meg says read this, Read This

Read This: The Serpent King

For those of you looking for book recommendations, I just finished The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner this weekend. It was on my list for a while, but I had to work myself up to this one. Astonishingly beautiful, even though I had to wait for the tears to pass to finish it. That being said, most definitely check it out!
Dillard, Travis, and Lydia are high school seniors in small town Forrestville, Tennessee. They’re kind of a misfit band of three musketeers in a school that doesn’t have too many open minded students. Lydia has a fashion blog (appropriately named Dollywood,) and has big dreams of leaving their town for the city. Lydia’s dad is a dentist, her mom is in real estate, and they live a comfortable life together. They’re supportive and caring parents, and they try to be inclusive of her friends when they can. Dillard shares a name with his father, and grandfather, who were both snake handlers in their church. Dillard’s father is in prison for child pornography, and it seems Dill is carrying his father’s shame on his own back. Even Dillard’s mom harbors hard feelings as if it’s her son’s fault for the hardships they’ve fallen on. Dillard doesn’t let himself dream big, feeling he has a responsibility to take care of his mother, but he has huge talent lurking below the surface and a calling to honor his musical ability. Travis is the quiet one of the bunch. Most of the time he’s lost in thought related to the fantasy world science fiction series he loves. He makes worlds of his own in his head, and imagines himself a knight to escape the brunt of his father’s drunken rages. Each of them has their own demons to escape, whether it’s fear of being found out that your reputation of “being yourself” isn’t so true, if you’re hiding the biggest part of your life, or the fear of succumbing to inherited darkness, or the fear of not being able to stand up for yourself in the way you most badly want to, be the defender of the people who matter most.
This is Zentner’s debut novel, and it is so astonishingly beautiful. The way he phrases such delicately crafted details is incredible. Zentner weaves a story of friendship, coming of age, love, faith, what it means to be a family, and taking risks because the outcome has to be better than being stagnant. I found it painful, but also refreshing how realistic he was about each character’s home life and background. Everyone has a story, even the people closest to you, you think you already know. There are battles everyone faces each day, to rise above circumstance, to outlast the struggles inside. I stayed up late into the night, tears steaming down my face, shoulders shaking as I cried for these kids and their stories. Each time I thought I was ready to continue, I’d turn the page and the next passage would make me start all over. That said, it’s totally worth the heart wrenching roller coaster it takes you on. The Serpent King flows the way life does with its ups and downs and times of uncertainty, but usually you come out alright on the other side. This is one of those stories that is so realistically balanced in truth, that I dare say it should be required reading – it enables you to get such a well rounded view from many perspectives. It’s a reminder to treasure the little things, and that stepping out on a limb is the real way to get the greatest reward. I knew this book was gonna be a shake up, the kind that turns you inside out a little with all of the feelings to process, but I’m so glad Ifinally read it. The book was so dang great, I can’t even be mad it felt like somebody reached into my chest and pulled my heart out. What are you waiting for? Dive in!

listen to this, meg says listen to this

Listen to This: You Say

Every time Dori Freeman’s “You Say” comes on, I feel like my mind floats away to somewhere else. This song has a feeling to it that makes me want to sink into the covers on a rainy Sunday morning, or pour a hot cup of coffee and spend hours pounding away on the typewriter. There’s something bluesy and achy about it, where it makes you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach like something is missing from you – even if you didn’t feel that before the first chord. It’s Friday of a “short week” when Tuesday is a Monday, and this is one of those songs that quiets my mind a little in the chaos. If you haven’t heard it yet, enjoy below.

“Darling I can’t stop thinking of you
Like a dog in the hot night
I’m howling for you
And I know
It’ll leave me blue
But I’m still
In love with you”

listen to this, meg says listen to this

Listen to This: “From the Dining Table”

Harry Styles long awaited self-titled solo album was released last week. I waited to listen until Saturday morning (after loving the new radio hit “Sign of the Times”) and I CANNOT STOP LISTENING. The whole album is so dang good. Don’t brush it off as a teeny bopper album, or you’ll be missing out. One of my favorite tracks on the album (too hard to choose – addicted to “Meet Me In the Hallway” “Sweet Creature” “Ever Since New York” “Two Ghosts” – okay all of them, I guess) is “From the Dining Table.” I think one of the endearing things about this album is that the lyrics are so relatable. Don’t hate me for this comparison, but the fist thing that came to mind was AM by the Arctic Monkeys. The songs are so emotional and heartfelt, but there are also songs you can move to, and they’re perfect for jamming out in the car. OK, honestly, they’re perfect for everything because I also listened while I was running this morning. “From the Dining Table” is the last track on the album, the imagery is so vivid, but also the longing is palpable. His vocals are smooth, and the music is original. This guy is talented, and hopefully his true artistry is recognized.

listen to this, meg says listen to this

Listen to This: “Tin Man”

It probably comes as no surprise that one of my favorite tracks on Miranda Lambert’s new album The Weight of These Wings is “Tin Man.” I mean how can you listen to this song, and not feel anything? I’m not really sure. On Sunday, she preformed it live on the ACM’s. Acoustic. Raw. I think there’s something beautiful and admirable about someone revealing their heart for anyone to see. It’s a real song, and it’s vulnerable, and I think that’s wonderful. The world needs more of that. I believe it’s a brave thing to do, even if it’s scary, to put your emotions out there like that. You never really know how that situation will transpire, but it’s better than hiding away. And isn’t that  kind of how love works, anyway? It’s all a risk, but what is life without taking those chances? Her performance gave me goosebumps, but the song has that effect anyway. I’m not sure I’ve listened to it one time without getting tears in my eyes yet. (*Sap alert* I know, but it’s so good.) It had been a few years since her last one, and this much anticipated album was well worth the weight. I believe it when they say she brought her heart to the table, ready to pour it out into these songs.

“Hey there Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
You shouldn’t spend your whole life wish’
For something bound to fall apart
Every time you’re feeling empty
Better thank your lucky stars
If you ever felt one breaking
You’d never want a heart

Hey there Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
I’ve been on the road that you’re on
It didn’t get me very far
You ain’t missing nothing
Cause love is so damn hard
Take it from me darling
You don’t want a heart

Hey there Mr. Tin Man
I’m glad we talked this out
You can take mine if you want it
It’s in pieces now
By the way there Mr. Tin Man
If you don’t mind the scars
You give me your armor
And you can have my heart”

If you haven’t heard it yet: