meg says read this

Meg Says Read This: Extraordinary Means

23149128Robyn Schneider has done it again. She finds this beautiful way of telling a story that involves grief, love, friendship and the roller coaster of life and adolescence all rolled into one. I was blown away a few years ago when I read The Beginning of Everything (so of course when I spotted it on a shelf in a visit to Powell’s last year I broke my own rule of  not buying anymore books to add it to my collection.) I was absolutely thrilled when I saw she’d come out with a new novel, Extraordinary Means – I may have even been the first person to check it out from the library.

So more about what Extraordinary Means is actually about. Seventeen year old Lane has been sent to special school, kind of like a boarding school, kind of like a summer camp – except here there is one link that bonds all the students together, and it’s not s’mores and kumbaya. All the kids at Latham have TB, albeit different strains so different levels of the way this diagnosis takes its toll on their bodies. On their good days the students might seem like normal teenagers, but whether it’s a fitful night of coughing that results in bloody pillowcases, or just the lack of energy and dark circles around their eyes – these kids are no longer able to lead something similar to their pre-TB lives. Away from their family and friends, sports and activities with no cure in sight their futures are uncertain.

Although what they considered “normal” lives are disrupted, and they can’t even continue a regular study path of school work – Lane and his new found friends have found a way to make the most of their time, and add some fun to their days. Who would have thought he’d find a familiar face at Latham? But why does this person seem to be so cold towards him? Even with a rocky start Lane will soon have new relationships develop, friendships evolve, and a spark of romance. The scary thing is no one ever knows how much time they have left – but Lane and his friends are cramming a lot of life in their days. Extraordinary Means is a heartwarming story that’s a reminder of the frailty of life, and the power of friendships in any circumstance in life. Schneider has shown us once again what a gift she has to leave such an impressionable story on the hearts of her readers.

(Image from Goodreads.)

 

meg says read this, Uncategorized

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.)

Listen, turn it up tuesday

Turn It Up Tuesday, Listen to This: “Overwhelmed”

Whenever my friend Kaylynn and I get together, a lot of our time is spent hanging out laughing, drinking, getting ready, and singing a long to a random assortment of music in her living room. When I was visiting her over the summer in Athens she introduced me to Tim McMorris’s “Overwhelmed.” The moment the song started, I was hooked. Not only is the video undeniably real, but the song is just so…honest, pure, and full of love. It’s like I can feel my heart swelling in my chest as I listen to the words. It kind of sort of maybe makes me want to cry, but the good kind. It reminds me just how sappy I can be at times. Whatever part of me the hopeless romantic dwells in, just soaks up every single bit of this song. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to share it, (probably because I normally listen to it in Athens, and don’t associate it with Tallahassee when I’m typing my blog,) but I was on YouTube and I was like hello! This needs to be my Turn It Up Tuesday song for sure. So, get ready for some sweetness and listen to this:

Read This

Read This: “The Spectacular Now”

I know Sutter Keely. At least that’s how I felt reading Tim Tharp‘s novel, The Spectacular Now. Three months ago I didn’t even know The Spectacular Now was a book, but after reading a Television Without Pity article highlighting some of well-received films at Sundance, I found out The Spectacular Now was based on a book. A YA book in fact, that was a National Book Award Finalist! I was obviously immediately intrigued when the article claimed Perks as “so 2012,” coming of age stories basically scream my name. Plus guess who’s starring? Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller! (And according to IMDB Kyle Chandler is in this cast, too?!)  Woodley’s range of roles is impressive to me, and ever since I went to see Sherlock Holmes last year and Teller was in line in front of me at the concession stand I’ve been curious about his career. We’re from the same county, and I was unaware at the time, but the friend I was with filled me. He’s already acted in several different film roles, Rabbit Hole, Footloose, Project X and so the combination of the cast and the basic premise of the story had me terribly intrigued by this book.

I had a literature teacher in college once who told us that most writers are attempting to tell the same story over and over until they finally get it right. Sometimes, when I’m reading I think that I’m looking for the characters or the story that finally explains things I’ve experienced, right. (Of course you’re probably thinking why don’t I just write the story myself? I know, I know.) Every once in a while I come across a piece of work where I feel like the creator has crawled into my life. I wasn’t expecting this with The Spectacular Now but there, sprawled across the pages was a story closely resembling one I knew.

Sutter Keely. He’s a party animal. He’s witty, he’s spontaneous, he’s intelligent but he doesn’t really apply himself in school. In math class, he’s watching a video game in his head so obviously his imagination is on spot but his attention span is short-lived. Sutter makes a good time wherever he goes. He’s all about the music (old crooners like Dean Martin, actually) and driving with the windows down destination unknown. Hiccup? He’s rarely without a cup of whiskey and 7-Up. This doesn’t always end well and his drunken escapades lead him to meet some interesting people along the way. Sutter has a family, they definitely love and care for him but he’s not connected to them, they rarely know what’s going on his head and he doesn’t often share. Sutter will be the first to tell you that he’s not interested in long-range plans, and he’s not particularly concerned about his future. Sure he’s completely scattered, and his ambitions could use some strengthening, but Sutter Keely has a really good heart. He most often chooses the path of kindness, even if it won’t benefit him when faced with a decision.

I know I’m being tremendously vague here, but I want you to meet these characters on your own without all of my opinions influencing the read. I’m not sure how I went so long without reading it, or even hearing about it but I HIGHLY recommend this one. The narrative was refreshing. Even though I read books with the voice of a teenage male fairly often, The Spectacular Now felt different. It felt seriously authentic, vulnerable, real. (Also, I’ll clue you in that for as loveable and maybe even endearing Suter can be, primarily because of his charm – he can just as easily be incredibly frustrating and make you want to shake his shoulders a little.) This is the first Tim Tharp book I’ve read, but I enjoyed it and will most likely read more of his work. He had me laughing, and my heart twisting. I wanted to go for a ride with Sutter, (preferably when he’s not under the influence.) I wanted to chat with him about life, and really I wanted to give him a hug. I’ve tweeted several times trying to find others who’ve read this story, and apparently none of my friends have read it yet. So, now I’m turning to you: have you already been on the journey with Sutter in The Spectacular Now? Are you anticipating the film? (I can’t wait to see the transition from page to screen!) If you haven’t read it yet, but you end up doing so after reading this post come back and share your thoughts!