My Top Five Favorite Albums of 2017

A lot of amazing music came out this year and narrowing it down to just 5 albums was very hard but I did it! I listed albums that I not only listened to but devoured. Every song, every lyric, affected me in different ways. I am very diverse in my listening tastes so there’s a couple of different genres on my list. So here it goes!

5. Big Mess by Grouplove
I’ve been fan of Grouplove for awhile because their music is fun. It makes you want to jump up and down and scream the lyrics as loud as you can. And this album delivered that same carefree vibe. I often played it while driving in the miserable Atlanta traffic. I recommend this lighthearted listen to fans of indie rock who just want to feel good.
Fave tracks: Do you love someone, Traumatized, Good Morning

4. The Thrill of it All by Sam Smith
Sam Smith is the male Adele, he specializes in ballads about heartbreak. And I love it. Give me heavy piano and lyrics about a man who done you wrong and I am there. His unique voice is raw, honest, and it pulls at your heartstrings. You’ll be staring longingly into the horizon recalling all your relationships. Top 40 radio will play his singles 5 times an hour, but don’t let that lead you away from the album, it’s most definitely worth a listen.
Face tracks: No peace, Nothing left for you, Say it first

3. The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone by Lee Ann Womack
After listening to this album my first question was: Who hurt you Lee Ann?? These 14 tracks are all heavy, gritty, blues. Lee Ann is one of my favorite voices in country music but I don’t think I’ve ever heard her quite like this. I like dark Lee Ann, she seen some things, been through some things and she knows how to convey those experiences into a cohesive album. The first track All the trouble pretty much sets the tone. It’s an anthem for times when life is throwing everything at you at once. I recommend this album for those days when you are pissed off at the world, mama Lee Ann will let you know that you are not alone.
Fave tracks: All the trouble, Wicked, Someone else’s heartache

2. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
I would’ve been crazy to not add Kendrick’s newest on this list. He’s killing it right now. Rap music isn’t my favorite genre I’ll admit, but there’s no denying how good Lamar’s music is. It’s innovative, relevant, and unafraid. The album is an intimate journey into his personal struggles. Some of the tracks are hard, songs that you’ll turn the bass all the way up for, while others are subdued songs that will make you sway. I applaud Lamar for his willingness to be transparent, that’s what make his art so amazing. He puts his blood, sweat, and tears into it and comes out as this beautiful piece of rap history.
Fave Tracks: ELEMENT, DNA, PRIDE

1. Ctrl by SZA 
This album spoke to me the most this year. Ctrl is basically the experience of being 20 something wrapped up in 14 tracks with a bow on top. Self-doubt, lack of direction, crappy decisions and all that other madness that comes with not being a girl, but not yet a woman. As a 20 something myself I heard a lot of my own thoughts in her lyrics. There’s a pendulum in my mind, some days I feel confident, sexy, and ready to break some hearts. And other days I feel like I am going nowhere, and don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Both of these attitudes are represented in the album. In the song The Weekend, she asserts her sexy in being the confident side chick. But in the song Drew Barrymore she presents a less assured SZA who struggles with loneliness and self-worth.  So thank you Ms. SZA for providing a voice to the 20 something gals out here trying to live their best life.
Fave Tracks: Drew Barrymore, The Weekend, 20 Something

 

So that’s it! What were your favorite album releases this year??

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My Top 5 Favorite Books of the Year

This year has been a great year in books. As I get older I am finding that I am choosing more books not only entertain but make me a better and more aware person. I love reading about strong women overcoming great odds. I hope by reading books like this a little of their strength will pass on to me.

5. Final Girls by Riley Sager
Quinn Carpenter survived a horrible mass murder right out of a horror movie. She belongs to a trio of women called the “Final Girls” since they all were the last ones standing after horrible crimes. But one of the Final Girls has died under mysterious circumstances, and the other Final Girl has shown up on Quinn’s doorstep. What does it all mean!!
I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. I half expected it to start out slow like most mysteries and build but it had me at the first page. Once you start it, you won’t be able to not finish it.

4. The Unkillable Kitty O’Kane by Colin Falconer
Only one word describes Kitty O’Kane, survivor. Born in the slums of Ireland and raised by an abusive father, she goes on to be one of the few survivors of the Titanic, and the sinking of the RMS Lithuania in WWI. Just how much tragedy can one life handle? If you’re Kitty O’Kane a lot. Despite every set back, she finds a way to keep moving forward.
Though some of the historical facts in this book might be off, it’s still a testament to the human spirit. Kitty suffered through abuse, wars, famine, bad relationships and somehow found the will to keep going. If it had been me, I don’t think I would’ve made it. She was dogged in her pursuit of happiness, vowing she would never return to the slums of her childhood, or be under the thumb of a man. I love a story about a strong woman making her own path by whatever means necessary. I also loved that she wasn’t perfect, she made some very clear mistakes which came back to bite her but she learned from them. I want to get this one in hardcover so I can treasure it forever.

3. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays by Scaachi Koul
Koul, a writer for BuzzFeed, through hilarious essays gives us a peek into the life of a millennial Indian-American woman. She touches on topics like interracial dating, growing up as the only person of color in her school, body hair and other joys of womanhood.
I love when a book literally makes me laugh out loud. And though I am not Indian, and don’t come from immigrant parents, I still found Koul’s essays relatable on the level of being a millennial women of color in today’s world. I love the how she shared about the prejudices within the Indian community which I knew about but didn’t know all the facts. At the end of every chapter she shared email conversations between her and her father which were so funny. For me, Koul is one of those writers that I look up to. I only hope to be as sharp and as hilarious as she is one day.

2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr is high school girl who witnesses the shooting death of her childhood friend, a young black man who was unarmed, by a police officer. The drama that follows is life defining, not only for Starr but for her family and friends.
This book is right on time considering all of the deaths of unarmed black men by police in recent news. In this book you get a front row seat to the lives of those directly effected by these deaths. I cried with Starr, I laughed with her, I got angry with her. I wondered how would’ve handled witnessing something like that. How I would’ve handled news outlets and even friends disrespecting my dead friend. I love when a novel makes you self reflect, but still is an enjoyable read. I recommend this book to everyone no matter their age or race. It definitely gives some very good perspective on what it’s like being black in America. They’re currently making a movie based on this book and I hope they do it justice.

1. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid 
In a country that’s never named somewhere in the middle east war has broken out. It’s terrible timing for Nadia and Saeed because they have just fallen in love. In a very short time they entire lives have turned completely upside down and they are forced to flee their home or die. There are rumors of doors that have popped up around the city that lead to different countries. Are these doors real? Real or not Nadia and Saeed have got to try.
This book is so relevant because at this very moment in places like Syria and Yemen conditions are abysmal and the people are desperate to flee. I love how Hamid presented a somewhat magical solution to the problem, because honestly it seems that fixing these countries is an impossible feat that no man can handle. Saeed and Nadia’s relationship is so interesting in this book because they’d only just began their relationship when all hell breaks loose. Now they are going through this crazy traumatic event together. Will they still be together when it’s all said and done? You’ll have to read and find out.
This book gives light to the immigrant experience and all the hardships that come with that. I definitely finished the book with a better understanding and more empathy for my immigrant brothers and sisters. In a country where they are regarded with contempt and hatred by the people in power, books like this are absolutely needed to wake the sleeping.