#BookishThoughts: Stop Missing Your Life by Cory Muscara helps you learn what it means to be truly present in a distracting world

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Released at the end of 2019, I was eager to walk into 2020 more present than I had in previous years.

I got the book in January from the publisher and thought it would be a quick and easy read.

After all, it was a book walking me through how to be deeply present.

Now, five months later (I finished the book in May 2020), I’ve finished the book and see how very un-present not to mention irresponsible I’ve been.

In itself, reading a book is an act of being present. Present and actively engaged with the materials covered (if non-fiction) or in the story itself (with fiction, poetry, and memoir).

What does it mean to be deeply present?

pablo

And it was during those five months from when I began reading this book to now, that I sought justice for evil. I had witnessed and experienced, sought healing and wholeness after heartbreak, betrayal, and utter rejection, and I began to speak from a place of true honesty and authenticity which I’ve never truly had in the twenty-seven years of my life prior.

pablo (1)

Muscara’s book takes the reader through personal anecdotes and mindfulness practices down a journey of true presence and intimacy with ourselves, and relates that back to the intimacy and connection we have with others.

Now, at 28, I feel more self-aware, authentic, and unapologetic about who I am than I ever have, and I will never allow myself to suppress the ‘shadow parts’ that need loving, too.

Once I sat down to being more present, and committed to finishing this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe anyone could benefit from reading it.

As far as my own journey into being present, I will start by being more adamant and dedicated toward being present while reading books I review, and music albums as well.

Overall, I want this to be me telling the world, I promise to stop not showing up for myself and all the Smart Cookie Philes is to people everywhere.

Meaning whether with my clients or books or music I promise to review, I will aim to get it done or offer a “thanks but no thanks.”

It’s this small but simple thing I believe will make the most difference.

#BookReview: Partition of Africa by @oliviadeard Plus #Giveaway

Giveaway is Now Closed

Have you ever felt like you made the wrong choice or felt as if everyone was against you?

Or

Struggled to understand why one of your parents chose not to know you?

Ard’s characters walk right off the pages and keep you reading from start to finish.

Harriet Greene is a student at Howard Knox University but as any college campus goes, her life is full of scandal.

Harriet or Hattie is relatable, vulnerable, and brave.

You instantly want her to win and the story and Ard’s way with words pulls you in.

20200122_205900

 

#MusicMuses: Pop Music Mix January 2020

I think pop music is a fascinating genre because unlike all the other genres of music it is a mix of them plus constantly evolving. It’s always got a catchy beat, lyrics that grip, and a message based on current issues of the time.

For me, pop music has reminded of certain times with certain people. Or the decade of my birth because 90s pop was pretty dang fun.

Pop music has progressively gotten a lot darker and more deeper, in a genuine reflection of our society and world as a whole.

Yet, it is filled with so many songs that carry you through when nothing else seems to.

Here is a playlist for anyone looking to add something fresh and inviting.

Haunted House:Voice manipulation and Christina’s big band musicality create this dark jazz track about how one’s heart is haunted with past lovers, broken pieces, and twisted walk ways.

pablo (14)

Nice To Meet Ya:  Uptempo pop track with vintage vibes about seeing someone at a club or bar, and feeling a connection but not getting their name.

Adore You:  3rd single from Styles’ Fine Line, features Harry speaking about his love and passion for a significant other, and the extent to which he would do things.

pablo (15)

I’m Fakin’:  An electropop track about two people who have very large energies and disagree often. It’s only an act. The track features a clock ticking in the background on the breakdown.

You Can’t Stop The Girl: A female empowerment track that is from Disney’s second Maleficient movie.

Up All Night:  An uptempo pop track about troubling thoughts that keep you up all night, struggling with anxiety.

Lost My Mind:   The windchimes in the musicality are a perfect touch to a track about feeling winded because someone took your breath away, they left you, and you can’t get them off your mind.  It is a deep exploration of the human heart, and even after you leave someone’s presence they stay with you and you feel like you’ve lost your mind in loving them.

pablo (16)

Keep On: A soft song that shares an encouraging  message for anyone who suffers with any and all symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses.

Fall On Me: A cover of Andrea Bocelli’s 2018 song of the same name. The “Say Something” duo is back to create a multilayered piece of music about falling in love or falling on anyone when you can’t carry your burdens alone.

pablo (17)

Fired Up by Grace Carter: A fun pop track about being in love and it fuels your overall passion for life.

This Is On You:  An almight emo girl bop about not feeling responsible for someone else’s happiness.

Poser:  A song about struggling in self-worth and trying not to mess up what you share with someone

Anyone: An emotionally charged piano ballad about needing help as she wants someone to be there through the tough times with her. It was written and recorded four days before her near-fatal overdose in July 2018.

pablo (18)

pablo (19)

Underdog: An Uptempo R&B song about people working for a better life, co-written with Ed Sheeran.

20200127_201808

 

Don’t miss my Billie Eillish giveaway!

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: Light On Glass by @MKeenerWrites

I know this going to sound pretentious and a bit ungrateful but the last book I read that had me absolutely enthralled was Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren. I read that at the end of August. As you can see, it’s been a while since a book transported me fully into the story.

EKfITbEWwAApvbE.jpg

As I was reading the first chapter, Light On Glass immediately had me hooked.

“the first chapter has left me breathless. Keener chiseled a cave from stone with her words and whoever this Lucia character is I must know her story.”

Overall, it has two main characters the author Sarah who is struggling with writing her book after publishing a first novel that turned her into a has-been writer who suffered a few very poignant critiques when the novel was reviewed.

pablo (8).png

As a former teenage author myself, I instantly related to that.

Right now, I am struggling writing the first draft of a new WIP because of a comment my dad made and kept harping at me with when I wrote the first scene and shared it with him even in its premature state.

I will do as Sarah does and forget the critics, head to a library, and just tell the story.

pablo (7).png

The second character is within Sarah’s novel Lucia. She is standing on cliffs overlooking the rough seas below. She is likable, romantic, and fights for her chance at true love no matter what people say or think of her, and that to me takes guts.

pablo (5).png

Overall, Light On Glass is enthralling, enchanting, and even educational as you learn some fun beekeeping facts throughout. Once you read it, your heart may never recover but you will be forever changed, in the best possible way.

#MusicMonday: TSwift gets all sentimental with new album ‘Lover’

If you’ve followed TSwift as long as I have (I mean the first time I heard her music I myspace messaged her. She didn’t reply, fyi), you know that Taylor has quite the reputation musically. She uses her personal experiences and many failed relationships to write songs from the heart and that is why her music still resonates despite her transition to pop from country in 2013.

Back with her seventh studio album, Taylor bring us lover released Friday August 23, 2019. Unlike the dark aggressive themes and musicality of her previous work ReputationLover is a love letter to love in all its maddening, passionate, exciting, enchanting, horrific, tragic, wonderful glory.

It has sounds of pop rock, synth pop, and electopop.

taylor-swift-getty-510x600.jpg

Song by Song Review

I Forgot That You ExistedA cheery farewell to the events that inspired Reputation set to a minimalist piano arrangement and finger snaps. Instantly catchy tune. Definitely made me want to hear the rest of the album.

pablo (77)

CRUEL SUMMER: A synth pop song co-written with St. Vincent about a summer romance where there is some element of desperation and pain.

pablo (78).png

Lover: All instruments used in the making of this track were made before 1970 which helps give this track it’s timeless feel. A country style waltz track meets a romantic but haunting song about being in love with love.

pablo (79).png

The Man: An up-tempo synth pop anthem about the double standard women face about their actions and their words. I have never related more to a song in my life by Taylor Swift or anyone. It’s my favorite song on this album hands down.

pablo (80)

The Archer: A dream pop mid-tempo song that focuses on Swift’s flaws and insecurities within a relationship.

pablo (81).png

I Think He Knows: The up-tempo funk-inspired love song about all the things you admire about a potential love. The song even contains a reference to Nashville’s music row.

pablo (82).png

Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince: With an anti-“You Belong With Me” feel and theme compared to works Bruce Springsteen and Lana Del Rey about disillusionment of US Politics. Swift has recently come out politically as a proud Democrat and a silent supporter of Hilary Clinton.

pablo (84).png

Paper Rings:  Bubbly pop punk track about committing to a relationship, forgo any formalities and marry him with homemade paper rings.

pablo (85).png

Cornelia Street: A piano-backed ballad about a relationship  that may not survive, named after “Cornelia Street” a street in Greenwich Village where Swift used to rent an apartment.

 

pablo (86).png

Death by A Thousand Cuts: A break up song inspired by the Netflix movie Someone Great, which was inspired by Swift’s album 1989. 

pablo (87).png

London Boy: An up close and personal look at Swift’s  three year relationship with Joe Alewyn.pablo (88).png

Soon You’ll Get Better (ft. The Dixie Chicks):  A heavy banjo country ballad where Swift discusses her mother’s battle with cancer. It shows how there are real problems and there is everything else, and cancer is a real problem.

False God:  Using heavy religious imagery, it discusses the force between two people in a relationship as all-powerful and greater than themselves.

pablo (89).png

You Need To Calm Down: A track with an electropop musicality about how social media gives us too much courage to bully and attack others.

Swift wrote this celebrating the LGBTQ+ community but slightly slanders Christians in the undertones.

Afterglow: A dream pop song about self-sabotaging a relationship, overreacting about a misunderstanding.

pablo (90).png

Me!: A catchy pop track and the lead single off this album about self-love and confidence featuring frontman of Panic! at the Disco, Brendon Urie.

 

pablo (96).png

It’s Nice To Have a Friend: A dreamy ballad infused with steel drums about two friends who meet in school and eventually end up married.

Daylight: A song reminiscing the pain and struggle of past relationships making you doubt your ability to find true love until she meets someone  who brightens her life in a new way.

pablo (97).png

Lover by Taylor Swift will leave nothing unsaid and will read like all the great romances have since the beginning of time: void of time and space love is the greatest mystery and necessity vital to all of us as human beings.

 

 

#MusicMonday: New Pop Music You Can’t Ignore November 2019 Edition

pablo (3)

Teeth by 5SOS: The first time I heard this come on when I was listening to Pandora, I recognized that it was 5sos but it didn’t sound like a 5sos song. Instantly, I was hooked. I kept it on repeat for a while, and again when it came on during my shuffle during another listening session.

With a brooding yet ominous sound similar to their other single ‘Easier’, Teeth follows the highs and lows of a relationship with a bass-heavy musicality. It was written by the band but produced by Ryan Tedder, and is featured on the Netflix Drama’s 3rd season soundtrack 13 Reasons Why.

If this is any indication of where the band is heading musically, I not only support it but I will tell everyone about it.

pablo.png

I Hate LA: Hot Chelle Rae’s first single since 2014, it’s a contemporary alt-rock meets pop break-up song with a Hot Chelle Rae twist. Hurray for their return to music (personally, no other band’s music gives me purpose) and their unique lyrical storytelling. Unlike their previous music, it has a more mature sound in terms of songwriting and musicality.

I mean what other band has used “Zack Galifianakis” in a song so smoothly.

pablo (2).png

Raising Hell by Ke$ha: An alternative electropop dance track about good people doing naughty things and having fun. It is the first single off the upcoming studio album High Road.

pablo (1).png

Everything I Wanted: An electropop slow jam based on a dream Eilish had about killing herself and nobody cared. As a song and not knowing that the inspiration was based on that and her strong sibling relationship with brother Finneas, it is a genius hypnotic track by the 2 time AMA winner (as of last night). I personally liked the idea of how the person realizes how having everything they wanted is somewhat of a nightmare.

pablo (4)
Graveyard by Halsey: I actually saw her perform this on the CMA’s before I heard this on the radio but this single is hella deep and addicting. It’s an acoustic song that showcases a relationship where you love someone so much you follow them into their darkness. It can also be seen as a song about a toxic relationship.

#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

Jon McLaughlin

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.

hard times paramore.png

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.

Grudges Paramore

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: 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.

Jonny Lang.png

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

#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.

 

pablo (20)

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

pablo (21).png

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.

pablo (22)

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

pablo (27).png