Album Review: Musicassette/Magnetic Memory by Night WIndows

Musicassette Magnetic Memory - Album ArtworkMusicassette/Magnetic Memory by Night WIndows

Record Label: Black Road Records

Genre: Indie

Release Date: April 15, 2014

Songs: 12
good good

Night Windows is a project started by Benjamin Hughes. His self- engineered/produced album (Musicassette/Magnetic Memory) was crafted from the perspective of a young man facing a reality far different from the one promised him in his youth.

A 26 year-old with a bachelor’s degree worth of debt and a series of unrelated day jobs to pay it back, Hughes is a poster boy for the bursted-bubble millennial generation. He sings about being part of a downtrodden blue-collar work force, helping loved ones through hard times, and clinging desperately to his musician dreams which ebb to the margins of his days. With his acoustic guitar, a hand-me-down drum kit, and an array of gritty lo-fi instruments and effects, Hughes shaped this seamless 12-track debut album in his bedroom; creating an album with an authentic tone and a personal character you only get with quality lo-fi music.

First of all, I would like to thank Audiodaft PR for giving me an advance copy of this cd to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Sometimes in life, you just need to relax and have fun. You need you look around you and say to yourself, “You know what? Fuck this. I need to take a break.” But then there’s always that quiet voice in the back of your mind saying, “Yeah but will you have enough time to finish your task?” Although no one really knows how much time we have left, Night Windows covers the need to relax fairly well in Time, the first song off of the album. As a whole, I think Musicassette covers all the things a person wants in life–to have more time and be happy in Time, to love and be there for family members in Brothers, find something to believe in, in I Believe in the Wind, and to say Fuck you as well as don’t be sad in Green Shirt. At least these are the things I want in my life.

As a person with a limited attention span and very limited fucks to give per thing, I expect the music that I listen to, to move me. I don’t want it to be too repetitive and too predictable. I hate songs that are these things, despite how well done they might be, they’re boring and annoying and I can’t help but get annoyed with the oh so repetitive, Home that only has the lyrics, “I just wanna go home. Hoooommmeeeee.” I got the message the first time, I don’t need to listen to almost 2 minutes of you repeating this.

The first half of the album is fairly energized and I really enjoy that. There’s a Friend of Mine and Life’s a Spinning Wheel both start off fast and carry that energy to the very end. However, right at Human Shell things get fairly slow and quiet. The change isn’t too sudden since listeners will get a heads up from Brothers which is actually a sweet song that has great build-up and a lovely message about always being there for family. I also like I Believe in the Wind and how fast it is, the vocals are so smooth and strong and full of talent and experience. Songs about not caring what people think as well as songs about finding happiness are always songs that young adults will enjoy which might be partially why I love Green Shirt. The beginning of the songs is solely talking, a mini monologue that leads into a slow guitar riff and steady vocals.

Musicassette is an album with a message. My favourite songs on the album are Time, Brother, There’s a friend of Mine, and Green Shirt although most songs sing to people and I recommend this album to everyone because Night Windows is band that will help listeners relax. With exams coming up for many people and all those hectic deadlines that everyone else has, many people just need a break even though they don’t have much time to spare because if you don’t take a break now, when will you?

4 Awesome Treble Clefs

4 Awesome Treble Clefs

Book Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

18051349Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Pages: 342 (Hardcover)

good good

 

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Noggin is a story full of bad jokes, awkward situations, and horrible puns. And I loved every second of it. I didn’t feel like I was reading a work of fiction, instead, I felt as if I were reading a story, my story and my life of how I was brought back to life and forced to live in the present when I’m barely understanding the past. It’s weird, confusing, and such a fun ride. John Corey Whaley is an author  that I’ve been waiting for a long time and this will not be the last novel I’ve read by him.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this story. First of all, this whole situation is just too unbelievable and it took me some time before I could really wrap my head around it. No way did a dude get his head chopped off and then come back to life! That’s too insane. I understood that Travis is really confused about this whole concept as well yet I still would have liked it if Travis was just as curious about the scientific aspect as I was and other readers will be. It’s interesting yet not at all explained which sucked for me.

Nonetheless, I still loved this book. Noggin is full of great, complex characters that are extremely easy to like and relate to. Travis’s relationship with Kyle is so heartfelt and awkward. I could easily relate to it and the struggles that Kyle faces to understand everything that’s happening not only to him, but also to his best friend. I also liked the writing style. Holy shit, this is the writing that I have been craving for in young adult books. It’s so relaxed and casual and makes everything seem like it’s happening to the reader and just being told to the reader. I really do need more books written like this because they usually end up to be books that I really enjoy. The best part about Noggin has to be Travis’s last holiday before his surgery. It’s beautifully described and captivating. Imagine celebrating every single holiday in one day with a group of people you love most in the world? I would want that as my last day alive because it sounds absolutely amazing.

Overall, Noggin is great. Although there are a few unbelievable parts and too little information, the good certainly outshines the bad. I recommend this novel to everyone, especially if you’re looking for something light to read with a serious undertone and don’t mind a lot of jokes and puns. I envy those people who can easily make jokes out of anything, especially when they don’t take life too seriously and can make anyone smile and for me, John Corey Whaley might just be one of those people.

4 Dreamy Clouds

4 Dreamy Clouds

Book Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz

18296016The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Genre: Historical Fiction and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

good good

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

First of all, I would like to thank the public Relations coordinator, Annie Jackson/Small Girls PR for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

This book, right here, is one the reasons why I stay far, far away from historical fiction books as well as books about princesses. They are always predictable, there is no (or barely anything) real talk about wars, enemies, etc. It’s all just romance and scandals and who’s fucking who or who wants to fuck who but not allowed to. I honestly felt like I was reading about the girls in my high school rather than an empire on the verge of collapsing. The characters are so one-sided and superficial that I had to skip a few chapters for one character because her life consists honestly, of only money and romance. That’s it. Nothing else. In fact, this is all the main characters care about, romance. Not about anything important.

The novel starts off with a lot of description. Aelwyn returns to the palace after four years. The bad thing about this novel is that it’s all fluff. Like I mentioned before, all the characters are one-sided, especially Ronan (the idiot who care only about money and romance). I could not, for the life of me, give two shits about the ridiculous shit that she goes through. More than once, I had to skip her chapter because I knew that I would give no fucks about what she has to say.

Despite the fact that just about everything important annoyed me, once I shut off my brain, I actually started to enjoy The Ring and the Crown a bit. I really enjoyed the ending, it’s so shocking and exciting. The writing is all right, I didn’t necessarily despise it, it’s well down with the palace and I liked a little French that’s put in it here and there. I also liked the magical aspect of the story although I would have loved it even more if there was more of it, more back story to it.

The Ring and the Crown is can be fun if not thought about at all.  I recommend this one only if you’ve read and enjoyed historical fiction with royalty and enjoyed all the scandals and romances and whatnot. There’s not very much meaning to this story and is solely for entertainment and I was really upset reading this and I don’t know if I’ll read any of De La Cruz’s other series. Though I might finish this series in the hopes that these characters grow the fuck up and decide that life isn’t all about stupidity.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

 

Book Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

17934493Book Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Genre: Dystopian and Young Adult

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Pages: 373 (Hardcover)

good good

 Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I am so sick of romance in Young Adult novels. It’s all insta-love or something close to it. Romances more often than not take over the story but in Plus One there’s barely any romance until about 70%! I’m not kidding! It’s flipping amazing! The build-up, the relationship, perfection! Okay, except that D’Arcy totally insta-loved Sol at the beginning, but it didn’t bother me. My biggest problem with this has to do with the world building and the flashbacks. The whole night and day thing is awesome but flawed.  I also hated that the flashbacks felt more like ways dump info on readers. But as a whole, Plus One is awesome and just what I needed! And yeah, the ending is cheesy and shit but whatever.

Despite how much I really liked Plus One, there are a lot of holes and weak spots in it. One of the weak spots is the world building. Not much of this is explained which is sad because I really enjoyed the aspect of the whole Day/Night divide, all there is on it is that the division started sometime during the Spanish flu.There’s some talk about a rebellion but it’s so small that it feels like it’s put in there just to end ties with some things. I also didn’t like the flashbacks because, although they’re a nice way for readers to know more about the characters, there’s just too much info in those few pages that it feels more like an info-dump than anything else.

I’ve never read a book with such a slow burn romance but now that I have, I want to read more of them! They’re just so realistic in this aspect and they actually focus on the plot! It shows that the plot doesn’t need a romance to get stuff done. Although it’s obvious that D’Arcy is in love with Sol almost instantly because he’s constantly risking his life for her, I enjoyed that Fama doesn’t let Sol take too much advantage of this nor does she let Sol get her feelings for him in the way of her mission. The characters are really strong and well done. They’re all mysterious and I loved reading about them, especially Sol and Jean because they’re both flawed but really do try their best. Another thing that I loved is the French, it’s amazing. It’s not too much that people who don’t understand French will get confused and well done that the French feels right to be woven into the story and I enjoyed that Fama told the meaning of the words/phrases in English so that readers could fully understand it.

Overall, Plus One is a fun novel that has great characters, tons of actions, and a bit of romance. Even though the world building is flippy-floppy and close to nothing about the division is explained, I liked it a lot. I recommend this one to anyone who’s also sick of all that insta-love/too much romance stuff that seems to be taking over YA books now.

3 Clouds

3 Clouds

 

Album Review: Unearth by John Bassett

Unearth-Album-CoverUnearth by John Bassett

Record Label: Stereohead Records

Genre: Folk/ Alternative Rock

Release Date: March 31, 2014

Songs: 10

good good

John Bassett is a multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter, producer primarily known for writing the music and producing the critically acclaimed albums of Progressive Rock act “KingBathmat”. He has so far released seven albums since 2003 and self released them through the record label Stereohead Records. This winter 2013/2014 will see the first release of an acoustic themed album under his own name.

First of all, I would like to thank the record label, Stereohead Records for giving me a copy of this album to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

John Bassett has such a creepy voice. It’s smack in the middle of Patrick Watson and Copeland with his soft yet strong voice that reaches those high notes. Unearth starts off with such a unique style that, at first, might make listeners do a double take (I know I did!) and really listen to what music is playing around them. Nonetheless, I like this album. It’s great on its own but it also would be great in tv shows to give that emotional edge that Comedian has.

However, nothing is more disappointing than when an intense feeling starts to wear off. I love the haunting feel that comes during the beginning of each song, but somewhere in the middle, that effect wears off fairly quickly especially in Survival Rate, Tv is God, and Keep Dear. After this, the songs get a bit boring and repetitive.  Another thing that I have a problem with is that although all the songs are well done and go together nicely to make a coherent album, the songs sound a little too similar at times and makes it hard to distinguish each song from the other.

Still, I really like this record. Stay Away From the Dark reminds me so much of Kiss from a Rose by Seal just with the medial sound and the mood . Unearth is perfect. I absolutely love the overlapping vocals that give off an echoing effect as well as the creepy lyrics about sacrifices. I also love the guitar riffs, they’re simplistic yet memorizing in Unearth, Comedian, and Nothing Sacred. For an instrumental, Kylerhea is very well done. The guitar is brought out nicely but still doesn’t overpower the rest of the instruments like the soothing drums. The mood is so relaxing in this song, like a beautiful spring day.

Unearth should be called Unearthly haunting because I feel the need to watch as many beautifully done horror movies and tv shows as possible. Like Hannibal. Or something equally as elegant and odd. Off of this album, my favourite songs are: Stay Away from the Dark, Unearth, Kylerhea, and Comedian. I recommend this album to anyone who enjoys folk and alternative rock as well as some Patrick Watson.

3 Sexy Treble Clefs

3 Sexy Treble Clefs

Songs on the Album (Since this album isn’t out yet you can listen to Stay Away from the Dark as well as a the album trailer here.)

1. Stay Away from the Dark-4:35

2. Survival Rate

3. Nothing is Sacred

4. Unearth

5. Pantomime

6. Kylerhea

7. Tv is God

8. Keep Dear

9. Something that’s More Worthwhile

10. Comedian

Book Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

18038539This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

good good

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I’m not a religious person and I highly doubt I will ever become one. I think that this is one of the reasons why cults interest me so much, they explore different kinds of religions, mashing them up and manipulating people to believe complete nonsense and stealing their hope and faith, some of the last things they have to offer. The idea of cults in this story is a lot different from the ones seen in documentaries and that’s what first interested me. I was looking for something different and well explained however,  This Side of Salvation isn’t that novel, it lacks depth and a solid back story but I liked it enough. It also doesn’t hurt that the cover is fucking beautiful.

The Rush pretty much takes up the whole story and although I loved reading about it, it makes everything else suck. All of the relationships between David and a family member is floppy and not well done. What makes it all worse is the relationship they all had with John is barely discussed until the very end. There’s no story there, there’s no emotion, and I felt like he was just shoved into the story to get the book to go in the direction of grief. Moreover, I didn’t like the style this book is written in with the past/present tense. Not a fuck was given about the past because all it told me was how the romance between David and Bailey came to be and odd David’s family started acting after John’s death.

This Side of Salvation has a really great idea. I’ve only read one other cult like novel and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I liked how Smith-Ready went with this and made it as mellow as possible but still keeping the parts after the Rush really interesting. It’s not the typical cult where people are completely cut off from the world, there’s a  few children brides, and some gore/abuse. David, for the most part, is a strong character because he’s really flawed yet he tries his hardest to be a good person and readers get to see him grow as a person. I loved how willing he is to give up everything he’s worked so hard for to become closer to something he believes in even if it’s just for the sake of his parents. The religion is really kept to a minimum throughout This Side of Salvation, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it and I actually learned a few things about it.

Anyway you look at this, it’s still disappointing how This Side of Salvation is executed. I mean, I’m glad that it’s not the typical cult like stuff and the first chapter is really well done, it’s exciting and gritty and had my attention instantly but the story has huge holes in some crucial places like the characters themselves and their relationships. Nonetheless, I would still recommend this, mostly to anyone who’s looking for something a bit different to read about and don’t mind some boring characters.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

Book Review: Cold Calls by Charles Benoit

cold callsCold Calls by Charles Benoit

Publisher: Clarion Books

Genre: Mystery and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

good good

Three high school students-Eric, Shelly, and Fatima-have one thing in common:

“I know your secret.”

Each one is blackmailed into bullying specifically targeted schoolmates by a mysterious caller who whispers from their cell phones and holds carefully guarded secrets over their heads. But how could anyone have obtained that photo, read those hidden pages, uncovered this buried past? Thrown together, the three teens join forces to find the stranger who threatens them-before time runs out and their shattering secrets are revealed . . .

First of all, I would like to thank the Publisher, Clarion Books for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

This is probably the only story I’ve read where I really enjoyed the third person telling. It fits the story really well and the mysterious caller isn’t easy to figure out and I liked that. My biggest problem are the characters and how one-sided they are. It seems that their secrets are their whole lives but even that isn’t well described. I also really liked the moral lesson of how the characters face right and wrong and decide which is which.

Cold Calls has a very exciting beginning but almost instantly in the middle, everything starts to slow down and I felt so damn bored. It’s not intense and the mysterious caller, for the most part leaves them alone during this time and I quickly lost interest in the story all together. However, this isn’t the only reason why my interest left, it was also because of the characters who are, some of the most boring people I’ve ever met.  It seems that they don’t have lives other than their secrets. There isn’t much of a back story of how they were before this secret came to be, especially with Shelly and Eric. What was his relationship with April like? We barely get anything except that they have secrets that they don’t want anyone else to know about. The reason for the revenge seemed really silly and I had a hard time finding it realistic.

Like I said before, I think what gave this story a tense, gritty feel for me is the writing and the fact that it’s in third person which I actually cringe when first realizing it when starting a book. It’s awkward and hard to relate to characters but I really enjoyed it here. I liked how the mystery caller is played out in this. It’s not the typical way to find a stalker and I liked that. It sure had me guessing.

Nonetheless, Cold Calls isn’t a bad book it’s just boring after the initial first pages and it’s not scary whatsoever. Instead of feeling scared, I felt like I was watching a really tacky movie about high schoolers. However I still recommend this to anyone who’s looking for something light that has more to do with karma than anything else.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

2.5 Mess Up Clouds

For quotes from this book, click here.