Tag Archives: Kayla

If Between the World and Me Had a Soundtrack

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Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a wonderful book and a necessary read. It’s very powerful and eye-opening. The book is basically a letter to his son about what it’s like to be black in America. After I was done reading this book, I began thinking of songs that connect to it. So here’s five songs that would be on the soundtrack for Between the World and Me.

This is one of Michael Jackson’s most powerful songs. Jackson is calling out the powers that be and saying that they don’t care about his people. This song fits with Coates’ idea that the “system” doesn’t care about the black community and that it never did from the start.

I have always enjoyed the songs by Tupac where he is talking about the state of the world. This song is almost 20 years old and it’s still sadly relevant. Shakur talks about how the world hasn’t changed, and he mentions police brutality, which is still obviously a problem. This song connects to the book because Coates talks about the many unarmed black men & women who have been killed by the police.

On this song, which is one of my favorites by Marvin Gaye, he’s singing about the state of the world and how it bothers him. This connects to Coates’ book because some of the same things that Gaye is singing about Coates is talking about. It’s sad that 40-plus years later we’re still having these same issues.

This is one Stevie Wonder song that I would consider underrated. It’s a great song. Wonder sings about things like race relations and different issues going on in the world. The themes here link nicely to Coates’ discussions on race and culture.

J. Cole is one of my favorite contemporary rappers. I would consider him not only a rapper, but also a storyteller. In this song, Cole tells of his dream where he was trapped in a city where he got robbed at gunpoint. In a separate dream he and his friends were the ones committing the robbery. This song reminds me of Between The World And Me because there’s a part of the book when Coates talks about when he was younger and he saw a boy pull out a gun during an argument and how that changed him.

Between the World and Me is a book that will make you think. I’d like to believe that these songs will do the same thing. If you’ve read this book, what songs would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

 

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My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs

It’s that time of year again (the most wonderful time of year, according to some people) where you hear Christmas music just about everywhere you go. This drives some people crazy, but I enjoy it. Christmas music holds a special place in my heart, and I have a few favorites I’ll list here.

5. “Every Year, Every Christmas” by Luther Vandross

This song is actually very sad because Vandross is singing about a lost love. The song is sung so beautifully that you almost forget what it’s about.  You can find this song and others on Vandross’ Christmas CD, which is available in our catalog.

4. “This Christmas” by Chris Brown

While nothing compares to the original, I really enjoy Chris Brown’s version of this Christmas classic. He put his own modern twist to the song. The song is on the soundtrack for the movie with the same name; you can download it on Freegal.

3. “Last Christmas” by Wham!

I know! I know! Everything about this song is cheesy, from the music video, to the lyrics, to the single cover, but I don’t care! I love this song. I look forward to Wish 99.7 playing it a million times during the holiday season. I also have it on my iPod, and I’m not ashamed to admit, that either. This song is for everyone who has gotten their heart broken during the holiday season, and it’s also available to download via Freegal.

2. “Let It Snow” by Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight

Mixing Brian McKnight and Boyz II Men results in harmonic gold on this tune! This song makes you want to cuddle up by a fireplace with that special someone (or in my case makes me wish that I had a special someone). This song can be found on their Christmas CD, Christmas Interpretations, which also features their wonderful rendition of “Silent Night.”

1. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

When the holiday season arrives this is my go-to song to play. If I went out to karaoke during the holiday season this is the song that I would sing. Now if I would hit that high note toward the end is a different story. This is another one of those songs that can make you think of that special someone. It’s very cute and fun. This song is featured on Carey’s wonderful album, Merry Christmas.

Now let’s hear about some of your favorites! Tell us in the comments below. Happy holidays!

~Kayla

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The Return Of Adele

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Adele makes her triumphant return to music with her third album 25. It’s been four years since her record-breaking, chart-topping, award-winning, critically acclaimed sophomore album, 21 was released. A few things have changed for her since then. She’s won an Academy Award for Best Song for “Skyfall” from the James Bond film with the same title, she’s in a new relationship, and she became a mom.

Her son, Angelo, makes an appearance on 25 on the record “Sweetest Devotion.” Adele has stated that the song is about the 3 year-old. It’s a very sweet song and is one of my favorites from the album. Another great track is “All I Ask.” It’s beautiful record. On this record, Adele sings about having one special moment with her significant other in case it is their last night together.  The vocals and raw emotion on this song are powerful. “Million Years Ago” to me is a like a sequel to her debut single “Hometown Glory.”  Other reviewers have said the same thing. I’ve made this comparison because both songs deal with similar subject matter. It’s very reflective and reminiscent.

25 is by far no sequel to 21 and that’s a good thing. On this album, Adele experiments with different sounds and it works. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is an upbeat pop record that’s a diss to her ex. I can see this song being huge on top 40 radio. On “I Miss You” Adele is giving a seductive vibe and it works. The song is all about intimacy and about missing being with that special someone. My favorite song on the album (for right now because it’s bound to change) is “When We Were Young.” This song could come off as Adele singing about missing someone romantically or it could also be interpreted as missing a friend or loved one. I fell in love with this song immediately after watching this performance.

25 is a great album and speaking as an Adele fan it was well worth the wait. Since there’s a long wait list for the album there’s a few things you can do in the meantime while waiting for your copy to come in. You can use our music service, Freegal, and download up to 5 tracks from 25 each week. Also, you can listen or re listen to Adele’s previous albums, 19 and 21, which are both available in our catalog. Adele’s concert special Live at the Royal Albert Hall is also available. Last, but not least you can watch the video for  the first single from 25 “Hello” which is dominating the charts and radio airwaves. Happy listening!

~Kayla

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The Lunar Chronicles: A YA Fantasy Series Worth Reading

bookcoverI had first heard about Marissa Meyer’s series through a former colleague. My colleague said to me (and this is actually true) that Meyer got her start through a writing contest. I think that it’s great that Meyer went from winning a writing contest to being a best-selling author.

This series is what I’d call fairy tales with a science fiction twist. The first book, Cinder, is about a girl named Cinder who is what I’d technically call a mechanic even though she doesn’t fix cars—she’s a cyborg. She ends up doing work for Kai, the prince of New Beijing. She tries to warn him about the evil plan from the series’ main villain Lunar Queen Levana’s to start a war with Earth. Cinder, whether she wants to admit it or not, ends up developing feelings for Prince Kai in the process, despite her not telling Kai that she’s a cyborg.

bookcover (1)In the second book, Scarlet, the title character is on a journey to find her grandmother when she crosses paths with Cinder, who’s trying to escape from prison.

bookcover (2)In the third novel, Cress, Cinder and her crew need help from Cress, an expert hacker working for the bad guys against her own will. Cinder wants Cress to help her try to stop something catastrophic from occurring. I won’t give you any spoilers—just know that it’s not good.

What I like about this series is that even though each book centers around a different character, they’re all connected. The next book in the series, Winter, comes out on bookcover (3)November 10th. In the meantime all of the previous novels are available in our catalog as well as Fairest, which is Meyer’s prequel novel about Queen Levana.

Happy reading!

~Kayla

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The Puzzle that is Jane The Virgin

Jane The Virgin -- Image Number: JAV02_KeyArt.jpg -- Pictured: Gina Rodriguez as Jane -- Photo: Nino Munoz/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

I’m declaring October TV month in the Eleventh Stack world because I’m here yet again to talk television! This time the show is Jane The Virgin. It stars Gina Rodriguez, who won a Golden Globe this year for her role as Jane. After hearing a lot of good things about this show, I decided to check it out for myself.

The story starts with Jane going to an appointment with her gynecologist. Jane is scheduled for a routine pap smear but that’s not what happens. Her gynecologist, Luisa, is having a rough day after finding her wife in bed with her assistant, so needless to say her mind is elsewhere. In the next room is Luisa’s sister-in-law, Petra, who is there to be artificially inseminated with her husband Rafael’s sample. Jane ended up being artificially inseminated with Rafael’s sample. What makes the story even crazier is that as we all know from title of the show Jane is a virgin. Jane, her mother, and grandmother initially didn’t take the news well. Another person who didn’t take this news well was Jane’s boyfriend, Michael.

Things get even messier because Jane knows Rafael from her past. They had met five years ago when Jane was working at a country club. They had a great conversation and even kissed, but then Rafael never called her after that. So Jane doesn’t have the best opinion of him at first and neither does her mother.

Speaking of Jane’s mother, Xiomara, she’s been holding a secret about the real identity of Jane’s father. She told Jane that he was in the military, but the truth is he’s Rogelio de la Vega, the star of Jane’s favorite telenovella. Jane’s mother dated him back in high school & initially he didn’t want the baby which is why Xiomara never revealed his true identity.

There are a lot of other crazy things that occur, but I won’t spoil the whole show. What I like about this show is that even though the show is centered on Jane, there’s a whole bunch of little stories going on that still connect back to Jane. I haven’t finished season one yet, but I’m still recommending it because it’s a good show. Season one is available in our catalog.

Meanwhile season 2 airs Monday nights at 9 on The CW.

~Kayla

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Must See TV in October

Image by GDJ at Open Clip Art. Click through for source.

Image by GDJ at Open Clip Art. Click through for source.

Fall means football, changing leaves changing and the return of TV shows!  While some of my favorite TV shows (Empire, How To Get Away With Murder, & Scandal) have already returned, there are some more shows that premiere very soon that I’m excited about:

1. The Flash (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW)

The last season of The Flash left viewers with a lot of questions. How did Barry’s battle with the Reverse Flash end? What will happen with S.T.A.R. Labs? What will happen between Barry & Iris? Most of these questions will likely not be answered within the first episode. If you wanna catch up on the first season of The Flash it’s available in our catalog.

2. iZombie (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW)

Olivia “Liv” Moore is a medical examiner who also happens to be a zombie. She applied for the job as a medical examiner so she could have access to brains. Little did she know that when she ate the brains of murder victims, she would get visions that led to discovering how they died. So, with this new found gift she works with the Seattle Police Department Detective Clive Babineaux to help solve cases. Initially I wasn’t going to watch this show because from the trailer I thought that it looked stupid, but it’s actually a good show. Unfortunately, season one isn’t in our system, but the graphic novels that the TV show are based on are available.

3. Arrow (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW)

Oliver Queen is no longer the Arrow! Well at least that’s what the show’s writers and Queen himself want us to think. I doubt that the fairy tale world of Oliver and Felicity Smoak will last (sigh) We’ll just have to see what happens when the show comes back. Season 3 is available in our catalog along with tons of graphic novels featuring Green Arrow.

4. American Horror Story: Hotel (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX)

Ryan Murphy’s creepy anthology show is back for a fifth season. This time it takes place in a hotel. Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and Matt Bomer are back for another season. There’s a new face along for the ride this time: Lady Gaga. I’m really interested to see how she’ll do on the show. Previous seasons of American Horror Story are available in our catalog.

What new shows are you watching this season? Which ones are you waiting on to return? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

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The Girl and the Goal

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So, my Summer Reading goal is to read more “adult” books. If you’ve read one of my previous posts, then you know that I mainly read young adult books. One question that the children’s and teen librarians are asking participants when they sign up for the Summer Reading program is: Why are you signing up for the Summer Reading program? One of the answers is “to challenge myself.” That option stuck out to me. I’d like to think that my goal is challenging myself because I’m broadening my horizons. I’m stepping outside of my reading comfort zone.

The book that helped me to get out of this reading comfort zone is The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. One day I was lucky enough to find a best-seller copy and decided to see what the hype was all about. The book is well worth all of the praise. It helped break down the stereotype that I had about adult books being boring. I realize now that I hadn’t come across the right book to crush this stereotype until now. This book was full of twists and turns. I was shocked when I found out who the killer was.

I won’t give away any spoilers. If you’re looking for a good book this is it. I know it’s hard to find an available copy in our system at the moment, so I would recommend looking on OverDrive for an audio or electronic version. Since it’s hard to get a copy in every medium I’m going to suggest some read alikes. They are The Secret Place by Tana French, The First Prophet by Kay Hooper, and Losing You by Nicci French.

Other titles that helped me towards my summer reading goal are God Help the Child by Toni Morrison and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling. (I can’t wait for her new book to come out in the fall!)

What are your summer reading goals? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

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Florence + The Machine return with How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

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WARNING: The video for “What Kind of Man” is NSFW (Not Safe For Work) because of some nudity.

It’s been almost four years since Florence + The Machine released their sophomore album, Ceremonials. This week, the indie pop band released their third studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. I think that this is the perfect title for this album because the tracks on it are indeed big, blue, and beautiful.

The band first released a video for the title track on the album a few months ago. The second single “What Kind Of Man” was released not too long after that along with a music video. The storyline for the video is the lead singer Florence Welch’s emotional rollercoaster of a relationship with her boyfriend.  The third single released was “Ship to Wreck”. Although the song makes me want to dance the song is actually quite sad. “Delilah” is the current single and it was released a few weeks ago. This song deals with Welch singing about being betrayed by her beloved. According to song annotator site Genius, the title for this song was inspired by the biblical story of Samson and Delilah.

“Third Eye” is a great track. On it, Welch sings about seeing things differently and about how she wants to change. “Various Storms and Saints” is another great track. In this song, Welch sings about being caught in different storms and how it makes her feel. “Long & Lost” deals with Welch singing about how she would feel if her beloved left her. A huge theme of this album is love. My interpretation of the meaning behind the album title is how big, how blue, and how beautiful love can be.

If you’re going through a break up or a rough patch in your current relationship, then this album is for you. Or if you’re a fan of the band like me and are practically salivating for new music from them, then this album is also for you. There is currently one copy on order of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful in our system. In the meantime, Florence + The Machine’s previous studio albums, Lungs, and Ceremonials are available in our catalog.  Happy listening!

~ Kayla

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An Ember to Remember

Courtesy of Goodreads

Courtesy of Goodreads

I’ve been excited about An Ember in the Ashes ever since I read the description for it on Amazon a few months ago. The cover also intrigued me. It is aesthetically pleasing. The book has two main characters, Laia and Elias. It takes a while, but the characters eventually cross paths. Through many interactions they learn that even though they’re from different ranks in the world that they have more in common that they thought.

The book is set in a time similar to ancient Rome. There is an empire and most of the story takes place at Blackcliff Academy, which is a place that trains children to become soldiers for the empire. Laia ends up at Blackcliff as a spy after soldiers raid her home, kill her grandparents and kidnap her brother on suspicion that he is working against the empire. Laia seeks help from the Resistance, a group her parents once led, to help find her brother. Their leader, Mazen, tasks her with the mission to go undercover as a slave to spy on the leader of Blackcliff, the Commandant, and bring back information. In exchange, they will help her find her brother.

Meanwhile, Elias wants to escape from Blackcliff because he hates everything about the empire and everything that it stands for. He has plans to escape until he talks to Cain, an Augur with the ability to read minds. He tells Elias that he can’t be free from Blackcliff unless he competes in a battle called the Trials to become the next Emperor. Cain also tells Elias that if he comes in second he would be the Blood Shrike and that if his best friend, Helene, becomes Empress that she could set him free.

What I like about this book are the many twists and turns that take place throughout the novel. Just when I thought that I had the book figured out another plot twist occurred and threw me for a loop. I loved how Sabaa Tahir, the author, made the main characters relatable. Even though I would never be in either situation, the feelings that the characters experienced were feelings that I have also experienced.

I thought that the book was well written. Although, there was in a way two love triangles going on, it didn’t distract from the purpose of the novel. There was a good balance of action, mystery and romance. The romance in my opinion was secondary to the plot. I was impressed with how Tahir was able to volley back and forth between Laia and Elias’ points of view without it being confusing. The last time that I saw this method well executed was in Veronica Roth’s Allegiant. Sometimes this method can be confusing, but at the same time a refreshing change of pace.

I won’t give away any spoilers as to how the novel ends, but just know that this novel is worth reading. An Ember In The Ashes is available in our catalog.

Kayla

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Grab the Grisha Trilogy!

Credit to firewaterman.wordpress.com

Credit to firewaterman.wordpress.com

WARNING: If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Grisha trilogy is one of many series that was on my never-ending to-read list. I’ll be honest that my initial reasoning behind reading the books is shallow: I liked the covers. They’re really cool covers in my opinion. Later, I read the description for the first novel, Shadow and Bone, and was interested.

The series centers on Alina Starkov, who is a mapmaker, and her best friend, Mal, who is a tracker. Mal is a people person and was always considered the cool one of the two. Alina and Mal have known each other for years because a lady named Ana Kuya adopted them both. Alina always felt inferior to Mal even though she has strong feelings for him. She feels like he doesn’t see her as more than just a friend.

One day when Alina and Mal are captured, Alina discovers this power involving light that she never even knew that she had. She is then whisked off to the First Palace to train to become a Grisha soldier. Also, her training is supposed to help The Darkling to take down this area called The Fold that is separating their home country, Ravka, from other countries. At first, after seeing the chemistry between Alina and the Darkling I shipped them. Later on while reading the book I discovered why that was a terrible idea.

As the story goes on, we learn the Darkling’s true motives with the fold and it has bad repercussions for everyone. When Alina finds this out, she tries to stop the Darkling’s plan but it doesn’t work. In the midst of everything, Alina and Mal finally revealed their feelings for each other.

Fast forward to the second book, Siege and Storm, Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling after their battle at the end of the first novel. Of course the running doesn’t last long because the Darkling finds them. There’s another battle, but this time they have help from a privateer named Strumhond and his crew. After that battle, Strumhond takes Alina and Mal back to the palace for what they think is to meet a client of his. We also find out that Strumhond is hiding the truth about his real identity.

Throughout this novel there’s a lot of talk of politics and Alina feels like everyone is only interested in her for what she can offer them. We see a change in Alina from books 1 to 2 in that she’s become a lot stronger. She’s also become more powerful, but with this power comes a hunger and desire for more. This hunger for power almost causes her to lose everything. I would consider Alina to be a feminist character because she’s strong and doesn’t take crap from anybody. Although she is heavily flawed, she still has a lot of redeeming qualities.

There is a lot of romance in this series particularly with Alina and Mal as we see their relationship deepen. In the first book, there was some romance with Alina and the Darkling before she found out his true intentions. Strumhond also acts like he has feelings for Alina, but he can’t be trusted so these feelings don’t seem genuine. With all of this romance comes a heaping amount of drama. In Siege and Storm, there begins to be a strain on Alina and Mal’s relationship because they’re being directed in different directions. Fans of the relationship have to suffer through a lot. Despite the characters going through some tough, scary, and sometimes dire situations there was a lot of humor in these novels. I found myself laughing a lot.

While I’ve yet to read to the last book in the trilogy, Ruin and Rising, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. All of the books, which are written by Leigh Bardugo, are available in our catalog. Bardugo has a new series of books coming out. The first one, Six of Crowscomes out this September.

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