Meg Says Watch This: “Hold You Back”

This song is wonderful, but the video is devastatingly beautiful. It’s all in the details. From the “We Will Miss You” balloon, that’s floated up to the corner of the room, to the stray bobby pins that were left on the night stand. The glaring emptiness of absence. How difficult it is to erase the trail someone leaves on our heart and in our lives. The essence of their presence heavy in a room, even when their body isn’t there. I mean yeah, essentially it’s a break  up song, but don’t all songs mean something different to their listeners? No matter what the subject matter, this one still strikes a chord.

And it’s right now that I start to see it
All of the weight of the way that it is
Caught between what it means to start over
And what happens over and over again

I know I mentioned Ryan Hurd in my post about my favorite musical discoveries of 2016. “Hold You Back” was the last song he released on Spotify last year, but he just debuted the video this week. I just love the way he has show cased such diversity in his songwriting with each track – some sting you with how emotional they are, some are fun the kind you turn up loud and blast, but there’s so much heart in each of them. I can’t wait for more music from him this year!

Meg Says Read This (Maybe): The Girls

414vpuuee6l-_sy346_I woke up at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday, and I couldn’t go back to sleep so I decided to finish reading a book I’d started last week. The book had a ridiculous amount of hype last year, finding a place on so many must-read lists. I’d been excited to finally read it after being on the library wait-list for a few months, only to be turned off by the slow pace and anti-climatic story telling.

I was curious of other reader’s feedback, so I looked at some reviews on Amazon. One person shared: “Look, I’m stoked people are even still writing books, let alone reading them AND sometimes buying the actual book. However, this was just boring.”

Unfortunately, I had to agree.

The Girls focuses on fourteen year old Evie, in the summer of the late 60’s. Bored with her only friend Connie, frustrated with her mom and her string of new boyfriends, desperate and eager for attention she finds herself falling in with a cult. This story line had strong potential, but in my opinion fell flat. The descriptions of the characters, though flowery in their prose, brought us no closer to understanding any of them. The most we got were Evie’s obsessive sexual fantasies about (basically the ring leader of the woman in the group – though they claimed to live belonging to no one with an equal flow of love in all directions) Suzanne. The story is told in flashbacks of present day Evie – older, timid, living a quiet life alone. Basically the whole book just felt like a shell of a story. We don’t really learn much about Evie’s life after that summer, (she wasn’t connected to the crimes committed), except that she made a few friends at boarding school that year, and later in life she had a few different roommates. Even during the summer with the cult and it’s leader, Russell (baring uncanny descriptive similarities to Manson) the flashbacks are lacking as well. Listen, I wasn’t looking for some gruesome telling of the murders, or sexual assault but I just felt confused the whole time. The story didn’t really seem to have much to do with the bizarre practices themselves. Evie seemed to mock them, and question them regularly (mostly internally,) but it was just a means for her to be able to follow Suzanne around and be close to her. Sure – if this wasn’t fictional, it’d be great that some young teenage girl didn’t get completely sucked in. But how much reality is there to the idea that she just rode her bike to hang out with these people on a ranch, occasionally spending the night, but sometimes returning home in time for dinner? It felt non-committal.

Hopefully the other titles on my “to-read” list for 2017 are less disappointing. I know that mine is not necessarily a popular opinion regarding this book. Some people sing the praises of Emma Cline for her “beautiful style.” I wouldn’t personally recommend this book, but I still think it’s good to gather your own opinions, of what is being buzzed about.

(Image from Amazon.)

Meg Says: Listen to This “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” (A Throwback)

After watching the news this morning and getting way more frustrated than I should be before 8am, I knew I needed to listen to something good on my drive into work. It just so happens I’d left some really old school CDs I found in a box under my bed recently, in my car. One of them was the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack (Vol. 2). Cheesy? Maybe, but also perfect. I skipped through the first few tracks, but then there was The Jayhawk’s “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.” I was obsessed with this song from the first time I heard it on the show. (Way back when I was still using Limewire to try and find songs on the internet, and this one was so hard to find.) It’s always funny to me just how many lyrics our brains can store. Is there a point where I’m going to run out of space in there, and not be able to recall them so easily?  Anyway, this song just brought me to a little throwback happy place this morning. Sure, it’s sugary sweet but you need one of those every once in a while. It makes me think about Joey jumping off the dock onto Pacey’s sailboat and floating away into the sunset. Okay, if you didn’t watch Dawson’s Creek and have no clue what I’m talking about listen to this sweet song below:

 

Meg Says Read This: Scrappy Little Nobody

scrappy-little-nobody-9781501117206_lg2017 has been off to an interesting start. I mentioned before I started reading A Game of Thrones which is great, but I just really needed to read a book that would make me laugh. Books can expand our horizons, provide an escape, a distraction, and some books can entertain us. In comes Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody as my first read of 2017. I laughed out loud reading this, continuously, hard, and sometimes until tears sprung in my eyes. Oh, Anna did I need those laughs. But also her book made me think a lot about our preconceived ideas of celebrity, and Hollywood. I can’t imagine being in a film at Sundance, and your peers having no idea, or worse just not caring a bit about it! Kendrick shares stories from her childhood, (I loved the one about how she got her first Broadway gig), her dating life, apartment living, how she still gets star struck, and everything in between. I was surprised to learn that Happy Christmas was filmed in eleven days, on an $80,000 budget, with  no script! And I guess, like Kendrick, I thought once you were famous people probably followed you around and basically made you keep yourself (and your house) together – surprise! They don’t. Kendrick writes with such ease, and honesty that it feels like it’s a friend telling you about her life. I felt like you could feel her anxiety about certain situations, or the frustration with  nothing productive happening on press tours (even if they’re necessary.) If you’re a shorty, petite girl I think you could really relate to this too. She touched on a lot of points, of experiences I’ve had all my life. (At 5 feet tall, with tiny feet, and still being able to wear clothes from first grade when I was in fifth grade – I felt like I’d just use my noise level and energy to make up for my lack of size. Anna Kendrick sounds like she totally got this!) She talks about insecurities, but also about the things she knows she should just say “screw you” about if someone has a problem. She sounds like she really takes pride in her work, and invests in the relationships she develops with her coworkers but she’s super open about the time she’s not on a job she’s at home chilling in sweatpants, watching Netflix, eating take out. She sounds like the rest of us doesn’t she? (Adulting, hmm…)  Kendrick mentions multiple times that she hopes while reading her book, the reader feels less alone – well girl, I think you more than accomplished that task. I would definitely recommend this book. It lifted my spirits a little, and it reminded me that although our paths might look different, we’re all kind of floating around in the same boats.

Meg Says Watch This: The OA

THE OA. I’m sure you’ve heard about it at this point, or at least seen some buzz on your Facebook news feed. Friday December 16th Netflix decided to be like “hey, Surprise! here’s a new original series.” They know their binge-watching audience. I actually didn’t see the trailer prior to starting the series. I did hear some comparisons to Stranger Things though, which I don’t think are very fair. Sure there’s a peculiar female character at the center of the series, who experiences nosebleeds, perhaps possesses some supernatural abilities, and has a twisted past – but I think the similarities stop there. Anyway, I watched it all that weekend because I couldn’t pull myself away.

The series opens with a young woman jumping off a bridge, surviving, and her parental guardians coming to pick her up from the hospital. Upon their arrival, we discover this Prairie was once blind, but now can see. You think that’s weird? Oh, just you wait. It gets crazier.

Sure I could go through and give you a play-by-play of each of the eight episodes, (varying in length,) but I think that would take out the fun of watching the show yourself. I guess the mind warp it sends you on, you might want to take the term “fun” lightly.

Everything I want to comment on this show, depends on how you interpret it as a viewer. The details throughout the series are just mind blowing. The mounting information that builds upon itself, (which is a lot to remember while you’re watching,) and the metaphorical meaning within scenes is just such an abundance of creativity – I can’t think of anything quite like it.

It’s a little bit sci-fi, a little bit mystery, a lot a bit confusing and interesting. As much as this show has you trying to “figure it out” I think it’s also a beautiful story weaving together a group of “misfits” finding a common thread, and the ability to support each other through their differences.

I’ll admit the first episode made me a bit uncomfortable, mostly because I was watching it alone and I had no idea what I should expect. (Plus, the violence in the dog scene and fight scene made me terribly anxious.) But then as the story began to unfurl I just couldn’t stop. I might’ve watched the series twice. The second watch just gave me more questions.
Anyway though, a fantastic series. The amount of work Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij put into creating this is just mind blowing to me. It was shot beautifully, the music is perfect, and I think the cast is incredible. They all portray their characters in such a believable way – I felt consistently sucked into the story; nothing deterred where I felt distracted from what was on the screen. The minute details from scene to scene are so enthralling, and if we get a second season I’d be curious to see if we’re reading into things or if the meaning really is all there. I don’t think anything was done by accident in this piece of work.

I almost felt guilty recommending it to friends because of the mind bender I knew I was sending them on, but at the same time it’s such an interesting art form I’d feel guilty not to share. I have so many questions, ideas, and theories but I don’t want to spoil anything. I made a Reddit account, so I could post on there instead of driving my friends crazy with my hypotheses.

If you haven’t watched it yet, and would like to see the trailer for yourself, BUT I think it’s more fun to dive in without any preconceived ideas.

 

Meg Says Listen to This: Favorite Music of 2016

Since I already gave you a run down of the books I was reading in 2016, I figured I should also share some of my favorite music. This wasn’t intentional, but coincidentally these all fall in a country genre. It was quite the year in country music! This definitely doesn’t all the music I stumbled upon this year from artists older work it took me too long to find and I’d been missing out on, or my obsessive playing of old favorites.

mm_hero_rgbMaren Morris Hero. Maren Morris was definitely my favorite musical discovery of 2016. You might recall the post I typed after hearing “80’s Mercedes” on satellite radio during our drive back from Key West to Tampa last March. (And I definitely thought to myself “this is what I’m missing out on?!”) Soon after, I heard “My Church” and then of course I was chomping at the bit for her whole album to hit in June. I still buy CDs, and hers was steady on repeat for quite a while. She has such a soulful voice, and raw relatable lyrics. “Wish I Was” and “Once” just get me every time. There’s a song for every emotion, and I sing along to all of them. I cannot wait to see her live for the first time next month in February! And I can’t wait to see what she does next. There’s a Crossroads special on CMT she did with Alicia Keys, that was really fun to watch.

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Caitlyn Smith Starfire
I heard Caitlyn Smith on Bobby Bone’s Podcast, and I was just like oh my goodness how have I been missing out on this girl for so long?! Of course, songs she’s written have been sung by plenty of stars, but I think she’s a star herself. “This Town Is Killing Me” and “Before You Called Me Baby” kick me in the gut. Like, I’ve found myself holding back tears on airplanes listening to her music. I hope that we hear more from her, and I hope that people keep listening to her because I feel like Caitlyn Smith puts her heart and soul into every one of her songs, each note she breathes and that’s something special.

 

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Walker Hayes Good Shit (Vol 1)/Break the Internet (Vol 2)
When an artist can inspire laughter, tears, nostalgia, and perspective on the same album? You know they’re onto something. Walker Hayes is nothing short of awesome. “Beautiful” makes me think about the past.”The Comedian” makes me cry. “Layla’s Stars” pulls on my heart strings. “Dollar Store” makes me laugh. “Halloween” I play on repeat. All the songs just take you through a gamut of emotions. This is another album I found myself playing on repeat on public transportation on my travels this year. Hayes has this music on  his website to download for FREE, so what’s stopping you?

 

yqo8ouicRyan Hurd Oh man. Ryan Hurd. We already knew his talent from some of the hit songs he wrote (“Lonely Tonight” ?!), but man he’s got a voice too. I didn’t find out about Hurd until his EP had already been pulled from the internet, (ugh crushing I know!) But then started releasing one song at a time to Spotify. Each song is so great. “Love In a  Bar” is definitely one of my favorites. “City Girl” is fantastic, so is “We Do Us” and “Hold You Back.” They all have a little bit different vibe, but I like the way they showcase his versatility as an artist. Check out the videos he’s released that are like “get to know you” and about his craft. They’re so artistically shot, gorgeous scenery, intimate setting and every word counts. He just signed to Sony this week, and I cannot wait to hear more from him. (He’s opening for MM at the Athens, GA show! And he’ll be on the Home Team tour with Thomas Rhett & Kelsea Ballerini!)

db_black_cover_digitalDierks Bentley Black This album actually came with my purchase of a concert ticket to Dierks show in Panama City Beach.The concert was awesome, and so is this whole album. Literally all of the songs have really hit me at some point. I feel like I find myself with “Can’t Be Replaced” stuck in my head a lot. But I was initially pretty dang obsessed with “I’ll Be the Moon” written by Ryan Hurd and featuring Maren Morris. “Freedom” is a fun one (love the PC shout out!) “Pick Up” “Black” they’re all so emotionally driven. Also, “Somewhere On a Beach” was one of my go to songs on that road trip to get to Key West. I’m a fan of the whole, movin’ on theme of that one. I think Dierks Bentley was really onto something with the duet with Elle King on “Different For Girls.” This whole album felt like it was full of surprises, and totally fresh.

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Jake Owen American Love 
I figured I would really get into this Jake Owen album, when “American Country Love Song” was such a staple on the  radio, and I was singing along every time. When it finally hit, I found myself loving all the songs. “After Midnight” makes me laugh because it reminds me of what my parents used to tell me when I was younger (and there’s probably a hint of truth to that.) “LAX” is so freakin’ clever, and it makes me think of Penny Lane – just the epitome of “cool girl.” “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You” with Chris Stapleton is top notch. Actually, they all are. The whole album has a great vibe, and I really love the cover art – that VW van – I want it.

weight-of-these-wings
Miranda Lambert The Weight of These Wings
Miranda’s long-awaited album did not disappoint. I’m still combing through all these songs. (24 of them!) She worked with twelve different song writers, and there is so much grit in this album. You can feel how real she’s being through the songs, everything laid bare – mistakes, love, friendship, life – it’s all on the line. I just think it’s something really beautiful. “Vice” was the first released single, and I cannot tell you how many times I listened to it on a repeat. “We Should Be Friends” is just fantastic, and witty. “Pink Sunglasses” not only makes me want to wear a pair, while I belt along but it’s just so catchy and feels like she knows her audience. “Runnin’ Just In Case” quite frankly makes me feel like someone punched me in the stomach, but in the way where you breathe and say “ok, someone gets it.” I can’t wait for her to tour with this album.

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Keith Urban Ripchord
Okay, Keith Urban does it every single time. Every album. This one wasn’t any different – just hit it straight out of the park. I’m sorry to say I didn’t see his tour last year because I can only imagine how phenomenal it was. “Blue Ain’t Your Color” is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year. “Break on Me” is beautiful, and obviously so many things can make me cry and this is one of them. I’m a big fan of “Wasted Time.” I also love the metaphors in “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.” Keith Urban is just a class act talent.

Because this list could go on forever, I’ll share a few more of my faves across the board. Of course, I’m leaving out about a million artists and albums because it’s impossible to add them all, but it was a great year for music. Drake gave us Views, the other Drake (White) gave us Spark, Gaga gave us Joanne, Brandy Clark Big Day in a Small Town, Bon Iver 22, a Million, Dawes We’re All Gonna Die, Margot Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, and of course Beyonce Lemonade.

Meg Says Read This: My 2016 List

Happy New Year friends! Hope everyone had some great days this holiday season. I know I haven’t posted as nearly as often as I should lately. Although we’re five days into this new year, I thought it’d be fun to share my reading list from 2016. I’ll let you know, which ones were my favorites (and I’ll even add in some of the books I started but didn’t finish *insert eye covering emoji here.*) Some of these books have stuck with me in such a way that I think about them several times a week. When you find books like that, it’s hard to find a follow up. What were your favorites you read last year? What are you most looking forward to reading this year? Right after Christmas I started reading A Game of Thrones, but this one is going to take me a while. These are in the order I read them, not by my affection for them. The titles listed in bold were my favorites, and if I already featured it on Meg Says, I linked to the original post. See below for a variety of non-fiction, adult fiction, and young adult books I found this year!

*Note: I apologize for any weird formatting issues, I’ve been trying to sort out the kinks.*

How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (Adult Fiction)

This story of a young girl without much worldly experience, who decides to ditch school and write about bands in a magazine. Made me a little uncomfortable at times, but probably because it’s so real. Moments were laugh out loud funny. It’s well written and unique, and there’s a reason so many celebs were buzzing about it on their Instas this year.

Save the Date by Jen Doll (Adult Non-Fiction)For my girlfriends that are always attending weddings – bridesmaids, guests, etc. you will probably find yourself relating to some of these stories. Some of them are funny, and some you’d feel the embarrassment, or you’d get the tensions that can fly in these situations. Nothing too crazy or surprising, but a reminder that a lot of us might feel like we’re in 27 Dresses (as my brother’s friends used to point out about my life, haha.) We probably all have enough of our stories to compile a book like this.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Adult Fiction)

Soon to be a mini series on HBO with a stellar cast, you should read this before it airs. I was HOOKED, immediately. I love multi-view point stories, and this is a little bit mystery, somewhat amusing, a touch sad, but all around intriguing. It’s one of my favorite “fun” books to recommend.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (Adult Non-Fiction)

Mindy Kaling never disappoints. I love how real she is, and getting a peak into her life and relationships. She is definitely comfortable and completely embraces all that she is – brilliance and flaws, and all. I feel like I’m having a couch convo in my PJs with a friend while I read her stories.

30 Shades of Grayton by Kyle Petit (Adult Non-Fiction)

I picked this up at one of my favorite little independent bookstores over in Seaside, Florida. It’s a quick read, and was mildly entertaining about a woman in a small coastal town dating after a divorce.

Room by Emma Donoghue (Adult Fiction)

A story abut a young woman who was taken, and brought to live in a room. She doesn’t know life outside of those walls anymore, until one day she has a son. Her son changes everything, as she tries to create a world for him within this space. This was another book I just couldn’t put down. I still haven’t seen the Oscar nominated film, but I was convinced it was finally time to set aside any fears I had that this was going to psychologically torment me and finally read it. I’m so glad I did. This is a beautiful story that I’d say is more about love and life, and the ties that bind then about the awful abduction and treatment during that time. It’s written in a format I wasn’t expecting, and I think it’s completely original.

Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas (Adult Fiction)

This little British book kept calling to me from the shelf at the library. It felt like I was immersed in a reality television show. A story about a group of random strangers brought together by responding to an ad. I still feel unsettled by the ending, but it was definitely interesting and not like the other books on my list.

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Adult Fiction)

I know it’s unfair to compare this novel to Gone Girl, but I think that was expected as it’s written in a similar vein. This one’s hard to provide details without ruining anything but our main character has blurred memories of a variety of events she’s witnessed. Her alcohol issues have caused her to lose her job. Instead of admitting this to her housemate, she continues on her way with her daily train commute. When a woman she’s seen from the train (and has watched her relationship) turns up missing – she gets involved. It had a bit of a slow pace for me, but still managed to create suspense and I’ll admit it took me more than three quarters of the book to “figure it out.”

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian (YA Fiction)

Undoubtedly, hands down one of my favorite books of the year. Not just the year – all time. I freakin’ love this book, and you should read it. The first several chapters were released online prior to the pub date to increase anticipation and oh my goodness – I was glued to my computer screen. I’m not even going to tell you more, but get this book in your life.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (Adult Non-Fiction)

My favorite non-fiction book of the year. Aziz is brilliant. He’s hilarious, and he’s so insightful. I only wish I had been a collaborator in this creation. A look on modern dating, and how it’s evolved over time, and what it looks like in different parts of the world. Simply fascinating.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (Adult Fiction)

I have to admit I was majorly disappointed in this book. I finally got around to reading it when I saw the film trailer released, (which I never ended up seeing the movie). The trailer made me cry, and all of my friends thought the book would destroy me. A story of a young woman who is out of a job, and ends up taking on the job of caring for a man who’s been injured and permanently paralyzed and lives in his parent’s home. There were somewhat tender moments, but everything seemed so shallow. The characters were apparently experiencing intense emotions, but they were so poorly conveyed that I was unable to connect.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Shneider (YA Fiction)

Schneider just crafts such beautiful stories. I thought, “oh! I’m going to make it through this one without crying.” Joke was on me, as this story inevitably ripped my heart out. It follows a group of people who are brought together by an usual connection (their TB diagnosis), where they’re all living in a boarding school/treatment center of sorts. It’s one of those stories that extra makes you appreciate the beautiful intricacies of relationships.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichiw (Adult Non-Fiction)

Short, but powerful. Read it if you haven’t!

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn (YA Fiction)

Morgan Matson’s alias. I was excited to finally dive into the Finn world, and while it was somewhat amusing I didn’t feel compelled to read the follow-up novels. Though the light read that has some of the appeal of an MTV reality show like Laguna Beach could be something fun to try.

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (Adult Fiction)

This novel was fantastic. Following the relationship of a young couple who met in New York, and later move to DC as the husband pursues a career in politics. This is a work of fiction, but it felt so realistic. I felt like I was reading a blog, or my friend was emailing me about her life. It definitely made me want to read another Jennifer Close book.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (Adult Fiction)

READ THIS. My only qualm with this one was the designer brand name dropping. Once I got beyond that, I was mesmerized by the story. I knew it was building up to something, but I was taken by surprise when I found out what. (Like gasp a loud, close my eyes surprise.) Then when you find out the similarities of Jessical Knoll’s own experiences, it’s even more heart-wrenching. This is a powerful story that I have chills just referring to right now.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (YA Fiction)

With this historical fiction novel, Ruta Sepetys raced to the top of my list of favorite authors. It’s a unique take on parts of history, and some of it I was ashamed to realize I was unaware of. It’s painful to read at times, but also beautiful. It’s another book that reminds about the strength love gives us, and the grit and determination fueled by that love can pull us through even the seemingly most impossible situations.

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA Fiction)

Huntley Fitzpatrick is so great at weaving stories about friendship, love, family and the importance of trust and communication in our relationships. There’s always a twist in her stories, that you’re not expecting and I think that just adds to the appeal. I felt like my heart was literally aching for the characters in this story. Tim Mason grows immensely in this book, and it felt like watching a friend experience some really hell situations and come out the other side.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (YA Fiction)

This story had me fired up. Especially because I was reading it around the “grab her by the p****” comments from earlier this fall. It’s just one of those that drove me crazy because unfortunately you can’t shake your shoulders and say it’s just a story. It’s real, it’s inspired by true events, and victims of sexual assault have been shown over and over that even with video proof of them being violated, people will still try and silence and discount their stories. I think this is an important book to read. I think it shines light on a different perspective. And it takes you outside of the exact event that happened to third party characters which I think lends an interesting view point. This text also lent one of my favorite quotes of the year:

“You’re doing the right thing,” she says.
“Doesn’t feel like it.” I wipe my eyes. I am so tired of crying. She nods, reading back over her list and flipping to a new page in her  steno pad. “Sometimes, that’s how you know,” she says without looking up. “That’s how you know.”

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter (YA Fiction)

The librarian seemed a little disturbed when I was checking out this title, but assumptions aside this is an important piece of work. Sure all families have their own sorts of dysfunction, but some have more than others. This one delves into that divide when parents have their own personal issues they project on their children, and take away the chance for their kids to bond with them in normal ways. Of course, that causes all kinds of psychological damage. I can’t imagine feeling the degree of betrayal Cassie experiences, but man what a journey she traverses to get through it. This is one of the grittiest stories I’ve ever read. Sure, there are some positive spots but there’s no glossing over the anger and heartache. I think the straight forward approach to all sorts of topics in this story is brave and important.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (YA Fiction)

The second book I read by Ruta Sepetys, and it was just as good as the first. Another look into world history, surrounding Stalin and Hitler but referencing some events I still had no idea about. Somehow Sepetys is able to expand your world view, and your heart at the same time. The friendships that blossom through the pages are just so endearing and painstakingly beautiful. It aches to think about the atrocities they witness together, but you’re glad they’re at least together. She has one more title I haven’t read, and this book dissolved any doubt (I didn’t really have) to read anything she’s ever written.

Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This by Bobby Bones (Adult Non-Fiction)

A memoir from my favorite radio host. I laughed, I cried, I was amazed being reminded of the stories we all carry with us that make us who we are, and sometimes we have no idea what others around us are carrying. This is a great, inspiring story. And it’s all about stories.

The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn (Adult Fiction)

A little psychological terror short story. Definitely had no clue what to expect reading this one, and found it to be just the right amount of creepy.

What Light by Jay Asher (YA Fiction)

This was a perfect read in December with Christmas lights up in my room. A family who goes to their Christmas tree farm every December? Perfect. If you’ve read Thirteen Reasons Why – this one doesn’t have the same life changing punch, but it’s a sweet story. It’s also a good reminder to get to know people on your own, and don’t take their “reputation” at face value because who knows what you could be missing out on.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Adult Fiction)

In the last week of the year, this was the final book I read. It was actually the second time I’d tried to read it. This time I finished. It was an okay story. I really enjoy weird futuristic, post-apocalyptic stories (The Road, The Age of Miracles), and this one was interesting enough I guess, but it seemed to fall a little flat. There were multiple points of view, and I liked the way it came together in the last seventy-five pages or so, but there were so many more things I wished she’d done with it. Maybe it didn’t help that in December I also watched Netflix’s The OA and was obsessed with all the theories it made me think about. I just wish some of the stories had been further expanded on.

Unfortunately, I started but didn’t finish (and am still working on them):

  • Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh (Adult Fiction)
  • The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (Adult Non-Fiction)
  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (YA Fiction)
  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

A Few Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading in 2017:

  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zettner
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  • Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
  • Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King
  • The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
  • All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
  • Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
  • Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Danler
  • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  • The Girls by Emma Cline
  • Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord

Meg Says Read This: Bare Bones

51yuw-gupvl-_sx329_bo1204203200_If you follow me on any form of social media, my Bobby Bones interest is pretty evident. They don’t broadcast the morning show where I live now, but I still listen to clips. Even more than that – I am absolutely hooked on the Bobby Cast podcast where he interviews different artists (musicians, songwriters, etc.) It’s always about the stories, or to get a little VH1 on you guys, the stories behind the stories. I love to learn what makes people tick, what events set in motion all the things that brought someone to where they are, I want to hear their climbs and stumbles, but also their passions. When you talk to someone who is passionate about anything, that drive and interest just pours out of them in a beautiful way. (At this point you’re probably wondering what I’m rambling on about, but hold on a sec.) All of this to say, Bobby Bones is propelled by stories – his own and the stories of others. That’s exactly why his new book Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading this Book is so dang wonderful. Bobby has always been open and real on the radio show, but it was really interesting to get the stories of his life in chronological order. (You learn about Bobby’s life, growing up in Arkansas. His mom got pregnant with him at 15, and had him at 16. His dad was only around for a few years. He had a sweet grandma that definitely did what she could to take care of him. He worked really hard in school, and tried to surround himself by positive influences. He talks about the way his childhood has affected his ability to open up in relationships. He shares how his background lets him to connect with people.) And my word…the obstacles he has overcome in life to get where he is? The drive he had to make something of his life, from such a young age? It’s inspiring. I’m an emotional reader (obviously,) but I’ll admit I had to pause sometimes while reading to let the weight of his words sink in. (Also, maybe to get it together and stop crying.) Sure there are definitely some pretty sad parts to this book, but it’s life and it’s real and it’s gritty. At the end I don’t think you’re going to walk away saying “man, I wish I didn’t read that book I’m so sad now.” Because you’ll laugh, out loud. You’ll be reminded how important it is to keep going and learn from mistakes. And you’ll probably take a closer look at your own relationships. It’s a real reminder about the lifelines of friendships, how big of a difference the little things make. When I was reading it, I was reminded that we all come to the table with our own battles and scars we’ve been carrying and they shape us, but they also allow us to connect with others on a deeper level. You never know what someone else is carrying. Sometimes the people who make us laugh the hardest,  have the heaviest hearts. You just don’t know – but that’s what’s so important about sharing our stories. So if you haven’t yet, read this book. Laugh a little, cry a little, appreciate everything.

(Image via Amazon.)

 

Meg Says, Listen to This: Leon Bridges 

Every once in a while we are graced with a voice that stands out among the rest – timeless, classic, smooth and if you’re lucky those sounds will give you chills. For me, Leon Bridges is one of those artists. He sounds like he came from another generation, another decade – soul speaking as he croons to our eager ears. Leon Bridges is in a category all his own. Who knows why I waited so long to pick up his album, Coming Home on vinyl (because I do dumb things, sometimes.) Thank goodness I did though. These songs were just what I needed to listen to this weekend. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving was my birthday and I’m all weird and philosophical and thought very carefully about what I chose to listen to over the next few days. I just felt the albums I chose would set a certain tone for the following year, or at least begin a pattern. On Sunday, after days of not setting an alarm, drinking wine whenever I felt like it, binging Gilmore Girls (another post for another day), eating ridiculously unhealthy things – I figured it was time for some productivity. This was the perfect soundtrack for laying on my floor staring at the ceiling, doing piles of laundry, and making room not look like a war zone.

In October I went to Oregon to visit my brother. The first morning out there, after a visit to Blue Star Donuts in Portland, I found myself at Every Day Music. (Might I add that the person sitting at the counter next to me at Blue Star, who also got the dark chocolate almond ganache – I noticed because it was so messy, I was curious how much of a disaster other’s space looked – was also browsing the aisles there? I’d chalk that up as some good taste.)  I lost track of how much time I spent in there? Probably an hour and a half? There were just so many great records to choose from, my “maybe” stack growing by the minute on the counter. But I saw this album on the far wall, and I just felt like it was calling for me to bring it home.

I saved it for a few weeks because I’m weird like that, but I must’ve listened to it half a dozen times this weekend. (There’s something distinctly different about listening to an album on vinyl as opposed to how I’d been streaming it on Spotify.)  It’s addicting. It’s soothing. There’s just something dreamy about it, and I can’t even think of anything to compare it to right now. This is less me urging you to listen to a particular song, but more just let yourself be consumed by the whole entire album. Already a Leon Bridges fan? Let’s chat. Leave a comment! What’s your favorite jam? Happy listening friends. Make sure you introduce yourself to this one soon.

And because I can’t resist here’s an official music video for Leon Bridges “Coming Home”

Meg Says Listen to This: Wild World // VOTE

I fell in love with Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors music, years ago. I’m a sucker for a raw heart in an open song. Tomorrow is election day (I think it may be impossible to forget this year,) and I think we can probably all agree on one thing: how ready we are for it to be over.
This election cycle has opened my eyes to so many people I know and love true viewpoints, and it is so disheartening. The hate, the exclusion, the sheer apathy for so many of the things that matter most to me, not just as a woman, but as a human being – have made me physically ill on multiple occasions throughout this election cycle. All of this to say: we have a responsibility in exercising our right to vote, making our voices heard. (You can visit: Can I Vote? if you’re already registered but need to find your polling precinct. Also, Uber and Lyft are offering discounts during open voting hours tomorrow.)
From before I was old enough to vote I was interested in politics in general. When I was little our politician family friends who baby sat me made sure I knew the names of people in office (and their pets). I was a little obsessed with reading books about the First Ladies. In fourth grade we went on a trip to D.C. and toured the White House. I was entranced by the wonder of it all. I remember getting a camcorder for my birthday as a teenager, and filming our political discussions at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I was in high school in 2004, my birthday is November 23rd 1987 by quite a bit, so I missed that round – but I begged my friends to be informed and vote. I’ve canvassed, I’ve worked voter registrations, I’ve participated in marches, gone to rallies. There’s an intoxicating feeling being a part of the change you work so hard to incorporate.  I’ve had the opportunity to hear and meet so many inspiring leaders and visionaries over the years. I felt so full of hope for what was to come. These are different times, and I can only hope that we will all move forward, learn and grow in the days ahead. That we will make decisions that advance us as people and a country, and not set us back.

There are ideas being presented that are so mind boggling to me, I know I will never understand. I hope that we have learned enough not to repeat the mistakes of the past. May we remember that individual voices coming together can have the power to do good or do harm. May we choose to fight for the good of all.

In the beautiful words of Drew Holcomb: “It’s a wild world but there ain’t no way I’m gonna quit it. Love is all we got to give away.” I’m sharing this song today because it’s heartfelt, it encompasses a lot, and it speaks so much truth. I had some thoughts I needed to get off my chest. I know we are past the point of changing each others minds, but I hope we are not past believing there is weight in our words, matter in our voices.