Introducing Then And Always Thursdays

One of my favourite parts about the spring and summer is figuring out what I am going to be obsessing over during the few warm, sunny months we get during the year. This list usually includes everything from fashion to food to music. My absolute favourite thing to obsess over is books. Growing up, I was always that kid who spent her summers going to the library multiple times a week and racing through as many novels and series as I could. While I spend less time at the library now, I still enjoy having a stack of books to keep me company. To this day, I love submerging myself into a good plot with engaging characters, and often end up rereading stories that I really like over and over and over again in the span of a few months.

I am excited that my hunt for the perfect summer book is starting with Penguin Canada’s upcoming title, Then And Always, by Dani Atkins. Here is the official plot summary:

Absorbing, surprising, and heart-rending, Dani Atkins’s debut novel follows a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life … just not the one she remembers.

Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at a top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment, but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.

The kind folks over at Penguin Canada have sent me an ARC of Then And Always and yes, I have already begun digging into it. I won’t say a word on the book right now, but you will be able to catch my full review when it is posted on my blog on May 19th. But to celebrate the release of Then And Always (out May 20th), I have decided that every Thursday I am going to share a personal anecdote about my own certain traits or interests that have persisted throughout the years. It’s kind of my spin on the popular ‘Throwback Thursday’ (or #tbt), but instead of just showing you pictures, I want to share some of my stories of what I loved then, and really, always. I hope my posts encourage you to share your own stories about yourself that have been true in the past and are still true to this day.

This week I thought I would talk about my love for music. I grew up in a home where it was common to hear everything from the Bee Gees to obscure singers from Africa to bhangra beats and then some. My parents always loved going to concerts and would drag my brother and I to random free outdoor shows in Toronto. We would always have close family members and friends over on the weekends and we would watch Michael Jackson video anthologies and Sade live concerts. My brother, on the other hand, was a huge hip-hop head. With my room being next to his, I often fell asleep to the sounds of Common and Method Man.  Naturally, I eventually caught the music bug too.

When I was younger I was more into pop, rock and top 40. I listened to artists like Linkin Park, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani (her solo material), and Justin Timberlake, and saw many such acts live in Toronto. As I grew older my tastes and interests in different genres expanded. I think growing up in an age where the Internet was just becoming this huge open resource and database for artists helped me discover new sounds as I could always look up tunes that I heard on my favourite TV shows and use sites like MySpace and YouTube to find new, upcoming acts. Like so many others, I eventually got into reading online publications like NME, Pitchfork and Spin, not only to find new music but also to learn about music as an industry, in a legal context, historically, and more.

During my years away at university I slowly realized that I could channel my interest in a productive way. I had found this open call for bloggers with Much Music and after submitting an application, I began to contribute to their Red Hot Blog. Through this opportunity I began to discover how much I loved writing and online media. I enjoyed being able to express myself and share my thoughts on music, report on stories about popular culture, and even write the occasional film review. It was different from my academic pursuits and gave me a break from the massive amounts of human resources and political science-readings that I had to do all the time. I even had the opportunity to volunteer at the MMVAs a few times, which put me in the center of the music and pop culture storm. It was probably the first real professional experience that I had had in this field. I absolutely loved working behind the scenes and seeing the logistics and operations aspect of a large scale event. It’s more chaotic in real life than it seems on television, but it is a lot of fun and very fulfilling.

Dragonette at Western University/UWO

Dragonette at Western University/UWO

I became motivated to expand my skill set in online media and started to pursue digital photography on the side. I volunteered at my school’s radio station and covered a lot of on-campus music/pop culture related events so that I could develop my portfolio while also seeing some incredible acts live. It was exhilarating to be in those high-energy settings where so many people were united by one common interest. I loved seeing people get so excited by a song, the rush of trying to get a good photo in a limited amount of time and gaining hands-on experience in a professional capacity. In fact, when I moved back home, I continued to pursue this interest. If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter, you will see that I still go to live shows all the time and review them on a regular basis.

Robert Sheehan at the Toronto premiere of The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones

Robert Sheehan at the Toronto premiere of The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones

This entire experience has influenced me to pursue similar opportunities outside of the realm of music, particularly in film and the arts in Toronto. Last summer I worked on a movie red carpet and I regularly review films on this blog. In fact, this week I am busy attending screenings at Hot Docs in Toronto and will have a bunch of reviews coming out in the next few days. I foresee myself doing this kind of work for a long time because I find it very rewarding, not just as a fan or a blogger, but also as a student of it. I just feel like there is so much that I do not know about music and the arts and entertainment and I am excited to soak in as much knowledge, as many perspectives, and as many experiences as possible. With that said, I am more interested in learning the logistics/operations aspect of it these days, perhaps in the form of event management or internal operation management, but I welcome any opportunity that comes my way.

I have met so many amazing people along the way, learned a lot about myself and done some things that I never imagined doing while watching the Thriller video over and over again as a child. Regardless of the activity and the industry, it all comes down to my passion for the people who so accurately capture and depict varying aspects of life in differing forms, and connect all of us by doing so. This passion was persistent then, and always.

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