The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

It always seems like after i read an intense book, the next book I almost always read is one of poetry. Maybe because it was my first love or maybe its because it soothes my soul. Or both. Probably both. Anyway, on to this.

The Princess Saves Herself in This One is beautifully written. You’ve probably seen some of Amanda Lovelace’s work on either TUmblr, Youtube, or a variety of social media. It’s short, sweet, and makes you think. It’s gut wrenching at times and exhilaratingly inspiring in others. I finished it in maybe 3 hours, if that, and I have absolutely zero regrets about it.

If you want a good Sunday afternoon read that will tear on your heart strings, comes with a trigger warning, and will leave you feeling strong & beautiful, then this book is for you. It dives deep and swims wide, so fair warning. But you will not be able to put it down. So you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

5/5 

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The New Kesha Album

Okay, so I know I talked about one of Kesha’s latest singles here BUT i have to talk about her album, ‘Rainbow’. (sorry Mom) it’s fucking fantastic. I want this to be my life soundtrack. Each song is straight fire, as the kids would say these days.

You have your more emotional songs like ‘Praying’ or ‘Rainbow’ that secretly make you want to cry but also rejoice in the fact that somebody finally understands the nuances of trauma and pain. Then you have ‘Woman’ and ‘Let Em Talk’ that just make you want to dance. I’m actually obsessed with this album and i haven’t felt like this about an entire album in close to years.

It may help that I relate to Kesha’s current legal struggles or her open dialogue about mental health. Or it may help that her first albums were straight up how i got ready for fraternity parties or girls nights out. I have a lot of really solid memories associated with Kesha and I have absolutely no shame about that.

This album makes me feel like I’m covered in glitter, sunshine, and rainbows. But without the lasting effects of finding glitter in your shower 6 months later. I am SO excited that Kesha is putting new music out and I cannot wait to have this album on repeat on Spotify and iTunes.

Don’t forget to support your local artists. They need to make money too, even if you think they already make enough.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

TW: this will be frank in discussion about sexual assault and revenge. If you are in danger, please either call 911 or, if you need help, RAINN at 1-800-656-4673.

This book has been wreaking havoc with my nightmares and has probably been the main reason why I’ve been in a weird mind space recently. It’s not because of the way it’s written or the themes it dives into. I mean, it’s a YA novel, for goodness sake’s. It’s about the subject matter and how close I am to it, whether i care to admit it or not.

The Female of The Species is heartwrenching and an important novel to read, especially today. It’s about a few teenagers — Peekay, Alex, and Jack — with appearances by other key characters as well. Alex lost her sister in one of the most violently brutal ways a person can go, in my opinion. She goes because someone took the time to rape, torture, and murder her in seemingly cold blood. Or on a meth binge, that part’s not really clear.

Anyway, we come into the novel after the attacker of Alex’s sister has been killed (we learn later on that it’s Alex. this isn’t a spoiler, promise) and the small town is coming to grips with not only one murder, but two. Though this book revolves around high school students and the weirdness that is high school, it dips into some pretty significant themes. Like how do you say no when you’re terrified for your life? And is it rape if you froze? And does God frown upon it if you have sex while on an altar in a historically abandoned, rotting church?

The Female of The Species also takes into account how in several other species, the female is often, more so than not, the protector. The defender. And the one who brings home the bacon, often literally. They’re the strongest links and often the ones that are defended first, not because of weakness but of  necessity. And this novel brings the conclusion that the human species isn’t too far off either from the natural kingdom.

Alex is the protagonist and throughout the book, you can tell she has no problems taking revenge out violently, if the end result takes out a child molester, a rapist, or another vile kind of person. And she understands that her decisions were hers and hers alone. And Peekay & Jack are drawn to her, not because they knew what she was capable of, but because of her strength and her ability to remain standing while everything else was crumbling.

I picked this book up for selfish reasons. I wanted to read a book where an assailant got justice, vigilante or judicial. Mostly, I wanted to see someone with a harrowed past actually be talked about like they were human, instead of some space case where what has happened to them will be all they ever be. And this book broke my heart. It made me cry more times than I care to admit, not because anything necessarily sad happened. But because I know the themes all too well. Maybe not to this degree but Mindy McGinnis has a way of writing that even the coldest of hearts will have their muscle grow a few times too large after reading this. Even the Grinch couldn’t read this without a little change in soul.

Anyway, if you have the steadfast resolve to pick this book up and finish it cover to cover, be prepared for your insides to go through the ringer. Be prepared to question so many things and be at the ready to have things distorted for you.

Maybe it’s the current political climate, maybe it’s that women make up most of the purchasing decisions, but YA novels are becoming more and more nuanced with real, honest stories. ANd though I often feel a little old to be reading, it feels really great to know that a generation is being taught through novels that sexual assault is nuanced, gray, and horribly complicated. And according to this book, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Favourite quote: I wonder what would happen if I went down there, took a ball out of the cage, and pretended to have sex with it. I think people would stop & look….but boys will be boys, our favourite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll. 

6/5

 

Flogging Molly and Skinny Lister

So Monday night, I found out that Flogging Molly was playing at the House of Blues Tuesday night. And small secret, seeing them live has always been on my bucket list. Combine that with the main room at the House of Blues? It was basically a necessity that I went. So I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to have an impromptu date night in the middle of the week, listen to some irish punk music, and dance on a work night. Maybe it’s my charm or my level of excitement but he said yes.

So we did dinner and the concert. We were even able to jump the line because we spent money in the restaurant! Fun fact, if you get dinner and it’s above the minimum, you can jump the line at the House of Blues and get in 20 or so minutes early. This allowed us to get to the front of the mosh pit with the best seats in the entire venue. Standing room only but it was worth it


The opening band, Skinny Lister, was a band I’d never heard of before but they were SO much fun. They passed around a huge jug of what I’m assuming was either guiness or distilled whiskey. Luckily it was out before it reached me because the smell was awful. But if you have a chance, SEE THIS BAND. I’m usually not a fan of opening bands but these guys were hilarious, charming, and the most irish ever.

Now to the main event. Flogging Molly and Irish punk reminds me of home. I spent some time growing up in London and we traveled to Ireland frequently because of my dad’s work. So Ireland always just felt like a second home at the time. And Flogging Molly (along with Dropkick Murphys and the like) make me realize just how lucky i was to have grown up there.

Especially with the terrorist attack near London Parliament on Wednesday, it seemed even better timing that I had a taste of home with seeing FLogging Molly live. They were hilarious, the lead singer is probably in his 50s and absolutely killed it. Their enthusiasm was infectious and you could tell they thoroughly enjoyed what they did.

I love concerts where you can tell that the bands, no matter how many shows they’ve played, are still completely in love with what they do. And Flogging Molly was no different. I was pulled into their stories, how avidly they loved Guiness, and how stoked they were to simply be alive.

If you have the chance, go see Flogging Molly live. They’re brilliant. Even more so if Skinny Lister is opening. And hug your loved ones. Terrorism knows no boundaries and it knows not of where you come from.

‘The Year of Yes’ by Shonda Rimes

Now, if you watch any form of TV – whether it’s Hulu, Netflix, and/or cable – you’ve probs heard of Shonda Rimes. She’s the brains and writer behind fan favourite shows Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and, my personal favourite, How to Get Away with Murder. If you haven’t, you’re probably living under a rock. Because her shows are rich in story telling, diverse backgrounds, and the best/worst cliff hangers you’ve ever witnessed on a show. Holy wow, those cliff hangers. If you watch How to Get Away with Murder, you know cliff hangers. That mid season finale? Oh my god.

Anyway, back to the point. I recently picked up her book The Year of Yes because it came highly recommended by a friend of mine and i love Shonda. I want to be friends with her and know how on Earth she could put my heart through the ringer every week without thinking twice. Whatever, anyway.

This book is lovely. It’s a little slow to start but it picks up. And it’s great insight. It follows her journey into the year of yes, inspired by something her sister said during Thanksgiving in 2013 or 2014. And her goal was to say yes to basically everything for an entire year. SHe couldn’t say no. Now, Im sure this excluded anything that was illegal, vastly immoral, or other caveats I’m not thinking of right now because I ordered Chinese delivery for the first time in forever.

The Year of Yes is filled with great side notes about your favourite shows as well as her journey of saying yes to everything and then some. You learn how she mustered up the courage to speak at the Human Rights Campaign awards show, take on Jimmy Kimmel, and change her own narrative into something motivatingly fantastic. You learn about her insecurities as well as her triumphs and how saying yes for a year turned into a lifelong habit.

This book, at times, is cheesy but you feel as though Rimes is encouraging you along the way, when you haven’t the words to do so yourself. It’s an easy read, perfect if you just finished an intense book or you need something that doesn’t take much brain cells to follow along. It’s funny, darling, and everything I needed right now.

It’s inspired me to do my own year of yes and take on my fears head on. It’s a self help book that doesn’t feel like one at all. ANd if you like Shonda’s shows, just wait until you read her book. It’s wonderful. Pick it up wherever books are sold and you’ll be in for a ride you weren’t expecting.

Favourite quote: No one is meaner than a pack of human beings faced with someone who is different.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea

So there are two coffee chains that I love and frequent when I can. One is coffee bean & tea leaf when I’m in LA and the other is Peets Coffee & Tea when I’m in the bay. Both represent my homes in California and I finally found what seems to be the only Peets Coffee in Dallas. It’s in a Sheraton hotel lobby and I was hoping to do some work there but of course, it mostly caters to the hotel guests and patrons so A. there’s not much room and B. I doubt there was Wi-Fi specific to the coffee shop. But still, I am seriously a happy camper.

For those who haven’t been to a Peet’s before, the founder was actually partners with the guy who founded Starbucks but they split ways due to….let’s say….ideological differences of what a coffee shop should be. So Peet’s isn’t as frequently found as a Starbucks but each location seems to be as much of independence as a chain can be. And their coffee is fantastic. PLUS THEY HAVE MIGHTY LEAF TEA.  And we all know how I feel about some Mighty Leaf. Plus, the original Peet’s location is off the beaten path in Berkeley and is charming as can be.

I actually found this location by accident. I was looking for a different shop nearby but saw a lady carrying a fresh Peet’s cup so naturally, I had to google it on my phone and find it immediately. Naturally, I was only a block away from the Peets so I parked in the sketchy parking lot attached to the Sheraton and the rest is history.

5/5 

Yogi Tea

It’s about time I talk about one of my favourite herbal teas on the market right now-and that’s basically all of the Yogi line. They’re light, delicious, and actually as soothing as they claim to be. My favourites right now are probably the Bedtime and Stress Relief right now, though Chai Black and Green Antioxidant are good secondary choices as well.

As some readers know, my mental health hasn’t always been the strongest over the years and I’ve tried a variety of things over the years to make it more manageable and tea has always been a great way to relax at the end of the day or if it’s been a rough one.

Probably the funnest thing about every tea bag is that on the end there’s a great little phrase that’s uplifting and resonates with creating a stable environment. Each one is supposed to be different, but i’ve had a few repeats over the months in which I’ve been drinking their stuff. I’m sure it’s a little difficult to ensure every one is different so it’s understandable.

Right now, I’m having a cup of Stress Relief while writing this-it’s a honey, lavender one and I put some lemon in it as well as I’ve been having some flu bug that’s been going around. If you haven’t had any of the Yogi line before, I totally suggest you pick some up. I’m not really into the whole ‘real food’ fad but I do try to keep everything in moderation and know where my food is coming from as best I can. And Yogi is a great medium for me because I love tea, it’s made from great places, and it’s super relaxing.

You can usually find them in most grocery stores but I’ve had the most luck at places like Whole Foods or Trader Joes, where there’s more of an emphasis on local and organic food. Now go go go!

5/5