Music Review: Norah Jones – The Fall

December 2, 2009 Categories: Music | Comments Off  

thefallBeloved by fans for her sultry vocals and jazz-informed, piano-driven pop songwriting, Jones has taken a new direction on The Fall, seeing it as a chance to experiment with different sounds and an opportunity to work with a new set of collaborators, including Jacquire King, a noted producer and engineer who has worked with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, and Modest Mouse among others. Jones also enlisted several songwriting collaborators, including Ryan Adams and Okkervil River ’s Will Sheff, as well as her frequent partner Jesse Harris.

Track listing:

1. Chasing Pirates (Norah Jones)
2. Even Though (Norah Jones/Jesse Harris)
3. Light As a Feather (Norah Jones/Ryan Adams)
4. Young Blood (Norah Jones/Mike Martin)
5. I Wouldn’t Need You (Norah Jones)
6. Waiting (Norah Jones)
7. It’s Gonna Be (Norah Jones)
8. You’ve Ruined Me (Norah Jones)
9. Back To Manhattan (Norah Jones)
10. Stuck (Norah Jones/Will Sheff)
11. December (Norah Jones)
12. Tell Yer Mama (Norah Jones/Jesse Harris/Richard Julian)
13. Man Of The Hour (Norah Jones)

I jumped at the chance to review Norah Jone’s new CD The Fall. Her earlier CD Feels Like Home is a favorite of mine. I’m glad I read a review before listening to her newest – so I was prepared for it to have a different feel. Still good – just different.

While Feels Like Home was a very feel-good CD, heavy on piano and a folksy sound, The Fall is much more rhythm driven – lots of drum and guitar. It evokes a completely different mood – in fact, reading through the lyrics, I would guess Ms. Jones had a bad break-up recently, especially considering the last song on the CD, “Man of the Hour,” is about her dog. :)

Ms. Jones’ lyrics are very symbolic and full of poetry, and I find phrases from the songs running around in my head long after I’ve stopped listening, as my mind turns over the various layers of meaning. I definitely think Ms. Jones’ fans will love this CD, as long as they don’t expect it to be a copy of her previous work.

Watch a video of my favorite song from the CD, Chasing Pirates.

Disclosure: The Fall was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of review. The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on the link and subsequently purchase anything, I will receive a small percentage in commission.

CD Review: Wizards of Waverly Place: The Soundtrack

August 12, 2009 Categories: Music , Reviews | 2 Comments  

(Wizards of Waverly Place: The Soundtrack was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of review.)


Inspired by the Emmy-nominated hit Disney Channel series starring Selena Gomez, as well as the upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie of the same name, the Wizards of Waverly Place album features brand new songs and interpretations of classic tracks from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, each one about magic.

Natalie’s review: Selena Gomez is a good, pure singer that has a great voice. She sings 4 songs on the soundtrack: Disappear, Magic, Magical, and Everything is Not What It Seems, the theme song of the Disney TV show! I love this CD and I recommend this to everybody!

The songs on this CD are…

1. Disappear, sung by Selena Gomez – This song is really good, one of my faves!
2. Magic, sung by Selena Gomez – This is one of my faves also!
3. Magic, sung by Selena Gomez – Everybody has heard the song Magic! Cool song!
4. Strange Magic, sung by Steve Rushton
5. Magic, sung by Honor Society
6. Everything Little She Does is Magic, sung by Mitchel Musso – One of the stars of the Hannah Montana TV show is a great singer!
7. Magic Carpet Ride, sung by KSM
8. Magic, sung by Meaghan Martin
9. You Can do Magic, sung by Drew Seeley
10. Some Call it Magic, sung by Raven Symone – The star of That’s So Raven sings this song. It is awesome!
11. Do You Believe In Magic, sung by Aly and AJ – I LOVE ALY AND AJ! This song rocks!
12. Everything is Not What it Seems, sung by Selena Gomez – The theme song of Wizards of Waverly Place! Awesome!

Wizards of Waverly Place: The Soundtrack is available now.

Featured DVD – and Giveway Info: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience

June 30, 2009 Categories: Contests , Movies , Music | 1 Comment  

(Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)


Put yourself in the middle of the Jonas Brothers’ motion picture debut with the ultimate Extended 3D Concert Experience only on Blu-ray Hi-Def. It doesn’t get any better than this as Kevin, Joe and Nick invite you inside their personal world for an all-inclusive look at the band. The 3D picture looks so incredible, you’ll think you can reach out and touch the brothers, and the theater-quality sound will have you jumping out of your seat!

This 3D movie event launches music’s hottest trio straight into your living room and includes guest appearances by chart-topping artists Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift!

Secure your backstage pass to this once-in-a-lifetime 3D experience with the Jonas Brothers – complete with exclusive bonus features, including unseen performances, additional songs, and an extra DVD copy of the movie. You’ll feel like you’re part of the Jonas family with this deluxe up-close-and-personal Blu-ray Combo Pack for the ultimate fans!

I asked Natalie to review this DVD, and here’s what she had to say:

“This movie was fairly good, but all the screaming girls were kind of weird. The fans of the Jonas Brothers act like they are their idoll and that they worship them. They almost puke, hyperventilate, and things like that. But above all of that the singing was good. This movie was good in some parts and not so good in others.”

For a chance to win this DVD, click over to my giveaway post at Books and Movies.

Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience is available now on DVD. The special features include two bonus songs and “Up Close & Personal: Inside the Lives of the Jonas Brothers on Tour.”

Links for Friday

June 12, 2009 Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff , Movies , Music , News , Politics , This and That , Videos | 3 Comments  

Wow – it’s been a while since I’ve done a links post! We have finished up our school year, but nothing seems to be slowing down. This happens every June – I forget that June includes friends’ birthdays, Noah’s birthday, Father’s Day, and Vacation Bible School! It should slow down in July, right? Except of course, there’s Independence Day, and my sister’s visit from the coast, and Dad’s birthday, and Natalie singing at Rendezvous, and….. Can anyone relate?

Last weekend I headed to Michelle’s Friday night for Mom’s movie night – we watched Last Chance Harvey, which was very good. Saturday I did some chores around the house, and then Sunday Michelle and I visited the local Episocopal church. It was a wonderfully reverent service, but not a church for a family with children. There were only sixteen people in the service – including Michelle and I and the priest and the organist! Not sure if I’ll be able to try a new church this Sunday or not, since Kevin is thinking of taking Noah on an overnight fishing trip Saturday night, and I usually don’t take the kids with me on the first visit to a new church.

We spent this week at the park, mostly. I’ve been working on getting as much lesson-planning done as I possibly can, since I won’t have my curriculum until the beginning of August. I also wrote up the kids’ end-of-year reviews and packed away the years’ work and records and assessment results away into storage, making room on the shelves for the new stuff.

Last night, all four kids were at various sleepovers. It’s amazing how quiet this house is with no kids in it! The two oldest boys came home while I was at Michelle’s picking Josiah up this afternoon, and I come home to two boys completely conked out on the couch. They slept until 6 pm! Turns out they stayed up until 4 am and then woke up at 8. They played on a zipline, jumped on a trampoline, caught snakes and tadpoles in the pond, and played X-Box. A thoroughly boy-style slumber party.

Tomorrow morning, Josiah has a Tae Kwon Do promotion, trying for his yellow belt. My only other plans for the weekend are to get caught up on laundry before we run out of things to wear.

Here’s what’s been going on at Books and Movies lately:

~ My favorite memoirs, part two
~ Book Review: Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center
~ Book Review: The Sense of Paper by Taylor Holden
~ Book Review: Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton
~ Book Review: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
~ Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
~ My favorite contemporary fiction, part one
~ My favorite contemporary fiction, part two

Other links:

~ Short film: Validation, starring TJ Thyne from Bones.

~ Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program – if your kids read eight books this summer, they get a coupon for a free paperback.

~ 100 Best Movie Lines in 200 Seconds.

~ My Friend Amy is giving away a copy of Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn.

~ If you ever watched Saved By the Bell, you must watch this. (Go ahead, I won’t tell anyone.)

~ The theater major (read: geek) in me will be watching Chess in Concert on PBS this Wednesday. Starring Josh Groban and Idina Menzel!

~ The theater major in me is very sad to read that WSU is cutting their Department of Theater and Music. (This is where I attended, but didn’t quite graduate.)

~ NY Times: The Case for Working With Your Hands.

~ Is Anyone Minding the Store at the Federal Reserve?

~ Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Links for Friday – April 17, 2009

April 17, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Homeschooling , Movies , Music , News , Television | 4 Comments  

What a week! We’re on Spring Break this week, which has translated into more reading time than normal – but not as much as I would have liked. We’re also working on a refinance on our house, which has taken time gathering paperwork and talking on the phone. Then two days ago, I was notified that is no longer paying their bloggers per post. Not that I was making a lot anyway – $1 per post – but was always told that if I built my traffic up, that amount would go up. Well, I increased my traffic by 500%, but they cut me anyway – and when I logged onto the forum to see what was up, I discovered it wasn’t only me.

Kevin has been working on his own domain and web hosting, though, so I’ve moved to his domain, and he has customized my template for me. Books and Movies is the new home – and that’s where I will do my book blogging and some movie talk. This blog will continue as my personal blog where I will write about my life, parenting, homeschooling, DVD reviews, and links of interest – as well as whatever else pops into this brain. :)

Anyway, starting a new blog from scratch – and moving all links, sidebar info, etc. – as well as notifying everyone of the change because won’t let me post a link re-directing my readers – has taken a ton of time this week. I’m glad it’s pretty much done.

We were planning to take the kids to the lake to go bike riding and practice archery, but it’s been raining all day. Tomorrow’s supposed to be nicer, so we’ll try again. The kids have been enjoying days with no schoolwork, afternoons at the park or indoor pool, and extra gaming time. They’re not happy that spring break is only one week, though, and it’s back to normal on Monday. Only two months till summer break!

~ I know most of you have already seen Susan Boyle’s amazing performance on Britain’s Got Talent, but I had to post it anyway. I can’t watch it without tearing up!

~ China’s “one child” policy – and the resultant selective abortion of girl babies – has resulted in a 32 million surplus of males under the age of 20. 32 million extra boys and men!

~ Proof that the world of mommy blogs is pretty amazing and full of wonderful people.

~ The Weird Homeschooler: Myth or Fact?

~ Mel Gibson’s wife files for divorce after 28 years and seven children.

~ Check out the cast of the film adaptation of New Moon.

Links for Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6, 2009 Categories: Books , Contests , Faith , Movies , Music , This and That , Writing | 1 Comment  

Whew, this week has just whizzed by! We’re all feeling better, mostly over the creeping crud, thank goodness. I don’t have a lot planned for my weekend, but on Monday I (finally) have my appointment with the neurologist about my headaches. His office is called The Headache Clinic, so he should be able to help, right? I’m optimistic. I’m going to take Natalie with me so the day isn’t completely a drag – we might even stop at Barnes & Noble on the way home, though mostly just to browse and pick up the third 39 Clues book for Noah.

If your weekend includes time for surfing, here are some links to check out:

~ Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? has compiled a list of the books book bloggers considered their best read of 2008. Lots of good titles there.

~ Take Your Vitamin Z posted about how Mark Driscoll handles family devotions at dinner time. This actually seems like a relatively painless approach – we may give it a try.

~ Ever wanted to find out what book bloggers think about a particular book? Fyrefly has created a custom Google search of book blogs.

~ Are you jonesing for a Harry Potter fix? The Leaky Cauldron has a First Look video with highlights from the upcoming Half Blood Prince film.

~ There’s still time to enter my giveaway for Good Egg.

~ For you writerly types, here’s a great article on procrastination by Janet from Quoth the Maven.

~ The Sacred Sandwich imagines the reaction if the book of Galatians was published in Christianity Today.

~ This is one comeback I could do without.

At Books and Movies lately:

~ A list of our favorite read-alouds in the past couple of years.

~ If you read this before midnight Pacific Standard Time, there’s still time to enter my giveaway of Interred With Their Bones, Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story, and The Read-Aloud Handbook.

~ I’ve joined The Classics Challenge 2009.

Links for Friday

October 9, 2008 Categories: Books , Contests , Kid Stuff , Music , Politics , Writing | 6 Comments  

Another weekend without a whole lot planned. Which is good, since on Thursday we head to Portland for a long weekend. The kids will take part in a Tae Kwon Do tournament, and we will visit Kevin’s mom and brother and dad and my grandma, who I haven’t seen in person for over 6 years. The last time we were together, Josiah was a baby, and now he’s reading, taking Tae Kwon Do, and missing his top front teeth! I have to get Kevin to take a picture so I can show you, it’s the most adorable thing. It’s funny how much it changes his speech, too. He’s reading independently now, but often stops and says, “Mom, what does this spell?” but I have trouble determining which letters he’s saying.


Winner of Now, That’s What I Call Country

September 15, 2008 Categories: Contests , Music | Comments Off  

(Now, That’s What I Call Country was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of this review and giveaway.)


Thanks, everyone for playing. The winner of the Now, That’s What I Call Country CD is…


Watch your e-mail, Nicole, because I’ll be contacting you for mailing information.

Review – and Giveaway! of Now, That’s What I Call Country

September 8, 2008 Categories: Contests , Music | 9 Comments  

(Now, That’s What I Call Country was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of this review and giveaway.)


The world’s best selling multi-artist album series, NOW That’s What I Call Music!, is releasing the highly anticipated compilation of today’s hottest country hits on August 26. NOW That’s What I Call Country will feature 20 hit songs from the superstars of country music as well as the best new artists in the format. This collection contains 15 Top-5 singles.

NOW That’s What I Call Country is the first country music project for the respected and hugely successful NOW That’s What I Call Music! series of compilation albums, which have collectively sold nearly 70 million units in the US in the last 10 years.

I love country music – have ever since I was a kid. I listen to it often, but have to be careful in the car, now that the kids understand more of the lyrics and have flawless memories when it comes to inappropriate songs. :) I still love it, though, so I jumped at the chance to review this CD.

Since it’s a compilation CD, I enjoyed most of the songs, and others are just okay. Here’s the complete track listing.

1. All-American Girl, Carrie Underwood – Love this song. I loved Carrie on American Idol and her music is fun to sing along to. Not to mention that she has an amazing voice.

2. Winner at a Losing Game, Rascal Flatts – Natalie likes Rascal Flatts. I like listening to them recorded, but I’ve heard them live, and let’s just say that they have really good sound engineers. Good song, though.

3. Watching Airplanes, Gary Allan – Another major hit from last year. Allan has a soulful, classic country voice, which I like.

4. Because of You, Reba McEntire with Kelly Clarkson – Great song. I think I like Kelly alone on this one better, but it does work as a duet.

5. Everybody, Keith Urban – Urban is so perfect for country music, it’s hard to remember he’s an Aussie.

6. Stay, Sugarland – I hit skip whenever it comes to this song. Any song that glorifies “the other woman” is not my kind of thing. I do like a lot of Sugarland’s music, though.

7. Love Don’t Live Here, Lady Antebellum – This song and group are completely new to me, but I like it.

8. Picture to Burn, Taylor Swift – We adore Taylor Swift at our house, and have the CD that this song appears on. What woman can’t relate to a song about burning pictures of an old flame?

9. Trying to Stop Your Leaving, Dierks Bentley – Another soulful song about holding on to love. Bentley is fairly new to me, but I like his stuff. Free and Easy Down the Road I Go is my favorite of his.

10. All My Friends Say, Luke Bryan – Catchy tune, touchy subject matter – getting wasted. Not like that’s not a frequent topic in country music. :)

11. Letter to Me, Brad Paisley – Paisley seems to be one of the most witty and clever songwriters in country music right now (Online, Alcohol, I’m Gonna Miss Her). What would you put in a letter to your teenaged self?

12. I Saw God Today, George Strait – This guy is amazing – he’s been around since I was a kid. I remember visiting my grandparents when I was a young girl, and hearing All My Exes Live in Texas. I Saw God Today is another hit.

13. That Song in My Head, Julianne Hough – She’s new to me, but I’d love to hear more of her stuff, cause I love this song.

14. As If, Sara Evans – I’ve been an Evans fan since Born to Fly.

15. Don’t Blink, Kenny Chesney – Good song about enjoying each day and living it to the fullest.

16. You’re Gonna Miss This, Trace Adkins – About the same thing, another good song.

17. What Kinda Gone, Chris Cagle – I like some of Cagle’s stuff, but this one is just okay.

18. Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind, Kellie Pickler – Funny song, but I won’t listen to it when the boys are around. Stereotypes can be funny, but I don’t want my boys picking up on them.

19. Another Try, Josh Turner featuring Trisha Yearwood – Two of my favorites on one song – what could be better.

20. Alyssa Lies, Jason Michael Carroll – This song is about an important topic – child abuse – but it makes me cry, so I skip it.

The cool thing is that this CD also unlocks free downloads of some songs by new country artists:

1. Carolina, Eric Church
2. High Cost of Living, Jamey Johnson
3. Hey Baby, The Lost Trailers
4. Ain’t Dead Yet, Ashton Shepherd
5. Annie’s Gonna Get a Brand New Gun, Emily West
6. Man of the House, Chuck Wicks

Okay, now for the fun part – Special Ops has given me a copy of
Now, That’s What I Call Country to give away to one of my readers.

1. Leave a comment on this post before 11:59 pm PST, Sunday, September 14th.

2. On Monday, September 15th, I will use to pick the winner.

3. This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only. (I’m paying shipping myself.)

4. To earn a second entry, click over to my other blog, Books and Movies. Look around and find one movie that I’ve mentioned that you would like to see, then come back here and tell me about it.

5. For a third entry, blog about this contest, then come back and tell me about it with a link to your post.

Good luck!

Links for Friday

August 21, 2008 Categories: Books , Faith , Funnies , Homeschooling , Movies , Music , This and That | 3 Comments  

We just got back from the fair and I’m pooped. I’ve been entertained out this summer, I think. Vacation was wonderful – so fun – but I have no desire to do anything else. I want to start school and have normal life back! But, that won’t happen until after Tuesday, because on Tuesday, I’m taking the kids here. I don’t want to. at. all. But, the kids read their 10 hours each (over and above normal school reading time) to earn their free tickets, so I kinda half to, or I’d be a really mean mommy. Sigh.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow night. All three boys are going for a sleepover at Michelle’s house in honor of her Jacob’s birthday, and Natalie is heading south to Grandma and Papa’s for the night. So Kevin and I are going to go out to dinner and have an evening all to ourselves. Then Saturday afternoon, he’s taking Josiah on an overnight camping trip, just the two of them. It’s Josiah’s turn for time with Daddy.

It’s been a great week, book-wise. I received a review copy of…

The Grift by Debra Ginsberg

…and an ARC of…

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway.

I also ordered the first four books in the History Lives series, which are books for young readers that tell the history of the church from St. Paul through John Wesley. (Book 5 continues the story from there, and is due out later this year.) Westminster Books has the first four books for only $25.17 – 30% off! The series is written by Brandon and Mindy Withrow, whose blog I’ve enjoyed for a couple of years now. Anyway, I’m going to read these aloud to the kids for part of our Bible studies.

Well, Kevin’s come upstairs and wants to watch a DVD, so I better get to the links.

~ Angela Hunt posted this Urban Legend Amalgam. If you’ve ever received a forwarded e-mail, you gotta click over.

~ Confused baby sea turtles – I would have loved to be there for this!

~ If you’ve read or heard anything about the “revival” going on in Lakeland, Florida, this is a must-read.

On April 3, 2008 Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley was invited to speak to the Ignited Church of Lakeland, FL. Though he was only scheduled to be there for 5 days, he remained for 3 months during what he considered to be the biggest pentecostal revival since the Azusa Street revival. To put it mildly, the “Lakeland revival” has been controversial. Claims of people being raised from the dead? Violent healing? Now it appears Bentley is stepping down after filing for separation from his wife and admitting to an inappropriate relationship with another woman…


Yet, when I see things like this, it is just hard not to ask: does anyone still have a Bible and some common sense?

Let me add: I do not think this is a Pentecostal issue. That is why the title is, “Evangelical Gullibility.”

In other words, all kinds of Christians are forwarding emails about the FCC’s phony plan to ban religious braoadcasting, signing up to have emails sent to the loved ones after the rapture, and watching Christian television for its theological depth. For that matter, I have just as many odd people come up to me with “something they discovered in the Bible that no one has ever noticed” after I speak at a Baptist, Wesleyan, of non-denominational meeting as I do when I speak at a Pentecostal one. Furthermore, many Pentecostals and Charismatics HAVE expressed concern about this movement– including some when I visit the Assemblies of God office a couple of weeks ago.

I just have to wonder with Grady if Christians really are just gullible.

~ If you need some Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince buzz to tide you over until the movie’s (new) release date of July 17th, EW has an article with some scoop about the film.

~ Why is it that Dan Brown could publish The Da Vinci Code, a fictional novel which offended many Christians by stating that Jesus was married and had kids, but Harper Collins won’t publish a fictional novel about one of Mohammed’s wives?

“Random House made the decision to cancel its US publication of the novel ‘The Jewel of Medina’ after much deliberation and with great reluctance,” a statement from the publisher sent to AFP said.

“The decision was based on advice from scholars of Islam, among several creditable sources, that publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community and could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.”

~ If you want to watch a slideshow and some video clips of our vacation, head over to Kevin’s site.

~ Hey – it turns out I’m raising three future surgeons.

~ This video of the a cappella group Naturally 7 is pretty awesome.

~ It’s time to sign up for this year’s Pizza Hut Book-It Program.

~ Homeschool stereotypes vs. public school realities – a must-read at Principled Discovery.

At Books and Movies this week:

~ The Sunday Salon

~ Musing Mondays

~ Teaser Tuesdays

~ Review of The Great Debaters

~ Booking Through Thursday