November 2021

Book Review: All I Want For Christmas is the Girl Who Can’t Love

All I Want for Christmas is the Girl Who Can’t Love is actually the 4th book in the “All I Want For Christmas” series.  I am always hesitant jumping into a series book without having read the earlier books, but this worked as a standalone.  There was a bit of a recap at the end with I assume the characters from the previous books which was a little confusing but I was able to make it through everything but that part with no problem as if it was a standalone book.

I had been taking a break from romance, but the write up totally caught my eye because the main female character, Savannah, could have been me – and the male lead, Jordan, may have reminded me of a certain someone too.   Savannah has just started college and is struggling.  Her roommates are on a completely different schedule than her and she is having trouble getting a decent night’s sleep.  She also has dyslexia which has gotten more difficult to manage with the less sleep she is getting.  She met Jordan her first day when she was trying to move a mattress into her dorm room and he insists on helping her out.

Jordan and Savannah become friends, he tells her she can nap in the library and ends up dictating her textbook to her to make it easier for her to study.  Meanwhile there is a sub plot of these war time love letters that Jordan has been researching.  Jordan tries to convince Savannah that love is real through these letters, but she is still not convinced.  The two of them end up discovering even more of the letters between Bex and William which will really help Jordan in his research and applying to PhD programs – but will it convince Savannah that love is real? And will the two of them end up more than friends?

This book was a pretty quick read and once I got about halfway in, I couldn’t put it down.  I had somewhere to be and decided I’d just show up late, because I couldn’t leave without finishing out the story to see what happened and how things with Savannah and Jordan ended up.  I really, really enjoyed this book and maybe now I have to go back to the other 3 books and see if those are just as enjoyable.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Get swept up in this holiday romance as Chelsea Bobulski’s All I Want for Christmas young-adult contemporary series comes to an end by exploring the hope and magic of unforgettable love.

College freshman Savannah Mason doesn’t believe in magic or true love. She believes in science, and science tells her that love is nothing more than a biological impulse to breed—an impulse that can, thankfully, be ignored. Which is a good thing because no woman in her family has ever been lucky in love. In fact, all of them have ended up broken hearted and insistent on blaming a mysterious, vengeful curse. But Savannah is determined to rewrite her story, and as far as she’s concerned, she’s never going to fall in love.

Jordan Merrick is a junior at William & Mary and on the fast track to obtaining his life’s goal: becoming the next Ron Chernow. He vaguely imagines that, someday, he’ll have a wife and kids. But like Hamilton himself, Jordan’s drive is to accomplish his goals as quickly as possible. Love can come another day once his career is cemented.

What neither Savannah nor Jordan planned on is meeting each other, and as they keep crossing paths on campus and Savannah finds herself helping at Jordan’s archaeology site, all their reasons for putting their love lives on the back burner start to blur.

Forged together, Savannah and Jordan investigate Savannah’s family’s curse on love and explore a collection of love letters between a revolutionary soldier and the girl he left behind. But when they come face-to-face with the truth about themselves—and with the truth about what they’ve become to each other—Jordan’s outlook on love starts to waver, and he begins to wonder if he can convince Savannah that love is real. But will Savannah run before her heart is able to let go of cynicism and believe in the power and magic of love?

At once thought-provoking and charming, All I Want for Christmas is the Girl Who Can’t Love will stir a longing in every reader’s heart for the hope in magic and romance that can only be found during the holiday season.

Jon McLaughlin @ The Kate

Friday night Jon McLaughlin brought his Holiday tour to the Kate in Old Saybrook, CT.  This was his first time there. In addition to being his holiday tour, it was also the release date for his new album, “All The Things I Say To Myself.”  While the majority of the set was Christmas themed, he also did a handful of songs off the new release and also had a special guest – Stephen Kellogg, who I ended up bumping into on my way into the venue and he was kind enough to grab the door for me. (And good thing, because on the way out I realized it was way too heavy for me!)  He did Merry Merry Christmas Everyone with Jon and then they chatted a bit about how Jon played “dumb” piano for him on one of his albums and Stephen sang his song Prayers.

For the encore,  I was absolutely not expecting Jon to come out and do one of my absolute favorites, Beautiful Disaster and it hit me right in the feels.  He finished up his set standing at the edge of the stage (practically on my head) with him and just a guitar to play Hallelujah this Christmas.

After the show he was selling copies of the new album and came out to sign them (no photos) so it was nice to say a quick hi.  I got to listen to it on the whole ride home and definitely recommend checking it out!

I will say though – there was a really obnoxious (to me) couple of ladies in the front row who kept having to yell out things at not only Jon, but even the guy in the beginning of the show talking about the venue, memberships and upcoming shows.  Jon did acknowledge them a few times, but I can’t understand how anyone thinks this is a good idea and it just totally makes the rest of the audience (or at least me) think you’re an attention whore.  We came to enjoy the music – not hear you yelling out every comment that pops into your head during the show.

Kris Allen @ Daryl’s House

Back in June, I purchased tickets to see Kris Allen at Daryl’s House and a M&G.  I remember saying to myself, “well, I’ll have to leave work early to get there in time, but that’s a future me problem.”  Future me then became present me – full of anxiety having no follow up information about the email.  But the ticketing website said that it was at 5:15, so I left at 4, got there at 5, looked around the parking lot and realized I was the only one there… and headed in at 5:15 to ask about the Meet and Greet.

“I wasn’t aware there was any meet and greet” the girl at the desk said, and went backstage to check. “Yeah, I just asked them and they said there isn’t one.” “Then what did I pay an extra $70 for?” I asked.  Someone else had joined and said “No, this says everyone paid $30.  There’s $30 and $20 tickets and it just means if you have a table or not.”  “I bought the table for $30, but I also paid $70 for a M&G. Let me find my confirmation email.”  I opened my confirmation and they were shocked.  Someone went backstage again and someone came out and said “Yeah… there IS a 5:15 M&G option.  It’ll probably start at 5:30”  I got to choose my table, a chair was placed on the stage right next to my table and shortly after Kris came out to say hello.

I had a question for him about a project I had heard he was involved with years ago, so we chatted a bit about that and it ended up evolving into a conversation about Hanson (go figure) and Jon McLaughlin (who I am seeing tonight!).  Kris told me he is a big Hanson fan but never really met them (save for one awkward interaction he told me about the night he won Idol) and so I said I’d have to put in a good word for him with them.  We also talked about his upcoming shows and how I am going to be going to Arkansas to see his Christmas show with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  I had really been on the fence about going (my plane ticket is even the refundable option!) but hearing him so excited about it got me excited for it too! He is absolutely looking forward to hearing the orchestra play his original Christmas songs.  He then said he would play a song for me, but if I didn’t have a request it was ok.  On the spot, the first 2 choices I made he said would be in the set, so we ended up deciding on Monster.  Just before he was about to start – 2 more joined the M&G so they got to hear the song I had picked and we chatted a little bit more with them and then we took some photos before he left to get ready for the show!

I was able to have a 4 seat table up front all to myself, as they said there would not be many people there and Kris had mentioned some of the shows didn’t sell that well but it would be very intimate.  At one point I tried to count everyone who was there and it was about 30.  But Kris still gave it his all and played some older songs, some of the newer released songs and a few that had not yet been released but were contenders for future releases (one of which had the F word in it.) It was nice to hear the background about how he came about writing all the songs before he went into playing them.  (And he ended up not telling the story about Different Bridges Same River, but the other M&G girls had asked about that one.)  He had us sing some harmonies with him and considering it was such a small amount of people, I think we did a great job.

I think that having such a long gap without live music during covid really has made me appreciate it a lot more. All of the shows I have gone to since they have been back, have been some of the best shows I have been to.  I think that the artists have missed performing and I’ve missed seeing it and it makes things have a bit of a stronger connection.  I’m still really anxious before/during shows and I don’t take my mask off unless eating/drinking, but it is nice to be back to somewhat of a “normal” feeling too

Kris Allen Setlist Daryl's House Club, Pawling, NY, USA 2021

Book Review: The Double Life of Bob Dylan

The author of The Double Life of Bob Dylan complains a bit about other biographers and that Dylan researches are “obsessives” while Shakespeare researchers are “scholars”, is there a double standard?  Maybe… but this is his 11th book on Dylan.  Is that obsessive? Scholarly?   Either way – this is a great biography of Dylan and also has a Tulsa, OK connection.  If you’re not aware, Downtown Tulsa is going to be getting a Bob Dylan center to open next May. (Hopefully around when I am visiting so I can check it out!)  This is because in 2016, the George Kaiser Foundation purchased the personal archive from Bob Dylan.  It is this archive that the author went through in order to write this new biography, after realizing there was misinformation in previous biographies.  Despite there being many books out there on Bob Dylan – this one has new information included and while it took me some time to get through, it certainly was very interesting and got me even more excited for the center in Tulsa to open.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

“So, you want to know more about Bob Dylan? Read Clinton Heylin’s new book. You’ll get all you need.” — Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The definitive biography of one contemporary culture’s most iconic and mysterious figures

In 2016 Bob Dylan sold his personal archive to the George Kaiser Foundation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, reportedly for $22 million. As the boxes started to arrive, the Foundation asked Clinton Heylin – author of the acclaimed Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades and ‘perhaps the world’s authority on all things Dylan’ (Rolling Stone) – to assess the material they had been given. What he found in Tulsa – as well as what he gleaned from other papers he had recently been given access to by Sony and the Dylan office – so changed his understanding of the artist, especially of his creative process, that he became convinced that a whole new biography was needed. It turns out that much of what previous biographers – Dylan himself included – have said is wrong.

With fresh and revealing information on every page A Restless, Hungry Feeling tells the story of Dylan’s meteoric rise to fame: his arrival in early 1961 in New York, where he is embraced by the folk scene; his elevation to spokesman of a generation whose protest songs provide the soundtrack for the burgeoning Civil Rights movement; his alleged betrayal when he ‘goes electric’ at Newport in 1965; his subsequent controversial world tour with a rock ’n’ roll band; and the recording of his three undisputed electric masterpieces: Bringing it All Back HomeHighway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. At the peak of his fame in July 1966 he reportedly crashes his motorbike in Woodstock, upstate New York, and disappears from public view. When he re-emerges, he looks different, his voice sounds different, his songs are different.

Clinton Heylin’s meticulously researched, all-encompassing and consistently revelatory account of these fascinating early years is the closest we will ever get to a definitive life of an artist who has been the lodestar of popular culture for six decades.

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