#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.

Willie Handler Press Graphic

 

#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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#SmartCookiePR: Interview with Author Oscar Redden, IV

Today, we are bringing you an exclusive author interview with debut children’s book author, Oscar Redden IV.

The Smart Cookie : What made you want to become a writer?

Oscar: Writing poetry was a way to express my thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner. At the time I was extremely shy. I was not the “social butterfly” in high school or college. I needed an outlet. Additionally, writing helped me understand and discover my voice. It was the only time I did not care about breaking a few grammar rules—delivering the unvarnished truth about life.

The Smart Cookie: How have your life experiences contributed to the creation of a character such as Albert The Albatross?

 Oscar:  I believe the exceptional home-training my parents instilled in my childhood was crucial in the creation of the character of Albert the Albatross. Lessons such as “treat others fairly, standing for a purpose, leading with integrity, sharing, being a team player and etc” all fueled the character. Many of the challenges that arose I had experienced or watched others endure. Throughout my life experiences, I was able to apply these teaching moments to become wiser, all while managing my emotions and projecting an effective attitude.

 The Smart Cookie: What made you want to transition from writer to author?

Oscar: I consider myself to be an entrepreneur; I like to “dip and dabble” in different areas. I was not privy to authorship prior to my initial picture book. I looked at the transition as a short-term goal for 2019. Again, I do not have formal training or background in writing.

I took a chance on a message that I think resonates in society and will ultimately define everyone: how did we treat others, and did we live a life of pride that we would be comfortable telling our parents about?

The Smart Cookie:  If you could chat with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?

Oscar: I would love to chat with my beloved grandfather, Oscar Redden JR, who recently passed away suddenly. He was my role model and gave me my very first job. Working alongside him, I witnessed his ambition, service to his community and love for family which left an everlasting impression on my life. I dedicated my book to him in memory of his life.

 The Smart Cookie: In the book, Albert travels around and meets many people. Name a place you traveled to that changed you for the better. Talk about the experience.

 Oscar: Approximately 4 years ago, I traveled to Costa Rica on a mission trip. The country was beautiful and solely driven by agricultural. Costa Rica contains over 100 volcanoes, positioned throughout the land. Uniquely, when the volcanoes erupt, the molten lava rolls down from the highest peak and saturates the land with minerals- spurring vegetation growth. Because the minerals in the lava are so rich, there is no need for farmers to do crop rotation, making farming easier and prosperous. When crops are harvested, they are sold as exports into America helping Costa Rica’s economy.

During my mission trip to Costa Rica I had the honor of serving at a non-for-profit recreation center for the youth. There I assisted with the sanding and painting of walls and helped with the mentoring of kids. This center was located right outside the capital, San Jose, in a small village called La Carpio (or the Village of Hope). I learned this village’s population is mostly children. Most of the kids attend school for half the day while the reminder work jobs to help support their families.  Because children start working at an early age, education becomes less of a priority. I learned that the kids in this village do not have the opportunities to attend college. This was an “eye opener” for me as often we take access to education for granted in the United States.

Also, I visited another town called La Fortuna located right outside the capital. There I volunteered at an adoption shelter doing yard work- digging, planting and removing weeds from the garden. Also, I played board games with kids and colored with them. The kids seemed to really enjoy our company. However, it was heartbreaking to see them start to cry once we started to leave; their smiles faded. There were children asking us to adopt them. They sensed that no one was coming to pick them up. Unfortunately, our departure meant that they would have to deal with this harsh reality.

 

 The Smart Cookie: What is the most important thing you have learned about attitude?

 Oscar: A positive attitude can be contagious. Once you spread it, everyone gets a piece. That’s why I believe positivity is the catalyst to achieving altitude in attitude!

 

 The Smart Cookie: Did you always want to write for children? Why or why not?

 

Oscar: To be honest, my intention was never to write for children. However, I saw an opportunity and took on the assignment. There are millions of kids across the world growing up without hope and aspirations. I wanted to create a picture book that had some substance and taught valuable life lessons to impressionable, young readers.

The Smart Cookie: When not writing, what do you like to do in your free time?

Oscar: I like to exercise. Also, I enjoy listening to old school R&B and hip-hop. I enjoy attending sporting events such as basketball games. Most of all, I enjoy spending quality time at home with my fiancé tending to our flower garden.

To order Oscar’s book, please visit here.

 

#SmartCookiePR: Willie Handler’s Interview On The Author Show

June 24, 2019 —– Canadian author of political satire The Road Ahead and forthcoming science fiction Loved Mars, Hated The Food (Kyanite Publishing, August 13, 2019) Willie Handler did an interview with Linda Thompson of The Author Show Podcast.

The interview primarily covers Handler’s first novel The Road Ahead and will only be up on the site and various other media platforms for 24 hours today only.

To listen to the inteview, please click the image below.

Hear Willie Handler on The Authors Show!

 

#MusicMonday: Happiness Begins

The Jonas Brothers have saved 2019. Before you roll your eyes and exit out of this window, please hear me out here. See, The Jonas Brothers actually tried returning as a band in 2013 but people forget about it. They released a single entitled “Pom Poms” in anticipation of their fifth studio album and even performed it on an awards show but it just sounded like a song you release when you want to give up on yourself. Gone are the purity rings now traded in for wedding rings and they are back and better than ever.

Sure this review may be entirely biased as I became a Jonas Brothers fan in 2006 and have never wavered in my support of them. I even supported each brother’s individual ventures: Kevin’s reality show (Married To Jonas, E!), Joe’s solo career then as the lead singer of DNCE, and Nick’s solo venture (Nick and The Administration) and Nick’s successful solo career (Jealous, Chains off Last Year Was Complicated).

Now that Kevin is happily married with two kids, Nick is newly married to actress Priyanka Chopra, and Joe has found lasting love and newly married to Sophie Turner (GOT), they are now fully men putting out music that speaks to the wisdom they have obtained in the ten years they were apart as a group Happiness Begins has themes of exploration and maturity and it follows the release of their Amazon Prime Video documentary Chasing Happiness, which preludes their brotherly memoir coming in November entitled Blood. Even with ten years apart, this album Happiness Begins debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Song by Song Review

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SUCKER: Their first single in ten years and an upbeat pop song about being infatuated with someone and someone you would go for great lengths for. The light rock instrumental is minimal, leaving the central focus being on the brother’s vocals on their comeback single. “Sucker” debuted at #1 on the week of it’s release (March 16, 2019) on the Billboard Hot 100. They are the first group to debut at #1 in this century.

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COOL: The second single off this album contains various references to the brothers’ personal and professional achievements from their time apart. The song and subsequent music video have a strong 80’s aesthetic. It is supposed to be reminiscent of 1984’s Miami and timeless eighties MTV in all it’s decadent glory, according to the band. The single debuted at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon it’s release.

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ONLY HUMAN: My favorite song on this comeback album because it’s reggae musicality  that makes you want to dance. This track is an ode to the band’s love for 80’s music.

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I BELIEVE: A synth-slow jam detailing Nick’s whirlwind romance with wife, Priyanka Chopra.

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USED TO BE: A pop song about seeing a past lover living their life without you and how it brings back old emotions and memories.

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EVERY SINGLE TIME: Electronic pop musicality about an on and off again lover who doesn’t have real feelings but you catch yourself always thinking about, as if the fact that they can’t love you or .don’t want you makes you want them more for a challenge.

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DON’T THROW IT AWAY: An upbeat pop country song about a relationship that could end but instead is being urged to not give up so quickly.

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LOVE HER: A soft romantic pop ballad showcasing the growth and maturity have regarding love and relationships. It discusses the sacrifices of being in loving relationship and what you do when you love someone.

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HAPPY WHEN I’M SAD: For some particular reason, I think of Rooney whenever this song comes on (When Did Your Heart Go Missing?) It’s a track about how people judge based on face value, and don’t really connect anymore.

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TRUST: A bluesy track that discusses being unable to control your senses and your emotions around someone.

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STRANGERS: A song about realizing your instantly closer than you thought you were  with someone as your relationship progresses over time.

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HESITATE: Joe’s love letter to his wife, Sophie Turner about wanting to carry the burdens of the person you love without hesitation.

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ROLLERCOASTER: A nostalgic pop track reminiscing the band’s success. Seeing the more positive, shining moments of fame versus to the scary, negative ones.  Following signing first in 2006 with Columbia Records and then tranferring to Hollywood Records in 2007 after gaining an immense amount of traction from their single, “Year 3000,” but the boys officially broke up as a band in 2010.

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Because I don’t like to fangirl except on video if you want all the extras I don’t include in the review, please make sure to watch my newest episode of #MusicalNotes.

 

 

 

 

#PoeticMuses: Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill

Naturally, I was floored when Thought Catalog reached out to me directly as someone they thought of to review Nikita Gill’s newest poetry collection. They sent me the book and from the second I opened it I had trouble putting it down. It was like slow waves that wash over you as you stand upon the ocean’s edge. Your toes sink into the sand as you step deeper and deeper into the water, wading into it until the bravest parts of you are under water and only your head is above.

The water gets rougher and you must fight against the current beneath you.

That is what this poetry book explores. The struggles we suffer within ourselves so the poetry book reads like you are taking a deep sea dive into the depths of your heart and soul.

It is complete and utter inked beauty and leaves you feeling at peace upon closing the back cover, much like a day spent upon the water does or sitting listening to the ocean waves crashing on a sandy beach. The salt air does wonders for the human heart, and this book is no exception to that notion. I recommend everyone read this much like I would recommend taking a cruise vacation or booking a weekend getaway to stay near the beach.

 

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WHY ARE WE ALL AFRAID TO BE? A poem about how the world makes you feel less than you are or small as person.

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I NAMED US GRIEF: a poem about wanting to be with someone or not being right for someone but you still wear black and mourn them as if a part of you has died.

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For additional poems from Nikita Gill’s poetry book Your Heart is the Sea, please follow the Smart Cookie on Instagram and Twitter.

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