Books

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine Book Reviews Lyriquediscorde

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – LD Books

Book Reviews Lyriquediscorde Books

“Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” (2017) by Gail Honeyman
Lyriquediscorde Books

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine Book Reviews Lyriquediscorde

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”  – Eleanor Oliphant

It is impossible not to care about Eleanor, even when she is frustrating, misguided, self-destructive, delusional, and judgemental. Because with all that Eleanor is also vulnerable, insecure, lost, big-hearted, and lonely. She lacks social skills, and at times seemed to be “on the spectrum” (I’m not 100% sure she is not). Most of it, though, I believe to have been in direct correlation to neglect, trauma, and terrible loss at a very young age. Being bounced around in the system, and living a very isolated life, didn’t help either.

But, as the book unpacks Eleanor, and her story, she begins to change her life. People begin to fill in parts of it. She starts to open up to possibilities, albeit some of them impossible and unrequited ones.

Eleanor wants what we all want. To belong. To not be lonely. To be loved and understood. She also wants to forgive herself for things she perceives as her fault (though none of them were). She hits a significant bottom before climbing and changing her way up, and at times the journey is hard to take. But, as each page was turned, I cared more and more about her.

The trauma in this book is heart-wrenching and rough to read. Her pain and loneliness are, too. This book was very hard on me at times, but it also made me realize some pretty big things about myself.

Though I was brought to tears at times, the book also has funny moments and moments of both hope and discovery, and moments of unconditional love – the one thing Eleanor longs for.

Anyone who has survived trauma, especially in childhood, who struggle with the social “norms”, feel lonely or are trying to not just get by, but to be happy, will enjoy this book. I’m almost 100% sure you will care about Eleanor, too. And Raymond, too.

I really enjoyed that the ending wasn’t what I exactly expected. That it was all about Eleanor in the end, and that everything wasn’t fixed, but that there was a huge amount of HOPE. And, that as I finished the last few words I believed that Eleanor was going to be fine, with a little help from her friends, and Glen the cat, and herself

I “read” this book via an Audiobook. It was narrated by Cathleen McCarron. I listen to a lot of audio books because I have a long, Los Angeles traffic commute. The narrator/voice talent was excellent and captured Eleanor so perfectly. She was Eleanor, to me.

I highly recommend both the book and the audiobook of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine Book Review Lyriquediscorde Books

 

Jane Birkin January Header January 2018 Recap Lyriquediscorde

Lyriquediscorde January 2018 Recap

The first month of 2018 has gone by. It flew by quickly, perhaps a little too much so. But, there is a good reason for that as it was a month of Bliss, of Love celebrations, of Music, Movies Books, and times spent with family, friends, and the man I love. Oh, and four mischievous cats. This year one of my “resolutions” was to keep track of things I enjoyed a bit more, chronicling the Music, Art, Books, Films, TV, and Adventures I experience. And, because I love lists, it will be done as a Top 10. So, here’s to first months and new resolutions, and here’s to January 2018. Thanks for being a good one.

Jane Birkin January Header January 2018 Recap Lyriquediscorde

Lyriquediscorde January 2018
My Top 10

1. The Jam

The Jam Lyriquediscorde January 2018

Paul Weller became a big thing to me last year as I delve deep into his Music as I was falling in love with my boyfriend. Though I indulged in all of Weller’s endeavors, it was mostly his Solo work that I got into. This past January (and into February, honestly) I started to really dig into The Jam, Album-by-Album, and their Songs became part of my daily life, and many a “Top 5 Obsessions” Playlist. My most played Jam Songs in January? “Art School”, “Butterfly Collector”, “Private Hell”, “Pretty Green”, and “Down In the Tube Station at Midnight”.

“Pretty Green” (live) by The Jam

2. “San Junipero”

San Junipero Lyriquediscorde January 2018

I think I watched “San Junipero” 3 times in a row the first time, and then a few more times after. It’s difficult to sufficiently explain how this episode of “Black Mirror” affected me. It’s impact felt visceral, deep within, emotional, and even a bit life-altering. I had a dozen questions (still do), and it kept swirling around in my head for days and days after (still comes back every so often). There was something about it that made me believe in an “after”, even if it is one by design, or maybe especially if it is. It also made me feel understood, especially in the way I love. I may need to watch it again tonight, after writing this I’m itching to see Yorkie and Kelly again. I can hear “Heaven On Earth” in my head, can you?

3. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour Lyriquediscorde January 2018

Besides being one of the most gorgeous book covers I’ve ever seen, We Are Okay was truly an amazing read, one that was the best choice for a “first book of the year”. Here’s a snippet from the review I wrote of it:

Nina LaCour has a way with words, with details, with raw emotions, and with characters who open up slowly, realistically, and in the end, beautifully. I rooted for Marin the entire time, as well as I did for Mabel and Javier and Ana, and even Gramps. I wanted to know what happens next, at school, in Marin’s life, in all of their stories.

When I got to the last page, I had tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, and a wanting for more. That’s a pretty good way to feel when you end a book, don’t you think?

4. The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water Lyriquediscorde January 2018

Oh, my stars – The Shape of Water was remarkable. I thought I’d love it, as Guillermo del Toro Films are some of my favorites, but I didn’t know it would move me the way that it did, nor did I expect that the characters and performances would be so outstanding. Here’s a snippet of my review:

I love that the misfits are the heroes, have the most heart and humanity, and love big. And that they become family to each other.

5. “Lovesick”

Lovesick Lyriquediscorde January 2018

I adore Antonia Thomas, have since “Misfits”, another show I loved. I also adore well-done stories about friends/”chosen family” that is unconventional, and real. This is everything I could want in a twenty-something/quarter-life-crisis/coming-of-age/rom-com/dramedy, and more. One episode in and I already cared about Dylan, Evie, and Luke. I even grew to care about Angus. Oh, and the Music is outstanding.

Season 1 and 2 I binged through in January, so I still have 3 to enjoy in February. I’ll miss them when its over – hoping there will be a Season 4.

“Lovesick” is available to Stream on Netflix. I highly recommend it – ultimate binge-worthy goodness.

6. Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin Lyriquediscorde January 2018

Jane’s been a Favorite of mine for a long time, but it’s only recently (this past January) that I started to really love her style. She’s become a style-inspiration/icon to me. I’ve also been going mad for all things 60’s as of late, so she fits right into that Obsession. I’d love to learn more about her life. I plan on doing a search for any biographies on her.

This weekend I watched a Film she was in (“Blow Up” – stay tuned for a review sometime next week) and was excited when I realized it was her. It was a small part, and she was quite young. I’d like to see any other Films she was in, too.

7. Juliana Hatfield and Olivia Newton-John

Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John Lyriquediscorde January 2018

Though the Album is not out until April (soooo long to wait!), the first Single (“A Little More Love” came out in January, and I pre-ordered the Album in January, too. Olivia was my Idol growing up, and I’ve loved Juliana since the 90’s. This project makes me so happy that I actually jumped up and squealed when I first heard about it. I’m counting the days for its release! Here’s a snippet of a small piece I did when the Single came out, and the Album was announced:

When I was a young girl one of my favorite Artists, and Idols, was Olivia Newton-John. I’ve written a lot about her at various times and places. I had (still have) all of Olivia’s 70’s and 80’s Albums on Vinyl, including the Soundtracks. And yes, I do still play them. Maybe not as much as I did when I was a pre-adolescent and wanted to be her, but her Songs still make it into Playlists, and I do still give the Albums a spin sometimes.

In the 90’s I discovered Juliana Hatfield, round about the time she was in the Juliana Hatfield Three. “My Sister” was the first Song I heard, and I was hooked on her voice and her Music ever since. I have most of her Music, be it Solo, or with Blake Babies or The Lemonheads, on CD or Vinyl, and I definitely include Juliana in a lot of Playlists. Lyriquediscorde used to also do a monthly Feature showcasing Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield (Evan and Juliana Days).

Pre-order the Album here.

“A Little More Love” by Juliana Hatfield

8. Domenico’s, Belmont Shore

Domenicos Long Beach Lyriquediscorde January 2018

My Favorite Italian restaurant is also one of the first restaurants to serve pizza in California. Opened in 1954, by Domenico and Beverly Spano, it has been in the Belmont Shore area since. My boyfriend and I discovered it last year when we were looking for an Italian restaurant that felt authentic, had that classic atmosphere, and good food. We found everything, and more, at Domenico’s (the food isn’t good, its great). Now the place has become one of “our places”.  We went again the last week of January, right around our year together anniversary. It was wonderful.

A tip if you want to visit Domenico’s. If you go for lunch they give you complimentary soup with your meal. The tomato bisque is incredible.

9. Fiona Apple When the Pawn

Fiona Apple When the Pawn Lyriquediscorde January 2018

Rediscovering some of my CD’s from the 90’s during my to-and-from work commute. Fiona Apple’s Second Studio Album, When the Pawn got heavy-rotation in January. Though Tidal has always been my go-to “Fiona-Favorite” When the Pawn is a close second and may be edging its way to first now that I’ve come back to it.

Maybe its because I’m older. Maybe it’s me looking back. I don’t know for certain. But, I do know that these Songs hit harder and deeper than ever before.

My Favorite Songs from this revisit? “Paper Bag”, “Love Ridden”, “Get Gone”, and “I Know”.

“I Know” by Fiona Apple

10. The Incredible Jessica James

The Incredible Jessica James Lyriquediscorde January 2018

Netflix is one of my favorite things if you can’t tell. Two of my January Top 10’s are from the network – “Lovesick”, and this – The Incredible Jessica James. This was the first Movie I watched in January, and I enjoyed it a lot. Here’s a snippet of a review I did of it:

Indie, unconventional “Rom-Coms” are a favorite of mine. Beyond the “Rom” in the “Com” (or Dramedy, which this seems more like), I love when the story goes beyond a romance, and also has a strong story arc for the main character/characters, and also showcases other relationships in the lead(s) life. A good Soundtrack does it for me, too. All of this and more were part of the Netflix Original Movie, The Incredible Jessica James.

So, there it is, My Top 10 for January 2018.

There are a few honorable mention – “Grey’s Anatomy” (starting watching from S1 in October, and hit S9 in January), Big Thief (especially the Song “Shark Smile”), the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Album (Wrong Creatures), Baby Driver, the Podcasts “Levar Burton Reads” and “Required Reading with Tom and Stella”, Ginger Tumeric Tea and Cheddar/Caramel Popcorn Mix (both from Trader Joe).

I’d love to hear some of your January loves. Share in the comments below.

We Are Okay Lyriquediscorde Books

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour – LD Books

Lyriquediscorde's Books Book Reviews

“We Are Okay” (2017) by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay Lyriquediscorde Books Book Review LD

I’ve always believed in the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but I have to admit the beautifully stunning cover of We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour, was what led me to pick up this one, and honestly did have some influence in me buying it, as well. Most of this book I “read” via audiobook, which is very well produced and read by Jorjeana Marie, who does a fantastic job with the story, and the characters. I ended up picking up a copy of the novel at the library, too, so that I could keep reading when I wasn’t in the car (where I audiobook, during my long Los Angeles commute).

This is a quiet read. Whereas some authors possess an economy of words, this book is more written in an economy of story. This is not heavily plot-driven, yet that said there is a story arc we are led through and there are secrets and failings and challenges and successes. This is a coming-of-age type of story with a few detours. It is also a very well-done story about loss, betrayal, first love, grief, and survival.

I loved the inclusion of an LGBT love story that was handled effortlessly and did not stand out as being heteronormative. It was a love story (in part), that just happened to be between a bisexual girl and a seemingly gay girl. I loved the ethnic differences and how it is also handled as just part of the landscape of each character.

I loved that there was an openness to sexuality to the story that is not always a part of a lot of YA without it being the central focus. This wasn’t a coming out story, or one about being gay, or bisexual, and the challenges that may provide. No, this is a story about family, about huge loss, about stories and secrets and memories, about being lost after a huge loss, and about family – both by blood and/or by choice.

I do not want to spoil anything about this because I think one of the beautiful things in this story is the journey and the unexpected turns. I think one should come at it without knowing too much.

Nina LaCour has a way with words, with details, with raw emotions, and with characters who open up slowly, realistically, and in the end, beautifully. I rooted for Marin the entire time, as well as I did for Mabel and Javier and Ana, and even Gramps. I wanted to know what happens next, at school, in Marin’s life, in all of their stories.

When I got to the last page, I had tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, and a wanting for more. That’s a pretty good way to feel when you end a book, don’t you think?

We Are Okay Lyriquediscorde Books

Girls in the Moon Janet McNally, Book Review

Girls in the Moon :: Janet McNally :: Book Review

Book Reviews

Girls in the Moon :: Janet McNally
Book Review

About the book:

​Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex–rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister, Luna, indie-rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the cofounder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.

But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and to maybe even continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months. Told in alternating chapters, Phoebe’s first adventure flows as the story of Meg and Kieran’s romance ebbs, leaving behind only a time-worn, precious pearl of truth about her family’s past—and leaving Phoebe to take a leap into her own unknown future.

About the author:

Janet McNally earned an MFA in Fiction from the University of Notre Dame, and has twice been a Fellow in Fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts (in 2008 and 2015). She has had Stories and Poems Published in the Gettysburg Review, Boulevard, Mid-American Review, Ecotone, Crazyhorse and Best New Poets 2012.

Her first Book of Poems, Some Girls, was chosen by Ellen Bass as winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize, and the Book was published in August 2015. Girls in the Moon is Janet McNally’s first Novel. It is Publishedby HarperTeen. It has since been translated into German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Janet McNally lives in Buffao, New York, with her husband and three daughters, and she teaches Creative Writing at Canisius College.

Girls in the Moon Janet McNally, Book Review

My thoughts:

I’ve been Reading, and Listening to so many Books this year, and I’ve only just realized that many of them have dealt with the unique relationship of siblings, and in most cases, sisters. I did not grow up with a sister, but I’ve had a few very close, long-term female friendships that have almost felt like sisterhood. But, the more I read about this kind of sibling relationship I wonder if it can really compare.

There is something about growing up in the same house, with the same parents and family dynamics, secrets and stories, that impacts the person you are. It has to. But, I also think it impacts the relationships you have within the family, and it manifests in different ways between family members. My brother and I share a lot of non-physical traits – work ethic, music taste, sense of humor, control issues – as well as physical traits. We do not look much alike, but we have some similar expressions and body language.

We also have similar stories we’ve taken with us. Some are stories we tell. Ones we remember and were a part of. Some stories have been passed down, and often embellished on. These are stories we cannot always know to be completely true. And then there are the unknown stories. The secrets that have never fully been revealed, and the ones that we all keep to ourselves out of habit, survival, and expectation.

We also have our own versions.

This is what reading about Phoebe and Luna, from Phoebe’s perspective, made me think of. This is also what I thought of, but from a different lens, when reading Meg’s POV chapters. I thought about my own Mother, her time in a band, and her time following Bands around. How she met my Father, how they fell in love and married, and had me, and then split apart. How he disappeared. And all those stories, how there are so many missing pieces, so many details unsaid, tales I may never know.

I saw that in Phoebe as she tried to piece together her parents – their music, their past, their now. How she tried to both connect, and separate, from her sister Luna. How she also gauged herself from some sibling comparison chart, and how she started to see herself apart from that unrealistic scale. I felt so connected to her character, and when the book came to its close, I wanted to know more.

Also, I wanted to so much more of Meg and Kieran, Phoebe and Luna’s parents. I would have consumed an entire book about them, and their band. Their rise to fame, the in-between moments, the impact it had on their relationship. I would love to have learned more about Meg’s sister, and the rest of Meg and Kieran’s band, too. In my mind I imagine more of their stories, as well as the future of Phoebe and Luna, Archer, and the rest of Luna’s band.

This book left me wanting more, which is a writing gift, truly.

The amount of Music references in this Book is astounding! Music is my everything, and as a writer myself, I try to intersperse music in my stories, and it makes me absolutely gleeful to see it in other books, too. I was cheering every time there was a Music mention, and wish I’d had kept a running list so I could have put together an accompanying Playlist – maybe on my re-read (which I know will happen).

If you can’t already tell, I highly recommend “Girls in the Moon” by Janet McNally. It is now part of the lyriquediscorde.com list of Favorite Books, as well as Music Love Books. Go out now and grab yourself a copy!

“My Favourite Chords” (Live) :: The Weakerthans
(the Song quoted at the start of the book)

 

I’ll Give You the Sun :: Jandy Nelson :: Book Review

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I’ll Give You the Sun :: Jandy Nelson

About the book:

Via Google Books: I’ll Give You the Sun, was published in 2014. It is a story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah. Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. As a series of family tragedies and misunderstandings creates a rift between the two, only by coming back together can they fully understand their story and set the world right again, to remake it.

I’ll Give You the Sun won the prestigious Printz Award, a Stonewall Honor, Bank Street’s Josette Frank Award, and is listed on numerous best of the year lists, including the 2015 YALSA Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults, NPR, Time magazine, and Rainbow List Top 10.

As of April 2015, I’ll Give You the Sun is published in 25 countries, and is optioned by Warner Bros for a film to be written by Natalie Krinsky and produced by Denise Di Novi and Allison Greenspan.

About the author:

Jandy Nelson is an American author of young adult fiction. Prior to her career as an author, Nelson worked for 13 years as a literary agent. She holds a BA from Cornell University as well as MFAs in poetry and children’s writing from Brown University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently lives in San Francisco, California.

My thoughts:

Every once in awhile I fall in love with a book in a long term, I want to marry you and have babies and grow old together kind of way. I know it early on usually, or at least have a strong inkling, and as I go further, if it is true book love, I fall harder and harder, and start to slow down, slower, slower, not wanting to say goodbye to the characters, nor the world they inhabit. “I’ll Give You the Sun” is a true book love story for me. This book is now in the top 5 of my all-time favorites, and I am confident it will stay there.

How do I describe it? To be honest, I sort of don’t want to describe it at all, because I came to it not knowing anything, and I think it made the falling for it all the better.

I will say that it is about love, about family, about getting lost and finding your way back, its about art and artists, its about insecurities and doubt, secrets, lies, its about forgiveness and hope, loss and ghosts and dreams and love and freedom and self, all told through these amazing, unforgettable characters, and with an exquisitely slight brush of magical realism thrown in.

I want to know these characters. I want to eat donuts with Oscar and Guillermo, collect moon rocks with Noah and Brian, discuss magic and art and love with Jude, meet the “where the hell is Ralph” bird, Prophet, and see what happens on “the ark”.

I listened to this as an audio book, which I also would recommend. Julie Whalen is a favorite audio book/voice talent, and she was, as always, fantastic narrating Jude’s portion of the book. Jesse Bernstein was also exceptional narrating Noah’s side of things.

This will be the next book that I give to everyone, like God Shaped Hole, and say please read this.

My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of August 29, 2016

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My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of August 29, 2016

1. Roadies 

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Shelli and Bill

To be honest, the show had me at the initial trailer and early marketing, I mean Cameron Crowe gets me in a very personal way, especially when his storytelling incorporates music (like Almost Famous, and now Roadies), and then Winnie Holzman, too, the woman responsible for my second favorite television series of all time, the short-lived My So-Called Life, oh, and J.J. Abrams, too – I was destined to fall hard for the show. All that said, I ended up falling harder than I expected, and wound up at the end of this first season (please renew, Showtime) caring about everyone of the regular characters on the show, and even some of the one-episode guests – oh ,and the music, I discovered some new favorites along the way, and enjoyed many already-favorites. My favorites on the show – Bill and Shelli (relate to both of them so much), Christopher House and Milo – but really, I loved everyone – Staten House Band forever.

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Christopher House

2. Lucius

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Lucius

One of the bands I discovered thanks to Roadies is Lucius. Though I’d heard their music before, it had been on the peripheral, or in the background, but after when they guest starred, and performed, on Roadies I really heard them for the first time. I can’t seem to get enough of their music lately, and have found myself devouring their albums; “Dusty Trails” is my current favorite, that song just digs in under my skin and stays.

Dusty Trails (live) :: Lucius

3. Road Regrets :: Dan Mangan

“And Robbie likes his country tunes,
it’s never been the lens that I see through,
but I guess driving for a week or two,
puts words in your mouth

So find dodge,
and then get out of it,
it’s about as country as I get,
so you ain’t living ’til you’re living it –
not dead ’til you die.”

Sometimes I hear a song that I feel so deeply, so internally, a song I relate to so much that I wish I’d written it. From the “on the road” element (girls with gypsy souls really get what a road regret is), to the music tie in (“so find dodge and then get out of it”), to the notion of escaping, and living, and dying – all of it, I just feel so fucking much. And, I can’t stop listening to this song right now.

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Dan Mangan

4. “Remy” Playlist

REmy

Arly Jover, who I would cast as Remy if I was casting my novel

I’ve been back to working on my vampire/post-apocalyptic/speculative fiction novel (and will be using an excerpt for my final creative piece in the horror/speculative fiction class I am taking), Inbetween Days (working title), and have been listening to the playlist I made for the lead character/reluctant hero, Remy, while I’ve been writing. Music is forever my muse, and this playlist, with 97 Remy-centric songs, is really doing it for me.

Listen to Remy here.Listen to Remy here

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Arly Jover (my “Remy”)

5. Black Mirror
“Be Right Back”
Season 2: Episode 1

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Domhnall Gleeson & Hayley Atwell

“Be Right Back” is my favorite of the Black Mirror series, and this past Tuesday, in my American Horror Story and Speculative Fiction class, we watched the episode. Though I’d remembered Gleeson vividly, I’d forgotten that Hayley Atwell was in it, too. This one hit so much harder than the first time I saw it, and the tears fell more than once as the episode played, which is probably part to do with my current emotional state, and the way loss and death and grief and love have been top of mind for me, especially when trying to sort out how to deal with the memory of someone I love who is not of this earth any more – irregardless of the way the episode stung this time, it still is my favorite.

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Hayley Atwell

6. Paper Girls

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Paper Girls

My most recent favorite comic series, quite possibly my most favorite of all-time, Paper Girls presents a story with teenage female heroes out saving the world, on bikes, the bikes they usually use for their paper route. The series starts in the 80’s, and has that real 80’s immersive feeling that “Stranger Things” has, along with a bit of that friends against the world (think Goonies and Stand By Me and ET). There is a time travel element happening, too, which makes me love it even more – I really recommend series, Brian K. Vaughan is brilliant.

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7. Kelly Vivanco’s art

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“Mooring” by Kelly Vivanco

Music has always been a muse to my writing, a given perhaps considering how much music means to me, but it isn’t music alone that motivates and triggers plot bunnies and imaginative crafting, visual art has always held a significant key in helping to unlock story in me. Kelly Vivanco’s art has been, and still is, one of my writing muses – so many poems and stories and characters have been inspired by her paintings, as well as a ton of personal reflection. This one above (“Moorings”) is one of my all-time favorites, and always brings to mind the journey of self, and the realization that there are multiple selves within us, and that sometimes it takes a journey to make peace with our varying sides, and sometimes they need to work together to get to where you are trying to go – at least that’s what it sparks in me.

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“Space Within” by Kelly Vivanco

8. Issac Gracie

Terrified (live):: Issac Gracie

Issac Gracie showed up on my Spotify Monday Discovery playlist and I was drawn in, and blown away, immediately. His voice reminds me of the first time I heard Jeff Buckley sing, and his lyrics cut me like Elliott Smith did. I am terribly sad that I missed him by like one week when he was at the Hotel Cafe (discovered him the week after, I won’t miss him again). He is definitely one to watch, and listen to (side note: one of his songs was used in an episode of Roadies).

Last Words (live) :: Issac Gracie

9. Now, Voyager (1942)

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Now, Voyager, Bette Davis

I’ve been on a Bette Davis kick as of late, and was happy to see Now, Voyager featured on a recent Bette Davis day on TCM. This one was always my favorite, and still remains top of my Bette Davis film list. Not ever part of the story holds up, but the emotional heft, the connections, the self esteem struggles, and the tragic love story still slay me (oh, and that double cigarette lighting thing, too…*sigh*).

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Now, Voyager, Bette Davis and Paul Henreid

10. “Kia and Gio” by Daniel José Older

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Illustrated by Goni Montes

I’ve had the opportunity to read so many fantastic horror and speculative fiction stories during this summer quarter, in the American Horror Story literature class I have been a part of. One of my favorites we read was the short story, “Kia and Gio”, written by Daniel José Older, who also spoke to our class via Skype about diversity in the genre of horror/speculative fiction/science fiction and also about the writing world, and his life as a writer. I want to know so much more about Kia and Gio (Kia especially) and what happens next in that magical botánica.

You can read the story for yourself here.

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Daniel Jose Older

 

About a Boy (2002) :: A-to-Z of Movies :: My Top 5

About a BoyAbout a Boy (2002)
Written by Nick Hornby, Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz
Directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz

Once you open your door to one person anyone can come in.”  Will

About a Boy 2

1. Movies adapted from books are a tricky thing, and most often not something I end up enjoying, especially not when its an adaptation of a book I love. I go in with so much hope, and typically leave so very disappointed. About a Boy (and honestly, all adaptations of Nick Hornby I’ve seen) is a definite exception. Though there are a few minor details I wish they’d done more like the book (mostly just wishing the character of Ellie was more flushed out), overall I loved who they cast, how they paced the film, and how it brought one of my favorite books to life.

Even some of the smallest details, like Marcus and his mother closing their eyes tight while singing Killing Me Softly are in this. And the dynamics between Will and Marcus, Marcus and his mom, Will and Marcus’ mom, and later, Will and Rachel, are complex and in-color, and in many ways how I pictured them while reading (and in some ways more/different than I pictured, in a good way).

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2. Music done well in movies means so much to me. The soundtrack to this is mostly filled with Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) songs and they fit just so perfectly that now whenever I hear any songs by Badly Drawn Boy it is About a Boy I connect back to. There is something about his voice, the tinge of melancholy, the jadedness, and yet the sense of hope fits. It feels like post-modern folk tales set to song that weave in and out of the plot, and move the story along, sometimes informing the emotion in a scene.

I can’t think of a better choice for the music.

A Minor Incident :: Badly Drawn Boy

3. Fiona. Though the story really is about Will and Marcus, from the title, to the plotting, to the interactions and scenes, it is Fiona that I want to mention here. There are not a lot of representation of depression on-screen, and especially not in a way that doesn’t simplify it, or make it easily fixed, or tied up in the end. Fiona is one of those rare times when a character is shown in more than one dimension, and that one of the facets of her is depression. It isn’t solved, it isn’t given an easy “reason” to be there, it isn’t pretty or fixed at the end, but it isn’t all she is either.

The film doesn’t soften the impact depression has on others, either. You see the pain and fear it inflicts on Marcus, and what the consequences are. And Fiona, you see her struggle in such a real way, to be okay in herself, to be honest, to be a good mother, and to deal with with depression not always in a way that plays well on camera. I truly applaud the depiction of Fiona (and Toni Collete is just fantastic, as always).

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4, Christmas/holiday movies can be tricky. Sometimes they fall into predictability and over the top cheesiness, and sometimes that’s just what you need – all sugar and happy ever after and greeting card sentiment. My favorite holiday films though tend to teeter on the balance beam of complicated emotions and a strive for happiness that we all seem to crave that time of year.

About a Boy may not overtly be categorized a “Christmas movie” but it does revolve around the holiday, twice in the film actually, and, well, Will has his lifestyle because of a Christmas song, so it is a plot point. I think what it does for me, and why it became one of my favorite holiday films, is that it shows how family doesn’t have to be what we are force fed to believe in via media and culture and societal “norms”, no, family can be unconventional, and be about who we choose to bring around us. That is something that has always been true in my adult life, too.

“no man is an island.”

5. Will and Marcus, of course, as well, are part of what I love about the movie. The awkwardness of both of them, the way they trip over themselves, albeit in different ways, and what they learn from each other is wonderful to watch. Every time I watch the film (or re-read the book, actually) I change my mind a bit on who helps the other more. I think in the end though, they both help each other to grow, to feel a part of something, to be less alone, and to embrace life and love in a new way.

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“I was the star of the Will show, and the Will show wasn’t an ensemble drama.”

(though this trailer above makes it look so cheesy, and loses something about the movie that I love so much, so watch the trailer with that warning in mind)

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My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of July 20, 2015

My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of July 20, 2015

1. Book pages

14Though I do read books via my iPad, and “read” via my ears on my daily commute via Audible.com, there is something so intimate and sensory fulfilling in reading a book with paper pages and ink text. I’ve taken to snapping pictures of pages I’m on while reading, and I would love if more people did the same. I’d love to see what everyone is reading right now from books bought at a local bookstore, borrowed from a friend, or checked-out at the library (the photos are from a borrowed copy of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton).

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2. Rent 

16This week I had the chance to catch Plan-B Entertainment’s great production of a favorite musical of mine, Rent, at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. The cast was brilliant, especially the actors playing Mark (Andrew Wade) and Roger (Jonah Ho ‘Okano). The theater was relatively small, our seats were great, and the tickets were no more than a movie ticket would be, which made spending a Wednesday evening with live theater even better (I’d love to see more from this production team).

173. Eurythmics

Who’s That Girl? :: Eurythmics

I’ve been on an Eurythmics kick this weekend, playing a few of their albums while I read my current book and one of my magazine subscriptions. I took a break to watch some of their classic videos, too, like the one above (can you name some of the cameos from some of the 80’s musical celebrities in the video? I spy Bananarama and Marilyn), and below (why the creepy ventriloquist dummy?). Oh my stars, Annie Lennox is so stunning.

Love is a Stranger :: Eurythmics

4. Scream (the TV series)

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I was apprehensive as it is an MTV show (though I did enjoy the first season of Awkward), and sometimes TV versions of movies/movie franchises are lackluster, but this one is a fun ride. Full of satire and Meta moments, as the movies were, and clever in its writing and pacing, this one was a happy surprise. Fits perfect in that hot Summer nights when horror (especially of the campy variety) just feels like the great choice, reminiscent of Summer vacation sleepovers or trips to the drive-in.

Trailer

5. LOST Re-watch 

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Tuesdays and Thursdays are Podcast days during my commute back-and-forth from work, and I have quite a variety that I choose from, some weekly favorites, and others ones I will check-in with monthly. A new discovery coincides with my own TV re-watch – the LOST Re-watch Podcast. I’m enjoying the banter and the differing views, especially when someone on their panel is watching for the first time; the whole experience is like doing a re-watch with other people, something that a re-watch generally doesn’t provide.

Lost (Pilot moment)

6. The Killing

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The Killing has been my weekly show for months and months now, something I look forward to every Thursday afternoon on my lunch hour. It is coming to a close as I find myself in the midst of the significantly shorter Season 1. I’m going to be so sad when it finishes, and I am going to miss Holder and Linden so much.

Trailer

7. Vnyl

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I signed-up for vnyl, a monthly vinyl record subscription, after a co-worker of mine tried it out and loved it. It is awesome, and so much fun, getting three hand curated albums in the mail every month. You sign up and give them links to some of your social media (including discogs, where you can catalog your entire vinyl collection), answer some questions about your music taste, and each month your three albums are chosen with your taste and collection in mind (oh, and you get to pick a new theme, called a “vibe”, every month, too).

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8. Pines by Blake Crouch (Audio Book)

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I was enjoying the Summer event series, Wayward Pines (that is until the finale – ugh) and thought I’d start listening to the audio books. So far, I’m enjoying the first book and will probably listen to the other three. Although there is no mystery now that I’ve seen the show, I’m enjoying the writing style and the pacing, and the way they are unfolding the reveals.

Part 1 of the audio book

9. Born on the FM Waves of the Heart :: Against Me! featuring Tegan Quin

Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart

This is my most played song this week, by far. It’s been a favorite for a long time, but I hadn’t listened to it, or the New Wave album in awhile, but after listening to a Nerdist Podcast interview with Laura Jane Grace I got in the mood. I love Tegan (from Tegan and Sara) in this song, too – such a fantastic duet.

2410. Living with Jigsaw

Living With Jigsaw by HandleBarMustacheLand

Because this made me laugh!

My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of February 9, 2015

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My Weekly Top 10 :: Week of February 9, 2015

It’s been a long while since I did one of these, so why not now.

1. Hindsight

Hindsight

Time travelling back to 1995? It’s like Reality Bites, if Laney married and divorced Troy, and was in her 40’s, set to marry again, freaked out, and then went back to change everything, but more than that, to go and hang out with Vickie (or My So-Called Life’s Angela going back to fix things, but mostly to hang out with Rayanne – I think you get what I mean). My favorite part of this show is the complex female friendship that is being explored, yes, I love the music and the idea of going back and doing it all differently, but its Lolly and Becca I tune in for the most.

Series Trailer

2. Afraid of Ghosts :: Butch Walker

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Its been two weeks since this album came out and I seriously cannot stop listening to it. This kind of love/obsession for an album hasn’t happened in awhile, and I’m grateful to be feeling it and falling into it the way I am. I just hope Butch Walker comes to Los Angeles soon to play (please, please, please).

Butch Walker singing two songs off the album, Chrissie Hynde and Father’s Day

3. Samuel French Bookstore

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Today’s chalk board theme, at Samuel French

I hadn’t been to Samuel French since my first year of college, when my friend and I used to go to get scripts and monologue collections for our theater classes, and I wasn’t completely sure it was still there when my twelve year old daughter, and her best friend, asked where they could get monologues for their drama club. I was beyond delighted to find it was still there, and just as amazing as I remembered it. There was an acting class going on in the side room while I was there, there were so many plays and cinematic books and scripts and journals and I could go on – I love bookstores so much.

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4. Take Me Home (2011)

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Joel from Parenthood wrote, directed and starred in a road trip/romantic comedy with is wife and I had no idea? Sam Jaeger is wonderful at all parts, and his wife is fantastic in this, as well. I have such a enormous love of “on the road” stories of unexpected friendship, and love – it is one of my all-time favorite cinematic tropes, without a doubt – and this one is definitely added to my list of favorites now.

Movie Trailer
(available to stream on Netflix)

5. Giving Up the Ghost by Eric Nuzum

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This is a remarkable, yet very rough read, which is why I think its taking longer to get through than I initially expected. It is about the ghosts that haunt us in our lives, those we’ve lost, pieces we’ve lost in ourselves, and mostly about adolescence and the weight of depression and addiction and loneliness and love. There are times in this book where my emotions are so triggered that I have to stop reading, and I mean that in the best way – I’m a little over half way through and so far I highly recommend it (thanks, Bree, for sending it to me).

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Another character (though this is a real person) I’ve encountered named Laura that is dead, and eerily looks a lot like how I looked at the age she is in this photograph

6. Agent Carter

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I’m a Marvel fan, a Steve Rogers/Captain America fan, and I am definitely an Agent Peggy Fucking Carter fan, too. Though I am two episodes behind, I can still profess my love and admiration to a female-centric/female-hero television show set in the “cinematic” 40’s (like the first “Cap” movie). I wish it was a bigger hit, it should be a bigger hit, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for?

Agent Carter clip

7. The Wolf Among Us (PS3 game)

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We picked the full game of this up rather inexpensively via Gamefly (like under $15.00, I think), and I was ecstatic as I had played the first chapter online and loved it. I’m a huge fan of the Fables comic book series, as well as a fan of RPG’s where it is more decision-based, and less fighting (I’m really quite terrible at in-game fighting, and aiming). The game play makes me feel like I’m in the comic itself, which is pretty damn keen.

Game Trailer

8. Listography Book Series

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I am a list lover, which anyone who knows me, and anyone who follows my blog, will attest to. The book above is my third in the series that I just picked up today (the other two my best friend sent to me at different times). These books are exceptional and perfect for any other list-obsessives, with awesome list themes, and cool art on each corresponding page to go with the theme.

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9. The Walking Dead :: Season 5 :: “What Happened & What’s Going On

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One of the most stunning and emotionally moving episodes of The Walking Dead than I’ve ever seen, visually, musically and in concept, and in subtext and meaning, it was all just amazing. Without spoiling (or at least trying not to do any spoiling), Tyrese got what Beth did not get, and we got to see The Governor again (sorry, I like him, but then again, I liked Shane, too). I’m not sure I can take the show and where I know it has to go, even though I know I will take it, but fucking hell it is hard on my heart and all my feelings.

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10. Tonight You Belong to Me :: Eddie Vedder & Cat Power

Tonight You Belong to Me

I love cover songs and I love duets. I also love both Eddie Vedder and Cat Power (Chan Marshall). What I’m not often a fan of is ukelele, but I dig it here.

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Friday Five :: Songs about flowers

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Songs about flowers

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I am not a fancy flower girl. I’ve never been fond of roses (they bring to mind death or pain, or apology, to me), or bouquets of any kind really, especially not as gifts, though I do love fresh cut flowers that seem wild and random warming up a house. I’ve been known to buy them myself at the local Trader Joe’s, or the flower mart downtown the few times I’ve been. My favorite though are wild daisies growing in untamed clusters or bushes, the kind I grew up with, that my Mom would braid into my hair as a child, and that I would later associate with a lover who used to call me Daisy sometimes.

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I love found flowers, the ones out in the world growing out of cracks in the pavement, or in deserted fields. Desert flowers have always been an unexpected surprise, blooms from cacti promising oasis in the dry desolation. I like tall, tall sunflowers like the ones I first saw on my cousins’ farm in Idaho where I spent a week during Summer once when I was eleven years old. Daises though, they are forever my flower, enough so that I have small one tattooed on my right leg. What is your favorite flower?

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The earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Emerson

It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. ” ~ Colette

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…” ~ Susan Polis Schutz

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”

~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

These flowers will be rotten in a couple hours. Birds will crap on them. The smoke here will make them stink, and tomorrow a bulldozer will probably run over them, but for right now they are so beautiful.
~ Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor

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Here are my top five flower songs for this week’s Friday Five. This one was hard to narrow down as I came up with enough to make a full playlist. What are your favorites?

1. Daisy :: Ben Lee

My muse is just a daisy with the most beautiful nature,
that will one day fall back in my flower bed
.”

2. Roses Grow :: Concrete Blonde

Up through the cracks,
up through the broken glass,
in the hot red light of a black and white,
roses grow.

3. Wild Flowers (live) :: Ryan Adams & Nick Casal

“And everything went up in smoke like wild flowers,
wild flowers, dear.”

4. Faded Flowers :: Shriekback

“These faded flowers,
precious as memory.
A veil of cloud,
correct as energy.
We had some good machines,
but they don’t work no more.
I loved you once,
don’t love you anymore.”

5. Where the Wild Roses Grow :: Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue

“They called me the Wild Rose,
but my name was Elisa Day.”

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