Meg Says Listen to This: “Vice”

Damn, Miranda. That’s the first thing that came to mind following my first listen of Miranda Lambert’s latest song, “Vice.” I saw Shane Mcanally’s Instagram post last night before I’d even heard it (and after I saw the teasers on Facebook). Reading the words just sent a shiver down my spine:

shanemcanally No matter what your taste in music is, you gotta respect when an artist is willing to put their soul out on the table. @joshosbornesongwriter & I were lucky enough to be sitting in the room when @mirandalambert came in with this song on her heart. Everything about this is bold and heartbreaking and honest and even a little hard to listen to….this is the kind of song I set out to write when I came to Nashville. I am so blessed to write with people who take these kind of chances.

Seriously…is that not moving or what? Then you go and listen to the song. Miranda Lambert hasn’t put out any new music in quite some time, and for this to be the first? It’s raw and real, and it cuts deep. It feels so transparent, and edgy, and relatable. It makes my heart sting when I hear it because it’s a sucky place to be, the depth of where that emotion comes from but then I think about just how many of us have probably found ourselves there. That’s the beauty in it – how realistic it is about life. One of the things I appreciate about her as an artist is she never sugar coats anything. Here is some sharp true emotion, in song, laid right out on the table.

Do yourself a favor, and listen now. I’ve got it on repeat over here. If this is a taste of what’s to come, big things are in store.

Read This: Jenny Han’s Summer Trilogy

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Once upon a time, several years ago in one of my routine hangouts at the public library in Tallahassee I stumbled across Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty. Lucky for me, I was late to the party and didn’t have to play the waiting game to read the novels to follow. This Instagram  post Real Simple put up a few weeks ago, really highlights why I felt so connected to Han’s stories, as a reader. She really really gets it. I’ve mentioned it here before but anytime there’s a character in YA novels who has this relentless ability to hold out hope, and just plain hold on – I see myself in them. That’s been me, the character in my own life since preschool. Also, I’m a summer girl through and through. Summer me is my favorite version of myself, and all year round I try and bring the magic that graces summer days into other seasons. Belly was also in that same predicament. There were several similarities I found while reading this trilogy, and so many things that just opened up a well of emotion. The way Han describes dealing with terminal illness in a loved one, and then the process of grief, and that path that just seems impossible to navigate – she just nails all of it. Love and friendship and the confusion of life. The way things don’t necessarily get easier as we grow older, just our scope of experience has evolved.

Basically this is less of a review and more of a reminder of some seriously amazing books that I’ve gushed over in the past. When I saw that quote I was instantly overwhelmed remembering my appreciation for Jenny Han’s way with words. Seeing as we’re only halfway through July you still have plenty of time to throw these books in a beach bag, and read them were they deserve to be devoured – in the sand somewhere, or in the still of a summer night. Either way, wherever you are, just read them.

Meg Says Listen to This: Dashboard Confessional throwbacks

A few weeks ago I went to see the Taste of Chaos tour with some friends. That night brought on an onslaught of memories to my days and nights of teenage angst. Dashboard Confessional headlined. It’s not the first time I’d seen Chris Carabba preform, but I have to say he is really on his game these days. He transitioned from one song to the next and fit so many in, I was shocked. I loved that he went back to his first albums, and really got into the old stuff. The little emo kid inside of me was having a time warp party.
The lawn was closed, so we were all upgraded to seats. Our gang took over a center row, and while we waited for the show to start we reminisced about our younger years listening to these bands. I don’t think I quite realized, up until that moment, how utterly connected everyone sitting in that amphitheater was – in an invisible way. As we shared stories I found so many of us were those emotionally sensitive kids, going through a really hard time in our teenage years. These songs were the soundtracks to each of us holed up in our rooms, or awake in the middle of the night thinking about someone across town. I remember how desperately sad I was at some of my lowest points – the kind that’s hard to see around, the kind that makes you doubt there’s a time ahead of you where you won’t feel like that. As I looked around me at all the people singing their hearts out along to these songs. Lyrics we hadn’t sang in years, readily available in our minds- I realized something that gave me a shiver. All of us who’d hit those low points, who knows what happened over the last 15 years but we’d made it. Here we were, in a different spiral of days. And I smiled because I should always remember the present moment isn’t all we have left. Emotions are ephemeral (an old favorite vocab word), life keeps evolving and changing. Even with all that nostalgia swirling around, it was impossible not to love every minute. I’ll admit though, there were a few moments where I could feel myself slipping into the feelings associated when I hear these songs. “Ender Will Save Us” and “Best Deceptions” were two of those songs for me. They  just hit just the right spot in my tender heart, and I had to laugh before I cried. If your teenage days lacked the joy of DC as a soundtrack, here’s a listen now:

Meg Says Listen To This: “Jolene”

This is another not new tune, but seeing as it pops up on Pandora a few times a week, and it hits me right in the gut every listen, I think it’s time for a share. There’s a cover out there by Zac Brown Band, too. Both are great, but this one’s the Ray LaMontagne version because why not? So soulful, so heart-wrenching. There’s loss, and yearning, and trouble all stumbling through this one. And even though you can hear the ache in the chords, there’s also something equally beautiful about it. Isn’t that what great music is anyways?

Meg Says Listen to This: Talkin Shit About a Pretty Sunset

I had the opportunity to see Modest Mouse live for the first time last weekend, and let me tell you: if you ever get the chance, they do not disappoint. Anyway, I got to thinking about this old song of theirs and how much I love it. I thought it’d be a good one to share with yall today, since it’s been a minute since my last post. Simple and powerful, all in one. Here you go:

Meg Says Read This: The Last Boy and Girl In the World

designed_by_expanded_gallery2“Be still my heart” should basically be my mantra after reading Siobhan Vivian’s latest, The Last Boy and Girl in the World. Pure genius, I’m telling you – well, more like sweetly yelling at you with an excited urgency. See, if you’ve been reading my blog for long you know I have an intense love affair with young adult fiction but since I read Mosquitoland back in December, there hadn’t been a YA title that truly captured my attention. Then a few weeks ago Siobhan Vivian tweeted a link to the first six chapters of TLBAGITW, and I was absolutely captivated. I honestly had trouble sleeping that night because I couldn’t wait to read the rest – that’s how hooked I was. There is a particular quality of magic in this book. Something that makes it sparkle and shine and stand out among the rest. Truly, Keeley and Morgan, Jesse and Levi – all of these characters really found a little home in my heart. I had the library put the book on hold for me and when I saw it was in transit, I ducked out from work for a minute on Friday to pick it up before they closed. By Saturday afternoon, I was finished. Even though I tried to space out my reading binge a little because I didn’t want the story to be over yet. Also, I had to take a few breaks near the end because I was in tears.

Now, I’ve given myself a bit of time to really absorb it all, and sort out my thoughts.  I don’t think this has really aided in watering down my obsession, though. I still want to tell everyone I know to go ahead and read this book. My friends who are in the camp of “I just can’t relate to high schoolers” – get over yourselves for a second, right? Because it’d be a shame to miss such an enchanting story.

The premise of an unknown weather related disaster reminded me slightly of The Age of Miracles. I’m not complaining because I loved that book too! But other than that The Last Boy and Girl in the World really set itself into a world of it’s own. Vivian really hit it out of the park with this one. I know these are all vague descriptions, but I’ll tell you this: If you were one of those girls who grew up with an overwhelming crush on one particular guy – you will love to read what unfolds between Keeley Hewitt and Jesse Ford. Some of the scenes and the lines, are enough to make you swoon – but not overboard cheesy where you’re thinking “gag me” as you dive into all of the romantic details. I think many of us can relate to the idea that sometimes, regardless of what catastrophic disaster is happening around us, it’s nice to be selfish for a second and be distracted by our own grand stroke of luck in the scheme of things. That’s kind of what happens here when Aberdeen seems to be suffering from frigid temperatures and never ending rain that causes the town to flood and leads to even bigger problems.

Vivian also found a way to touch on friendship in one of the most beautiful ways I’ve seen written about to date. For anyone who has had a friend from a very  young age, and seen your friendship change as you get older – you know that this isn’t always easy. We’re not the same at eighteen as we were at eight (and for that matter twenty-eight). Some bonds don’t survive the tumultuous ride of life, and that pain is one that can cut the deepest. Love in a friendship though, can sometimes make it transcend anything. I think that happens here. We’re reminded how sometimes, even though you can’t replicate what you had in the past, you can learn a way for the friendship to be a part of your present and future, just in a different capacity.
In a few hundred pages Siobhan Vivian successfully covered topics from friendship, relationship, all different kinds of love, family drama, growing up, and transitional periods in life with so much reality and heart, I find it impossible not to keep this book in one of those esteemed spots for avid readers. The kind of spot on your favorite books list, that it will always be one of the first you recommend when people ask for suggestions. There’s adventure and angst and such vivid storytelling that when I recall the chapters, I feel like I can still see the scenes in my head.All of this to say, if you haven’t gotten your hands on a copy of this yet – what are you waiting for?!
(Image borrowed from official site.)

Meg Says, Listen to This: “I Hear the Bells”

Thanks to the “On this Day” feature on Facebook, I was reminded of this lovely song this morning. I first heard “I Hear the Bells” by Mike Doughty on Veronica Mars several years ago, and it’s been a favorite ever since. Of course I listened to it about three times during my work out because I can never get enough. Also, it’s a pretty good jam for a Monday. This song is upbeat, catchy, and undeniably likable. If you don’t know this one yet – give it a listen!

Also, my favorite part *insert heart eyes emoji here*…

“I hear the bells
They are like emeralds, and
Glints in the night
Commas and ampersands
Your moony face
So inaccessible
Your inner mind
So inexpressible”

Meg Says Listen to This: “Rock On”

I know, I know another country song? But I heard Tucker Beathard’s “Rock On” on the radio the other day, and I thought to myself “where has this song been?!” It’s instantly catchy. It’s kind of a break up/miss you/movin’ on anthem, but that southern drawl just pulls you right in. The video’s pretty accurate too, if you’ve broken up with someone anytime in the last handful of years. Of course the ex is gonna seep through the cracks on the internet, and we’ve all got our new lives, with some noticeably absent familiar roles in Instagram posts and Snapchat stories. But all of that aside, despite the whole people move away, move on, and change along the way part this song still manages to make me wanna sing along, and smile. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a chance! If the rest of Tucker Beathard’s music sounds like this, this probably won’t be the last we hear of him.

Meg Says Watch This “Paper Towns”

o-paper-towns-poster-570Paper Towns is my third favorite John Green novel. (First being The Fault in Our Stars, second Looking for Alaska.) I was raised in central Florida, and a lot of my late teens and into my twenties years of adventures involve Orlando, so I was happy to the sunshine state as a setting for the book. Also, I personally don’t care that people think Margo is a fantasy manic pixie girl – every story does a little better with a spark of mystery, and something alluring to chase (and hey, that chase gives plenty of time for self-discovery.) Also, Nat Wolff did an amazing job in the role of Q. The friendship between Quentin, Radar, and Ben felt really genuine, and provided a lot of comic relief in the film (and some seriously touching moments). Nothing will successfully compare to TFiOS, but I don’t think it’s fair to try and judge these against one another. Paper Towns is a separate story, with a different message, and I don’t think the content is meant to be as heavy. For all of these reasons, I think Paper Towns was a success in the transition from book to screen.  The soundtrack is fantastic, and they didn’t make you feel like you had to read the book in order to keep up with the story (though I highly recommend doing so, anyway!)

Here’s the gist: senior in high school, Quentin, has grown up across the street from Margo in their nice little Orlando neighborhood. In their younger years, they were partners in crime, until popularity sent them on their ways to separate social circles. Q has had a hopelessly devoted crush on Margo all these years. He’s got two best friends Radar and Ben – and they live pretty tame teenage lives, band and video games filling their days, and getting good grades looking forward to college. Margo on the other hand, lives life a little on the wild side. One night, for old times sake, she convinces Q to assist her in a night of wild revenge tactics and escapades all through out town – she’s trying to teach him how to live on the edge. Cautious Q comes out of his shell a bit, and is  as enamored as ever with Margo. Following their night of mayhem, (resulting in some pissed off victims at school), Margo disappears. This leads to Q searching for clues in the pieces she’s left behind, and with Margo’s former best friend Lacey in tow, along with Radar, Ben and Radar’s girlfriend Angela – the crew is on a mission to build some last minute memories as a farewell to high school, and an unforgettable road trip in pursuit of finding Margo. Of course there are some teaching points along the way, and reminders to be true to yourself in whatever capacity that means for you.

This isn’t the kind of movie I would choose to watch over and over again, but if you’re looking for a light-hearted film, with some hearty characters I definitely recommend giving Paper Towns a go.

(Image source.)

 

Meg Says Read This: “Girl On the Train”

22557272I know, you’re probably wondering what took me so long to read Paula Hawkin’s Girl On the Train, especially after my exaggerated enthusiasm for Gone Girl? I’m not sure either, but I’m so glad I finally did and before I saw the trailer to the upcoming movie! I don’t read too many psychological thriller novels, (mostly because my impatience to know what happens keeps me up all night turning pages, and then awake the following nights because I can’t quiet my mind.) While Gone Girl will probably hold the number one spot for me for years to come, Girl On the Train was full of quite a few twists and surprises of its own. I felt a relatability to our narrator Rachel (or main narrator I should say, as the book shifts between three view points) with her vivid imagination. After losing her job following some day drinking on work days, and a string of inappropriate behavior as a result of the fallout of her divorce and some personal traumas, Rachel moves in with an old college friend. Instead of coming clean about her employment situation, she hops on the train each day and continues about her old work day commute. Just instead of going to her old PR job, she pops into coffee shops to work on her CV, or visits the library, or does an inordinate amount of people watching. This combined with her active imagination brings us to one aspect of this jumbled up tale. Rachel witnesses an encounter of infidelity, though she doesn’t have a personal relationship with the people involved, passing them each day on the train makes her feel like she does. Then days later the woman involved goes missing! This mystery gives Rachel a new purpose in life, other than her hobby of drinking and obsessing over her philandering ex-husband and his new wife as she tries to piece together the random puzzle parts of these strangers lives. Of course this isn’t cut and dry, and her bouts of blackouts from drinking bring some complications to her reliability and memory recall. Such faults just add to the suspense and intrigue, though. Add in a jealous new wife, a troubled missing woman, and some manipulative but unsuspecting men and voila! We’ve got ourselves quite a story. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that jazzed when I finally watched the trailer to the film but I’ll probably give it a chance anyway. In the meantime, if you haven’t dived into this thrill ride of a story yet, I highly recommend it!

For those of you who are enticed to read a book when you see the film adaptation trailer, here you go:

(Image from Goodreads.)