Two New Year’s Releases I Adore

Two amazing things are happening on January 1st that I cannot WAIT to share with you guys. First, Justin Levinson is releasing an EP that’s crazy good. His previous album (with The Valcours) was in constant rotation while I was writing and revising my last book so you know it’s good good good. Justin is definitely a wordsmith worth checking out.

Secondly, A.G. Howard’s debut, SPLINTERED, is hitting shelves everywhere. I swear my heart is growing wings and flapping against my ribcage because it’s THAT excited about this novel.

Justin and Anita are so darn awesome both creatively (and personally) that I wanted to do a little review of each of their projects. That way when you’re looking at those holiday gift cards wondering what you should get, these items are already at the top of your list. If this is how the year is going to start, 2013 is going to be AMAZING. Just you wait.

Justin Levinson Take My Time EP CoverArtist: Justin Levinson

EP: Take My Time

Genre: Folk / Folk Rock

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

There are few things I love more than reading and writing. One of those things is baseball, the other is music. I especially have a soft spot in my heart for folk/folk rock, and Vermont based singer/songwriter Justin Levinson’s latest EP, Take My Time is an exceptionally delicious snack to sink your teeth into.

The three song EP consists of ‘Take My Time,’ ‘Give It One More Try,’ and ‘Bid The Rest Goodbye.’ The overall feeling is moody and atmospheric in the very best of ways. It’s full of lyrics with richly imagined themes of coping with life after love and picking up the pieces of a shattered heart and coming out stronger in the end. Exhibit A:

“Cos’ I will just take my time, go round and round on this ferris wheel ride with my stomach in knots like a mime in a box, I keep singing alone through the gloom.”

Justin writes in a universal language that allows listeners to really connect with the songs because at one point in time, we’ve all had our hearts broken. We’ve all dealt with the aftermath of a love gone wrong, we’ve all been confused about whether or not a relationship can be saved, and most importantly, we’ve all found the inner strength to move on and try again.

“It takes everything within, not to go back to where I’ve been. It’s takes everything within cause I get so lonesome, forget what’s right and the facts they get distorted and I think to myself we could give it one more try.”

The song that best shows this graduation from heartbreak to finding your way through the darkness is the title track, ‘Take My Time’. The lyrics are evocative of someone who is determined to make their dreams come true. Whether it’s love, career, or a personal journey, the person in the song is willing to push themselves — even if they’re afraid. That’s something everyone can aspire towards…being brave even when we don’t feel so sure anymore. It’s a pretty great message.

“I keep myself steady though I fear what’s ahead. I’m set in the moment it’s the best way to live.” 

The composition of these songs is SO good my meager words won’t do them justice. There are violins and acoustic guitars and MORE wonderful backing instruments, and Justin’s vocals are the perfect lighthouse to guide you through the storm. If you’re looking for music that’s got smart lyrics, infectious melodies, and atmosphere for days, this EP is so for you. I know I’m going to be listening to it over and over again.

Check out this video of ‘I Was So Wrong’ off his last album, This Side of Me, This Side of You for a hint of what Justin Levinson offers:

I Was So Wrong Official Music Video – Justin Levinson & The Valcours

Here’s where you can keep up with Justin Levinson online: 

Website: JustinLevinson.com

Twitter: @jxlevinson

Facebook: Justin Levinson Music

9781419704284_p0_v1_s260x420Author: A.G. Howard

Book: SPLINTERED

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Book Blurb:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Praise for Splintered:

“Attention to costume and setting render this a visually rich read…”–Kirkus Reviews

“SPLINTERED is simply a delicious, disturbing, mad, wonderful read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” –Melissa Marr, New York Times Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series.

I will *try* to contain myself and not openly gush like the inner fangirl inside of me is dying to do. A.G. Howard is very dear to my little heart for multiple reasons. (One of them being she was in the query trenches with me when we were both looking for literary representation.)

Over the summer I had the privilege of reading SPLINTERED and even if I didn’t know Ms. Howard, I’d be obsessed with this book. It’s unlike any retelling I’ve read because it’s not really a retelling as much as a re-imagining. Howard has completely transformed the Alice In Wonderland story you remember into something much much much darker. If you think you’re getting anywhere CLOSE to the Wonderland you knew, oh my oh my oh my, you are WRONG. So very, very wrong. This book comes alive with new characters. I ADORED the setting, fast-paced plot, and Howard’s beautiful writing style. SPLINTERED has got voice for miles, with unexpected plot twists and turns that will keep you turning pages, and a slew of crazy/mad/wonderful characters that you’ll immediately fall in love with.

This unique take on the sinister side of Wonderland is delightful and I can’t encourage you enough to run to the bookstore on January 1st and buy a copy. TRUST me, you won’t regret it. It’s got action, adventure, mystery, fantasy, and two swoon-worthy guys that you’ll have a tough time choosing between. I don’t want to say too much and spoil it, so I’ll leave you with a taste of A.G. Howard’s sweet prose to whet your appetite.

Reading the opening is all you need to get sucked down the rabbit hole:

“I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.

Some of my victims line the walls in shadow boxes, while others get sorted into mason jars and placed on a bookshelf for later use. Crickets, beetles, spiders…bees and butterflies…” Oh, you want to read more? Oopsie. You’re going to have to grab a copy on January 1st!

Keep up with A.G. Howard online by visiting the following places:

Website: Author A.G. Howard

Twitter: @aghowardwrites

Blog: A Still and Quiet Madness

Facebook: Author AG Howard

Goodreads: A.G. Howard

sit back and wave through the daylight

Well, I purchased “Scrivener” yesterday and HOLY MOTHER I have no idea how I’ve lived without it for so long. It’s amazing. Like I sort of want to marry it and grow old together with it AMAZING.

Just look at how pretty it is:

If you write you should definitely check it out, the “Character Sketches” and notes and EVERYTHINGEVERYTHINGEVERYTHING else about it makes life so much more organized. My new WIP is not going to know what hit it.

But enough about that tech-y stuff – I’ve got a special song for you today. Let’s interwebs dance together for the first time in 2012. Yes?

HAPPY DAY TO YOU XOXO 

Miike Snow — A Song For No One (Video)

Oh my this weekend has been a little hectic, but the good kind of crazy. I’m working on finishing up some super secret things and I thought I’d share what’s currently on my playlist. Let’s interwebs dance for a bit then get back to work. 

Artist: Miike Snow

Song: A Song For No One

Video credit:  youtube’s channel

Hope your weekend was amazing. <33333333333

The wannadies – you and me (song)

I love this song SOOOOOOOO ssssoooo much. It gets under your skin and infects your brain, no matter what kind of mood you’re in, you’ll be smiling after it. And if not, you are a non-human. Possibly, a zombie… And I fear you. And your creepy lil’ zombie children. XO

Video credit evaem’s Youtube Channel

Special Post: Local Musicians Ban Together to assist Victims of Hurricane Irene

Credit: Don Melts, Yael Manor, Tri-State Weather, Anne McInnis

Something kind of amazing came to my attention last night, so I’m sharing it with you. I’m hoping that you, in turn, will share the information with the people you know and love. One voice can make a difference, please don’t wait to use yours.

Everyone in New York knows firsthand the devastating effect Hurricane Irene had on so many communities, especially in the upstate counties. Entire towns have been completely wiped out. It’s hard to process the images coming out of places like Schoharie County without having your heart squeeze. One storm has managed to devastate so many local businesses and homes, it’s surreal in the worst way.

In one Lower Hudson Valley town — in the beautiful black dirt region — a farmer said it’s harvesting season and with the land under water, he’s lost about $400,000 in crops alone. That’s not including damage sustained to the farm, or the six-figure farm equipment. He’s not sure the business can survive in Irene’s aftermath.

That is just one story out of thousands. Some damages include bridges, highways, secondary roads, train tracks, hundreds of drowned livestock, and all of the homes and businesses filled with water and mud along the way. To make matters worse, most people don’t have flood insurance because this part of the country is not usually subject to flooding.

 

You may be thinking, “What can I do to assist the people hardest hit in such strained economic times?”

That’s easy.

A group of NYC-based musicians are joining forces and lending their voices to a compilation album. It’s titled, “After the Flood: a Compilation to Benefit Upstate New York Victims of Hurricane Irene.”It will be available as a digital-only release starting September 2nd. That’s TOMORROW!

All of the proceeds will go directly to the Northeast New York State Chapter of the Red Cross, earmarked towards the flood relief and the Schoharie County Community Program.

The album will contain over thirty tracks downloadable in the format of your choice, along with a detailed PDF booklet with information on each artist. Most of them have been featured in this column already, so you’re guaranteed to love it.

Here is the current lineup of the artists who have generously donated a track to the compilation: (Please note this reflects the lineup when this article went to press. More may be included.)

Abby Ahmad

Bri Arden

Chris Ayer

Barnaby Bright

Lelia Broussard

Josh Dion

Bryan Dunn

Lara Ewen

Kailin Garrity

Shira Goldberg

Caleb Hawley

Greg Holden

Nick Howard

Zach Hurd

Wes Hutchinson

Mighty Kate

Sierra Noble

Joyous Noise

Charlene Kaye

Will Knox

Allie Moss

Abby Payne

Rachel Platten

Chrissi Poland

Martin Rivas

Jessi Robertson

Bess Rogers

Amber Rubarth

Jesse Ruben

John Schmitt

Casey Shea

Allison Weiss

Alexa Wilkinson

Emily Zuzik

They’ve shared their voices, now it’s time to do your part. New Yorkers are an amazing group of people, and in times like these — I’m even more proud to be one. Do what we do best in times of crisis, and help your neighbor out. Buy the album on Friday, then tell all of your friends and family to do the same.

**Please note: the album will be available on Friday (TOMORROW), so if you click on the link today don’t panic if you don’t see the tracks.**

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.” – Buddha

Credit: Don Melts, Yael Manor, Tri-State Weather, Anne McInnis

Credit: Don Melts, Yael Manor, Tri-State Weather, Anne McInnis

Credit: Don Melts, Yael Manor, Tri-State Weather, Anne McInnis

Float On Friday Good News is on the way…

It’s FRIDAY!!!! I hope your weekend is wrapped up in a summertime dream. Go out and have some fun, or stay inside and curl up with a great book. Either way, let your imagination run free. See you back here on Monday.

Until then, let’s interwebs dance. XO

Artist: Modest Mouse

Song: Float On

Video Credit: Kichirou08’s youtube channel

Quotes about hope and a song to go along. See what I did there?

1.) When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”~Author Unknown

2.) Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.  ~Christopher Reeve

3.) All it takes is one bloom of hope to make a spiritual garden.  ~Terri Guillemets

4.) Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.  ~George Iles

5.) The wings of hope carry us, soaring high above the driving winds of life.  ~Ana Jacob

Video credit: MrBoots10’s youtube channel

To quote one of my favorite musicians: “Hope you have the best week of your whole fucking life. Get to it XX” – Ryan Adams