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.)

Meg Says Listen to This: “Man on Fire”

There are a few moments in life, that right in the middle of them, maybe in a split second – you will think to yourself, “I love every little detail of this moment.” You’ll know, even if it’s in your subconscious, that there’s a beauty of the moment you’ll later wish had been bottled – so you could relive it in an instant. But we can’t do that, thus life demands of us to soak up every droplet of pure magic these moments hold.
That is how I feel when I hear certain notes of certain songs and I’m transported to a dusty, grassy farm in Manchester Tennessee. Maybe the sun shines high above us, giving us rosy cheeks and pink shoulders, as that glowing energy spills out in our laughter. Maybe the moon hangs above, with a silver glow that lights the chilled blades of grass beneath our feet, as the hours of the night flick by in blinks of wide eyes that sleepiness hasn’t struck yet. Maybe we’ve sought shade with one hundred new friends under a tree in this magical land. Whatever it may be, I think of a warm feeling inside, I think of gratitude for community, a zest for life – a true appreciation of that very single moment we’re right smack in the middle of living.
Whenever I hear Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros “Man on Fire” this happens to me. I feel the hair on my arms rise in the chill of a memory, and tears spring in the corners of my eyes. They’re happy tears though, as I’m connected to that overwhelming feeling of complete contentment.
That’s what made me want to share this song with you all today. It’s not even the song itself manifested in my memories, but it’s Alex Ebert’s voice. It’s those notes. I’m instantly propelled, and I’d like to share that personal time machine journey with you. It doesn’t hurt that the video for this song is awesome. Enjoy!

Turn It Up Tuesday, Listen to This: “Somewhere on a Beach”

I think it took about half a second for me to become absolutely obsessed with Dierks Bentley’s newest song “Somewhere On a Beach.”  I know I’ve been on quite the country kick lately, but there are just so many fun songs out there right now, I can’t help but get sucked in. Dierks draws out all the right words, and it’s hard not to love whatever he’s singing. “Somewhere on a Beach” is a perfect moving on jam. Sure it’s a little um…presumptuous maybe? But it’s just the right amount to make me laugh and not grimace at the ridiculousness. Even though spring just got here, this song definitely makes me feel like summer. After days and days of rain here in Florida, I was driving to work yesterday morning and the sunlight was just bouncing off the asphalt, and this song came on the radio and I smiled because it didn’t feel like Monday at all. It felt like vacation, and possibility, and fun, and youth. (Also, on a another note – this video?! Not what I was expecting at all, but if this is our previous of the album Black coming out in May then I for one am super excited!)

Meg Says Listen to This: My Church

“But I find holy redemption, when I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial”

Driving up the Keys from a weekend getaway on Sunday, the weather was gorgeous. It was basically the perfect scene for a road trip. We had the windows down, sunroof open, surrounded by a beautiful aqua colored paradise and the sunshine splashing over everything, XM Radio up loud, which I loved because this gave me the chance to hear several artists I was unfamiliar with. A song called “80s Mercedes” came on, and I thought who has this amazing voice?! She had such a fun sound that I couldn’t believe anyone hadn’t already recommended I listen to her! Later, when it was my turn to drive the second half of the state home alone I had country turned up loud, jamming out along to “new Nashville” to keep me awake, and a song came on and I thought – this has to be the same person. A quick Shazaam and I found it’s the awesome Maren Morris. This track, “My Church” struck a different chord and I was obsessed. Yesterday I was talking to my dad and he was like, have you heard this song yet? It’s awesome. Guess what? It was “My Church.” Morris is touring with Keith Urban right now, so I’d say she’s doing pretty well for herself. (Check out that list of dates because they are all over America, and I’m betting that’s a heck of a show.) Her album Hero is set to be out June 3, and I am already super excited about it. In the mean time, go ahead and give “My Church” a listen – I have a feeling you might fall in love with it, too.

Meg Says Read This:Why Not Me?

22716447If you ask me, Mindy Kaling is one of the most awesome women in the entertainment industry. I love her candid, raw, honest and hilarious personality that not only comes through in her characters on TV, but also in her writing. That “oh my gosh me too!” feeling you might get when you scroll through her Instagram, translates just as well in her books. Now I have to say, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? is one of my favorites, so it’d be kind of hard to beat that one. With that being said, Why Not Me? came pretty close. Mindy’s writing has a way of making you feel like you’re at happy hour with your girlfriends (or let’s be honest – half the time you’re actually in yoga pants drinking wine on the couch) swapping all the juicy details of life, over analyzing dates, paranoia about work projects, and you know drunk eating McDonald’s and binge watching Netflix. She has such relatable anecdotes, and her down to earth quirkiness shines through the details of her experiences – whether she’s being honest about the knee jerk reaction to rejection, or pinpointing the delicious taste of something you’ve worked hard for being successful. It doesn’t hurt that she made me have a little less hair envy for all my favorite actresses when I realized most of that hair isn’t real. (Game of Thrones, I’m looking at your braids.) Mindy’s description of her long time friendships (such as BJ Novak, or childhood BFF Jaclyn) and all the ridiculous sides of her they’re well accustomed to, or the honest reactions they give her when she asks for input really made me reflect on all the genuine relationships I’m lucky to have in my own life. There’s a great little story about a rendezvous she had with a man she met, when she was meeting President Obama, which was a really interesting story to read unfurl. (Like first of all the President of the United States requested to meet YOU, AND you met a cool guy in the process?) She talks about the pitfalls and anxiety and all of the long nights and hard work that go into making her career as successful as it is (or how all of that hardwork doesn’t necessarily make for a successful outcome each time). Kaling has a great way of putting all the different aspects of life in perspective – growing up, work life, relationships, friendships – and the importance of being yourself and figuring out your own priorities along the way. If you’re looking for something that’s introspective and real without being so heavy that it breaks your heart (because really sometimes you just might get tears in your eyes from laughing so hard) then I recommend reading Why Not Me? 

(Image borrowed from GoodReads.)

Meg Says Listen to This: “Drivin’ All Night”

There was nothing as pretty in Panama City as you”

 If someone sang this line to me, I imagine I’d probably roll my eyes, but even if I wanted to resist that sweet talkin’ charm, I’d probably fall for it anyway. That’s about how I feel about every dang catchy Jake Owen song that exists, (which is all of them). Whether it’s a good song to belt out, driving in the sunshine with your windows rolled down, or with your girls on a beach day, or the heartfelt ones when you’re awake at 3am with the rest of the lonely souls scattered across the world – there’s a mood and a song for all of it. I started listening to the Days of Gold album again after Owen just released “American Love Song” because I forgot how much I love him. Living about forty minutes away from Panama City, and being greeted by 75 degree sunshine-filled days again this week doesn’t hurt the urge for some sweet talkin’ country tunes to fill my days while I stifle the desire to leave work and hit the beach. Also, can I just note that I see Jake Owen posting fun little snippets of his time down in Key West right now and if he just wants to wait a week until I get down there next week that’d be fantastic.So if you need a feel good, beachy love, song that makes you smile and feel young listen to “Drivin’ All Night.”