Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Music Mantra: Van Morrison's Brown eyed Girl

Sorry that our Music Mantra is on a Monday but we've had alot going on around here and I've been having a few technical difficulties.

Yay, technology.

For this week's Music Mantra, we've handed it over to Jaimie, as she does such a great job. She has chosen to review Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl, which I love. It reminds me so much of my close friend, Colleen.

Please enjoy and feel free to leave your comments. We love comments.

Happy Listening!
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Nos·tal·gia- a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.”

In the seventeenth century, mercenaries from Switzerland were forbidden from listening to traditional Swiss music in fear they might experience fatigue or/and commit suicide on their long journeys. Today, we know that these mercenaries were probably feeling nostalgic when listening to these oh-so-familiar tunes, which made them miss home and maybe even become depressed.

Nostalgia goes hand-in-hand with music. Thankfully, it seems to make a lot of us more happy than the seventeenth century Swiss to hear an old song tied to joyful memories. Maybe it’s because our parents used to play it for us all the time back in the day. Or maybe the lyrics are tied to a certain era you miss. On the sadder end, maybe it you and your ex-partner’s song that played on the first dance of your wedding.

Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” would be my Swedish traditional tune. Although I didn’t grow up in the sixties myself, some aspects of the era present in this song makes me wish I could fall in love during that era. The lyrics, “Making love in the green grass, behind the stadium with you” definitely won me over. Whenever the song plays, I’m also reminded of a music festival I went to last Summer, which is a memory I hold dear.

I’ll let you go with a question- what song makes you nostalgic? What kind of memories are tied to it?

“Hey, where did we go, days when the rains came?”

Monday, September 4, 2017

Music Mantra Monday ~ A Tribute to Nirvana

Almost 26 years ago, the grunge scene was greeted with the iconic album, Nevermind​ from Nirvana. It is considered one of the most prosperous albums of all time and was band members Kurt, Krist, and Dave’s ultimate rise to fame.

Years later, the now disbanded group continues to have a huge influence on people across the globe. Sadly, frontman Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994, is not around to witness his legacy. Nirvana has to be one of my all-time favourite bands. One of their LPs are always by the till, ready to be played during my record store shifts.

At home, they seem to be played a lot more though- there's nobody asking to buy the copy you're currently playing!

Anyway, today I’d like to share one of my favourite songs from Nevermind​ and possibly from the band. That song is track #5- Lithium​. Lithium is a drug given to manic depressive and schizophrenic sufferers with aggressive behaviour. That's why I think some lyrics ("I love you, I'm not gonna crack") might refer to the drug and it’s effects. Another example could be, "I found my friends, they're in my head". Lithium causes some users to hallucinate, hence the line about imaginary friends. But hey, songs like this are meant for analyzing and finding different meanings, so feel free to find your own.

Cobain does an excellent job on writing about heavy matters like this without romanticizing them, so people struggling with these issues can relate. Lithium​ also has some great guitar playing and feeling to it for anyone just looking for a bop.

Happy listening!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A review of Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Today is usually our Mama's Muse day but we haven't been able to get on the blog as often, which we'll write about next week. But today we're going to feature our expert reviewer, Jaimie. 

She's done a stellar job with this one. Shutter Island was a novel I thoroughly enjoyed and, from Jaimie's review, she liked it too. I hope, as always, that you enjoy her insight and thoughts about this psychological thriller.

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All I can say to start this off is- damn. The average psychological thriller usually has a strong impact, but, man, Shutter Island left me staring at a wall while questioning my own existence and sanity. The multi-award winning Dennis Lehane truly has a way with words that will leave you with goosebumps. In fact, there’s not a moment in Lehane’s nightmarish storytelling where you’re not at the edge of your seat, guessing what will happen next, almost begging for mercy.

I feel the best way to enjoy this brilliant novel is to go in knowing nothing. Sadly, the ending was spoiled for me a while back and I was unable to experience the full gut-punching twists that were beautifully executed. However, even knowing how things would turn out, I was still gasping at the climax.

Without giving away too much, the plot is quite a one of a kind of it’s genre. We get to hear inside the mind of troubled U.S. Marshal, Teddy Daniels. He and his partner, Chuck, are sent to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane in ‘54. There, they have to locate a missing patient, Rachel, whose disappearance seems suspiciously like an inside job. The two officers will soon find out the patient’s case is not the only thing peculiar about the asylum…

I strongly recommend reading the novel before seeing the movie. The attractive Leonardo Dicaprio starring as Teddy is definitely tempting, but trust me, it will be worth waiting for. You will get to grow (or regress, in a certain case) alongside the characters more. It’s probably also worth mentioning that Shutter Island is best for mature, older teens/young adult audiences.

I would like to thank Mr. Lehane for the best novel I’ve read in ages. Now, I think I’m going to go back to staring at a wall for a couple hours.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bliss in the morning dew: A review of Lauren Myracle’s Bliss

Welcome to our Tuesday segment where we talk about important subjects that need more attention. We have also included book reviews by my daughter, Jaimie.

Today, we are posting her excellent review of Bliss by Lauren Myracle. This is a fantastic example of a young adult paranormal mystery and Jaimie has done yet another fantastic job of summarizing the story in a way that does not spoil the ending, as well has sharing her insight.

Please enjoy today's review and we'll see you again tomorrow.

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If you haven’t heard of Lauren Myracle, then where is your childhood at? I remember reading several of her popular novels throughout elementary school, including Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, and the Internet Girls/ Flower Power series. So, when I discovered she had written a novel directed towards young adults, I was thrilled. This novel is Bliss, a paranormal horror piece set in the late sixties. It certainly seemed like the whole package: favourite childhood writer, favourite genre, and favourite era of time. Right?

For the most part, yes. Bliss does a spectacular job in the first few chapters. We are introduced to Bliss In the morning dew, the child of two hippies. After her parents move to Canada due to their frustration with President Nixon and his governing, Bliss is left to live with her old-fashioned grandmother in Atlanta, Georgia. She starts to attend Crestview Academy, a very reputable private school. There, she befriends two very different girls due to her individualism and beliefs of standing out in a crowd. One is the bullied, overweight, and lonely Sandy. The other is rich, popular, and seemingly kind Sarah Lynn.

The friends of Bliss have their secrets, however. The seemingly innocent Crestview has a deadly past that involves a suicide of an insane young girl. . . one that connects with the present. Thanks to Bliss’ gift, she can hear a demand from blood coming from the walls of the academy, specifically from room 313 on the third floor.

The paranormal mystery in the novel did its part well. It took me quite some time to figure out who was behind what. The diary sequences in between chapters, which were signed by the unknown S.L.L, made me guess several times who the person behind the initials really was. I also loved the old references that were tied in, such as the Manson case, which I researched prior to reading Bliss.

However, I did have some criticisms towards the end of Bliss’ heart pounding story. The ending had so much potential to be climactic and satisfying, but, it fell flat in my opinion. There was so much that could have been resolved or even mentioned again, such as Flying V’s vision. Flying V was a friend of Bliss at her old commune. She warned Bliss of two girls and a thirst for blood in preparation for her life in Atlanta. Although the reader can figure out what the strange hippie’s vision symbolized at the resolution, they are more likely to forget about the warning due to it not being brought up even halfway through Bliss.

Asides from the few plot holes and disappointing wrap up, Bliss was an amazing reintroduction to one of my past favourite authors. Myracle really can develop insane, blood-loving outcasts just as well as she can write about bubbly youngsters relatable to preteens. There certainly is a book out there written by Myracle for everyone, which is why she is such a hit.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Talk About It: For all werewolf fans alike: A review of Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver

Welcome to our Talk About It Tuesday.

Today, Jaimie is doing her third review for us for the book, 'Shiver'. This looks like a great one, and I wished I'd read it first, but after her review I will finish it.

Enjoy her review and be sure to read the book. It's a good one!

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Forget about vampires and the typical take on werewolves. Shiver features an original spin on the beloved shape-shifters and a bonus likeable female lead. As someone who read a certain popular series about a love story between the mythical creatures mentioned and was frankly disappointed, I went into Shiver (which has some similar elements to the unnamed series) rather uncertain. The way I finished the novel? I was completely astonished, with tears in my eyes, feeling a desperate need to read the next book in the series.

Shiver switches between the narration of the two lovers, Sam and Grace. These two first met when eleven year old Grace was being attacked by a pack of wolves. However, yellow-eyed Sam was not in a human form at the meeting. He was a wolf, and saved Grace from his own pack’s hunger. Ever since the incident, the book worm has always kept an eye on her wolf, which she can observe from her backyard facing a forest. The wolf has always kept an eye on Grace too, from a seemingly endless distance.The only time the grey wolf was ever absent from Grace’s viewing was during the warm summers of Mercy Falls, Minnesota. The reader soon finds out this is because Sam is in human form only when it is warm out, and cannot remember human made memories clearly in wolf form during the cold winters. Grace and Sam finally meet as the same species when Sam shows up bleeding and naked on Grace’s back porch. His abnormal coloured eyes give him away immediately. The plot soon begins to thicken as the two properly fall in love and try to make the most out of what might be Sam’s last year as a human. The couple unfortunately cannot rest as violent werewolves are being created and a female member of Sam’s pack is after Grace’s head. There is also the mystery of Grace still being human as she was bitten by werewolves all those years ago...

The award-winning author Maggie Stiefvater can easily turn simple words into something beautiful, which makes Shiver so memorable. The unique concepts about werewolves really made this novel stand out to me as well. In fact, I was so fond of Shiver, I finished the 390 page-turner all in one night. Grace’s stoic yet loving personality mends with Sam’s shy, poetic heart perfectly.  Even the supporting characters and antagonists had an important part to play in the fantasy setting. I especially adored Sam’s lyrics and guitar playing, as a guitarist myself.

I strongly recommend this novel to any young adult audiences, even if you aren’t a fan of the whole “mythical creature romance” craze. Stiefvater also has written several other novels targeted to the same type of audience, which I suggest checking out as I will myself.

Until next time, when the next book in the Shiver series hopefully gets into my hands, thanks for reading.

Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!


Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRr-vJ8W7YA