Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rock Angel Review

Rock Angel
Jeanne Bogino
Publisher: SparkPress
Genre: Young/New Adult Realistic Fiction
Release Date: September 16, 2014- TODAY!

Basic Summary Without Spoilers:

Shan is a young girl living on her in NYC in the early 1990s after a rough childhood. She's a brilliant guitar player who joins a promising rock band her roommates boyfriend is in, and is run by their talented keyboard player Quinn. After hearing her play a gig one night, and hearing her voice, Quinn begins to call her Angel. But there's a hitch - she's a drug addict. 

My Thoughts:

The Premise

Stories about musicians intrigue me. I don't read them very often, but whenever I do I'm always "I should read more books like this." Rock Angel was no exception. While I am not a rock girl by any means, and I don't play music for a living, I could still relate to parts of the story about how the music drives them, learning to play, improving their skills, writing music, etc. In a way, most artists of any kind would be able to connect. I may not write music, but I write stories, for example. Or even just the itch to want to play their instruments and learn more. When Shan was having the "joneses" for playing her guitar, I had to admit, I wanted to get my hands on my ukulele. 

I had a rough time with all of the drug issues though. It's because I personally have zero experience with that type of lifestyle. I'm pretty sure the worst I've ever done, I had a slight headache because I drank just a tad too much. So... sometimes it's hard for me to understand the mindset. (Thanks D.A.R.E.! I'm the one kid you worked on!) However, once the characters are addicted I'm more understanding because if you're addicted you're addicted, it's a disease. It's the "why did you start in the first place" I always have issues with. These are all personal things though, and nothing to do with the quality of the writing. The author, Jeanne Bogino, did a wonderful job of making you love and sympathize with the characters. From my limited experience, she was able to portray drug addiction in an honest way and I definitely learned more about it. There were different issues which came up later in the book I had never considered before and it was interesting. I just can't help but wonder how someone who actually knows more about drug addiction would take this book. I'd love to hear their opinion so I would have a clearer idea of what it's like.

The Characters

I loved these characters. Sometimes they drove me up a wall because Shan and Quinn are so stubborn and make awful choices! But they were real. Even through their mistakes I loved them and was rooting for them. I would have loved to get to know the other band members a bit better though. Shan and Quinn were the main characters, so most of the focus was on them. We also got to know Debbie, Shan's roommate. However, I would love to learn more about Dave, Dan, and Ty. Especially Ty - I felt as though he got the least amount of focus out of everyone in the band.

The Love Story

There was so much angst in the beginning! Between Shan's drug issues and Quinn's issues with commitment it drove me insane. I'll give Shan credit though - she was far more patient with him during that time period than I would have been. 

There was a point where there were SO MANY sex scenes. I can understand an author putting a couple in here and there. But I felt as though there was a whole section of the book where it was scene after scene after scene and I was like "I GET IT!"

For a while I was very concerned with their relationship being too co-dependent, but as the story went on I was rooting for them 110%. They were real people, with real issues, who were trying to make it work. Just like the rest of us. Only they were rock stars.


I enjoyed this book a surprising amount. The very beginning hits you hard with the drug issues and I was worried I wouldn't get into the story because I wouldn't be able to relate or understand the characters mindsets. But, thankfully, I was wrong. The characters were real and I loved them, and I loved peeking into their rock star lifestyle and everything which goes into it. There were times I felt the story dragged on a bit and I wondered "where is this going?" but then it would pick back up and go on track again. I saw in the back of the book there was a sneak preview of the next one, Angel on High, and I hope I can read that one eventually as well.

I rated Rock Angel 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Note: I received a free eARC of Rock Angel through NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest reivew.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Falling Slowly

One of the things I've loved the most about learning to play the ukulele is that I'm seeing songs in a new way. Or maybe the way I used to when I played instruments regularly that I'm getting back to. My big goal when learning to play a song is also getting it memorized so I can pick up and play whenever I want to. I want to have a decent size repertoire in my mind so when asked to play, I don't have to be all "well I need to go find my music for that song..."

In memorizing music, you see it and hear it differently. You learn the ins and outs of the words and melodies. You figure out your own way to play it and sing it. Making it your own. You notice different things about the piece you never noticed before. I've learned I listen to the song over and over again so I can be sure I get the right feel for it and know exactly how it should be.

You'd think after awhile I would get tired of these songs - but in fact it's the opposite. I learn to love them even more. I've even been learning some I never would have though of before but now that I've decided to play it - I'm in love.

One of the songs I've been trying to learn is "Falling Slowly" from the movie and musical Once. It's such a beautiful and simple song and I love everything about it. I'll share two versions. One is the original from the movie, which is amazing. The second version is from the musical, which is the version I usually listen to.

What songs have you been listening to lately? Link up!

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Don't Have "The One"

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a good friend (who is also one of my favorite writing partners) about her most recent writing project and her use of soul mates in the story. We talked about how, especially in fantasy writing, soul mates are wonderful plot tools. While it can be cliche at times, if you do it well it make make for a great plot piece.

Then, not long ago, Nadine wrote a blog piece about how she doesn't believe in soul mates. She talked about how she loves her boyfriend, but doesn't think they are soul mates. It's a fantastic post and you can read it by clicking here.

But then, a day or two ago I was on the phone with a other good friend. She recently went to a wedding in her hometown and was able to catch up with a good friend of hers. "We're soulmates," she told me. "We're not getting married or anything like that. It's not romantic and we're friends." 

Needless to say, I've been contemplating the idea of soulmates a lot lately. 

Like Nadine, I'm not entirely sure I believe in them. Yes, I do think God has a hand in the people we meet in life and everything. However, having that "one" person be "it?" I'm not so sure. Thinking in terms of marriage, what if someone's spouse dies and they marry again? Which was one their soulmate, the first marriage or the second? What if both were truly wonderful, healthy, and happy marriages? This is just one example I can think of where I'm not sure if the soulmate idea works. It might be great for storytelling, but in real life... I'm not so sure.

But I think my friend is onto something when she said her soulmate wasn't romantic. She was telling me how for some reason beyond her explanation they just worked. When they are together something clicks and she can't explain it for any other reason than that. When I look back on some of my relationships with friends and family I understand what she means. There are some people for some reason or another it just works. 

If there are such things as soulmates, I think we need to expand our definition of the word. First, our soulmate may not just be the person we marry or end up with. A soulmate can be anybody. A friend, a sibling, parent, cousin, etc. I can see in my mind the different people in my life where I can tell someone in our spirits connect. We work together in a way it doesn't work with other people. They are people I will never be romantically involved with, but my connection to them is still just as strong.

It makes me think of a quote from Sex and the City where Carrie wonders if maybe our friends are our real soulmates and boys are just there for fun. I'm not sure if I agree with the last part of her statement, but I do like the idea of our friends being our soulmates too. Who says love has to only be romantic? (Also - the amount of times I quote Sex and the City on this blog scares me sometimes.)

This doesn't mean it's always easy though. If we are going to say there is such a thing as soulmates, we need to stop buying into the lie it'll always be easy. Even with these people in my life we still have to work at it. If we're far away from each other we need to make a lot of effort to stay connected. Even with the ones who are close by, it takes effort. Schedules conflict, we still fight and hurt each other sometimes, and we have to work at forgiveness and communication. 

Even if you have a soulmate, you're still human. We still fail each other sometimes, and we need to learn to work through it.

The last thing I think we need to change about soulmates is the idea we can only have one. Why just one? Why can't our souls connect to more than one person? Especially if we're talking about adding friendship and family to the picture. Why can't your soulmates be your spouse, your best friend, and a sibling for example? They each bring something different to your life which cannot be replaced. 

We need to stop acting as though if the love you have for someone isn't romantic, it's not as strong. 

Romantic love is amazing and powerful and I don't want to act as though it's not. Because it is and it's a beautiful thing! If you find your soulmate in this type of relationship, I think that's amazing. But we still need our friends and our family just as much. Someday I might meet the love of my life and our spirits might connect in a way I can't explain. But that doesn't mean it cancels out the other connections I've made with my family and friends.

My soul connects to all of them.

Does God have that one single person for you in life? Maybe. I'm not sure. If he has given you "the one" - that's awesome. But maybe there isn't just one person who is your soulmate. Maybe it's not a boyfriend or husband or wife or whoever. Maybe you have a small handful of people you connect with on a level you can't explain.

No matter what it is - it's beautiful.

Linking up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Disney Music Monday

It's Music Monday again!

Since I'm a terrible blogger - I didn't get this up last week. It was Labor Day... so it's okay... right? No? Darn.

Anyways, since I missed last week I'll do the monthly theme today. Disney music!

I know everyone is probably sick and tired of Frozen and the song "Let it Go." We've heard it a million times and it's overdone. I get it. But guys... I just can't get enough! I still love it! Especially when one of my favorite youtubers did a cover of the song not long ago. She has a fantastic voice and I'm totally in love with her cover of the song!

Also- I still say this song is the theme of my life at the moment. 

What Disney songs can't you get enough of? Or what are you listening to at the moment? Link up and let me know!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 Books I Want to Read But Don't Own

Oh my never ending "To Be Read" list. I feel like it never gets shorter. It's a good problem to have. However... it's hard when you don't actually have the books in your possession.

Here are ten book on my TBR list which I don't own:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas


I read the first book in this series, Throne of Glass, not long ago and I really want to read the next one! Someone please tell me it'll be out in paperback soon.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert


I don't know a whole lot about this one, but I've heard some people say it's one of their favorite books to come out this year. It's about ballet but it's also a thriller type of story I think.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour


Another one I don't know a whole lot about - but John Green recommended it and I trust his judgement.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis


I listened to the first book, Across the Universe, on audio earlier this year. It wasn't the greatest thing I've ever read, but it was interesting and I loved the author's take on leadership. I felt like it was a perspective we don't get to see very often. I'm very interested to see what happens next!

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner


And another sequel. But I just have to know what happens when The Maze Runner ends!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them & Quidditch Through the Ages by JK Rowling


I feel like such an awful Harry Potter fan - but I don't have these books. I need them. I need them right now.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


I'm on a big Neil Gaiman kick right now and I want every single book he's written and this is his newest one.

Attack of the Theatre People by Marc Accito


Another sequel and this needs to be in my hands yesterday. If you've been reading my blog at all this year, you know I ADORED How I Paid for College and I was so excited to see there was a sequel because I need more of my Ferris Bueller and Rachel Berry love child.

Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis


My friend Sarah told me to read this book forever ago and I still haven't. But it's by CS Lewis who is amazing so I need to get on it.

To Be or Not to Be: A Choosable Path Adventure by Ryan North


Do you remember those pick your own adventure books when we were kids? Well - this is the same thing. Only for adults. And it's Hamlet. A friend of mine told me I should read this and really, do I need any other reasons?

What books have you been meaning to read but haven't been able to get a hold of yet?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Kings of New York

So... apparently the VMAs were last night.

I didn't know this until I was already watching the finale of Rising Star (Go Jesse!) and mourning Newsies and their final performance on Broadway. (WAH!) Womp womp.

Oh well.

Apparently Beyonce was awesome - so go her. And Taylor Swift can't dance... neither of these things are new I don't think. So... I didn't really miss much, right?

Sadly though, with it being Music Monday and all, it probably would have been an awesome way to get material for today's blog post. Whoops.

HOWEVER I do have a Newsies song to save the day! (Or seize the day as the case may be?) This show has been running on Broadway since 2012 and I went to see it that year and it was AMAZING. It has it's final performance yesterday and I know a lot of people are sad to see it go.

But there's good news! Newsies is going on tour and I have full intentions of seeing it here in Chicago when it arrives in December/January.

In honor of the show, here is their amazing Tony Awards performance from 2012. Featuring one of the loves of my life - Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), the incredible dancing of Ryan Steele (Specs), the loveable Andrew Keenan-Bogler (Crutchie) and the rest of the original cast.

Now, pardon me as I go wear my Newsies cap, watch the movie, and go through my book about them and cry.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

When Life is on Pause

There are times in life you feel stuck. Day in and day out you experience the same things over and over again. Things aren't going the way you want them to. Maybe you apply and interview for job after job after job and nothing happens. Or you go on a dating site and talk to as many guys (or girls) as you can and meet some of them and go on dates. Sometimes it even goes past a first date. But then something happens and it falls through. Again. 

We all get into these life ruts. Where we're just stuck and we don't know how to get out. Time moves slower and keeps going on but it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. We aren't going anywhere. While the days keep going and the months and seasons change, it still feels as though life has been put on pause and no one is pressing the play button. Everyone is moving, but you're just staying still.

But time is a funny thing.

Things in life can change in the blink of an eye. Sometimes for the worse, sometimes better. Just this past weekend I had to go to Indiana with my mom for a wake and a funeral for a relative. She had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but just in the past week or two she seemed to be doing great. Then... she wasn't. In the blink of an eye, the family's life had changed.

But it's not always that way. Sometimes it changes for the better. These are the moments I try to think about when I'm in a rut.

I think about my sister. In just a little over a month she's going to be married. All of the planning and preparations will be over and she'll be married. It's crazy to think about. They've known each other/been dating for about three years now. Which in the grand scheme of things isn't all that long, but it's not as though they met and got married a month later. But, she has told me she knew pretty early on in the relationship he was "the one." They hadn't even been dating a year - maybe not even six months - and they both knew where it was going to go. It all happened pretty fast. It doesn't for all people, but for them it did.

Or I think about a good friend of mine who just began a new job. On a whim she applied for a job in another city. By the end of the month she had a new apartment and a new job in a new city and was making new friends. 

These are the types of stories I try to keep in mind when I'm in a life rut. Sometimes it might seem as though I'm stuck and going nowhere. It might feel like my life is on pause. But the play button could be hit at any moment and life could change quickly. 

Who knows what will happen in a month... a few months... a year from now?

It's exciting to think about - but also scary. We get used to those ruts sometimes. Because we know what will happen and how to handle it. But we don't always know how to handle new jobs, new relationships, new cities, or new lives. 

But isn't that part of what's so great about life changing? It's scary to think about not knowing what's up ahead, but I like that part in a way. Anything can happen. Anyone can pop up. New adventures are waiting down the road. 

We just have to keep hoping and waiting for when it'll happen. It will happen. It might not be in a big loud way. It might be a gradual thing. Where one day you wake up and realize "wow... I'm not where I was a few months ago." 

Or maybe we have to make it happen for ourselves sometimes. God doesn't always just throw something on your lap. Sometimes we have to get out of the rut on our own, and he's there with us along the way or guiding how we make those choices.

Sometimes it takes sending out that long shot job application. Sometimes it's just getting up and deciding "yes, I'll go to that party where I might not know many people." Or going on that first date you were nervous about. Or going on that dream vacation you always wanted.

Or maybe it's just being open to the possibilities. Even though we hate our life ruts and being on pause, we still stay closed up. It's amazing what can happen if we're just open to other things we don't expect.

Maybe it's time to press the play button and do something out of the ordinary. Because perhaps that change in life is just around the corner.

Bout of Books Update:
Total number of books I've read: 2
Pages Read Yesterday/Today: 120
Total Pages Read: 430
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here's to 10 Years

Yesterday evening, I made my way over to Midway airport to pick up a friend of mine who had been on vacation visiting her family. Her husband was working, so I got to pick her up and go out to dinner. (Win! Especially when said dinner is from Chipotle.) Lately, she and I see each other at church and our little group of friends sit together. Which is awesome, but it also means I don't get a whole lot of one-on-one time with this group of friends due to crazy schedules. So, church is the one time we all (usually) get to see one another. Having the time to drive and have food was exciting.

As we drove she told me as of this week she has been living in Chicago for ten years now. Ten years. A decade. When she moved to Chicago it was when she moved into the dorms at Concordia University River Forest (CURF. Now it's Concordia University Chicago, CUC. Ugh.). I've been thinking a lot about how it's been ten years since high school - you'd think I would put together that it also meant I began college ten years ago.

But for some reason those pieces didn't come together until my friend mentioned it last night. With thinking about the high school students I used to lead graduating, that has been my main focus. High school.

Ten years ago, yes, I graduated high school and closed that chapter in my life. But it was also the beginning of an amazing chapter! So much of my college experience shaped who I am today (although A LOT has changed since then) and the friends I made there are still some of my closest friends I've ever had. I talk to far more people form college than I do from high school. Other than reading random Facebook status updates.

I've been friends with some people for 10 years! It's an awesome friedaversary! (At least for those I met my freshman year...)

Ten years ago this week was when I moved into my dorm and went to Freshman camp.

I made friends who I still talk to - some on a daily basis. Some just on occasion simply to catch up. 

It was in college I started to attend the church where I received my field work training and I am a member of now.

Ten years ago was the start of where countless hours were spent at the local pub, Caribou Coffee, IHOP, and road trips to ALL OF THE WEDDINGS because that's what happens when you go to a small Christian university.

Many of my friends met their future husbands or wives those years.

I added theatre to my major and it basically took over my life - and it was awesome.

I joined the Weeks of Welcome Staff to help other new students be welcome to campus and feel at home there the way I had been when I was a freshman.

Spring breaks were spent in the Appalachian Mountains where I tore down walls and climbed mountains.

It's been a crazy ten years since meeting all of these amazing people, and I'm so grateful! Let's have another awesome ten years, shall we?

Bout of Books Update:
Total number of books I've read: 1 1/2
Pages Read Yesterday/Today: 160
Total Pages Read: 310
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake