I was given an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.
Opening with the phrase:
the reader is instantly taken on a journey with the perfect mix of romance, science fiction, adventure, and a philosophical curiosity of free will and the existence of God.
Bengier’s writing is futuristic yet relatable with it’s discussions of protests and social equality, and very captivating.
For more on the book and the author who created this metaphysical world, check out https://garyfbengier.com/
I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
To be honest, I was very excited to read this book because of the romantic mystery aspect. As a sixteen year fan of street skateboarding, I very much support books that accurately represent the sport they are based on.
Luciano’s book is well-written, figure skating is accurately represented, and full of overtly detailed writing from start to finish.
My favorite line in the book:
My favorite scene in the book was relatable and I finally found myself within the novel.
It’s a scene where a dedicated fan finally gets to meet her favorite professional figure skater after months of writing him letters. I never felt more represented and into the book than I did reading that scene.
Now, the book wasn’t for me, per say but anyone who is a true fan of figure skating would most likely find this book that reads like a fictional creative nonfiction novel to be full of great imagery, believable characters, and true to form plot driven by real-like truths based on the author’s work as a New York Times reporter covering figure skating.
Because I believe this book deserves to be read and relished by a fan of figure skating, I’m holding a giveaway.
In order to ENTER THE GIVEAWAY, you MUST enter through the Rafflecopter link HERE.
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In case you didn’t hear, Jen Ervig’s amazing book When My Mind Winds Up is up to win Book of the Year!
Here are four reasons why
Vote now HERE and make sure after you vote you check your email and verify otherwise that vote you just placed does not count toward Jen’s rank in the contest.
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As most of you know, my favorite month of the year is National Poetry month. I celebrate it every year both here and on my personal social media pages. Why? Well, poets are just underrated but they say things we wish more people would just come out with. I love how immediate and succint writing poetry feels and when someone reads it if they feel the power in your words, the entire poem speaks volumes and all the feelings come full circle. So powerful and as with all writing both brave and vulnerable as well.
The thing I love about writing poetry is that there are less rules. You can format it however you want, and even make grammatical errors part of the poem as well.
When reading poetry, I find solace in the short but staggered rhythm of lyrics and words that leave me feeling lifted, understood, and less alone.
I found Stefanie Briar’s work during one of my curiousity sprees (when I am venturing down the many rabbit holes of Instagram) where I search online for salve for the wounds of my human frailty.
Cosmosis uses the metaphor that our universe grows and expands with each act of love even if lost or toxic.
It is brilliantly organized in four sections:
- Solar Flare
- Black Hole
The poetry in each centers from the gravitational pull of its theme my two favorites were Solar Flare and Black Hole because like this poet, I have loved, and I have felt the blackest hole of love lost.
This one is probably my favorite if I had to pick one…although every poem here is so powerfully poignant and original.
You can join the conversation and find new poetry shared often via her Instagram pagewhich impressively has over 20,000 followers in the six months since she joined the platform (Stefanie, please sprinkle some of your magic voodoo dust on my Instagram, please).
And it’s easy to see why she has so many fans. Her words are sharp and spoil-proof. Yet, if you message her, she will message you back within hours. She’s genuinely super supportive of other poets and writers, and she’s also got amazing taste in music.
According to her author bio on the back of her debut poetry book, she lives in New Jersey with her husband, young daughter, python, and cat-sized rabbit. She teaches 10th grade English and coaches cheerleading.
You can purchase a copy of the Barnes & Noble Press poetry bestseller Cosmosis here.
Her second book of poetry is due out on New Year’s Day 2021. 2021 is already looking promising if you ask me.
I remember when I first heard NeedtoBreathe. I stopped whatever I was doing and just let the soundwaves of the hopeful lyrics of “Brother” wash over my troubled and tired person.
The lyrics spoke to me and ended up giving me the courage to walk away from things that were no longer serving me:
- a job full of abuse and demeaning treatment by the family who owned the business
- a mental breakdown leading to several attempts of suicide ideation
- away from a guy who made me paint his name in every sky only to leave when the rain clouds poured out and opened wide
As I started listening to the album, I felt all the heavy weights of that toxic time in my life literally lift off my soul and I no longer feel their burden but only now see them in the light of God’s grace and glory.
The Grammy Award nominated platinum-certified South Carolina trio-Bear Rinehart [lead vocals, guitar], Seth Bolt [ bass, vocals] and Josh Lovelace [keys, vocals] look at life, family, and friends through a youthful prism.
Their 2014 album Rivers in the Wasteland hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 200 with platinum-selling Hot 100 hit “Brother” [feat. Gavin DeGraw] and “Multiplied,” which garnered their first Grammy nod.
They identify as a rock band first and foremost looking to “shed a little light in the world and have an absolute blast” along the way.
“In order to be a child again, some things have to go away,” Bear leaves off. “However, you find new beauty and love. I know we did” (Elektra Records).
Song by Song Review
Mercy’s Shore: A folk rock intro to the album with soulful vocals and vocal layering. The musicality creates a build and crash sound that mimics that of a wave crashing upon the shore. A hopeful look at God’s mercy and glorious grace.
Alive: One of my favorites off the album for it’s running through an open field truly free feel, built up by a heavenly chant, robust riff, and boisterous groove. It explores the feeling of truly being alive in Christ.
Hang On: energetic guitars, a stadium size refrain and nostalgic lyrics paint this very timely song about holding on to the feeling of bliss from your youth.
Survival: A duet with Drew and Ellie Holcomb with a bluesy rock musicality and old school gospel sound. It explores that Jesus is the answer to our very existence.
Child Again: A crystallized musical exploration of child-like faith that features glimmering keys and expansive rhythms
Out of Body: The title track from the album is an alternative rock song about this idea that once we think and feel with our spirit, who the Son sets free is free indeed. It has an infectious groove and rhythm and utilizes vocal layering.
Who Am I?: The latest promotional single for the album, poetic exploring the idea of defining our identity in Christ, it’s musicality is made up of handclaps, soaring chorus, and emotionally charged vocals. Overall, it’s a song about the fight to accept, embrace and trust that the greatest love requires nothing in return.
Banks: A song written for the women in the band member’s lives, the musicality is built with acoustic guitars, romantic, vulnerable lyrics, soft vocals, vocal layering, and windpipes that build a beautiful swelling of the overall listening experience.
Riding High: Bluesy Soul Rock meets Classic Rock Feel (Guns N Roses Welcome To the Jungle meets Poison’s Nothing But a Good Time) exploring this concept of living large in the mercy and grace of God.
Bottom of a Heartbreak: Soft Rock Ballad about the true emotions one feels while in the midst of a heartbreak featuring vulnerable emotive lyrics and pain portrayed in the vocal performance.
Seasons: Delicate piano, plaintive strumming and starkly powerful vocals, this song finishes out the album by telling the true story of a close friend of the band’s struggles with fertility and adoption. It’s based on the passage in Ecclesiastes 3. God makes everything beautiful in it’s time (Ecc 3:11).
Out of Body is NeedToBreathe’s seventh studio album and will be released to the public this Friday August 28, 2020 from Elektra Records and available for pre-order now wherever music is sold.
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Imagine the absolute screeching brakes sound that resounded when the entire world, affected by COVID-19 pandemic and still dang bored in quarantine, when Taylor Swift posted the image announcing her new album was written and recorded entirely in quarantine, and with no warning was released on July 24, 2020.
Folklore is the eighth studio album by Taylor Swift who recorded the entire album while in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With elements of indie folk, alternative rock, electro-folk, and chamber pop it brings Taylor Swift’s natural storytelling ability to life without the upbeat pop sounds. It is written in entirely in third person narrative flowing from a stream of consciousness.
It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and also helped Swift gain a Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day for an album by a female artist on Spotify.
Song by Song Review
Click here to listen to the entire album while reading this review.
Taking us back to her RED album era, Swift’s Folklore is a book of lyrical poems and stories that will peak your curiosity, inspire you, and educate you. Few songwriters have the power of achieving all three in one album.
The 1: Driven by a danceable, bouncy arrangement of trickling piano, minimal percussion and electronic accents. Lyrically it centers around the nostalgic remembrance of myths and lost loves. It contemplates a what if scenario with at person being possible.
Cardigan: With elements of folk and soft rock ballad driven by a stripped down arrangement of a drum sample and moody atmosphere, it discusses the teenage love triangle which follows a love triangle from three people’s perspectives at different times in their lives.
The Last Great American Dynasty: Features a glitchy alternative production with classical instruments. It tells the story of Rebekah Harkness, who was hated by the town and blamed for the death of her then-husband and heir to Standard Oil. Swift makes parallels to her own career and the harsh criticisms she’s received.
Exile: A melancholic duet with Bon Iver over dramatic strings. The weepy song begins with a plodding piano, advancing into a climax of chorused vocals, synths, and glorious harmonies. This song describes two ex-lovers seeing each other following a break-up.
My Tears Ricochet: A Gothic song encompasses twinkling music box instrumentals, backing church choir vocals, reverberated ad-libs in the bridge, and shuddering drums. Sung from the perspective of a deceased lover’s ghost, it is one of my favorites off the album.
Mirrorball: Folk-tinged jangle-pop and dream pop song with a nervous dance-floor sensibility, swirling vocals, jangly guitars and pedal steel. It depicts Swift as a reflective disco ball: she sees herself as reflecting all the personalities around her, she entertains others, and she shatters like glass when her heart is broken.
Seven: A nostalgic escapist song sung in her upper register about Taylor’s childhood friends who seemed to have an unhappy life at home.
August: This track’s musicality is my favorite off the album, driven by acoustic guitar, shimmering vocal reverb and Swift’s perfectly timed key-changes. This gloomy pop rock song and dream pop ballad talks about a summer fling that is ill-fated.
This is Me Trying: Musically, an orchestral grandeur surrounds Swift’s ghostly vocals drenched in reverb, talking about accountability and regret.
Illicit Affairs: I kept this track on repeat for an entire day. Over a stripped down arrangement, finger-plucked strings and soft horns narrates infidelity and highlights the measures the disloyal protagonist has to carry out in order to keep the affair between a man and herself a secret.
Her wordplay in this track is absolute fire.
Invisible String: Banjo-driven with an airy-folk production consisting of acoustic riff and thumping vocal backbeats. It references an east Asian folk myth about a red thread of fate tying two soulmates together.
Mad Woman: A song that tackles the taboo associated with female rage making comments referencing her battles with Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta over owning her music and rapper Kanye West who defamed her on his song, “Famous.”
Epiphany: A Coldplay-like song; it’s an ethereal hymn that depicts the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic paying homage to healthcare workers and comparing them to her grandfather, a military veteran who served in World War II. The reverent vocals in the song are supported by “glacial” piano.
Betty: A folk rock and country song with intertwining harmonica, it concludes the third perspective of the teenage love triangle from the perspective of the cheating boyfriend James.
Peace: Musically, a pulse juxtaposed with a lush guitar bassline, a calm tune describing Swift’s maturation and changing view of romance.
Hoax: A despondent note of hopeful sadness compromises this piano ballad that closes out this incredible musical work. Filled with melancholy and darkness, “Hoax” narrates the struggles endured in a toxic relationship.
Magic meets romantic suspense in this first installment of the Sleeping Lotus series. Raena Barren has magic power, and she’s the only person in the kingdom who can hide it.
She survives on the streets of Soma using the magic until she comes face to face with Jorr Potent, and she must save his life.
After he gives her a job in the castle, Raena spends ten years falling in love with him.
Overall, I found McKaye’s writing to be poignant and page turning but at the same time I felt the story lacked something.