Book Review: Hit So Hard

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Found on Google Images

Title: Hit So Hard

Author: Patty Schemel

My Rating: ★★★★

Summary: “A stunningly candid portrait of the Seattle grunge scene of the ’90s and a memoir of an addict during the last great era of rock ‘n’ roll excess, by Hole drummer Patty Schemel.

Patty Schemel’s story begins with a childhood surrounded by the AA meetings her parents hosted in the family living room. Their divorce triggered her first forays into drinking at age twelve and dovetailed with her passion for punk rock and playing the drums. Patty’s struggles with her sexuality further drove her notoriously hard playing, and by the late ’80s she had focused that anger, confusion, and drive into regular gigs with well-regarded bands in Tacoma, Seattle, and Olympia, Washington. She met a pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain at a Melvins show, and less than five years later, was living with him and his wife, Hole front-woman Courtney Love, at the height of his fame and on the cusp of hers. As the platinum-selling band’s new drummer, Schemel contributed memorable, driving beats to hits like “Beautiful  Son,” “Violet,” “Doll Parts,” and “Miss World.” But the band was plagued by tragedy and heroin addiction, and by the time Hole went on tour in support of their ironically titled and critically-acclaimed album Live Through This in 1994, both Cobain and Hole bassist Kristin Pfaff had died at the age of 27.

With surprising candor and wit, Schemel intimately documents the events surrounding her dramatic exit from the band in 1998 that led to a dark descent into a life of homelessness and crime on the streets of Los Angeles, and the difficult but rewarding path to lasting sobriety after more than twenty serious attempts to get clean. Hit So Hard is a testament not only to the enduring power of the music Schemel helped create but an important document of the drug culture that threatened to destroy it.”


My Thoughts:

In Hit So Hard, Schemel did a very good job of adding humor to her stories. Throughout the difficult subjects she talks about, like drugs, death and being homeless, she makes the reader laugh. It always felt well timed and provided relief for the times the reader was left to sit with the pain Schemel endured. As I have read and watched a few documentaries about rock stardom, which often end in death, it was refreshing to have someone live through it (this…I had to) and be able to make jokes about it. Here are some examples:

“Adolescence. Oh God, red hair, and glasses. That was me in a nutshell, the dark side of a John Hughes movie. Also: GAY.”

Another, on heroin addiction:

“There was nothing like a free expensive candle and a shot of heroin to make my life complete.”

Along with the humor, Hit So Hard is very honest. Schemel is being brutally truthful about everything she experienced and felt during her life. As someone who went through so much, it would have been easy to sugarcoat how difficult things were or not include certain experiences. The fact that she puts it all out there makes this book so clearly honest and brave. It really helps to see just how strong Schemel is to have lived through (…this) all she did. And because of how honest she is, Hit So Hard can be heartbreaking and I found parts difficult to read.

After reading this book, I felt even more respect for someone I already had a lot of respect for as a musician and from watching the documentary Hit So Hard. It makes me really admire her strength.

Lastly, I think Hit So Hard and books like it are very important, because it really helps people see (and helped me see more clearly) that addiction is truly an illness and should be treated as such. Often people have very little sympathy for addicts and act like they want to be addicted or don’t look very deep into why they have drug or alcohol problems. Schemel’s book promotes empathy and compassion.

Also, obviously I think you should read this book, but if you like movies better and want to watch instead of read about Schemel’s life, you can watch the documentary Hit So Hard


Playlist:

This playlist is some of my favorite Hole songs, not including Nobody’s Daughter, because that album didn’t have any original Hole members other than Courtney Love. Although I really like it, I don’t consider it a real Hole album because of that reason. I also included only one Celebrity Skin song because even though I love that album, it seemed unfair to include much from it as it was recorded without Schemel.

  1. Hit So Hard
  2. She Walks on Me
  3. Pretty on the Inside
  4. I Think That I Would Die
  5. Miss World
  6. Violet
  7. Teenage Whore
  8. Jennifer’s Body
  9. Plump
  10. Babydoll

You can find the playlist here. Click on the songs to see great live performances 🙂


Comment Below: What good books have you read recently?

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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?

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?

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! ❤

Book Review: Save Me, Kurt Cobain

22055480Title: Save Me, Kurt Cobain

Author: Jenny Manzer

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Summary: Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn’t exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom’s wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won’t let go.

On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.”

My Thoughts:

I was pulled in from the very page. Nico, the narrator, starts talking about the day her mother disappeared, which is sad of course. However, it makes me want to know more about her mother and the story behind her disappearance. The pacing is good after the beginning, too. Nothing felt too fast or too slow, and kept me interested throughout the book. Because of the pacing and the intriguing storyline, Save Me, Kurt Cobain was a fun and fast read.

One of the things I really liked about this book are the chapter titles, because they are Nirvana song titles. They helped give an idea of what the chapter would be about in a creative way. Additionally, I liked how there were some musical puns/references throughout the book. It helped tie the book together, and was just cool to read. For example:

I hate myself and I want to die, I thought, trying it on for size. I’m not even sure the words held any meaning. I wondered if that was how Kurt Cobain felt singing the band’s big hits over and over.”

(I Hate Myself  and I Want To Die is a Nirvana song).

The characters in Save Me, Kurt Cobain are nowhere near boring. Every character has an interesting story and quirks, which made them fun to read about. Not only are the characters interesting and intriguing, but they are also easy to relate to.

I haven’t made this disclaimer yet, so I guess I’ll make it now: although I would recommend this book to most people, if you dislike 90’s alternative rock music, I would definitely not recommend this book. (But if you don’t…why?! Not even Smells Like Teen Spirit? Not even Miss World?) Here’s why: (even though it’s pretty self explanatory), that’s exactly what the book is about. That being said, if you like Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, or any other 90’s alternative rock band, you will find yourself right at home here. Other than reminding me why I love Nirvana so much (too much. I think it’s actually bad for my health), this book reminded me that I really need to go listen to Mudhoney, Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth, etc. since I haven’t gotten around to that yet…

As many books do, this book hit me right in the feels. This book hit me in a different part of my feels though. It hit my Nirvana feels over and over again. (And passed them back and forth…)

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Me when making that Drain You pun

(“Chew my meat for you/pass it back and forth in a passionate kiss/from my mouth to yours” are lyrics from Drain You, a song off of Nevermind. Also, the Foo Fighters have a great song called Back and Forth I would also recommend).

Anyway…the descriptions of Kurt and the band as a whole are so good and accurate. It reminded me of how great they really were and made me a little sad, too, because of what I just said. For example:

“When Kurt Cobain played his guitar, he looked weightless, like a blonde marionette. I can still picture the black-and-white concert photos of him. Rising up, slamming down the chords, then smashing stuff.”

Not only the way he performed, but also who he was as a person. For example:

“Cobain had shunned mainstream popularity on one hand while rabidly pursuing rock stardom with the other, berating his managers for inadequate promotion, and dumping Seattle’s Sub Pop for a bigger label. Cobain was, it seemed, the most ambitious twentysomething slacker you could ever meet.”

Overall, Save Me, Kurt Cobain was a good book that tells a unique story about loss, friendship and really good music.


Comment Below: Have you read a good book related to music you would recommend?

Book Review: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book One)

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Title: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book One)

Author: Rick Riordan

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Summary: “Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .”

My thoughts: 

The book starts off with Magnus talking about how he died, which is always an interesting start to a story. By starting the book off like this, I was pulled into the story, because not many books start with death. Additionally, the beginning was funny and sarcastic, which is an element I always welcome in books. After the initial introduction, The Sword of Summer continued to move along at a fast and compelling pace. It doesn’t take long for the action to start, which keeps the book going and kept me interested.

As I mentioned a little bit before, one of the best parts of this book, and Rick Riordan’s books in general is the sarcasm. He writes witty and clever characters so well, and I really love it. The humor often lightens the situation or just makes the situation even funnier than it already was. For example, here is an example of Magnus being sarcastic:

“That way if we fall,’ Sam said, ‘We’ll fall together.’
‘Sold,’ I said, trying to tamp down my anxiety. ‘I love dying with friends.'”

But not only is there a lot of good humor in the text, even the chapter titles are super funny! The first chapter is called “Good Morning! You’re Going to Die,” and the 50th is titled “No Spoilers. Thor Is Way Behind on His Shows.” I just thought they were all so creative and fun to read.

Although the book was very funny, I think there was still a good balance of seriousness, given that some hard things do happen to the characters, and it would be unfair to make everything a joke.

Like all of the Riordan books I’ve read, the characters in The Sword of Summer were interesting and interacted in ways that added to the book. (For example, from the quote above, you can tell the characters are funny together). All of the characters feel different and like real people. Magnus and everyone he interacts with feel like I could meet them on the street (if they were all actually humans, not things that exist in fantasy). And not only were the new characters great, but there were a few old ones too! Annabeth Chase from both Percy Jackson and the Olympians as well as The Heroes of Olympus is in the book. I won’t tell you where, so you’ll have to read to find out! (Or spoil yourself elsewhere on the internet). And Jason Grace from The Heroes of Olympus is mentioned during the book. I liked both of these characters (I loved Annabeth), in the other series, so I liked them popping up in this Riordan book as well.

Something else I really appreciated about The Sword of Summer was the diversity. Magnus is homeless, and showing a poor person doesn’t always happen in novels, unless it’s the point of the story. There is also a deaf person and a Muslim woman in the story, which adds to the diversity. Representation is so important, because it helps everyone feel included in literature and writing. Additionally, it helps young readers (and readers in general) relate to the story easier.

My last point is quite short, but being a Nirvana fan, I felt the need to include it: the Kurt Cobain references in this book make me very happy.

If you liked Riordan’s other books, I think you will also like this one. And even if you haven’t read any of his other books, I think you’ll like this. (But do yourself a favor and go read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and then The Heroes of Olympus series).


Comment Below: Have you read The Sword of Summer? If so, what did you think of it?