“It’s all frivolous, meaningless. The only things that matter are already gone or almost gone. Already put aside in my safe, tidy compartment of lost things.”- Lena from ‘Who We Are Instead’
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we’re going to review a new book called ‘Who We Are Instead’ by Kyla Stone, which was provided by for review by ‘Paper Moon Press’. This is a very interesting book that touches on themes of loss, love, family, & finding your purpose in life. Fair warning this book does discuss mental illness, child abuse/neglect, drug/alcohol use, undetermined rape self-harm, & suicide, so if these issues are triggering to you, please don’t read this book, or proceed with caution. Now let’s get to the review. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
‘Who We Are Instead’ follows the dual perspectives of sisters Lena & Lux McKenna as they are forced to confront their individual personal demons when their father has a heart attack & is given a very small window of time to live. Lena must return home from her arts college where she is studying photography, & take on her role as “the responsible one”, while trying to resolve her issues with 18 year old “wild child” Lux. As we learn more about Lena, we see that issues from her childhood have cause her to become a more guarded & introverted person. Contrary to Lena, Lux has no desire to succeed in school, likes to party, smoke, do drugs, & drink a lot, & also leaves home for weeks at a time without informing anyone as to where she’s going.
So now we’ve reached the big question, is this book worth your time? Honestly the answer is a very loud yes! In this book we not only get to experience both girls perspectives, but also get a very strong sense of who they are as people, what has shaped them, & what’s important to them. We also get romance plots for both girls, & get introduced to Lux’s AMAZING childhood friends. I also really like that all of the characters we meet are flawed in some way of another, & the author does not attempt to redeem each of them which unfortunately does often mirror our own world very closely. With Lena & Lux’s stories we see how similar past experiences can cause different reactions in each person. We see that some people fight the past they are given to create the future they desire, while others run from their past in order to numb the pain & protect themselves. ‘Who We Are Instead’ gives us a very realistic & gripping tale of what can happen when a fractured family finally shatters, while also leaving the ending as ambiguous & open to promise as Lena & Lux themselves are. Definitely a 5 star read that’s will give you all the feels, but as also make you think about these very important issues.
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Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘YouTube Wednesday’ we’re going to review a very cool musician, who has found a way to merge her love of anime, with her love of music. If you haven’t heard of Amanda Lee (aka ‘LeeandLie` on YouTube), then you’re missing out on a uniquely talented singer/songwriter/voice actress. At the time of this blog post Amanda has over 1.2 million YouTube subscribers, & has worked on numerous anime/video game titles such as: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Overlord II, One Piece, Anonymous Noise, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2, Yandere Simulator, & many more. In 2017 she also released her debut EP which included 5 original songs co-written by Amanda. Needless to say she has become a rising star both online & in the voice acting industry, so now let’s catch all of y’all up with the amazingness that is Amanda Lee. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
The first video we’re going to talk about is Amanda’s ‘Sword Art Online- Crossing Field (Opening) [English ver]’ cover video, which was uploaded on September 2, 2012 (you can check out this video below). This is a very interesting video that really shows a unique take on this song. It’s very cool to see Amanda change the original Japanese lyrics into original English lyrics that still fit the beat of the music, but show her original take on the song. This skill shows that Amanda was a true artist even towards the beginning of her career. The next video we’re going to talk about is her ‘Dango Daikazoku (Ending) |English ver |’ cover video which was uploaded on February 22, 2014. Just in the 1 year & 5 months between this video & the Sword Art Online video, you can see a vast improvement in Amanda’s vocals, which shows just how dedicated she is to her craft. This cover is also a great example of how well Amanda can project the emotional undertones of a song, & really make her listener understand what the lyrics are trying to convey.
Next up we have Amanda’s ‘Pokemon – Pokemon Theme (Full Opening)’ video which features Natewantstobattle, which was uploaded on December 12, 2016 (you can check out this video below). This is definitely one of my favorite videos because it shows such a growth in Amanda’s artistry & video production skills. This video features revolving animation from all of the Pokemon generations from the 90s until present day which so unique & cool. This video shows the amount of thought Amanda puts into her videos, which proves how much she cares about her subscribers having a great experience on her channel. Lastly we have her ‘Debut EP Hourglass – Digital + Physical copies [Pre-Order NOW] video’, which was uploaded on August 14, 2017. This video features snippets of all 5 original songs on the ‘Hourglass’ EP, & really gives you a sense of Amanda’s personal musical style. In this EP the musical styles range from Pop, to Rock, to even EDM based. It definitely shows that Amanda is very comfortable as an artist, & that she will continue to impress us all as her career continues to grow.
You can keep up with everything Amanda is doing here:
“…it feels a little like it was during those days and weeks after we were born— like we’re all still part of one greater whole. The older we get, the more we all stretch into our own identities, but I still love the reminder that we started out together”. -Reagan from ‘Four Of A Kind’
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we have a new book review courtesy of Patchwork Press. Today we’re going to change things up a little bit by reviewing 2 books in 1 blog post. I was given the AMAZING opportunity to not only review the 1st book in a new series, but also the prequel novella. Because of how the books are written, it just makes more sense to give you all of my thoughts in 1 review so you can truly know if this series is for you. So 1st up we’re briefly discuss the novella entitled ‘Where We Were’, followed up by the 1st main book in the series called ‘Four Of A Kind’, both written by Kellie Sheridan. So now on to the review. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
In ‘Where We Were’ we meet our 4 central characters: 14 year old quadruplets Reagan, Reece, Reilly, & Rhiannon Donovan who are in the process of moving from their home in Richmond, Virginia to a small town in another state called Fairview. Throughout the book we get alternating chapters in which each girl narrates what’s going on in each of their lives in the final weeks before their move. This novella does a really great job of showing us each girl’s individual personality, as well as what their sister’s think of them through the use of a quote before each chapter begins. ‘Where We Were’ perfectly sets the stage for the beginning of ‘Four Of A Kind’, which is told from Reagan’s perspective & begins once the girls have moved to Fairview. We immediately see that the entire town has such a fascination with the girls’ birth, that they are minor celebrities in town. The story follows the girls (through Reagan’s eyes) as they deal with typical teenage drama such as friend & relationship issues, as well as trying to find their own identities in a town that watches their every move.
So now that you know the plot, let’s look at the book a little closer. First of all , Reagan is one of my new favorite protagonists. She is relatable, interesting, and most of all someone who you don’t mind spending the entire book with. She wasn’t a perfect character, but she was the kind of person that you can definitely see yourself befriending in real life. Now let’s move on to the love interest Kent, the son of a local reporter. Thank goodness for Kent! It is SOOOO hard to find a love interest in young adult literature that is loveable. They do exist, but they’re hard to find. I know that we are all tired of the bad-boy, the rebel with a heart of gold, the emotionally/physically abusive guy that our protagonist falls for because they’re “wounded inside”, basically the ‘you should never actually date this guy trope’. With Kent we don’t see any of this, instead we get a nice, friendly guy from beginning to end, he respects Reagan & honestly always seems to want what’s best for her. I thought that at some point he would turn on Reagan to help his mother write a scandalous story about her & her sisters but he never did. Needless to say there is definitely a great need for more characters like Kent in young adult literature. Next I really want to compliment the author on her awesome writing style. Although the story is told from Reagan’s point of view, you really feel like you get a sense of each sister’s personality. In both stories each sister is instantly identifiable, & none of them feel as if they get lost in the plot. We also get some diversity through the character of Reilly when we find out that she’s a lesbian. Although this is not thoroughly explored, it also doesn’t feel like a tacked on label in order to check the diversity box, but instead a real part of who the character is. Honestly there is so much that I can & do want to say about this book, but I would have you here all week. This is one of those truly great books that you instantly know will be one of your favs as soon as you finish it, & this definitely made this author an auto-buy author for me. With all that said I HAVE to give these books a 5 smiley face rating because I will DEFINITELY be re-reading them again this year, & look forward to reading the sequels that are already out, & any additional books in the series that are released in the future.
Keep up with everything Kellie is doing here:
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we have a book review of the first book in a new series called ‘Songs About a Girl’ by Chris Russell. This book was provided for review by Flatiron Books (a division of Macmillan Publishers), and was released on July 28th, 2016. Just so y’all know this will be a spoiler-free review so let’s get to the fun part of this blog, the book! Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
This is a story about a 15 year old girl named Charlie who is given the opportunity to photograph the biggest pop band in the world Fire&Lights. Although Charlie is a quiet, shy girl, she is quickly is pushed into the spotlight after a photo of her with one of the guys from the band is leaked. At 1st Charlie decides to distances herself from the band, but when she finds a connection between their new lead single and poetry in her deceased mother’s old journal she can’t ignore investigating a possible connection. The harder Charlie looks for answers about her own past, the more she experiences the dark side of fame and fandom.
I’m going to start off by saying that the premise of this book was super interesting. We live in a time where reality & gossip shows allow us to feel closer to our favorite stars than even before. Also, with the addition of social media we’re able to join fandoms & feel a community around our admiration. Although ‘Songs About a Girl’ is marketed (rightfully so) as a One Direction fan-fiction, it really does speak to the current celebrity-centric culture we all live in. Although this isn’t a new topic, I really liked the way Chris Russell showed his love for fandoms in this story, but also showed the consequences of what can happen when they cross the line. I also really liked the characters he created. Charlie is a relatable protagonist, her bff Melissa is the fangirl in us all, the guys in the band are interesting and fun to read about, even the “villains” & more minor characters serve their roles well. The problem however, lies in how all of this comes together. In the end this story is a One Direction fan-fiction at its core which can either be a good thing or a not do good thing. If you really like romance & One Direction then you’ll probably love this book, but only if you really really love both of those things. Personally I’m a fan of both but this story just didn’t click with me. The whole time I kept getting distracted by who inspired which character and it took me out of the story too much. The big twist was very predictable (and I’m horrible at predicting this stuff so that tells you a lot), and the love triangle was solved to quickly (I know, I know, a lot of us have asked for this but a little more tension is always nice). Also, the mystery surrounding Charlie’s mom felt unnecessary & ultimately seemed like it could potential get in the way of the romance between her & the guy she chooses at the end of the book. I feel like this book serves a very niche market which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but because of this forces me to give it 2 smiley faces. This is definitely a quick, light summer read that you can try out if it sounds interesting, but because it doesn’t have a very vast market appeal I can’t recommend it for everyone. However if you do read it & love it, then book 2 is already out, and book 3 will be released later this year!
Keep up with everything Chris is doing here:
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘YouTube Wednesday’ we’re taking another ride on the nostalgia train. If you were a kid in the late 90s then I have a treat for you! After millions of book sells, countless years, and A LOT of Marvel movies, we’re finally getting a movie about a very under appreciated superhero. Yup, today we’re talking about the ‘Captain Underpants: The Epic First Movie’ trailer. Whether you loved this series, or wished everyone would shut up about it, you can’t deny the legacy and reach of this series. When the 1st trailer for the movie dropped recently, I knew that we had to talk about it, so let’s get to the trailer. Ready? Ok, lets go!!!
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘YouTube Wednesday’ we’re going on a nostalgia train trip. I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the DuckTales revival (if you haven’t check out my blog post about it here: ). At this point most of us have seen the promo pics and have heard the cast sing the iconic theme song. But now Disney has FINALLY given us the one thing we’ve been craving ever since we first heard about this revival. Are you ready!?! No! It’s not the announcement of a Recess revival (although fingers crossed for that). No, it’s not a Kim Possible revival…stop guessing already! We have finally gotten a DuckTales trailer! Excited! I knew you would be! So if you want to learn all about this AMAZING trailer, then please read on. Ready! Ok, let’s go!!!
The animation is definitely different than what fans of the original series are used to, but if you’re a fan of the the animation on other recent Disney XD shows such as ‘Wander Over Yonder’ or ‘Gravity Falls’ then you’ll love this stylistic choice. Another departure from the original series comes in the form of the voice acting (we’ll sort of). Scrooge McDuck’s nephews Huey(played by Danny Pudi), Dewy (played by Ben Schwartz) and Louie (played by Bobby Moynihan) definitely sound less childlike, and now have very distinct voices. They have also lost the famous Donald Duck lisp which further adds to their unique personalities. Two characters that do sound very similar to their predecessors are LaunchPad McQuack (played by Beck Bennett, most known for his work on Saturday Night Live) & Scrooge McDuck (played by David Tennant, most known for his work as Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who & Barry Crouch Jr in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire). LaunchPad McQuack sounds very similar to the voice of our childhood & Scrooge sounds so identical it’s scary (and by scary I mean completely AMAZING!!!). We’re also going to get to hear a voice that we’ve heard many times before due to the fact that Donald Duck will be played by Tony Anselmo (who has been Donald’s official voic since 1985). Earlier this month the show was officially renewed by Disney XD for a 2nd season so the channel obviously had high hopes for this reboot. Personally I’m super excited to see what the new cast & crew can bring to this iconic show. What do you think people of the internet? One thing is for sure, whether this show is a hit or miss, it will definitely take us another 27 years to get that theme song out of our heads again (DuckTales! Woo-oo!).
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s `Monday Memos’ we’re going to discuss an AMAZING subscription box that y`all should all check out this holiday season! If you like trying exotic new dishes (or just want to impress your friends by how fancy you are) then the RawSpiceBar subscription service is for you. As you know, I never promote any band, artist, book, or product that I do not 100% believe in. I tried RawSpiceBar for the 1st time last year & I absolutely loved their service. Because of this experience I`m so happy to say that I have once again partnered with RawSpiceBar to bring you guys all the information you need to spice up your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other special event you have planned for this holiday season. Now let’s get to the review! Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
I received the October kit which had an Oktoberfest themes inspired by German spices! This kit included the following spices & accompanying recipes: Horseradish & Mustard Seed (which included a recipe for Horseradish & Mustard Cabbage), Caraway, Fennel & Anise Bread (which included a recipe for Caraway Cheese Soft Pretzels), and lastly Schnitzel Spices (which included a recipe for German Chicken Schnitzel). The Horseradish & Mustard Seed spice had a very earthy, fresh taste that really gave the Horseradish & Mustard Seed Cabbage a unique taste that made me want to add it as a usual dinner item. The Caraway, Fennel & Anise Bread was definitely my favorite of the spices because the Caraway Cheese Soft Pretzels were super delicious. If you want mall level pretzels then you have to give this recipe a try. Lastly (but DEFINITELY not least) we have the Schnitzel Spices for the super yummy German Chicken Schnitzel. This dish was a little spicy, but the crunchy exterior and juicy interior really made the dish standout among common chicken dishes.
I bet you’re hungry now right? Well have no fear people of the internet because I have your solution! First I have a question for you. What’s better than awesome food? Give up? Awesome food at a discount! So here’s what you do. Go to www.rawspicebar.com, create your flavor profile (where you can describe your dietary needs RawSpiceBar can pick the right recipes & flavors for you), customize your fav recipes & flavors, then decide if you want a 6 month subscription (only $7 a kit) or a 12 month subscription (only $6 a kit). To make this deal even more awesome the box ship for free & you can $5 off your first month by using the code FLAVOR6! Amazing right? So whether you get your RawSpiceBar subscription for you or as a gift for the special chief in your life, you can’t go wrong with this AMAZING offer!
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