mother to do, but the right thing to do.

What other things might the author have researched or considered?

I think the author should’ve went more into Octavia’s relationship with Kenny, or provide a little more detail. I would’ve been interested to know how that played out in Octavia’s life, especially since during these times sexual abuse from family members was rather common. Maybe not in a way to take away from the murders, but to just provide a little more context to the complexities that make up her personality.

What worked well for you?

In my opinion, what worked the best was the different forms of storytelling that was throughout the book. I believe that shifting the focus from child to child was important because each child’s perception of the world is different. No child is the same, and she really chose the viewpoint well for each child. For example, Tasha couldn’t be in first person, because she would take over the entire book, and Rodney couldn’t be in first person either, because he doesn’t not say much, but his thoughts are invaluable.

What major themes, motifs, or terms does the book introduce, and how effective are they?

In my opinion, one of the main themes is “a quest for identity and reasoning through experiences.” For the quest for identity I think is very prominent in Tasha’s section because it shows her really trying to fit in with the “in-crowd.” For the second theme, that is shown in Octavia’s section where she is trying to reason through why Rodney was taken, as well as why her mother is sending her away. I believe that these themes were shown very effectively because of the age group of the children they go through these things regardless of the situation they are in.

Another theme could be how the children are all trying to gain acceptance in one way. For example, Tasha is trying to be accepted by her peers Monica and the “in-crowd,” while Rodney would just like to be accepted by his father, and Octavia just trying to not be rejected by her class anymore. I think this theme is very effective because of how this story focuses on their experiences.

Did the book appeal to you on an emotional or logical way?

This book really touched me especially Rodney’s section. I was really in tears when he got in the car as well as when his father was beating him in the classroom. I related to Rodney the most because when I moved from Virginia to Illinois – I completely shut down in fourth grade, I never spoke out of turn, and had no real friends. As an extremely shy kid, growing up, I also felt invisible for the year. It hurt me in a sense because I knew right as his father showed up that it was going to break Rodney’s spirit. Part of me, believes that Rodney wanted to get into the car, but I still want to believe that he was forcibly taken. To me, growing up in non-Black spaces, unlike the children in this book it was really interesting to see the dynamics of their classrooms and contrast their childhoods to my own.

My Favorite Beauty Products – Part 3: for the eyes!!

Let me just warn you this will probably be the longest one in the series because I have tons of favorites. Eye make-up is so important to me because it’s often the first thing someone notices about you. If you haven’t done so already please check out the other parts of this series – part 1 and part 2! (Helpful hint – there are links to all the products when you click on their names.)

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Ardell Natural Lash Black 120! I really love these because they are the most natural looking on me. I have tried other . My mom said they look like I just have on really great mascara. They have a thin band (I’m not sure what the technical term is) and it’s really easy to apply the glue with (I use the Duo Glue in Dark). I love that I can buy it in two pack option because I can alternate which ones I use to make them last longer and not fear running out. They’re super comfortable and out of the way. If you’re just starting out putting on false lashes (like I was) I would suggest you use these after you watch this tutorial.

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Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette – I personally use the first Naked Palette but all of them are AH-mazing. I feel like there is a color for every single occasion in this palette. This was actually the first eyeshadow palette I’ve ever used, since starting doing my own make-up. I love all the colors and it’s very versatile. What I mean by that is the colors can be applied lightly for a more natural everyday look, or the colors can be applied more heavily for a more glamorous or “night out” look. This product has lasted me at least a few years, mainly because I go for more natural looks.

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Smashbox Eye Liners- ALWAYS SHARP WATERPROOF KOHL LINER (in Brown without the shimmer) and LIMITLESS LIQUID LINER (in Black). These are my go-to eyeliners and they both are amazing in their own right. The Kohl Liner is amazing. One of my favorite features about this liner is that it is self-sharpening. One of the things I hated about pencil eyeliners was that I had to sharpen it. The Kohl liner is also water-proof and rich in color! This is my go-to, everyday liner. It’s so amazing! The Liquid Liner reminds me of a felt-tipped marker, which is exactly what I need because I am new to the liquid liner world. I feel like this is a great introductory product if you are trying to use liquid liner. The liquid liner always dries super dark, which in the past with other liners I could never find one that dried as dark as it was wet. It also features a precision tip and thus does not dry out easily (I’ve left the top off for 30 minutes on accident and it was still good to use).

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Mascara – Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara– the formula is amazing. It almost feels like a gel consistency, it’s really hard to describe unless you use it. I mainly use this on my natural lashes and on days I don’t put on any other make-up. I feel like this mascara does my lashes good. I also love love love love the brush that comes with this mascara. I wish that I could take this brush and use it for all my mascaras. I just recently ran out of this mascara and I’m super sad about it. Anyways, I just found out that they have a waterproof formula – so I am going to be checking that one out as well.  Also, I really love Pür Cosmetics’ Big Look Waterproof Mascara. I recently started using this mascara because my mom brought it right around the time my other mascara ran out, so I’ve been borrowing it as a substitute for my own. It’s super light and clean. The brush is amazing. I feel like because of the formula that includes omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidants in it, it makes my lashes grow in thicker and softer

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to review or talk about these products (it would be nice but no). I just love them so much and I thought that you all might love them too!

What are some of your favorite beauty products for your eyes? Share below in the comments!

XOXO,

– Tanesha

My Favorite Beauty Products – Part 2 Lipsticks and Lip Care!!

Welcome welcome welcome to my favorite beauty products part 2 (check out part 1 here) !! This post will be all about my favorite lipstick/lip care items! Like I said previously I am by no means a fashion or beauty blogger (although sometimes I wish I was!). I just thought the holiday season is coming up, and who doesn’t love beauty products?! These aren’t in any order. (Helpful hint – there are links to all the products when you click on their names.)

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The Lip Bar‘s Liquid Matte (specifically Bawse lady). I was first introduced to this brand at Hampton University where the creator Melissa Butler (an HBCU Grad) hosted a seminar about beauty. It was super inspiring and honestly changed a bit of how I look at myself and made me much more conscious of how I talk to and about myself. She encouraged us to speak lovingly about ourselves. Moving on, I cannot stress enough how much I love this lip color. I only really wear matte lip colors (just a personal preference). My favorite thing about this matte lip color is I never feel like my lips are dry, and they never look crusty. Part of the problem with matte lip color is it tends to dry your lips out, and just look gross after a while. But ABSOLUTELY NOT with this liquid matte lipstick. My mom is even hooked on this one. Honestly, all of her lip line is amazing – go buy her products now!

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My next favorite is SmashBox’s Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick. This might sound strange but I really love the smell of this liquid lipstick. It’s not too harsh – it’s what a lipstick should smell like. Another great thing about this liquid lipstick is the applicator. It’s sort of different from regular liquid lipstick applicators – it’s much bigger. It does seem a little daunting at first but I’ve grown to love it immensely because I feel like I can outline my lips much better and more precisely. I also love how rich the color is and how long it lasts. For example, I wore the Bawse shade for homecoming, and it lasted all day – I was out from about 11:30am ’til about 12AM that night and it still looked amazing when I got home. I didn’t even want to take it off!

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Next, we have the bath and body work’s Ultra Mentha. This item is more of a lip care product in my opinion. I only use it after I’ve used one of my more drying lip colors and my lips are looking dry. Sometimes I even wear it to bed, if I know I have an early morning and I still want to look fresh and put together. More recently I’ve been using it as a pre-treatment before I put on my make-up. Just to make sure my lips are as supple and perfect as possible before putting on another lip color. It has menthol in it so it gives you this tingly/cooling sensation on your lips when you wear it. On their website, they said it could also help with bad breath! Bonus tip – it tastes amazing so even if you eat a little you’ll probably be happy about it!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to review or talk about these products (it would be nice but no). I just love them so much and I thought that you all might love them too!

What are some of your favorite beauty products for your lips? Share below in the comments!

XOXO,

– Tanesha

My Favorite Beauty Products – Part 1 Cleansers!!

I am by no means a beauty or fashion blogger, but I love and appreciate using great things on my skin, face, and body. There are certain products that I’m just obsessed with right now and I thought what better way to share them, then here on ladies and company. I must preface this with everyone’s skin is different and it might now work for you. I suggest you buy and try different things that work best for you and your body. So this is going to become a mini-series (due in part to me having sooooo many favorite products), so the first part is going to face cleansers (plus a body cleanser type thing). (Helpful hint – there are links to all the products when you click on their names.)

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Lush’s Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub! Omg! This product is amazing! I had been looking for a facial scrub for about 3 months now, and my mom had been raving about Lush products so we went to the store and was able to try some different products before purchasing. This product brightened my face and afterward, my face felt sooooooo soft and rejuvenated. On the container it says it’s a vegetarian product (yay!) and that “this scrubby mix removes dead skin and softens, leaving you moisturized and supple.” I mostly use this product once a week but sometimes every other week.  I’ve never used it anywhere but my face, but I am sure in the future I might on dark spots.

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Lush’s Buffy. I must preface this product with a back story. I absolutely hate hate hate hate putting on lotion. I feel like it is such a waste of time and energy. I don’t know why I have such disgust for it, but yeah. But this product changes the game! So after you shower regularly you use this body butter in the shower and it’s basically like putting on lotion but better. My skin LOVED this. I used it from the neck down and my skin was like glowing with happiness. Honestly, even days after trying the product and showering regularly (without using Buffy) my skin still feels softer than usual! This is another vegetarian product! I use this about every other shower, only because I don’t want to run out too quickly.

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Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Wash – The Coconut Milk. I was first introduced to their Hawaiian line while I was in California and I used (and LOVED) their shampoo and conditioner. Honestly, the only reason I’m not including it in this post is because I haven’t used it in about 2 years but my mother and brother both use and love it. The face wash has sort of a conditioner texture to it, and it doesn’t lather up with bubbles – which initially is rather strange but the results were incredible! My face always feels super soft and nourished afterward! I use this product (well I try to use it) every day as like my daily cleanser. Online the product looks different, but it’s the same thing they just redesigned the bottles. The cheapest place to find it was on Amazon online, but I buy mine normally from Walmart.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to review or talk about these products (it would be nice but no). I just love them so much and I thought that you all might love them too!

What are some of your favorite cleansing beauty products? Share below in the comments!

XOXO,

– Tanesha

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Today is my parent’s 25th anniversary of marriage!

My parents are like real life relationship goals for me. They’re married, have kids, have great careers and traveling the world – what more can you ask for !? Growing up in this house full of love, I’ve learned a few things about life, love, and marriage. I’ve decided to share the top 3 love lessons (that I have learned) with you all.

  1. Love is a decision. After the feeling is long and gone, and you have to DECIDE to love one another. It’s not always pretty and cute and fun, sometimes it is hard and rough-looking. Every day for the rest of your life you have to decide to love your significant other, choose who you will love wisely.
  2. Love (and marriage) is friendship amplified.You have to be friends. When my parents first met, they didn’t like each other (you have to get them to tell you the story), but now they are the best of friends. Friends fuss and fight, but at the end of the day, they are still there for each other when they are going through hard times. Also with true friendships (and marriage) you can depend on one another.
  3.  Love is patient. Your spouse or significant other is not going to be perfect (and neither are you for that matter). People make mistakes and unintentionally hurt each other, You have to be patient enough to realize “hey, my significant other is still growing up and maturing, so mistakes and unintentional hurts may happen.” I see so many folks out here that want a spouse that’s already established making 100K a year, flying them out to XYZ, etc.  But those same people aren’t willing to build with a person, so that they can get those things together.

Here’s a cute video tribute of my parents. 🙂 They’re super adorable!

I hope one day to have as happy of a marriage as they have.

Peace and Blessings to them.

– Tanesha

Small Blog Saturday: “The Melanin Project Blog”

So my childhood best friend and her best friend from college teamed up to make this incredible up and coming blog. I could tell you all the reasons why you should read it, but they do a much better job of explaining it. I believe that blogging should always be a reflection of who you are and your experiences – not necessarily for the views, likes or comments – and their blog embodies that notion.

Above all what does your brand stand for? What does it mean to be you?

  • The brand that we try to push through the Melanin Project Blog is one of diversity, exposure, representation, and celebration. We wanted to add to the Black Girl Narrative and show that Black Women/Girls come with various personalities, interests, and ambitions. Black Girls are not a fixed personality/stereotype. We are fluid and variant. The Melanin Project Blog is simply one outlet that shows two examples of the positive diversity that Black Women/Girls possess.

What do you think is most unique about your brand?

  • We do not necessarily think our brand is that unique. We are simply an additive to the ongoing movement of Black Women/Girls finding their own autonomy and reclamation of defining themselves.

How do you see your brand expanding in the future? Further than where it is in what ways? What would be different?

  • We really have not thought too far into the future about where we see the blog. Ideally, we would like to have a bigger following and impact but beyond that we take it a day at a time. 🙂 

Do you plan on doing some collaboration work in the future?

  • We have not discussed collaborations yet but I do not believe we will ever be against collaborating with others in the future.

How receptive do you feel your brand has been to your peers and friends?

  • Very receptive we would say. Our friends, family, and peers are very supportive of us and all that we do which helps a lot in keeping our blog running. They are our inspiration to keep working at it and hopefully, we will be able to pass on that inspiration to others.

What is it like being a young, black woman blogger? And how has it changed who you are? Or made you grow?

  • It’s a beautiful, evolving experience. Being a young, black woman blogger is liberating and therapeutic. It has made us more conscious and self-aware in the best of ways. By blogging and brainstorming for our blog, we have come to appreciate ourselves and each other so much more. We all have amazing attributes and talents which was uncovered through this blogging journey.

What would you tell a young Black Blogger that is feeling discouraged with the process?

  • If you are doing it for you everything will fall into place. Do not obsess over the amount of views, likes, or followers. Focus on yourself, what makes you happy, and those who have chosen to take part and follow you throughout this amazing experience.

Do you have any tips to a young person who would want to start a blog?

  • Just do it! There is no better time like the present. Do not be afraid to grow with your blog. By that I mean sure, you may not know everything there is to know about running a blog but with time and practice – you will.

Lastly, what do you want people to know about your brand/blog and why it’s amazing?

  • Our blog is positivity simple and true. We do not condone nor do we endorse bigotry or any of the -isms/phobias. We wish for our blog to be an evolution of welcoming growth that all can enjoy and take some sort of happiness away from it.

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Be sure to check the blog out here.

And on social media:

Or via Email: themelaninprojectblog@gmail.com

With Lots of Love,

– T.Renae

Small Business Saturday: Bronzin’ Movement

Let me tell you all about my friend Ashley, AKA A.Lynn. She is one of the hardest working people I’ve had the pleasure to get to know at HU. She has an amazing up and coming brand: Bronzin’, and it has a phenomenal message. BRONZIN’ is a mantra of empowerment of men and women of color who vigorously glorify their shade of bronze. However, BRONZIN’ doesn’t discriminate. All shades are beautiful, especially while out in the sun.

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Above all what does your brand stand for? What does it mean to you?

  • When I was younger, I was teased about my shade of bronze. Names that I’ve left in the past, did hurt me at the time. One time it was so bad, I remember looking at myself in the mirror thinking, “Wow. I’m not pretty. I’m too dark to be pretty.” I don’t want anyone, no matter their shade to ever think that their God-given bronze isn’t wonderfully made.  Ignorant opinions from others are not included in your life’s equation, so don’t even add the negatives.

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What do you think is most unique about your brand?

  • What’s unique about BRONZIN’ is that you get a chance to really appreciate and see just how many shades of bronze there is in the world. You can’t put BRONZIN’ into one category. BRONZIN’ is so very diverse and I love the fact that everyone can get their bronze on! However, people of color are the original bronzers, which makes BRONZIN’ even more special and unique.

How do you see The Bronzin’ Brand expanding in the future? Further than clothes and a mantra?

  • I believe BRONZIN will go far because it gives people a good feeling. The meaning could give someone who doesn’t embrace themselves as they are the confidence they need to bask in their bronze. I hope to one day expand beyond apparel, so that everyone can support the movement in their own way. With BRONZIN’ I plan to give back to our children and the community as a whole whether it’s a coat drive, or a dinner giveaway, or even monetary donations to charities. One day, I dream of having an annual, weekend-long BRONZE Fest where people who embrace all shades will come together and enjoy live music from some of the best artists, great food, and even greater people. I think the energy of the festival will be something so addictive and so empowering to the people. That’s truly what we need right now the society that we live in.

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Do you plan on bringing the Juice and Bronze together?

  • The Daily Juice is another one of my babies that I plan to take with me to the very top. Even though the two brands are separate, BRONZIN’ is attached to me so I say BRONZIN’ all the time, on and off the air.

How receptive do you feel your brand has been to your peers and friends?

  • Surprisingly, the support of the movement is outstanding. I was just shocked at how quickly the brand picked up. That means the message of self-confidence and love for all people is being understood. That is the goal and that goal will remain.

What is it like being a Young, Black Woman Entrepreneur? and how has it changed who you are? Or made you grow?

  • I can truly say that great things come when you least expect it. I never imagined myself being an entrepreneur but, I am now. It happened so fast and there’s so much that I am still learning along the way but, it helps to have trusted colleagues to call on when I have a new idea. Now you can’t call on everybody because everyone doesn’t want to see you succeed which I said trusted colleagues. And there are very few in my circle. I am thankful for them.

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Do you have any tips to a young person who would want to start a business or even enhance their brand?

  • My advice for anyone starting their brand or business is to always thoroughly plan and think ahead before making your next move. Be anxious for nothing, everything will happen at the right time. Also, never compare your brand and what you’re doing to someone else’s. What’s for them is for them and what God has planned for you – nothing can stop that from happening. I saw a tweet the other day that said, “Treat your brand like it’s a Fortune 500 company.” Think like a success, act like a success and you will be just that. And lastly, never let go of your dreams and goals set for your life. Nothing in the world can stop you from walking out your purpose EXCEPT YOU.

Lastly, what do you want people to know about your brand and why it’s amazing?

  • I want people to know that BRONZIN’ is the new beam of greatness in a world so dark. We have let society place our race, the human race, in various stereotypical categories. Especially, for “minorities”. I don’t know about you but, I am no one’s minority. I love my bronze and we can no longer accept the hurtful labels that have been placed upon us for hundreds of years. For my original bronzers, never be ashamed of your bronze. No matter how dark or how light your bronze may be, love it unapologetically. Everyone can get their bronze on, especially while out in the sun but, for some of us, our bronze comes naturally. And that’s okay. Either way, we are a beautiful race-the human race and “We Don’t Tan, #WEBRONZE.”

 

Get your Bronzin’ Shirt Today and vigorously glorify YOUR shade of bronze – here !

Follow the Bronzin’ Movement on Instagram: @theoriginalbronzers and Twitter: @originalbronze

also check out her BOMB Radio show here.

Love,

-T.Renae (below is me rocking my Bronzin’ Shirt and a silly face.)

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The Host by Stephanie Meyer

So this is my personal book review of this book. I thought it was really well written, to the point where like even if i left off on a part of then book, then came back, i settled right back into it like a pair of old socks. The book was really long tho, but not in a bad way. I did not feel like i just sat thru reading this God-Awful book, that sucked. The length gave Meyer’s a chance to fully develop everything thru out the book, and made sure there was just enough detail to keep you wanting more. She described every character with vivid imagery that I could just picture the characters in my head very clearly. I didn’t have to guess at what these people looked like, or how they felt.

I loved the main character “Wanda,” she just saw the good in absolutely everything, and wanted to do good by everyone even when that meant she had to hurt herself (referring to the end of the book). But Meyer did not make Wanda one of those weak, woe is me characters (until the end mind you), she’s I thought that the character were very well developed throughout the book. I felt like I knew each and every one of them, including some of the lesser characters like Trudy and Lisa and Freedom. I thoroughly enjoyed Melanie’s dialogue throughout that book, and her and Wanda’s constant back and forth i feel added greatly to the book, and how the story line moved.

I found it very interesting how Meyer choose to end the book with such a neat-tied in a bow ending, similar to what she did with Twilight. This book made me almost forget that she even wrote Twilight to be honest. The books are completely different, and as much as I love Twilight, I think THE HOST was written ALOT better. I am interested to see how the movie played out for this book.

Keep it classy,

T.Renae

The Queen has Arrived

The other day I had the opportunity to see Queen Bey herself in concert. I have to say the energy and excitement were too real. She did an amazing job at everything but the thing I thought was the most creative were the videos she had in between costume changes. I have no idea if it was because of her new self titled CD or if that was in the show all along. However that kept my heart racing and my energy pumping. How does she sing and dance all at the same time and not get winded? She must be Superwoman secretly because nobody has lungs like her!!

I cannot wait until the next time she hits the Washington metropolitan area!! Best believe I will try my hardest to get as close to Queen Bey as I can!!! (I secretly hope Blue will be on tour with her next time. Ya know before she starts school) Oh my!! The concert was two days ago but my heart is still pumping.

Peace, Love, and Happiness,

Averi Simone