Book Review: Note to Self

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Found on Google Images

Title: Note to Self

Author: Connor Franta

My Rating: ★★★1/2

Goodreads Summary: “In his New York Times bestselling memoir, A Work in Progress, Connor Franta shared his journey from small-town Midwestern boy to full-fledged Internet sensation. Exploring his past with humor and astounding insight, Connor reminded his fans of why they first fell in love with him on YouTube – and revealed to newcomers how he relates to his millions of dedicated followers.

Now, two years later, Connor is ready to bring to light a side of himself he’s rarely shown on or off camera. In this diary-like look at his life since A Work in Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment – with others and himself.

Told through short essays, letters to his past and future selves, poetry and original photography, Note to Self is a raw, in-the-moment look at the fascinating interior life of a young creator turning inward in order to move forward.”

My Thoughts:

Note to Self is a fast and easy read. Not only is this because of the format of pictures, poems, and short essays, but this book reads in a pretty casual or personable way. This voice works well, as the book is intended to read like a diary as if it’s coming straight from Franta’s head. It is not meant to seem super planned out, rather what he was feeling at the time (or almost, after being edited a lot to make those ideas better).

One aspect that did not bother me much, but I can see annoying others is Note to Self can get a little cheesy. (He does acknowledge this at least once in the book however). This book talks a lot about mental health and positive thinking and Franta’s relationships with those topics. For example: “No sailor, no fisherman, no captain of a ship has ever earned his stripes on calm waters.” See, cheesy but not overwhelmingly so.

On another note, aesthetically, Note to Self is gorgeous. Franta is a very talented photographer and this is apparent in the pictures interspersed with his writing. Here are some examples:

As I sort of already mentioned, this book felt very authentic which was likely because of the way it was written. Note to Self was very casual, which made me feel that Franta was being very much himself. This honesty helped make it a good memoir because it made the story intriguing.

Another aspect that made Note to Self strong was that it was easy for me to relate to. There were many times when I felt I could really understand his struggles, which came from having experience with some of the issues. Additionally, Franta’s descriptions of his emotions were well written. However, there were also times I felt his topic choices or ideas were unoriginal or generic. I felt like there was depth missing because there was less personal connection for him. (And therefore less connection for me). An example is when Franta talks about wanting to disconnect from technology more and how in our current society, (largely because of our constant access to everything), everyone seems busy all the time. I don’t think that these ideas are generally new or unheard of.

Lastly, I sometimes had issues with the poems specifically. Not always (but there were a few times) I felt that the poems read like fake deep Tumblr poems. People who frequent Tumblr know exactly what I mean, but for those who don’t, it means basically what it sounds like. Someone is trying to be deep and meaningful but it really just sounds cheesy or like they are trying to sound emotional or deep and really aren’t. I don’t mean that Franta didn’t feel these emotions, because it is clear he did, however, the execution was not always as good as other times. For example: “your smell and smile/could make even the strongest/fall to their knees” It’s just a bit much.


No playlist this time 😦 It was hard to come up with anything for this book, so there is none, sorry!

Comment Below: What good books have you read recently?

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#MelanieMartinezIsOverParty

As I looked at the side of my blog, where there are tags from my blog listed, you can see Melanie Martinez listed. This is because I have talked about her a few times, in my Mash-Up Mini Series and used her songs in my playlists. I have talked about this on Twitter and Facebook, but wanted to make it crystal clear that I no longer support her. She has been accused of rape by a friend of hers and I could and will never support anyone like that. I won’t delete my other posts with her in them, as her music or song was just part of a whole playlist or book review. I will link more information on what happened here, because it is not my story to tell.

Book Review: Teen Spirit

1196433Title: Teen Spirit: The Stories Behind Every Nirvana Song

Author: Chuck Crisafulli

My Rating: ★★★1/2

Summary: Teen Spirit tells the story behind every track on the band’s albums. Why did Kurt Cobain feel moved to write “Polly”? What is Teen Spirit? Who is Floyd the Barber? The book follows Nirvana from its earliest beginnings to rock superstardom, pinpointing the genesis of each of the band’s original songs, and exploring the sources from which they chose to cover songs that punctuated their records. This is the story of the most important band in what will surely stand as one of the most important times in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.”

My Thoughts:

I just want to start this review by noting the irony in this book just existing, as it is exactly what Kurt Cobain didn’t like: people dissecting his lyrics and music. (As you can see below…)

Now to be fair, the book does tend to mostly tell the stories behind the songs, but it does also look into what songs mean, which is the part he didn’t love. Regardless, it’s a pretty good book. Which is what I am here to discuss.

I really liked the pictures used in Teen Spirit a lot. There were many good shots of Nirvana performing, as well as from photoshoots. There are also pictures of The Vaselines and the Meat Puppets, (as well as some other bands), to show the bands Nirvana covered and appreciated.

One thing I will say is that Teen Spirit is not an incredibly in-depth look at Nirvana’s discography. Many of the stories told in the book are well known or at least not unknown. It does put all of these stories in one place for each song, but I think many people who are big Nirvana fans (like myself) will have already heard some of the stories previously.

Overall, it was a good look at Nirvana’s incredible ability to create great music and why it was created. It told their story, but mostly just musically, which is a bit refreshing given most Nirvana books focus on Kurt Cobain and his death. It is a good book for anyone who wants to learn more about Nirvana and how they created their music.


Playlist:

For this playlist, I based the song choices off of stories from Teen Spirit that I found to be especially interesting. (Which means, of course, this playlist consists of only Nirvana songs or covers they did). Additionally, I included performances for each song!

  1. Floyd the Barber
  2. Hairspray Queen
  3. Territorial Pissings
  4. School
  5. Mr. Mustache
  6. Scentless Apprentice
  7. Paper Cuts
  8. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
  9. Plateau
  10. Where Did You Sleep Last Night

You can hear the full playlist here.

Snapshot Book Review: From Cradle to Stage

51foeswllhl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Title: From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars

Author: Virginia Hanlon Grohl

My Rating: ★★★★

Summary: “In From Cradle to Stage, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, mother of Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, shares personal stories about Dave’s childhood alongside family anecdotes from fellow ‘rock moms.’

In exclusive interviews with the mothers of Michael Stipe, Adam Levine, Amy Winehouse, Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson, Dr. Dre, and other other music stars, Grohl asked the questions only a mom could answer: When did you hear the first chords, the drumbeats, that stellar voice that announced that music was the future? Did you encourage your child’s passions despite the odds against success? Did you worry about the unknown, unpredictable road ahead? About possible dangers? About drugs? Do you still remind him to pack a warm coat when he leaves on tour?

These answers–along with never-before-seen family photographs and a heartwarming introduction by Dave Grohl–make From Cradle to Stage the ultimate insider look at the real making of a rock star.”

My Thoughts:

I really liked that the book had both vignettes from Grohl’s perspective on raising her own rock star as well as the longer stories of other moms. I found each chapter to be very interesting, if sometimes a bit brief. However, the book covers many different stories, so this is expected. I also enjoyed the fact that this book included mostly happy (or happier) stories of musicians, which is a refreshing change from the stories of death and destruction often told in stories of musicians. Although From Cradle to Stage tells stories of people from different backgrounds, Grohl does a great job of creating central themes. For example, she describes the importance of school systems that serve children who are creative, how a mother of a creative child should support that creativity and the similarities between many musicians.

Below are some quotes that stood out to me:

“It was in Germany, at the home of a babysitter, that Michael recalls his first musical memory. It was the Beatles song ‘Michelle’ playing on an old radio on a tall shelf. His memory is visual; he watched the radio dial as the song played. It didn’t change his life.” (From the chapter on Michael Stipe)

“But although other professions might gradually or subtly inspire children, music is a calling that doesn’t call softly or politely. It screams insistently. The musician WILL find a way.”

“They sold over sixteen million records in the relatively few years they recorded and once were introduced by Mary to an enormous arena as ‘the best f*#king band in the universe.'” (From the chapter on Tom Morello)


Comment Below: What good book(s) have you read recently?

My Favorite Unknown Foo Fighters Songs

As I just saw Foo Fighters live last week, I was inspired to make this playlist, consisting of some of my favorite songs of theirs that not as many people know. This list will not have “Everlong,” “My Hero” or “Best of You.” But it will have lots of other great songs! There is no order to the songs and these are certainly not all of my favorite songs because that’s just too hard to pick (there’s too many great songs!)

  1. Hey, Johnny Park!
  2. The Last Song
  3. Bridge Burning
  4. Wattershed
  5. Enough Space
  6. Arlandria
  7. Stacked Actors
  8. Disenchanted Lullaby
  9. Gimme Stitches
  10. The Feast and The Famine
  11. Arrows
  12. Congregation
  13. But, Honestly
  14. T-Shirt
  15. Something from Nothing
  16. Let It Die
  17. Friend of a Friend

You can hear the playlist here.

Halloween Playlist

Happy Halloween everybody! I hope you all have a good costume to wear or at least eat some good candy. I have finals (so a bunch of tests) to do today and tomorrow, so I’m just doing the latter. To celebrate this Halloween, I decided to make a playlist of songs that are creepy or sound that way. I’m not sure that the transitions are super smooth, as I had trouble making all of these songs flow together well, but I tried. Here it is:

  1. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  2. Milk and Cookies – Melanie Martinez
  3. Gasoline – Halsey
  4. Morphine – Michael Jackson
  5. One Eyed Girl – Hands Off Gretel
  6. Broomstick – L7
  7. Blood on the Dance Floor – Michael Jackson
  8. Mad Hatter – Melanie Martinez
  9. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  10. Threatened – Michael Jackson

You can hear the playlist on Spotify here.

Book Review: The Merciless (The Merciless #1)

First off, I just want to apologize, as it has been a whole 3 months since posting on this blog! That is way longer than I wanted to go, but sometimes I just don’t know where my time goes. A lot does go to my homework, for sure. Also, I am going to try something new with my book reviews. With each review, I am going to make a playlist of songs on Spotify that I will link at the end of each review. I’ve been wanting a way to talk more about music and I think this will help do that. The music will also add to the overall mood of the book. Anyway, on to the review!


18667769Title: The Merciless

Author: Danielle Vega

My Rating: ★★★1/2

Summary: “Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream. Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended the popular girls on her first day at school, she admired their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed. Now Sofia’s new friends are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn. But their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation.”

My Thoughts:

The Merciless was intriguing from the beginning. The book stayed that way (for the most part) until the last page. This led to a fast read because there was hardly ever a dull moment. It may have taken me a long time to finish, (again because of school), but I sped through the pages when I did pick it up.

One aspect of the book I was disappointed by were the characters. As other reviews have noted, The Merciless is not a very new plot in terms of the characters. This was not always pointed out in a negative way either, as MTV said, “Mean Girls with an occult twist.” However, I felt the lack of depth the characters made the book less exciting, as the characters didn’t feel original. The basic plot is the same: there’s a new girl at school who makes friends with the most popular clique. Obviously, the plot was a lot darker than Mean Girls, but the base of the story was one I definitely recognized. In addition to this, the relationships between the characters fell a little flat, so I didn’t care as much about them as I could have. Stronger relationships between the characters would have helped later on in the story.

Something Vega did a good job of was making this book really gross. I mean this in the best way possible. The Merciless is a horror series, so the fact I cringed a lot and couldn’t read it too close to bed for the fear of not being able to sleep is a compliment. It was pretty graphic throughout the book. For example:

“Riley presses the knife into Brooklyn’s exposed thigh and pulls the blade toward her knee. She moves the knife so slowly that I hear the skin rip seconds before a thin red line of blood appears on Brooklyn’s leg.”

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to YA readers with strong stomachs.


Playlist:

For this playlist, I picked songs that have a creepy atmosphere to them, including some that are actually about scary things. For example, “Eating Simon” by Hands Off Gretel is about basically what the title states. It talks about a girl who fell in love with a boy named Simon so much so that she wanted him to be a part of her forever…so she ate him. (Lauren Tate, the lead singer’s description, not mine. That is not an interpretation, it’s actually what the song is about). With some (hopefully most) of the songs, I will link a live performance. The link to the whole Spotify playlist will be at the bottom of the post.

  1. Morphine – Michael Jackson
  2. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  3. Voodoo – Adam Lambert
  4. Mad Hatter – Melanie Martinez
  5. Threatened – Michael Jackson
  6. Control – Halsey

You can listen to the playlist here.


Thanks for reading! ❤

So 2016…

2016 was not a good year for many, many people. I could name many reasons that 2016 was a hard year, but that doesn’t seem very helpful. There are enough people pointing out the bad parts, so I thought I’d make a post about the good parts of this year. Here are some things that went well for me this year:

  1. I fell in love with some great bands: Foo Fighters, Hole, Nirvana and Hands Off Gretel.
  2. I went to two great concerts with my friends! I saw Troye Sivan in February and Melanie Martinez in March, here are some videos from them:
    1. Melanie Martinez
    2. Troye Sivan
      1. (Creds. to my friends!)
  3. I met my friend Taryn for the first time in person (and we didn’t take a picture for some dumb reason ughhhh).
  4. I finished my sophomore year of high school.
  5. I survived my first quarter of IB classes as a junior.
  6. Bruno Mars released a great new album, and I made plans to go see him when he comes to Minnesota! On August 5, 2017!
  7. I made this blog.
  8. I made new friends and got closer some other friends.
  9. I wrote more (still not as much as I wanted to though).
  10. I had fun with my hair by cutting it really short and then months later dying it (twice):

    What was good for you in 2016? I hope you have a great 2017!

Slow to Post

This post might be a little unnecessary, as I find I don’t post much anyway, even when I’m not in school. Either way, my posts have slowed down and will probably be close to non-existent for a while, primarily because of school. I’m not very skilled at time management when it comes to school and blogging (and reading), so this blog will have to take a back seat. I am going to be posting when I can, but that may not be very much. For example, I planned on posting recaps for every episode of Once Upon A Time this season, but I haven’t gotten a single one up. Anyway, I hope you all understand, and I hope you have a good week!