It has been a great year for blogging! I’ve seen and heard so many good books, movies, and music that it is impossible for me to pick just one favorite. Get ready for a lot of links!
Favorite Books of 2013 (By Genre):
Adult Fiction- The Writer by Cristian Mihai
Autobiography/Biography- The Big Sea by Langston Hughes
Classics- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Historical Fiction- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Favorite Music of 2013:
Classic Musician: Janis Joplin
Rising Musician: Angel Haze
Marry The Night (Lady Gaga Cover)-Adam Lambert
Same Love (Mackelmore Cover)-Angel Haze
Different- Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Mirror, Mirror- sung by Casey Williams, written by John Williams (not the film composer)
I hope you all had fun reading my blog this year because I had fun writing these posts! Thank you for taking the time to follow or read my blog! Happy holidays! See you in 2014!
I don’t want to end this year without attempting to get some people my age hooked on late sixties singer Janis Joplin.
I decided to give her music a try a few months ago when I found myself looking for more soulful singers to listen to. I can’t remember the first Janis Joplin song I enjoyed. After listening to almost all her albums, it felt like all the emotion in her voice had blended into one howling note.
Her voice is raspy yet extremely powerful and soulful. While I didn’t like all of her songs, I admired the fact that Joplin could sing rock, blues, funk, soul, and country. Most of her live performances are great and some are better than the album version.
Combined together with the lyrics, her voice is deeply moving. While Joplin didn’t write all of the songs, her voice makes it sound like she did.
At the same time, songs that Joplin did write are touching because of how honest her voice and lyrics are. Some of my favorite songs are “Turtle Blues“, “Kosmic Blues” “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and “Cry Baby“.
Besides Joplin’s voice and lyrics, I related to who she was as a person.
According to a documentary on Joplin, she had a tough time during and after high school. At school, she was bullied for being overweight and she was considered an outcast for being artsy and liking black people.
Things didn’t seem to get better, even when she became famous. Not only was she insecure because of high school and numerous rejections, but she had to deal with the pressure that came from being a woman in rock n’ roll.
By the time she was about to create what would be her final album Pearl, she had created an alter-ego of the same name to go with it. I really liked her as Pearl; her outfit on the album’s cover looked cool. Yet, Joplin seemed to smile only on the outside.
After learning that she passed away at the age of 27, I felt as sad as I did when I became a fan of Amy Winehouse. Just like with Winehouse’s music, I wished Joplin could have put out more albums before she passed.
I love Janis Joplin’s music just as much as I love Amy Winehouse’s music. I admire Joplin pouring her heart and soul into her music and for showing that women without the ideal image can be successful.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth.
But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can PUSH THE LIMITS and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her HOW TO LOVE AGAIN.
My Review: One of the best things about this book is how the author weaves in many different issues including foster homes, mental illness, repressed memories, abuse, and death. Without these issues, the main characters would have been cardboard cutouts and impossible to care for. In addition, all of these issues were realistically portrayed.
Another thing that was great about the book was its main characters and some of its supporting characters. Echo and Noah seem like clichés but they aren’t. Echo is very damaged emotionally and physically, but she is also talented and funny. Watching her grow into a resilient, assertive, and sympathetic person is poignant. Noah is also very damaged, but also caring and protective. When it came to Echo, he was also respectable.
Meanwhile, the best supporting character was Noah’s guy friend Isaiah. He was an honest and funny guy. The most surprising supporting characters were Echo’s parents, Noah’s family, and some of Echo’s friends. The surprises with these characters were shocking, sad, and touching.
Besides the issues and characters, the romance was very well done. It is very slow and realistic. When it finally does happen, it turns sexy, but also responsible, respectable, and poignant.
The only flaw in this book was the profanity, which was a bit too much at times.
Overall, this book was great. If you like The Sea of Tranquility or edgy contemporary romance, then read this book.
Warning: Some of the songs on this blog post contain explicit content
Recently, it was announced that Dirty Gold, the debut album of upcoming rapper and singer Angel Haze, will be released in a month and a half.
When I first read this, I was thinking that the album would be out by Christmas. To my dismay, when I looked up the official release date, it was in January.
Luckily, Angel Haze has been releasing a series of freestyles and covers on Soundcloud in a project called “30 Gold”. There will be thirty tracks total. Most of the songs are free to download from the site.
Based on the covers as well as some of Angel Haze’s mixtapes, here is what I expect from Dirty Gold:
- Confessional and empowering raps (or ballads) similar to Haze’s cover of Mackelmore’s “Same Love” and Haze’s original song “Smiles N Hearts”
- R & B songs similar to Haze’s cover of Erykah Badu’s “Love of My Life”. On her cover, Haze sings and raps.
- Acoustic songs similar to Haze’s cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and Haze’s most recent cover of One Republic’s “Counting Stars”
- Upbeat dance tracks similar to Haze’s cover of John Newman’s “Love Me Again”
As you can hear, Angel Haze is a diverse musician. According to a recent interview in Rolling Stone, Haze summed up Dirty Gold as “Dealing with the tough stuff to get better and be worth something.” Here’s hoping Dirty Gold is worth the value of Angel Haze’s talent.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Jonathan Fisher is used to being no one in particular. He is such a ghostly character that CCTV cameras won’t record him. The world doesn’t need him and most certainly doesn’t want him. What he doesn’t know is that his life is on the brink of transformation.When his father dies, he realizes one thing. Being invisible isn’t such a great option.
My Review: One of the best things about this book is its honesty. Jonathan Fisher has the outlook of a realist, but his worldview isn’t forced on the reader at all. Instead, he just tries to make the reader think about things a little bit. It may make the reader uncomfortable, but it is part of what makes Jonathan a compelling character.
Another part of the honesty that is touching is Jonathan’s many thoughts on writing. Anyone who has struggled with putting words on paper for a living or a hobby will be able to relate.
A few favorite lines are, “Writing is not complicated. It’s all about how much of yourself you’re willing to let the reader see. If you don’t sacrifice a part of your soul, then all you write will feel empty and cold.”
In addition to the honesty, the author’s writing style was enjoyable. In between the main plot of the story are short stories that are written by the character Jonathan Fisher. These short stories felt like parts of a giant quilt.
At first, going back and forth from the main plot to a short story was confusing. After a little while, they were appreciable and just as entertaining as the main plot.
Furthermore, the author’s creativity with the plot was a pleasant surprise. The short stories mentioned above are a part of it. The other part is reminiscent of classic writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. It provided a nice twist in a seemingly ordinary story.
Overall, this book was amazing. I recommend it to anyone looking for a short yet compelling read and anyone who is a writer.
If you are familiar with David Bowie’s music and music videos, then you know that anything David Bowie does will be a bit out there.
The song “The Stars Are Out Tonight” discusses people’s obsession with celebrities and how celebrities or the people who represent them take advantage of that.
The music video directed Floria Sigismondi takes the song to another level by showing the viewer what celebrities could do to everyday people. It features not only David Bowie, but also actress Tilda Swinton as his wife and model Iselin Steiro as a younger David Bowie.
This is my favorite music video from The Next Day because of who stars in it, and because it is so weird and creative and so intelligent. The weirdness immerses you in the video and lets you feel things from the perspective of Bowie’s character and Bowie himself.
Bowie’s videos that are set in real life make you think about the lyrics more and how they reflect your life and the world around you. It is something that Bowie has always done in the past and something I’ve always appreciated about Bowie.
“The Stars Are Out Tonight” is from Bowie’s 2013 surprise comeback album The Next Day. It is also the second of five music singles that have been released so far and the second of five music videos made to promote the album.
Plot Summary: R&B hip-hop girl group TLC have been one of the biggest musical acts in the world. However, success did not come easy. As their musical journey unfolds, they experience many personal struggles such as death, disease, and bad relationships. These struggles impact their music and each other.
My Review: One of the best things about this film is the acting. The film stars Keke Palmer as Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, rapper Lil Mama as Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, and Drew Sidora as Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins. All three women did a great job portraying TLC, but Lil Mama is the actress that stood out the most.
Not only does she have a strong physical resemblance to the late TLC member, but she embodied Left-Eye to the point where it felt like you were watching the real Left-Eye.
Another enjoyable aspect of the film was the way TLC was portrayed. Every detail about the group’s outfits, performances, public appearances, and music videos was close to perfect as it could be.
With the exception of moments when Keke Palmer looked like herself rather than Chilli, it felt like you were watching a documentary about TLC rather than a biopic.
The only flaw in the film was its ending, which felt rushed. The film should have mentioned TLC’s fourth album 3-D. It would have been a good way to show how resilient the group was after what occurs at that point.
Overall, this is a fantastic film. I recommend it to TLC fans and music lovers everywhere.
Here is the trailer for “Crazy, Sexy, Cool: The TLC Story”