Music Monday! Pop vs. Metal – Music Sound Off

Another Music Monday, another vlog featuring my BFF Danny!
Today, Danny & I test our friendship by making each other listen to music the other likes.
This vlog is LONG overdue so the Top 40 list is a bit outdated – sorry!
Click the video below to watch the shenanigans unfold! If you haven’t already, please Subscribe to my YouTube channel for first access to my videos!
Also, if you’re a fan of Danny, Subscribe to his YouTube channel here – Savage Squad!

Thanks so much for watching! Please remember to Subscribe to my YouTube channel, Like, Share, & Comment on the video! Please also Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Like, Share, & Comment on this post too!!

Sunday Book Club! Bossypants by Tina Fey

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “Bossypants” by Tina Fey.

Initial Thoughts:
For a long time, I had no idea who Tina Fey was because I didn’t watch too much TV. Eventually, even I couldn’t miss the impact she was having on pop culture with her skits on Saturday Night Live, especially her impression of Sarah Palin. Still, I never formed too much of an opinion on her. As I became more interested in working in the Entertainment industry, her name popped up more & more as a Feminist alley. She was different from other female celebrities. She was intelligent, funny, hard working, a writer! She was a woman in power in a male dominated industry! She has remained relatively scandal free which has helped me remain neutral, yet curious to dig deeper, hence my interest in her autobiography, “Bossypants”. Thank you to my friend Marcela for buying me this book for my birthday! Keep reading to see if I’ve been converted to a Tina Fey super fan!

Plot:
“Bossypants” doesn’t necessarily have a plot. The book tells anecdotal stories ranging from Fey’s youth to her time before SNL to her marriage & eventual journey into parenthood, among other topics.

Quotes:
– Pg 53: “I only hope that one day I can frighten my daughter…Right now, she’s not scared of my husband or me at all…How can I give her what [my dad] gave me? The fear of getting in trouble. The knowledge that while you are loved, you are not above the law. The World-wide Parental Anxiety System is failing if this many of us have made sex tapes.”
YES! I have been saying something similar to this since I was a teenager. I would watch my friends get into shenanigans & ask them, “Aren’t you afraid your parents will kill you!?!” The answer was always a laugh & a shrug, or a straight up no. I’ve never experienced that carefree feeling. Even when I do something relatively small but “bad”, I think, “Better not tell Mom I stayed up all night, ate a carton of ice cream, & drank half a bottle of wine!” because I live in fear of her judgement & disappointment. My mom is by no means harsh or strict, she just has high expectations. Perhaps Fey & I experienced this Parental Anxiety System because we have older parents that didn’t feel like they needed to be our friend. Whatever the reason, I was happy to find finally this connection with someone!
– Pg 225: “If Darrell [Hammond] is da Vinci, Will [Ferrell] is Monet, & I am me, in a wig.”
I found Fey to be a bit TOO self deprecating. Of course if she was full of herself, I wouldn’t like that either, so there’s no winning. I just feel bad for her – how silly is that! Seriously though, she fights this battle that females are just as funny as males & does a great job praising her friends, but often talks about how she’s not funny. It’s meant to be tongue in cheek but it was a bit off putting like, why am I reading your book if you don’t even believe in yourself?

Overall: B+
I gave “Bossypants” a B+ because Fey’s stories are well written, funny, & easy for me to connect with. However, I found that without a solid storyline to follow, no drama, no climax, I occasionally lost interest. The most interesting stories centered around Fey’s career before SNL & behind the scenes stories of SNL & 30 Rock. However, I might be biased because that’s where my current interest lies. If I was a new parent, I might find Fey’s tales of parenthood way more entertaining, I guess it just depends on the reader. Definitely a good choice for those interested in the Entertainment industry with a Feminist edge to it & of course, fans of Tina Fey.

Have you read “Bossypants” or another Autobiography of someone in the Entertainment industry? If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is August 7th & the book is “Turn of Mind” by Alice LaPlante.

Music Monday! Harry Potter in Concert – Hollywood Bowl

Hello all!
Today’s Music Monday is going to be a quick recap of Harry Potter in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
HB occasionally puts on these Special Concerts where they show a movie & have a orchestra play the score live. Previously, they showed “The Little Mermaid” & I’m sad to have missed that because they had celebrities come out & sing the songs. The score for Harry Potter is all instrumental, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but I was still excited for another amazing Harry Potter themed adventure! Click the video below for a super quick vlog of the Event & keep reading for my thoughts overall…

The Venue –
I’d only been to the Hollywood Bowl once before for a “Behind the Scenes Tour” when I did the Disney College Program. I remembered there was a LOT of walking & I’d heard Event parking is a complete train wreck. They “stack” the cars so you end up boxed in on all sides, which is insanely inconvenient if you’re ready to leave but no one around you has left yet. On the advice of a friend we purchased off site parking, but couldn’t find the lot. We ended up just driving to the Event & paying again for on site parking. While I was deeply unhappy from a financial standpoint, because we had arrived late the only parking was right in front, not boxed in, & the chances of people arriving later than us seemed pretty slim – woo hoo! We strolled right into the venue but finding our seats was another story…we should have called ahead to find out the options for those with disabilities. We had nosebleed seats & even with the escalators, it was quite a struggle. The venue is extremely dark, which obviously makes sense because they want people to see the movie, but made walking/climbing stairs with no railings quite precarious. When we finally found our seats, we discovered we were in the middle of the narrow row & no one would get up to let us by! While this was rude, the bigger issue was that there was no space for us anyway! We let an attendant know, they conferred with their supervisor, & next thing you know we’re sitting in box seats way down in front! Amazing! Big thanks to the staff that made that happen, it definitely made our experience better! Next time, we will be purchasing more expensive but closer seats – it’s way worth it! Also, arriving late for parking worked in our favor as no one arrived after us, so we weren’t boxed in.  We were on the freeway in about 15 minutes!

The People –
I was disappointed by the negative response from the people in the row we were supposed to sit in. However, I guess I should be thanking them because they helped us get better seats! As I mentioned, super happy with the staff of HB! I wish we had thought to get the names of the staff that helped us because I would have written a “thank you letter” to compliment them personally. Beyond that initial negative experience, the crowd was…unified. That’s the only way I can explain it. Whenever something special happens for Harry Potter, there’s always this feeling of, dare I say, magic in the air. I think that’s because a majority of the crowd are real true fans. They’re willing to wait for hours to buy a new book, see a movie, spend the day in a theme park, etc, these types of Events aren’t for casual fans. They bring out the die hards, people in cosplay or themed outfits (I was wearing a Hufflepuff shirt!), people that know all the words to the movies & cheer when Harry catches his first Snitch or boo when Wormtail appears because they know what role he’ll play later. It’s truly, again, magical, to sit in a crowd of people & know that you’re all part of something. In a world that sometimes feels like it’s falling apart, it’s nice to know you can turn to your fandom.

The Performance –
I had no idea what to expect from a Harry Potter Concert! I had read a few articles leading up to the Event & mostly they talked about how difficult the performance was going to be in regards to pulling the soundtrack from the film but keeping all the audio. I did find the music overwhelmed the audio at certain times, but I realized I had to restructure the way I was thinking about the Event. Somehow, I wanted the music to just quietly frame the movie, but be really awesome & powerful! There’s no way to accomplish that. The point of this Event was to focus on the beauty of the music & how it added to the film. Once I kind of let the film take a back seat & focused on the music, it WAS really awesome & powerful. I noticed certain nuances I’d never noticed before when I’d watched the film & focused only on the dialogue. This is definitely an Event for music lovers. You must love the sound, the feeling, the epic-ness! of live orchestral music. Obviously these musicians are extremely talented & I was thrilled to see the Conductor wearing a Hufflepuff tie & pin!

The Final Verdict –
People always say to arrive early for parking, but we found that arriving later worked WAY better & will most likely do so again. As I said, there may be other options that we were unaware of, but based on what I saw, this Venue is not very “disabled friendly”. I will need to investigate other options for the future & definitely feel it’s worth it to pay for more expensive seats closer to the front. Overall, an extremely enjoyable & unique experience that brought together a lot of people & helped strengthen their love of Harry Potter. What could be better?! I hope Hollywood Bowl continues to put on these Special Events, especially if they continue with the rest of the Harry Potter series & Disney films.

Have you ever been to this Venue or seen a Movie/Concert like this? Please let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading 🙂

Sunday Book Club! The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard

Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “The Fates Will Find Their Way” by Hannah Pittard.

Initial Thoughts:
Marketed as a cross between “The Virgin Suicides” & “The Lovely Bones”, “Fates…” promises a mystery surrounding a teenage girl & all the boys who loved her. I enjoy mysteries, although I find stories involving young girls almost always include scenes of sexual violence that I find too graphic. I was hoping that Pittard wouldn’t find it necessary to create a plot that centers around rape, although the comparison to “The Lovely Bones” didn’t fill me with great confidence. Also, I don’t generally like stories about teenagers because as a “grown up”, I find it hard to sympathize with teenage rebellion/whiners/young love. However, the intrigue behind the mystery plot was too strong to throw me off of this book so despite the potential negatives I began reading, albeit with trepidation, nervous to see what would unravel…

Plot:
All the boys are obsessed with Nora. She’s a mystery to them, the perfect girl they all long for yet can’t have. Nora becomes an even bigger mystery when she disappears, never to be heard from again. Told from the point of view of the neighborhood boys, the story follows how the people in her hometown handle her disappearance & how rumors of what happened to Nora represent a tale of caution, adventure, & intrigue for years to come.

Characters:
– The neighborhood boys: It was a little bit difficult for me to keep track of all the names & stories, but I think that’s pretty true to life. Imagine a group of boys from your youth or current neighborhood. There are certain kids that just fade to the background or others that you had/have more of a connection with so they stay in your mind – same concept for this group of characters. Also, some of the boys are ultimately more important to the overall storyline so they get more “face time” with the reader but then another kid will pop up & you’re thinking, “Wait, who is he!?”.
– The Narrator: About halfway through the book I realized, I didn’t know who the Narrator was. It’s an interesting storytelling device on Pittard’s part because it kind of keeps the Narrator safe from any scrutiny because you don’t know what his backstory is or what role he plays in certain events. I felt like the Narrator was an anonymous boy, but in the Author’s Notes, Pittard says the narration was moving from boy to boy. For example, George tells a story about Trey & Danny, & later Danny tells a story about George. I almost want to go back & re-read the book focusing on which boy is NOT mentioned & using a process of elimination, figure out which boy is speaking.

Quotes:
– Dedication: “For Malcolm Hugh Ringel, who disappeared from our lives 6/16/06”
This doesn’t have anything to do with the actual story, but started the book on an intriguing note. I assumed this was someone important to the author that passed away or went missing, perhaps the inspiration for the story, & was prepared to do some follow up Google searching of my own, however, the author addresses the mystery in her Notes at the end of the novel. I was pleasantly surprised she did this & was happy to have at least one mystery resolved. I won’t say any more, but the dedication is a very touching tribute.

Overall:
Pittard kept me intrigued & eagerly reading. As I predicted, there is a storyline centering around a rape, but I appreciated that she didn’t describe it in any detail. It has nothing to do with the disappearance of Nora, but provides another layer of complexity to this group of kids & how that horrible event weighs on them as they grow up. I think that’s kind of the main point of this story – the idea that life is a series of wild & crazy events & sometimes we misinterpret their meaning. Events that seem huge at the time reveal themselves to really not matter, or small things really mean a lot & can change everything. The continued mystery of who the Narrator is & some other plot points that I don’t want to spoil is maddening but references the idea that we never really know each other or what goes on behind closed doors. Overall, this story isn’t really a mystery. Nora’s disappearance serves as a backdrop but ultimately the plot doesn’t revolve around solving her case. The main focus is on those left behind & how they move on & grow up.

Rating: B-
I rated “Fates” down a bit because I was disappointed that – SPOILER! – there is no resolution to Nora’s disappearance, but I suppose it gives the story an air of realism as many similar real life cases go unsolved all the time. As mentioned above, it was hard to really get to know the characters & that kind of keeps you disconnected. The mystery was definitely the driving force of the story, that’s what kept me reading, hoping that eventually Nora’s disappearance would become the main focus again. I didn’t really connect to the story in a big emotional way & I was a bit unhappy that it turned out to be a reflection of life rather than a “real” mystery but it was still well written & entertaining.

Have you read this book or another Mystery I might like?  If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments!

The next Sunday Book Club is July 24th & the book is “Bossypants” by Tina Fey.

Sunday Book Club! The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “The Reflections of Queen Snow White” by David Meredith. The exciting announcement I mentioned last Sunday is that I was asked by the author to read & review this book! Yay – my first Sunday Book Club Collaboration! Disclaimer: I did receive this book for free, but that in no way influences my Review.

Initial Thoughts:
When David first emailed me & offered me the chance to review his book, I was surprised, extremely flattered, & excited. I love this Genre of Fairy Tale retellings or examination from a modern authors point of view, as you’ve probably noticed with my past Book Reviews such as Beastly, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, The Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, & others coming up on my Books to Read List. I’ve never read an E-Book, which is the only way this novel is currently available, so I was a little nervous about how I’d feel using “new technology”, haha! I was also nervous because of the collaborative spirit of this Sunday Book Club. It’s tough to be fair when you know the author will most likely read your Review, but I believe I was unbiased. Keep reading & let me know in the Comments if you feel I was being too easy, fair, or too harsh!

Plot:
As the title implies, this story is of course, about Snow White. Meredith continues forward from the tale we know & starts his story with an older Snow White who is not the cheerful, upbeat Disney princess many know & love. She is now bitter, sad, & lonely because Prince Charming has passed away. Snow’s depression & grief have caused a rift in her relationship with her daughter Raven to the point that she is not even involved in the planning of her upcoming wedding. One day while wandering the castle in a state of despondency, Snow stumbles upon the Evil Queen’s old chambers. She finds the Magic Mirror has been stored there & embarks on a magical journey into her past to try & find some peace in this new chapter of her life. I will leave it at that to prevent any Spoilers.

Characters:
– Erfruet – It took way too long for me to piece together that Snow’s “right hand man” is one of THE dwarves. You know….one of the seven! I thought this character was used as a clever & cute way to pay homage to the original story & show how the Dwarves’ relationship with Snow continued after her marriage, connecting the old & new story.
– It seemed like all of the characters had some type of accent & foreign name, except Snow White & Prince Charming. I thought perhaps this was an homage to the Grimm Brother’s & their German heritage, but the accents didn’t seem German so I’m not certain.

Quotes:
– Acknowledgements: “To anyone who has ever known loss, wrestled with grief, & struggled to find themselves again”
This is really what the story is about & I admire Meredith for taking on such a difficult topic & trying to make it more relatable by involving a beloved Fairy Tale character. It’s an interesting topic for this Genre, one that’s not too often explored because most readers don’t want to think about the reality that comes after “happily ever after”. I will touch more on this idea below in the “Overall” section.
– Magic Mirror: “What happens, happens. The past is the past and your past is ever a part of you! Only by facing it can you truly leave it behind. Otherwise, it will ever intrude upon your present”…She felt as if she stood alone on the edge of a precipitous gorge, filled with despair at the impossibility of her predicament, but knowing that her only choice was to descend into its shadowy depths, cross the unseen rocky path at its bottom, and pull herself out once more on the other side.”
The beginning of this passage is really so true, not just about grief, but anything that plagues us from the past. The second half of the Quote seemed like a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, metaphor for the process of grieving.

Overall:
I could definitely see this becoming a film. While I enjoy Fantasy stories, I sometimes take issue with how unnecessarily lengthy they can be. I know I’ve complained on here a few times about endless pages of scenery. I enjoyed Meredith’s extremely descriptive but mostly concise style of writing. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are scenes of abuse & sexual content that made me rather uncomfortable. Meredith has a knack for creating an intriguing story & providing resolution. There were several times I found myself wondering about a “plot hole”, but later receiving a full explanation. Overall I enjoyed the theme of the story & the unique idea of this stereotypical happy go lucky Princess dealing with grief. I think Meredith was trying to touch on an important point about loss & love. He presents the reader with the idea that throughout our lives we have way more than one chapter, way more than one “happily ever after”. Just because one type of love has left our lives doesn’t mean all love is gone & there’s nothing to live for, it just means our idea of happily ever after has to change. SPOILER! I also appreciated the Feminist angle of the story. The Magic Mirror is trying to make Snow see that although Charming helped her, she played a huge role in her own destiny. She saved herself, but gave the Prince all the credit & after his passing, felt she was lost without him because she did not see her own value.

Rating: B-
Unfortunately, my rating was influenced a bit by the production value. Any book I catch typos in automatically gets knocked down a peg. While I did enjoy the overall theme & message of the book & find them to be important topics to tackle, I can’t support the sex scenes & some of the discussions the characters have about sex/body fluids. I can very well see the interactions taking place, especially in that time period, but that doesn’t mean I want to read about them. That’s the beauty of reading, I’m supposed to be able to use my imagination, haha! Some of those scenes were too descriptive for me & I would imagine other readers may feel the same. While those scenes were not too frequent, they did weigh heavily enough on me that it was almost a distraction from the book as a whole. I would say it’s 50/50 – Great topic/message but some really uncomfortable character interaction!

What do you think? Will you be heading to Amazon to download your own copy of “Reflections”? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below! Big thank you to David Meredith for asking me to do this Review – I congratulate you on all of your well deserved success.
If you’re an author or PR team looking for Reviews, please reach out to me – MissAl.Leigh@gmail.com

The next Sunday Book Club is July 10th & the book is “The Fates Will Find Their Way” by Hannah Pittard. Stay tuned & thanks for reading!

Food Friday! Combos Sweet & Salty Pretzels

Hello again! Welcome to Food Friday!
This is another bi-weekly/monthly series I’d like to kick off but may take some time to get off the ground as I currently do not have access to a kitchen! That’s a story for another time though. I think this will be a fun series for y’all to watch because I’m a MESS in the kitchen, I can barely make toast. However, I really like food (obviously) & enjoy the imagination & creative process behind beautiful chocolate dipped strawberries, cupcakes, etc, so I’d like to try some of the recipes I’ve found on Pinterest.
For now, we’re starting with something easy, a Review of pre-made, packaged food, haha! These snacks were sent to me to Review by Influenster.com on behalf of Combos – thank you to both companies! I have a familiar face alongside me for this Review, my best friend Danny. While these snacks were sent for free, you’ll see our Review is completely unbiased!

Thanks to Danny for helping me out with this Review. You can Subscribe to his YouTube Channel by clicking here – Savage Squad. Please also Subscribe to MY YouTube Channel & this blog! Please Share, Like, & Comment if you’d like to see more Food Friday videos 🙂

Movie Review! Central Intelligence

Looking for something to do this weekend?! Today’s post, a mix of a Collaboration, Event Recap, & Movie Review, will definitely provide an awesome idea!
On Monday, I was offered the chance to get a sneak peek of “Central Intelligence” – a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart that comes out THIS FRIDAY, June 17th! Thank you FabulousArizona.com for this awesome opportunity! The Event was a lot of fun, way more than just a basic Movie viewing. Radio stations Power 98.3 & 101.9 were there giving away a ton of free branded merchandise, as you’ll see below, & playing some great music. I was genuinely surprised no one started a dance party, especially when they started playing “The Wobble”! I posted a video of the theater filling up on my Twitter, go check it out & Follow me: @MissAl_Leigh. Keep scrolling to watch the trailer for “Central Intelligence” & read my Review – I’ll try to keep SPOILERS to a minimum!

As you can see from the trailer, the basic plot is that Hart’s character, Calvin, & Johnson’s character, Robby are high school classmates with very different social standing. Calvin is Prom King & basically Captain of every sport, voted Most Likely to Succeed & dating the prettiest girl in school. Robby is an overweight goofball that’s a social outcast, an easy target for bullies. Flash forward 20 years & Calvin definitely doesn’t have the amazing successful life he imagined. He married his high school sweetheart & now works as an accountant. The day before their 20 year High School Reunion, Calvin is reunited with Robby – now Bob Stone. Bob Stone is, of course, in way better shape, but the same lovable, if a tad bit annoying, goofball – & he’s also a human weapon employed by the CIA. Bob involves Calvin in his latest mission which twists & turns until Calvin has no idea who to trust! Underneath the huge muscles, is Bob still that misfit from High School, who now needs his help to save the world? Or is he really a dirty CIA Agent hell bent on killing whoever gets in his way? Calvin & Bob must overcome many obstacles on the road to clearing their names in this Action Comedy that has a really sweet message about friendship & learning to love who you are.

Rating: B
Usually I split my Movie Reviews into Likes & Dislikes, but there wasn’t anything I DISLIKED about “Central Intelligence”. I just didn’t really connect with it enough or find it hilarious enough to give it an A rating. It’s definitely funny & there were quite a few moments that had the whole audience laughing out loud. However, if you’re not a fan of Kevin Hart, you most likely won’t enjoy this film. He’s a “big” actor, but I have the same sense of humor/style of comedic acting, so I guess I’m biased! The writing is clever, pay close attention for a few lines that reference other characters the cast has played. For example, a line about Bob looking like Hercules – a character Johnson has played. Also, there are some awesome cameos for fans of “Breaking Bad”, “Arrested Development”, & “Bridesmaids”. This film was relatively tame in terms of language & violence which I was kind of surprised by. Plot wise, the details of the CIA storyline hardly matter. The real story is the developing friendship & character growth that occurs between Calvin & Bob. The end is predictable & slightly cheesy, but was nice to see in a mostly male cast action/comedy/buddy film. Character-wise, I liked that Calvin is honestly a good guy. I appreciate that he wasn’t some bad boy jock getting his comeuppance by becoming a paper pusher. I think more people can sympathize with a nice character that had a bright future ahead of him – & just turned out to be average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think many of us can identify with having big dreams, only to wake up to a reality that’s much different. All in all, I would definitely recommend this film for anyone looking for a movie that’s fun but also has a lot of heart – no pun intended!

For a chance to win a Sneak Peek of your own for an upcoming film & to check out all sorts of cool restaurants, local spots, spas, donut shops, etc, in Arizona, please Follow Fabulous Arizona on their website, Instagram, & Twitter!

While you’re at it, please Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Instagram, & Twitter! Let me know if you plan on going to see “Central Intelligence” or once you’ve seen it, Comment below what you thought! What other movies are you planning on seeing this summer?! Thanks for reading 🙂