#BookReview: The Marshall Plan by @oliviadeard

Young adult fiction has always been my favorite genre. And in January, I joined the  10 minute novelists Facebook group in a late-attempt at joining the 365k club (I was two days too late), and I introduced myself.

Near the end of January/beginning of February, I happened to see a “Buddy Day post request for reviews” one of which was for this very book, The Marshall Plan. The book is a young adult novel, and sequel to the Partition of Africa, in Ard’s The Bennett Series.

Published in October 2015, The Marshall Plan is written by Olivia Folmar Ard, my fellow colleague from the 10 minute novelists.11944003

Olivia began writing creatively at eight years old. During middle and high school, she attended several writing conferences and submitted poems and short stories to various writing contests. She finished her first long work of fiction, a novella entitled Heaven’s Song, in the tenth grade. Her short story “By Its Cover” placed first in its division in the 2008 District III Alabama Penman Creative Writing Contest. She took a reprieve from writing during her years at the University of Montevallo, where she earned a degree in history in 2012. She finished and published her first novel, The Partition of Africa, in 2014.

Olivia currently lives in central Alabama with her husband, to whom she’s been wed since the age of twenty-two, and their cat, Buddy. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching quality television–The Office (US), Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, and Friends are her favorites–and cooking without recipes. Along with working full-time at her alma mater and studying English at the graduate level, she is busy working on her next literary adventure (Taken from Amazon.com).

What I love most about The Marshall Plan as a whole was that there was never one minute while reading it that I was bored or didn’t feel like I was learning something new about the human experience or the main character Molly Marshall.

I became so engrossed in the story that I felt myself not only relating to Molly but morphing into her. I mean I related to her on so many levels:

  • Graduated college but unable to find a job where I could use my degree or degree-related skills
  • She has a roommate of a handful of years that doesn’t really acknowledge her because she’s too busy pleasing her boyfriend in every way
  • Molly struggles with insecurities that prevent her dream of being a writer coming true that stem from her rough and emotional abusive relationship with her father.
  • Gavin insists on waiting until marriage for Molly and him to share physical intimacy (This was refreshing to see featured as a choice of the main male character featured in young adult literature).

Even though I read this book for free as a favor for a friend, I would recommend that everyone read it because Ard commands your undying attention from the first and last touch of the pen to paper. I now am aching to read the next work in the Bennett Series.

For more information on how to purchase please visit Amazon or follow Olivia on Twitter.



#BookReview: Boys, Boys, Boys by @jamiegraceh is a book made for girl talk

As previously mentioned, I’m so very, very single. Like Jamie Grace, I’m a 24 single since birth girl. Yet, I’m not even bothered by it because I don’t spend my time dwelling on it. It’s been 24 years and I’ve become accustomed to doing my own thing. I just spend my Friday nights with my mom catching up on DVR shows instead of hitting the club looking for love in a sweaty casual desperation.

While I wait for Mr. Right, Jamie Grace’s book reminds me I’ve already met him in a man named Jesus.#BoysBoysBoys

Published in 2013 as a response to Jamie’s Viral Video, this is an expansion of the things Jamie stated in that video: the answer to the daily question, Why Are You Still Single?

“I’m single because I choose to be.
I’m single because I’m waiting.
I’m single because I am choosing to wait.”
-Jamie Grace
In 14 chapters, Jamie addresses different thoughts on dating and the casual view on love that parallels Christians in today’s society. Overall, I related to everything Jamie addressed and felt like I was having coffee or a girls night with Jamie herself just having girl talk throughout the book.
It’s targeted for middle and high school age girls and is an easy read.
At 24 years old, Jamie-Grace Harper is the baby in the family, but has accomplished many incredible things in her young life. Jamie-Grace is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, actress, and spokesperson. In addition to her music, Jamie-Grace is also the founder of I’m A Fighter and is actively involved with other organizations as well. She and her sister Morgan sing together in their duo, Harper Still. Jamie Grace is known around the world for some of her songs, including “Beautiful Day” and “Hold Me.” However, most importantly she is known for the way she chooses to live for Christ and share her story wherever she goes. (From BeautifulFamilyForever.com).
Overall, despite the fact that my copy was missing two chapters (I wish I knew what they said), the book as a whole was exactly what a single girl needs: encouraging words from a friend who understands the single life, the Jesus way.

#MusicReview: From Rags to ‘Hell’s Kitchen Angel’ with @Maxgschneider’s new album

Max Schneider has already made me cry. Now I know what you’re thinking but let me clarify. He made me cry because he followed me on my personal account via Twitter. As a Schneider Monkey (fans of Max Schneider; hinting to Max’s love for monkeys) since June 2012, I never thought the day would come when I would be noticed by such a talented and handsome singer-songwriter but enough fangirling, let’s get to chatting about who Max is for those who don’t yet know.



Max Schneider is an actor/singer from Woodstock, New York who started performing at the early age of three. He started out dancing on his coffee table and ended up dancing on a broadway stage where he starred in the musical 13. After this, he was signed to a talent agent at the age of fourteen, and went on to appear on many different television appearances, including being featured in a Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign alongside Madonna.

He’s best known (and I became a fan of his) after watching him alongside Keke Palmer in the Nickelodeon musical movie, Rags.

#FunFact: In Rags, @Maxgschneider sings in “Someday” a line in which his character sings, “Someday I’ll be the next big thing” How true that is today. #HellsKitchenAngel

He also was a star of the musical Nickelodeon show “How To Rock.” He’s been writing music and released two EPs, First Encounters in 2010, and Say Max EP in 2014. His music career took off when he started doing covers and posting them on Youtube. This and his acting career with Nickelodeon helped him catch the attention of Victoria Justice, who invited him to open for her on her “Making It In America” national tour.

His rise to fame came this year when he was simultaneously signed to DCD2 records, alongside labelmates Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, and many notable others in the music world. He also released his first single from the label, “Gibberish” ft. Hoodie Allen. His music video for this track was used to promote the Youtube Music Awards.

This past summer, Max went on the Boys of Zummer tour with Wiz Khalifa and Fall Out Boy. He just finished up touring with R5 on the Sometime Last Night Tour. After releasing EP’s since 2010, Hell’s Kitchen Angel is Max’s debut studio album.

Song by Song Review

“Hell’s Kitchen Angel”: The title track off the album, referencing to where Max grew up, the section of New York known as Hell’s Kitchen, this track’s musicality is soulful with sound of a music baby made by James Brown and Bruno Mars.

“Gibberish”: Max’s first single with the DCD2 record label, this track will have you dancing no matter who’s done you wrong. Featuring a rap verse by Hoodie Allen, this song never gets old is still one of my favorites off the album.

“Wrong”: If you’ve ever wanted to know what Max’s killer vocals sounded across an EDM-style backtrack, this song will grant your wish. It’s all types of wrong but as the song says, “it’s better when it feels wrong,” this song is a head-banger for sure, in every way.

“Holla”: Like the soulful Max Schneider signature version of Fetty Wap’s “My Way,” this song will have you singing along and it will definitely make you holla, holla, holla. As soon as I heard this song, I knew it was destined to be played on every radio station around the country. Top 40 radio, ya hear me?!

“Lights Down Low”: This will be played at my wedding, that’s a fangirl promise. As soon as I heard this song, I was blown away by how good the writing was (it reminds me of an Ed Sheeran song meets One Less Lonely Girl by Justin Bieber) and of course, Max’s soft vocals across an acoustic guitar track are like a Schneider Monkey’s dream come true. Now if Max could just sing this to me, one one one, all my fangirl dreams will have come true. Hey Max, holla at your girl. I’ve got Lights Down Low #OnRepeat for sure.

“10 Victoria’s Secret Models”: I’d love to see Max perform this during an upcoming Victoria Secret Fashion show but I love the vibes, the musicality, and the lyrics of this track. Dang, I’d love to find out who he wrote this song about. She must have been some broad.

“Home”: EDM musicality while Max’s vocals slay the entire track like some rock god ninja. Be careful, this is definitely an earworm in the making.

“Mug Shot” Say Max, OHH! A Schneider monkey throwback meets rap powerhouse Sirah. I was not prepared for her rap verse and it’s greatness on this track. Totally brought the musicality of this song up to a whole new Schneider level.

“Basement Party:” Since I’m writing this on a Friday night, this track is a head nod to the party lifestyle of New Yorkers, but it’s musicality will make you want to have a dance party anywhere you are: the car, the shower, in your bedroom all by yourself. Get it on.

“Lost My Way”: Concluding the album in a perfect finale of dance party meets Max Schneider vocal slaying ballad, it’s an honest song about remembering where Max came from and never forgetting that.

As a Schneider Monkey that has been with Max while he was still hoping for a record deal while jamming out on his ukelele even after the greatness of “Rags,” I couldn’t be more proud of Max’s success and this album. One listen, and he’ll have you saying “MAX!”.

#MusicReview: Throw The Party of The Century with “Stories For Monday” by @TheSummerSet

Hailing from Scottsdale, Arizona The Summer Set is an American pop rock band that formed in 2007. The band consists of lead vocalists Brian Dales, guitarists Josh Montgomery and John Gomez, and percussionist (girl drummer, ftw) Jess Bowmen.

The Summer Set Promo Shoot. Photography By Dan Gillan Photography.
The Summer Set Promo Shoot. Photography By Dan Gillan Photography.

The band formed because Jess Bowmen and brothers Stephen and John Gomez had their own band The Maine  and released their own album before disbanding in 2008. Jess and John joined Brian and Josh in 2008, forming what is now The Summer Set. They signed The Militia Group in 2008 and released their debut album, Love Like This on October 13, 2009.

They played the entire Warped Tour in 2010 and followed this with joining the Dirty Work  Tour with other big names in pop rock All Time Low, Yellowcard, and Hey Monday.

Fun Fact: The Summer Set’s song “Chelsea” was written for actress Chelsea Kane by Brian Logan Dales, who she dated in 2011.Click To Tweet This

In 2011, The Summer Set released their second full-length studio album entitled Everything’s Fine.

In 2012, the band rented a house and wrote and recorded songs in, making up much of their third studio album, Lengendary. Much of the fun-loving energy that makes up the musicality &lyrical content of the album is inspired by the communal living experience they had while working on this album and living in that house.

Lengendary  was released via Fearless Records, and gained the attention of IHeartRadio, where the Summer Set won their rising star competition, and appeared in their music festival and Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in November 2013 where they performed their song, “Lightening in a Bottle.”

Following the release of the album on April 1, the band was set to perform at a Wisconsin Bernie Sanders rally on April 4, 2016.

Song by Song Review

“Figure Me Out:” Definitely a great opening to the record especially with the line, “I’m too pop for the punk kids, and too punk for the pop kids.” It talks about identifying who you are outside of the limelight after tasting what it means to be famous and how people tend to try to place you in a box, especially in today’s society. It features the signature sound The Summer Set had on their Lengendary album.

“The Night is Young” Sounding like the pop rock version of Nicki Minaj’s The Night is Still Young but with musicality that could be equally compared to Fun!, the song is motivating for the youth of today because when things happen, you tend to want to give up but the world isn’t over but instead this song motivates one to “don’t give up when you’re down.” This is one of my favorite songs off the album.

“Missin’ You”: This track reminds me of Hot Chelle Rae’s “Honestly” but The Summer Set’s own kickass version.

“Jean Jacket”: A song reminiscing a summer of being 19 and young and in love, without a care in the world.

“All My Friends”: A feel-good song that talks about how one’s friends always tend to have something to say about the person you choose to date. Musically, this is one of my favorite songs on the album.

The musicality of this track reminds me of an 80’s rock song, almost like The Simple Minds and the Breakfast Club.

“All Downhill From Here”: They say once you reach a certain age that it’s all downhill but it’s a positive spin on what the experts or the ominous “THEY” say.

“All In”: An anthem you can play for a night out with friends, it’s about being “All In” to wherever life takes you. This song is another one of my favorites off the album because of the musicality and care-free attitude the song promotes.

“Wonder Years”: A slower-tempo and more serious lyrical content talking about never forgetting who you were during the infamous “wonder years.” Musically, it reminds me once again of The Simple Mind’s, “Don’t Forget About Me,” but a slower tempo but similar theme.

“When The Party Ends”: A solid feel-good keep the party going even at 4 a.m. rock and roll style anthem that you will have on repeat from the first listen. This is my favorite song on Stories From Monday!

“Wasted”: This track should be coined as the anthem of millennials everywhere; a solid party anthem and great end to a rock and roll masterpiece, Stories For Monday.

Whether you are heading to work or heading to a rager that will be talked about on every social media app for months to come, Stories For Monday is definitely the soundtrack to a life well-lived no matter where you live. The Summer Set is set to head out on a U.S. & U.K. tour in promotion of this album.

#MusicReview: Join the Movement Sweeping The Nation Known as the “Love Riot”


The Newsboys are to Christian music what the Rolling Stones are to rock and roll. They have got everyone’s attention and have the accolades to prove it. The band hails from Queensland, Australia. It features Michael Tait (former lead vocalist of hit Christian band DC Talk), guitarist Jody Davis, bassist Jeff Frankenstein, and drummer Duncan Phillips. The group was founded by former members Peter Furler and George Perdikis. They have released 17 albums, six of which have been certified gold. Their most popularly acknowledged singles have been “Shine” released in 1995 and “God’s Not Dead” released in 2011, and used in the film of the same name. They have music that will be featured in the sequel God’s Not Dead 2. Love Riot is Newsboys eighteenth album and was released on March 4, 2016, debuting at #14 on the Billboard Hot 200.

Song by Song Review

“Crazy”: Musically, this song starts out the album with a bang of an invisible war drum. Lyrically, this song hints at themes of being known as a Christ fanatic.

“Hero”: This song features Newsboys guitar heavy style rock while boldly stating lyrically that Jesus is a believer’s one true hero.

“Love Riot”: Musically, this song is a piano ballad with heavy lyrical content features themes of walking love and starting a love riot.

“Guilty”: Featured in the film God’s Not Dead 2, musically it starts similar to their previous hit song, “God’s Not Dead” but lyrically it talks about standing firm in one’s belief in Christ no matter what trials or prejudice one faces.

“You Hold It All:” Musically featuring a drum beat against a piano track that accompany lead vocals that sing lyrics about God’s all-encompassing power.

“No Longer Slaves:” Musically, it’s a piano ballad of praise to Jesus’s great sacrifice on the cross.

“Family of God:” Musically, it sounds like a catchy pop Christian hit with lyrical themes of the grace of God being available to whosoever believes in Christ.

“Committed:” The track is one of my favorites off the album because it’s a bold statement of being fully committed in one’s faith in Christ for life.

“Earthquake:” This song sounds similar to “Crazy” musically but it contains more EDM-influences while boasting themes lyrically of needing an earthquake to shake one’s faith up when doubt sets in.

“What I Want Them To Say”: A beautiful conclusion musically and lyrically to yet another masterpiece from the Newsboys that hints on themes of leaving a legacy of faith. This track is another one of my favorites.

Love Riot’s musicality may be great, but it’s Tait’s flawless performance of the well written songs that causes it to stand heads and shoulders above its competition.