Sunday, December 31, 2017

End of the Year Book Survey 2017

Greetings Pups,

I wasn't really planning on posting anything today, but I found this really fun book survey and I thought I could post my answers to all these questions. I certainly read a lot of books this year, 115 to be exact. I even did a couple of videos about that, which I will link below, if you want to check them out. I'll also link my GoodReads page, if you wanna follow me, and this very survey, if you'd like to do it yourself. That was a lot of "if"s. Anyway, what with reading that many books, I have a lot of opinions about them. And as always, these are just my opinions. You can love or hate whatever books you want. So, anyway, let's get this thing started. Settle in. It's gonna be a long one.

1. Best Book You Read in 2017? - Well I reread my favorite book, The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers, this year, so technically, I guess that would be considered the best. But that one aside, I would say House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It was just so different and fascinating and engaging. It was an experience and one that I'm very glad I had.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? - I'm not sure if I thought I was going to love it, necessarily, but I did expect more from Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It wasn't bad, but I just feel like it might be over-hyped. Just my opinion. Calm down.

3. Most Surprising (in a good way or bad way) Book You Read? - I was pleasantly surprised by The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. By the synopsis, I was expecting something very . . . "fanficcy", and to be fair, it kind of was. At least, in the general idea of it. But the writing was so stellar, that it went above and beyond that, and I got a very entertaining reading experience out of it.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? - None that I know. Honestly, I don't know a lot of people who read very much. I reviewed some books on this blog, wherein I would recommend a few of them, so there is a possibility that someone read a book due to that.

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017? - I started quite a few series this year, so I had a lot to sift through. I started the Fox and O'Hare series by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg and read quite a few of the books therein. I actually reviewed the first one, The Heist, recently, and that was the series I was most entertained by. For a sequel, I loved Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle, which was #5 in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. And the only ender I read, as far as I know, was The End of Oz by Danielle Paige, so that one wins. It was very good, though, so it probably would have won anyway. Still, I don't know if it even is the last book in the series. I had heard that, but I wouldn't be against more.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017? - I would probably have to say Michael Robertson who writes the Baker Street Letters series, which I read all five of this year. I don't know what it is, but I really get drawn into the world he creates and I love the characters, as flawed as they are. I'm hoping to read more from him.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? - I don't read a lot of YA, but this year I did read of few. And I think the best was Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. Is that YA? I don't know.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? - I'm gonna go with In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. I know a lot of people had mixed feelings about and felt the end was predictable. To be fair, it was a little, but as far as the journey of the story goes, I was quite enthralled.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? - Have you seen my TBR pile? There will be no rereads! But if I must choose something, what the heck, I guess I'll just reread my favorite again.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017? - I audiobooked my way through High Rise by J.G Ballard and according to GoodReads, said audiobook has Tom Hiddleston on the cover. So, yeah, that one.

11. Most memorable character of 2017? - Well, I read some H.P. Lovecraft this year, so who else but Cthulhu!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017? - I thought The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was written very beautifully, especially considering the subject matter. But maybe that's exactly why it came out that way.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017? - I reread The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning and the first time I read this book it made me think and changed my life. It kinda did the same thing on repeat. And, of course, I was reminded of how it inspired one of my favorite songwriters of all time, Rich Mullins.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? - The Killing Joke by Alan Moore. And I love Batman, so what in the heck took me so long?

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017? - I don't really pay attention to specific quotes from books, but thanks to GoodReads I managed to find some from a book I mentioned just a couple of questions ago. It's from The Ragamuffin Gospel and the quote is “The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.” I find this one rather topical.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017? - Again, according to GoodReads, the shortest book was Pros and Cons at only 28 pages, but it was a short story prequel to the aforementioned Fox and O'Hare series. Still, it was counted as an actual book, so there you go. The longest was Les Miserables at 1,463 pages. And it felt 1,463 pages long.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most? - I guess Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn would have shocked me if I hadn't seen the movie.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) - OTP is One True Pairing, in case you don't know. And how can I not say Chip and Joanna Gaines from The Magnolia Story! Yes, I know it's a non-fiction, but no one said it couldn't be.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year - I do love the Heath brothers, Reggie and Nigel, from The Baker Street Letters series. They're very different from one another and their relationship can be rocky at times, but when you put them together, it really works for me.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously - Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell. I've read a few of her books before and she is one of my favorite authors. I actually got to meet her at a book festival a couple of years ago. She was very nice and she even bought one of my books.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure - Everyone told me to read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, or anything by Donna Tartt, so I did. And she is a darn good writer.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017? - I have to bring up the Fox and O'Hare series again, because . . . Nick Fox. Dang! Yes, I know he's a criminal, but we like our bad boys. For some reason. And he makes me laugh, which counts for a lot, especially these days.

23. Best 2017 debut you read? - If this means a book that was published in 2017, I only read two of those and I already mentioned one of them, so I'll say the other one which was Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Hmmm . . . I read a lot of Loki related things this year. Why?

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? - I suppose I'll say Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. He did have to create pictures with words and words with pictures, all at the same time. And he did a fantastic job.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? - I read a book by Jim Gaffigan called Dad is Fat. Which book do YOU think was the most fun for me to read?

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017? - Broken Harbour by Tana French. I LOVE Tana French. She writes about the Dublin Murder Squad, so obviously, there was a murder in this book. No spoilers, but when you find out what actually happened, it is heartbreaking. I didn't full on cry, because I'm not really a book crier, but she almost got me there.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? - I haven't heard a ton of people talking about The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, but I found it just delightful. I liked the characters and the journey that they went on. I love books and bookshops, and I once loved Paris, so there a feeling of nostalgia for me. I had a good time with this one and I hope more people read it.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? - I found it very difficult to read the book Reed's Beach by Bret Lott. Don't get me wrong. It was a great book, and I love Bret Lott as a writer. But due to the subject matter, it was tough one to get through.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017? - There's no way I can't not say House of Leaves again. Seriously? Have you seen the thing? Yeah, unique is an understatement. Actually, there's a great YouTuber named Austin McConnell. He did a really good video giving a bit of a quick look at it if you're interested. I'll link it below along with the House of Leaves episode of a bookish podcast called Overdue. They gave some decent insight on the book as well.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? - Gotta say The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers. Mostly because there were a couple of characters that were very slap-worthy in there. I know violence is bad, but they're fake, so it's okay.

Okay, then there were a few questions about book blogging, and I'm going to skip that part. Technically, I'm not a book blogger. I'm a whatever the heck I feel like blogging about blogger, and not a very popular one at that. So, I passed on those. No offense,

And then, there was a Looking Ahead section, wherein there are questions about what is going to be read in 2018. Off we go.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018? - I have so many books in my TBR pile that I'm excited about. I do really wanna get to the next Tana French book, The Secret Place, but I also have a Betty White biography in the mix, so I guess we'll see who wins. You just never know what kind of reading mood you'll be in.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)? - Well, I have TWO books coming out in 2018, another poetry collection called After the Ashes Cool and a novel called Beyond Starlight, so I'm be a shameless self-promoter and say those!

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? - Sadly, I don't really know about any debut authors who will be releasing their books in 2018, but God bless them, I wish them much success and if I see one of their books, I'll have to check them out. Literally, because I go to the library a lot.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018? - I don't know if there is going to be another book in "many times mentioned in this post" The Baker Street Letters series released in 2018, but if there is, I am SO there. And I'm sure that Janet Evanovich will have something new in one of her series coming out. She usually does.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018? - I hope to review a lot more books on this blog. I've done quite a few this year, but I really want people to be excited about reading. And if I can help them by recommending good books, it is certainly my pleasure.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable) - I have no idea. I don't get ARCs. I am not that special . . . yet.

So, that was fun, and I had a lot of fun reading this year. I hope to finish a lot of books in 2018, maybe even more than I did this year, but we'll see. Either way, as long as I keep seeking out good books and good writers, first and foremost, I'll be helping to keep what is important about literature alive and well.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Friday, December 29, 2017

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 2017

Greetings Pups,

And now for the "fun" list. Well, not fun for me, because I had to suffer through listening to all of these songs. But Worst lists tend to get more views, which makes me think that people enjoy them. And I guess if I put ads on this site, yeah, it would be fun for me, too. Also, if you like any of these songs, fine. I'm not saying you can't. You do you. I'm just saying that I personally don't like them. Anyway, let's get this over with.

#10. "Thunder" Imagine Dragons - Hey, guys, you made the best AND worst list this year. Congratulations? This song . . . this song is weird. And not in a good way. The real reason why I put this on the bad list is because I can hear something in it that makes me think it could have been good. But overproduction and just not so great decision making turned it into whatever the heck it is. I just hate wasted potential.

#9. "Praying" Kesha - Oh, look. She dropped the dollar sign from her name, because marketing ploy. And she's doing this "personal" power pop ballad, because marketing ploy. And you're not allowed to say that her music is crap anymore, even retroactively, because . . . reasons. I know a lot of critics are praising this, but it just feels contrived to me. Maybe it's not. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am. I hope she's being sincere, but I'm feeling the opposite and that makes me feel nothing . . . but bored.

#8. "Bad Things" Machine Gun Kelly and Camilla Cabello - I have heard some bizarre instances of sampling in my day, but this might be the weirdest. Plus, I really don't know who these people are. I mean, I saw the guy on an episode of Ridiculousness and I think the girl is formerly one fifth of Fifth Harmony. Either way, not impressed

#7. "Attention" Charlie Puth/ "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" Shawn Mendes - I'm tying these songs because, frankly, I am about 97% convinced that the guys who made them are the same person. But I'm 100% convinced that both songs are awful.

#6. "Body Like a Back Road" Sam Hunt - I've heard people intentionally give backhanded compliments, but, clearly, this guy is doing it without knowing. I think he legit believes that this is a nice thing to say. It's not. It's weird. But congrats on pushing a metaphor so far that it slingshots back and smacks you right in the face.

#5. "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" ZAYN and Taylor Swift - Yeah, apparently this hack has an all caps name. Give me a massive break. Oh, and this song is a great example as to why, if I see anyone seeking out advice through example on how to do a falsetto, I point them in the direction of either Frankie Valli or every album that the Bee Gees made after 1975. A man doing falsetto is supposed to be impressive, not headache inducing. And don't even get me started on her. Mostly because we'll be discussing her later. Stick around.

#4. "Sorry, Not Sorry" Demi Lovato - Sorry, not sorry, but didn't you already record this song years ago and called it "I Really Don't Care"? And isn't the video you made for this song the same as the one for "Cool For the Summer"? If you're gonna be repetitive with something, at least, choose something good.

#3. "Side to Side" Ariana Grande - Ya know, I try not to let how people are IRL affect how I judge their "art", but it's so difficult with this woman. Don't get me wrong. I can't stand this song, but I also can't listen to her music without thinking of some of the . . . I'll be kind and say foolish things she has said and done. Funny how things change. I put her at the top of my Best Of list a mere four years ago. Crap! We've been dealing with her for that long. Yeesh. Look, Ariana, I know you look perpetually 15, but it is time to grow up.

#2. "Chained To The Rhythm" Katy Perry - Hey, remember that thing I said two seconds ago about not judging someone's work based on who they are? Well, yeah, I try and fail to do that with this person, too. That's why I hate the media these days. People used to just make their music and you might inadvertantly find out something about their personal lives, but now that is ALL we know anymore. That's how I know that the message of this song compared to how Katy Perry behaves makes her look like a total hypocrite.

#1. "Look What You Made Me Do" Taylor Swift - Believe it or not, there was a time when I would come to the defense of young Miss Swift. Anytime people criticized her for writing about her boyfriends, I would say, "Hey, she's young, she's dating, and she's writing about that. That's what writers do. They write about their lives. No problem putting that life drama to music". And, at the time, I think I was right. HOWEVER, whilst there is no shame in writing about your drama, I do have a big problem with people seeking out said drama so they'll have something to write about. Or getting into a "relationship" so contrived a two year old could see that. Something about her current process strikes me as a bit inauthentic. Look, I used to think Taylor Swift was an artist. Now I think she's a product. And her biggest marketing tool to sell herself is her own fabricated victimhood. Still, I have hope that she will return to some place of sincerity someday.

And there are the songs I consider the worst of the year. As I said, I was not too impressed with anything this year. I certainly wish that 2018 will be better, but my hopes aren't remarkably high. But, miracles happen.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2017

Greetings Pups,

Here we are again. Talking about music that I don't listen to until the end of the year when I make these lists. I actually contemplated not doing this at all for 2017, for a few reasons. First of all, as I've mentioned, I am currently not too keen to associate myself with anything having to do with the entertainment industry, and that would include the music part of it. Second, and to be honest, I haven't listened to the radio at all this year. So, I really didn't know many of these songs at all. What I have heard, though, I have not been overwhelmingly impressed by. Of course, a few things were passable, and this is a tradition, thus, I powered and did it.

Same rules as always. Every song I mention has to have appeared on Billboard's Year End Hot 100 chart and it can't have appeared on any of my previous lists. And since I found music so "meh" this year, this best list mostly consists of things that didn't bore me or anger me or make me sad because I know we can do so much as a society. So, don't expect me to be too enthused about much of it. Off we go.

#10. "Believer" Imagine Dragons - I don't really know why I like this song. It rather defies logic. But I always stop and listen. Plus, Dolph Lundgren is in the video, so . . . yeah, if for no other reason than that, they get a spot on the list.

#9. "I Feel It Coming" The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk - So, I put one of his songs on my list last year, and yet I still don't really consider myself a fan of The Weeknd, but every now and then I hear one of his songs and I like it. This one, for example, I kind of enjoy because it's got a very nostalgic sound to it. Sounds a bit 80's but I think that's his thing.

#8. "Despacito" Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber - I don't know a lot of different languages, but sometimes I like to listen to songs in those languages that I can't speak. Some of them just sound beautiful to me. That doesn't change when you put a dance beat behind it. Or even if you put Bieber in there.

#7."Love On the Brain" Rihanna - I've got issues with Rihanna. I think we all do. But she's not untalented and sometimes she gets it right. I like she sounds on this song and I like the sound of this song in general. Very old school with the melody and done correctly. So, good on you for this one, Rihanna.

#6. "Stay" Zedd & Alessia Cara - There's something kind of interesting about the chorus of this song. I can't put mu finger on it, but it's there and it's not terrible. And that's enough to put it on the list. Also, I really like Alessia Cara's voice.

#5. "Sign of the Times" Harry Styles - Let me make this abundantly clear. I absolutely loathed One Direction. Still, I can't act like this song isn't pretty good. I do like the melody, and to be fair to Harry, this is much better than anything that's been getting released by his former . . . possibly current . . . inevitably future group members. So, there you go.

#4. "24 Karat Magic" Bruno Mars - Again, wouldn't really consider myself a huge fan of Bruno Mars. He's done some songs that I really, REALLY hate, after all. However, most of the time, his stuff is just fun to listen to. This is no exception.

#3. "Scars to Your Beautiful" Alessia Cara - Oh. Hi, again, Alessia. Ya know, I don't how much I'm a fan of these self-empowerment songs. They run the risk of sounding incredibly contrived. (See tomorrow's list for specifics). But there is something about this young singer that gives her work a good amount of sincerity and I think she feels genuinely about the message she wants to share. We could use some of that.

#2. "Castle On the Hill" Ed Sheeran - Okay, Mr. Sheeran is seriously hit or miss for me and he has been for quite a while. I know everyone, including me, enjoyed what he did on that X album with the more pop, dance-y type, but sometimes I just like the more acoustic, guy with his guitar stuff. And this one is decent.

#1. "Water Under the Bridge" Adele - Well, this is just unprecedented. For the third year in a row, Miss Adele is Number One. I can't say that I'm not surprised. She's about one of the only artists that I think are worth listening to these days. There's always something very genuine about the songs she writes. I like that.

And those are what I consider the best hit songs of the year. Tune in tomorrow for the Worst.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Straight From The Theater Review - The Greatest Showman

Greetings Pups,

Well, I wasn't planning on going to the movies at all this year. As I've mentioned, I'm a bit disillusioned with Hollywood at the moment. I mean, I haven't been to the movies in well over a year. But I was invited to go on Christmas Day, so I figured what the heck? So, I spent the holiday watching The Greatest Showman. Because the person who invited me picked it.

To be honest, I didn't know much about this movie at all. I knew it was coming out, that it was about P.T. Barnum, that Hugh Jackman was involved and I suspected it was going to be a musical of some kind. Spoilers! It is. Now the last time I went to see a Hugh Jackman musical on Christmas it was was Les Miserables, and . . . yeah, no. So was this experience any better? Let's find out.

I'll start with the good things. Hugh Jackman. Yes, Hugh Jackman was great in this, but he usually is. I've always thought he was the epitome of an entertainer, so, obviously, this part was perfect for him. He has such a commanding presence and he steals every scene he's in. He also just seems like a nice guy, which is saying a lot considering how other celebrities carry themselves. And most importantly, he hasn't been accused of any untoward behavior. Let's keep it that way.

There are also a few familiar face in the supporting cast. Michelle Williams is there and she's . . . she is there, alright. Look, I've made it no secret that I am not a fan of Michelle Williams. I think she is very overrated as an actress, but as a singer? Well, as a singer, she should stick to acting, even in my opinion. Okay, she wasn't horrible, but she's not a singer. Then, we have Zac Efron, who was really good and worked incredibly with Hugh Jackman. It's nice to see him break free from that teen idol status he had years ago and become a skilled actor. And it's nice to see him singing and dancing again. Unless I missed something, I think this is the first he has done of that since "high school". In fact, if he stays on this trajectory, I could see him someday being as respected as Hugh Jackman in the triple threat department, and never seen again as just some kid who did a Disney Channel thing a few times.

And whilst we are on the subject of kids who do Disney Channel things, Zendaya is in this as well. Admittedly, I know very little about her. Obviously, I know about her Disney Channel career and I think she was on Dancing With the Stars. That's about it. She was okay in this. She's an okay actress and an okay singer, but as she gets older and gains more experience, I think she may get a lot better. She did shine with her dancing abilities, and some of the choreography was super intricate, so hats off for that. And speaking of young actors, who are always a gamble, the kids in this did a great job. Austyn Johnson and Cameron Seely, who played Barnum's daughters really managed to hold their own against a lot of seasoned professionals. I wouldn't mind seeing either of them in some more movies.

Aside from people we recognize, this film had a lot of secondary characters who were members of the show. They all did great, no matter how big or small their parts were, but there were two that really stood out. First was Sam Humphrey as Charles Stratton, a dwarf who was one of the first to join Barnum's show and the first to be convinced that his "flaws" could be something that would make him endearing to people and very special. Second was Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady. And dang, this woman has a crazy amazing voice. She was mesmerizing every time she sang, and I hope she gets a lot more work out of this. Overall, every one of these actors portrayed these people who were always considered outcasts with a lot of heart and they made you want to embrace them.

Now let's discuss the music, because it's a musical. When I heard the opening notes of the first song, it sounded a bit like a Fall Out Boy song, so I thought maybe this was gonna be like Moulin Rouge. But no, these were all originals written by the team of Pasek and Paul, whose work I am not super familiar with, but they did write a few good songs from the second season of Smash. I'm happy to say I really enjoyed all the songs in this. They weren't just story points with music behind them, but they were actually well-written and memorable songs. Big thumbs up on that.

So, did I have any other problems with the film? Yes. I admit I know very little about the life of P.T. Barnum and I think whoever wrote this was in the same boat. I mean, as far as historical accuracy goes, it would seem that what they got right was that Barnum existed and he did a show and that's about it. I think they also may have made Barnum look like a much better person than he actually was. Whilst this version was a flawed man and made big mistakes, especially when it comes to the question of whether or not he was exploiting the people he hired, the real one may have been even worse in that department. I just wish they would have gone deeper into that and made it more precise. Sadly, I think the idea of getting facts straight may have been tossed aside in favor of pandering. Now I understand that this is a musical that is merely based on a real person and his life, so things are going to be made fantastical, with possibly some magical realism, so I can look passed this problem a bit. Considering what the subject of a lot of the story is and that Hollywood is still running the show, said pandering could have been much, much worse. Still, I think if you're going to do something that is based on a certain time in history but you want to mix it up a bit, doing things in this stylized manner is the perfect time to do it.

In conclusion, I had an enjoyable time at this movie. I don't think it's going to be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're into musicals and if it looks like something you'd like, it might be worth a watch. It's one of those films where you just kinda know if you're going to like it or not, just by seeing what it is. Personally, I like musicals, I like Hugh Jackman, so I give this a thumbs up at, like, a 45 degree angle.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

Ya know, for being such a book snob, people are surprised when they find out how eclectic my book collection is. It's like they think it's filled with nothing but Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. Well, for their information, if a book is good, I will probably like it, because being good is the only requirement I have for what I read. Also, sometimes the best kind of book you can read is one that's just flat out fun. And, in my humble opinion, no one does fun books better than Janet Evanovich.

I started reading the books of Janet Evanovich years ago, most likely in the same way that a lot of people did, by way of the Stephanie Plum series. I read those books so much back in the day, but sadly, I have fallen behind. The last one I read was the seventeenth, and they're up to twenty-three now. I plan to remedy that and catch up in the coming year. However, I have done plenty of reading when it comes to Janet's latest series, where she teams up with fellow writer, Lee Goldberg, starting with the book I will be reviewing today, The Heist.

The Heist is 2013 novel, which I just happened upon in the store one day and picked up a copy for a really good price. I trust the Evanovich name and I was pleased to see that it was book #1 in a series. Nothing worse than picking up a book that looks good and finding out that it's #3 or something. Anyway, these books follow the team of Fox and O'Hare, and when I say "team" I mean kind of mortal enemies who are forced to work together. I think this kind of set up may have been done before, but, again, if it's written well, then I'm all for it.

Our main characters are FBI Agent Kate O'Hare and conman Nick Fox. Kate is very dedicated to her job and is extremely ambitious, and for five years, a lot of that has been aimed at one person, Nick. She has a habit of almost getting him, but then . . . not. But it turns out that he'll be in her sights again and much more regularly when he convinces the FBI to let him aid in the capture of another criminal. And, of course, he wants to work right alongside Kate in the investigation. I wonder why.

As you may have guessed, between these two, there's a bit of, well, I call it romantic tension, because I'm very pure of heart. But you know. Yes, Nick is one person who annoys Kate more than anyone and, yet, she finds herself very attracted to him. Them bad boys, though. And the attraction seems to go both ways, but since Nick is a conman by trade, there's always this thing in the back of your head where you're wondering if he's serious or just messing with her for his own reasons. Normally, I would predict that they'll get together eventually, but considering she's a cop and he's a straight up criminal who should pretty much be in prison, I'm not sure how much of a happily ever after these two could have. But that is part of the fun. And, as usual, this is quite a fun book to read.

It was exactly the kind of book I expect from Janet Evanovich, and it led me to go further into the series this past year, as I have read the first three books and a few short story prequels. On top of that, I have decided to add some books by her co-writer, Lee Goldberg, to my "To Read" list as well. He actually was a writer for the show, Monk, which I have heard was a really good comedy/action series. No wonder Janet decided to write with him. They clearly make a good team.

Speaking of good teams, I'd say the same thing about Fox and O'Hare. And when I say good, I mean quite entertaining. I love the back and forth between them and how they can really hold their own against each other. I love how Evanovich always writes these fantastic characters who are great and fun (again!) . . . and not perfect. Yeah, it's often the flaws that make them so likable, especially her lead female characters. They're strong and can take care of themselves, but they also make a lot mistakes. Almost like they're real people. And THAT is what can make a character relatable to readers. Not by making them a blank slate that anyone can put their own face on, but rather by making them have realistic qualities, which include things good and bad.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Nick Fox might be one of my new literary boyfriends. Yeah, Janet is good at writing those for me, too.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend The Heist and the series that follows, especially if you're already a fan of either of these writers. Now, I read this book, before I found out about the prequel short stories. I don't think that matters too much, but if you go on to GoodReads you can find their titles and then try to read them first, if you want. I found a couple on my library's ebooks collection, but I think they're still on Janet Evanovich's website. Either way, though, if you decide to dive into this series, you're in for a treat.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Novel Romance - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

As I've mentioned on several occasions, I love a good movie about writers. I also may have mentioned fewer times that I like Hallmark movies, as well. Some of them. Look, don't judge me. Life is hard, the world is cruel and they make me feel cozy. There! So what could possibly make me feel happier than a Hallmark movie about writers! There are more than you may think, but I've chosen one to discuss today called A Novel Romance. Get it? Always being clever, those Hallmark folks.

A Novel Romance is a 2015 movie about a mysterious writer and the woman who cracks the code . . . to his heart! Did you like that? They should hire me to do their promos. So, the writer is named Liam Bradley, played by Dylan Bruce. Well, Liam Bradley is his REAL name. The pen name that he uses is Gabriel August, because of course it is, and, for the life of my, I can't figure out what kind of books he writers. Although, considering his large female demographic and judging from the book covers, I imagine he's a morph of a romance novelist and Nicholas Sparks. There's a thought. Anyway, no one knows who he is or what he looks like. It was a gimmick that worked, as he has become very successful, but the clock is ticking down to the time when he must reveal who he is to the world. And he is under extreme pressure to do this AND finish another book, by his publisher and his agent, Jackie, played by Camille Mitchell. Can I just say I love this character and this actress. Moving on.

On a plane trip from New York to Portland, where he plans to overcome a bout with writer's block, Liam meets Sophie, played by Amy Acker. She just happens to be a book reviewer for a local newspaper and she also just happens to have an ARC of the latest Gabriel August book. What ARE the chances? But alas, Sophie does not think highly of this new book and makes it known. Of course, what is not known to her just yet is that she is talking to the author himself! Okay, not exactly Elizabeth and Darcy here, but we might have some conflict.

Despite parting ways without really knowing anything about each other, they end up meeting again through a few coincidental incidents. Clearly, it's fate, so they begin the dating thing. But they do so very cautiously as they both have secrets that they hold close. Some of those secrets are revealed quickly; others take time and result in even more conflict. Because people being honest with each other and having conversation is the enemy of a plot. It's like the opposite of a MacGuffin. Still, while Liam and Sophie get to know each other, they both have support from good friends. Liam has Jackie, who is a bit of a mom figure to him, in my opinion, and Sophie has her two best friends, as well as Harris, the owner of this bar/restaurant thing, who is played by Charles S. Dutton (YES!). He is yet another character that I love. All these friends do their best to give sound and encouraging advice, but ultimately, Liam and Sophie must make a decision for where their lives will go and if they will go anywhere together. I wonder.

Now, look, I know that we all have ideas in our head about what a Hallmark movie is and some of us may be a bit judgey about it. I understand. These films aren't exactly groundbreaking and they are overly sappy about 99% of the time. But isn't that the point? I mean, you can't not know what you're getting into with these things. Still, there are some gems in there. I happen to think this is one of them.

Yes, it is a bit convoluted and predictable, but if you look a bit deeper, you can find a decent story about trust and moving on from one's past. And love, of course, but not just romantic love, though that is featured prominently. Like I said, I love the Harris and Jackie characters and I enjoyed Sophie's best friends as well. Those relationships spotlighted the love that comes with real friendship and how good friends look after one another and care about each other. That was the best part of this thing for me. And I liked seeing Portland through those Hallmark colored glasses. Almost made me want to visit there. Almost.

So, if you're into this kind of movie, I say it's worth a watch. It's got a cute story, it's heartwarming and the acting is pretty decent. And what more can we want from the oeuvre of Hallmark. I love a company that knows its brand.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Terrible Writing Advice - YouTube Channel Review

Greetings Pups,

Ya know, even writers like myself, who are brilliant, genius, and obviously kissed by the literary angels, need to occasionally humble ourselves and get some writing advice. Now, thanks to the interwebs, there are plenty of places that one can go to obtain very good doses of just that. But ironically, I've decided to spotlight a place where I found some - you guessed it - Terrible Writing Advice.

Okay, in all seriousness, I am talking about a YouTube channel called Terrible Writing Advice. I think I found it when I was just looking for videos about writing. I do that a lot, but I run the risk of coming across videos of arrogant and pretentious writers who are more looking to pat themselves on the back talking about how great they are, rather than to give any decent advice. Well, these videos are nothing like that. They are pretty unique, I must say. And even though the channel is clearly labeled as to what it is, I may have been taken aback a bit when I started listening and thinking, "Hey, wait. That's not right." But therein lies the point.

What the creator of this channel, J.P. Beaubien, does is make these hilarious and kinda adorable little animated videos where he gives really bad advice about writing. But the joke is that all that advice is framed as though it is good. Very good, in some cases. With each one, he chooses a topic, such as Urban Fantasy, Mary Sues, Writer's Block or the dreaded task of Taking Criticism, and proceeds to very amusingly tell us what (not) to do. And it's just glorious. Not to mention surprisingly beneficial.

See, that's the ironic thing. Even though I'm pretty sure this channel was created for entertainment purposes, if you pay close attention, you will actually end up getting some really valuable writing advice. I can't even tell you how many times I've watched one of these videos, heard him talking about something that I know I am sometimes guilty of doing and thought, "Oh, crap. Maybe I should stop doing that". It's almost like some form of reverse psychology or something. But whatever works, as they say.

And this works quite well. I often wonder if the best companion of education is entertainment. This channel sort of proves that might be true. I mean, anyone can make monotonous videos with boring lectures listing off all the rules of writing, but I doubt anyone would learn much from that. 'Cause they'd fall asleep! But if you can keep someone laughing whilst giving them some great info, said info will sink in a lot deeper and be easier to remember.

So, that is why Terrible Writing Advice is officially one of my favorites on YouTube. I even have it featured as such on my own channel, not that Mr. Beaubien needs my help. His channel is doing nicely and growing at a good rate, something that is much deserved. In fact, I hope it continues to grow, especially among young and new writers. Heck, I kind of hope that some English teacher finds these videos and shows them in class. They all have some excellent education for the craft.

And did I mention that I love how this guy talks?

Anyway, I always appreciate when people try to help others, and doing it this way, with so much effort put into it, makes me feel even more grateful. As a writer myself and one who wants to be the best that I can, I take all the advice I can get to achieve that goal. And if someone can make me smile at the same time, I welcome that even more. So, I am extremely happy that I have something like Terrible Writing Advice to go to for a laugh and a lesson.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Final NaNoWriMo 2017 Update!

Greetings Pups,

Well, it happened. I finished NaNoWriMo. With so few words it's not even funny. Yeah, I just barely scraped my way passed 50 thousand. At least, at first. I actually finished two days early. Still, I wanted to do update every day of the month so I could get the "You Updated Every Day of the Month" Badge, so I wrote a few hundred more words on those days. But this last week has been so off kilter where this project has been concerned that I don't even know what I did.

After last week of being so sick, everything just kind of slowed down for me. I was going through the motions of writing, but I was starting to get bored because what I was coming up with wasn't so great. And it started feeling repetitive. So, since I was already repeating myself, I decided to do some early editing and get down to fixing and rewriting what I already had. I mean, why not? I'll eventually have to do that anyway.

And on top of that, I was having computer issues. Although, this time, it wasn't because my computer is on the crappy side. No, this time it was all me. See, the structure of this novel is a bit strange. I've got all these different sections that I had in different files, then I had to put it all together by doing a copy/paste into another file. And when I went to validate it on the NaNoWriMo website, I literally have no idea what I gave them, because I just did a quick copy/paste thing again, but they said I hit 50K, so I'll just trust them on that. I mean, the little word count thing on my software said I hit it, too, so there you go. Of course, when I start having to sort through all of this is when the real fun will begin. Sorry, "fun" is what I meant to say. Then, I'll figure it all out.

So, another November has come and gone, and another first draft has been started. Because I really ANOTHER manuscript to add to the pile. Seriously, next year I might just do a full on rewrite. If I'm allowed. Still, there is a sense of accomplishment to doing this. I hope that any of you out that that participated were able to finish, but even if you didn't, I hope that at least you gave some life to a new story that was aching to get into the world. And that's the whole point.

Until next November!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 - Week Three Update

Greetings Pups,

Well, THIS was a rough week!

Here's a question. Do all of us who participate in NaNoWriMo subconsciously follow some rule that says we must get sick at least once during November? Because it happens to me every year. And it happened to me this week. Good times, indeed. However, I still managed to do my writing. Which, all things considered, didn't make me feel much better.

Unless you're writing something pretty boring, at a point, you have to put your characters through some kind of dilemma. Well, as I've said, I've got ten main characters and I am putting them through some seriously bad stuff. They've all got pasts and said pasts are coming to light whether they like it or not. Mostly not. At least, for the time being. They have to go through all of this mess to get somewhere better, just like in real life. Hopefully. Yeah, I'm not sure yet if all of them are going to come out of this better. Because, again, just like in real life, that doesn't always happen. But sometimes that's because it's not supposed to happen. Sometimes we have to give up things that we thought we wanted because we weren't actually meant to have them. Same goes for the characters we write. Sure, we want what's best for them and we want to protect them. They are, after all, our children in a way. But we also have to do what's best for them, which doesn't always mean an easy ending.

Speaking of endings, I don't think I'm as close to mine as I wish I was. I definitely will hit my 50K, no problem, but actually finishing the whole story is, well, another story. Like last year . . . and the year before . . . I'm doing something quite detailed. So, even being able to finish a first draft in a month will most likely not be possible. However, it is good to have gotten started, especially considering how long this idea has been sitting around waiting for me to breathe some life into it.

So, we've got one more week to go and I hope that everyone is doing well with their word count. I also hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving (and possibly some post-holiday shopping) managed to get a bit ahead on that word count so you can enjoy a little break without worries of getting behind. It's always a good idea to do that. It's my plan every year.

Have a great final week and I'll be back to wrap things up on the last day of the month. Write on, y'all!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 - Week Two Update

Greetings Pups,

Well, we have reached the halfway point in NaNoWriMo. Which means we are 25K words into our story. Or we should be. Don't worry. I am. As I mentioned last time, I spent most of the first week giving each of my ten (yes, TEN!) main characters their own introduction chapter written in their own voice, so that I, and possibly the reader can get to know them. Yeah, I'm not certain if I'll put those opening chapters in the finished product. We'll see. I also wrote a special intro chapter for that unofficial eleventh character, who I also don't know if they'll make it to the final draft. Again, we'll see.

Anyway, I've spent my subsequent time starting the actual story and seeing how all these people connect. I had previously jotted down some vague ways that they were tied to one another, but I'm starting to expand those as I write. As you do. Although, I still don't know where it's all headed for the end game, which is normal often when you're writing a novel, but I usually do have some idea. This time, I'm just taking it one sentence at a time, and seeing where it all leads me.

I am, however, doing the same thing I did last year which was writing a lot of scenes out of order. It happens. You get a good idea for something that's gonna happen late and you have to write it down, even though you're nowhere near it as you write in a linear fashion. Still, that book I did last year only had two main characters, so it was easier to follow where things were going. But since I'm counting words, it's best to get it all down no matter what.

So, sorry I don't have more to say, but truth be told, I feel some sickness coming on. Of course. Anyway, my next update will be the day before Thanksgiving. I'm hoping to be a bit ahead of where I need to be so I can enjoy the eating and possibly the shopping the day after. Yes, I do that. But I go on Friday morning and since so many people have started this awful trend of going on Thursday night, it's never crowded. So, I hope you all are doing well on your writing. Until next update.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017- Week One Update

Greetings Pups,

So, I wasn't sure if I was going to do these weekly update things again for NaNoWriMo, but as I said before, I'm having trouble thinking of what to write about on the blog, all things considered. Therefore, I figured I could just do this for the second year in a row. I wonder if I can count this toward my 50K total. No. The answer is no.

Anyway, as expected, I started writing my story on November 1st and I've been steadily adding on to it. Again, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm working on a novel that I came up with years ago. Thankfully, I had kept the notes I made concerning the characters, although, I never thought too in depth about exactly what I was going to put them through. But I have an idea. It's all about some of the inhabitants of this apartment building, which used to be a hotel. In fact, I use the name of said hotel in the title. And all of them are in some way, connected to the arts. Gee, I wonder where I got my inspiration for this.

I've spent the first week of NaNo writing about each individual character, giving them their own introduction chapter, written in their own voice, in the first person, mostly so that the reader can get to know them and how they speak. I want them to be recognizable just by what they say. Yeah, I'm pulling a Barbara Kingsolver and The Poisonwood Bible here (Google it!).

Oh, but now we come to the fun part. And when I say fun, I mean potentially torturous. Here's the deal - I have ten main characters! Yeah. And possibly an unofficial eleventh one, but we'll see how that works out. Why did I do this to myself? Who knows? But it happened and now I'm actually attached to all of them. We also might find out that some of them are connected to each other and therefore, need each other to exist in the confines of the story.

Okay, that's about all I have to say for this update. Sorry, it's not that much. But not that much has happened yet. Things are going well, and I have my plans in place, as much as I can. I'll come back with another post about this in a week, with hopefully more interesting things to say.

And to all of you who are also embarking on the NaNoWriMo journey, Godspeed!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 - Here We Go Again!

Greetings Pups,

Well, as promised, I am going to talk about NaNoWriMo today. Yes, I am actually going to do this again. I have a stack of manuscripts that I need to prepare for publication, and I am going to start yet another one. Why do I do this to myself? Ironically, out of the three times I've done and won NaNoWriMo, I've only written a story from beginning to end one time. And trust, considering what I'm doing this year, I don't think that one is going to get any company.

Speaking of which, here are vague details about what I'm writing this year. As mentioned, I have many stories that I'm polishing up and I don't have it in me to come up with something new. Well, thankfully, I don't have to. As I was packing up the contents of my house (in the desperate hopes of getting a new one), I started going through all the papers in my office. We writers always have papers. Anyway, I found the quite extensive notes I had for a book I wanted to do years ago. It was a bit daunting, exactly what I wanted to do with it, so I never actually started it. But I think it's still a good idea, and I thought that by using it for this, I could at least get it rolling. Again, I don't think I'll be able to finish the story within the month, as it's a bit complex and has a lot of characters, but if I do think I'll be able to hit the 50K once more. Heck, I could probably hit it just by writing about all the back stories of said characters.

Now last year, I did updates every week on my progress, which turned out okay. I don't know if I'll repeat that. Although, considering that I'm at a loss, currently, for things to discuss on this blog, I may try. I suppose we'll see if I have anything to say after week one.

As far as giving advice to NaNo newbies, I did that last year and nothing has really changed as far as that goes. I also made one of those "fun" NaNoWrimo Survival Kit videos for my VidMe and YouTube channels. I put "fun" in quotations because it might be the weakest one you'll ever see. But hey, I'm still learning. And all of this stuff will be linked below, as well as my page on the NaNoWriMo website.

That's about all I have to say where NaNoWriMo is concerned. I'm doing it, and if you're doing it as well, Godspeed! It's tough, but worth it and I definitely think it can help some writers with their own personal discipline. It has for me. Many writers don't have deadlines and many writers have yet to be published, so I think having one can help in the future if you're ever answering to someone else when it comes to your productivity. So, if you're participating, have fun, learn something and just write.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Deciding on Directions

Greetings Pups,

So, it's been kind of a while. Sorry about that. Of course, if you read my last post, you'll know that I've been dealing with some personal issues. I know, I know. As per usual with me, right? Yes, I've taken time off from this blog for many reasons, and the aforementioned "personal issues" has often been a big one. Of course, as I said previously, things have been especially hard for me recently. To be honest, I am still hanging in the balance for now, but I'm also hanging on, which is good. Anyway, after I posted last time, I didn't really intend to not write anything here for a while, as I usually do. I just never felt like writing anything here. I woke up every day and thought about it, but I just had no desire for whatever reason. Of course, eventually, I did have a reason.

I don't know if you've heard, but there have been some unfortunate things coming from the entertainment industry world in the past couple of weeks. Let's be honest. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knew that this kind of stuff has been going on for decades, but now we have some confirmation. We also have confirmation that a lot of people kept it hidden for whatever reason. Now, listen, as much as I enjoy movies and music and TV, I've never not known that it was a shady business. But in this case, I have such a bad taste in my mouth that it's hard to even talk about those things.

As you may have noticed, a major subject that I write about on this blog is connected to the entertainment industry. Again, it's because I have always loved the arts, and so many different aspects of it. To be fair, I still do. I am, after all, an artist myself. But, as I said, it's just so hard to talk about those things right now. It's hard to watch a movie and look at an actor's face, because all I'm thinking is "How long did YOU know? Why did YOU not say anything?" It's a bit distracting. And it's hard to want to give any of them any praise at the moment. I've always been fairly good at separating the art from the artist, but my patience is wearing thin. As I think it is with a lot of us.

So, now I'm wondering in what direction can I take this blog, now that the thing I once discussed most is something I don't want to discuss at all. I suppose I can talk about crap movies and TV shows. No praise to be given there, and I can mock them. I could talk more about books and music done by people that I think I can trust. Who knows, though, right?

The bottom line is that I just don't know what to do with this blog at the moment. I've been doing it and enjoying it for years, and I'd love to keep doing it and enjoying it. But what to write about is my dilemma. I will, of course, be talking about the upcoming and annual adventure of NaNoWriMo, and I may even post some more things about personal things or ways that I can encouraging any readers. I like doing that. I know it's not the most fun thing I can right about, but every now and then, I find it necessary.

In the meantime, I'll continue to work on my writing away from here. By that, I mean my books. And I've been keeping busy with my videos on VidMe and YouTube. So you can always catch up with me there, too. Still, I'm sure that this little venture of mine isn't dead. But it might be napping for a bit. We'll see.

I'll finish up by, again, conveying my gratitude to anyone who reads what I write. I'm very appreciative. And if y'all have any ideas about what I can discuss here, I'm open to suggestions. Of course, if you want me to listen to them, you'll have to support me on Patreon! At least fifty bucks a month! Just kidding. Sort of.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dealing With Depression

Greetings Pups,

I know I got kind of personal in my last post, and I normally don't like to do that twice in a row. I mean, I like to entertain you all, and I don't think that this would fit into that category. However, I thought it might be important to talk about something I've dealt with recently, as well as throughout the majority of my life. And that something would be depression. Now, I am only talking about MY issues, so don't think that I presume to know what you're going through or that I think I have all your answers. I don't. I'm just sharing my story.

Of course, I know that there are multitudes of people talking about this online, and if you searched it on YouTube, well, I don't think there's a number high enough to cover all the videos you'd find on the subject. Now whether or not everyone is being sincere, I don't know, and I won't try to guess. I'd like to think that no one would just use something like this for whatever reason, so assuming that everyone IS being sincere, they all have their own stories that are unique to themselves. And I am no different.

Like I said, I've dealt with bouts of depression my whole life. I've brought that up quite a few times in this very blog. It's been an up and down journey for many years, which is how it effects a lot of people. We have good times and then we drop, and hopefully, we get back up. Honestly, for quite a while now, I've been on a bit of a low swing, over all. And when I say quite a while, I mean, a few years. You see, things that have affected me at different times have decided to congregate and attack me all at once, which makes all of this that much harder. So, when you combine my financial situation, my job situation, my health issues and the fact that my house is crumbling down around me? Yeah, it kind of makes things difficult. Not to say that every minute of every day has me curled up in a ball of sadness. Even within this time, I still have days that aren't too bad, not to mention that I am excellent at hiding what's going on with me from everyone I know. This is not really a good thing. Therefore, this may come as a surprise to a lot of people, what I've been dealing with.

And I think that's one of the hardest things some people have to go through with depression. It's the very solitary feeling that takes us over. Even if we have someone to talk to, we often think they won't really care or that they could never understand or in some cases, we don't want to burden them with our problems. It could be why many artists say they've been depressed, and that the art is what got them through it, giving them an outlet for everything when they thought they had nothing. I can speak to that one personally, obviously, as a writer. I will say that is the one thing that hasn't suffered in the past few years. Far from it. I do little else but write, and that's how it has always been for me. That's my release. That's the blessing that I was given by God to work through these times where my world feels like it's falling apart. And that is a time that I've felt stuck in for a while.

Now, I know that some people might throw my "religion" back in my face, asking why, if I believe that God can fix everything, I don't just pray and make it all okay. Well, as I mentioned in my last blog post, I don't think that's how God works. At least, not all the time. I do pray every day. I do still have my faith. That's part of how I get through each day, as hard as it is sometimes, along with my writing. I'm in this hole right now for a reason, whatever that may be. And I have a way to keep my head above water, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, until I get pulled out of it by what will most likely be a very big miracle. All things considered, it will have to be. And I know that not everyone looks to God for help, but this is my way. A way that I believe works. So, even though life is scary and uncertain right now, I'm hanging on. I am, in fact, dealing.

And that's what we all have to remember, those of us who are going though this. As difficult as a bout with depression is, we have to know that as long as we are dealing with it that means we are still here to deal with it. It's not over and there is hope that we'll see light again, more steadily and constantly so.

Please keep in mind what I mentioned at the start, that this was just my own story and experience. I'm not speaking for anyone but myself, and as I said, everyone goes through this on a different path. But I do think that the hope I talked about is what connects us and leads us to an answer and a place of peace.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rich Mullins & What His Legacy Means to Me

Greetings Pups,

On September 19, 1997, the world lost one if its most gifted artists, and I lost one of my greatest inspirations, with the passing of singer-songwriter Rich Mullins. If you're unfamiliar with him, he was a Christian artist during the 80's and 90's, penning some very well-known and beloved songs for both himself and others, including Amy Grant. He was revered as one of the best songwriters in the genre, if not the best, and some of us would put his brilliance as a musician up against any of the musical geniuses there are outside of Christian music. To put it simply, Rich Mullins was something special.

Okay, I have to talk about myself for a moment for all this to really make an impact. It's leading somewhere, trust me.

When I was growing up, I always felt very different from everyone around me. I know a lot of people say that, but that's because a lot of people do feel that way. I was an unofficial outcast everywhere I went, and I never thought I was in the place or around the people that I was meant to be. Still feel that way sometimes. I had a lot of emotional issues, stemming from the treatment I got from certain people in my life, but like a good little girl, I always kept my mouth shut. I never talked about my wounds. I felt ashamed of them, and I felt like I would be judged as a Christian for bringing all my damage into the light, instead of just praying it away. Don't get me wrong. I do believe in the power of prayer and trusting God to get you through your storms, but I also believe that sometimes He hands you the supplies and tells you to build the shelter yourself. Faith plus works, as we all know. But I was too afraid to even think that I was capable of doing that.

All that led me to some very dark days in my early teenage years. Very dark. I was constantly begging God to come to my rescue, and all the while, I had been writing about my troubles. But I remember thinking that I couldn't do that. What if someone found out that I was dwelling on that darkness? So, I shamed myself for it and kept on begging God to help. As it turns out, He was helping all along. This is what He gave me to work through all of that. My gifts of writing were my supplies, and doing the actual writing was how I was meant to build my shelter from the storm. And for a time, I had clearly forgotten the lessons I'd learned from someone that God had put into my life long before. That person was Rich Mullins.

See, Rich was far from perfect and he never backed down from letting the world know that. Whether it was through his songs or interviews, he always let us know about his scars. He never tried to be something he wasn't, even when what he was happened to be a man who was a bit rough around the edges. That was one of the reasons why I was so drawn to him as an artist and as a person. I was in that same state, even as a kid, but I tried to hide the pain by acting like everything was fine, like I was fine, and it wasn't until I started putting my scrapes and cuts and bruises into the open that they could begin to heal. That was something else he taught me. That, no matter what, there was always a way to heal.

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't mention something else that Rich Mullins introduced me to. That would be Brennan Manning and his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, which I actually didn't get a chance to read until after Rich passed on. It had a big effect on me, as did the album that Rich made that was greatly inspired by it. The album is called A Liturgy, a Legacy & a Ragamuffin Band, and it is my favorite of all time.

It's also his masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned. If I ever meet anybody who is wary of Christian music for any reason, this is what I recommend to them. That way, they can see what brilliance can spawn from the genre, both musically and lyrically. It is something of a concept album, which means it had great potential to be pretentious, but rest assured, it is far, FAR from that. It's epic and intimate at the same time, and there is a rawness to it that, as usual, let's you see straight into the heart and soul of the artist. What he thought, what he felt, and most importantly, what he believed. It changed my life and continues to do so every time I listen to it.

I suppose that's all I want to say. I wasn't even planning on writing this. It was very last minute, as you can tell. But I thought I should do something to honor Rich Mullins and remember him today. I know it's a cliche to say that he's in a better place now, but I know for certain that he is. That's why, while this day does give a sting to my heart, I always need to remember that this was the day he went home. And I take comfort in the fact that I'll get to see him someday and say thank you to him. And also to God for sending such a blessing into my life.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Top Ten Billy Joel Songs

Greetings Pups,

So, Harry Connick Jr's show began its second season and his first guest was Billy Joel. Of course, that happened. We all know those piano men all stick together. Anywho, they did a little singing, naturally, and listening to it, I thought, "Oh, yeah. I really like Billy Joel's music and I ever made a Top Ten list of my favorite songs of his!" Or something like that. Therefore, I decided to do it today.

Now, considering when I was born and grew up, Billy Joel was really part of the zeitgeist for me, and I think he's just one of those artists that everyone enjoys, where even if you don't like him, you do. Just because. Well, maybe it's because he's always felt so regular guy-ish, and when you seem him, you feel like your neighbor or uncle or wacky, music teacher got famous. He feels like someone you know, and that counts for something. But he's also extraordinarily, musically gifted. So, I think we should start talking about said music. Here is my Top Ten list of Billy Joel songs. Enjoy

Honorable Mention goes to "We Didn't Start the Fire". I know he doesn't like it that much, but I do. And there are few greater feelings in the world than the moment you realize, "WOW! I've memorized all the words to this song!" Or is that just me, as my life is pretty sad? Moving on.

#10. "My Life" - This was the theme song to one of the greatest shows of all time, Bosom Buddies. I don't think I need any other reason than that to put it on the list. Although, as a person who is constantly telling others to "leave me alone", I can relate to this. Big time.

#9. "She's Always a Woman" - Or "The Backhanded Compliment Song". Oh, what? That is exactly what's happening here and you know it. Alright, I'm just kidding. Actually, I heard that he wrote this about his ex-wife, who helped him get his financial act together. She was pretty tough and apparently, some people were like, "A tough woman? I think not!" And this song was Billy's answer to those fools. Good times.

#8. "Don't Ask Me Why" - When I used to work at my heinous job in retail, I had to listen to many awful songs overhead. But occasionally, I'd hear a good one. This is one of them. And this is one that always made me feel better for some reason. The music just cheered me up in the moments I needed it the most. Much thanks.

#7. "Uptown Girl" - I mean, how could I not? This is just one of the funnest songs ever. Now, I think some people believe that this song was written exclusively for Christie Brinkley, as they were eventually married and she was in the video. But apparently, he started writing this about Elle Macpherson, who he was dating at the time, and then it morphed into being about Christie as well. Holy crap, I love this man's life. Anyway, I also heard it was inspired, musically, by the work of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and that will always get you points.

#6. "Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)" - Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, I believe I once saw this special where Billy was at a university or something, talking to the students, giving them advice and answering questions. And I do remember that someone asked him to sing this song, but he couldn't even finish, he got so emotional. Because it's about his baby girl, Alexa Ray. I tell ya, I almost cried myself. Again, if I am remembering correctly.

#5. "Honesty" - He's not kidding when he says "Honesty is such a lonely word". No one wants to hear the truth, especially these days, and when you tell them the truth, they just flee. That's cool, though. I like my alone time.

#4. "New York State of Mind" - I tell you, nothing makes you appreciate the East Coast more than spending any amount of time on the West Coast. And that is what inspired this song. Actually, it seems to have inspired the whole album that this song was on, Billy's return to New York after being in L.A. for a while. There's nothing like coming home, and whilst we have a ton of songs about NYC, I think the best ones are written by genuine New Yorkers, IMO.

#3. "The River of Dreams" - Imagine if Billy Joel was the organist at your church. No need to imagine, because here it is. Yeah, no lie, this song sounds like church to me. A really good, jazzy one. And there's no way I can mention this song without bringing up the performance of it he gave at the Grammys, back when people still cared about the Grammys and they weren't utterly pointless. It's iconic. I'm sure you'll be able to find it someone.

#2. "The Longest Time" - I used to think that this song was just voices. The a cappella, ya know. But it actually has some bass and snare drum with brushes. I had no idea. Although, it has probably been covered many times without those things. MANY times! Again, this is just such a feel good song, and I dare you to not smile whenever it comes on. Unless you're really, super sad. Then, I'll let it slide

#1. "The Downeaster Alexa" - I don't know how many people would call this their favorite song of Billy's. I assume not a lot, but I like to go against the flow. I love this song. It feels like Billy Joel's very unique and specific version of epic. I mean, he got Itzhak Perlman do the violin solo. Come on! And the structure is so different from a basic "Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge" kind of a song, it really does bring something special to the table. Also, it's something of a story song, and I love me a good story song. Especially when it's inspired by true stories about true struggles. Excellent work, my friend.

And there are my favorite songs by the Billy Joel. I like Billy. I really do. We might not agree on everything, but his music certainly makes me happy. And all things considered where my life is concerned right now, that is exactly what I need. So, sir, if by some miracle you ever read this, I say thank you.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Two Books At Once?!?!

Greetings Pups,

I took a peek at my Goodreads page the other day and saw that I am a mere fifteen books away from winning my own personal 2017 Reading Challenge. Good times. I was ambitious and made my goal - wait for it - one hundred books! Yeah, you heard me. Truth be told, I may have done that already in the past, but I never kept track of it until now. Because GoodReads is a thing and now I have a place to keep track of it. And, as you can see, I am doing quite well. I can read fairly quickly, especially if it's a good book, and it's a great way to kill the down time within the hours I spend writing my own books. Plus, I was told that audio-books count, and you can get those done in a flash as well, depending on the book and if you remember to increase the speed. However, in all my years of reading, there is one thing that I don't think I've ever done. Guess! And don't look at the title of this post. That's cheating.

Yes, it's true. As far as I can remember, I have never read two books at the same time. Even when I was in school, I would set aside my own reading to concentrate on assignments. But again, I read quickly, so, as soon as I finished The Scarlet Letter or whatever, I could zip through something of my own choosing. The thing is, I get very much into whatever story I happened to be working on. I never liked having to jump between fictional worlds. I thought it would be too confusing, especially if they were similar. So, I always had a rule of "One book at a time".

But I decided something recently. I may have made it known that, as a writer, I tend to work on more than one project at a time. Sadly, that makes the time of my finishing anything arrive much later than it should, but still. Anyway, I thought that if I could write more than one book at a time, then there's no reason I can't read more than one book at time. So, the other day, I did something drastic - I labeled TWO books on GoodReads . . . as "Currently Reading". Wow, I made that sound a lot more dramatic than it actually was.

Now, to be fair, this may not end well for me. I may just give up on both books. You never know. But after giving it some thought, I'm starting to wonder if this method might make me get through certain books even faster. I mean, if I can choose a book depending on my mood, instead of declining to read at all because I'm not in the mood for the one particular book that I happen to be reading, I should finish more and finish more a lot faster. It's an experiment, but it's certainly one I am willing to try.

Look, the bottom line is that I'm reading. And whether you or I choose to read one book at a time or a hundred at a time, it's all good as long as we are doing it at all. Although, you might want to pass on that "hundred at a time" thing I just mentioned. It might be a bit much.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 7, 2017

In the Woods by Tana French - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

I've noticed something about writers, especially these days. There are a lot of good ones. There are a lot of bad ones. I think the most prevalent are the merely competent ones. But, few and far between, there are writers who are distinct and unique, who use a voice that is completely their own. These are the writers that require you to read only a page or two, if that, to know who they are. Yes, they are rare, and a few years ago, I think I found one. Her name is Tana French and today, I am going to discuss her first book, In the Woods.

In the Woods is a 2007 mystery novel and is the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series, which I will speak more about later. It's about a detective named Rob Ryan, who is investigating the murder of a 12-year-old girl whose body was found on a dig site, along with his partner Cassie Maddox. The details of the case are taking Rob back to the memory of a horrific event that happened to him when he, himself, was 12-years-old, especially considering how many similarities there are between them. It is a part of his past that he keeps secret from everyone, with the exception of his partner, who he trusts due to their close relationship. That closeness, however, leads people to think they are intimately involved. Because we all know that men and woman can't ever be just close friends. That's just silly talk.

Anyway, as the investigation moves forward, as many leads are fruitlessly looked into, Rob tries to pull from his own memories of what happened to him, on the off chance that it could be helpful, not only to this present mystery, but also to the one that haunts his past. So, in a way, we're getting two mysteries for the price of one. Of course, with the lengths to which he goes to use his childhood trauma to try and fix his current adult dilemma, it only ends up messing with him emotionally and leading to some issues in his friendship with Cassie. Still, they must continue on with their job to find out exactly what occurred. And doing so leads them, and us, the reader, on a intense and gripping ride.

Now, I refuse to spoil the ending of this book, because I'm not mean and I think you should read it yourself. I will say, however, that I found it to be quite satisfying. I did not predict it at all, and the set up for it was done very well. Was it the exact ending that I wanted? Not completely, but it was true to life and how life goes sometimes. Frankly, that's all I can ask of a writer, to respect me enough to let the story be what it is, from beginning to end. And you know what? Sometimes I think the best way to insult your reader is to give them exactly the ending that they want. Or, should I say, the ending that they THINK they want. None of that here, which may upset some people, but not me.

So, about the Dublin Murder Squad. First of all, I don't think it's an actual thing, IRL, but whatever. They're homicide detectives. That's all you need to know. Now as far as the series goes, the structure of it is quite interesting. All the books are connected, but not extremely so. Obviously, they always follow the squad and you will have recurring characters, but there is a new case to solve and a new lead character for each book. Well, actually, to say "new" is a bit misleading. Usually, the lead in one book will be a secondary character from a previous book. It's a great way to be able to get the story from a fresh perspective, but said perspective comes from someone you've already been introduced to. There's just enough of a thread to connect the books, but not so much that you feel like you're stuck in a never-ending narrative. Okay, I used the word "books" WAY too much in that paragraph.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend In the Woods. Tana French is such a superb writer. Her world building is amazing, and she truly creates an atmosphere that completely pulls you into the story. And the way she writes characters is what I love most about her writing. They're complex, they have depth and you feel like you know them, because she puts you right in their head and proves that there is absolutely an art to making a first person narrative. As I said, writers like Tana French are rare, so we should make sure to show them, and their books, the appreciation they deserve.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, September 1, 2017

I Made Videos...and Also Some Other Stuff!

Greetings Pups,

Didn't I just do some kind of life update thing not too long ago? Well, I guess it's better than having nothing to report. Change is good, most of the time, and I'd say it's pretty good now. So, I thought I'd tell you all about something I started, just today as a matter of fact, as well as some other things that I'll be doing soon, hopefully.

First of all, as you can tell by the title of this post, I made some videos. Calm down. I didn't do some epic Lady Gaga thing or whatever. In fact, I've done quite the opposite. I've done about the simplest thing one can do in the video making realm. Now, I am not the best at marketing my books. It's just not my strength. So, I thought I would try to get my work out there in a new way, and that way is making some poetry videos. Again, calm down. These things are not fancy. I just used Windows Movie Maker and some stock music. It's all I have. Well, it worked for Grade A Under A. Anyway, I hope my writing will speak for itself, and people can overlook my rudimentary visual skills.

My plan is to start with putting these poetry videos up on VidMe . . . and also YouTube. Even though, I'm not exactly pleased with them at the moment. But whatever. I have a channel there. May as well use it. If those pan out, maybe I'll expand and do some vlogs or funny story videos. I may even start taking some of my old reviews and lists from right here and turning them into a more visual medium. Of course, to do all that, I may have to draw a cartoon avatar of myself for those, as no one should be forced to look at my face IRL. That's right. I am THAT gorgeous. And if I ever start my podcasts, I'll try to put those in video form as well. Because why not?

Another thing I'm planning to do is sell some merch by way of starting a campaign on TeeSpring. If you don't know what that is, it is a site where you can design things like mugs or totes or t-shirts, obviously, and then you set a goal for sales for a certain amount of time. If you meet the goal, your stuff gets sold. If not, better luck next time. Now, you can design on site with their fonts and art, but those can only be used when you sell through them. And that's fine with me for now, just so I can see if I could actually sell anything at all. I can call those limited edition or something. Makes them sound fancy. I am, however, looking to find a graphic designer who will work with me (very affordably) to make a logo and work on my own personal branding. I'd do it myself, but for the life of me, I can't get a straight answer online about whether or not fonts are copyrighted. It's rough, I'll tell you. Either way, I'll see if I can sell a few things and then maybe I'll be able to hire someone eventually. If I get money. Did I mention there's a donate button on this page? Just sayin'.

So, that's about it. Just wanted to share this new stuff with you all. I left all the links to my channels and social media below, so that you can stay updated with everything I'm doing. Hopefully, I'll be able to reach more people with these new ventures, and even more hopefully, I'll be able to do some good.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Saturday, August 26, 2017

How Old Are You? / Robin Gibb - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a hardcore admirer of the Bee Gees. Ever since I was a teenager, when I found out they did more stuff than Saturday Night Fever, I have been listening to their amazing catalog of music. In fact, my favorite songs is one of their songs. But I'm not exactly here to talk about the Bee Gees, at least, not collectively. And probably not TOO much. No, today I will mostly be discussing just one of them, Robin Gibb, and his solo album How Old Are You?

How Old Are You? was released in 1983 and was Robin's second solo project. The first was 1970's Robin's Reign, which was made back when the brothers broke up after their initial success. It was a sad time. I guess. I wasn't there. And I don't think I've ever actually heard that album. Maybe someday. Anyway, according to my info, this was made around the time that the Bee Gees were doing the Staying Alive soundtrack (which was AWESOME!), as well as the time when they were writing and producing a lot for other artists. With this project, though, it appears that only Robin and Maurice were involved, writing all the songs and producing with a guy named Dennis Byron, who had been working with them as a drummer for quite a while. Actually, they used a few of their regular musical personnel for this, which I'm cool with, because obviously they're good at what they do. Unfortunately, Barry was apparently not involved at all. Well, you know how twins are sometimes. Gotta do their own thing. But I digress. The music!

Okay, let me get this out of the way. The production on this album is very synth heavy. There's a lot of it. A LOT! Of course, it was the 80's and it fit the style of music that Robin had been doing, so there you go. And to be honest, though it is quite prominently featured, it's done in such a way where it won't get obnoxious. Like other stuff I could mention. I'm sure it didn't hurt that the songs are so good.

Ah, yes! The songs! In my opinion, they're all good. No lie. Fine, some are better than others, just like it always goes, but I do really enjoy every song on this album. I'll just go through some highlights, though, starting with the opening track. It's called "Juliet". I think it's based on some book or play or something. Anyway, it's where Robin begins to show of a very extensive falsetto, particularly in the chorus. It's something that shows up quite a bit over the tracks. Oh, and think you can still find the video for this on the YouTubes. Go watch it . . . and then tell me what it's about, because I had some trouble following the story arc.

Another single released from the album was "Another Lonely Night in New York". What can I say? I like a good song about New York, and there are so many. And let's be honest, if I was in New York, I'd probably be lonely, too. Oh, I get it. Lonely in a city full of millions of people. Robin, you are wicked smart! Probably my favorite song is "Don't Stop the Night". Again, Robin excels with the falsetto, doing it more flawlessly than anyone I can think of. And I just love that title and how well it ties into the lyrics about yearning for a lost love when you're forced to see them moving on. Kinda heartbreaking. And the whole album ends with a great song called "I Believe in Miracle" with even more fantastic lyrics. Yes, I'm a lyric snob. We all know this.

So, I guess I should talk about the titular song, "How Old Are You?". Yeah, it could be considered a tad . . . controversial. Something about someone being 17 and "a girl with woman's charms". Look, I don't know. I DON'T KNOW. All I do know is that this is kind of in the "Don't Stand So Close to Me" territory, and if we let Sting get away with it, we really should let Robin. Plus, the song is extremely catchy, so all is forgiven!

And I think that's what makes this album excel musically. It is quite hooky, as they say. The choruses are just a collection of earworms, but the best possible kind. It should come as no surprise, since we know Robin's track record as a songwriter, albeit as part of a group. But if this shows us anything, it is that all three of them brought something to the table, and whether together or apart they were flat out musical geniuses.

Now, if i'm being honest, this album was not some massive success, certainly nowhere near the success that Robin previously had. I mean, I think the highest this thing charted was #6 in West Germany. Yeah, think about that. WEST Germany! That's how old this is. Ha! But on that subject, you have to remember when this came out. It was in the wake of the disco backlash that the brothers had been victims of, and no one really wanted to hear from them as themselves. As I mentioned, they were making bank writing and producing for other artists, but no one was that interested in their own work. And it's sad, because I think that was the main reason this got overlooked.

So, I obviously recommend How Old Are You? Give it a listen if you can get your hands on it. I seem to remember it being an ordeal to find a copy, but that was a while ago. You might have better luck. Now I would say this is best for true fans of all things Gibb, especially since I can admit that Robin's voice is a bit of an acquired taste. I mean, it is so unique and special, how could it not be? Therefore, if you love listening to him sing with the accompaniment of his brothers, you may love listening to him on his own. I certainly do. And ever since he, sadly, passed on, it's one of the things I hold dear.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rabbits on the Run / Vanessa Carlton - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

I don't know if I mentioned this, but I have been working on a collection of songs based on my favorite book. Well, I was working on it, then I stopped, now I'm working on it again. Anyway, I love when people create art that is inspired by other works of art. I'd say it keeps us all connected in a way. So, I wanted to talk about an album that has some literary inspiration attached to it, Rabbits on The Run. Yay! Bunnies!

Rabbits on the Run is a 2011 album from Vanessa Carlton. I was pretty intrigued about this one as soon as I heard about it, and with each new bit of information, that intensified. First off, I do enjoy the music of Vanessa Carlton. She always seemed very organic with the music she created, and I liked that. Second, as I mentioned, she had said that she was inspired (am I using that word too much?) by two books. One of them was A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, which I've never read and probably never will, and the other was Watership Down by Richard Adams, which I don't think I've read, but I've definitely seen that scary cartoon movie, though. But anyway, that's why there are "rabbits" in the title. Works for me. She also had a very specific sound for this project, very dreamlike, and she got Steve Osborne to produce it. He also worked with U2 and A-ha in the past. If you look online, you'll probably be able to find this great interview she did which I've seen called "The Four Elements of Rabbits on the Run", where she talks about her decisions, like using a children's choir and recording to record to actual, physical tape, something practically unheard of these days. What's that you say, youngsters? What is tape? Ask your parents. Now let's talk about the music.

The first single was "Carousel" and it's technically the titular track, since it has "rabbits on the run" in its lyrics. It's definitely one of my favorite tracks and a perfect way to kick off the album. Another of my favorite songs is "London". It starts off so softly and because of the way it puts you in that aforementioned dreamy state, you think it's gonna stay that way. But it kicks in to high . . . well, highER gear later, when we get one of the best lyrics I've ever heard: "You've got a knife-throwing kind of love". WHAT! Bring it! Anyway, "Hear the Bells" is another highlight, staying with the same musical theme, and the lyrics are quite visually stimulating. As are the ones on "Marching Line" and the simple piano work in the beginning fits it so well, along with the drumming which gives us the feel of a soft and subtle march. And the final track, "In the End" is relatively short with very few lyrics, but they do pack a punch regardless.

Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a song that, in hind sight, ends up being kind of funny. Not "Funny Ha Ha" but more "Funny Ironic". It's a song called "I Don't Wanna Be a Bride", and it's about exactly what you think it's about. I even saw Vanessa in an interview wherein she said that she supports brides and she supports marriage, but she just didn't want it for herself. Well, the joke's on everyone, because she ended up becoming a bride a few years back. Now she has a husband and a beautiful baby and WHY DID YOU LIE TO US, VANESSA!?!? Just kidding! Actually, I kind of like how the whole thing shows how we can change over time, that we're not stuck in one place with one way of approaching life.

In conclusion, I do recommend Rabbits on the Run. You can really hear that all the special care she took in recording it and all the creative decisions she made really paid off. It feels like a very personal album that she didn't necessarily make for her fans. Let me explain that. Obviously, she wanted to make something great for us, which she did, but often times, an artist can get bogged down too much in what other people are going to think. Here, Vanessa just made the album that she wanted to make, from her heart, from her soul and from her life. Thankfully, that ended up being something that we could all enjoy heartily. Yes, I said heartily.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Under Rug Swept / Alanis Morissette - Album Review

Greetings Pups,

I've noticed that artists who have one particular album being extremely successful can have that be a positive but also a bit of a negative. It's positive for the obvious, but the negative has to do with the fact that their other works are sometimes underrated, or just flat out ignored. Anyone who knows anything about the 90's knows that Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill was one of the defining albums of the decade, and deservedly so. But I think some people hold that one is such high regard that they forget how much great music she did that was NOT on that album. So, I thought I'd bring attention to some of that today and talk about Under Rug Swept.

Under Rug Swept was released in 2002, about four years after her last project. There is a subtle theme that threads all the songs together as it appears to chronicle the end of a relationship. Alanis was also inspired by all the traveling she had been doing, including the time she spent in the Navajo nation. And if you recall the first single "Hands Clean", she digs into her past, of course, telling some revealing stories about her involvement with an older man in her youth. It was accompanied by a great video as well, which visually showed the ordeal pretty perfectly. It also contains the lyric from where we get the album title.

The opening track is called "21 Things I Want in a Lover", where you can tell that a bit of it seems kind of tongue in cheek, but at the same time, you know she's not messing around with some of the things she mentions. Just something to add to the mystery. It's what we writers do. And back to the subject of the aforementioned great videos, another track that got one was "Precious Illusions". The song has a very unique sound musically, and I love what the lyrics say about dealing with how we felt about things when we were younger and how it conflicts with having to become an adult and see the world more realistically, all told through the lens of a romance. "Surrendering" is another one with a great message, talking about the courage of letting yourself be loved. Don't we all need that sometimes? Now I suppose I can relate to the song "So Unsexy" . . . 'cause I'm SO not that! Just kidding. In fact, it's all about how we should not take our insecurities so seriously. Everyone has them, so clearly, they aren't picky or exclusive and thus, don't deserve all the power we give to them.

If I have to choose a favorite song from the album, it would definitely be "You Owe Me Nothing in Return". It's just a sweet, upbeat song about love. How we need to support each other in relationships, but not let go of who we are and what we want out of life. It's nice being reminded that it's something that is possible to obtain.

Ya know, I think it would be only right if I tacked on a little mini-review to this and talk about something Alanis released later that year called Feast on Scraps. The CD has some B-sides and whatnot, but it also has a DVD which has concert footage from her tour, as well as some behind the scenes stuff. That's my favorite. And why I bring it up is because we get to see her working on some of the tracks from this Under Rug Swept album. So, we get to see her in her creative process, which is pretty revealing as she does let herself go deep into the emotions of what she's working on . I can relate. It's just so nice to witness someone letting herself be seen in that vulnerable state.

So, to wrap up, I would recommend this album. If I'm being honest, no, it might not be as good as Jagged Little Pill as a whole. However, it has so many great moments on it, and you can really feel how much of herself that Alanis put into these songs. For me, that always adds something extra to any work of art. And though we've seen her be emotional from a side of anger, here, we get to see it from a far more peaceful and mature perspective.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer