Saturday, March 19, 2016

Penny's Music Recommendations: March 2016

Hello again music lovers! With my cutthroat game of Clue finished and my belly full of delicious sushi, I think now is the proper time to talk to you about the music I've been obsessed with in March. For whatever reason, March seemed to be the month of the music slump for me. I did discover some awesome new music, but I found myself turning to old favorites. Nevertheless, the new music I discovered is worth talking about, so here I am!
  • Run Or Hide by Run River North

I'm not a hundred percent sure where I first discovered this song, but I've loved it ever since. I'd never heard of this band before, but a quick search informs me that they are a Korean-American indie-folk rock band. Boy, was that genre a mouthful. Run or Hide is your classic indie song, At the beginning, the song has this mellow folk sound and before you know it, the lead singer adds a hard rock edge. Then the keyboard and violin sneak up on you. This is such a unique band and sound.

  • Somebody Else by The 1975

The 1975 is one of my favoite alternative rock bands and a couple of their songs have already been featured on a few of my recommendation lists. Somebody Else is one of those mellow slow jam songs. You don't want to get up and rave, but you won't be able to stop yourself from tapping your feet and swaying along to the beat. The synth, which doesn't become prominent until the end, gives the song a distinctly 80s feel too.
  • Midnight River by Vaults

Midnight River another one of those slow burn songs. I first heard it while going through one of Buzzfeed's monthly music lists. Vaults has this alternative pop/synth sound, which only gets better with the lead singer's soulful voice. I thought the words "Let go" would forever be tainted by that obnoxious Frozen song, but I guess this song proved me wrong. Even if you aren't a huge fan of Midnight River, it does have that earworm quality and you'll find yourself humming it at odd moments.  
  • The Sound by The 1975


That's right, another The 1975 song. The band just released their second studio album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Geesh, somebody seems to be taking their title cues from Fall Out Boy. The Sound is the third single off of the album and is one of their upbeat tracks. It has more of a pop feel to it than the band's other songs. One of these days I'll probably sit down and go through the whole album, so I might hazard a guess that they could be featured again in the near future.

Those are all of the newer songs that I've been listening to and would like to recommend. Here's to hoping that April will have some awesome song discoveries. In the meantime, stick around for more of my blabbering about books and such. It's what I do best :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

February 2016 Wrap-Up

Hello readers!! A little late, but never forgotten. Here is my February 2016 wrap-up in all of its book loving glory. As with all the best laid plans of mice and men, I got a bit distracted from my TBR quest. That distraction has a name: Gilmore Girls. That's right. One day in early February I kept seeing all this news about a reboot of the series and wondered why I never bothered to watch the show. I mean when the main character is a bookworm, how can you possibly ignore it. Two seasons later and here I am. Currently I'm on a self enforced ban because the show was sucking too much of my life away. The plus side is I did get some reading done, so it's review time!
  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Those of you who have stuck around with the blog from the beginning or enjoyed reading my watch-a-thon series know that I'm a Jane Eyre addict. I can't resist a movie adaption or in the case of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, an interpretation of the novel. All I can say is that an author that takes on the challenge of filling Charlotte Bronte's shoes must invent a pretty fantastic premise. I'm of the opinion that if you are going to use a previous book as inspiration you need to find some way to build upon the themes and characters of the original story or twist the plotline in a way that makes it distinct from the one everybody knows.

Of course I was excited to see how Livesey would put Jane Eyre in 60's Scotland. What I wasn't happy to discover was that the author literally just rips most of the story and places it in the loosely described 60's setting. If I'm going to be honest Gemma Hardy is a limp noodle compared to Jane Eyre and Mr. Sinclair is nothing compared to Mr. Rochester. Each character lacked something special and they just felt like shadows of their Bronte counterparts. I'm not really in the mood to end this review on a negative note, so I will say that I applaud this adaption for including Jane/Gemma's difficult childhood and how she is forced to beg for food and work once she leaves Rochester/Sinclair.
  • Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Just as I started to consider a life without The Lunar Chronicles Series, Marissa Meyer gifts us with this lovely gem of a book. Stars Above is a collection of short stories that feature all of the characters we know and love. The stories take place during different parts of the series timeline. Only one of the stories picks up where Winter left off and of course that story is way too amazing to spoil for you. The majority of the stories are prequels to the books in the series, which include learning more about Cress and Captain Thorne's childhood as well as the beginning of Winter and Jacin's relationship.

The one downside to this collection is the fact that not all of these stories are new. A few of them have been previously released, which is a bummer for those of us who have already read them. This is a must read if you are a fan of the Lunar Chronicles.

  • Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #3)

This month I also decided to finish up another one of my favorite series and while I'm sad that the series is over, I'm glad that it ended so well. At the beginning of this book, Jacob is tasked with trying to save all of his peculiar friends as well as the kidnapped Ymbrynes. This leads him to Devil's Acre, a seedy place where all the castaway peculiars have taken up residence.

While the plot was a little slow to start, it does get interesting when you start to learn more about the past, particularly Miss Peregrine's, and the relationships of the characters. Just as a heads up, the first half of the book seems to be very information driven, while the second half has more of the action based plot. The photographs also add that creepy factor that the story needs and factor into the plot seamlessly. The ending wasn't quite as exciting as I was hoping for and the main villain of the series was kind of one dimensional. I kind of wish these characters would live on in short stories that chronicle Jacob and the peculiars' adventures. Sadly, all the fans have to look forward to is the soul shattering suspense over whether or not Tim Burton will butcher the movie adaption of the first book. Cross your fingers everyone!!
  • Ginger: My Story by Ginger Rogers

As I mentioned in my TBR post, Ginger Rogers is one of my favorite actresses and I wanted to know more about her life. I'm one of those people that prefers an autobiography over a biography because an outside author always attaches their own biases to the subject's life. In the case of Ginger Rogers, I felt like the autobiography did get a touch boring at times and the content tended to repeat itself. I think a little bit of content editing would have done a world of good.

One fact about Ginger Rogers that shocked me to no end was the fact that she was a Christian Science follower. You know, the people who believe that the power of prayer will cure you and you should avoid hospitals and doctors. You know, the religious subset that has been the center of prosecutions where parents have been convicted of manslaughter for refusing to seek treatment for their children with curable diseases and illnesses. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that revelation.

That being said her narrative did have some great moments that give readers snapshots into Ginger's life. I loved the story about the feathered dress she insisted on wearing in one of her movies that Fred Astaire and a ton of the crew hated. Her autobiography also shared how tough it actually was and still is to an extent to be a woman in Hollywood. Ginger writes about all of the trouble she went through to negotiate salaries for herself that were still lower than her male counterparts.

Many people associate Ginger Rogers with just the movies she did with Fred Astaire and this autobiography proves that she is so much more.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh

Now it's time for the classic pick of the month. In what is now starting to become a trend, I left this book for last, but I'm grateful that I forced myself to read it. Gilgamesh is another book that I really should have read in school because it's widely considered part of the canon. I mean it is arguably one of the first epics with all of the usual hallmarks. You've got the hero's journey and the ever popular quest for immortality. I scored this brand new Norton Critical edition from one of my college professors and I find that the footnotes and added criticism help to make the reading experience more enjoyable. It certainly wasn't my favorite epic, but it wasn't one of the worst.

My only gripe is that I wished I had read this when I took the Ancient Near East course in college. I feel like literature and history naturally go hand in hand, but the professor I had didn't share that opinion. The course was mostly about memorizing a bunch of facts that I've long since forgotten about. The history that I was learning about in the Sumerian and Akkadian cultures would have given this story a world of context that I don't have now. Now that I've critiqued the educational system, I think it's about time to wrap-up this wrap-up.

Even though my new tv obsession distracted me, I'd like to think I read a great assortment of books and managed to read more than I set out in my monthly TBR. Now there is no rest for a book lover, so it's on to the next book. See you next week!!

March 2016 TBR

Nothing like the end of the month to get me back into a writing and reading mood. Since February was the month of buying new books, March is the month of ignoring all of the books that have been sitting in my TBR for months in favor of reading all of the new books I've acquired. I decided to include fewer books in this month's TBR because I plan on doing quite a bit of re-reading. I have a couple of blog posts that I want to write and in order to do that I have to dig into my vast book collection for some old favorites. Enough introductory babbling. Here are the books that I plan to read in March.
  • Remembrance by Meg Cabot

After my most recent book haul, you had to know that this book would be slated for the next TBR. Remembrance is Meg Cabot's recent return to her Mediator series, which Goodreads tells me was released 15 years ago. Now I feel old. 

Anyway, Suze is now recently engaged to Jesse de Silva and has her first job as a guidance counselor at her old school. Life is never easy for a mediator and now she has to deal with the onslaught of both old and new ghosts. I can't wait to see what hilarity this book has in store.
  • Born of Deception by Teri Brown (Born of Illusion #2)
A couple of months ago, I read the first book in this series, Born of Illusion, and I thought it was a pretty decent book. I figured why not continue on with the series, so here we are. The illusionist/ actual psychic, Anna Van Housen, has separated from her mother to follow her own dreams. Now she lives in Jazz Age London where she hopes to connect with people like her. It sounds like there might be some mystery involved in the plot and I'm hopeful that the second book will be even better than the first.

  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #2)
Oh look, another recent release that I just have to read. A Gathering of Shadows is the newest adult release from Victoria Schwab and the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. I'm excited to see what happens with all of the different versions of London and how Kell and Lila find each other again. I don't really know too much about the plot of this book and I kind of want to keep it that way. For once I want to enter the reading experience with no expectations. I don't want the hype to ruin this book like it did the first one.

  • Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels by Colette
Now on to the classic pick of the month. This book may seem way out of left field, but I've been waiting to read this for ages. Now I finally own a copy and I'm so excited. I think I've mentioned this a few times, but I'm a huge fan of classic movies. When somebody asks me the question, "What is your favorite movie?" I have to take a moment to decide whether I should pick a more modern one people are familiar with or something that I've obsessively watched on Turner Classic Movies in my spare time. This discussion has a point, I swear. One of my favorite movie musicals is Gigi staring Leslie Caron. It's the story of a french girl whose aunt is training her to become a courtesan to wealthy men. This kind of scandalous and depressing story is wrapped up with the beautiful musical stylings of Lerner and Loewe.

As soon as I learned that the movie is based off of a short story by Colette, I made up my mind to read it. I found this bind up with two of her other short novels and I plan to dabble in some French fiction this month.

Those are the books that I plan to read this month. I'd love to know if any of these books made it on to your TBR or if there is another book that you have your literary mind set on for this month. I think I've put off reviewing February's books for quite long enough, so keep a look out for that post very soon.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

February 2016 Book Haul

Hello readers! What a perfect way to spend the month of love and corporate holiday greed by buying new books!! It's been a while since I've had a proper book haul, so I'm excited to share these books with you. So many of these book choices will make sense to you if you've been following my most recent posts. Let's get on with this new book show and tell.

  • Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket
The last Nostalgiareads post I did featured A Series of Unfortunate Events, one of my favorite childhood series. I covered the first four books of the series and I intend on re-reading the whole series. I decided while roaming the book section of amazon that I wanted to cover all of the series, including the side books. I remember reading The Unauthorized Autobiography when I was younger, but I don't remember what it was about. I'm excited to rediscover the book.

  • The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket (Series of Unfortunate Events #9)
Speaking of A Series of Unfortunate Events, when I was pulling all of the books in the series out, I realized that I didn't actually own book number nine. I immediately ordered this online, since I was already halfway through book eight at the time. You'll be hearing about this in one of my next Nostalgiareads posts.

  • Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection) by Marissa Meyer
As soon as I finished Winter, the last book in The Lunar Chronicles series, I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that one of my favorite series was over. Then I found out that Marissa Meyer was releasing a short story collection that fills in the gaps in the series. I knew I had to own this book.

  • Remembrance by Meg Cabot
I think last month I was fangirling all over this blog about the fact that Meg Cabot decided to release a novella and full length novel continuing her Mediator series. I've read the novella and now I need the full length novel in my life. I can't wait to continue the story of ghost turned real life man, Jesse, and mediator/sarcasm expert, Suze,

  • Lola and the Boor Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Every once in a while I need a good ya contemporary book to get myself out of a reading slump or as a brain cleanser and this book is one of my favorites. I've read this two times, but for some reason I never owned a copy. Now when I want to read the story of Lola and cute boy next door, Cricket, I can reach for my own copy.

  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Time for a book lover confession: I always feel guilty that I call myself a murder mystery lover and I haven't read any of Sherlock Holmes. That changes soon. I decided to pick up this cheap omnibus from Barnes and Noble to give the stories a try.

  • The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket
Yep, this is a Lemony Snicket heavy book haul. I wanted to round out my re-read of A Series of Unfortunate Events by reading the series add-on that I never got the chance to read when I was in middle school. Not to mention I've always been interested about how the Beatrice from the book dedications factor into the story.

With that, those are all of the books that I bought in February. Now I think it's about time I wrapped up February, don't you think?