Elevate Difference

Reviews by Jacquie Piasta

Jacquie Piasta

Jacquie writes for Elevate Difference and Sounds Good Ink. She has a personal blog over at Perfect Avocado. Jacquie is passionate about human rights in general. Other than writing, she likes music, food, animals, film making, being outside sometimes, games, and sleeping.

Nine Gallons #2: True Stories by Susie Cagle

In Nine Gallons #2: True Stories by Susie Cagle, writer and artist Susie Cagle recounts her experiences with Food Not Bombs. For those unfamiliar, Food Not Bombs is a "franchise activist non-organization dedicated to fighting hunger with vegetarian meals comprised mainly from wasted food.” Food Not Bombs chapters are all over the world, though predominantly in major cities. Though this publication is small, Cagle covers a lot of ground. You learn that it’s not easy being involved with the non-organization.

Rad Dad #18: Sex & Love

After a promising introduction I was ready to absorb the essays that lay before me in Rad Dad #18: Sex & Love, a short zine concerning radical parenting with narratives exploring issues of sex and love. Needless to say, this zine made me feel a range of emotions: offended, entertained, informed, and bored. Some of these essays do not concern love or sex or are only very loosely related to the topics in an abstract way. Rad Dad himself falls flat in his own personal essay.

Any Way I Can

Adam Rader is a solo pop musician who reminds me of John Mayer and Dave Matthews. Though his vocals are similar to Mayer’s and Matthews', I consider Rader's singing to be much smoother. Two things surprised me about this "teaser" album. First, there are only two songs on it, and second, one of these songs is a cover of "In The Ghetto.” For some reason, this song will never be put out of its misery. It has been covered numerous times by various artists ever since Mac Davis originally spewed it forth in the 1960s.


What does one do when far away from home? What if you never had a real home to begin with? Feelings of homesickness, uprooting one's life, and moving to a new location is considered one of the most stressful events a person can endure. Settling in another country where people speak a different language and abide by the parameters of a culture one is not accustomed to is just icing on an already challenging cake.

Where Do Birds Live?

There are few things in life better than large, hardcover, richly-illustrated children’s books. As a child, these were the books I most often pulled from the library shelves. Beautiful visuals invite the eye to stay for a while, while skilled writing engages and challenges the mind.

Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power

Author Laura Amazzone offers her own intimate experiences (including the most painful ones) and personal growth in a book that is richly dense with information and observation. Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power encompasses spirituality, mythology, feminism, history, travel, and philosophy. Nearly every paragraph made me set the book down to consider or visualize ideas. In a very tight nutshell: Amazzone delves into the multicultural history and symbolism of this incarnation of the Goddess, offering a model of spirituality and feminism to a world that greatly needs it.

Green for Life

Green for Life is both fascinating and troubling at once. In a nutshell, Victoria Boutenko persuades the reader that people should consume one quart of blended greens per day. She further demonstrates that humans should be eating the same diet as chimpanzees, because "modern people and chimpanzees share an estimated 99.4% of our DNA sequence." Many folks may pick up this book expecting a cookbook; however, Green for Life mostly consists of health information and testimonials. Although a few recipes are included, they are a minority of the book's content, and placed in the very back; these recipes are designed more for health than flavor, foodies be damned.

Red Velvet Car

I've often wondered what happened to Heart. Did they break up? Did they retire from the music business? Sometimes I saw them pop up in the news, but they would dart out of sight as quickly as they had come. I was both happy and surprised to hear them speak up during the last presidential election. However, there was no new music until now. In a sea of male rock ballad performers, Heart always stood out in plain sight. Known for their straightforward lyrics and soaring vocals, the sisters' songs have always been memorable.

Best Lesbian Romance 2010

This is a light, sweet collection of short stories featuring women in love with women. I'm thoroughly impressed by the diversity of the stories' characters. Each story is very different from the next. I read about the lives of queer teenagers, figure skater dykes, gay cattle ranchers, and butches racing their cars. There were women of different ages, races, and personalities. There was even a story with vampires and shapeshifters. Some characters were traveling.

Pirate Talk or Mermalade

I liked most things about this book. My childlike love for pirates and mermaids created my bias for the title. Using an unique concept, Pirate Talk or Mermalade is a novel written entirely in dialogue. An interesting plot is boasted: "two brothers meet a mermaid, fall into pirating, and end up in the Arctic." The quotes used in the beginning of the book are beautiful.

Thousand-Cricket Song

Thousand-Cricket Song is a compelling collection of poetry. My copy is smudged with fingerprints, creases, and other signs of wear from the use I've given it in only one month. I often read one poem at a time, and found myself needing time to consider new ideas or read up on history. The subject matter is heavy; poet Catherine Strisik spent time in Cambodia.

Fairytales and Lullabies

Sol Skugga is someone I need to keep my eye on. Her third album, Fairytales and Lullabies, is a well-mixed collection of electronica, ambiance, and folk. Skugga wrote, mixed, and produced her own tracks. Clearly a collector of sound, her long list of instruments include vocals, piano, acoustic and electric guitars, "electronic drums in all shapes," ambient sounds, synthesizers, samplings of Nordic nature, and rhythm instrumentation.

make/shift: feminisms in motion (Issue 7)

make/shift is a satisfying thing. Describing itself as "feminisms in motion," it is a much-needed breath of fresh air for both our minds and our movement. Deep, political roots give way to a body of thought-provoking content and are topped with flexible branches of ideas, encouraging discourse and change. The magazine itself has full-color front and back covers. The entire inside is in black and white. It's heavy on text, and I like it that way. The layout is easy to read; no "continued on page seven" nonsense here. Pictures are scant, but clear and artful.


I recall visiting a horror movie convention soon after Kill Bill had come out. Nearly every film production table had at least one "sexy lady getting revenge" movie poster predominantly on display. Attractive female murderers are the perfect shortcut to fulfilling violence and sex in films.

Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound

I was about fifteen years old when PinkNoises.com started up. I was very involved in riot grrrl music, so perhaps it's no surprise that I liked a website specifically dedicated to women in electronic music. The writer of this content—as well as the rest of the Pink Noises website—was Tara Rodgers. After years of performing and researching, she came out with a book by the same name.

Holy Ground: NYC Live with The Wordless Music Orchestra

MONO is a golden goose. Their live album, Holy Ground, is a golden egg. With three guitars, drums, and sans vocals, they are completely focused on the music at hand. Both their music and performance are intense and entrancing. MONO's sound is a mix of classical and rock, at times gliding with genres such as shoegaze and post-rock. For a better idea, imagine a movie score set to beautiful, dramatic visuals.

The Bundles

I used to have a Livejournal, and Kimya Dawson was on my “friends list,” meaning I could read her journal entries. She was always a cheerful yet honest writer. Kimya shared photos of her lovely self, her bearded-and-bespectacled-husband, and her baby dressed in gender-neutral colors. I quickly admired this plus-sized woman with body modifications and tattoos, going about being a mother, wife, and artist, all in her own way. Both Kimya's music and overall personality seemed to lack the superficial posturing many other folks demonstrate. Needless to say, I was inspired.

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

Piper Kerman recounts the nightmare that is the judicial system in her memoir Orange Is the New Black. This is a gentle introduction to life behind bars compared to the stories of other less fortunate prisoners. Kerman spent one year of her life in a minimum-security federal women's prison in Connecticut for money laundering. Surprisingly, the worst events didn't even happen within the prison itself.

Bad City

Saadi is in love with music. It's fun to guess where the loops and tracks come from on their debut album, Bad City. Their influences are far-ranging, and combine '70s dance, '80s synth, choir vocals, and traditional Arabic music. The title track is a solid dance anthem. The song's companion remix is particularly hot, too.

Studded Stone Pony Holder

One morning, I was getting ready for school. The top of my dresser was cluttered with various hair products: hair ties, rubber bands, barrettes, and one large "jaw" clip. I was attempting to put my thick, naturally curly hair into a pony tail. First, I tried a rubber band. It was only big enough to wrap around my hair once. The hair tie wrapped twice, but it wouldn't be secure enough to hold through the school day. The barrettes couldn't close; they would only shut over a few strands, barely holding anything back.

10,000 Things

I'm always inspired when I discover artists who are truly enthusiastic about their craft. There's charm in simple vocals and guitar; bare, clean, down-to-earth. However, nothing beats meeting a chef with her arms buried in dough while countless pans simmer on the stove. Christen Grey is no exception. On her latest album, 10,000 Things, she performs the following: vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars, slide guitar, piano, dulcimer, mandolin, synth keyboard, harmonica, tambourine, shakers, and samples. Christen composed all of the music and wrote all the lyrics.


Dreamers is a short and sweet, two-song demo. The tracks speak volumes in this brief introduction. The strongest point is Janyse herself. Janyse's a very talented pop vocalist. ABBA instantly came to mind as I heard her sing the first notes. She carries a certain sweetness, fun, and approachability that is both rare and welcomed.

By the Throat

I have a difficult time choosing music. On the one hand, I have respect for those who are masters of their craft. On the other hand, I identify with heartfelt lyrics and an impassioned performance. Finding musicians who are both masterful and vulnerable is like finding a unicorn. These rare individuals are listened to for decades and deemed timeless. Within seconds of listening, it is easy to determine that Eyedea is a highly-skilled DJ. He blends hip hop and rock in a way that is both seamless and surprisingly unique. For this alone, I give him a gold star.

From The Heart

"Just 'cause I'm laid-back don't mean I'm easy," begins the album. "I am more than just a plaything." I am reminded of the first time I ever waited on a boy to call me. I was sixteen-years-old. Like a dork, I waited all day anticipating his call. My family rolled their eyes at my eager naiveté, and I found myself walking around my parents' backyard with a big cordless phone bulging in my back pocket. Finally, I gave up and called him late that night. He had completely forgotten about me. He realized and quickly made up some lame excuse about a fire.

Decibelle (9/23 - 9/27/2008)

To quickly describe my feelings regarding Decibelle (formerly known as Estrojam), allow me to offer this scenario. Imagine a child describing FAO Schwartz, moments after she's visited the toy store for the first time: "There's so much to do! There's so much to see! I danced and laughed and cried! I met great people! It was the most fun I've had all summer!" I've been sitting in my laptop's glare for days, wondering how to articulate these gushing sentiments more eloquently before I finally realized that the festival doesn't deserve a dry critique.

Please Excuse My Daughter

This is one of the worst books I have read so far in my life. Its author, Julie Klam, is a definitive “poor little rich girl.” After a strange childhood spent shopping and sunbathing in New York with her wealthy relatives, our protagonist was left with few life skills and low test scores. Her mother often pulled her out of school just to shop at upscale department stores; hence, the origin of the book’s title, Please Excuse My Daughter.

Keep Singing! A Benefit Compilation For Compassion Over Killing

Beautiful art graces the cover of this album, entrancing me as I hear Gina Young introduce both the tone and ethics of the compilation. I quickly feel enveloped by the politics and clarity of these artists.