Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review: Movies and TV

Even though I don't usually blog about movies or tv, I do like my year end list summaries.

2015 Movies I saw this year

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Insurgent (DVD)
Trainwreck (plane)
Pitch Perfect 2 (DVD)
The Duff (DVD)
Sleeping With Other People (plane)
Paper Towns (plane)
Jupiter Ascending (TV)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jurassic World (DVD)
Minions (DVD)
Home (DVD)

Total of 14 (four more than last year)

Notable movies I saw in 2015 that were released before 2015 

Mockingjay Part 1
If I Stay

2015 movies I still want to see

Mockingjay Part 2

TV series I watched in 2015 

Mad Men Final Season
The Bates Motel Season 3
12 Monkeys Season 1
The Last Ship Season 1+2
Camp Cutthroat Kitchen
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

How was your year in movies and TV?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Awesome Reads of 2015

I read over 90 books in 2015, and annotated all of them for my MFA program at VCFA, though I didn't talk about many of them here. As you can see by the handy Goodreads graphic below, many of them were backlist. If you click on this link, you can find out more about each of my favorites. Also, see my Awesome Reads of 2014 which I just posted now, one year late!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 In Review: Music

I bought 220 new songs this year (way more than last year) including 4 albums, Every Open Eye/Chvrches, Beneath the Skin/Of Monsters and Men, Song Spells #1/Sea Wolf, Art Angels/Grimes

2015 songs on heavy rotation (* indicates top 5)

*Flesh Without Blood - Grimes 
*Leave a Trace - Chvrches 
*Happy - Marina and the Diamonds
*True Confessions - Blondfire
*Breaker - Deerhunter
The Shade - Metric
Lightning Strike - A Silent Film
Grey Days - Chelsea Wolfe
1998 - Chet Faker feat. Banks
Trip Switch - Nothing but Thieves
I of the Storm - Of Monsters and Men
Body Talk - Foxes
Hiding - Florence and the Machine
High - Zella Day
Step Brother City - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Strange Hellos - TORRES
Greek Tragedy - The Wombats
Little Wanderer - Death Cab for Cutie
Begin Again - Purity Ring
The Labyrinth Song - Asaf Avidan
White Lies - Milo Greene
A Beginning Song - The Decemberists 
My Least Favorite Life - Lera Lynn
Empty Gold - Halsey
Blame it on Me - George Ezra
Anything - TOPS
Too Late to Say Goodbye - Cage the Elephant
Water Slides - Mew
Molecules - Atlas Genius
I Feel It - Avid Dancer

Favorite finds from previous years (* indicates top 5)

*Algiers - The Afghan Whigs (2014)
Cecilia and the Satellite - Andrew McMahon (2014)
*Black Soap - Ex Cops (2014)
Go - Grimes (2014)
*Lover - In the Valley Below (2014)
Black Mambo - Glass Animals (2014)
* Lover, Where Do You Live? - Highasakite (2014)
Zigzagging Toward the Light - Conor Oberst (2014)
Lust and Lies - The Ramona Flowers (2013)
*Teen Idle - Marina and the Diamonds (2012)
Sun - Two Door Cinema Club (2012)
Hold On - Alabama Shakes (2012)
My Secret Friend - IAMX (2010)
Christmas Won't Be the Same Without You - Plain White Ts (2009)
I Don't Believe You - The Magnetic Fields (2004)
August - Rilo Kiley (2001)

Live Music in 2015

+ Alt J with Wolf Alice (Feb 7) in Offenbach, Germany

+ Rachael Yamagata (Feb 20) in Frankfurt, Germany

+ Sea Wolf (May 21) in Frankfurt, Germany

+ Of Monsters and Men with Highasakite (July 1) in Frankfurt, Germany

+ Death Cab for Cutie with Twin Shadow (Sept 19) in Columbus, Ohio

+ Landmark Festival in DC (Sept 27) with Chvrches, George Ezra, TV on the Radio, Lord Huron, Houndmouth, In the Valley Below

+ Deerhunter (December 17) in Columbus, Ohio

I'd love to hear about your favorite music of the year - share with me!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book Talk: Spoils by Tammar Stein

It's not too often I come across a character in a novel named Lenore, so this was a nice surprise. I asked Tammar how she came up with the name, and this is what she said:

About Lenore...Well, it's a gorgeous name, of course. You know this already. My main character's names always pop into my mind rather mysteriously. I never have to sit and think about it. It's usually names that kind of surprise me, never the name of someone I know with that name. With Leni, I just knew it was Leni. And then I thought, who names their kid Leni? It's probably a nickname...and it went from there. I liked the thought of her taking ownership of her name, changing it to something she felt comfortable with. I feel like Lenore is a name you have to grow into (though I suppose you would know better than I would.) Maybe a young person wouldn't feel comfortable with such a majestic name. I bet by the time Leni finished college, she'll reclaim her full name.
Interesting! Lenore is indeed a pretty majestic name, though I suppose I grew into it early.

So - the book itself. Lenore is the youngest daughter of a family who won the lottery and then spent the money wildly over the years until there's nothing left. Lenore's parents expect her to give up her part of the money when she turns 18 (it has been in a trust) to keep them afloat, and she is ready to do this until her older sister confesses that the money is dirty and that whatever Lenore does, she needs to get rid of it completely.

So that's the mystery - what's wrong with the money? Turns out, a lot. Lenore is visited by an angel who also warns her to get rid of it - and she only has a week until her birthday to figure out what to with it.

The novel explores the idea of the universe having checks and balances on good and evil - when evil is thwarted by good, it seeks out weaker targets.

I really enjoyed this one! Find out more at Tammar's website.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

First Draft Pod!

This summer, the fabulous Sarah Enni was in Paris and asked me and Amy Plum to be guests on her podcast series called First Draft in which she interviews writers about books and life. The episode is now live (we discuss travel and how writing letters and blogging got us into publishing) and I'm excited to go back and listen to the other 59 episodes.