Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Series of the Month: Shatter Me Trilogy

Hey, y'all! It's that time again- series of the month time! This month, I ended up reading 6 books. The first 3 were all stand-alones, but the last 3 books were the Shatter Me trilogy! So, I'm just going to be talking about these three books, and I plan on doing a post about stand-alone books in the near future, so they'll be included in that! Also, if you want to see the books I've been reading, you can check out my Goodreads by clicking HERE.

As always, I'll give you a spoiler warning. If you haven't read the series, don't read this post! Unless you want to be spoiled... in which case, be my guest.

Shatter Me

Our main character is Juliette, a teenage girl who has been locked in a cell for 264 days because her touch is lethal. It's a bit hard to explain this one, but I'll give it a try. One day, she gets a cellmate- a guy her age named Adam. Then, not long after, she's suddenly dragged out of the cell and taken to a guy named Warner, who wants to use her as a weapon for The Reestablishment. Through all of this, Juliette is struggling both to fight back and to figure out how to be with the guy she's fallen in love with.

Much like most other reviews I've seen, I thought that the writing style was interesting. It's pretty much stream of consciousness writing, and so when Juliette thinks something and changes her mind, it's marked through in the text. I think it gives a bit more insight into Juliette's mind.

I feel like this book doesn't give a clear explanation of the world that Juliette lives in. It talks in detail about how the birds don't fly and how the sky is odd colors and that nothing is green anymore, but unless I missed something, we never get a real explanation of what exactly happened to cause this world. What caused all of these crazy things to happen? Clearly, The Reestablishment is the pseudo-government, but it's never really explained what happened to the real government or what exactly the conflict is... I just don't feel like we got a real understanding of the world, and that's a pretty big problem for me.

The plot... I hate to say "what plot?" but seriously, I didn't think the plot was very exciting. The book focuses so much more on the romance than the dystopian aspects, and while I generally am cool with romance in a book (it's typically inevitable), this romance took center stage a little too much for me.

That's about as much as I can say without spoiling anything. I gave it a 4 on Goodreads, but I may move it down to a 3. At best, it's a 3.5. I thought the romance was cute, which is why it got as high of a star count as I gave it.

Don't continue reading if you haven't read the book!

So, I already covered most of my problems with the book, but I'll talk more in-depth about them on here.

So, the almost nonexistent plot... Nothing especially exciting happens. Most of the time, she's basically just falling in love with Adam. They escape and go to his house, then they have to run away from the house. Then they get attacked, Juliette saves Adam, and they find this community where they will be safe. Not a lot happens, and it's a really short book. I just don't really think it was that special.

Also, how incredibly convenient is it that both Adam and Warner are both able to touch her? Wouldn't it have made it so much more interesting if Warner could touch her and Adam couldn't?... Ok, that would've made the plot more difficult to work out, but at least it would be a surprise.

Also, at first I was a bit annoyed with the whole romance. It was so instalove it hurt. But then when they started talking about how they knew each other when they were younger, I thought it was kinda cute. The romance was interesting, but I find it mildly disappointing when the romance is the most compelling part of the story.

Overall, I changed my star rating to a 3. I'd say that it's somewhere between a 3 and a 3.5.

Unravel Me

If you haven't read all of Shatter Me and you don't want to be spoiled, I'd suggest that you don't read any further because to talk about Unravel Me, I have to talk about some of the things that happened in Shatter Me.

Unravel Me begins soon after the end of Shatter Me. Juliette has just arrived at Omega Point and is working to try to understand her powers and fit in with the others. At first, everything seems to be going well, but a discovery could put Adam and Juliette's relationship in jeopardy. At Omega Point, they're all preparing to eventually fight the Reestablishment, but it could come sooner than anyone expected.

Before I get into the spoilers, I'll give my thoughts on it. I thought that it was a big step up from Shatter Me. I thought that most of the characters were developed much better than in Shatter Me. I also liked the way that Tehareh Mafi handled the love triangle. At least it was an actual possibility in this one. I don't think anyone believed it in Shatter Me. Lastly, the world building was definitely better. It wasn't perfect, and I still have some questions, but I definitely think that it was a lot better. Overall, I gave it 4/5 stars because I think it was better than Shatter Me, but not perfect at all.

Like I said, I think that Unravel Me was a big step up Shatter Me. Tahereh Mafi did a much better job of developing some of the characters: Warner and Kenji specifically. I really enjoyed learning more about Kenji, and I think he's probably my favorite character at this point.

I also liked seeing this whole other side of Warner. It certainly made the love triangle much more realistic, especially with the realization that Adam can't unconditionally touch Juliette. I don't think that the love triangle was convincing at all in Shatter Me, but Tahereh Mafi did a really good job of actually making it seem like either option might happen. I even found myself questioning who I wanted Juliette to be with. I'm writing this section before I've read Ignite Me, so I don't know for sure who she's going to end up with. I have a feeling I already know who she'll end up with, but I don't know for sure. Either way, Tahereh at least makes it seem like either option is a viable one.

So, one of the biggest plot twists is that Adam and Warner are brothers. WHAT?! I wasn't surprised about Warner having a power. Once we realized that the reason Adam could touch Juliette was because of whatever power he had, I knew Warner must have some sort of power too. Plus the fact that James can heal himself. All 3 of Anderson's sons have powers. This leads me to believe that Anderson has some sort of power that he's keeping hidden. But we'll have to see. Also, this gives an explanation to the very "convenient" fact that both Adam and Warner were able to touch her.

So, the less successful parts of the book. One thing that constantly bothered me was that everyone was keeping secrets from everyone else, seemingly for no reason at all. I mean, they had reasons, but none of them made much sense. Also, Juliette got on my nerves, but I haven't been the biggest fan of her anyway. She (well, Tahereh Mafi, really) tries to be too metaphorical, and it usually just doesn't work. And she constantly seems to figure things out too late or to do something really dumb and illogical. Here's my personal favorite Juliette metaphor. It's a doozy.

"Sometimes I wonder about glue. No one ever stops to ask glue how it's holding up. If it's tired of sticking things together or worried about falling apart or wondering how it will pay its bills next week." 

I think there's a blatant reason why no one asks glue how it's holding up: it's an inanimate object. It doesn't have feelings or HAVE TO PAY RENT. What kind of metaphor is that? If you're going to try to make some deep metaphor, at least don't make it ridiculous!

So, love triangle. I would honestly be surprised if Juliette didn't end up with Adam. Unless he gets killed. At this point, I honestly think that Juliette and Warner are better for each other than Juliette and Adam. It seems pretty clear to me. When she's with Warner, she's stronger and she's able to actually do things. When she's with Adam, they're both weaker and she can't seem to do anything for herself. However, I still find myself rooting for Juliette and Adam. Why? Because they have a history. Because she loves him. She doesn't love Warner. At least, I don't think she really does. She's happy with Adam. Sometimes the people who are technically the best for each other aren't actually the best for each other. And I think that's the case here.

Anyway, I think it was a solid sequel. I enjoyed it more than Shatter Me, and I hope that Ignite Me is even better. Solid 4 stars.

Destroy Me

So, after reading Unravel Me, I realized that it would probably be a good idea to read Destroy Me, the novella that bridges the gap between Shatter Me and Unravel Me. I'm not going to be talking about how I felt about it quality-wise, because I don't really have any opinions about that, I just want to talk about the character development. Although there's nothing spoilery in Destroy Me if you've read both Shatter Me and Unravel Me, I wouldn't read this section if you haven't read Destroy Me. Just read it. It's short. Also, I'm glad I read it after reading Unravel Me just because there was some overlap between this and Unravel Me, and I'm glad I read that scene in Unravel Me before reading it in Destroy Me. But that's just my opinion. 

So, Destroy Me is told from Warner's point of view. Oh, Warner. I'm not sure how I feel about the love triangle now. I think I'm thoroughly convinced that Warner is a good guy, especially the whole thing about the soldier he killed actually being a guy who beat his family. I mean, go Warner! Plus, the scene where he feeds the dog was just too cute. I'm also convinced that he genuinely does understand Juliette and that he deeply cares for her. Although I never thought I'd say this after reading Shatter Me, I really like Warner. I do. He's so complicated and intelligent and thoughtful, and I really, truly like him. 

Destroy Me has just further confused my brain as to who should/will end up with Juliette. I think this is the most I've ever been swayed in my original opinion about who the main character should/will end up with of any series EVER. I still believe that Juliette will end up with Adam in the end, but only because that's expected. I have this sick feeling that one of them is going to die, leaving Juliette with whichever is left. However, regardless of how good Juliette and Warner are for each other, I still stand by my opinion that Juliette loves Adam and doesn't love Warner, so therefore that's going to be the match. However, I can't for the life of me decide who I actually want her to end up with. I can't. Nope. 

So that's all I have to say about Destroy Me. It's super short, so I'm not sure I could give it a true star rating for quality. I really enjoyed the look it gave into Warner's mind, and I think it was very valuable to understanding his character, and I'd certainly suggest to read this while reading the series. I guess if I have to give it stars, it'd be a 3.25 like Shatter Me. It was important, but I was just kinda reading it to get through it. 

Fracture Me

So, after reading Destroy Me, I went right into the novella bridging Unravel Me and Ignite Me. Destroy Me was intense in the way that we learned so much about Warner and we had all the information thrown at us. Fracture Me was intense in the sense of war and violence and physical intensity. Just as with Destroy Me, don't read what comes next if you haven't read Fracture Me and all the books before it.

So, Adam's point of view. I think that what we learned about Warner's character in Destroy Me is pretty comparative to what we learned about the plot in Fracture Me. I haven't started Ignite Me, so I'm not sure how much of what happened in Fracture Me that we discover in Ignite Me, but I'm so glad I read it before Ignite Me. To me, the two most important details are the incident with James and Omega Point and Adam's belief that Juliette is dead. I'm sure that second one will come into play really quickly in Ignite Me.

At first, I really enjoyed Adam's point of view. I like Adam. I think he's a great guy and that he really cares about Juliette. But I feel like Fracture Me makes me wonder if he cares as much about her as Warner does. I can totally understand his conflict between James and Juliette. It's his brother, for goodness sakes! But I found myself getting a little annoyed that he was constantly thinking Juliette couldn't do it. I understand that he would be concerned about her not being able to use her powers to fight, but in the middle of the battle, he had a bit of an "I-told-you-so" moment, which bothered me. And then, when she was gone, I understand that James took priority because he was in immediate danger. But once he was safe, why wasn't saving Juliette his first priority? Yes, she was likely to be safe because Warner wanted her alive, but when Juliette got away from Warner, he never gave up. Adam has temporarily given up.

All of this... and I still kinda want her to be with Adam. I'm not sure whether that's due to me actually wanting them together or if it stems from my pretty strong belief that they'll end up together. Because clearly, if you think about it, she and Warner are better for each other. Or maybe it's still because I think she loves him and not Warner. I don't know. Once I finish Ignite Me, I'll let you know how I feel about the end of the love triangle.

I guess if I give this a rating, I'd give it the same as Destroy Me- 3.25- but I think it's more important to the overall plot than Destroy Me was. At this point, I'm going to guess that she ends up with Adam. Or maybe Adam gets killed and she ends up with Warner because of it? Just... I don't want Kenji to die. That's my #1 request. Not my boy. Please, Tahereh Mafi, not my boy.

Ignite Me

If you haven't read Shatter Me and Unravel Me, don't read any further. I have to talk about what happened in Unravel Me to continue on.

Ignite Me picks up pretty close to where Unravel Me left off. Warner has just saved Juliette's life, and Juliette wants to take Anderson down. And Warner wants to help her. And she doesn't know for sure what has happened to any of her friends from Omega Point. 

I think that's actually all that I can say about the plot without spoiling anything. What I can say is that I absolutely loved this book. I put it down and all that I could say was "WOW." The character development of both Juliette and Warner was great. Also, remember how I said I wasn't sure who I wanted her to end up with, but that I'd let you know how I felt about it in the end? It. Was. Perfect. She definitely ended up with the guy who was right for her by the end. And the way that Tahereh Mafi laid it out to explain how Juliette chose that guy made complete sense and worked perfectly. 

My one complaint with this book is that it was a bit too heavily focused upon the relationships, and not the plot. Yes, I'm extremely aware that this entire series is more about the relationships and characters than it is about the actual plot. However, I thought this was a bit too out of balance. 

Overall, I really really enjoyed this as an ending to the series. Aside from the unbalance I felt between the actual plot and the love triangle, I thought it was great. I think I'm going to give it 4.5 stars out of 5!

Let's all just appreciate all of the character development going on with Juliette in this book. WOW. Gone are the terrible metaphors and the child who can't do anything. Juliette has finally realized that she can do things on her own and that she needs to take down Anderson and that she needs to do it herself. She's finally a bearable and enjoyable character.

I wasn't a fan of Adam in this one. All throughout the series, I really liked Adam, and he suddenly became unpleasant in this. I wish there would have been more of a resolution with Juliette and Adam. Not that they ended up together or anything, but that they could at least be friends. 

OK, love triangle talk. I realized fairly quickly that Tahereh Mafi was pointing things in the direction of Warner. And rightly so. After all of the character development going on with Juliette, she and Adam just weren't right for each other. She and Warner, however, became the absolute perfect couple. At the beginning of the series, I couldn't believe how people would ship Juliette with Warner. And I think that belief is justified at the beginning of the series. However, after everything that happens, I would be surprised if anyone remained on team Adam. 

Honestly, I think this is the best-designed love triangle I've ever read. In every love triangle I've read in the past, it was pretty predictable. The girl falls in love, gets distracted by another guy momentarily, but then goes back to the original guy. In this one, you expect that she and Adam are the perfect couple- that they're going to end up together and that Warner is a mere distraction. But really, she and Warner are who should actually be together. This love triangle leaves you guessing for so long before giving resolution. This is probably the first time I've ever changed teams in the middle of a series. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the love triangle, and I'm extremely happy that she ended up with Warner. Especially since Adam has been underestimating Juliette since Unravel Me. And the main reason I thought Juliette would end up with Adam was because I thought she loved him over Warner. But clearly, as the book progresses, she realizes that she loves Warner, not Adam.

Now, the part I had problems with. I started wondering when Juliette's plan to kill Anderson would ever go into effect. I had barely any of the book left and they hadn't even rallied the troops yet. I thought the whole scene on the boat just all went by too quickly. It seemed like it was all over too soon. We spent all this time worrying about who Juliette would end up with, and then once it comes to taking down the Reestablishment, it's over way too quickly. Just a little more balance would have been nice. 

So, the very very end. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Obviously, it's conclusive- everyone lives, Warner and Juliette are together, Anderson is dead, YAY! But then it kinda just... ends. I wanted just a little more resolution. Maybe an epilogue? It almost seems like she wanted to leave it open for more books... which I would welcome with open arms. But if this is forever officially the end of the series, it's just OK. I was happy with everything that happened before the end, I just thought it was very abrupt.

Also: I just noticed that there are no/ almost no cross-outs in Ignite Me! I haven't looked through the entire book for anything, but I skimmed and I couldn't find a single cross-out. Yay for confident Juliette who doesn't change her mind!

Overall Series Ratings

Series rating: I ended up really enjoying the series. At the beginning of this whole journey, I wasn't so sure that I would like it, but by the end, I'd give the series a 4.25-4.5 overall. It wasn't perfect, but it was really great. 
Favorite character: If I had to choose a favorite character, it would definitely be Kenji. He's such a nice guy, and so funny. He's the perfect best friend for Juliette. I mean, I wish I could have him as my best friend. By the end, I also really liked Warner. After learning all about his past and his real personality, I don't know how anyone could dislike him. 
Favorite/ Least Favorite book: As you can probably tell, my favorite book in the series was Ignite Me, and my least favorite was Shatter Me. 
Favorite/ Least Favorite cover: I think the Ignite Me cover is the prettiest, followed by Shatter Me. The Unravel Me cover didn't impress me as much. 

So there you go, my series of the month post! I hope y'all enjoyed my opinions about the Shatter Me series! Have you read it? What did you think of it? If you like my posts, it's be awesome if you'd follow/subscribe, since it lets me know you like what I'm doing. Thanks, y'all!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

20 Day Favorite Band Challenge

Hey, y'all! It's once again time for a One Day Tumblr Challenge! Today, I'm doing the 20 Day Favorite Band challenge. This is going to be just a little different, because I have two favorite bands. So, what I'm going to do is to do it twice, once for each band. Let's get started! 


1) Band basics

The guys in McFly are (from L-R in the picture): Dougie Poynter, Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, and Harry Judd. Danny is technically the front man although he and Tom are both considered to be the lead singers of the band. Danny and Tom also share guitar duties. Tom does the majority of the songwriting, although all three of the other guys (especially Danny) also write. Tom also does the piano/keyboards for the band. Dougie is the bassist and occasionally gets lead vocal parts. Harry plays the drums and any other percussion necessary. The band has been together since 2003 and has released 5 studio albums, as well as several compilations and live CDs. Their style has gone through many stages, from a Beach Boys-esque style, to some orchestral songs, to more rock, to more electronic pop. 

2) First song you heard

Well, there are kinda two answers to this question. The first time I heard of them was when they were in the Lindsay Lohan movie, Just My Luck. So technically, the first song I heard by them was Five Colours In Her Hair. However, I didn't put this into my long-term memory at all and didn't even know they were a real band and I completely forgot about them. 

Oddly enough, back in middle school, when I was obsessed with The Jonas Brothers, I watched an interview where they were asked what their favorite song was. Nick responded with Transylvania by McFly. Nick was my fave, so I went and checked out the song. At the time, I wasn't a fan. I thought it was a little weird and just didn't really like it. Now, it's one of my all-time favorite McFly songs. Anyway, at that point, I just didn't connect the dots between the two. When I actually started listening to the band (and I can't remember when that was), I finally connected all the dots upon rewatching Just My Luck and the Jonas Brothers interview. It was really interesting. 

3) Your favorite song

There are so many. I'll just give you my top 5 so that I don't ramble forever: Lies, Sorry's Not Good Enough, Five Colours In Her Hair, That Girl, and Transylvania.

4) Your favorite album

Radio:ACTIVE, their 2008 CD, is just absolute perfection. I have trouble calling any song on this CD my "least favorite on the CD" because they're all so great.

5) Your favorite band member

Tom Fletcher! Honestly, he's my #1 celebrity crush ever. So many things about him are what I want in a guy. Not only is he an extremely talented musician, but he's also extremely intelligent. He's very mature- he was the first of the guys to settle down and start a family- but he's also basically just a big kid. He collects Disney toys, and has tons of action figures... he even has a Buzz Lightyear action figure on his nightstand. Oh, and he also named his son Buzz Michelangelo... after Buzz Lightyear and Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I mean, just look at this picture...

He's basically just a big dork and I really love that. He's just so incredibly great. I love him. I hold so many guys to him as a standard.

6) Your favorite song title

Hmmm... Most of their titles are very straightforward, so it's hard to really pick a favorite. Maybe Silence Is A Scary Sound? Just because I definitely agree with that statement.

7) Your favorite album title

I really like that they named their greatest hits CD Memory Lane, not just because of the actual meaning of the phrase but because that's the name of one of the songs on their 2005 CD, Wonderland... So the title itself is even a throwback. I just think that was a great naming decision.

8) Your favorite lyrics

I'm not sure I can choose just one single lyric. There are just too many great lyrics to just choose one. So maybe I'll go with "Galaxy Defenders stay forever" from Star Girl. The McFly fanbase started to be called the Galaxy Defenders after that song was released, so it's taken on a meaning past what anyone planned it to be.

9) Your favorite photo of the band

Honestly, my favorite picture of the band is usually whatever picture is current where they all look good... which is why I chose the picture of them above all of these questions. So basically that picture is my current favorite of them. 

10) Your favorite album cover

I've always really liked this cover... regardless of the feelings I have about the actual CD. It just looks so dynamic and I think it looks super cool and I love that Tom is the most prominent one rather than Danny. Above The Noise is also one of my favorite McFly album titles.

11) Best song-related memory

I'd probably have to go with a Christmas-time road trip where I first really fell in love with McFly. I'd had their music on my iPod, and they were in my top 10 bands, but on one road trip I listened to some of the songs I'd just skipped over before and really fell in love. After that, they quickly rose to become one of my favorites. 

12) Worst song- related memory

When my Grandpa passed away, I spent the entire 8 hour car ride sitting in the car and just listening to McFly to try to make myself feel better. Usually, I spend road trips reading or watching a DVD, but I couldn't really do anything except for just sit and listen to McFly. It was a really upsetting time for me, but McFly really helped me feel better. 

13) Best song

I think that technically speaking, their best song is She Falls Asleep (Both Parts 1 &2). It's so beautiful with the orchestra and Tom's vocals. I think it's just so beautiful.

14) Worst song

I don't think I could really name a "worst" song, because even the ones I don't like as much are still good songs. But the one I would say is probably my least favorite McFly song is Hypnotised from their debut (2004) CD, Room On The 3rd Floor. I just don't really listen to it or like it as much as some of their other songs. 

15) Best album

Honestly, I think that Radio:ACTIVE is not only my favorite CD, but their best CD. It's really cohesive, but also has variety that keeps it interesting. It's just a great CD.

16) Worst album

Yep, their most recent studio album (how sad is it that 2010 is their newest?!) is the one that I think is their worst. It's just too overproduced. Even they said they weren't happy with the way the album was produced. I just hope that they rebound from this CD when they release their 6th album... whenever we finally get it. 

17) Most-played song

On my iTunes, the most played McFly song is Lies. However, on my old iTunes, I think it was second to Five Colours In Her Hair. But either way, Lies is the most played song on my iTunes currently. 

18) Least-played song

I went with just the ones on the studio albums, and of those, the least played is Party Girl from Above The Noise. I think on my old iTunes, the least played was The Ballad of Paul K from Wonderland, but I definitely like that song better than Party Girl.

19) Most popular song overall

I'm taking this as the most commercially popular song by McFly, which is definitely Five Colours In Her Hair. It was the song that launched their career, and it's definitely a fan favorite. Also, it turns 10 this year, which is just mind-boggling. 

20) Why is this your favorite band?

I don't even know where to start with this. Obviously, I love their music, but I also really love all four of the guys (especially Tom). I feel like they're all great guys, but they're also extremely talented musicians. I love that they're all so incredibly committed to the band. They've stated that they'd never replace a member who left the band, and they each have stated that they wouldn't leave. I feel like they're one of those bands who will continue on for years and years and years. I just love them so, SO much. They hold such a special place in my heart. 

All Time Low

1) Band basics

The All Time Low guys (from L-R in the picture) are: Rian Dawson, Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, and Zack Merrick. Alex is the lead singer and guitarist, Jack is lead guitarist, Zack is the bassist, and Rian is the drummer. Their parts in the band are much more defined than in McFly. Alex is the only one who ever sings (except when they have a guest vocalist). Alex does the vast majority of the lyrics writing, and often writes the entire song, but the rest of the guys also write the music as well. The band came together in 2003, when they were all still in high school. To date, they've released five studio albums, as well as an EP and an extended version of one of their CDs. Although they have released five CDs, their first CD, The Party Scene, is often overlooked as part of their discography. It's not even on iTunes. I tend to not even include it when talking about All Time Low's CDs, and often call So Wrong It's Right their first CD. 

2) First song you heard

There are a few songs that come to mind when I think about what my first All Time Low song was. I'm not sure what the exact song was, but I'm sure that Coffee Shop Soundtrack, Six Feet Under The Stars, and Dear Maria Count Me In were the first few. I'm sure that Poppin' Champagne was also up there in the first few that I listened to.

3) Your favorite song

It's really hard for me to choose a favorite, and unlike McFly, I haven't ever actually sat down and ranked all of All Time Low's songs from favorite to least favorite. (I know, I'm weird). I've always said that Weightless is my favorite song, not just from All Time Low, but out of all songs. However, I'm not sure that's necessarily true anymore. But I do really love Weightless. I love Shameless, Poppin' Champagne, So Long Soldier, and Lost In Stereo. I'm not sure if those five are necessarily my top 5, but they're all definitely up there. 

4) Your favorite album

I've already done a CDs On My Shelf post about this CD, which you can see by clicking HERE. This got the first 10/10 that I've ever given to a CD. For the longest time, So Wrong It's Right was my favorite All Time Low CD, but then in 2012, they released this CD and I fell head over heels in love. It was so much better than I could've ever hoped for, especially after how disappointed I was with their 2011 release. Much like with my favorite McFly CD, it's hard to say that any song on the CD is worse than any other. They're just all extremely great.  

5) Your favorite band member

Alex Gaskarth! He seems like such a nice guy and is extremely hilarious and a really talented musician. He has some of the best, most epic tweets ever. Plus, to make things even better, he's a huge Harry Potter nerd, which is always a great trait! I don't have the same intense love for Alex that I have for Tom, but he definitely has a special place in my heart. I also really love Jack. He makes me laugh endlessly.

6) Your favorite song title

Definitely The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver. It's really funny, and I really want to know how they chose that name, because although it evokes the theme of the song, it's never mentioned in the song.

7) Your favorite album title

It's not necessarily the title itself, but I really loved what they did with the advertising for Nothing Personal. They'd put funny insults on a poster and then put "Nothing Personal" below it. I thought it was really cool. 

8) Your favorite lyrics

I really love all of the lyrics in Weightless, especially these two: "Turn a page, I'm a book, half unread" and "maybe it's not my weekend, but it's gonna be my year, and I'm so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere."

9) Your favorite photo of the band

Once again, the photo I used at the beginning of this section of the post is the one that's probably my favorite picture of the band. 

10) Your favorite album cover

I really love the red/black combo, which is why I have this as the album art on my iTunes even though I have the deluxe CD (which has a blue background rather than red). I just realized that this is a recurring theme- my favorite covers are the CDs I'm not as big of a fan of!

11) Best song-related memory

Honestly, just driving around and blasting Don't Panic. I love it. 

12) Worst song- related memory

It's not necessarily bad, but it was pretty embarrassing and is a really funny story now. So, the day before Dirty Work was released (June 8, 2011), I got my first car. So going to get Dirty Work on the morning of the 8th was my first drive by myself in my car. I was being over-careful and following the drivers ed rules more than I'd ever followed them before, so when I got back into my car, I locked the car behind me (one of the first things drivers ed says to do when getting in the car) but I did it with my key remote. I wasn't aware that doing that would cause the car alarm to start blaring the second I tried putting my key in the ignition. I frantically pushed every button I could find, and finally realized I just had to unlock the car. So embarrassing. But at least I got to listen to the CD!

13) Best song
I'd say that their technically best song is Remembering Sunday. It's so raw and acoustic, and really great.


14) Worst song

Worst... Hmm. I don't think I have a single worst, but I'm not a huge fan of No Idea, Return The Favor, or Too Much

15) Best album

Once again, I honestly think that Don't Panic is their best CD. I think it really demonstrates how much they've grown over the years.

16) Worst album

My least favorite album is actually different than what I consider to be their worst CD. I definitely think that Dirty Work was their worst CD. It was really basic and poppy. However, that also makes it really easy to listen to and to enjoy, even though I think it's technically their worst CD. However, Put Up Or Shut Up, their 2006 EP is definitely the one I listen to the least. I don't think the songs on it are bad at all, but I just don't tend to want to listen to them as much. 

17) Most-played song

So Long Soldier and The Irony of Choking On A Lifesaver both have the same number of plays. However, on my old iTunes, before I got my laptop, Weightless had more than 100 plays. If it wasn't the most played song on my iTunes, it was at least in the top 5.  But on the current iTunes, the entire Don't Panic CD has more plays than any other songs do.

18) Least-played song

Of the studio albums, the song with the least plays is Holly (Would You Turn Me On?). That one is one of my least favorite songs by All Time Low, so it definitely makes sense that it has so few plays. 

19) Most popular song overall

Commercially, I think that Dear Maria, Count Me In and Weightless are the two most popular songs. I have friends who aren't really All Time Low fans or even pop punk fans who enjoy Dear Maria.

20) Why is this your favorite band?

A lot of the same reasons that McFly is... again, obviously I love their music. The guys all seem like really great guys, and they're really funny and talented. They're all really devoted to the band, and once again, the fact that they've been a band for almost eleven years without a single lineup change really shows how committed they all are to the band. They're all best friends, and I think that if one member left the band, they would decide to call it quits rather than continuing on without an important part of their lineup.

So, there you go, my 20 Day Favorite Band Challenge! I hope you enjoyed learning about both of these bands, and if you haven't heard of them, I think you should definitely give them a listen, because they make some great music. 

There are a lot of exciting things happening in the next couple weeks on From Kristen's Brain...! Tuesday, I'll be posting my series of the month post. Thursday, I'll be making an announcement about the project I'm doing this summer. I think that my April wrap-up that I discussed doing will be posted on May 8th, but I have both a Secret Lightning Scar chapter and a CDs On My Shelf post between now and then. If you want to keep up with my posts, I'd love it if you'd subscribe/follow, since it keeps you up-to-date and lets me know that you enjoy what I'm doing!

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you back here soon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MASSIVE Book Haul #1!

Hey, y'all! I've gotten a ton of books lately, so I figured that I might as well show y'all what I got! I wanted to post this last week, but one of my orders took FOREVER to get here. But they finally got here yesterday, so I can finally show them to you. I bought all of these in the month of April (or right at the tail end of March) so I'm just slightly embarrassed at the sheer volume of books in this haul.

So, here's my attempt at picking up all the books like all the booktubers do... let's just say it didn't turn out great. But I didn't drop them, so that's a plus!

So, since I got them in several different places, I'm going to divide this up into different sections, going in order of when I got them!

Full-Price Books

I got all of these books in multiple different purchases, but these are the only books I purchased either at full or mostly full price- on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

Clockwork Princess- Cassandra Clare

I bought this on Amazon a few weeks ago. It was constantly sold out at Target, and I couldn't find it at any used bookstores. I'm planning on reading this trilogy in the near future, so I decided to buy it, because Amazon was the cheapest price I could find. I can't wait to finally get into this trilogy, because I've heard so many great things about it!

The Book Thief- Marcus Zusak

I got this one on Amazon around the same time I bought Clockwork Princess. It was $8 on Amazon, which is the cheapest I've seen it anywhere. Catriona from the Little Book Owl on Youtube always says that this is her favorite book, and so many other booktubers really love it, so I'm just really excited to get to read this.

Ignite Me- Tahereh Mafi

This is my first Barnes & Noble purchase of the haul. It was a comparable price on Amazon, and I just decided to go ahead and get it at B&N because I'm reading the trilogy right now (I'm right near the beginning of Unravel Me), so I'm well on my way to reading this and plan to complete it by the end of the month. First of all, this cover is just so gorgeous! The orange and blue are gorgeous and it's such a pretty turquoise color on the spine and I love the textured-looking color. Just so pretty. So is the Shatter Me cover (the paperback, not the old original hardback cover). Anyway, this is my series of the month, so expect a post on it at the end of April!

The Giver- Lois Lowry

I got this one at Barnes & Noble as well. It was a bit of an impulse buy because it was only $7. Surprisingly, I never had to read this for school, but I'd wanted to read this for a long time, and since it was inexpensive, I decided to go ahead and get it. I actually already read this. I haven't done any sort of review on this, but I'm thinking that I might do a stand-alone mash-up review, and this would definitely be included.

Burke's Used Books

All of these books are from a trip to Burke's Used Books (a used bookstore near my school) last weekend!

Animal Farm- George Orwell

I've been hunting for some interesting classics, and I read George Orwell's 1984 earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so Animal Farm was pretty high on the list of classics I wanted to buy. I found this in great condition for only $2, so I snatched it up!

Anthem- Ayn Rand

I read this in 9th grade and really enjoyed it. What can I say? I like classic dystopian! Anyway, this was $3 and although I wanted the well-known Signet cover with the light bulb on it because that's the one I read in the first place, but aesthetically, I like this one better. The only thing I'm a little worried about is that there's a little blurb in the beginning about editing, and I'm not sure what exactly was edited, but I'm hoping it's not a really weird edition. I'll find out eventually though!

Frankenstein- Mary Shelley

Yet another classic! This was on the list of classics I wanted to read, and since it was $1.50, I couldn't pass it up. It's the same person who edited the copy of Anthem that I have, so hopefully this one is edited well. Anyway, I don't plan on picking this one up to read it for a while, but I couldn't pass up that super low pricetag.

Speak- Laurie Halse Anderson

Although I haven't heard a lot about this book lately, I remember hearing a lot about it not that long ago. I know it's considered by many to be a YA contemporary classic. I've always liked this cover, and it was only $4. Surprisingly, this was the most expensive book I bought on this trip. 

The Last Olympian- Rick Riordan

I started this series back when there were only three books in it. I never continued on once the fourth and fifth book came out, but I did end up buying the fourth book at some point. This was the only one I was missing, and since it was only $4 and in good condition, I decided to go ahead and get it. Maybe I can marathon this series later in the year!

Dear Killer- Katherine Ewell

So, at Burke's, if you purchase more than $5 in books, you get a free ARC (Advance Reader Copy) off of a table. This one sounded the most interesting, so I decided to pick it up. It'll take me a while to get to it, but I know a couple booktubers are planning on reading this soon, so it'll be nice to get some opinions on this book!

Goodwill Bookstore

I bought all of these at the Goodwill bookstore near me. None of them were more than 2.99, which is really exciting, but the bookstore is closing at the end of the month, so it's my last time to get to go there.

Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

I actually read this book at the beginning of the month, and when I saw this, in this really cool cover, in decent condition, FOR 99 CENTS. This is another one that might end up in the standalone post, so I won't go into my feelings about the book, but clearly, I enjoyed it enough to buy it. 

To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

This was one of the best books I read in high school. For some reason, I'd never happened to purchase it, but I found it for $2, so I thought I'd go ahead and buy it. There were several copies for only a dollar, but they weren't in good condition, so I grabbed this one.

The Lord of the Flies- William Golding

Yet another book I read in high school. I remember liking this one pretty well. It was never my favorite, but at that point I wasn't a big fan of classic literature. But it's definitely one of the better classics I've read. This copy is just a little beat up, but it was only a dollar. So I decided to pick it up!

Carrie- Stephen King

This is another book that I read earlier this month. Once again, I'm planning on doing a review of some stand-alones I've read recently, so I won't go into too much detail about my opinion, but once again, I liked it enough to buy it. I really like this cover of the book, and it was $2, so it was a no-brainer for me.

One Day- David Nicholls

I saw the beginning of this movie with my mom (until she turned it off because she didn't like it) and the concept was really interesting to me, and since it was only $3, I decided that it was worth giving it a try. I probably won't pick it up for a while, but at $3, it was too hard to pass it up.

A Storm of Swords- George R.R. Martin

You have no idea how excited I was to find this! So, I really like the tall, trade paperback editions of the A Song of Ice and Fire. I've never been a huge fan of mass-market paperback novels. 
Look at the trade paperback next to the mass-market paperback!
However, the trade paperbacks are so much more expensive and it makes me sad that I have to pay so much more just to have the other edition. But I found this one for $2.99. As opposed to the almost $20 that it is new. It's a little damaged and frayed, but not too bad. I'm so glad I found this!

Book Outlet

All of these books were from an order from the Book Outlet. It took a while to get here, and I was terrified when it came, because this is what the box looked like:
Personal info is blocked out, obvi.

I was really worried that my books would be damaged because, seriously look at that ginormous hole/rip! But everything was in perfect shape (well, mostly perfect). But I'll get into that in a bit. 

The Chronicles of Prydain- 
#1- The Book of Three
#3- The Castle of Llyr
#4- Taran Wanderer
#5- The High King

So, these are the books that the 1985 Disney movie, The Black Cauldron, is based on. The Black Cauldron is the second book in the series, and as you can see, it's the only one that I did not buy, because it wasn't available on the Book Outlet. I'm under the impression that the movie is based off of more than just the actual Black Cauldron book of the series, but I'm not sure how exactly how that plays out, but I really love the movie. Although it's one of the lesser known Disney movies, it's really interesting, and I want to learn about the rest of the world and see what else happens in the plot. I'm excited to get into these. Also, I'm impressed with how absolutely pristine these books came. Not even a single bent corner. So nice. And the $3 per book wasn't so bad either.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore- Robin Sloan

I've been wanting this book ever since I first heard about it. I love the typography on the cover, but that's not the important thing. I don't read a ton of adult novels, but this one just sounds so interesting. Since it seems to be a bit of a lesser known book (I've seen a few booktubers talk about it, but not a lot. I'm not sure how popular it is outside of booktube), it seems like it's always just a little more expensive. I found it in paperback at Burke's for $15. In this haul, I didn't spend more than $4 on a book, but that one was $15! What? I'd never seen the hardcover for less than $20. But then, I saw this on the Book Outlet, hardcover, for only $7. i didn't even hesitate to get it. This is #1 on my list of stand-alones to read. My only complaint is that some of the back rubbed against something and got something black on it.

So, there you go, all 21 books in this book haul! That was a lot longer than I expected, but I'm genuinely extremely excited about all of these books. I hope you enjoyed this post! I might be doing more of these in the future, because I'm finding myself buying several books. 

Anyway, if y'all like my posts, it would be awesome if you would follow/subscribe to my posts, as it lets me know that y'all are enjoying what I'm doing. Thanks for reading, y'all. See you on Saturday!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Possible New Series/ Summer News?

Hey y'all! I thought it was time for a little bit of an update post to let y'all know what's going to be happening in the next few weeks on my blog.

First off, I'm considering starting a new mini-series on my blog where I post a monthly update on my life. It'll probably just be me talking about what went on in my life the month before and what plans I have for the coming month. I'm planning on posting it at the beginning of each month so that it doesn't interfere with my monthly book updates.

I also have a pretty cool project going on this summer that I plan on telling y'all really soon, and it'll include several posts in addition to the ones I already post. Y'all will love it for sure. I'll probably post about this on the first of May. If I do end up doing an end-of-April post, it'll probably be up during the first week of May.

I'm really excited for what's going on with my blog this summer, and I hope you will be too!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Secret Lightning Scar- Chapter 6 [A Harry Potter FanFic]

“So… what’s the decision?”

Draco’s eyes were wide with anticipation, awaiting my decision. Would I give him another chance, or would I end it right there, as I had always planned to do? Even I wasn’t sure, after how genuine he was on our date. Finally, I went with my gut decision, the first that came to my mind.

“Well…” I began, watching his eyes widen even more and practically beg me for an answer. “It couldn’t hurt,” I said.

His grey eyes sparkled with excitement. “I get a second date?” he said incredulously.

“You get a second date,” I replied. “But the same rules apply, and-”

But my words were lost as he lifted me in the air in a hug with an exclamation of excitement. “Thank you,” he said as he put me down. He put his hands on the sides of my face and looked into my eyes and I almost thought that he was going to kiss me, but he seemed to think better of it and just smiled and repeated, “Thank you.”

 All I could think to say was, “You’re welcome.”

“How does tomorrow sound?” he asked.

“Tomorrow?!” I exclaimed with a laugh.

“I’m sorry, that was too eager, wasn’t it? I’m supposed to be more mysterious, right?” he said, slightly embarrassed. “How about next Friday?”

“Tomorrow’s fine if that’s what you want,” I replied.

“Really?” he asked with a grin.

“Really,” I replied, surprising even myself with my willingness to spend time with him.

“How does tomorrow at two on the quidditch pitch sound?” he asked.

“I’m always up for some quidditch,” I replied with a smile.

“Great. I’ll see you then,” he said. Before I could stop him, he gave me a quick peck on the cheek and hurried toward the castle, probably worried I’d be upset with him. On the contrary, I realized that I had a little smile on my face, which I was sure he noticed as he glanced back at me as he walked through the castle doors.

It took me a few moments to recover from the slight shock of what had just happened, but I then proceeded to make my way through the castle doors and up to the Gryffindor common room, where Harry, Hermione, and Ron were already sitting, chatting on the couch.

“Hey Carrie,” Harry said as I entered. “Glad to finally get rid of Malfoy?” he asked, a grin spread across his face.

I opened my mouth to respond, but couldn’t figure out exactly how to explain what had happened, so all that ended up coming out was, “Uhh…”

Harry frowned, a wrinkle forming in his forehead. He seemed to understand what had happened before I even said anything. Apparently, so did Hermione.

“Carrie, you didn’t agree to a second date. Please tell me you didn’t agree to a second date,” she said.

“Er…” I said this time, still unable to form words.

“No,” Hermione said, shocked. “Carrie! You didn’t!”

“I did,” I admitted, taking in their facial expressions. Hermione’s face was almost purely shock, with a hint of frustration. Ron seemed extremely annoyed. Harry, however, wore the same look on his face as when I told them I’d agreed to the first date.

“Carrie, what were you thinking?” Hermione scolded, her condescending tone bothering me.

“Just because you don’t agree with my choice or understand why I made it, that doesn’t make it wrong, Hermione,” I said coldly. “My judgment is just as good as yours, and I can make my own choices. You don’t have to agree with them.” Hermione’s eyes narrowed, and she seemed offended.

“You’ll see that he hasn’t changed,” Hermione said, shaking her head. Anger boiled in my blood. Why couldn’t she just listen to me?

“You’re not always right,” I spat at her. “And last time I checked, you don’t run my life.”

Before the argument could get any more heated, Ron took Hermione by the hand and led her upstairs, trying to get her to calm down, and leaving Harry and I by ourselves in the common room.

“I thought you weren’t considering a second date,” Harry said softly.

“Not you too,” I snapped, glaring at him.

“I’m just curious,” he said, his voice remaining almost scarily-calm.

I sighed and began to explain everything that happened on the date. Harry sat and listened in silence, nodding when appropriate. When I finished telling the story, I watched his expression, wanting to know how he really felt. He paused before saying anything, and he seemed to be trying to figure out what to say.

“I understand why you said you’d go on a second date with him, and I don’t fault you for that at all,” he said. I could tell he was holding back, because his tone was so purposefully calm and he was speaking so articulately.

“Harry, tell me how you really feel,” I said.

“I respect your decision. Do I wish you’d told him that you didn’t want a second date and that he should leave you alone? Yes. To me he’ll always be that git. But this isn’t about me,” he replied.

“You’re just saying that because you don’t want me to explode on you,” I grumbled.

“No, I’m really not,” he said. His eyes were as earnest as ever, and I could tell he was telling the truth. “I want you to be happy.”

I smiled. As always, I could count on Harry to be on my side. “Thanks, Harry. You’re the best,” I said.

“As always,” he grinned. I rolled my eyes, but laughed. “So did you talk about when this second date is going to be?” he asked.

“Tomorrow,” I replied.

He raised an eyebrow. “That anxious?” he said.

“Draco suggested it, not me. We’re going to play quidditch,” I replied.

“Did he suggest the quidditch too? Sounds like your kind of date again,” Harry said. I hadn’t realized it until Harry mentioned it, but Draco had, once again, chosen a date that he knew I would enjoy.

“No, that was his idea,” I replied.

“Seems like he really wants to make you happy,” Harry said, a small smile gracing his face.

“I guess so,” I replied with a smile.

I found myself once again anxious for the date the next day. Two o clock couldn’t come fast enough, and I found myself simply pacing and twiddling my thumbs, waiting for it to be that time already. Finally, at fifteen ‘til two, I left the Gryffindor tower and hurried down to the quidditch pitch. I found Draco already there, even though I was more than five minutes early.

“At least I wasn’t the only impatient one,” I said with a smile as I approached him, broom in hand. His eyes lit up at my words.

“You were impatient?” he asked.

“A bit,” I admitted. He grinned and pulled a snitch out of his pocket.

“I figured we could play catch the snitch,” he said.

“That’s so not fair! You used to be a seeker!” I said, only partially kidding.

“Afraid that you’ll get beat, Jacobsen?” he replied with the raise of an eyebrow.

I smirked. “Never.”

His grin widened. “That’s what I thought.” He released the snitch into the air and it fluttered around a bit before flying off and disappearing into the sky.

We gave it a few seconds before jumping atop our broomsticks and flying into the sky. I floated along lazily at first, glancing around, but not making a huge effort to try to find it. I knew I could outfly Draco if he spotted it first.

After a few minutes, I spotted a golden shine across the field and saw that it was the snitch. I attempted to casually change my direction without Draco noticing, since he was a bit closer to the snitch than I was, but he sensed almost immediately that I had seen it. By the time he located it, I was already streaking toward it. I quickly snatched it up before he could even start flying toward it. I held it up with a smirk and flew to the ground.

“Beginner’s luck,” Draco said, landing beside me.

“You say that as if I’m a beginner,” I replied. “Want to go again?”

“Of course. I have to get my revenge,” he said. I rolled my eyes, but released the snitch into the air. Once again, we waited a few seconds before taking off into the air.

I adopted the same strategy again, this time flying a little higher so that I could see everything going on down below me. We’d been watching for the snitch for five minutes when it happened.

It began as a dull ache in my shoulder, and I brushed it off as a minor injury. But then, the pain intensified. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t just any shoulder pain. It was quickly becoming an intense stabbing pain.

In my left shoulder.

Right on my scar.

I was frozen, unable to think or to move. I’d known it was coming, but I’d been wanting to pretend that it wasn’t going to happen. That Voldemort was dead and gone. The ever-intensifying pain in my shoulder was my wakeup call.

I stayed in the air, waiting for the pain to go away, hoping for it to go away, but it only intensified. I could think of nothing else but my shoulder. It was incapacitating every part of my body and brain. I had no idea how to stop it, but I knew I needed to get down. I flew toward the ground, my heart pounding in my chest. I could feel the pain throbbing throughout my whole body, even though it was centered in my shoulder.

I was still far from the ground when my vision began to go. The world was closing in on me, and I couldn’t get to the ground fast enough. I held on tightly, both physically to my broomstick, and mentally to my consciousness.

At least 50 feet above the ground, the world went completely black.

Two red, snakelike eyes glared at me from the darkness.

I hope y'all enjoyed chapter 6 of The Secret Lightning Scar! Chapter 7 is coming on Saturday, May 3rd! Hope y'all are excited for the next section, because I'm excited for y'all to read it! See you back here soon!

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