Coffee Days, Whiskey Nights by Cyrus Parker

★ ★ ★ ★

I received an e-ARC for review on Netgalley, but all thoughts are my own.

The hook for this poetry collection is: “A lot can happen between the first sip of coffee and the last taste of whiskey.” And damn if that’s not true.

There is an enchanting juxtaposition between the early mornings with a strong cup of coffee jolting your senses and then the late evening with a glass of whiskey dulling your surroundings. That is where this poetry collection lives. Cyrus Parker discusses the darkest and most beautiful parts of humanity.

I particularly enjoyed the section on 4 o’clock in the morning, “this desperate longing to hear everything there is to be said before the hour is up because five o’clock is for the living…it’s for realizing that in order to live, you must first survive.”

Some poetry collections are more for the artist than for the reader, many of them actually. And I think as readers we sometimes forget that writers write for themselves. The write to be seen in the world, they write to cope, and they write to feel. Some collections aren’t meant for the satisfaction of others. I felt that in this collection. While I connected to many of the poems throughout, there were others where I felt Cyrus Parker speaking to the reader as if in an empty room. And that’s okay too.

I’ll leave this review with some words from this collection that meant a lot more to me than I expected them to:

“i make my morning coffee the long way; the slow way, to force myself to simply be.”

Cyrus Parler

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is an interview-based story focusing on the reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo. When Monique Grant, a relatively unknown magazine reporter, is requested to author the “tell all” exclusive on the life of Hollywood’s icon, no one is more shocked than Monique. Monique and Evelyn meet at Evelyn’s illustrious mansion and begin to unravel the many years of shocking tales and the scandalous seven marriages. The narrative slips into the past, in the point of view of Evelyn, growing up in a low-income house with an abusive father and how she escaped, made her way to Hollywood, and became a sensation.

Taylor Jenkins Reid discusses love and loss, weaving in stories of hard-won ambition and surprising friendships. As the narrative continues, the reader and Monique begin to understand why Evelyn chose Monique for her biography.

Reid’s plot allows the reader to slip seamlessly into Evelyn’s past, then come back to the present, learning simultaneously about Monique and Evelyn’s lives. Within the text, Reid is able to craft complex characters, convincing you that this faux-biography is about a real Hollywood sensation, and you just never knew about her. Reid’s characters are complicated and filled with life, her protagonists are built with morally-grey hearts, questionable motives, but their depth make them more human than most fictional constructions. Reid explains this herself within the voice of Evelyn Hugo, “It’s always been fascinating to me how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.” While Evelyn says this of others, it can also be seen as her speaking of herself, her drive and motivations to get to where she wants to go. 

As the story unfolds, the formatting of the book gives light to news and magazine excerpts within the biography of Evelyn Hugo that rests inside The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, these contain headlines and dates of publication, with scandalous tidbits imagined by gossip columns or celebrity magazines. Many of these titles also contain information between sections of the text, how a situation was perceived by the other world versus how Evelyn Hugo tells her tale, or heartbreaking news you hadn’t expected before turning the page. Another interesting observation is looking at the evolution of magazines and news corporations covering Evelyn Hugo as her story unfolds, they begin with small town newspapers and evolve into the worldwide trending Now This.

The interview-style format of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo lends itself well to its audiobook format, with three voice actors working in tandem to bring the voices of Evelyn, Monique, and the other characters to life. 

Evelyn Hugo is a powerful woman, who knew what she wanted and went out and got it. Her story tells us that fame, money, and success won’t bring you everything you desire, Evelyn’s successes and failures bring with them their own unique struggles. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo may sound like it’s about the rich and famous, complaining about their lives and in pursuit of more accolades, but in reality, it’s the story of a girl from Hell’s Kitchen, New York who did everything she could to escape her life and get what she wanted, while dealing with the harsh realities of stardom and the people it brings into your life. 

I give The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, five stars. 

Reid’s most recent novel, Daisy Jones & The Six, came out in 2019 and is currently being adapted into a web-based miniseries, produced by Reese Witherspoon. Sam Claflin has recently been announced to play the main male-lead Billy Dunne. 

ONWARD 2020 Movie Review

(This review contains mild spoilers for the Disney Pixar movie Onward, 2020.)

I have seen this beautiful movie twice now, and I’ll probably go back to see it more before April. I went into Onward with as little knowledge as I could because I wanted to be surprised. And I was, in the most wonderfully pleasant way.

First, the mixture of old magic and modern technology is so well done. The sprites drive motorcycles because they grew used to the ease of modern technology and no longer use their wings. And there are skyscrapers, but if you look closely, many of them have castle turrets on top, a fantastic touch. There were also rabid unicorns.

Another aspect I really appreciated was the way that the writers pulled in ongoing threads throughout the story. The tail light looked like a phoenix gem, which came in handy. There were several instances where Ian or Barley got a splinter from the magic staff, which becomes a useful tidbit towards the end. And the car air conditioning was a plot point!

During my viewing I managed to catch some neat little tidbits. In the grocery store there is “Cloak & Cola” as one of the soda options, as well as some jerky sticks that are labeled “wild boar sticks.” Here we also see Dewdrop, one of the sprites, eating a pixie stick, which I found strangely ironic. There are also fun store names throughout, the most memorable being “Sir Snips A Lot,” for the barbershop.

Other details that need to be mentioned and should be appreciated is the precision that the animators and artists brought to the scenes:

  • the messy pen ink
  • the peeling paint on an old wooden bench
  • dust particles in the air
  • tiny visible face hairs
  • wet hair during a misty afternoon
  • face oil and sweat when stressed
  • slightly uneven and realistically imperfect teeth
  • sweater fuzz

The coloring and lighting was so beautiful and well done! Overall the movie had a general blue tint, which transitioned to necessary green or red lighting to accommodate for stop lights and glowing soda machines. I felt the passion that the team had for this movie, all the details came together so well.

The amount of brotherly and familia love in this movie! I definitely cried twice during my first viewing, and got teary-eyed in my second viewing. Barley has had the role of big brother and father figure all his life, and Ian didn’t notice, not until much later. Barley does the stereotypical “embarrassing dad” things. He picks Ian up from school in his beat-up van, embarrasses Ian, tries to clean him up — with his own spit — , protects him, and teaches him.

“You’ll never be ready, MERGE!” Barley shouts at Ian while Ian is learning to drive in the midst of a crowded freeway.

“You can do this!” Barley tells Ian during multiple tough situations.

“I never had a dad, but I always had you.” Ian says towards the end of the movie.

Onward is for the nerds. Barley is a history buff, who play role playing games and Ian is a math whizz and science geek. Their dynamic shines throughout the story and their own individual quirks come into play in sweet and inventive ways.

Where this movie really shines, is the power of the MOM. The mom is so fantastic, along with her new friend The Manticore as they travel after the boys, trying to keep them from trouble. With the mom and The Manticore there is a recurring theme of female strength.

The mom repeats, “I’m a mighty warrior,” a few times throughout the movie. The first time during a fitness workout, and the last time in an epic battle.

Something that really made this movie spectacular was the variety of body shapes, voices, and people throughout. There was also a character with a disability and a gay character. While Disney Pixar still has quite a way to go in the field of diversity and inclusivity, this was a start and I look forward to watching as they go down that road.

There is a scene towards the beginning of the film, where Ian is listening to a tape from his dad. He interacts with it as if it were a phone call and not a prerecorded tape. I loved the way they did this, it felt so raw and personal. I immediately started tearing up, even though it was just the beginning of the movie.

Onward was one of my favorite movies of 2020, I can’t wait to go see it again and to own it once it comes out on DVD.