The Soundtrack of My Life – Track 5

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This week I’m adding one of my all time favorite songs to The Soundtrack of My Life. The song has almost no context for my life except that it’s a love song. If you haven’t guessed, this will come up often. Like every week. I’m a romantic at heart.

Whenever I hear this song I can’t help but close my eyes and get into the music and lyrics. This is just one of the best songs of all time. Yes, this is my opinion but I think there are plenty of people who would agree with me.

Track 5: Tiny Dancer by Elton John

Lyrics

Written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin

The most bizarre thing about this song is that Elton John, a queer icon, is singing about a woman. While I don’t think he was publically out when this song is released, it’s important to recognize that he was not writing these songs alone. The duo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin is legendary in music and listening to this song it’s clear why.

The song has an epic feel to it and it builds from Elton John just singing while playing the piano to a song that’s hard not to sing along to once the chorus hits. It’s a wonderfully crafted song with an amazing chorus that’s easy to remember and hard to imitate. In my opinion, that’s what makes a great pop song. It’s easy to sing the lyrics and hard to sing on key.

However, it’s not just the lyrics and John’s singing that gives the song the epic feel. The music feels epic as well. The way John plays the piano is likely why he is so revered as an artist and I only wish I had that much talent. In a way, his piano playing is an extension of his voice. In my experience with songs, instruments often fade into the background and the voice is on full display. However, there are exceptions. Tiny Dancer is one of those exceptions for me. You can tell Elton John is not only singing his heart out, but he is playing the piano with just as much passion. The combination of his voice and the piano is magical in my opinion. This song is only one example of what music is capable of and how much it means to me personally.

I would like to talk about the most recent Tiny Dancer cover by Florence + the Machine. I suspect I will end up talking more about her later on because she is incredible, but I digress.

There are a lot of things I love about the original composition of Tiny Dancer. I’m someone who loves covers and I love them when they are done well.

I feel very confident in saying that Florence + the Machine’s cover of Tiny Dancer is one of the best covers I’ve heard. This is because her voice is perfectly suited to the song and the epic feel that comes with the chorus. She does not change the pronouns in the song (the lyrics are talking about a woman) which makes this song incredibly queer and therefore I love it. By the way, this is just my interpretation and how I feel about the song. Some artists don’t change pronouns in songs they cover out of respect for the artist and that’s okay. I don’t know Florence’s reasoning but there aren’t that many songs out there about ladies singing love songs about other ladies. Let me enjoy this.

So, if like Caidyn you have terrible taste in music and aren’t a huge fan of the original Elton John version, then I highly recommend the Florence + the Machine cover and I will be putting it down below so treat yo earholes!

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The Soundtrack of My Life – Track 4

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Caidyn's review (3)

I was going to publish this on Saturday but plans change and I get tired after working 40 hours a week. However, it’s your lucky day because it’s my birthday and I get to gush about a song (and video) that I’ve loved for a long time. So sit back and relax as I introduce you to a new song and/or a song that is horribly underrated.

For those of you who might not know, Queen is one of my favorite bands of all time. Probably my second favorite band ever. I feel like everyone should know about Queen, and if you haven’t heard of them. Go listen. Now. “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Go now. Listen.

Now based on my love of Queen, you might think that I’m going to feature a Queen song for my special birthday song. But oh no.

I’m featuring a song by an artist who is a huge Queen fan and even created their stage name from a Queen song.

This song also samples a Queen song and features Queen’s guitarist Brian May.

What on earth could I be talking about? None other than…

Track 4: Yoü and I by Lady Gaga

Lyrics

Written by Stefani Germanotta

“Yoü and I” was released as the fourth since off of the smash album Born This Way, yet I never hear it talked about in the same breath as “Born This Way”, “Bad Romance”, or “Poker Face”. I think that’s a huge disservice to the song. For me, “Yoü and I” was Gaga’s first single that didn’t sound like a dance club song. It was a song I didn’t expect from Lady Gaga who had once sung about taking a ride on a “disco stick”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Lady Gaga. “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance” changed my fucking life. Lady Gaga is amazing but this is the song that made me love her.

This song samples “We Will Rock You” by Queen and I can hear it, but it blends in with the song. The song starts with a slow guitar riff and goes into the piano and then that familiar drum line lifted from “We Will Rock You” comes in and I’m taken in by the song. Then, there’s the guitar solo and it’s one of my all-time favorites.

Not only is the music in this song fantastic, but the lyrics are too. It’s obviously a love song and I feel it. Gaga’s voice is so raw and real unlike in any of her other songs. It feels stripped down while still having an electronic sound to it. I absolutely love it and I think it was a precursor of the shift in her music.

And now we are going to talk about the video for this song because it is something else. It features:

Mermaid Gaga
Mermaid Gaga
Lady Gaga as Dude
Gaga as a dude
Whatever the fuck this is
Whatever the fuck this is…
Gaga making out with herself
Gaga making out with herself
What the fuck
Um…murder…
Mermaid sex
And of course, mermaid sex.

Seriously though, I love this music video and how random it is. I distinctly remember showing everyone I could this video because it was so bizarre. I’m going to leave the full video down below if you want to watch it because I would highly recommend it.

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The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamera

Chantel's review

Caidyn’s Review

the unbinding of mary reade

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no influence on my rating. 

DNFed @ 17%

1/5 – The unthinkable has happened. Caidyn and I both DNFed the same book. However, I think I’m a little more upset because I wanted this to be good. This is the last review I wanted to write. 2018 was supposed to be the year of queer lady pirates! Unfortunately, this was so unbelievably mediocre.

I hate being so harsh because I hate writing negative reviews. I do. As a writer, if someone didn’t like my book it would crush me. Because I hate rejection. I was rooting for this book. When I saw it was Read Now on Netgalley and that I would actually have a chance to read it, I was genuinely excited. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2018 and when the date was pushed back to June instead of March, I was bummed.

However, I’ve never been more disappointed in a book in a long time. Maybe ever, I don’t know. It could’ve been incredible. It could’ve been so good and it wasn’t. You guys, I didn’t even make it to the queer romance! That has only happened on other time with A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. Another book that Caidyn and I both DNFed too.

I guess the ultimate lesson here is that queer lady pirates alone won’t make me like a book. I just know that there are too many books to read and not enough time for me to read something I just can’t get into or enjoy.

 

The Soundtrack of My Life – Track 3

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Caidyn's review (3)

Track 3: Love My Way by The Psychedelic Furs

Written by Vince Ely, Tim Butler, John Ashton & Richard Butler

Lyrics

Since I’m having trouble reading, I thought you guys would like to hear about another song that I adore. I mean, I don’t want you guys to forget about me.

Don't forget me, Adele

The next song on The Soundtrack of My Life is one that I discovered recently. It’s one of those songs I’ve heard before but never knew what it was called or who sang it. I’m sure that even though the title might not sound familiar, you’ve probably heard it too. Especially if you listen to 80’s music. Personally, I love the music from the 80’s. It has a lot of cheesiness but is also very genuine. Ever heard a cheesy 80’s love song? I’m sure you have, but that perfectly describes 80’s pop music in my opinion. The song I’m talking about today is the epitome of 80’s cheesiness and it’s called “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs.

I have to upfront about something. I only know about this song because of Call Me By Your Name. Let me be frank, I hated that movie. I don’t want to get into it now because I could easily start ranting if I don’t contain myself but I’ll try not to. The only reason I bring up Call Me By Your Name is that this song is featured in a scene featuring some hilarious white boy dance moves from Armie Hammer. I’m not exaggerating when I say this scene was my favorite. In contrast to Armie Hammer’s inability to dance, Timothee Chalamet is smooth as he practically glides across the dance floor. This scene stood out to me with brief scenes in the trailer and in the movie it stood out even more when placed with “Love My Way”.

timothee dancing in CMBYN

I looked up the song immediately after seeing the movie as it was the one highlight. From the opening notes, everything in my body feels lighter. Like I’m dragging around a weight constantly and the only thing which can lift it is this song. I would describe the music itself as light and airy. I listen to a lot of music which is slow and heavy, but this song is anything but. I don’t blame anyone who wants to dance to this song, no matter their skill level.

armie hammer dancing

Actually, this is pretty much how I dance.

Now, why does this song belong on the Soundtrack? It doesn’t have anything to do with the lyrics honestly. It has more to do with how danceable and singable the song is. If I’m at home and this song comes on, my body moves and my mouth sings. Neither of which I am good at, but when I’m alone it doesn’t matter. Instead of causing an emotional reaction in me, this song causes a physical reaction and that alone is enough to land it on The Soundtrack to My Life.

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The Soundtrack of My Life – Track 2

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Caidyn's review (3)

Welcome back everyone to Chantel rambles on about music. Basically, I am building a soundtrack for my life as one would create a soundtrack for a movie. That’s one of the ways I see music, these songs define me and hold a special place in my heart because they make me feel something and I just want to share my passion with everyone.

Track 2: Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers

Written by: Hy Zaret

Lyrics

If “Latch” is the song that plays when I meet the love of my life, then “Unchained Melody” is the song that plays at our future wedding. This song is my favorite love song ever and I don’t know if anything can ever top it. I think this song is best known for its appearance in the movie Ghost while Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze are doing pottery. In that way, I think it’s seen as a cheesy love song while playing over a very suggestive scene. However, outside that context, I think it’s one of the best love songs ever written and recorded. It’s so simple in its melody and lyrics and the vocals are amazing. You’ll notice a pattern with the songs I choose for The Soundtrack of My Life, they all feature amazing vocals where you can hear what the singer is feeling. If I can feel it, then the song will connect to me far more than just a random song on the radio.

When the singer sings “I need your love,” I feel it in my bones. I’m a person who has a lot of feelings. I can easily get overwhelmed by my feelings. If I’m feeling sad, it overwhelms every part of me including my face and body language. If I’m happy it’s clear in my body. If I have a crush on someone, I light up and I can feel my entire body get warm. As a result of wearing my heart on my sleeve, I usually embarrass myself when I have a crush on someone. Whether it’s blushing or brightening up or talking their ear off for an hour. This situation isn’t relevant right now at all.

And now after that brief interlude, back to the song. “Unchained Melody” is a timeless song in my opinion. The vocals are soft, the drumbeat is simple, the violins are playing in the background but in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the vocals. It also builds from quiet and soft to passionate in its short 3 minutes and 35 seconds so that by the end of the song it has earned every emotion it pulls from you. It’s the singer being vulnerable with the person he loves and I think that’s incredibly beautiful. It’s such a simple thing to sing about how much you want someone and how much you love them, but I feel like it’s rare to have someone put so much feeling behind it. If nothing else, this song will make you believe in love.

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Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat cover

Goodreads

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – 4/5 (no review)

(Chantel)

4.5/5 – I just want to state upfront that I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was adorable and I loved reading from Leah’s POV because I found her very similar to myself in a lot of ways. We both swear like sailors, we are both fat, we are both queer, and sometimes we come off like assholes. Especially in front our crushes. I can totally understand how some readers will find Leah off-putting, but I related so much. Let’s not forget that she’s a teenager and has a lot of angst, a lot of resentment toward her father for leaving her and her mother, being fat in a world that says that’s wrong, not being as well off as her friends are, and has a crush on her best friend’s girlfriend. I mean, there’s a lot going on there.

I have found that Becky Albertalli’s books take place in a world where everyone gets a happy ending. This is a sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda which I thought was delightful and had a similar happy ending. However, having lived the whole “have a huge crush on a straight friend” scenario, it was hard to see this book as realistic. Perhaps, I just have bad luck or Leah has really good luck. Either way, there were times where I was taken out of the story because of how well things seemed to go. Well, most things.

I also felt the pacing and the slow burn of Leah and Abby’s relationship could’ve gone differently. Instead, Leah did a lot of assuming and there was a lot of back and forth between the two which made up the majority of the drama in the story. However, other conflicts were ignored or dropped altogether and I think it would’ve fit better. Such as, Leah’s concern for Nick and how he would feel about her and Abby dating. That got brushed aside and I thought it could’ve been a huge part of the conflict in the book. I would’ve also preferred that Abby was upfront about her sexuality and feelings for Leah earlier in the book, but that is less bothersome to me.

I would like to point out a scene that rubbed me the wrong way when I read it and after I thought about it a little longer. There is a conversation between Leah and Abby in which Abby admits that she came out to her cousins as being “a little bit bi”, unfortunately, Leah completely disregards her personal label as not being a real label. There is no resolution to this scene and Leah doesn’t apologize for dismissing her label which could be harmful. However, the way I interpreted the scene was that Leah is an imperfect character and just because she is bisexual doesn’t mean that she is a perfect representation of a queer character. I see this as a flaw of Leah’s character in that she sees everything in black and white and rarely sees the grey in situations, but I would’ve preferred that she apologized to Abby for what she said because everyone should be free to label themselves as they want.

Overall, I’m so happy this book made it to number one on the NYT bestseller’s list. It’s so wonderful to see the books that are being bought in YA and I want this book to be as popular as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I will absolutely be buying a copy of this book soon and I would highly recommend it if anyone is looking for an adorable f/f contemporary romance.

 

Update from Chantel

Hey everyone! Chantel here! In the wrap up for April, Caidyn mentioned that I would put out a post of my own and here I am.

Here’s the truth, ever since January when I read the best book of all time #kweenevelynhugo I’ve been in a really bad reading slump. No seriously, all I’ve read in the last four months is Harry Potter. That’s not true, but I feel like it’s all I’ve read.

April was pretty much the low point for me. I didn’t finish any books at all. I started multiple but I still haven’t even finished Prisoner of Azkaban and I didn’t think that would be a struggle at all. Or All Out which I haven’t touched in weeks. I’ve felt very upset about this because I expect more out of myself. Reading doesn’t come easily to me and sometimes it’s more difficult than normal.

So that’s why I’m writing this post. I just want to let everyone know that I’m okay and I’m still here, but that I’ve been struggling with reading. I think things are starting to look up. I just finished a book today (I wrote this on Sunday), so look out for a review coming soon. I think it’s about going back to the reason I started this blog in the first place. To have a place to talk about books.

I don’t know if I’ve kicked this reading slump for good, but I know that right now I’m optimistic and I might not finish another book this month but I’m okay with what I’ve read.

The Soundtrack of my Life – Track 1

Caidyn's review (3)

I love music. I always have since I was little. There is just something about music that reaches deep inside my soul like nothing else can. The world easily fades away when I’ve got headphones in and am listening to my favorite song. I’m the person who walks down the street with headphones in and thinks she’s in a music video. Every song is added to The Soundtrack of my Life. If my life needed a soundtrack to go with it, the songs I talk about would be on it. These songs are some of my all-time favorite songs and span multiple genres.

Track 1: Latch by Discourse feat. Sam Smith

Written by: Jimmy Napes, Sam Smith, Guy Lawrence and Howard Lawrence 

Lyrics

I am a big Sam Smith fan. The songs I enjoy most are the ones where you can hear the emotion in the singer’s voice. Sam Smith is one of the best at doing that. His voice is so angelic to me and he never ceases to amaze me with how he can push the limits of his voice. Consistently he hits notes that I’ve rarely heard a man sing before and there’s absolutely something special to someone with that kind of talent. This will not be the last time he appears on the soundtrack I assure you of that. I mean, the man won an Oscar. He’s fucking talented.

Before his first album In the Lonely Hour came out which features most of his hit songs, he was featured on an electronic pop song called “Latch”. Now, I don’t listen to electronic music. It’s just not my genre. Most songs sound like the type of music you would hear in a club and I don’t go clubbing. Not even a little bit. However, every once in awhile there is a song that will stand out to me, but it’s not a type of music I know well. That being said, “Latch” is my favorite song of all time. There is something about the pulsing beat and electronic sounds combined with Sam Smith’s voice that creates magic.

Sam Smith has made a career out of writing the most heartbreaking songs about break-ups, cheating, or unrequited love. His songs aren’t usually happy or cheerful, to say the least. However, before he had this reputation he appears on “Latch” singing about falling in love (or lust) with the same power and desperation he has when singing about relationship angst. This song has a lot of power and frankly speaks to me more than his other songs do.

To me, this song is about seeing someone across the room and immediately wanting to be in their life. I connect with the lyrics so much because there’s almost something hopeful about it. One day I’ll walk into a room and across the room I’ll meet someone’s gaze and BOOM. I realize that this is naive and some might say idiotic, but that’s how I feel when I listen to this song. In The Soundtrack of my Life, this is the song playing when I meet my love interest.

Of course, I could be interpreting the song completely differently and it was intended to be creepier or more menacing. However, I don’t see it that way at all. Which is fine. There are people who find Every Breath You Take by The Police extremely romantic even though it’s been stated that it’s about a stalker. And that’s fine too. We all interpret art in our own way and there isn’t anything wrong with that. I just know it’s one of my favorite songs of all time, and I think that’s all because of Sam Smith’s voice and passion while singing it.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to this live performance of him singing the song. I hope his voice blows you away just as it blew me away.

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Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

fire song cover

Goodreads

(Chantel)

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no influence on my rating. 

Also, this review is almost a month late. Sorry. 

CW: suicide and rape

4/5 – When I finished reading this book, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I had a lot of complicated feelings about it at the time and I still do. I just want to say right off the bat, that I really enjoyed it. I also think it’s a very important book because it’s from the perspective of a Native who is part of the Anishinaabe tribe in Canada. I have never read a book about a queer character who is Native, and that’s why I wanted to read this book. I also haven’t heard anyone talk about this book which I think is disappointing. We want more diverse books written by own voices, and yet here is a book with a queer Native main character written by an author who is both Native and gay. I do hope that I can at least get out the name of the book so those who have more influence can promote it as well. 

The main character in this book is Shane and things are complicated from the beginning. Shane’s younger sister Destiny has committed suicide. He has a girlfriend named Tara yet he is in a relationship with David. Now, I’m going to be upfront that I’m not a fan of this trope in M/M stories. I understand that it happens, especially in situations where homophobia is present. However, I always feel more sympathy for the girlfriends who are being used not the main character. Unfortunately, this was no different in Fire Song. However, Shane’s main storyline didn’t just revolve around his sexuality. There were plenty of other things going on in his life and while I don’t agree with the way he treated Tara, I did feel for him multiple times throughout the story. 

As a result of Destiny’s suicide, Shane and his mother are grieving her loss in two different ways and because of his mother’s lack of presence, he has to take care of them both. I definitely understood Shane’s motivations regarding the suicide of his sister, despite being in love with David, they hide their relationship and the only support he gets is from Tara. There were several times when I wanted to shake Shane and David for different reasons, but it was clear that Shane, in particular, was not comfortable being vulnerable or expressing himself emotionally. As a result, he does many, many stupid things.

This book also focused heavily on the struggle Shane had to deal with leaving the reservation for Toronto. I am not Native. Anything I know about reservations comes from Native authors I’ve read, but it’s made clear that there isn’t anything for Shane on the reservation. He is desperate to leave despite David wanting him to stay. His options are limited to drug dealing if he stays and the potential opportunity to have a career if he leaves. It seems like the choice should be simple, but Shane struggles financially when his education is supposed to be paid for. Throughout the book, he is at a crossroads with his future and with his relationships and it’s interesting to see the choices he makes when he no longer has time to dwell on them.

I want more people to read this book. I think it’s very important to read books from perspectives other than ours and see how others struggle with things we take for granted. We desperately need more diversity in queer lit, especially in YA, and so I hand you this book on a platter.

Take Your Medicine by Hannah Carmack

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Take Your Medicine will be released on March 5th, 2018.

TakeYourMedicine-f

Goodreads

(Chantel)

2/5 – This story is a loose retelling of Alice in Wonderland in which a girl named Alice or “Al” as she likes to be called, has vasovagal syncope which is a fainting disorder. A chance meeting in the woods leads her to some new friends and a cute f/f romance.

There were things I really enjoyed about this book. I loved that it was queer. I enjoyed the main character Al, I enjoyed Al’s love interest who went by “Rabbit”. I thought their romance was adorable even if a bit rushed. I enjoyed the relationship between Al and her mother as well as the Alabama setting. The writing was good and I was entertained throughout despite not being a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I think this book had a lot of potential and it didn’t end up living up to it for me.

For one, I think it was too short and because of that I didn’t get quite as invested as I would’ve liked. The story ended rather abruptly and I was left wanting more. If it had been lengthened, I might have enjoyed more of a slow burn romance between Al and Rabbit and would’ve liked the conflict between Al and her mom to be dragged out more. Instead, it almost felt incomplete as if there was more to the story than what I read.

Secondly, there was something about the concept of the main character wanting to be cured that rubbed me the wrong way. She has vasovagal syncope and as a result, she faints whenever she is overwhelmed. This causes her to get injured a few times as it’s not always safe for her to be out on her own in case she faints. However, she is adamant about wanting to be cured that she seeks out two girls her age that claim to be witches in order to find a cure. Spoiler alert: she’s not cured. This is still a theme throughout the book until at the very end she decides that she doesn’t care if she’s cured. It would’ve been nice to see more conflict within her about this.

Lastly, I think my main issue with this book was the fact that there were random chapters in which the POV changed from Al to her mother Laura, then later to Rabbit. I felt this was completely unnecessary as the POV shifts came completely out of nowhere and took me out of the story. It’s one thing to have multiple POVs, but that was never established from the beginning. In the beginning, Al is our narrator and yet there are at least two random POV shifts that didn’t work for me.

Overall, I would’ve liked this more if it had been a bit longer and I had more time to get invested in the characters. I think it had potential, but instead, it left me wanting more out of it.