What’s Making Me Happy: March 2017 (Plus, I’m on Hiatus Until April 18th)

The best way to describe my March 2017 would be “a month of two parts.” (Did anyone catch the nod to the Kingkiller Chronicle prologues? *wink*) The first half was still stressful and discouraging like February had been, partly because I was still dealing with anxiety flare-ups. But after taking active steps to better manage my anxiety (including resuming my writing routine), and thanks to the knowledge that spring is here (YAY!), the second half of the month was more productive and meditative. Oh, and busy with final preparations for the Iceland Writers Retreat! I can’t believe it’s NEXT WEEK!! 😀

And now that I think about it, this month’s edition of What’s Making Me Happy reflects that mix of excitement, relaxation, and creativity. So let me share my March joys with you, and feel free to share yours in your comments.

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My Top 10 Albums of 2013

After an unforgettable year of music in 2012, I had no idea what to expect from this year’s releases. It turned out to be pretty good! Even though no 2013 album came close to leaving the same impact on me as some of my favorites from last year, a number of strong albums earned heavy rotation in my iPod playlist. So, let’s get started! Continue reading

To-Mera and Early Cross Reviews Now at Sonic Cathedral

Time for two reviews I recently wrote for Sonic Cathedral! They were published so close in time together that it seemed appropriate to post them in one site update together.

ToMera Exile cover

First up is my review of Exile, the fourth release by UK prog metallers To-Mera. Anyone who’s familiar with To-Mera’s music knows how unpredictable it can be: lengthy, labyrinthine compositions with tempo and time signature changes galore, myriad keyboard sounds, thrash influences, jazz interludes, and Julie Kiss’ delicate and ethereal vocals. Exile is also the band’s first concept album, following the protagonist as she struggles to protect herself from emotional harm through a self-imposed “exile.” This review is one of those rare “Jekyll & Hyde” critiques from me: I enjoyed listening to Exile and now have a better appreciation for To-Mera’s music, yet I had difficulty  connecting with the songs.

Click here to read my review of To-Mera’s Exile.


I had a much easier time reviewing Early Cross’ Pathfinder, on the other hand. Pathfinder is an inspiring debut album by this Japanese progressive / atmospheric rock band that will draw comparisons to The Gathering, Autumn, and Anathema. As I described in my review, “Early Cross marries elements from the gothic, folk, progressive, and atmospheric realms to present a heavy, evocative rock style with carefully crafted songs and entrancing vocals.” Pathfinder also has pastoral and vintage tones, thanks to acoustic guitars and a mellotron. I already like this album enough to call it an early contender for my Album of the Year for 2013. Why? Well, you’ll have to read the review to find that out!

Click here to read my review of Early Cross’ Pathfinder.

I’d like to end today’s post with a thank-you and prayer for Paul Tom Norton, who recently passed away. Paul and I had never met in person, but he followed my reviews and poetry on Facebook and always left comments about my work. He was a great source of encouragement as well as a fellow music lover – two things I appreciate greatly. I will always be grateful for Paul’s enthusiasm and feedback, and I hope his family continues to draw comfort from their memories of him and from the thoughtful messages people have left since the news of Paul’s passing.

Paul, may you find the same joy in angels’ voices that you found in the voices of your favorite singers.

~ Sara