Unbranded

Soon after I turned thirteen, my dad and I moved to England. We had originally come from there but, apart from a visit when I was six years old, I’d grown up in California. My mother stayed in California to continue working until my dad found employment. In the meantime, we lived with my dad’s mom. But that’s another story. From the time I was thirteen until our return to California when I was eighteen, I was terribly homesick, in spite of the many cool things about living in England. As an undiagnosed autistic teen, it was probably even harder for me than it would have been for someone else, but I won’t go into that here. My point is that there were many things I did to alleviate my distress, one of them being to write (among other things, beginning the first incarnation of a certain story) and another was to plot a trip.

By the time I was fifteen I was planning all kinds of ways to get back to California, all of them completely impractical to impossible. But one idea kept me happy and busy – planning a horseback trip from New York to California. This was in the days Before The Internet (yes, such a time really existed) and all I had was a huge National Geographic United States state by state atlas (which I think I still have in storage somewhere) and a ton of imagination. I plotted a course, as much as I could, from somewhere in New York to just east of Los Angeles (where we had previously been living), avoiding all the big cities, and traveling between water sources.

Thursday night I got to go see the indie film Unbranded. I was very excited about this movie from the moment I heard about it for a lot of reasons.

Mustangs. I’ve always had an interest in Mustangs and follow the problems, events, and legislation that affect them.

Though I prefer fantasy/sci-fi now, growing up, my favorite movie/TV genre was Westerns, and I still have a very soft spot for them.

But the the idea of four guys, modern cowboys (recent Texas A&M grads), taking this journey from Mexico to Canada was thrilling. I had to see it.



This is a fabulous film. The photography is stunningly beautiful and is accompanied by a wonderful score. It’s worth the ticket just to go on this journey through Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana – some of the most gorgeous landscape in the world. Just watching it brought a lump to my throat and made me feel proud (even though I’m not technically American). There were also plenty of laughs, many gasps, some sadness, and a few hearty cheers.

But I really appreciated how they wove into the narrative facts from both sides of the Mustang story – both from the BLM’s and activists’ perspectives – and I hope more people will gain an understanding of the actual issues surrounding them. Should we protect them? Undoubtedly. Do they need management? Unquestionably. It’s finding the best way of doing it that poses problems for both sides. I sincerely hope this film and the interest it engenders spurs positive results, or at least a new perspective to work from.

Who would like this film? Anyone who loves adventure, gorgeous landscape, and/or anything to do with the American West. And, of course, horses. I’ve already ordered a DVD for myself. It’s definitely something I will watch many times.

Go see it!



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com New edition coming!

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2015 B B Shepherd and China Blue Publishing.

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Winter Movies 2015-16

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

I was disappointed, at first, that they strung the last book out into two movies and had feared they would dwell too much on Katniss’ mental state, making it too melodramatic (and possibly boring). But I actually thought they did a good job on Mockingjay Part 1. There was an awful lot that happened in the second half of the book, so I’m confident the second movie will move along at a brisk pace and everything important will be included.



With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) confronts President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the final showdown.

Teamed with a group of her closest friends – including Gale, Finnick, and Peeta – Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to stage an assassination attempt on President Snow, who has become increasingly obsessed with destroying her.

The mortal traps, enemies, and moral choices that await Katniss will challenge her more than any arena she has faced in The Hunger Games.

Release Date: November 20, 2015
Starring: Jennifer LawrenceNatalie DormerJulianne MooreSam ClaflinElizabeth BanksJosh HutchersonJena MaloneLiam HemsworthPhilip Seymour HoffmanStanley TucciWoody HarrelsonRobert KnepperDonald SutherlandToby JonesJeffrey Wright
Genres: AdventureSci-Fi
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Studio: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating PG-13

Pan

I have no idea why, but I’ve been a sucker for Peter Pan all my life. It’s only recently that I actually read the book and was disappointed. It wasn’t what I expected at all. That’s not to say it isn’t a wonderful book, and from a historical perspective it’s interesting, but the style is difficult to read as a twenty-first century adult. The story was quite different than I imagined too. I haven’t seen the original Disney movie since I was a child, but Robin William’s Hook was a favorite when my kids were growing up, and I adored (and still do) the Universal/Columbia version and count it as one of my all-time favorite movies. Another “origin” movie, Neverland, I found very enjoyable too, though highly improbable as a prequel. I’m not really expecting that much from this movie (Rotten Tomatoes critics give it 45%), but I think it will at least be entertaining.



An origin story of Peter Pan, Pan tells the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny β€” to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan. (Just to set the record straight, Peter Pan, the original character, is not a hero.)

Hugh Jackman stars as Blackbeard, Garrett Hedlund stars as Hook, and newcomer Levi Miller stars as Peter Pan. Joe Wright, the British director of Hanna, the 2005 Pride & Prejudice (starring Keira Knightley) and Atonement, directed the movie Pan.

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund, Levi Miller
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Directed By: Joe Wright
Studio: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating PG-13

The Last Witch Hunter

I’ve only just found out about this one. I have to see it because, well, Vin Diesel. That’s all.



The modern world holds many secrets, but the most astounding secret of all is that witches still live amongst us; vicious supernatural creatures intent on unleashing the Black Death upon the world. Armies of witch hunters battled the unnatural enemy across the globe for centuries, including KAULDER, a valiant warrior who managed to slay the all-powerful QUEEN WITCH, decimating her followers in the process. In the moments right before her death, the QUEEN curses KAULDER with her own immortality, forever separating him from his beloved wife and daughter in the afterlife. Today KAULDER is the only one of his kind remaining, and has spent centuries hunting down rogue witches, all the while yearning for his long-lost loved ones. However, unbeknownst to KAULDER, the QUEEN WITCH is resurrected and seeks revenge on her killer causing an epic battle that will determine the survival of the human race.

Release Date: Oct 23, 2015
Rated: [Rated pg-13]
Runtime: 1 hr. 46 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure
Director:Breck Eisner
Cast:Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie, Michael Caine, Olafur Darri Olafsson.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII)

This is certainly my most anticipated movie. I was standing in line on opening night of the original movie (Episode IV), it was the first movie I felt compelled to see multiple times in the theater, and the first movie I ever insisted my dad had to see. Yes, I took him. I am and always will be a die-hard Star Wars movie fan.

A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). Enough said.



In case you’ve been in a galaxy far, far away for the past thirty years, or perhaps just want a refresher course, here’s the story so far:



EDIT: I almost forgot about Unbranded. I’m seeing it on Thursday and will so a post on it later. πŸ™‚

What movies are you looking forward to?

Writing: TGJ Book 2, Chapter 30.
Listening: TGL Book 2 soundtrack.
Reading: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.
Watching: Movie trailers.



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com New edition coming!

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2015 B B Shepherd and China Blue Publishing.

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March Music Review and Giveaway

I’ve been meaning to do a music review for ages now, so not only will I share may favorite listens of 2014, I’m doing a giveaway too! Four winners will be able to choose the album of their choice: Bad Blood by Bastille, Supermodel by Foster the People, Sonic Highways by Foo Fighters, or La Gargola by Chevelle. Even though I pre-ordered all these albums, it’s taken a while to listen to them adequately enough give an informed opinion of them. The rafflecopter for this giveaway is at the end. Sorry…US and Canada only due to shipping costs.

All This Bad Blood, a double album from Bastille, I pre-ordered after purchasing the Bad Blood EP. I (like just about everyone else) had fallen in love with Pompeii on first listen. Although the full album came out in late 2013, I really didn’t listen to it much until last year, and since it’s a double album and my mp3 player has a ton of music on it and is always on shuffle, well, it took a while to listen to the whole thing.

Bastille is, in many ways, perhaps a bit self-generic – not a bad thing, but many songs sound similar (I want to break out into Icarus in the middle of Silence) or have very similar elements, and lyrics are sometimes quite repetitive. And I don’t care. It may even be purposeful – they would make it easy to make mashups of them (which they kind of do on the second disc.) The production of the whole album is amazing, as is Dan Smith’s voice. I’ve been listening to it (in a roundabout sort of way) for over a year and, though the songs are certainly hook-laden, I’m far from tired of it! One of the things I love most is singing along in Smith’s distinctive accent. Though from London, his accent (at least while singing) isn’t typical. Perhaps influenced by his South African parents?

Choosing favorites from this album is difficult. Honestly, I love the whole thing. But a few from the first disc are Icarus, Oblivion – especially the cello ending – and the following videos: Flaws and Things We Lost In the Fire.





A few from the second disc are The Weight of Living Pt 1 (Albatross), Sleepsong, Laughter Lines, and Of The Night.

Foster the People have been a favorite band since I first heard Pumped Up Kicks when it was released in September of 2010 – one of those songs that immediately grabs me and, musically, is extremely exciting to me. The whole album was amazing, so I looked forward immensely to their second album release, Supermodel.

There’s always that trepidation when a new band you love are releasing a new album and you’re hoping that it’s not a dud, that they didn’t use up all their great ideas on the first album and now have songs that just kind of fall flat or go in a completely weird direction. Phew – that can’t be said of Supermodel. It’s absolutely the best album of 2014 as far as I’m concerned. Every single track is fresh and different and amazing, from the first to the last. I can’t even pick a favorite (or two or three) but the first track is really great. I love the Afro cross-rhythms and the whole feel and tone of the song. Lyrics are great too.



Pseudologia Fantastica (pathological lying) is just weird and the video hasn’t changed my opinion one bit. But I absolutely love it just the same. One of the things that makes this album stand out to me is that every track subtly reminds me of at least one other artist, so much so that I have wondered if each song is (musically) a deliberate nod to other artists. I won’t go into details here or I’ll never get this post done, but this particular track is very nostalgic to me. Foster the People often have a Beach Boys quality to their sound, but this one reminds me strongly of a nineties pop artist named Tony Vincent, better known now for his performances on Broadway. His songs had a definite “sound” and this reminds me of him strongly for some reason.



I heartily recommend this album to just about anyone. If you loved the first album you’ll adore this one.


I’ve loved Foo Fighters before I really paid much attention to them. You know, I heard their tracks on the radio and knew the words by heart, but somehow didn’t connect strongly until Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace, especially the track Let it Die. Since then I rectified the oversight by buying most of their previous albums.

Their last album, Wasting Light, is (I think) their best yet, so I was really looking forward to Sonic Highways. If you get HBO TV, you might have seen or at least been aware of the companion show. I was aware of it but unable to watch.

So, I like it. The new album I mean. If you like Foo Fighters, you’ll probably like it too. Does it cover new ground or hold surprises? Well, let’s put it this way – when I’ve put a lot of new music on my MP3 player, I play a little game guessing the artist whenever I hear a song I don’t recognize. Since I listen to a lot of the same genres and like quite a few bands that sound similar, that’s not always easy. But I can name this band in three measures or less. Usually less. Again, that’s not a bad thing. I’m not one of those people who think bands have to redefine themselves every album or even show huge evolution (I seriously don’t understand people who do), but this is very recognizably Foo Fighters. Considering this is a concept album – each song corresponding to a different city – I’d like to get the DVDs of the show as I’m sure it will help connect to the songs a little deeper.




Chevelle have been one of my favorite bands for quite some time now, probably only second to Mute Math. It’s also one of the few bands I’m willing to brave a live concert for. Not that I don’t love live music, but the combination of too loud music (I try to remember ear plugs to buffer the volume), toxic fumes, and crowded situations, usually deters me. When I heard Chevelle was playing at the Fillmore in San Francisco, I immediately bought tickets.

In case you’re not familiar with them, they seem to be most often classified as alternative metal, which is a good enough description I guess. Definitely harder than most alternative, but not quite what I think of as metal – something in between. Whatever the category, I love them. Their songs grab me musically and hold on lyrically, often teasingly psychological or spiritual in nature, dark but not completely morbid. I relate to so many of their songs from a perspective of difference, otherness. My youngest daughter introduced me to them via their fifth studio album, Sci-Fi Crimes, and I’ve loved them ever since. I’ve yet to get their early albums, but I will.

In concert they are amazing. A small group (only three: Pete – vocal and guitar leads, his brother Sam on drums, and Dean on bass and background vocals) they sound like a five piece at least, filling up the concert space with a huge, textured sound (not just loud) with nuanced instrumentals and clear vocals. I was amazed, especially at the songs I knew best, as they sound better than the album tracks. That’s saying a lot.

If you like your alternative very hard with sharp edges, superior musicianship, and haunting, thought provoking lyrics, like me, you’ll probably like them. I reviewed their previous release, Hats Off To The Bull here.

Here are a couple of my favorites off La Gargola





I haven’t done a giveaway like this before, so we’ll see how it goes. Have you heard these yet? Which album do you hope to win?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This giveaway is being run concurrently on http://glisteringbsblog.blogspot.com/



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2015 B B Shepherd.

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Movies: Winter 2014

I don’t get out to the movies that often for a variety of reasons, but there are quite a few I’m looking forward to this winter season. Top of the list is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

I have to admit I was disappointed when I learned Mockingjay was being made into two films. This seems to be the trend now. I thought the beginning of the book slow, spending too much time on Katniss’ state of mind after her rescue from the dome and after learning of Peeta’s capture. And that seems weird for me to say as I love the exploration of what makes people tick, but I wearied of it. So I’m a little worried they might have made Part 1 too drawn out and melodramatic. Still, I have to see it, of course. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you’ve seen it already (no spoilers for those who haven’t read the book!) I’ll probably see it within the next week or so.



And I guess the same could be said about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I had never read The Hobbit until last year and admit I am much more a fan of the movies than the book, iconic though it is. But that Jackson has padded the original story out (and added superfluous characters and romance) is undeniable. I’ve heard that he wanted to include some of the background material Tolkien included in the The Silmarillion (which I haven’t read), but it still seems like it’s being drawn out purely for commercial reasons. Oh well. I’ll be going to see it anyway. I have a crush on Kili.



I became somewhat familiar with Into The Woods, the broadway show and its soundtrack, while I was studying vocal music in college. I never got to see it live and, while I’m not a huge Broadway fan, it’s one of the shows I would love to see. So I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. The cast looks strong and the production good. Pluses: Johnny Depp and Chris Pine.



I’ve tried to see Big Hero 6 a couple of times but it didn’t work out, so I hope to see it while it’s still in theaters. If not I will definitely be buying it on DVD as soon as it comes out. Everyone I know who has seen it has loved it and it looks adorable.



And finally, I’d like to see Exodus: Gods and Kings. It appears that Scott has been more faithful and respectful to the epic story than Aronofsky was to Noah. Interestingly, according to Rotten Tomatoes, Noah had a critics rating of 77% with only a 43% rating from audiences. So far Exodus has only a 41% critics rating but 97% audience interest. From all I’ve seen, it looks like a bigger, more epic, and more CG and effects laden Ten Commandments. That’s neither a positive nor a negative. So we shall see. I’m not sure I can believe Christian Bale as Moses – that just seems weird for a lot of reasons to me – but he’s one of my favorites, so I’m willing to suspend belief just for him!



Have you seen any of these yet? If so, what did you think? Are there any others you recommend?



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire

Katniss is back in District 12 and trying to settle into the Victor’s Village. Although Peeta lives nearby, she never sees him, and her relationship with Gale has drastically changed. She’s trying to figure out how to carry on when she becomes aware of the unrest growing among some, maybe all of the other districts. And she and Peeta are probably to blame. President Snow makes it very clear that, while on their upcoming Victory Tour, they will need to be convincingly in love–and not just convincing to the public; convincing to him.

The tour does not go as smoothly as planned and rumors of rebellion are growing. Soon it’s time for the next Hunger Games, but this time it’s special, the seventy-fifth anniversary – the Quarter Quell. Katniss and Peeta should only have to be sponsors, but all the old rules are off. This time, everyone is agreed; Peeta must survive.

At first I thought this second book was going to drag, the beginning, back in District 12, seemed to take time to get going. But it didn’t. And once “The Tour” kicked in, it was non-stop drama (the good kind) and action. And this book completely sold me on Peeta. In the first book, although I liked Peeta, I wasn’t too attached to either guy. But I was in complete agreement in this that, if anyone was to survive, it had to be Peeta. Of course things couldn’t be that simple and Peeta’s got his own ideas.

In Catching Fire we meet new characters and have to live through another arena spectacle. This one certainly has a twist though and will have you reaching for the next book. I’d have it on hand if I were you. I was stubbornly waiting for the paperback to come out.

As for the movie, I wondered how they were going to do some of it, how much would they have to change. But once again, I thought the movie was amazing. The only thing I was aware of missing was Peeta’s paintings. For the tour, they’re supposed to exhibit their “talents.” Katniss doesn’t have any beyond her hunting prowess and “borrows” from Cinna. But Peeta is an artist. I would have liked to see that explored a little. And I don’t think there was anything in either movie about the Avoxes, but I guess they have to cut something. I’m not complaining.



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Rodeo Girls and Reality

Barrel Racer

I took this picture at a high school rodeo several years ago. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the girl or the horse, but I love this photo; the giving on both sides of this partnership: the rider’s touch, the horse’s responsive attention and obvious effort yet calm expression.

I don’t watch television anymore. I watch movies and series that I’ve bought or borrowed, but only what I really want. When we moved to our present location I decided to not hook up the cable even though we do actually pay for it. It was (and still is) a question of time management. It was too easy to just flip the thing on and veg. Now I have to consciously do it and decide what to watch. No more flipping. It was cheaper to pay for both TV and internet than internet alone (which is annoying). Most of the time the TV stays off and I get a lot more done! Most of my knowledge about what is current on the boob-tube comes from sources on the internet, so I was surprised (and then revolted) to hear about a show called Rodeo Girls.

Now you’d think, considering the themes of my novel series and the interests of the main characters, that I would have been overjoyed. A show highlighting rodeo, equestrian sport, barrel racing in particular? But A&E apparently thought (for some demented reason) that a show with Real Housewives type ‘reality’ on a rodeo circuit would be a good idea.

Gag.

I found out about it through an online horse magazine, Horse Nation, and you can read their article here.

It’s so maddening. It bears no relation to the average horsewoman, barrel racer or otherwise, nor what the sport is really like and about. Barrel racing (like other equine sports) is about the connection and communication between horse and rider; it’s about the partnership. And yes, it’s also about competition. It’s about courage and hard work. And, usually, it’s about good horsemanship AND sportsmanship.

This is a show created by (and apparently specifically for) a woman with more money, hair, and botox than wit. I wouldn’t bother posting about it at all except it struck a chord too close to my heart. If you are not rodeo, equestrian sport, or even just horse savvy, please ignore this show. It is NOT representative of anything realistic. At least, nothing I’ve seen, and I’ve lived quite a long time.

Much better (with no big hair and botox and MUCH more actual horse) is this adorable video created in response. So in case you don’t know better, THIS is what it’s really all about.

http://youtu.be/0-xeNRwsnuc

He he . . . this was this fastest post I’ve ever written. πŸ™‚

Writing: The Glister Journals, Book 2: Chapter 23
Reading: The Iron King
Listening to:

Watching: Buffy



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Retro Thursday: April 2005

By request: April 2005

(A week late due to gremlins!)

George W. Bush was president of the United States
Paul Martin was prime minister of Canada
John Howard was prime minister of Australia
Elizabeth was queen of England (in case you were wondering.)

 

Singles from a few of the album releases:

Rob Thomas: “This Is How A Heart Breaks” from …Something to Be

 

Better than Ezra: “Juicy” from Before the Robots

Hahaha…this video’s so goofy. πŸ™‚

 

Mariah Carey: “We Belong Together” from The Emancipation of Mimi

I’m not a huge Mariah fan – though I acknowledge her incredible voice – and I’m not at all a fan of these kinds of videos but oh my goodness…Wentworth Miller!

 

The New York Times Best Seller List–Fiction

April 17, 2005

1. THE DA VINCI CODE, by Dan Brown.

2. REVENGE OF THE SITH, by Matthew Stover.

3. YA-YAS IN BLOOM, by Rebecca Wells.

4. HONEYMOON, by James Patterson and Howard Roughan.

5. SATURDAY, by Ian McEwan.

6. THE RISING, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

7. THE BROKER, by John Grisham.

8. WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS, by Elizabeth George.

9. IMPOSSIBLE, by Danielle Steel.

10. THE SERPENT ON THE CROWN, by Elizabeth Peters.

 

Video Games

Lego Star Wars

 

Jade Empire

I never did finish this game. I should do that….

 

Movies

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Love this movie.

 

Kung Fu Hustle



Also a favorite. πŸ™‚

 

The average price of gas:

California–$2.47
New York–$2.23
Hawaii–$2.47
Texas–$2.07
Nebraska–$2.21
UK–£1.32-1.42 litre

 

On the Charts

Apparently Elvis Presley broke the record for the most UK number one singles in 2005. Elvis had 4 songs in the top ten in the UK in April alone. How did he do that exactly? More to the point, who got all the money?

 

#3 in the UK the week of April 17th, Ciara featuring Missy Elliot. This one’s for Jo.

 

#7 in the UK the week of April 24th, Nine Inch Nails (a family favorite). This one’s for Mae.


 

Backstreet Boys released the single Incomplete which debuted at #1 in Australia (their first #1 hit there.)

 

Would you like to suggest a date for Retro Thursday? Just leave me a comment here or on Facebook or Twitter



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2013 to China Blue Publishing.

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Cataclysmic Music Review: Bastille, Capital Cities, Matt Nathanson

I am long overdue for a music feature, so I’d like to share a few albums with you: Haunt (EP) by Bastille, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities, and Last of the Great Pretenders by Matt Nathanson. It’s a long time since I first heard these bands and many months since I bought the albums, but I originally heard them around the same time and the three radio-play songs have a similar theme. It must be a sign. Let’s start with one you probably all know by now from Bastille.

So . . . you know how some songs you have to listen to a few times (sometimes many times) before you realize how good they are and then you really like it? That didn’t happen with this song. I LOVED it the first time I heard it and had to find out who it was. Once I found out, I checked out my local record store but nobody there had heard of them (or Capitol Cities for that matter.) I finally found the EP (four songs) at Amoeba in San Francisco as well as the other two albums. Yay Amoeba! Boo Rasputin.

Now, if you are in England or Europe, you’re probably thinking, “Silly person in America. Bastille has been around for quite a while.” Yes it has, but whenever I mention them to people I know they say, “Who?” Even my daughter recognized the name of the group but couldn’t name any songs. So forgive me if I state the obvious here. Bastille are fantastic. Pompeii is one of those songs I catch myself singing all the time. While Dan Smith (lead singer, songwriter) has a distinctive sound and style of his own, the band most closely reminds me of Coldplay (in a good way) especially on the track Overjoyed.

The full double album, All This Bad Blood (25 tracks), is out now which I ordered but haven’t received yet, so I may do another feature on it.

The second band, Capital Cities from Los Angeles, released their debut album in June of this year. So it surprised me greatly to find out that the song Safe and Sound actually debuted in 2011. Considering I listen to alternative radio stations in the Bay Area, I’m amazed I hadn’t heard it before. What’s up with that? Anyway, I’ve already used this video once way back in April, but I’ll use it again gladly!

Their second single, Kangaroo Court, is much less impressive to me. The Casio VL Tone (yes, we had one) is slightly nostalgic but ultimately annoying and the song has little more substance than that. In fact, a lot of the patches are evocative of the seventies and early eighties and most of the tracks on the album sound neo-disco (plus heavy use of vocaloid, of which I’m not really a fan). The tracks are great for working out or dancing to, but I get tired of the relentless poppiness. That’s not to say I don’t like them, but . . . small doses. I prefer Tell Me How To Live, it sounds like a mixture of The Bee Gees and Barry White (which is funny because they did a cover of Stayin’ Alive). And I really love Chasing You (except for the unnecessary addition of the F word.) Unfortunately there are no official videos for those songs. Here’s a static video of Tell Me How To Live.

Last of the Great Pretenders is Matt Nathanson’s tenth album and is full of great songs, though with most including profanity or very provocative lyrics, they are definitely on the adult side. The track I heard first and, like Pompeii, loved it the first time I heard it, is Mission Bells. It’s a mix of melancholy lyrics, a smooth shuffly rhythm, and a killer hooky chorus. The video is brilliant too, playing on the lyric, “At the end of a Hitchcock movie, a little dark and a lot confusing.” It’s done like a black and white Alfred Hitchcock style movie, with great San Francisco locations and representations of some of Hitchcock’s best known movies. I counted four I’m sure about, but I’m also sure there are more. I’ll list the ones I found at the end of this post. If you found more I’d love to know. And no, I didn’t cheat!

So there you have it: a volcanic eruption, a vague, unnamed apocalyptic event, and a mysterious death. It’s a little creepy how happy these songs make me.

The Hitchcock movies I recognize in the Mission Bells video: Psycho,

Vertigo,

The Birds,

Rear Window. There are a couple of others I’m not sure of. Do you see any others?



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2013 to China Blue Publishing.

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November Bronze Giveaway and Soundtrack Clue

Congratulations to the winner of the Bronze Blog Tour giveaway and to Maureen, the winner of my Spooktacular giveaway.

There’s a new giveaway! My way of saying thank you to those of you interested in The Glister Journals series and who are following here, there, and everywhere. This month I’m including another $25 Amazon gift card to help with your holiday shopping! And a paperback copy of Bronze, of course!

Do you know about the Bronze Soundtrack? It’s a puzzle to solve with songs to uncover, and if the book were a movie, it would be the best soundtrack ever! (Well, I think so anyway.) The first clues can be found on the Bronze Soundtrack page of the series’ website. Clues will be added every month until the contest officially opens–just to help you get a head start. The contest will close a month before the second Glister Journals book comes out. Thirty-one days before the release will be a video countdown of the chapters’ songs. Sound like fun? I hope so!

I began planning and writing the series in November of 2008, so Bronze is actually set in the 2008/2009 school year. Clue #5: All Bronze soundtrack songs were released 2009 or before.

Of course there are prizes! The grand prize is starting off at $50 and will be increased–25% of book sales from now until the end of the contest will be added plus The Glister Journals #1 and #2, hardbound, signed, and personalized, and more. Other prizes will include signed copies of both Glister Journals books and fun Bronze swag. There might be ponies. Watch for updates!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.



The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and excerpts at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2013 to China Blue Publishing.

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End of Summer Update.

My goodness, I never meant to go this long without posting. I’ll try to get back on track! I’ve been writing, writing, writing, but I’ve also been reading much more than I have for quite some time. I will be adding occasional mini-reviews of books I can recommend as well as my occasional music reviews.

First off, Glister Journals news. My original plan was to release the Kindle version of Bronze this summer but, as it hasn’t been promoted or marketed much before, I want to really get it out there this time before the second book in The Glister Journals series is released. So the plan now is to do a book tour in October with the help of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, one of my favorite book bloggers who also does tours (her button can be found in the sidebar). I’m feeling mighty blessed right now.(Edited–plans have changed slightly)

Details to follow!

Road Trip

Drayton Harbor

I was able to take a little trip north again this summer to visit my dear family. It was a mostly uneventful trip, I got some writing done, enjoyed my time there immensely, and came back with a major observation: next time, I need to figure in extra travel time to explore! Other observations:

    1. I’ve never seen Mt. Shasta so snow-less, even in the middle of summer. There are places I’d like to explore in the area, mines and caves and falls and such. πŸ™‚

    Unsnowy Mt. Shasta

    2. On the way up on my second day of driving, I found myself quite a bit ahead of schedule and decided to drive through Olympia, Washington, just to see what was there. It’s the capital after all. What I saw was charming (if there’s a seedy side of town, don’t disillusion me!), the section of town I saw reminding me strongly of downtown Santa Cruz, and the capital building shining in the distance across water which must have been Capital Lake. Clever name. I though of parking to walk around and take pictures, but I was expected by a certain time by family. I determined to make a stop on the way home instead.

    Unfortunately, on the trip back, although I was watching for off ramps as I drew near I never actually saw one and was way beyond the city by the time I realized I had passed it. So, sorry, no pictures this time. πŸ™

    3. I’d also love to explore the Peninsula, but I figure that will require at least a day of its own.

    4. There are a wealth of national and state parks begging to be explored. I was determined to at least visit the Peach Arch Park, (Canada and us being such great pals and all) but guess what. Still no passport.

    5. Did you know that Linn County was the grass seed capital of the world? Neither did I, but apparently they’re very proud of it.

    6. There is a town called Battle Ground in Washington. Surely this deserves some writerly investigation. Apparently “The city is ironically named for the absence of a battle.” The reasons behind this lead me to number

    7. There are a lot of tribes in Washington. It would be interesting to plan a trip around visiting reservations or at least the visitor centers and doing some first person research. Just because.

I was able to get some writing done while there, though not as much as I would have liked. I even had a substitute editor.
My substitute editor

After a nice restful week I started home, but soon ran into thick smoke. It began soon after I’d left Roseburg, Oregon and mile after mile it continued.

Smoke, not fog

I stopped for gas and asked the attendant about it. He said that he’d just heard over the radio that there were at least seven separate wild fires burning through Oregon and northern California. Sure enough the smoke continued well into California and I guess there have been many more since then. A bad fire year. πŸ™

If you have any recommendations for western Washington trips or have a trip blog entry you can link to, I’d love to see it. It’s a region I’ll be passing through at least once a year.

Music

I have quite a few albums I plan to share with you soon, including the ones I listened to on this trip, but I’d like to cover one that I had on my trip last summer but never got around to highlighting. It’s too good to not mention.

El Camino by The Black Keys is my second favorite album of 2011 (the first being Chevelle’s Hats Off To The Bull). The first time I heard them was through the song “Tighten Up” in 2010 and I loved it, but didn’t hear anything more until “Howlin For You” which I included in last year’s road trip post.

Curious about their beginnings, I looked into their background a little to find that Dan Auerbach (vocals/guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) had known each other since they were eight or nine and became friends in high school “though they were part of different crowdsβ€”Auerbach was captain of the high school soccer team, while Carney was a social outcast.” (Wikipedia reference. A more interesteing and possibly more reliable biography is here) I couldn’t help LOVING that! If you’ve read Bronze, you know why.

I love this whole album, but my favorite is most definitely Little Black Submarines, the album version (NOT the radio version which is shorter and ruins the build-up).



I love blues based rock (though not so much straight up blues) and The Black Keys have a raw edgy sound that I adore. I listened again to the whole album trying to decide which other track to pull out for you, but seriously, I love this whole album. Great road trip music too! “Money Maker” is probably my other favorite but I couldn’t find a video, so I’ll leave you with the other hit off the album.




All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2013 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at Amazon.com

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here: theglisterjournals.com

The first chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

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