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Life Update: My Personal Experience of the KZN Unrest

I want to blog. I really do. But this is a fun, light-hearted book blog and I feel like it seems insensitive to just jump into discussing books with everything that has happened in South Africa recently.

I’ve deactivated most of my social media sites due to racist comments and threats but I still feel like I need to say something about the KZN unrest. So this is a piece I wrote during the first few days after we tried to return to normal. I’m still not completely okay and there are several things that trigger my panic attacks again. But mental health is a process so I’m trying to give myself the time and space that I need to heal.

It was the night of 11 July when I first heard the gunshots.
Naively I passed it off as fireworks even though something in my stomach warned me that something bigger was coming.
But President Cyril Ramaphosa had promised us that there was nothing to be afraid of. That the threatening messages on Whatsapp meant nothing.
The whole thing started off as a #FreeZuma protest, a protest to free former president Jacob Zuma. But somehow, somewhere, things escalated quickly.
The next day, 12 July 2021, I woke up to the news that the roads were blocked and a few industrial warehouses were broken into.
There was no police presence anywhere. So the looting continued throughout the day. I was at home with the background noise of explosions and gunshots.
Our desperation grew. As the voicenotes threatening violence continued, the communities decided that they would ban together in order to prevent a repeat of the 1949 Riots. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durban_riots))
So each community got together, came up with community watches and patrols to ensure that no one outside the area would go in and endanger the community. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Surely if you lived in the area, it made sense that you would be in that area. If you didn’t live in the area, it was pretty suspicious that you would be there considering most people were either hiding in their houses of patrolling. 
Later on, the government would go on to call this a repeat of the apartheid times. That by asking people where they were going or why they were in a certain area, it was racist.
It wasn’t done to be racist. It was done to ensure the community- regardless of race and colour- was protected as a whole. That only people from your community was in the area.
The President came and gave another speech. It meant nothing to us. Houses were being broken into (there’s even videos on Tik Tok), people were being shot and even kids weren’t spared.
And that is where my story begins. 
On the night of July 14th, we heard that someone had tried breaking into one of the houses on our road. (This was later revealed to be someone from outside the Phoenix community who got into the neighborhood because he said that he lived here. So the community patrol let him through). There was a multitude of gunshots and the dogs on our road went crazy. 
The shootout lasted for about 2-3 hours. The police managed to catch one guy but the others escaped in their van.
I was in bed, covered with a million blankets and trembling nonstop. Since the whole unrest started, my body was always so cold. I felt like a part of me had died inside.

I stayed curled in the fetal position, scared out of my mind, crying silently and mentally asking God to end it all. This was no way to live. Why wouldn’t anyone step in and save us?

But I knew the answer already. While the shootout was occurring in my neighborhood, several other neighborhoods were also under attack all at once.

By the time the shootout ended, some part of me had died. I had basically moved from living in constant fear to accepting that eventually I would die. It was just a matter of time.
No one deserves that kind of fear or that kind of hopelessness. But like I said, neither the government nor the police was anywhere to be seen.
They said that they had sent the army but we hadn’t seen anything.
By the end of the week, the army did eventually arrive and things were slowly calming down.
And that was when the Media started reporting on the Phoenix Massacre. 
The Phoenix Massacre refers to the many Africans that were killed in Phoenix. These people deserve acknowledgement. Their families deserve closure. All families and all victims of the Massacre deserve justice.
But the way the Media tells the story, the people from Phoenix are dangerous and violent. The Indians went after the African people in a racist-fuelled rage.
Both Indians and Africans were killed. There were drive-by shootings done by African people. There were Indians who refused to let Africans living in Indian communities go home.
There was racist tendencies on both ends. But I stress. It wasn’t all people. It wasn’t everyone in a certain race group. Not every person killed every person and those who murdered ought to be brought to justice. 
Right now there’s threats to the Indians all over social media and that’s ignored. The same way the government ignored the Whatsapp messages at the start of this unrest.
We’re warned that when the Indian kids return to school, they will pay for those who were killed.
The media has painted the Indian community as a bunch of killers. Now racist people who were looking for an excuse to attack have found one.
Indians and Africans are disappearing. But there’s nothing said about that in the Media.
The Phoenix Massacre is still being investigated (as it should) but there’s no mention of justice being brought to those who instigated this violence.
There’s no efforts to repair the relationships between Indians and Africans.
I work in an environment with people of various race groups. And honestly work is the only place I feel safe.
I spend my days at home, wincing and being startled by every little second, worried that someone is going to attack me. Driving to work I’m scared I’ll be the latest victim of a drive-by shooting.
Jacob Zuma still needs to re-appear in court. There’s rumors circling on social media that this isn’t over. Unlike the last time, I’m not going to ignore the grapevine. But I’ve been living every day in fear.
This is our new normal. And it terrifies the shit out of me.

Fiction Friday: June TBR

So I have slowly started reading again after the pandemic and boy has it been amazing!

The kind folk over at St Martin’s press sent me a few review copies which I enjoyed immensely and once I was done, I went straight to my bookshelf and picked out my next reads. Here are the books that are currently on my TBR list.

  1. Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting: This is the last book that I read and I loved so very much. This is a sweet best-friends-to-lovers book and while usually I detest this trope, this book does it beautifully.
  2. A Reckless Match by Kate Bateman: Anything by Kate Bateman is a winner in my books. I’m currently reading this and it is such a thrill.
  3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi- I’m listening to the audiobook of this and honestly it really isn’t doing much for me. I think I might switch to ebook or paperback since I knew I loved the book when I picked it up on a whim. It was supposed to be a read just to pass time but it really sucked me in.

What are you currently reading? Do you have any recommendations for books that helped you out of a pandemic slump? I’d love to know below.

Life Update: May 2021 Edition

Hello again! It’s me, the inconsistent blogger (anyone else think that’s a great name of a blog? Just me? Okay then).

I know it has been a while since I posted but work has been consuming and I have been processing everything in the world. As you can see, I’m a slow processor.

Working in Marketing has been great. I ‘ve learnt so much. I’ve also learnt how much I DON’T KNOW and honestly that scares me. When not learning about Marketing from online courses during the week, my afternoons and weekends are spent reading online articles on Marketing.

It’s kinda like I’m in that lovey, dovey, don’t want to do anything but be with Marketing phase (when you consider how long I have waited for a Marketing job, it makes sense that I’m kinda obsessed with it).

That being said, however. I am aware that this is an incredibly unhealthy way to live and thus, I will be making changes to my life. I have been really lucky in that my team really values work-life balance and kinda stresses on it sometime.

So I have slowly but surely started getting back into the grove of my old habits such as Netflix and reading. I think it’s been three weeks since I started reading again and while I want things to go back to the way they were, I know it’s gonna take time to fall into a rhythm.

So moving forward I will no longer be posting weekly. I will try to have new blog posts up every two weeks but you can find me on Twitter and Insta, stalking pictures of puppies, planners and lots of books.

I’m also going to try and include more content that isn’t just book-related. I feel like book blogging seems a bit trival during a pandemic. But also. books= escape.

Life Update: 2020 Won

Chalkboard with text "UPDATE"

So it has been a while since I posted.

Long story short, my dad caught the Coronavirus and it was a whole big thing. He caught it in December and is still recovering. I am hopeful that things are back to normal now that he is finally out of hospital and life seems to be going back to normal.

On that note guys, please please PLEASE STAY at home as much as possible and stay safe!

Tips for A Stress-Free Black Friday

It’s the second most wonderful time of the year (or atleast it is, to me). Black Friday is approaching and with all the deals popping up on my social media feeds, I’m pretty excited. Lots of retailers have extended their specials to week-long or even month-long. But with great promotions come great responsibility and it’s easy to get carried away. Here are a few tips to make your Black Friday shopping a bit easier.

Shopping bags
  1. Make a List- Take note of what you actually DO need/want for Black Friday to avoid accidental splurges on items you do not need. Yes, that big screen TV from Game is a necessity.
  2. Check your budget- Can you actually afford the items on your list? While sales are great, it defeats the purpose if you’re going to be paying off your credit card for months after Black Friday. Even if you did manage to get the new cellphone you were eyeing for months.
  3. Plan your method of attack- Will you be shopping in-store or online? Almost everyone is having online specials as well which means you don’t have to worry about queues or Covid. As someone who hates crowds, this is absolutely perfect. (Also if you ARE going in-store, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and carry a snack just in case you get hungry).
  4. Create accounts for online stores in advance- If you plan on shopping online, make sure that you already signed up for an account on those shopping platforms. Nothing is more annoying than signing up for an account ON Black Friday only to realise afterwards that the items you picked out are now sold. This sounds like a basic tip but sometimes people get excited and forget. It’s me. I am people. And while we are discussing accounts, make sure you are logged in before you start shopping.
  5. Start early- If you know that there is limited stock of the item you’re after or that the offer is for a certain amount of people, be sure to set an alarm so that you’re ready as soon as the sale starts. ‘Ready’ in this case means that you are logged in and ready to start shopping before midnight.

What items are you looking forward to purchasing for Black Friday? Do you have any other tips to make shopping easier? I’d love to know below.

Happy NaNoWriMo

So normally I get really excited for NaNoWriMo. A month dedicated to writing? No pressure? Yes please.

And I was excited way back when I was planning out my study schedule and pushing to finish before November began.

But now that it’s here I have a half-assed story concept, no plot outline and definitely no plan.

I’m still taking part because I feel like I should and at this stage it’s a tradition. If you can’t write a novel after the craziness of 2020 WHEN can you?

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? Let me know below.

I’m BACK!!!

I cannot believe it has been an entire month since I last posted. I’ve been busy with a Project Management module and now I can add Marketing Management and Digital Copywriting to my list of ever-growing certifications.

So while I didn’t really enjoy the studying this time (Covid=increased working hours+ less breaks+ less available study time), I was pretty sad when it ended. In fact it’s been two weeks and all I did was spring clean my room and watch two episodes of “Friends”. I’m pretty disappointed in myself but I figured after the year I had, I deserved a break.

I have scheduled a few book reviews and while I look for my next project, I’m going to focus on tackling that large bookshelf that somehow keeps growing. I swear I’m not buying books. I don’t know how they keep multiplying.

Release Blitz: Playing with Fire by L. J. Shen

“Clear off a top spot on your Best of 2020 list. 

Playing with Fire is coming in HOT!”

–Harloe Rae, USA Today bestselling author

Playing With Fire, an all-new intense and all consuming small town standalone romance from USA Today bestselling author L.J. Shen is available now!

A broken boy on the path to destruction.

A scarred girl without direction.

A love story carved in secrets, inked with pain and sealed with a lie.

Grace Shaw and West St. Claire are arctic opposites.

She is the strange girl from the food truck.

He is the mysterious underground fighter who stormed into her sleepy Texan college town on his motorcycle one day, and has been wreaking havoc since.

She is invisible to the world.

He is the town’s beloved bad boy.

She is a reject.

He is trouble.

When West thrusts himself into Grace’s quiet life, she scrambles to figure out if he is her happily-ever-after or tragic ending.

But the harder she pushes him away, the more he pulls her out of her shell.

Grace doesn’t know much about anything beyond her town’s limits, but she does know this:

She is falling in love with the hottest guy in Sheridan U.

And when you play with fire—you ought to get burned.

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/35scdah

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/PWFLJShen

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/3bDlzRh

Add to PLAYING WITH FIRE to Goodreads – https://bit.ly/MDVljgr

About L.J. Shen

L.J. Shen is a USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon #1 best-selling author of contemporary, New Adult and YA romance. Her books have been sold to twenty different countries. 

She lives in California with her husband, son, cat and eccentric fashion choices, and enjoys good wine, bad reality TV shows and catching sun rays with her lazy cat.

Connect with L.J. Shen

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2OhSvp1

Twitter: http://bit.ly/36ELHZc

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/2oMbFsu

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2AIOiTo

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Website: http://www.authorljshen.com/

Handbag Essentials for the Coronavirus Pandemic

I used to hate leaving home. In fact I still do but the fact that I can barely go out to the mall without fear of bringing home the virus, makes me equal parts excited and exhausted. Excited because YAY I AM LEAVING THE HOUSE. Exhausted because leaving the house means packing a million different things in order for me to feel safe.

Here are my handbag essentials for the Coronavirus pandemic:

  1. Hand sanitizer: This one is obvious. I like to take my own sanitizer because sometimes malls and stores have the icky one that goes on all thick and goopy. No, just no. This also came in handy for the one time I went in to a store and there was no one there to sanitize me because the guard was too busy flirting with the cosmetics lady. Three days later, another branch of the store had to close because one of their staff tested positive for the Covid virus. You can never be too safe.
  2. Disinfectant wipes: I like to use these to wipe down my handbag and anything else like the car door handle. These wipes are a lifesaver if you came across the type of store that takes down peoples details and has everyone using the same pen.
  3. Backup mask: I rarely use my mask until I am in the car. Sometimes I find out that the mask I picked is too big or just doesn’t fit right. I carry a back-up mask just in case.
  4. Wallet with driver’s license, bank cards and enough cash if needed to tip guards: I prefer using cards so I don’t have to touch cash. However I remember way back before we had so many positive cases in South Africa (I think it was March), there was a female car guard who helped me with my trolley but refused to touch the packets. She explained that she had heard what was going on and would not touch my groceries. I packed the car, thanked her but made sure to tip her. I don’t know exactly how much a car guard takes home but it made me sad that she was probably losing her livelihood already due to the beginning of the virus.

What are your handbag must-haves? Is there something that I am missing? I’d love to know below.

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