The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2)The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was cute. Not amazing. The love story felt forced. There were far fewer games or puzzles in this book than there were in the previous installment, which was disappointing, because without the puzzles and with a cringe-y love story, there simply wasn't a lot to keep readers wanting more. The characters showed very little growth or depth and the prose was just okay.

Overall, an adequate follow-up to the Inheritance Games.

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On Green Day, Summertime Blues, and Crippling Writer's Block

About a month or so ago, I picked up the new Green Day album Mother of All Motherfuckers and not gonna lie, the first time I listened to it, I was like... wtf, this doesn't sound like Green Day.

This is going somewhere, I swear.

Because anyone who knows anything about me knows I LOVE Green Day. Yes, with all caps. They're probably one of my top five all time favorite bands/musical artists. I will always buy any new album they produce, if they ever come to Kansas City (rare, because bands apparently don't know we exist) I will always fork up the money to go see them.

And let's be real, if this Covid thing goes away in time (doubtful), I will be traveling out of state to go see them next summer, because how often do you get a lineup like Green Day, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy? Right?

Long story short, I'm predisposed to love their music, but when I first listened to Mother of All, I was a little surprised. Between the dance-boppy feel of "Meet Me on the Roof" to the weird falsetto-possibly but I'm not sure auto-tuned voice Billie Joe uses in the first couple of songs, I just kept thinking... this isn't Green Day!

But the album grew on me, as they always do, and as it did, I got this idea... I was going to play all of my Green Day albums in order from Dookie on up to Mother of All, and I was going to listen to the progression of their style.


Because I started noticing trends, and by the end of the experiment, I realized... their later stuff is by and large MUCH better than their early work from the 90s. (Insert obligatory groan about how radio stations insist on playing the early songs on repeat and hardly ever play new music. Look guys, I love "Longview" as much as the next person but sometimes it's nice to open up the repertoire). The newest albums though? They're good. They're good because they explore new musical stylings while still throwing back to the sound that made them famous in the first place. Plus, you can literally hear their talent grow with each new album.

Which got me thinking about writing. Because this summer has been so hard. All summers are hard for me. I know this. I know that I will be useless and depressed for basically the entire month of July every single year. I plan for it. But this year was so much worse. Because on top of the normal birthdays-are-a-reminder-that-I'm-a-failure blues, I had Covid blues, a wild and crazy family that was always around, and just the general feeling of being a mother who was barely holding it together.

And my writing has suffered. In fact, all forms of creativity have suffered. No writing. No painting. No anything. I have been completely blocked.

Then I did the Green Day experiment, and I noticed that Mother of All has a ton of references to their early work, but it's still new and interesting, and I though to myself... Go ahead and keep writing about music, Sarah. It's what you know. It's what you love. Stop trying to fit some other mold of what you think people want. And remember that skill grows with every new project (just look at Green Day's nearly 30 years of work).

So yeah, I'm back to writing, and feeling pretty good. I'm working on a Phantom of the Opera retelling, set in a modern day summer camp for aspiring thespians. And I made an aesthetic for it:

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