Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Talking 'bout my Generation - Music


I saw Lindsay talk about this book a while ago and I knew I had to read it.

Eve and Leonora Epstein are two sisters, born 14 years apart. Eve is part of Generation X (born mid 60s to late 70s), while Leonora is part of Generation Y (born early 80s to late 90s). I would definitely put myself in that "grey area" in between the two, the people born between 1979 and 1984 who identify with a lot of stuff from both generations. Some of the late 90s stuff seems alien to me - I would have considered the whole Mean Girls age to be a completely different era, but it's easy to forget that time went pretty quick there for a while - Clueless was released a mere 5 years before Mean Girls.

In this book, Eve and Leonora cover chapters on Music, TV, Fashion, Movies, Sex & Dating, Books, and Technology. It's peppered with really good graphics, lists, conversations between the sisters - I loved the Mix Tape lists (definitely identified more with Gen X on that one). I loved this book a lot, you can get it on amazon here.

I thought I'd do some graphics and some lists of my own to show you the kind of stuff that I'd pick as a representation of my generation - I was born in 1983. My husband is very much generation X (born in the 70s) - but we have a huge amount of similar interests. Leonora states in the book - "Generation Y couldn't exist without Generation X because we've (selectively) made their nostalgia our nostalgia." I definitely agree. I also agree with the occurrence of "Fauxstalgia" in Generation Y - we tend to pine for things we've never experienced. I had fond memories of watching Live Aid on TV - I couldn't have watched Live Aid on TV, because I had just turned 2 a month before it aired.

Like a lot of 30 somethings, I've gained a new respect for the nostalgia of the older generations. I understand what it's like to hear a heinous remix of some song you loved when you were 11. I understand what it's like to see a 14 year old wearing the T-shirt of a band she's never even heard of. I understand what it feels like to look a favourite video up on youtube and find the comment section peppered with references to the fact that it was just played in the background of some hipster programme or that you're there because some obscure twitter personality just tweeted about it. But I will never, ever understand how jelly shoes are back.

My music education came courtesy of Dave Fanning or Ruth Scott on 2fm, who introduced me to "alternative" music back in the day (through the radio, obviously). Also deserving credit is the legendary Larry Gogan with his Golden Hour, and the DJs from Atlantic 252 (Rick O'Shea, Dusty Rhodes). A love of radio from an early age meant that although I could sing every word of every Backstreet Boys song, I still knew who David Bowie and REM were. Atlantic 252 was my favourite, and if you want to listen to some of the jingles from back in the day, here's a great site I found courtesy of DJ Fergal D'Arcy a while ago: Aircheck Downloads.

This is from an actual mix tape that I made. 

Edit: When I went into the living room to get the cassette tape from the press, two guys from one of those Pawn Shop/Auction programmes that my husband watches were singing "My Generation" by The Who. I had already written the title of this post - I LOVE when shit like that happens.

I put this at 1998 given the songs, so welcome to the music world of 16 year old me.....there's no accounting for taste, is there?

There were a few albums (on tape, obviously) that everyone had to have around the time I started to get old enough to buy my own tapes. My favourite thing was to sit in on a Sunday and tape stuff off the radio, but here are the ones I owned on proper tapes. I got my first CD player in 1995 but CDs were still so expensive that I rarely got them, I did have the Five, Titanic & Garbage albums on CD but the rest were all tapes.

It's amazing how even an album title can bring back so much memories - 1995 in particular was an epic year in albums - and I sang them all to death. Even if I did make up all my own words to most of the Pearl Jam album. Anyone up for a chorus of La Vida Loca in Spanish? No?

I had one other tape - one that became such a favourite that I actually had one of the songs from it in our wedding two years ago (Feels Like Home). It's the quintessential teen tape of the mid-90s - the one I listened to while simultaneously reading the series of books based on the show, dreaming about Pacey Witter and wishing I had Joey Potter's hair.

I'm not going to go on, or I'd be here all day, but I discovered the glorious world of 80s hair bands around this time too and built up a collection of compilation tapes, all with names like Best Driving Songs even though I could just about ride a bicycle, let alone drive. The Britney Spears & N*Sync era followed, then I went through a phase of buying film soundtracks - Edward Scissorhands, Wild Wild West (bought for one Enrique Iglesias song), Back to Titanic. Nothing says Sad Girl more than a teenager sitting listening to music from Titanic alone in the dark. 

In the X vs Y book, one of the girls speculates on the upcoming Generation Z - is this the first generation who will never have to wait for anything? I mean, if you hear a song now all you have to do is Shazam it or Google a few lyrics and you can have the track on your phone in seconds. I remember waiting weeks for songs to crop up on the radio, stalking the chart shows and Atlantic 252. Sometimes I'd get the same song on the same tape 2 or 3 times to try and get the "best" version of it. That excitement is all gone now.

I'll shut up, but I'm leaving you with this - potentially my sister and I are the only two people who remember this as clear as day and still sing it word for word, but see if it rings a bell with you. It was on telly morning noon and night around the earth in the late 90's - does anyone else remember it?

Next time - movies!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Books I Read in July


Apologies for the lateness of this, August seems to be running away from me. We had to get a new laptop as well, after 8 years the old one finally gave up the ghost, so I'm still trying to transfer pictures and files. Oh, and for the record, I HATE WINDOWS 8. On to the books.

The Booktube-a-thon ran for a week in July - it was an intensive readathon organized through social media. I've already covered the 10 books I read during that week, so I'm not going to include those in this post, but you can read about them here if you want to. I joined Netgalley in July, too - it's a fantastic site that allows you to build a profile and request books to review before they are released. It's completely addictive, but I still have a world of books that I've bought to get through, so I'll mix & match.

Before booktube-a-thon, I read these:

Ava Dellaira: Love Letters to the Dead
Laurel is a teenage girl who has recently lost her sister, May. Laurel idolised her and doesn't know quite how to cope, especially as she knows something about May that she has never told anyone. When her English teacher sets an assignment to write a letter to a dead person, Laurel chooses lots of different celebrities (Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix) and uses her letters to tell them about her life, about her sister, and about the boy who is slowly becoming a big part of her existence. This is a really nice coming-of-age story with a very hopeful message, and it's beautifully written.

Ken Wheaton: Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears (Netgalley)
This was my first request granted on Netgalley, so it's pretty special for that reason alone! Ken Wheaton isn't a writer who I was previously familiar with, but I'll definitely read more by him. This is a story told from the point of view of a 50-year old Louisiana woman who is desperately trying to avoid family drama - until tragedy strikes and she has to return home. I would have read another ten chapters, it surprised me how much I enjoyed this book. If he wrote a series about the main character I would read every single book! It was warm, witty and touching.

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
I keep saying this title to the tone of "Joey and Janice's Day of Fun", but leaving that aside, the premise of this book sounded great - a boy is browsing the shelves of his favourite bookstore and happens upon a red notebook daring him to begin an adventure. The author of the notes, Lily, is a dreamer (and has serious temper issues judging by the screaming and tantrums that regularly crop up). The finder, Dash, is a hipster and really bloody annoyed me. The whole book annoyed me - it was more like a book of questions than a book of dares, and I thought Lily was miles too good for Dash. He reminded me instantly of Jesse Eisenberg, who I am not a fan of, and who I have mixed up with Michael Cera, who played the male lead in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, written by the same authors. Not my cup of tea at all, I was glad to finish it.

Ben Goldacre: Bad Science
Technically I started this way back in April, but I finally finished it in July. It's not the type of book I could sit down and read straight, I had to keep going back a chapter at a time. Ben Goldacre debunks lots of popular treatments and fads, using very funny examples like creating a toxic foot bath for a Barbie. The book was enjoyable, but the one part that had me crying laughing was the one about Dr. Gillian McKeith claiming that
green vegetables have more chlorophyll and oxygenate blood: "Is chlorophyll high in oxygen? No. It helps to make oxygen. In sunlight. And it's pretty dark in your bowels...even if Dr. Gillian McKeith PhD stuck a searchlight right up your bum to prove her point, and your salad began photosynthesizing... you still wouldn't absorb a significant amount of it through your bowel, because your bowel is adapted to absorb food, while your lungs are optimized to absorb oxygen. You do not have gills in your bowels." Brilliant!!

Kate Karyus Quinn - Another Little Piece
I first heard about this on one of Lindsay Hearts Books haul videos, and I immediately wanted to read it. A week before her 18th birthday, Annaliese Gordon is at a party in the woods with lots of other young people. During the party, Annaliese emerges from the woods, covered in blood, runs screaming, and is not seen again...until she turns up halfway across the country, almost a year later, suffering from memory loss. This is not a run-of-the-mill missing person book - I got completely and utterly lost after about 30 pages until I realised that there's a strong Supernatural element at play here (think The Skeleton Key mixed with The Buffy episode The Wish and a dash of teen angst) and Annaliese is not who or what she seems. This is a really unique book, something I hadn't read before, but man - that ending. Still haven't a clue what happened. It's still worth a read, see if you can decipher it and get back to me!

Tawni O'Dell - One of Us (Netgalley)
This book is about Sheridan "Danny" Doyle, who is a forensic psychologist based in Philadelphia. Danny hails from the small mining town of Lost Creek, but has avoided going back there for a long time. When his Grandfather falls ill, Danny returns - and as luck would have it, he discovers a dead body. While he's in Lost Creek, he begins to discover that all he thought he knew about his family is at risk - and there's someone else back in the Creek too, determined to get what's rightfully theirs...I really enjoyed this book, the villian was at times almost cartoon-like in their evilness. This has been compared to Gone Girl but it's nothing like that.

RANT:  I actually wish we could stop comparing every thriller to Gone Girl and every romance to Me Before You. They immediately make me all judgey and I don't like it, it's not fair on the books. This is more than good enough to stand up on its own without having to depend on a Gillian Flynn comparison. And while I'm on that subject, in my humble opinion, Sharp Objects was a million times better than Gone Girl. /RANT.

I read these last three books after the booktube-a-thon.

Katlyn Duncan: This Summer (Netgalley)
Hadley and her friend Lily are determined to spend their last summer before college having fun. They both have jobs at Hadley's Dad's summer camp, and are looking forward to a summer of freedom after Hadley split up with her boyfriend of a year. The only problem is, someone from Hadley's past has returned. How will they deal with seeing each other again after he walked out on her without saying a word more than two years ago? This is geared more towards teenagers, but it was a light summer read and I enjoyed reading a book about a summer camp again. There is one particularly hot scene which surprised me, so I wouldn't be handing this to a 13 or 14 year old, but anyone over 16 would enjoy it.

Mhairi McFarlane: You Had me at Hello
The blurb says - "what if the one that got away came back?" but this is my bugbear with this book - he doesn't just "come back", she practically hunts him down because time and consequences suit her. Even though she rejected him several years before, and he's now married. If you're married, this will irk you. It's not that anyone cheats as such - but the thoughts of someone getting back in contact with a man they were very close to years ago and then practically obsessing over him (immediately condemning his wife to be a bitch, of course) doesn't sit well with me. The same with a husband who is supposedly happily married but has no problem mocking his wife in front of a former University friend or having secret lunch meetings to give dating advice to said "friend". I didn't enjoy it, it dragged (but yet nothing happened) and the two main characters deserved each other because they were both awful.

Karin Slaughter: Cop Town (Netgalley)
This is one of the best books I've read this year, and I'm almost ashamed to say that it's my first Karin Slaughter book. I wrote a separate blog post all about it, because it deserves a post to itself. It's brilliant.

So, that's it! 19 books for July, my favourites were definitely the Karin Slaughter, Ken Wheaton and Virginia Bergin ones. I'm well on my way with my August reads, which include Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent, the first pick for Rick O'Sheas book club. If you want to join, have a look at the facebook group here and get reading!