#MusicMonday: Holding My Breath showcases McLaughlin’s breathless songwriting

McLaughlin is no stranger to taking anyone’s breath away. The first time I ever saw him open for Kelly Clarkson I was unfamiliar with his music or even who he was but was instantly drawn to his honest, heartfelt lyricism that he penned on his own and his expertise with a piano. He made playing the piano seem as cool as being a drummer or an electric guitar player.

He quickly got a lot of attention and even appeared in the Disney movie Enchanted as himself. He even dueted with pop songstress and Broadway legend Sara Baraielles.

Holding My Breath is McLaughlin’s fourth studio album and was released on September 24, 2013.

The album was made exclusively for the fans and created with the site Pledgemusic. It got #8 on the Billboard Top Christian albums chart and #141 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Song by Song Review

Above The Radio:  A piano rock track about slowing down and listening to the music of life

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Hallulejah: A fun jazzy like track about not losing your soul in the pursuit of material things

Doesn’t Mean Goodbye: A piano ballad about fighting through the rough patches of the love between you and that special someone.

Anybody Else: A piano pop song about seeing someone you used to be involved with and how it brings back all the memories

Oh, Jesus: A heartfelt promise to Jesus that no matter how black and blue life gets, he will thank God for Jesus.

Broken Hearted: A song about how even though a broken heart is painful, the sun will warm the cold desolate pieces of it’s brokenness and you will love again because you can’t love again until you’ve been  broken hearted.

Fire Away: A slow song about a stillness between you and another because of tensions between you

Oh!: A pop rock track about someone pulling away from a shot of love between the two of you

Imaginary Tea: A song McLaughlin wrote about a tender father-daughter relationship.

The Truth: A song with a mysterious jazzy blue feel about someone who spread lies and was found out

Throw It On The Fire: A song about a love that still embers but no longer burns bright enough to survive.

At Night: A final instrumental piano track

Holding My Breath is a effortless peek into this musician’s heart and all that keeps him breathing. Some of these items include: staying true to himself, his faith, his family, and love with the right person. McLaughlin’s independent project was crowd funded for good reason: he was meant to sing a breathless song.

#MusicMonday: William’s personal struggle with depression brings themes of the realities of adulthood with ‘After Laughter’

Paramore has been one of my favorite bands since high school. I would ride to school listening to “Misery Business,” and relating to everything on Riot! I also found it entirely bold and daring of Williams who was only 16 when the band got it’s start wore bright orange hair. Williams songwriting spoke to me as an angsty teenager who felt misunderstood, undermined, and never ever good enough, it helped me cope through all those feelings and become a writer myself, and later a teenage author at only 15.

Released on May 12, 2017 as follow-up to their 2013 self-titled album comes a huge change for the band both sonically and lyrically.

The album contains dark lyrics over fun and poppy melodies Williams has been very open about her struggles with depression: “It means that look on a person’s face when they laugh really hard and then there’s this moment when they come back to reality.”

Drummer Zac Farro rejoined the band in 2017. After Laughter debuted at number six on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Song by Song Review

Hard Times: A playful eighties vibe contrast hard hitting lyrics showcasing growing up and Williams’ personal struggle with depression.

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Rose-Colored Boy: A song about feeling pressure to look at the world with blind optimism when you actually feel very hopeless about the world and your part in it. There is so much social pressure to be “happy” that we can actually feel shame when we aren’t.

Told You So: With a central theme is built around the common phrase, “Hate to say I told you so” which is typically said in a condescending disapproving manner. A track about struggles faced when people watching your every move waiting for you to make a mistake.

Forgiveness: Throughout “Forgiveness” Hayley talks about forgiveness and redemption between her and the other band members and troublesome moments with her partner at the time.

Fake Happy: A song showcasing how much we as humans can hide underneath our smiles. Despite being bright and bubbly at our best, there are some moments that you can’t fake the happiness.

26: About not losing hope and staying a dreamer, the musicality is acoustic and very authentically transparent.

Pool: 80’s new wave synth pop musicality creates a cool but dark love song about the highs and lows of loving someone

Grudges: A song about Zac Farro’s return to the band in 2017 after he left in 2010.

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Caught in the Middle: Williams confronts the concept of getting older. Combined with a contrasting light and danceable beat, Paramore shares the harsh feeling of seeing the years piling up. This song can also be seen as a fight with depression. Sometimes, the simple act of moving forward in life is a tedious task.

No Friend: An outro track to “Idle Worship” containing spoken word poetry from Aaron Weiss from MeWithoutYou.

Tell Me How: The final track about being at a crossroads in life. It’s a slow moving laiden track showing optimism toward the band’s future.

Paramore shows us that whether you are looking at the world with ‘Brand New Eyes’ or allowing the ‘Riot!’ within to speak up boldly. ‘After Laughter’ showcases a brand new maturity toward the realities and struggles of being a thirty-something adult in today’s world. And I am enamored by all that the band puts out both sonically and lyrically.

 

#MusicMonday: Sheeran showcases the ‘divide’ between human and musician with third studio album

Ed Sheeran has always known how to make me smile. His songwriting has never left me disappointed. This English showman has always been able to enrapture all those that listen to his music with just him and his guitar, and a peddle machine.

Divide debuted at #1 and stayed there in its second week.

Eraser: A fun opening track to the album; a declaration of intent mixing hip-hop with a chorus.

It discusses Sheeran’s upbringing and his small town beginnings singing in the choir in the Catholic church and then being a busker during his teen years. It also references the temptations artist’s face whether it be drugs, girls, etc.

Castle On The Hill: A love song for Sheeran’s hometown of Suffolk, England. Guitar driven it is a “life affirming pop rocket.”

Dive: Written about his wife with themes of vulnerability, a sense of devotion and emotional reflection, with a musicality that emulates the classic fifties and early sixties soul/stax ballad arpeggio and time sequence. It was co-written with Julia Michaels.

Shape of You: Originally written by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC and meant for pop singer Rihanna, the track is about a strong physical attraction. Musically, it is based around a tropical-house inspired lead melody and dancehall beat. A rhythm is given by xylophones, guitars, and percussion.

Perfect: A love ballad written and inspired by the love between him and his wife Cherry Seaborn. It was written remininscent of Sheeran’s song he wrote for One Direction, “18.”

Galway Girl: My favorite song on the record for its fun Irish folk musicality. Musically influenced by Van Morrison’s Irish Heartbeat, A “Galway Girl” describes a black haired and blue eyed woman from the city of Galway.

Happier: A standout ballad with mature lyrics about a failed relationship who has already found a new man.

New Man: A fun fast-flowing song about an ex who has changed because of him and these toxic changes have led to her looking for satisfaction elsewhere.

Hearts Don’t Break Around Here: A ballad for his wife Cherry Seaborn, showing Sheeran’s softer side.

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What Do I Know?: Despite not having the education or being the smartest, he uses his music to change the world.

How Would You Feel: A paen is a work that praises or honors its subject and also the middle name of his now wife Cherry Seaborn. A really emotional song about realizing how much you love someone.

Supermarket Flowers: A tribute to Sheeran’s late grandmother, comparing her to an angel.

Barcelona: Ode to the great Spanish city’s vibrant history and culture contain Latin musicality and Spanish guitars.

Bibia Be Ye Ye: A song written in Ghanian dialect meaning “everything will be alright.”

Nancy Mulligan: Full on Irish traditional song that pays tribute to Sheeran’s paternal grandparents, Anne “Nancy” Mulligan and William “Bill” Sheeran. His grandparents had a Romeo and Juliet romance.

Save Myself: A final song speaking to the importance of self-care and self-love. A soft song with a strong piano musicality.

Sheeran’s third album seeks to showcase him exploring both sides of himself, the musician side and the human side but seeks to bond the world with it’s wholesome themes of spreading love and recklessly falling in love with yourself and when the time comes, someone who accepts the entire you that you are and will be.

 

 

#MusicMonday: Lauren Daigle’s second album explores who God says you are and challenges the world to silence the voices that say otherwise

Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana and was influenced by Zydeco, blues and Cajun music in her environment from youth, Daigle was born to be a musician.

Her mother referred to her childhood home as “the music box” because she was always singing. She never considered music seriously until she contracted infectious  mononucleuosis. It kept her out of school for nearly two years.

Following finishing charter school with hopes of working in the medical field and do mission work, she took a year off from school to do mission work in Brazil before attending Louisiana State University for child and family studies.

She joined and soon led the choir at LSU.

With her family encouraging her to audition for American Idol in 2010 and 2012. She was cut before the Top 24 in 2010. In 2011, she did not make it to Hollywood. She made it to Hollywood in 2012 but was cut in the first Las Vegas round.

Her first full-length album (April 14, 2015) debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart. It broke Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 200.

Look Up, Child debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 200 with “You Say” staying at #1 for fifty three weeks on the Hot Christian songs chart and further won a 2019 Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music performance/song.

Look Up, Child was released on September 7,, 2018 via Centricity Music.

 

Song For Song Review

Still Rolling Stones: A song about how God’s power is both infinite and infallible. Daigle performed this song on The Ellen Show live.

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Rescue: Showcasing the aspect of God’s willingness to go to great lengths to rescue us, even when we think no one can hear us. It is performed from God’s perspective. The song was written for people that are experiencing the darkest of turmoil, and in that collision, a comfort comes.

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This Girl: A soulful song about wanting to let God know out of everything, she wants Him to know she is fully and completely offering her heart.

Your Wings: A song with multiple references to Psalm 91 about how God promises to cover those who trust in him. Daigle said the musicality and the beat are her favorite on the whole album.

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You Say: A song discussing the question and identity and how a believer’s foundational truth regarding their identity should come from who God says they are.

Everything: A song written for when you are overwhelmed in a time of deprivation and weariness.

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Love Like This: One of my favorites off the album for its musicality that, in my opinion, mimics a spiritual awakening and for its message about God’s unconditional yet unthinkable love.

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Look Up, Child: A fun Carribean style musicality makes up this upbeat track about looking to God always whatever the situation.

Losing My Religion

Losing My Religion: My favorite song on the entire album for its message about how when you truly know Christ, it becomes more about a faith relationship and less about religious ideology.

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Remember: Co-written with Chris Tomlin, this gospel-like anthem brings all miracles past and present into recollection so the believer can focus on God’s almighty power and know he works for the good of those that love him.

Rebel Heart: A declaration of faith to God saying that I’m ready to trust you completely and take this “rebel heart” and make it new.

Inevitable: A song about fighting doubts and unbelief with the truth, “God will always carry me.”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus: Lauren finishes the album with her own rendition of this Helen Holsworth song.

Whether you are struggling to see the good, focus on the present, or are being bombarded by a heavy and black sadness, whatever you are struggling and suffering with mentally, emotionally, and/or physically, Daigle’s second album offers a song for whatever it may be and as you begin to sing along, a spirit of praise will rise up within and the clouds will start to break, and the light will peak through slowly but surely.

#MusicMonday: Jonny Lang’s fourth album is a bluesy depiction of the ‘signs’ of the times

Called the best blues album of 2017 by AllMusic, Signs is Lang coming back from previous works that had a more gospel feel to his blues roots that got him a record deal at only 16.

Song by Song Review

Make It Move: A bluesy rock song about the mountains in your life and how you got to make it move and stop waiting around for things to happen.

Snakes: Bluesy rock and roll song reminiscent of “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley about snakes in the grass or the things in life that try to get you off course.

Last Man Standing: A fast-paced bluesy song about fighting through the hard times.

Signs: Soulful track about the signs of the times we are living in may be end times.

What We Are Made Of: A song about how the trials of life help show what you’re made of.

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Bitter Ends: A soulful song with a gospel feel questioning the various motives of humans; the why behind what we do.

Stronger Together: A cheerful gospel like track about how we’re made to love and be loved.

Into The Light: Another gospel like track about the struggle between good and evil.

Bring Me Back Home: A soft piano ballad about coming home to the person you love.

Wisdom: A slow song about the power of wisdom

Singing Songs: An acoustic finale to this album

#MusicMonday: Grammar explores a world where you can see only the good with new album ‘Naive.’

Released on July 26, 2019, Andy Grammar is known for his trademark positive vibes. His fourth studio album Naive explores that ability to see the good in everything. As of August 10, 2019, the album peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart.

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Song by Song Review

My Own Hero: Bluesy soul musicality paints a lyrical depiction of being the only person you can count on.

I Found You: An upbeat pop song about having everything you can want in the world but it only matters now because you’ve found the person who makes it all make sense.

Some Girl: A soft ballad with electropop musicality about how some stranger becomes your everything. A song Grammar wrote about his wife.

Wish You Pain: A song about wishing growth and progress on those you love. Grammar wrote this song for his daughter.

Don’t Give Up On Me:  A love ballad about not giving up on the potential or the love between two people. The song was featured in the motion picture, “Five Feet Apart.”

She’d Say [ft. LadySmith Black Mambazo]: A soulful pop song about an older family member that passed on and the wisdom they would pass on to the new generation if they were still here. Grammar wrote this for his daughter about his mother Kathy that has passed on.

I am Yours: A ballad about being fully and completely one with someone. It has the makings of the perfect wedding song.

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Spotlight [ft. Swoope and Andy Mineo]: An upbeat pop song featuring Christian rapper Andy Mineo about social media and how it makes us crazy chasing the high of constant attention.

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First Time: My favorite song on the album because it explores the idea of a heartbreak but witnessed from the other person’s perspective.

Stay There: A song about the increasing shallowness of the hook-up with no commitment culture and how rare it is to find someone who stays.

Born For This: A song about believing in yourself even when you are faced with doubts.

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Best of You: An acoustic song with country musicality about loving the good in someone no matter what.

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Naive: The title track about seeing the good in everything no matter what backed by a soft acoustic musicality.

Grammar’s fourth studio album shows a maturity and growth characterized under his exploration of what the world labels naivete. Every track carries the theme and does not disappoint old and new fans alike of Grammar’s.

#BookReview: Launching Today Willie Handler’s Loved Mars, Hated The Food

Willie Handler is no stranger to writing books that make you laugh but the second novel from this author is nothing less than an out of this world story that will have you shaking the cosmic dust off your space boots.

Dixon Jenner is a thirty two year old chef who gets recruited by NASA in the year 2039 for a Mars mission that goes terribly wrong  to his spaceship explodes and he is the only sole survivor.

Right away, he is high from a marijuana infused brownie and he has to figure out what to do to survive post-explosion. He meets two martians Bleeker and Seepa and from there they hide him from the head martian Cheytno to avoid anyone finding out he is from Earth.

What ensues is a hilarious story that leaves space for countless belly laughs over martians learning more about earth-like customs from an American chef from Toms River, New Jersey.

I was hysterically laughing by page three and I could not find a good reason to put the book down.

Handler’s science fiction is informative, clever, and loaded with quick-witted funny scenarios and one-liners.

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It’s definitely a book with a brilliance not yet experienced on this planet but no matter who you are, human or martian, Handler’s writing will keep you hooked from start to finish.

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#MusicMonday: The Good Parts By Andy Grammar

Author’s Note: Andy Grammar just released a new album this year. Yesterday actually. Ironically, I was prepping for this review and was doing research and found out that his new album was coming out and couldn’t help but laugh at behind I am on music reviews but either way, I will be reviewing both albums. If you came here looking for a Naive review, you’ve happened on the wrong page. Thanks anyway for visiting. Always Espresso Yourself, Chelsea

The first time I saw Andy Grammar perform he came right into the audience and made his way to my section of the crowd and stood about twenty feet away from me. Instantly, I was in awe of Andy Grammar’s humility. Not only was a he this crazy talented musician but he was still just a humble guy from Chester, NY.

He was discovered by manager Ben Singer in 2009 while performing as a street busker in Santa Monica. Hi second album ‘Magazines and Novels’ was his most successful work to date with the Billboard Hot 100 single “Honey, I’m Good.”

The song debuted at #9 and certified triple platinum and the album debuted at #19 on the Billboard Hot 200.

On December 1, 2017 Grammar released his third studio album, The Good Parts, which also happens to be his most autobiographical work to date.

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Song by Song Review

Smoke Clears: An electro-pop track about a health scare Grammar faced where he fainted in the shower but with an overall theme of sticking with someone through the highs and lows of this life.

Freeze: Almost like Grammar’s ode to “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, a track about wanting to stay in the perfect moments with the one you love.

The Good Parts: The title track about someone who wants to hear your entire story. They want to see the ugly, the scars, the losses, and the pain.

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Spaceship: A song Grammar wrote for his born daughter Louie.

Fresh Eyes: A song about knowing someone for years and being surprised by learning something new about them or how they do something. It is inspired by a night he was at dinner with his wife and they were with two friends who never met her. In them meeting them, he saw her with fresh eyes and fell deeper in love with her.

85: A catchy pop song about losing your soul to chasing after money and material wealth then waking up at 85 and say, “Whoa, no, I think I missed it, I was chasing money.”

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Always: A ballad like slow jam Grammar wrote for his daughter when she was first born.

Workin’ On It: A motivating upbeat song highlighting how we are all trying to make our dreams come true but we have our vices and ugly parts.

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Grown Ass Man Child: A pop song with a ridiculous bass drop (created by producer Oak “Sorry Not Sorry” Demi Lovato) about being more mature but still not afraid to get wild.

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This Ain’t Love: A song about the shallowness of watered down love or casual hook-ups.

Civil War: A song addressed to God, perplexing the struggle of good and bad in all of us.

Grow: My favorite song on this album because of it’s upbeat musicality and inspirational lyrics about growth.

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Give Love [ft. Lunchmoney Lewis]: The lead single off this album with a jazz pop feel with soulful lyrics about spreading love wherever you go.

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Win a copy of Andy Grammar’s The Good Parts by commenting below your name and email address and something you admire about Andy, and one winner will be chosen as of August 9 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

 

 

#BookishThoughts: Schuren strikes a nerve of the meaning of being a woman with ‘Virtue of Sin’

pablo The cover alone led me to take interest in this book almost instantly because of the spiritual connotation of butterflies. Growth, Renewal, Hope and even in some contexts it can mean an awakening of some type.

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From the very first page, I instantly related to Miriam despite that the book is told through two first person perspectives. Growing up Catholic and following the rituals made me question a lot of things about God and his mercy even as a young kid.

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Yet, it was Miriam’s personality strength of questioning people and things that I also related to. As a writer, I’m always paying extra attention to things people miss:

  • the heartbreaking look someone has on their face when they realize they don’t love someone  anymore
  • the droop in someone’s shoulders because their loved one just passed away
  • the crack in someone’s voice before they reveal to that special someone that they have fallen in love with them.

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Miriam lives within a community with a leader who reminds me of Pastor Dan from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and with the same totalitarian atmosphere as Handmaid’s Tale.

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Women are to be seen and not heard.

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Schuren’s novel was relatable, stimulating, written with a strength and power only a woman writer could possess, and was one the best books I’ve read in 2019 so far.

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To say thank you for reading this review, just use the comments section below to share the words “The Future is Female.” One lucky winner will win a copy of Shannon Schuren’s book, format winner’s choice. Deadline is Friday Aug. 9 at 11:59 p.m.  Make sure to include your name and email address if not listed on your WordPress account.

Don’t allow them to silence you. Pass this on to a friend.

#SmartCookiePR: Press Release- FOMO is real even on Mars.

Press Release

For Immediate Release 

July 17, 2019

Contact: Chelsea DeVries,Publicist 

smartcookiepr26@gmail.com

 

A Chef Stuck On Mars is Not the Funniest Thing You’ll Find in Loved Mars, Hated The Food by Willie Handler

Kyanite Publishing Author is available for interviews and events as well as blog tours. Willie Handler is back with his second novel, his irreverent and hilarious science fiction debut about a thirty-two year old chef Dix Jenner who is selected for a mission to Mars by NASA. The book is abound with subtle satire that provides the story with depth. The novel will be released on August 13 and is already available for pre-order via Kyanite’s site.Loved Mars, Hated The Food already has many five star reviews as well as an endorsement from fellow Canadian author and two-time Leacock Award winner, Terry Fallis . Handler is holding a book launch event in his hometown of Torono at the Monarch Tavern on August 14 at 5:30 p.m.

About Loved Mars, Hated The Food:

Dix Jenner, a self-proclaimed slacker, is the first chef to live—and maybe die—on Mars. After an explosion kills his colony companions and leaves him with nothing but his spacesuit, his time on the faraway planet is about to expire… until he’s rescued by friendly Martians Bleeker and Seepa, who smuggle him into their vast underground civilization. 

Despite an unfamiliar world of telepathy, strange class dynamics, and really bad food, Dix sets out to make his mark. After opening a cafe—who knew Martians loved espresso?—he starts to notice that responsibility can feel good. Not only that, but he’s got a new romance, and for the first time he actually cares.

Unfortunately, his success attracts the attention of the corrupt and narcissistic Martian Grand Leader. Forced to run to avoid being imprisoned, Dix gets lucky: a NASA rescue mission lands on Mars. But seeing it brings back the dark secret he’s been keeping from himself about the colony’s explosion, and now Dix must choose between returning to Earth or spending the rest of his life in a cell on the dusty red planet where he belongs.

About The Author: 

Author Willie Handler was a satirist well before he became a novelist. Hailing from Canada, where self-deprecating humor is part of the national character, he finds targets for his humor everywhere. His targets include friends, family, co-workers, politicians, farmers, subway passengers, bureaucrats, telemarketers, Martians, and his barber, Vince. In 2016, he released his first novel THE ROAD AHEAD. With his most recent work, he has crossed over to the world of speculative fiction.

    To schedule an interview with the author or to schedule him for a public appearance, please contact his publicist Chelsea DeVries at smartcookiepr26@gmail.com

To pre-order Loved Mars, Hated The Food, visit this link.

SAVE THE DATE

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