Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails over the country club

Hi there! Today’s post is a bit different. I don’t talk much about music here, even though music plays an important part in my life. And one singer, in particular: Lana Del Rey.

I first heard of Lana Del Rey back in 2012, with her single Born To Die. Honestly, I didn’t really like her music back then. I found it utterly slow and dull. But something in me shifted a year later when I decided to listen to the entire Born To Die album. Only then did I took in the lyrics and found beauty in the slow rhythm that accompanied them. I became a fan ever since, eagerly waiting for the release of her following albums.

I was highly anticipating her latest album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club, which was released last week. Lana is known for her melancholic lyrics. And while the tunes in this album remain slow, I feel like we’re actually listening to Elizabeth Grant, not just Lana Del Rey. There’s a tinge of hopefulness and optimism that wasn’t present in her previous work.

I loved the literary references Lana did for some of her songs. The track Not All Who Wander Are Lost is titled after a verse from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem from The Lord of The Ring. The song Chemtrails Over The Country Club starts with “I’m on the run with you, my sweetheart”, alluding to Clarissa Pinkola’s book Women Who Run With The Wolves. It becomes even more obvious in the music video where Lana appears with a wolf by her side. Not to mention, she also connects some songs with her previous album, like in the track Yosemite when she sings “No more candle in the wind” referencing to the song Mariner’s Apartment Complex. It felt like a continuation.

Lana Del Rey is one of the most underrated artists of this past decade. I have yet to read her poetry book titled ‘Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass’. But her lyrics by themselves already feel like poetry. And her latest album was no exception — velvet melodies, a work of art.

Review: Herbarium, Las flores de Gideon

Herbarium, Las flores de Gideon begins with Sarah returning to Oxford following her father’s death. She had moved to Brasilia five years ago after her father told her an unexpected truth about her past, which caused her to run away. During her stay in Oxford, she visits her grandmother, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s, and staying at a retirement home. Her grandma asks for her help to find Gideon’s flowers that are hidden in copies of Jane Eyre. Sarah doesn’t understand what this means, and while looking for an explanation, she realizes the only person who can help her is Liam, her ex. She didn’t expect the friendliest welcoming on his part, but the distant and cold behavior he shows instead confuses and hurts her more than she had expected. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes that there are parts of her past she can’t run away from and that to make amends, she must stop escaping.

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I loved it because the plot was very intricate and well-developed. At first, nothing makes sense, but as Sarah begins to learn the correlation between events, it becomes easier to understand what’s going on. Not to mention, I found the analyses of Jane Eyre captivating and how the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester could be seen as an analogy between Sarah and Liam. Also, I love flowers, and since this book discusses flowers and their meaning, I don’t think I have to explain why I enjoyed the story so much.

I would love to give this book five stars, but I can’t. I found the writing style to be rather plain. The first half of the story is written in first person from Sarah’s perspective. The second half is written in third person since it describes Liam’s perspective somewhat more. I did not see the point in doing this. The entire story could have been written in third person, perhaps except for Gideon’s chapters.

Some parts of the novel felt rather cliché, predictable and redundant. I couldn’t relate to the main characters, since almost all of their problems have roots in miscommunication, which made them appear more immature than they were supposed to. The ending was resolved too quickly, like all of a sudden the characters are living happily ever after, but there are no specific details into how that was achieved. Oh, and let’s not forget about the stereotype with the tea. I’ve never visited the UK, though it’s universal knowledge that the British love drinking tea. However, I think the author over-did it a bit.

Even though it did not meet my overall expectations, it was an entertaining read. It had the potential to be five star worthy. I believe it could make an excellent movie or series.

Rating: 3/5

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

I am still in awe, this book left me completely speechless. A Court of Mist and Fury, which is the second in the saga, begins with Feyre back at the Spring Court after surviving Amarantha. But she’s not the same — besides being an immortal, she’s anything but happy at her new home. Feyre is suffering from PTSD, and the most unexpected person (faerie) might be able to help her recover and realize that she can decide how to shape her future. Yes, that unexpected individual is Rhysand.

I know this is a fantasy novel, but the PTSD symptoms were portrayed accurately. The dynamics in the relationship between Feyre and Tamlin are also realistic if you of course remove Tamlin’s supernatural powers. But the red flags are the same, and I’m sure many women can relate to Feyre. I loved seeing the way she matured and transformed, both mentally and physically. I won’t get into details because that would imply sharing spoilers (and I want to keep this spoiler-free). But the plot keeps getting more intertwined and previous events start to make more sense.

It’s everything I would’ve expected and more. I laughed, I cried, got angry, and everything in between. This book made me feel all the feels, and I’m not exaggerating. It felt like being on a roller coaster, which was amazing. The only bad thing is that the book I’ve started after finishing this one feels more like a walk in the park and it’s not as thrilling (though I’m sure if I hadn’t read ACOTAR I would be enjoying it way more). So props to the author for even allowing this to be possible. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this involved with a book.

I even created a playlist inspired by it, you can listen to it here. I’ve ordered the third book in physical because the iPad was starting to strain my eyes a bit. As soon as I get the chance, I’ll buy the entire collection.

Rating: 5/5

“To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.” Rhys clinked his glass against mine. “To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.”

Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury

Review: The Outsider

Stephen King is the king of horror. I believe I haven’t talked here much about it, but I’m a bit of a cinephile. I absolutely love watching films, especially thrillers, suspense, or horror. Given that, it’s no surprise that I’ve already seen plenty of movies and TV shows based on books by Stephen King. However, I was always somewhat reluctant to read a book written by him, thinking that seeing a film or a series would be enough. I was so wrong.

For those who don’t know, The Outsider starts when an eleven-year-old boy is brutally murdered in Flint City. All the evidence points at one of the most beloved of Flint City’s citizens: Terry Maitland. He’s a little league coach, school teacher, husband, and father of two daughters. Detective Ralph Anderson orders his detainment during a baseball game, so all neighbors are there to witness it. Maitland has a solid alibi that demonstrated he was elsewhere during the moment of the crime, but the DNA evidence shows the contrary. But Anderson is not satisfied with the outcome, even when the case is closed. Maitland seems like a good man, he even trained Anderson’s son, so how could he have committed such a crime? And the most bizarre of all questions: how can he be at two places at once?

The plot was engaging and well-developed. It was easy to empathize with the main characters, especially Ralph Anderson and Holly Gibney. What I enjoyed most while reading this book was the different points of view. It’s written in third-person, so the reader is also provided with bits of perspectives from a few secondary characters, even an antagonist. All of these fragments add up the puzzle pieces that help understand the whole situation better.

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

By now, most of the bookstagram community has read the ACOTAR series. I’ve seen it everywhere since I first started my account, which was back in 2018. I felt like I’d outgrown both the YA and fantasy genres long ago, so I was never really attracted to it. However, this year something shifted, something I can’t precisely explain (perhaps Rhsyand could help me find an answer by digging inside my mind). About two weeks ago, I bought the kindle version of A Court of Thorns and Roses to read on my iPad. The only explanation I told myself was that I wanted to read books outside my comfort zone, and out of so many fantasy books available, I had to chose that one. And you have no idea how glad I am that I did!

Quick FYI, the ACOTAR series is actually considered New Adult, which is different than Young Adult. Though they do share plenty of similarities, the audiences they’re aimed at are not the same. I wouldn’t recommend this to pre-teens; it would be more appropriate for a 14+ audience.

Anyway, the last book that got me turning pages and staying up ’til late at night was Midnight Sun. Yes, another fantasy book. So perhaps I was just kidding myself when I thought I’d outgrown the genre. I was so wrong, and I take it back.

It got me hooked from the beginning. It begins with Feyre being out on a hunt. Winter is coming and she knows that if she doesn’t hunt something, she and her family won’t have much to eat. So when she spots a deer about to be attacked by a wolf, she cannot resist. But to kill the deer, she must also kill the wolf. And everything comes at a price. Shortly afterward, she’s dragged to the magical kingdom of Prynthian for murdering a faerie. Feyre soon starts to learn more about her captor and his world, her feelings of hate vanish and are replaced with passion. But love can’t conquer all, or can it? Feyre must break a powerful curse or say goodbye to him forever.

Continue reading Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Review: Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown is a book that discusses connection and vulnerability — and how by allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you’re actually being courageous. Yes, it might sound contradicting and even a bit like nonsense, that’s why you need to read this book. First off, Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure”.

Vulnerability is closely related to shame. Though it’s not one of the six basic human emotions, shame is a universal feeling that all of us have experienced at one point or another. The thing about shame is that people don’t talk about it because it’s uncomfortable, and by simply addressing it makes us feel defenseless. But the key to overcome it is communication. Shame has infiltrated cultures and communities in numerous ways. Many wrong things that happen nowadays at companies and schools have their source in shame.

The main takeaway that I’ll start putting into practice immediately is regarding how we talk to ourselves. Changing that judgemental internal voice makes a huge difference. It’s not the same telling yourself “I’m a failure” vs. “I made a mistake on this occasion”. This is something we learn as kids from the environment we grew up in, but it’s never too late to unlearn and shift the way we see things. We are worthy, we are enough.

All of the information the author shares is based on research. There are plenty of examples from the interviews she’s held with participants, other researchers, and experiences of her own. It was a bit redundant at times, but the writing style was fluid and easy-going; it felt like chatting with a friend.

There is even a small workbook at the end, where all sorts of questions are included to help and guide the reader through a process of introspection.

If you’re still not sure whether this book is for you, I recommend you check out Brené Brown’s TED Talk.

Rating: 4/5