2017 So Far

Phew. It’s been a while. I had a rough winter which involved being sick a lot. My reading thankfully did not suffer, but pretty much everything else did. Including this blog, obviously. Hopefully with things getting a little better and with all the reading I’m doing, I’ll get more posts in. I also have lots of spring concerts lined up so more music to come as well!

To make up for the months of no posts, here’s a brief overview of some of what I have read and listened to:

Tamora Pierce
A few friends are massive Tamora Pierce fans whereas I somehow missed her existence during my childhood. Better late than never though I suppose. I finished the Alanna series and have started on Circle of Magic. These books are such perfect little fantasies with characters I adore. Loving Pierce’s worlds and will continue to read through her work.

Graphic Novels/Comic Books
I’ve been continuing my efforts to read more comics. The March series by John Lewis is fantastic and highly recommended for everyone. Some others I enjoyed: Paper Girls, Turning Japanese, Tetris, and Boxers & Saints (by Gene Luen Yang who I got to see talk recently so that might get its own post.) I also started a few series I’ll likely talk about later.

Non-Fiction Galore
Entering this new year I read a lot of non-fiction, which was unusual for me. I tend to read non-fiction here and there, but found myself drawn to it while dealing with winter blues and whatnot. As I’m always trying to learn more about different religions, I picked up No God But God which is great for anyone wanting to learn more about Islam. Rest in Power by Trayvon Martin’s parents is heartbreaking, but provides a lot more details about his death.  I also decided to actually read from front to back one of the many coffee table books I own, Jane Austen Cover to Cover. There was also a mix of memoirs and psychology books thrown in. I hope I continue to read more non-fiction.

Music
While I haven’t been my usual music fan self the past few months, there were still some new artists and albums added to my rotation. A fews favorites include: Half Waif, Laura Marling’s latest album, and Pinegrove’s Cardinal. I also went up to Brooklyn to see Bastille and it’s amazing how much they’ve expanded their live shows. Their new album took some time to grow on me but I’m loving Wild World now and the videos they put together for tour were incredible. Also was lucky enough to see Bear’s Den on my birthday and if you don’t listen to them yet, please change that.

This concludes my brief overview of 2017 so far. Now to come up with a reward scheme that gets me to post at LEAST once a month from now on…

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Book Mix: The Square Root of Summer

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Hardcover
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Science Fiction, Romance
Ratings:Surprised Me I Ship It Gut Punch 

A common occurrence for me is reserving a book at the library and then, once it becomes available, having no recollection of what the book is about or even reserving it at all.

The Square Root of Summer is one of those books which I decided to jump into without reading the synopsis so it was all surprising to me. Perplexing and curious, the story grabbed my attention. Based on basically nothing (the cover? the title?) I expected a lighthearted story, but got something much more serious. Grief and love and wormholes and equations.

Something I specifically appreciated was the depiction of grief after the death of a grandparent. The deaths I come across in fiction that deeply affect someone are usually a parent’s or SO’s or sibling’s or friend’s. I don’t seem to find as many stories where the loss of a grandparent is so central. It’s usually someone dying too young. The MC’s grief over the loss of her grandfather resonated with me.

This story ended up being generally sadder than anticipated, but also more beautiful than anticipated. There’s heartbreak and romance, three dimensional secondary characters, and life lessons all with a side of being sucked back into time.

While listening to The Dø in the car, Miracles (Back in Time) seemed like an appropriate song for this book’s soundtrack so an entire playlist was born.

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Now Listening: New Albums Galore

A bunch of albums I had been highly anticipating all came out around the same time and none of them let me down. Here they are:

Second Love by Emmy the Great
I absolutely adore Emma-Lee Moss. She’s made three albums that all have their own distinct sound (she’s landed in an alternative singer-songwriter electronic hybrid genre) and are all equally amazing. If you haven’t listened to her music, please change that! As featured in the image for this post, I bought her album (and awesome notebooks) at her recent show in Philly which means I got the album before the release date and heard some of the songs live first. Absolutely in love with this album. Emma is one of my favorite lyricists and continues to deserve that honor.

Zoetic by The Rocket Summer
Bryce Avary’s first three albums were all something I held dear as a teenager. While I liked his two after those, they didn’t have the same hold over me. But this new one has pulled me right back in. It has been about four years since the last album and has been well worth the wait. I am falling in love with TRS all over again.

You’re a Man Now, Boy by Raleigh Ritchie
Raleigh Ritchie is the stage name of Jacob Anderson, who sometimes popped up in British television shows I watch. Others might know him from a show called Game of Thrones. (I gave up on it before Jacob Anderson’s character appears so I have no idea how much screen time he gets.) I can’t remember how I came across his music or if I even recognized who he was at first, but one way or another I found his songs and have been waiting for this full length. His music is considered alternative R&B, apparently. A lot of the songs on this album easily get stuck in my head. Many will make it into my summer playlists.

Night Swim by Josef Salvat
Early 2016 has been ripe with releases from artists I’ve been waiting around for new music from based on their singles and EPs. So this is another one to check off my list. Salvat is an Australian pop/electro-pop singer who really got started around 2014. So I haven’t been waiting for as long for this as some other albums. But still I am impatient and happy to have it.

Phase by Jack Garratt
Jack Garratt is quietly becoming the fave of many celebrities. Wishing him all the best luck because his music is truly awesome. He’s a one man band who is impressive to watch live. The way he layers sounds and changes pace during songs is ambitious and it works in unexpected ways. He makes discordance work. Probably none of this will make sense until you listen. There’s a reason I don’t review albums at length.

At Hope’s Ravine by Holy Esque
HOLY SHIT THE DAY HAS COME. After being teased for ages there is finally this full length work of art from Holy Esque and I am unsure what to even say about it. What I do know is the songs have to be mesmerizing live so they should do a real tour of the US that comes to Philly instead of just SXSW and whatever else they’ve been doing.

I’ve also been listening to Ra Ra Riot’s latest and Charli XCX’s new EP, which I haven’t been able to form an opinion on because it’s kind of insane.

Anchor & Braille just released a new album that for some reason I haven’t gotten around to really listening to so I am going to get on that.

Right now my most anticipated album is Frightened Rabbit’s. COME BACK TO ME, MY LOVES.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Songs (Or Albums) I Wish Were Books

This Top Ten Tuesday combines both topics this blog centers on. There are a zillion songs and albums I’d love to see in book form so it was a bit of a struggle to pick ten. I tried not to overthink it and put down what jumped out at me as I quickly scrolled through iTunes.

  1. The Tide by The Spill Canvas
    This song is a complete story itself so I won’t spoil it if you haven’t listened before. It’s tragic and would probably make a good weepy book. There are four characters mentioned: a mom and her three children, so the book could have alternating chapters.
  2. Volcano by Gatsbys American Dream
    The main theme of this album is Pompeii and I am obsessed with Pompeii so I will take a fictional story about it. Something modern about archaeologists? Maybe some time travel? There are a lot of lyrics to work with here.
  3. Razia’s Shadow by Forgive Durden
    I’m really pulling from my teen years for this list. This album was written as a musical and is perfectly suited for a novel that delves more into the story. If you read the description it sounds like a basic dystopian-esque love-saves-all story. It’s already part of the way there.
  4. Lighthouse by The Hush Sound
    The Hush Sound’s lyrics are lush and many of their songs tell little stories. I want to know more about this one:

    There is a girl who haunts that lighthouse
    She saved me, I was swimming
    So young I almost drowned
    Under the water she sang a story
    Of losing her lover
    She calls a warning

  5. Wine Red by The Hush Sound
    I had to put The Hush Sound on here twice, but they could probably be the entire list and more. For this song I picture a novel about star crossed lovers with a little mythology mixed in. Perhaps they’re stuck in different time periods. Then there’s the music video that offers another story. Lots of inspiration here!
  6. A Woman, A Woman, A Century Of Sleep by Emmy the Great
    I like sad songs, okay? This one has such beautiful and haunting imagery of a women who takes care of her house and feels as if she’s treated like no more than an object, like she is the house itself. Essentially, the mistreatment many women have faced from their husbands. I can’t do it justice so listen.  But I’m picturing a fantasy set in the 1950s where a woman feels forced into a marriage and cares for this house that turns out to be enchanted. Or something.
  7. How to Be a Heartbreaker by Marina & the Diamonds
    Perfect inspiration for a YA. A teen girl’s instructional on the hearts she has broken, perhaps? Maybe for revenge?
  8. Between the Bars by Elliott Smith
    One of my favorite Elliott Smith songs. Also very sad because I am me. I am going with “bars” to mean both the place you get alcohol and prison. A tragic love story alternating between the past (bars and parties and love) to present (jail)? And you don’t know how one of them ended up behind bars until the end.
  9. Mr. C by Nina Nesbitt
    This song is about a girl not being very impressed by the town’s “it boy.” Instead of a YA story about boy and girl falling for each other, I’d like one where the girl takes down the rich boy at school.
  10. Hayley by Empires
    Guess what this is sad, too. Sorry. These lyrics have a plot of their own that can be expanded on. Fame and death and SADNESS. I’m looking for more books that make people cry.

Can someone start writing some of these? Maybe I need to start writing some of these.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Now Listening: January 2016

2016 started out strong as far as album releases go.

Hymns – Bloc Party spotify
First of all, BLOC PARTY IS BACK.  This just came out this week so I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to it a lot, but loving it on the initial listen. It’s definitely different for them which has some old fans disappointed, but I’m okay with this type of different.

Weem – De Rosa spotify
Another band who has been away even longer is De Rosa. They broke up back in 2009, but reunited recently and now we get this album!

Six Day Hurricane – Johnny Gallagher spotify
People know Johnny Gallagher, Jr. from Spring Awakening and The Newsroom, but before he was making his name as an actor, he was in a band called Old Springs Pike. They’re from around where I live, but seemed to always play 21+ shows when I was still young so I never got to see them before Johnny left and they became The Spring Standards (who are still awesome!). He continued on as a solo artist though. I saw him play about 7/8 years ago and now he finally has an album! Some of the songs have been around a while and it’s great to hear the studio versions and I’m loving the new songs as well.

Not to Disappear – Daughter spotify
I was somewhere on the fence with Daughter before this album. Now I can say I am definitely a fan. They’ve grown a lot with Not to Disappear so I think seeing them when they come to Philly in March is going to happen.

Love + War – KWABS spotify
 This has been out in the UK so I’ve been listening to it for months now, but the US release is here at last. Get into it.

Holy Esque is taking their good ol’ time in releasing a full album and anytime they release a song I’m a little frantic. Tear and Strange are two of the most recent.

I’m a big fan of Mahogany Sessions for videos they do of old favorites as well as how they often introduce me to new artists. I’ve added both Tor Miller and Mahalia onto my radar because of them. They’ve also launched a new project called Distiller which has gotten me into New Carnival. There’s also videos of some other bands I adore such as Bear’s Den,  Luke Sital-Singh, and Marika Hackman. Definitely subscribe to both Youtube channels.

Speaking of Marika, I’ve added her albums back into rotation as well as Wild Belle’s who announced they’re coming back to Philly soon.

All the music mentioned in this post have been put into a Spotify playlist.

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