Book Review: Ignite Me

20522640Novel: Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3) by Tahereh Mafi | Goodreads
Release Date: February 4th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: E-book
Source: Library

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

Tahereh Mafi is one of my favorite authors.

Ever.

And not only because she is a downright beautiful writing style, but because she puts all of her characters through their own personal hell and pulls them out. She takes them on a path of self-discovery, where they learn their true colors, and that they aren’t what they thought they were. In Ignite Me, this talent I’ve always adored is put on full display.

WARNING: SPOILERS OF THE SERIES INSIDE OF THIS REVIEW

The book opens with Juliette in Warner’s bedroom. She’s been shot by Anderson and Warner has saved her and she’s in his bedroom. We see Warner, the incredible, beautiful, my favorite-character-in-the-entire series-Warner, who has saved Juliette and brought her to his home against all of the dangers and cares for her in a way that shocked me. You see this in Unravel Me to a certain extent, but in Ignite Me, Warner continually astonished me. His true color shown through like that first sunny day after the dark days of winter. And with this kindness comes Warner’s love, and Juliette is left in the mess of it all, trying to discern her own feelings, especially after having broken up with Adam in Unravel Me.

This, right here, is possibly the best part of the entire book for me – Juliette’s internal decision making process over Adam/Warner. I don’t think it’s a love triangle, because she doesn’t love Adam anymore, not in the way she used to. She still cares for him, and it’s that feeling she has to understand. Did she ever love him? Or did she and did she fall out of love? And what does she feel for Warner? Can he really have been this person all along and she was too blind to see it? She battles these questions throughout the book, and I think that this battle is what made this book my favorite of the series, and ultimately made me decide that Tahereh Mafi is just a downright genius. She takes Juliette and her world and allows us to relate to her through her emotional decision-making process. And the resolution Juliette comes to is, by far, one of the best character developments I’ve seen in YA, across the board.

And then there’s our other characters, specifically my second fave, KENJI. You want ultimate, hilarious, incredible best friend material? Kenji, my friends. Just. Kenji. He’s hilarious and kind, and cares for Juliette in such a deep way. He’s fiercely loyal to her, and questions her but just enough to push her. He is the person who is there for her, 100%, 100% of the time. And I adore him.

This book killed me in so many ways. But it also gave such an amazing ending to this story. Mafi did an incredible job with this book, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from her. So, thunderous applause to Tahereh Mafi and the Shatter Me series.

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Album Review: The Balcony – Catfish and the Bottlemen

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The Balcony by Catfish and the Bottlemen

I’ve been a fan of the Welsh rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen for about a year now, and this band continues to blow me out of the water, and their debut album was no different.

The album opens with a favorite of mine, ‘Homesick’, which starts the album off to the sound of Catfish and the Bottlemen: drums, guitar, and quick escalations into some passionate singing from lead singer Van.

I got mislead, mistook, discard
anything that I said

‘Hourglass’, the sixth track off the album is a quiet ballad that shows off the acoustic abilities of the band. It’s an emotional song that you can’t help but adore for its tenderness. Right in the middle of the album, it breaks up the louder, more rock-type songs.

‘Business’ follows ‘Hourglass’ and is my second favorite off the album. It’s such a singable song (despite the fact that you don’t know the lyrics half the time because of Van’s thick accent), and I love listening to this one while driving. Steering wheel drumming anyone?

I wanna make you my business
I wanna tolerate drunk you honey
I wanna make it my problem

Rounding out the album is ‘Tyrants’ which may start out soft, but quickly reaches the same high point as the rest of the album. This is my #1 song from the album, because of the musicality. I love the sound of this song in comparison to the rest of the album, as well as the lyrics. “But your divine ribs would help break mine/We hit the ground so let’s hit the ground”

One of my favorite albums by one of my favorite artists. Catfish and the Bottlemen are touring the US right now, so get your tickets!

1-Mar – Lansing, MI – Mac’s Bar
3-Mar – Toronto, ON – The Garrison
4-Mar – Montreal, QC – Divan Orange
5-Mar – Boston, MA – Great Scott
6-Mar – Philadelphia, PA – MilkBoy
7-Mar – Buffalo, NY – Studio at Waiting Room
9-Mar – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
11-Mar – Washington, DC – DC9
12-Mar – Richmond, VA – The Camel
14-Mar – Nashville, TN – The High Watt
15-Mar – Atlanta, GA – Vinyl

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Feb Epic Recs Book Review: Falling Into Place

20522640Novel: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang | Goodreads
Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: E-book
Source: Library

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Jen, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

You know those books where you finish them and you can’t think for a little while? Like you just sit there, your mind a pile of mush?

That was this book.

Falling into Place is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Hands down.

Amy Zhang is one heck of a writer, and this book demonstrates this from the get-go. The plot bounces from time directly before the crash, so weeks before, to after the crash. But the most fascinating element of this book is the perspective its told from: Liz’s childhood imaginary friend.

This unique perspective builds the compassion in this book. Her imaginary friend has been watching over Liz, and tells Liz’s story of high school – of Liz’s virtues and vices that ultimately lead to the crash. Through the eyes of the imaginary friend, we meet Liam, the boy who found the car and stays in the waiting room, Liz’s mom, her two best friends, and the people she’s impacted along the way.

Liz Emerson is such a complicated character. She’s compassionate, but she also hurts people. She’s on the top of her school, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, and she doesn’t love. She’s broken and strong at the same time, trying to hold herself together. She wants to help people, she just can’t get herself to actually do it. Liz is possibly one of the realest character I’ve read about – beautifully conflicted and pulled in so many directions she doesn’t know who she is anymore. She doesn’t think she’s worthy of staying.

This book broke me. It’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and tore me to shreds. You see the ugly and the touching in these characters’ lives, and by the end, you don’t want to let them go. You want to see them come out in one piece, Liz included.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s one of those books that I may just have to reread – it’s that good.

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Book Review: Sanctum

20522640Novel: Sanctum (Asylum, #2) by Madeline Roux | Goodreads
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

In this haunting, fast-paced sequel to the New York Times bestselling photo-illustrated novel Asylum, three teens must unlock some long-buried secrets from the past before the past comes back to get them first. Featuring found photographs, many from real vintage carnivals, Sanctum is a mind-bending reading experience that blurs the lines between past and present, genius and insanity, perfect for fans of the smash hit Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they’d love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it’s here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.

Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined.

I’m usually not someone who reads the horror genre of YA. I can watch the movies, but the books just get to me on a level I don’t like to be on. Therefore, the Asylum series is probably the only horror YA series I will ever read. And there is a good reason for that – because they’re freaking awesome.

Sanctum picks up after Asylum, and Dan, Abby, and Jordan are all reeling from their creepy experience at Brookline. Abby thinks she’s hearing her aunt, Dan is starting to see ghosts and is having weird dreams, and Jordan is just all around freaked out. Then Dan goes to visit their infamous “bestie” Felix, and Felix slips him a cryptic note, and it leads the trio back to Brookline. There’s unfinished business, and Dan, Abby, and Jordan aren’t exactly pumped about that. But what they discover in Camford changes everything – about Brookline, about themselves, and everything they thought they knew about last summer.

THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. *exhales* Basically, I absorbed this book. It’s intriguing and addicting and incredibly well written, and just pulls you into the world of Camford and the creepy Brookline hospital/asylum/place-you-should-never-visit-not-even-if-you’re-paid-a-million-dollars and I swear doesn’t. let. you go. I’m giving Madeline Roux thunderous applause because this book is an incredible sequel to Asylum.

Even if you’re not much into horror, give this book a shot. It’s much more than a horror book – it’s part mystery, part awesome friendship book, and part just plain cool.

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Let’s Chat: Classics for the YA Lover & Intro to Classics

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“Let’s Chat” is my Discussion series on Willa’s Ramblings, where I talk about things on all topics – life, books, music, and pretty music anything under the sun! Please let me know in comments or on Twitter what you think and let’s chat!

Today on “Let’s Chat”: Classics for the YA Reader & An Introduction to Classics

A lot of my blogging and school friends are met with the quandary of classics. They may love to read, but they like YA, so when the assignment of reading a classic comes into their zone, they’re like “WHAT DO I PICK?!” This year I’ve read an upwards of fifteen classics, and I thought I’d make a list of some great ones if you’re just getting into classics, or if you normally read YA and want to branch out.

1. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

This is possibly one of my favorites, not only of the classics, but of Hemingway’s work. Hemingway has a very distinct style – it’s simple, straight to the point, and loveeessss to talk about war and have a good romance in his books. This one centers around an ambulance driver for the Italian army during WWI in Italy, who falls in love with a complicated woman. (Just so you know – you can totally skip the like page long rambles about the war. I did.)

2. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’m in that group of people who hates A Great Gatsby. (Like WHO CARES!? ALL THE PEOPLE ARE STUPID AND SELF CENTERED AND I HATE THEM ALL. But that’s also the point of the book. So.) Anyways, The Beautiful and Damned is my favorite of Fitzgerald’s works. It’s about a wealthy young man and his pursuit of a beautiful young woman, and their experiences in the material world of the 1920’s. It’s surprisingly, downright hilarious.

3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Many people know this book because of Audrey Hepburn’s role in the movie adaption, but the novella is absolutely splendid. Told from the perspective of Holly Golightly’s neighbor, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is about glitz, glamor, and the life behind it all – and what people really are like. It’s a shorter story, and one a fan of any romance novel would love.

4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This is the classic teenage novel. It follows Holden Caulfield and his rebellion in boarding school to his running away to New York City, where he gets caught up in all sorts of adventures. It’s funny, touching, and totally awesome.

5. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Not exactly a “classic” but one I absolutely adore that I think everyone needs to read. This book about the Vietnam War is moving and beautifully written that you just have to read it.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is one of Austen’s easiest to read works, in my opinion. It’s absolutely hilarious (which I didn’t realize going into it) and incredibly engaging. As an intro to Austen, I’d start with this one.

7. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I love Edith Wharton’s work, and this one is probably my favorite of her books. The Age of Innocence is about a man and the return of a childhood friend, and their subsequent battle to be together. It’s funny, touching, and beautiful.

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I read Jane Eyre when I was in eighth or ninth grade, so I think it’s a book that all teens can read, no matter how difficult it may look. It’s a nice gothic romance filled with dark omens and beautiful writing. Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of Jane as a character all the time, I think this book is still a great one.

What are some of your favorite classics? Let me know in comments!

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Music Monday {27}

music mondays

On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

1. Lifted Up (1985) by Passion Pit

After being front row at a Passion Pit show at ACL last year, I’m always down for a new Passion Pit song. Lifted Up (1985) is the same pop as on the band’s album “Gossamer”, but 1985 is just a bit BIGGER sounding. I’m loving it.

2. Hustler by Josef Salvat

Not only is this a super cool music video, I’m just in love with Josef Salvat right now. No words.

3. Decade of Divas – Monument Valley

This song is a perfect homework song for me – calming and a bit ambient. I love the vocals too – just a great song over all!

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Let’s Chat: Mood-Reading

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“Let’s Chat” is my Discussion series on Willa’s Ramblings, where I talk about things on all topics – life, books, music, and pretty music anything under the sun! Please let me know in comments or on Twitter what you think and let’s chat!

Today on “Let’s Chat”: Mood-Reading

To read, or not to read?

What book do I read?

To I embark on the TBR pile that’s gathering dust, or on the shiny new library books I picked up?

This, my friends, is the reader’s dilemma.

This is, also, the blogger’s dilemma.

I have a stack so tall sitting on my floor of ARCs and books from publishers that there is serious dust, and sometimes (most times) it just pains me to look at it and think about how behind I am. Most times, it’s too hard for me to pick a book, so I just end up grabbing the one on the top of the pile or the highest priority. It falls into “mood reading”, which is both good and bad for me.

I’m a hardcore mood reader. For a couple months last year, I had no desire to read anything but contemporary. During the winter I love dark books that are slightly depressing. I have a new dislike for series. I just go with whatever I’m feeling, but what ends up happening is I get in a bit of a rut.

I end up just reading the same kind of books over and over again, until I’m tired of them and then I’m staring at my TBR and trying to decide what the heck I want to read. So personally, I need to work on limiting my mood reading. Forcing myself to break up the mood-readers with something far out of the mix. Like right now, I’m loving sci fi. Throw in some contemps. Try some thrillers. Maybe some historical fiction.

But another side to mood-reading is the mood of “I don’t want to read anything. I just want to watch Gilmore Girls and sleep.” And in this mood, you don’t read anything. This, my friends, was me last summer. (Except replace Gilmore Girls with Tumblr.) And the hardest part of not wanting to read is getting back to reading.

The only way to fix it though, is to just pick up a book and read. And that’s yet again, forcing a mood change.

So, to all my fellow mood readers, how do you combat your mood reading? Do you let yourself read whatever your heart desires, or do you force yourself to read certain books?

Let me know in comments!

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January Epic Recs Wrap Up Review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer

20522640Novel: The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #3) by Michelle Hondkin | Goodreads
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: E-book
Source: Library

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?! #realquestions

I adored books 1 & 2 in the Mara Dyer trilogy, so why did I wait so long to read #3? Probably because I didn’t want it to end. Or to leave Mara and Noah behind. Or to face possible deaths of characters I love. All of these reasons, most likely. But either way, I did it – I read Mara Dyer #3 and oh my word my heart is broken and also healed and ithinkiwasimpaledbyascalpel (there’s an inordinate amount of scalpels in this book).

The Retribution of Mara Dyer opens with Mara in the creepy treatment facility, her brain a mess and her friends MIA. Thankfully, the book gets better from here – we find Jamie and Stella and set out on the hunt for Noah, who Mara believes isn’t dead, despite what she’s been told. In this book Mara becomes kick-ass Mara on steroids – she’s determined and angry, which manifests itself in propelling her forward in search of both answers and Noah. I loved this Mara. Sure, she screws up a few times, but that’s part of the Mara I love; she screws up but keeps going. She’s a fighter, that Mara Dyer.

And then we have Jamie and Stella! OH THE RETURN OF JAMIE. Jamie just makes these books for me. His humor and loyalty make him one of my favorite characters, apart from Mara and Noah. Stella is a bit of a newbie on the scene, but she has found a place in my heart, mainly because of her caring for Mara. Daniel, Mara’s big brother comes back on the scene as well, and I think I may have jumped for joy at that part. Danielislikethebestcharacterinthesebooksever and I want a Daniel please.

Noah. Oh, my dear Noah Shaw. I love you, Noah Shaw, despite some of your decisions, but I love your love for Mara more. Don’t stop loving her, okay?

Hodkin has topped books 1 & 2 in The Retribution of Mara Dyer. The stakes are higher, the confusion is deeper, and there are more questions than ever, but there are also more answers. She ends the series in such a beautiful way that I felt satisfied and in utter bliss. I just love this series, okay?

Tell me your feels in comments because I need feels recovery. (and thanks Vy for making me read this. I hate you. and love you.)

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Epic Recs – February 2015 (seriously late)

Epic Recs

Epic Recs is hosted by Judith from Paper Riot and Amber from Books of Amber. “The aim of this was to force each other to read books that we have previously loved.” Check out this post here to find out more!

“Epic Recs” is a feature I’m doing with three of my closest blogger buds, Vy (Vy’s Blog), Jen (Books and Other Happy Ever Afters) and Aneeqah (My Not So Real Life)! How it works is that each month I will recommend a book to one of the other girls, and they’ll recommend one to me, and then we all write reviews at the end of the month. This month, I’m recommending to to Jen, and Jen is recommending to me!

epic recs Feb

Jen is recommending Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang to me this month, which I’m SUPER pumped for. Especially since Jen says I’m going to love it, and we have incredibly similar tastes. I’m recommending Jen The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin so Vy and I can fangirl with her, and because I know she’s going to ADORE Noah Shaw.

Let’s try to get this going more timely, okay, Willa?

Be sure to check out which other books are being recommended:
Aneeqah’s PostJen’s Post | Vy’s Post

Are you all doing Epic Recs? Are you inspired to make one with your friends? Let me know in comments!

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Album Review: Hope is Just a State of Mind – Little Comets

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Hope is Just a State of Mind – Little Comets

English band Little Comets are back with their third studio album, Hope is Just a State of Mind, which showcases their trademark “kitchen sink indie” style in the best light. With an impressive resumé of five EPs and now three albums, the Newcastle-based trio have established themselves as a band to be reckoned with.

Little Comets has always stood out as Britain’s answer to Vampire Weekend, drawing comparisons thanks to the similar style of vocals, guitar riffs and drum lines that run throughout their songs. Lyrically though, Little Comets win and songs like “The Gift of Sound” from their new album prove why. “Words that fall from stature / Do not enrapture / Chin feels like a chisel / Lost its fizzle / So hold me like a stranger / Absolve my danger / It’s the similarities / That bring me down.” The poetry in that opening verse is absolutely incredible, and the rest of the songs on the album are equally as well versed.

“Lyrically, I suppose the song is just about using language to engage on issues that are important to you,” the band said on their blog about the song “The Gift of Sound.” “…being inspired by the dearth of passion and truth in general politics or society to change things for the better. Just to keep on plugging away.”

A personal favorite off the new album is the titular track from their last EP “Little Italy,” as will be the case among many fans. Packed full of crescendos and unique vocal lines that makes it impossible not to sing along (even if you have no idea what is being sung). “Salt,” the seventh song on Hope is Just a State of Mind is one of the more original sounding tracks. It’s practically indescribable – the song takes you on a journey through different genres, and by the end of the song, you’re head bobbing along with the drums.

“The Blur, The Line & The Thickest of Onions” closes out the album, and as the most uniquely-titled song, it’s one of the best. Featuring dark undertones and beautiful lyrics, this song finishes Hope is Just a State of Mind on a touching note.

This review was originally featured on EUPHORIA. magazine‘s website, as I write for the magazine. You can find more of my work for them here.

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