Book Diary #10: Before I Fall Book + Movie

Reading slumps are a bitch.

Now that I feel like I’m finally pulling myself out of a reading rut, I found it in me to basically pile-drive my way through a nearly 500 page book. Having a movie companion always helps. So here I am with a long awaited book diary entry. Let’s talk about Before I Fall.

The Book

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is a book that’s probably been on my radar since it released. It’s exactly the kind of book that is up my alley: full of death, angst, and just a touch of something heart warming.

The book is told from the point of view of former loser and current mean girl Sam Kingston. On February 12th Sam goes to a party, gets into a car accident, and dies. That is until she wakes up to find that it’s February 12th all over again. Sam faces her final day on repeat while she solves the mystery behind her death and more importantly find what really matters in life.

While this book started a bit slow for me, after I trudged through the first 50 or so page day I flew through this book. It was almost impossible to put down. I haven’t read like that in a hot minute. It felt amazing. So to say I had a good reading experience with this one would be putting it lightly.

This story pretty much ticks all the things I look for in a good YA contemporary: complex and dimensional characters, a nice slow burn romance, strong character relationships, interesting side characters, and a moving plot that haunts you even after you’ve finished the last page. But after I finished reading the last page I felt a bit bewildered. The ending is definitely powerful and beautiful, but if you think too much about it (and I’m the queen of thinking too much about things) it might leave your brain hurting. Without spoiling anything, my advice is seriously don’t dive in too deep on whether the ending makes sense or not because then it definitely won’t make sense. Really that’s my only gripe with this one, though.

The Movie

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So of course this experience had to be a package deal. Pretty much the whole reason I read the book was so I could watch the movie. I’m a sucker book-based films. They’re my bread and butter just under horror films. To put it simply, this is a really solid book-to-movie adaptation. I was thoroughly surprised by how much I did actually enjoy this movie.

My adaptation expectations are always realistically low. Typically I’m prepared to hate watch these kind of movies with maybe a slight bit of hope that I won’t have to. For the most part I was pleased with the changes they made. Obviously they condensed a lot, removed a few minor characters, and tightened up a few of the less important subplots, but really the heart of this story was completely intact. Also, I feel like this is the kind of movie you could take your non-reader friends to and they won’t be lost. However, it seems that a lot of non-reader viewers had a hard time feeling for the characters in this film. I still was able to feel for them, but I may have been blinded by my feelings for them from the book. I’d say, though, if a non-reader can embrace the grayness of these character, this will be a perfectly enjoyable watch for them as well.

Overall, this may not be the kind of movie I would make a ritual out of watching, but I definitely think it was a moving watch and a strong adaptation. It also, made the more brain numbing parts at the end a bit more digestible. If you’ve read the book I would highly recommend this one.

four stars

Final judgement: This book nerd is feeling pretty satisfied with this book/movie adventure.

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Album Review: “Last Young Renegade” by All Time Low

Hey, so it’s been like three years since I wrote an album review on this blog.

Today that changes.

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I’ve been a pretty huge All Time Low fan now for nearly ten years and in that time I’ve claimed time and time again that they always puts out solid work, that they are a band that never disappoints. Unfortunately, today that changes as well.

When I heard that All Time Low were switching from Hopeless Records to Fueled By Ramen, I was neither surprised nor concerned, but when the band’s first single for the album, “Dirty Laundry” dropped a hint of concern creeped in. Track reviews for the song were cautious at best and the song was a bit more low key and pop driven than I would have anticipated from the band. Ultimately, though, the track really grew on me, and when the namesake track “Last Young Renegade” dropped and oozed of familiarity, I was a bit more hopeful that this album would show the band continuing to progress their sound without forgetting who they were. I didn’t exactly get what I bargained for.

I’m not the kind of fan that expects nor even desires for a band to stay caught in the sound that got them noticed. I fully endorse bands pushing the limits of what they are capable of creatively even if the risks they take aren’t popular. The sound shift on Last Young Renegade is not what makes this an okay record at best. In fact, All Time Low moving forward with a more pop and less guitar driven sound is far from shocking. They’ve always had a strong pop sensibility so I’m not offended, like so many others, that they’ve continued this trend. I am let down, however, by this album’s lack of heart, lack of power and overall lifelessness.

The problem with Last Young Renegade is not that the songs are bad, they’re just lackluster and kind of dead-on-arrival.

Like I said before, I really did grow to love the track “Dirty Laundry” with it’s haunting and catchy melody and it’s slow burn crescendo that proves that this band is capable of making strong, explosive pop punk tunes. I also really enjoy the self-deprecating “Life of the Party”. “Last Young Renegade” is a catchy classic All Time Low tune as well. I definitely get fangirl type feels with the Tegan and Sara feature on “Ground Control”. But, ultimately this album feels like All Time Low kind of phoned it in this time around rather than providing the epic concept album the marketing promised. I’ll probably still enjoy listening to this album in the long run, but mostly it just makes me want to play Don’t Panic for the thousandth time.

three stars

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Why the Mainstream Media’s Attack on PewDiePie Matters

A few weeks ago I wrote my first blog post in awhile where I aired some of my political frustrations. Since then I’ve found myself more determined to find truth and to speak out for that truth. You could say that politics is my flavor of the week and I wouldn’t argue with you. Honestly, I don’t think I’m in small company with this obsession, however. To say that the first couple of months of 2017 have been interesting would be a massive understatement. The thing that I think is the most interesting, though, has been the role of the media in all of the madness, particularly mainstream media.

Sitting at the top of my bookshelf in my office is my degree in journalism. Journalism was a field I never felt compelled to for the majority of my life. My heart always pulled me in the direction of music. But when my love for music lead me to journalism I found myself entrenched in a world I would have never imagined I’d even have an admiration for. The thing is I want so much to be on the side of journalists in this political climate. I want to be that person shouting “but the freedom of the press!”, but here I am feeling like a traitor because I can’t join their team.

First things first, we need to be real about this issue: the mainstream media are not heroic purveyors of truth, and most of us know this. The lack of trust in the media has been a hot button topic for awhile. We all know the media’s credibility is a gamble, so why is it now that people all the sudden care about CNN and Fox News’s journalistic integrity and their rights. Is is because President Trump is the greater of these two evils in the eyes of many? I’m not saying that I agree with Trump’s treatment of the press, but it’s really hard to shed a tear for CNN or The New York Times.

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I know this picture has been all over my social media for a few months now. The truth is that none of these site are free of bias and false narratives. 

All of this was really to segway into where much of my attention has been for the last couple of weeks, and that is on the mainstream media’s apparent attack on alternative media, particularly on YouTube. Yes, that means I’m talking about PewDiePie.

If you’re unaware, on Feb. 14 The Wall Street Journal released a hit piece on mega YouTube star PewDiePie aka: Felix Kjellberg. In the article they credit nine videos of his that host nazi imagery and supposed anti-semitic humor. They also submitted this information to Kjellberg’s network Maker Studios (owned by Disney) and YouTube leading to his removal from the network and the cancellation of his YouTube Red series. In response multiple media outlets including The Verge and Wired continued a narrative that painted Kjellberg as an internet personality recklessly using edgy humor and by doing so making him a hero to nazis.

The problem with this is simple: context matters. These articles were quick to mention the offensive material, but conveniently left out all of the build up. PewDiePie’s career took a hit because his jokes that were aimed at YouTube Heroes, Fiverr, and of course the mainstream media were painted to make him seem racist and insensitive, or worse, sympathetic to neo-nazis. This was a clear-cut case of defamation. But when the YouTube community rallied behind Kjellberg, the media didn’t soften it’s bite. They doubled-down on their claims and even started comparing a non-political YouTuber to Donald Trump.

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It really feels like this was the mainstream media lashing out at a form of media they see as threatening: YouTube. The video streaming social network ranks number two in active users, just below the inescapable Facebook. It should also be noted that both platforms beat out all other social networking sites by hundreds of millions of users (with YouTube at 1 billion users, the next closest is Instagram with 600 million). YouTube is the new frontier of media. I don’t think there’s much of a question of that. The reality is that YouTube beats out mainstream media in pretty much all fronts, both in viewership and in influence. And while PewDiePie isn’t some kind of reputable news source, he is a giant on a platform that hosts a plethora of alternative media that is drawing in viewers by the millions. If the mainstream media isn’t feeling the pressure to compete with this, I would think they’re stupid. While I understand the desire to stay relevant, recklessly tarnishing the reputations of media figures is the wrong way to go. Then to continue to double down in order to preserve the narrative, well, that’s a death sentence.

Look I don’t want to beat this dead horse anymore. There are lots of great videos (I’m particularly fond of Sargon of Akkad) discussing these issues in better detail than I ever could, but I do want to make a point with all of this. The truth is journalism seems to have become more about the narrative than about reporting the truth. Journalists should hunger for truth, but they settle for catchy headlines regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

 
I fervently support the first amendment, now probably more than ever, but I think one thing needs to be made clear when it comes to the media: the press absolutely have the right to speak freely, but they also have the responsibility to speak truthfully. Until that becomes the norm, question everything.  Seek truth and don’t settle for outrage and sensationalism.

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Confessions of a Tired Moderate

If I’m being completely honest, I’ve been conflicted for a while now. Tonight was a bit of a breaking point for me and I’ve felt the weight of, what I hope is, irrational fear crash down on me.
 
You know that, for a few years now, the political discourse on the Internet (more specifically for me, Facebook) has become intense and even toxic. If you’re friends with me on the internet, you know I typically don’t engage in it. The thing is, it’s not that I don’t want to talk about it or that I think the conversation is unnecessary, it’s really the opposite. I think we so desperately need to talk about what’s happening in our country right now. But here’s the problem: I don’t see people talking with each other, I see people talking at each other, and it’s painful and hurtful to watch.
 
Dear Friends,
 
What if I told you that I voted Libertarian is this last election because I want to see an end to the corrupt two party system. That I feel like everyone deserves equal rights, but the government deserves less power. That I apparently helped Donald Trump win.
 
What if I told that I think people with conservative or even just non liberal views are unfairly shut down. That I think they are censored and berated into silence even if some of what they have to say is worth hearing.
 
What if I told you that “PC” and “SJW” culture are something worth criticizing. That it kills me to see such hatred coming from a group that preaches love. The group that rightfully called out hateful christians on their hypocrisy, but refuse to see their own.
 
What if I told you that saying this genuinely terrifies me. That if I say one thing that doesn’t fit the new “moral”, “PC” narrative, I might be seen as indirectly bigoted or insensitive. That people I care about might think less of me because the world says that anyone that disagrees with them is somehow ignorant or uncaring.
 
What if I told you that I feel like my views have never been more liberal, but that I’ve never felt so detached from those that proudly wear that title.
 
What if I told you I really do believe that everyone deserves equality and respect no matter who they are or what they believe or how they identify, but that their race, sexuality, gender, etc is not the most important thing about them. You have so much more to offer this world. Let me repeat that: you have so much more to offer this world.
 
What if I finally told you that I’m so tired of not having a voice in this increasingly one sided conversation.
 
I refuse to bend to authoritarian culture and hateful ideologies. But I also refuse to give up on those around me who think differently than me. I refuse to stop loving my neighbor even if what they preach scares me. I would hope that most of you reading this feel the same. If we shut down the conversation, things will never change, and we desperately need change.
 
I sincerely love you all
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Green Day Madness

So I’m pretty much just writing off the cuff here. No plan at all. As I’ve made abundantly clear Green Day is my all time favorite band and has been for almost 12 years. And as most probably know, they’ve kind of made a fantastic comeback in the last month or so. It’s all pretty much a Green Day fangirl’s dream come true. So here are my ramblings on all this crazy that’s happening.

Revolution Radio

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First, I really think we need to talk about Green Day releasing an album out of the blue in 2016! My brain metaphorically exploded when I saw the Oct. 7 release date. I knew an album was coming eventually (It wasn’t like the band wasn’t dropping hints), but I was fully convinced that it would be at least another year. I’m still not sure that I’m ready for a new Green Day album this year. I was not mentally prepared for a new Green Day album this year! Of course, though, I still stopped everything and pre-ordered that beautiful limited Red Vinyl (coming soon to instagram) and you know I’m probably going to go buy a copy of the CD once it’s out. I’m beyond psyched, but this has seriously interrupted my music plans for the rest of the year.

Speaking of interruptions…

Rev Rad Tour

Before Tuesday I was still in a very serious debate with myself over whether I wanted to see Moose Blood or Tegan and Sara more, but on Tuesday Green Day announced they were doing a club tour in the US (plus they’re going to the UK and Canada too). What do you think was the first date of this tour? I really would have put my money on Berkley or somewhere else in California, but no, it’s St. Louis. Not only that, but it’s at The Pageant.

I always dreamed about what it would be like to get to see my favorite band play in an intimate venue, but I genuinely believed that it probably wasn’t going to happen; Green Day are beyond that. Low and behold, though, on Tuesday morning there it is in my first Idiot Nation email in a long time: “Green Day @ The Pageant, St. Louis.”

And here’s where things get downright stupid…

Ticketing Nightmare

Here, kids, is how obsession works: So the pre-sale for the tour was the next day (thanks for the heads up!), and I had a physical therapy appointment that was happening during the 9 am pre-sale time. Most people would just shrug their shoulders and try for tickets when they’re done. Me? I immediately call my therapist’s office and find away to move my appointment to an earlier time…because Green Day.

***I’d like to point out that my therapist thought I rescheduled for another doctor’s appointment. I didn’t have the nerve to tell her it was because I needed concert tickets.***

So I get back home with 10 minutes to spare. At nine, on the dot, it begins. At 9:01: “There are no items that match your search”. I refreshed my search several times. I went to Green Day forums on the Idiot Nation site to see if I was alone. I wasn’t. Anyone who tried to buy tickets knows what a nightmare this was.

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I continued refreshing at the advice of other “Idiots”, and at 10:15 a ticket finally appeared. My heart pretty much stopped and I scrambled to make sure that ticket was mine.

I’m not going to turn this into a “this is why scalping should be illegal” rant because I think we can all agree on that, and I’ve have this conversation too many times in the last few days. What’s important here is that I got the ticket and I’m going to be seeing Green Day in only 10 days.

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So why on Earth am I writing about this?

Uh, because I miss you guys and I like telling you about my fangirl problems, duh!

For real, though, I just haven’t done a post like this in a really long time and I thought it might be fun to rant on here. As I’m writing this, I realize this whole thing might sound like I’m angry. I’m not. I could never be angry about Green Day. That would be sacrilege. I just seriously wasn’t prepared for 2016 to go down like this, but honestly, the next couple of weeks are going to be amazing. Even though I’m not ready, I’m ready.

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Why I Love Motion City Soundtrack

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If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, let’s just say that “Game of Thrones” has kind of taken over my life for the last couple of months. I’m just now slowly starting to drag myself out of that obsession…well, I’m at least enjoying other things again. Anyways…Motion City Soundtrack.

I don’t really remember why I didn’t like the song “Hold Me Down” by Motion City Soundtrack when I saw the music video for the first time; I only remember that I simply didn’t like it. But this was 10 years ago when watching music videos on Fuse was a daily ritual, so this wouldn’t be the band’s only impression they left on me. Not long after first hearing “Hold Me Down” I saw the video for “Everything Is Alright” and then “The Future Freaks Me Out” and “My Favorite Accident”. The more Motion City Soundtrack I was exposed to, the more my tune changed about them.

I never fell in love with Motion City in 2006, though. They were good enough to sit through their videos and to make my “Bands I Like” list on Myspace (let’s be honest, though, it didn’t take much to make that list), but I didn’t love them. I never saw them live, I didn’t buy their albums and their faces never adorned my walls. It’s crazy thinking about this knowing how dear the band is to me now.

My senior year of high school was the real game changer. At the time I had my first job and no bills, so I spent a lot of money growing my CD collection at Manifest Discs in Charlotte, NC. I finally decided I wanted to buy some Motion City Soundtrack. I first bought their first album I Am The Movie, and while I enjoyed the songs I already knew with the addition of “Capital H”, the album didn’t really stick with me. This was 2010, though, and the band’s album My Dinosaur Life had just come out, so I bought that one too. I’m not sure why it took years to get to this point, but the band’s lighthearted, catchy sound and endearing, relatable lyrics finally got to me with this album. My first obsession with MCS had begun, and that summer I would listen to My Dinosaur Life and Commit This To Memory on repeat and see and meet the band for the first time.

The second obsession came two years later in the summer after my sophomore year of college. This was around the time when the band’s fifth album Go was released. While I listened to and thoroughly enjoyed that album, this was the summer that I rediscovered and fell in love with the album Even If It Kills Me. I connected with this album in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. Lyrically this album got to me and I couldn’t shake it for months. The album touches on themes of internal frustration, insecurity, loneliness, falling in and out of love and the determination to keep moving forward through it all. To this day Even If It Kills Me is probably one of my top five favorite albums of all time and it helped me reflect on myself and my own struggles, insecurities and desires.

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@christie_road91: Glad I was able to pick this up last night after seeing @motioncitysoundtrack last night for the 5th and possibly last time. This album and this band mean so much to me. Seriously, thank you. 💙#EvenIfItKillsMe #solongfarewell

Earlier this year Motion City Soundtrack announced that they were going on indefinite hiatus. When I heard about it I was taken a bit off guard, but I wasn’t devastated by this news. When a band has been at it for around 20 years, I’m not going to be upset if they need to step away. I completely respect their decision, although, I am sad that this will be the end of the road. I did get to see them on their So Long, Farwell Tour just over a week ago, however, and I don’t know the last time I was so sad and happy at the same time.

As for why I love them? For the last several years I’ve said that if there’s any band that seems to “get” me, it’s Motion City Soundtrack. While, of course, I find their music fun to listen to, their songs have impacted me more than a lot of songs do and have left a permanent impression. I can never appreciate them or thank them enough for that. Their music will always be something I cherish. I wish them all the luck in the world with their future endeavors, and I am grateful for every song.

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Book Diary #9: February 2016

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As far as numbers go, I read quite a bit in February. I read six titles: three novels, two graphic novels, and a novella. Even though I read one less book than I wanted to, I still felt pretty satisfied with everything I read this month. No complaints so far in 2016!

“All The Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven 

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When this book came out early last year, I instantly wanted to read it, but as time went on and more and more mixed reviews came about, I started to feel a bit dissuaded. On one of my Goodreads groups, though, the February group pick was for a contemporary novel. I saw this as my opportunity. I nominated it and it got picked. I’m glad I finally decided to pick this one up because my initial desires were validated.

One winter day, two teenagers accidentally meet on their school rooftop contemplating life, death, and suicide. Finch has struggled to stay “awake” most of his life, knowing he’s just a ticking time-bomb. Violet can’t figure out how to pick up the pieces in the wake of her older sister’s death. In their shared moment on the brink, Violet and Finch save each other. When they are paired to work on a class project together, the two find camaraderie and ultimately love. But while Violet begins to piece herself back together, Finch finds himself fighting to stay whole.

It’s hard to talk about my thoughts on this book without giving away too much, but I thought Niven made some brave choices that made for a story that is beautiful and powerful. It handles the subject of mental illness in a way that feels deeply personal and it’s very eye opening. If you are sensitive to subjects of mental illness, suicide, and abuse, I would tread lightly into this book because it can be pretty dark.

All in all, as I like to put it: if it’s not soul-crushing, then what’s the point?

“Glass Sword” by Victoria Aveyard

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After having my heart ripped out by Niven, I decided to jump into Aveyard’s cheery dystopian-esque world, because I’m a glutton for punishment.

For those of you who haven’t read last year’s hype monster “Red Queen”, it’s about a young pickpocket named Mare who lives in a world where class is divided by blood. Silver bloods harness special powers and rule and the powerless red bloods are left to serve. When Mare is gifted the opportunity to work in under the King’s family she quickly finds that she, a red blood, has a power of her own. With the threat of rebellion, the royal family must keep this discovery a secret, disguising Mare as a lost Silver Princess. Mare must learn to cope in a world where no one can be trusted and one false move could cost her life.

I started by quickly reading the recently released novella “Steel Scars” which takes place prior to the first book in the series “Red Queen” and gives us insight on Captain Farley and her involvement in the revolutionary Scarlet Guard. It was an interesting read that gave a nice build up of a couple of relationships that we see in “Glass Sword”, but a lot of it was bogged down with boring letters between Farley and her higher ups and mission details that felt a bit tiresome. I appreciated the new info, but it wasn’t the most exciting read.

“Glass Sword” on the other hand, made for a pretty strong sequel. Again I won’t go into too much detail, but I thought this was a fun read and really took this story in the right direction. It wasn’t perfect by any means, it still felt a tad unoriginal and one major climactic scene is glossed over, but otherwise I like where this story is heading.

“Scott Pilgrim VS The World” and “Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness” by Bryan Lee O’Malley 

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So it only took forever and a day for me to get to these two books.

My February reading challenge was to read a graphic novel, so I upped the ante and read two. I love the “Scott Pilgrim” movie and I really enjoyed reading the first book. It only made sense to move on to the rest of the series.

If you were born under a rock, “Scott Pilgrim” is about 24-year-old Scott who wants to date the beautiful and mysterious Ramona, but first he must defeat her seven evil exes. Of course with all this, awkwardness and hilarity ensues.

Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed reading both of these, although, I definitely enjoyed book three a bit more. Honestly, this series isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoyed the movie I strongly encourage you to give this series a read.

“The Disenchantments” by Nina LaCour

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I try my best to plan out my monthly reads in advance, but every now and again a book catches my eye and I have to pick it up. This month it was “The Disenchantments”. I’ve actually wanted to read this book for a while, and I finally couldn’t avoid it. It was a good impulse because this is probably one of my new all-time favorites.

Colby and Bev have been best friends since childhood. Now that they’re free of high school, they plan to hit the road one last time with Bev’s band, The Disenchantments, and then set off for a one-way trip to Europe, forgoing all college plans. When Bev admits she never planned to go to Europe, Colby finds his life catapulted into chaos and his friendship and love for Bev in question. Colby’s got one week in a bus with the world’s worst girl band to figure it out.

This book had everything I love in YA contemporary. It was meaningful, had fun and unique characters, and plenty of musical references. For me this book was very relatable. As someone who’s had to walk away from and lose several life-changing friendships, watching a character like Colby struggle and ultimately grow from his own similar experience was moving for me. I really appreciated this read.

“You get close to people. You get farther from them. You learn how much you love them, and then you say good-bye, believing that you will be together again, someday, when your lives curve back into one another’s.” –“The Disenchantments” by Nina LaCour

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Book Diary #8: January 2016

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In the last month or so I decided that I wanted to change up my book diaries a bit. First off I started an actual book diary in and actual book where I keep track of all the books I read and what I thought about them. Now for the Book Diary blog posts, obviously I’m still writing them, I want to do one each month and discuss what I read for that month. So here’s to trying new things!

Historical Fiction FTW!

In January I learned something new about myself as a reader: I like historical fiction. This was a genre I almost never picked up, in fact, the closest thing I’ve read in recent years has been The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. This month, though, three of the four books I read were historical fiction and I loved all of them! For me, one of my goals this year was to read out of my comfort zone, and if you’ve been following me on social media you’ve probably seen my monthly reading challenge posts (if you want to know more about that let me know and I shall elaborate), so pushing myself to read a genre that has made me uncomfortable for years was pretty liberating. Anyways, with that in mind, on to the books themselves…

“These Shallow Graves” by Jennifer Donnelly

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To start off my month of historical fiction I decided to rent this book from work. It was a recently released book that I hadn’t heard too much about and there was something about it that caught my attention. I had to read it.

“These Shallow Graves” is about Jo Monfort, a high society girl with journalistic dreams. When her father is found dead from a supposed gun loading “accident”, Jo finds herself doubting the police’s story. Jo then strikes up an investigation of her own with the help of a handsome, young reporter. Together they uncover a long history of secrets that may be better kept hidden.

This being my first real jump into historical fiction since childhood, I was worried that I would find it unrelatable and boring, but I was completely wrong. While I will say the mystery is pretty predictable, the plot was still clearly very well crafted, and it’s the characters in this book that really shine. Jo is determined and smart, our handsome reporter, Eddie, is charming and beyond that there is a whole cast of side characters that are vibrant and hard not to love, particularly Fay the pickpocket and Oscar the med student. If it weren’t for these wonderful characters I don’t think I would have loved this book nearly as much.

“I Hate Myselfie” by Shane Dawson

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The reading challenge I drew for January was to read a non-fiction book, so I decided to knock one of my TBR shelf and read this. While it’s possibly stretching it to say this is completely nonfiction, these stories are technically essays and technically true, just clearly exaggerated for comedic purposes.

If you don’t know, Shane Dawson is a comedic YouTuber popular for his over the top, crude and humorous videos. He’s one of the first YouTubers I ever really got into, so it was fitting that this would be the first YouTube book I would read. I actually really enjoyed reading this. It only took me two days to fly through and it made me laugh out loud. I know this book has gotten quite a bit of hate, but the reality is this: if you’re not familiar with Dawson’s self-deprecating and even sometimes over the line sense of humor, this book is not for you. Haters will hate, but I’m sure fans will love this one (and secretly wish all these essays were videos).

“The Diviners” and “Lair of Dreams” by Libba Bray

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These were probably my favorite reads of the month.

Back in November when I joined goodreads.com, I decided to participate in one of the online book clubs. I’d wanted to read “The Diviners” for some time, so when it came up as the monthly pick I was all in.

As for a synopsis: It’s 1926 in New York City, the roaring twenties, and something evil has awoken. 17-year-old Evie O’Neil is just “too much” for her small town in Ohio, and after a troublesome night of drinking and secret-telling, Evie finds herself sent to live with her uncle in NYC. Flapper girl Evie is posi-tute-ly thrilled. But when a series of gruesome, occult-themed murders strike the city, Evie’s supernatural expert uncle is called to help solve the case. Evie finds herself sucked into a world that is both frightening and dangerous, a world of ghosts, demons and diviners. In it she finds her true power and her destiny. Something dark is brewing, and it may be the diviners the world needs most.

This series was everything! It was funny, historically accurate, haunting, charming and just so fascinating. The plot here is a bit of a slow burn because, again, it’s the character and the ambiance that take center stage, but once the plot gets going it’s impossible not to be sucked in. This world that Bray has built with these vivid and real characters is equally magical as it is frightening.

Sorry I’m not going to go into too much detail on the second book, but I want to keep this blog pretty spoiler free. Although, I will say I really enjoyed it, just maybe not as much as the first book.

So those are my reads from January! If you want to engage in more spoilery conversation you can find me on my Goodreads page or on any of my social media. Have you read any of these books? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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2015 Favorites

Yes, I know, I’m like a month late on this, but this is blog tradition I refuse to let go of, so here we go! Here’s everything from 2015 that I need to give a shout out to…

Favorite Albums:

3. Meg Myers – Sorry

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I have to blame my husband for this one. He got me listening to Myers earlier in the year, and he’s the reason I purchased her Make A Shadow EP. He got me interested, but this album sold me on her music. Myers offers up a sound that is both angsty and catchy with Sorry. Now I just want more of this Meg Myers goodness.

2. Never Shout Never – Black Cat

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I’ve been a fan of Never Shout Never for some time now (5 years), and after a few years of “meh” from them, Black Cat is everything I could have wanted and then some. This album was so fun and infectious and was my favorite thing to dance to in 2015.

1. The Maine – American Candy

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I’m pretty sure I gush and get obsessed all over again every time The Maine puts out new music. American Candy is no exception. This album was a brilliant blend of the band’s past and present, and I love it beginning to end. There was no other album that could have possibly taken to top spot this year.

Favorite New (To Me) Bands:

See how I removed the need for a disclaimer this year with a clever title?

3. As It Is

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Photo by Annette Hansen via Instagram (@christieroad91)

As a fan of Patty Walter’s YouTube channel, I was of course excited about his band’s full-length debut this year. That excitement paid off because the album was easily another one of my favorites from this year. As It Is is one of the few bands that gives me exactly what I want from pop punk music: angsty and poppy.

2. Beautiful Bodies

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Photo by Annette Hansen via Instagram (@christieroad91)

Beautiful Bodies was honestly the only band that stuck from my Alternative Press “100 Bands” search. That is mostly because once I found them I didn’t bother to look into any other bands. And my interest has nothing do to with the fact that they’re from Missouri and the lead singer is an old family friend…okay, maybe a little. But, seriously their music is electrifying and catchy and they are a force to be reckoned with on the stage. Definitely one of my favorite live acts from this year and maybe ever.

1. Marmozets

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I remember seeing their album The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets pop up on a lot of top albums of 2014 lists, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I finally gave the album a listen, and oh my ears! That album deserves every bit of good buzz it has gotten because it was almost impossible for me to stop listening to it on repeat. Their sound doesn’t really fit the mold of what I usually listen to, it’s gritty and a little off-the-wall, but it was so infectious. Definitely an unexpected new favorite, I mean, I’ve only spent the last year begging for more.

Favorite Concerts:

3. All Time Low (5/14/15)

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Photo by Annette Hansen via Instagram (@christieroad91)

All Time Low are definitely one of my favorite bands to catch live. Getting to see them on the tenth anniversary of seeing Green Day for the first time (that being my first real rock concert) was wonderfully fitting.

2. Taking Back Sunday (8/7/15)

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Photo by Annette Hansen via Instagram (@christieroad91)

The first and only other time I saw Taking Back Sunday was at Warped Tour in 2012 when the real feel was over 100 degrees. I left that show during the last song because I felt sick, and I felt horrible about leaving early. So this time was my redemption and it was perfect…minus the strict venue that is.

1. The Maine (9/4/15)

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Photo by Annette Hansen via Instagram (@christieroad91)

The Maine is one of my other favorite bands to hit up when they come to town, and I was floored when they announced their Free For All Tour. They ended up playing about 45 minutes away so I was able to take part in that experience. It was so low-key and intimate that it made it unlike any other show I’d been to in the last year.

Favorite Movies:

This was definitely the hardest list to make and I’m still not 100 percent sure about my choices, but here I go anyways…

3. “Interstellar”

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I’m not sure was it was about this 3 hour long scientific film that I just couldn’t shake over the year. I was really hesitant to put it on my list, but this movie was pretty unforgettable for me. The story was so intriguing and heart wrenching, and I even enjoyed the scientific aspect of this film. When I had to think of films I enjoyed in 2015 “Interstellar” continued to stick out in my mind.

2. “Ant-Man”

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I don’t know If I have a lot to say about this movie. It was fun, I really enjoyed the characters, and I was thoroughly entertained by it. After being disappointed by “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014 (I know, unpopular opinion), it was refreshing to be excited by this comic relief of a Marvel film.

1. “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

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This was the easiest pick on this list. This movie took me completely by surprise. I remember renting it so my husband could watch it. I didn’t even watch the first 10 minutes with him, but I walked in, sat down, and was unable to get back up. “Kingsman” is over-the-top, hilarious, but still has a lot of heart. I loved the humor, and I especially loved the characters. I loved the characters like I love book characters. I don’t think that’s even happened before. Hands down, this was my favorite movie of 2015.

Favorite TV Shows I Watched in 2015:

3. “iZombie”/“The Flash”

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I know, I know, that’s two shows, but I couldn’t choose between the two. I’d like to point out that The CW has become quite the hotspot for great TV, and their content keeps getting better. Both shows have a great sense of humor, great story telling, and great characters. I couldn’t ask for more from a show.

2. “Community”

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To say that I became obsessed with this show in 2015 would be an understatement. I watched several seasons (yes, I said seasons) in one day. This takes my weird fondness of Joel McHale to a whole new level. I couldn’t get enough of this show. It’s so unique and funny and, for me, it was everything in 2015.

1. “Gilmore Girls”

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This list would be flat out inaccurate if I did not include “Gilmore Girls.” I spent around half the year watching all seven seasons. This show tested my emotional strength, but it was so worth it! Even I need my girly shows, and this one was perfection. Is it okay if I’m team Dean/Jess/Logan?

Favorite Books:

This was probably the next hardest list to come up with, but ultimately I prevailed.

3. “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard

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Photo by Annette Hansen

I know this was a pretty hit or miss book for a lot of people, but for me, despite its flaws, I devoured this book. I was pretty unaware of a lot of the hype around this book at the time that I read it, so that probably kept my opinion from being tainted. I’m glad for that, because I really did enjoy this book! I liked the subtle mix of fantasy and dystopian, I enjoyed the characters, and for some reason I was really sold on the love story. If the hype is holding you back, I suggest reading it and seeing for yourself.

2. “These Broken Stars” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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Photo by Annette Hansen

I feel like 2015 was the year that caught me off guard because this is a book I would’ve never expected to end up on this list. I read this for my first Goodreads reading club pick. I decided to join in since the book was one I was familiar with and it was only 99 cents on e-book (at the time). I adored this romance and I loved that this story kept me on the edge of my seat. This was definitely an unexpected gem.

1. “Paper Towns” by John Green

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Photo by Annette Hansen

I’d wanted to read this book for so long, as in since 2008. I’m glad I finally got to read this one because it was everything that I hoped for and so much more. To everyone that put this book down because Margo is a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”, you should really finish it because you missed the point. The mystery of this book kept me reading till the wee hours, but the heart and the message of this story are what made it memorable. I think we all get caught up in making people we admire or have a crush on into something more than what they really are or could ever be, and I think this story really illustrates why that can be an unfair thing to do to someone. I really think “Paper Towns” offers a story that is fun and powerful and impossible to forget.

Favorite YouTubers:

This year I’m doing this section a bit differently. I couldn’t really come up with specific YouTubers that stood out for me, but there was a corner of YouTube that I felt was worth mentioning, and that is Booktube. Booktube is essentially the community of book vloggers on YouTube, and at the end of 2015 I was completely invested in it. It reinvigorated my love of YouTube and my love of books so I needed to give the community as a whole a shout out.

Here are some of my favorite Booktubers:

Jesse The Reader

Ariel Bissett

Thoughts On Tomes

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Book Diary #7: Unpopular Opinions

If you read my last Book Diary entry you know that I recently took a long awaited trip to the library. While there I picked up “Cinder” from the previous post, but I also picked up two other books: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh and “Need” by Joelle Charbonneau. I managed to finish both books recently and I have quite a lot to say.

The Wrath and the Book Rage

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I picked up “The Wrath and the Dawn” for a few reasons: the stunning cover, the retelling aspect and the overwhelming good buzz. Unfortunately, the more I read this book the more my ability to like it was pulverized.

“The Wrath and the Dawn” is a retelling of the main story of “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.” It takes place in a kingdom ruled by a young and ruthless king who takes a new bride each day only to kill her by the following dawn. Shahrzad’s best friend was killed by this monstrous king, so she volunteers herself to be his new bride and seek out her revenge. But when Shahrzad settles into her new home she realizes that what she thought was true may be a façade, and the king she thought to be cruel may be someone worth redeeming, even loving.

This premise sounded so enticing to me, and it was enticing…for about 100 pages. About a third of the way through the book I started to feel like I wasn’t quite connecting to the characters. They seemed inconsistent and a bit lackluster, with probably the exception of the friendly handmaiden Despina and the mysterious Caliph (king) Kahlid, but it seemed like something I could look past because the drama and the plot were so interesting.

Unfortunately by the time I started nearing the end the plot became increasingly convoluted and sloppy. Chapters would take place days or weeks apart causing scene that could be interesting or informative to be skipped over and then briefed at the beginning of the next chapter. There were so many times that I felt like I was missing something. While we did get to see most of the love story, the story about a potential war was mostly given in small confusing bits. On top of that, the love interest that made up the focus was a little unbelievable. [Spoilers (kind of) ahead] We’re supposed to buy that Shahrzad went from hating Kahlid for killing her best friend to loving him with a burning passion in the course of two months, two months that was sped through??? I don’t buy it.

In other words, I really wanted to love this book, but honestly it mostly just frustrated me. A series I definitely won’t be continuing. End rant.

“What do you need?”

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The last book I read from the bunch was “Need.” After “The Wrath and the Dawn” I was really looking forward to reading something that was quick and fun. I wasn’t expecting too much from this book, but I got what I wanted from it and maybe a bit more.

In Nottawa, Wisconsin a new social media site is taking storm. NEED is a lot like other social media sites except instead of telling it about your life you tell it what you need. Once a user submits a need the site provides…for a cost. While most of the teens ask for money, electronics and passing grades, Kaylee wants a kidney that could save her brother’s life. But when payments for the needs increase and people begin to die, the users have to ask themselves: is what they need really worth it?

I thought this was a really fun thriller that also had some pretty insightful observations of human nature. What do we want versus what do we need? When push comes to shove will we put ourselves first? What are we willing to do to get what we want/need? While this might not be a story for the history books, I really enjoyed reading it. It was the perfect quick read I was looking for.

If you want to know more about what I’m reading, I recently made a Goodreads account that you can check out here. I do also plan on posting more music related stuff in the near future, but in the meantime check out the work I do for Highlight Magazine and New Noise Magazine!

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