Saturday, December 28, 2013

End of 2013 Book Survey

I'm participating in the Perpetual Page-Turner's end-of-year survey once again! I've filled out her annual survey each year; it's a lot of fun! If you want to join in, click on the previous link to get to Jamie's original post and link up there.

1. Best book you read in 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Click here to view my list.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink

I loved the first two books in this trilogy (Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate), but this one was really lackluster.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Destined by Aprilynne Pike - I wasn't expecting Destined to be so dark and bittersweet. It was significantly more action-packed than the previous books of the series while keeping elements of the previous books in the spotlight, and I loved it.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Like I mentioned in my classics review, I didn't expect to like this book because it's always referred to as some epitome of the American Dream, which made me think of The Grapes of Wrath. Fortunately, The Great Gatsby was fantastic and painted a much better picture than my initial expectations.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

None, really. I think I have the potential to really love F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it's too early to tell since I haven't read anything else except The Great Gatsby, his most popular novel.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Well, I read El Cid by Marcel Charles Andrade, and it's a tiny little Spanish book. I'm a native English speaker, and reading something in a language that isn't your first is always a little out of the comfort bubble.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Sailor Moon 6-12 by: Naoko Takeuchi

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

Sailor Moon 12 and Sailor Moon 6-8 by: Naoko Takeuchi
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

Across the Universe by: Beth Revis
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Saturn) from the Sailor Moon series by Naoko Takeuchi.

Pi from Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It's hard to forget a character so innocently devoted to religion.
Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte... I initially felt really bad for him, but my gosh, he became mean with age.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?

"...we accept the love we think we deserve." - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth." - Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

"All right, then, I'll go to hell." - Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2013?

Shortest - El Cid by Marcel Charles Andrade
Longest - Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!


Not to mention the end of The Perks of Being a Wallflower! Talk about a slap in the face!

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Friendship: Huck Finn and Jim from Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Hotaru Tomeo and Chibiusa from Naoko Takeuchi's Sailor Moon series.

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously.

Destined by Aprilynne Pike

And, of course, the rest of the Sailor Moon manga.

20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else:

I only read one book I picked up due to recommendations, and I wasn't a fan, so I don't have a pick for this category.

21. Genre you read the most from in 2013?

Manga and YA (although I don't consider either a genre as much as a classification).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

None, actually. How unexciting.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

I didn't read any. WTH?

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Destined by Aprilynne Pike: Avalon
Life of Pi by Yann Martel: The Pacific Ocean
Sailor Moon 12 by Noako Takeuchi: Travelling through space and the Galaxy Cauldron

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?

Destined by Aprilynne Pike
Hidden by: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Sailor Moon 6-12 by: Naoko Takeuchi

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?

Life of Pi and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. RIVER OF TEARS.

27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?

Destined. Why did people give up on this series?


I'm only going to do a portion of the Book Blogging/Reading Life and Looking Ahead sections.

Best discussion you had on your blog?

There haven't really been a lot of discussion posts on this blog this year, just a lot of unabashed fangirling.

Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I really enjoy Jamie's reviews and discussions at her blog, The Perpetual Page-Turner (the blog that hosts these cool surveys).

Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Out of my 40-ish posts this year, here are the top (five) most viewed this year:

1. The Great Gatsby (movie review)

2. Classics: Wuthering Heights

3. Hallelujah! Floor Jansen is Staying in Nightwish

4. Top Ten Series I'd Like to Start but Haven't Yet

5. Requiem for the Indifferent | Epica

The results surprised me! My movie reviews usually never get any attention!

Post you wished got a little more love?

My Favorite Television Shows... It took forever for me to put this together, and then no one looked at it.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Well, I finished the rereleased Sailor Moon series, and I guess that was a goal.

One book you didn’t get to in 2013 but will be your number 1 priority in 2014?

A Million Suns by Beth Revis and The Dark and Hallow Places by Carrie Ryan... you know what? Hold the phone. I have a feeling that I said something very similar last year on the 2012 survey...

Yep, I did. I said The Dark and Hallow Places would be a priority for this past year along with Across the Universe... And I said that Across the Universe would be my number one priority back in the 2011 survey too.

2011 survey: Across the Universe

2012 survey: Across the Universe and The Dark and Hallow Places

2013 survey: A Million Suns and The Dark and Hallow Places

Apparently I can't get my priorities straight; the books I prioritize the most are the ones that take me two years to get to. I'm so logical.

Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014?

Redeemed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. I know a lot of people are 'excited' for this series to end simply for the sake of it being finished, but I actually really love this series. I wasn't the biggest fan of the first three books (and then Hunted and Tempted weren't exactly the best), so I'd understand why people wouldn't like it if the series was still going in that direction, but it isn't. The series has really improved, in my opinion. It's taken a long time for it to end, but it's been a lot of fun for me.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?

I didn't post nearly as many book reviews as I wanted to this year. It's not that I wasn't reading, it's that a lot of the books I read weren't really review-able. A lot of them have been out for a while, so I didn't see the point. However, I don't want to read books simply to review them. I don't want to stop delving into thicker books or books that have been out for a while. And I also don't want to refrain from rereading. There are so many books I'd like to reread... The Harry Potter series, The Host, Jane Eyre... But there are just too many books in the world that I need to read. Hopefully I find equilibrium in 2014.

I also plan to put up an About Me page instead of having that little paragraph in my sidebar. (Obviously the page would be a bit more elaborate than the paragraph I've had for about the entire time this blog has existed.) Maybe I'll even put up a cute selfie. I don't know yet.


...Pretty long survey, eh? These are always a ton of fun to fill out and reflect upon the past year in books. I didn't read as much as I wanted to, but that's alright. My TBR is humungous for 2014, but I guess that isn't surprising. When you want to read everything, the TBR tends to be ridiculous. I hope you all have a great new year... I can't believe it's 2014 already...

And, as always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

It's Tuesday, everybody! Time for Top Ten Tuesday, a lovely meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today we were given a Christmas topic:

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing
House of Leaves by: Mark Z. Danielewski
I just discovered the existence of House of Leaves this past month. One of my friends got a copy and let me look at how unusual it is. The text is organized in all sorts of ways, whether there's one word on a page, one sentence scattered on a page, the text forms a geometric shape, the text is vertical, the text changes sizes, the text changes colors, random words are capitalized... It's so cool! And from what I read about this book online, it sounds like a complete clusterfuck... I have to read this.

A Million Suns by: Beth Revis
I need more of this wonderful trilogy! The first book, Across the Universe, had a very satisfying ending despite letting readers know that there'd be more to look forward to, so I'm not entirely sure which direction this sequel will take. All I know is that I must see how Amy and Elder manage more time on Godspeed after all that has happened. It'll also be interesting to see how their relationship develops since Beth Revis is taking that element steadily. I can't wait!
The Killing Moon by: N.K. Jemisin 
No, this isn't just on my list because of the beautiful cover... The beautiful cover is just what made me want to read the description on Goodreads. The Killing Moon is the first book in the Dreamblood series, and the fantasy setting is what's really drawing me in. It's been too long since I've read a good fantasy, and I have high expectations for this one.
Revealed by: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
This is the second-to-last book in the House of Night series, which I can never have too much of. I won't bore you all with reasons why I love this series; I will have brought it up at least twice this month before the end of the year anyway. Even aside from me wanting to know what happens next to our loveable characters, I must admit, I also think this one will look quite fabulous on my bookshelf. This is the best House of Night book cover in a while, in my opinion.
Cloud Atlas by: David Mitchell
It's called Cloud Atlas; it has to be good with a cool title like that. I've always been intrigued by the pretty cover and the synopsis, but lately I've been drawn to Cloud Atlas because everyone seems to think it's confusing. I want to see what all the craze is over and why people have been so baffled by it.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by: Stephen King 
Just about everybody is saying that every writer should read this book from legendary horror story master Stephen King, and I'm definitely going to heed the advice. While I certainly haven't loved every aspect of Stephen King's writing (or stories in general), the guy is pretty good, and he's written about a million books by now. He's basically an expert. And I've never read any books like this before; I really should start.
Fangirl by: Rainbow Rowell
This looks like a relatively cute contemporary. After hearing so many good things about Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, I'm determined to read one of her books. I figured I'd start out with Fangirl since it, well, deals with some fangirling. A lot of the contemporary novels I read are extremely depressing, so I'm expecting that this one will have a lighter atmosphere.
My Life Next Door by: Huntley Fitzpatrick 
 Another contemporary! I've been really curious about this one for a while. I guess in some ways, it sees like a fluffy romantic contemporary, but I'm also really interested in the family aspect of the novel and how it will be handled. It just looks so good!
The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak
This book looks like it's right up my alley, though I must admit I'm intimidated by it. I just know I'll cry. And people keep going on about how Death is the narrator or something. I'm not sure how this exactly plays into the story, but it sounds really deep. I really need to read this once I think I can muster up the emotional stability... Or just save all the sad books for vacations so I can cry and think about it all I want.
Clockwork Angel by: Cassandra Clare
Even though I haven't read the Mortal Instruments series, I'm quite interested in the Infernal Devices trilogy. It just looks very appealing and I've heard that it isn't necessary to read the Mortal Instruments books prior. But, I'm also becoming sort of interested in the Mortal Instruments. Sort of. I tried reading it a few years ago, but I was distracted with other books and wasn't feeling the first chapter (which is no way to judge a book). I'm not entirely sure why I'm gravitating toward this trilogy, but it just looks so intriguing.
A very fine looking bunch, if I may say so myself. Let me know what you think of my wish list and show me yours! In the meantime, I hope you all have a fantastic holiday, and hopefully we get some of the books we're asking for.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best Books I Read: 2013

Another year has come and gone. For each year that I've had this blog, I've posted a list of the best books I read within the year. I've succumbed to a sort of end-of-year-blogging schedule. This year, the meme I began to participate in earlier in the year, Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish, is using this topic for Tuesday, December 31, so I will link this list there when the time comes.

Across the Universe
by: Beth Revis

This is one of those books that I've wanted to read for years but just never got ahold of in a timely manner, but better late than never. This dually-narrated novel blew me away! I absolutely couldn't be parted from it; my continual anxiety for Amy and Elder just kept skyrocketing as I read. The general scenario of a community on a spaceship in itself intrigued me, and the dystopia woven into it made it so intense, especially with such frightening enemies. Beth Revis' mere ideas for Across the Universe were a perfect recipe for a novel. I will definitely make reading the rest of the books in this trilogy a priority for 2014.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by: Stephen Chbosky

I guess I didn't really believe everybody when they said that The Perks of Being a Wallflower was similar to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. I just didn't think it was possible. Still, both books are different from another nonetheless, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower certainly has a profound effect of its own. It made me so depressed the entire time, but my gosh it's good. Even when I didn't catch the revelation at the end, it cut me deeply... But of course, when I found a discussion of what went over my head... What I found out that I didn't pick up on while reading really overwhelmed me with grief - not just for Charlie, but for anyone else who has been wronged like that.

If you haven't read this book yet, read it. Every quote you've seen on the internet from this book will come alive and mean something so much more.

Life of Pi
by: Yann Martel

It almost feels odd to include Life of Pi on this list considering that even now as I think of it, my stomach hurts from feeling so much, but that was really the point anyway. I analyzed this book in my head for days after finishing it; I thought I was losing my marbles for sure. Let it be known that I am strongly opposed to stories that involve being a castaway, but Life of Pi was different. Pi was an interesting person in terms of his knowledge of animals and his ability to be a Hindu/Christian/Muslim, and putting a tiger on a lifeboat is definitely an interesting toss-up. I felt emotional for Pi and the animals in the Pacific Ocean with him. But then the infamous second story is introduced... If the ending of the movie The Sixth Sense is a slap in the face, Life of Pi's is like a shot in the head. I bawled even before it all was told because like anyone else at the beginning of that part, I knew exactly how unbearable it would be. In the initial story it was already really difficult to read, but this was nearly impossible. I was so racked up that I could hardly continue... I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it. But again, that was the point.


Sailor Moon Volumes 6-12
by: Naoko Takeuchi
This year, I read my way through the Infinity, Dream, and Stars story arcs of the renewal Sailor Moon books. I thoroughly loved all three. Infinity (books 6-8) was just as awesome as I expected with the appearance of Sailor Saturn, a character that always intrigued me when I watched the anime. There were more differences than I expected between the show and the books, but I really appreciated the differences in both. (However, I do wish that Dr. Tomoe could have a happier ending like he did in the anime.) I wasn't sure what to expect from the Dream story arc (books 8-10), but I ended up really liking it. The whole fanbase seems to really love Stars (books 11-12), so I was really excited to begin that story arc with book eleven. I must admit I wasn't the biggest fan of the eleventh book, but it really set the stage for the series' epic conclusion in the twelfth. It was so unique compared to the rest of the series. As always, friendship was a huge theme, but it also gave us insight on forgiveness, redemption, and the largeness of the universe. A very powerful ending to an inspiring series.

An American classic, and rightfully so. I was a bit surprised by how much I ended up liking this 20s-based book. Fitzgerald's writing was very flowy despite the lack of commas, and generally just very pretty. Nick Carraway's perspective showed us a melancholy chaos that surrounded everyone in this big city life, and in terms of plot, I don't think the explosion of drama could've been any bigger. These poor characters dismantled their own dreams within their attempts to live the cliché 'American Dream,' and I felt a sense of sorrow for them (except Tom Buchanan; he was a jerk). The Great Gatsby also had a lot of powerful symbolism; I actually teared up at the "beautiful shirts" part. A fantastic novel even by today's standards.
Destined is the fourth and final book in Aprilynne Pike's Wings series, which I have been quite fond of. While the entire series has had a generally lighthearted feel with its focus on friendship, Destined still honors this characteristic, but it's much darker. There's a lot of action and more is at stake than ever, and I loved it. Plus, the love triangle was pushed way out of focus (I mean, between all the chaos and the simple fact that Laurel would have to choose between Tamani and David at some point), and that made me quite happy; that particular element probably bugged me out of the middle two books of this series... I'm quite picky when it comes to love triangles. I don't like them easily. Anyway, I became quite emotional at the bittersweet, all-too-realistic ending. Destined took a turn I never expected from this series. Aprilynne Pike did a fabulous job!

by: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

I can hear you. "SHE'S GOT TO BE KIDDING!" you exclaimed. But I'm not.  Everyone loves to hate the House of Night series; I realize this fact - but I don't get it (well, I'm theorizing that people want to finish the series despite not liking it that much and are just exasperated considering that Hidden is the tenth book), and I don't care. I freaking love these books. I wasn't the craziest about them at first, but after a while they just kept getting better and better. They're just so much fun! I love how magical and elemental they are, I love how the characters have grown, I love the theme of forgiveness... Hidden was such a cool installment. Quit judging me!

So, those were the highlights of my year in reading. I think it's a pretty interesting bunch, if I may say so myself. I didn't get to read nearly as much as I wanted this year since some of these masterpieces (particularly Life of Pi and The Perks of Being a Wallflower) required post-reading recovery time, so my reading list for next year is a bit large. Anyway, I hope you're all enjoying the holiday season and all the end-of-year blogging wrap-ups that many of us are reading and writing. There's more to come from my end! And make sure you guys share your lists with me too and let me know what you thought of mine. Yay!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 13 Singles of 2013 Countdown

Today marks the beginning of my craze of lists for the end of the year, starting with music. Fun, fun, fun! Last year, I put up a few different posts of my favorite singles from the year because I was just experiencing too much difficulty in compiling them in an organized manner, but be proud: This year I did it countdown style. I definitely got some new favorite songs in 2013, a combination of the meaningful and the playful. I hope you did too.
For those reading this list later, please keep in mind that this list was compiled before "Dangerous" by Within Temptation and Howard Jones was officially released. We got to hear a snippet when Sharon den Adel visited Rock Antenne, and from what we could hear, it definitely sounds like that song would've been on this list, and likely within the top five.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
"I Love It" - Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX
I don't care. I love it.

'Nuff said. A catchy, freaking awesome pop song that makes me hyper. Sure, it's repetitive and has a lot of sing-yelling, but it works. "I Love It" comes on the radio, and suddenly, zero craps are given.

"Out of Sight" - The Bloody Beetroots ft. Paul McCartney and Youth
If you haven't seen the Bloody Beetroots before, you're probably looking at this YouTube thingy wondering "Is this Spiderman? Why is Paul McCartney hanging out with Spiderman?" This song is just as different as you may expect, combining elements of rock with modern pop with grungy vocals, bluesy piano, and a cool synth line with prominent drums. Sound like a clustersnub? Well, there's also a children's choir contributing, which may be one of the song's best elements. I took only a short time to grow on me after seeing this video on VH1. Really, what's not to like?

"My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'em Up)" - Fall Out Boy
I didn't realize how much I missed Fall Out Boy's music until they came back with "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'em Up)," which found a spot on both rock radio and pop radio in typical Fall Out Boy fashion. The sound has more electronic elements than I'm used to hearing from Fall Out Boy, but the change certainly doesn't make the band unrecognizable.


"Get Lucky" - Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams
If you would've told me that this song would be on my best-of countdown when it first came out, I would've called you an idiot. I saw absolutely nothing special about "Get Lucky," just like I never saw anything special about Daft Punk's earlier work (other than their intriguing image). I didn't understand the hype at all. But one day, it just clicked, and now I think of it as one of the catchiest songs of the year - especially that awesome middle eight.

"Do What U Want" - Lady Gaga ft. R. Kelly
"Do What U Want" pop song that went in an atypical direction. For one thing, the driving instrumental reminds me quite a bit of Depeche Mode, and I love it. While it may lyrically seem like a regular sexed-up pop song at times, most Gaga fans would know that Gaga is actually taking a swing at the haters writing negative things about her. At least she got a good collaboration with R. Kelly out of her irritation. Haters gonna hate... But maybe not after hearing this song.

"Adrenalize" - In This Moment
In This Moment has been putting out heavy albums since 2007, but they've just now been getting the recognition they deserve. "Adrenalize" was always bound to catch the attention of American metal fans, but the general badass intensity of it is what sets it apart along with Maria Brink's edgy and unique vocals. This single was made to get people pumped.

I put up the official lyric video because I simply do not like the direction of this band's music videos in this era of their last album, Blood.

"Trying to be Cool" - Phoenix
I must say, I feel pretty cool when I hear this single. It definitely helped theme my summer with its chilled-out alternative feel. For whatever reason, "Trying to be Cool" brings back a wave of nostalgia. I listen to this, and I am somehow transported to about 2007.


"There Goes Our Love Again" - White Lies
So incredibly infectious! "There Goes Our Love Again" gets stuck in my head and makes me want to burst into song and dance (like the girl in the cute music video). I'm just so happy when I listen to it! I've gushed over White Lies quite a bit in a couple of reviews, the most recent being the review of their album Big TV, which featured this particular single. These guys just know how to make really good music, and "There Goes Our Love Again" is exemplary. Anybody could like this song.


"Venus" - Lady Gaga
Gaga has always been a smidge spacey, but now we get to love her spaciness in a more literal way with "Venus." I know I mentioned feeling a Depeche Mode vibe from the instrumentation of "Do What U Want," but I can feel it a little bit here too. If I'm comparing Lady Gaga to Depeche Mode, I think we can all agree that she's doing something right. "Venus" is a fantastic explosion of electronic music with a killer chorus... OMG THE CHORUS.

"Come a Little Closer" - Cage the Elephant
"Come a Little Closer" is one of the last singles I heard this year that I really loved. While I've heard Cage the Elephant before, it must not have been too memorable in my opinion because I was very surprised that they made this song. It has such a throwback feel, and it's kind of deep in its own way. Very relaxing and cool. So, "Come a Little Closer" is definitely a favorite of mine.

"And the World was Gone" - Snow Ghosts
I heard this song on a Teen Wolf episode last summer and fell in love. "And the World was Gone" is beautiful and eerie; that guitar line is bound to leave a lasting impression along with the hovering, soothing vocals. In a way, "And the World Was Gone" is the opposite of "There Goes Our Love Again." While White Lies captured the essence of a great summer day, Snow Ghosts depicted a haunting summer night, even with a bit of thunder at the end.

"Youth" - Daughter
"Youth" is a melancholy indie song, just the way I like them. It isn't too drawn out as some indie music can be, so if that's a turn-off for someone, I don't think this would be a problem. The music has spots that pick up in a great blend of guitar and piano that makes me think of travel in some way, shape, or form. I absolutely love this song.

It totally didn't take me five months to figure out there was a music video for this song. That didn't happen at all.

"Paradise (What About Us?)" - Within Temptation ft. Tarja
It's no secret that Within Temptation is one of my top two favorite bands (along with Evanescence), and "Paradise (What About Us?)" is a pretty decent demonstration of why I rank them so highly. Normally, singles aren't really my favorite songs, but this collaboration with former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen is amazing. The string line creates a sense of urgency throughout the song as Within Temptation's lead singer Sharon den Adel merge in one of the coolest duets ever. Even the video is a masterpiece. If this is how good their singles are going to sound like, I can't even begin to imagine what the rest of their upcoming album, Hydra, will be like.

If I were to post every non-single of 2013 I loved, we'd be here for another full year watching YouTube videos. I tend to love non-singles way more than singles; there's no way I'd be able to choose. But, there's another song that I absolutely fell in love with that isn't a single and I really feel the need to share it. This is a beautiful, perfect song from the Catching Fire film score: "Arena Crumbles" by James Newton Howard. (This was a breathtaking scene as well, perhaps one of my favorite scenes of all time.)

Hopefully you found something likeable from this list. These songs helped define my year in many ways; I really love them all... But now that the year is said and done and I look back through this list, I must say that I'm quite partial to "Paradise (What About Us?)" and "Arena Crumbles."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Show: A Potential Cure for Holiday Music Haters

There are a lot of people out there that hate Christmas music, and I've never been able to agree with them. But, as I grow older and wiser, I think I'm starting to get it. You see, there are two types of Christmas music out there: The awesome stuff and the Wal-mart/radio stuff. I really feel as though many people just aren't hearing the right Christmas music and are just going off of the typical Holiday Wal-mart scene.
Allow me to paint a mental picture to demonstrate: You're in Wal-mart. It's December. You've got a lot of stuff to buy and you want to "get your shit and get out," which is the style recommended by Jeff Dunham's dummy, Walter. You've got to buy groceries. You have to buy some wrapping paper and some holiday décor. You have to buy presents. The people at Wal-mart are insane. This lady thinks she owns the lane and won't get out of your way. Amid this chaos, all you're hearing is a man on a loudspeaker half singing, half yawning, "IIII'M DREAMIIIIIIIING OF A WHIIIIIIIIIIIITE CHRISTMAAAAAAS."
So there's a lot of bad Christmas music out there, and unfortunately, we have the displeasure of hearing it quite a bit when the holiday season comes around. But, Holiday Music Haters, there's a lot of amazing Christmas music out there. Thankfully, I've been engulfed by the lovely music of Vince Guaraldi, Manheim Steamroller, and perhaps the most popular: Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's musical style functions in a similar manner of symphonic metal bands since they religiously combine heavy rock with classical music, but anybody can appreciate their modern twists on Christmas classics - especially live.

I guess I'm kind of an expert on their annual Christmas tour... I've seen them four times. For the first three times, I saw their show Christmas Eve and Other Stories (named after their very first album), but last time I saw The Lost Christmas Eve (their last full-length Christmas album). Keep in mind that they don't just play songs from the particular album's show, but the first half will primarily consist of those tracks as their fantastic narrator recites the story seen in the album booklet. (Each album has a story... Pretty cool, huh?) Let it be known that the narrator has a huge booming voice, so I imagine that could potentially irk some audience members. The same can go for their vocalists. They have strong voices, and they're really, really bold. They may not appeal to everybody.

Out of the different shows I've seen, I'm not really sure which show I like best; they're both so good, and even if you see the same show a few years in a row, you still get something different in the setlist. I'm a bit partial to the music of Christmas Eve and Other Stories simply because it's so nostalgic to me, but I was a smidge happy to know that performing The Lost Christmas Eve would equate to the "Old City Bar" segment being omitted from the show. (It vocally wasn't pleasing to the ears.)

But after this first story part, we face a small intermission in which we're introduced to the whole band, which is always fun. The second half of the show is more miscellaneous in terms of musical choices, even including music from non-Christmas albums such as Beethoven's Last Night and Night Castle. Throughout both halves, the light show is absolutely spectacular. Not just light as in artificial lighting, but a good amount of pyro as well. Your eyes will be just as happy as your ears, and it just gets better and better every year. Last year, when I saw The Lost Christmas Eve show, improvement was evident right off the bat. A big pendulum was swinging from one side of the stage to the other. It was on fire. The freaking pendulum was ON FIRE. How awesome is that? Plus, all the lights were going in circular motions last year, which created a hectic, almost dizzying effect. I loved it.

Plus, the group just performs well. It doesn't matter where your seats are; with all the crazy lights, you're bound to get a good show from just about any angle. However, I personally like being on the floor just so I can get more of a connection with the energetic band members. It's not like I can get much enthusiasm out of other audience members; the crowd varies greatly in age. Someone's grandpa won't be out of his seat fist-pumping like people in my generation, and I get that. But... I just get really hyper at concerts. Everyone sits down for the most part (except when the band asks the floor to stand up on occasion), and I'm practically dancing in my seat the whole time.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is pretty awesome off stage as well. They donate a portion of money from each concert ticket sold to local charities, and they usually tell the audience how much money is going to which charity before the show starts. They all seem like really down-to-Earth, Christmas-loving, music-loving people that appreciate the good things in life like snow and headbanging. (Hehe!)

Anyway, the point is that they put on a great show. Even those who aren't into Christmas music will be able to appreciate something out of all they do. I've seen them four years in a row for a reason; now its time for you to give them a try.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Directed by Francis Lawrence | Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Ardnt

I've been quite excited for the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - not only because I adore the initial trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but also because I was very happy with the first book's film adaptation. Once again, I have virtually no complaints.
Catching Fire takes place just before Hunger Games winners Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallark are about to kick off the traditional Victory Tour in which they travel to each district in Panem. But, President Snow is unhappy with the outcome of the Games, and he will stop at nothing to make things even more difficult, even if it means having Katniss in another Hunger Games. It is apparent that Katniss and Peeta have inspired some to rebel against their totalitarian government, against President Snow, thus thickening this very intense plot as we all hope that Katniss and Peeta will choose to focus on the good of Panem as well as their own survival.  Hence, Catching Fire was a fantastic novel, and now it is a fantastic movie.
Jennifer Lawrence was a huge reason why this film turned out so well, just like the last one. Her acting takes everything to a whole new level; it's easy to really feel what Katniss is feeling, whether it's physical or emotional pain. Between her talent and her general personality, I'll always be a Jennifer Lawrence fan.
Plus, I got a bit emotional during a few different parts of Catching Fire, just as I did during The Hunger Games' film rendition, notably when Katniss and Peeta visited District 11. Between thinking of Rue and seeing the awful system of governing take place, my heart broke. Of course, the emotions I felt toward this worst-case-scenario government of Panem were present throughout the entire movie, much like when I read the book. The state their country is in is just so gut-wrenching that it makes my stomach queasy just thinking about it.
In terms of how accurate the film was to the book... Well, I read Catching Fire in January of 2011; I don't really remember all of the nitpicky details, so I won't really talk about it from that sort of perspective. However, I will say that all of the major stuff I remember was there and was depicted the way I imagined. The only shock for me was Johanna; I just didn't picture her to look like the actress that played her (Jena Malone) at all. But I was definitely happy to see Finnick, one of my favorite characters from the trilogy.
I was also pleased that James Newton Howard wrote the film score again, and the general effects of the film were very cool, especially at the end. And they kept that horrific cliff-hanger... Ironically, I was really hoping that they kept the treacherous ending. Sure, no one really likes cliff-hangers, but I already know what happens, so now I can appreciate why Suzanne Collins would keep us at the edge of our seats like this. But I'm not saying any more than that. Just go watch it!
But as far as recommending this to people who haven't read the book (or even the first one, for that matter)... I'm not entirely sure if I can do that simply because so much of the story lies in Katniss' perspective and a lot of information is explained in a clear way. It's not that the movie failed to do anything right, the film simply cannot pause to thoroughly explain everything, and I know the person I was with (who has never read the books) had a hard time following. Fortunately, the books are amazing, so why not just read them?
Looking back, I remember when I was so worried about how the Hunger Games films would turn out when I first found out about the adaptations being made; it's such a relief that people are doing justice to one of my favorite trilogies. The setting and characters are so accurate to how I pictured them (with the exception of Johanna). I highly, highly doubt fans will be disappointed; I know I wasn't.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Another Lack of Book Reviews... Surprise, Surprise

For those that read my book reviews, I'm sorry for the lack of them. I feel like I say this at least once or twice a year on this blog, but I've never really gone in-depth as to why this seems to happen to me more than other people.
I guess you can say I get into one of those "book slumps" that many bloggers discuss, but I don't really see it in that light. It's not that I don't have a reason for not feeling like reading, because I do. I do every time. The truth is that I oftentimes end up getting busy, and whenever I have free time, I need to do other things to keep my mind off of everything. Even though I read books for escape, like many others do, I honestly feel like go about it a bit differently than other people. When I read books for enjoyment, I read every word at a relatively normal pace, and I have to get into this... Zone? I suppose 'zone' would be the right word. I can't think about anything that isn't related to the book, and for whatever reason, I tend to struggle with that when everything gets hectic. From what I've heard, this is introversion at its finest. This is probably why I read such a small amount of books compared to other book bloggers.
But if I have such a disability to relax, then why am I reviewing so many albums? Music is different. I don't need to get into that hypothetical zone; it forces me into it. The sound prevents me from concentrating too much. In essence, it's kind of like meditation. So, time restraints really aren't the problem. I just think too much.
Ever notice that my Currently Reading portion of my sidebar has been stuck on Dan Brown's Angels and Demons for a matter of months? You guys probably think I keep forgetting to update it, but I don't. That's right, I've been reading this same book for all this time. But, I suppose the fact that I'm unimpressed with Dan Brown's writing style probably doesn't help much. Maybe I just need to read something stupendous and break my undesirable habit of reading one book at a time. I don't know.
I'm pretty sure I'm the only one with this specific problem, but please feel free to prove me wrong.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

ARTPOP | Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga caught my attention during The Fame Monster's (her sophomore album) era. I was quite fed-up with pop music at the time (and I suppose, in many ways, still am), but her music was the only thing that could keep me checking pop radio stations. I could proudly declare myself a fan when she released Born This Way, which has been my favorite Gaga album for the entirety of its existence. I've listened to it so many times to the point I've kind of burnt myself out on it, so I'm definitely due for some new material.
But now, she has released ARTPOP, and I have a new favorite pop record. To be honest, I wasn't so sure how I'd respond to ARTPOP no matter how good it is since I've been so engulfed in the symphonic metal realm as of late, but Lady Gaga just has an undeniable quality in her pop music that even I cannot degrade.
"Aura" opens the album with a peculiar, almost western-esque beginning before the song explodes with laughter into, well, madness. From then on, it's Electronic City, and I love it. Gaga seems to be singing with some sort of accent in the verses, and lyrically, "Aura" has a combination of meaningful and playful lyrics. Eventually, her voice is synthed-up in a bridge-like portion before the second, which can easily be seen as one of the song's highlights. This new heavily-electronic direction is certainly appealing, and it's something I hoped would stick around for the rest of the album in some form or another.

"Venus" comes right after "Aura," and my pop music prayers are answered. While "Venus" isn't as electronically intense as "Aura," it still has that heavier electronic vibe that I love so much. More people would be able to appreciate "Venus" since the chorus is a little calmed down with catchiness, but it still has a quality that rises above a vast majority of modern pop music. The chorus might actually be my favorite part, but I still love the verses. The middle eight of this song escalates as Gaga pays homage to the rest of the planets, and I'll admit, it's a bit corny, but it would take a lot to ruin the song. Altogether, "Venus" puts me in the mind of older electronic groups with its spacey vibe, almost like Depeche Mode, but not quite.

Next, we have "G.U.Y." (which stands for "girl under you"). It begins with a narration that references mythology before picking up to a very danceable first verse. Obviously, this song is sexed-up, but it also talks about taking control and breaking what could be considered a female cliché, going against what listeners may initially expect. "G.U.Y." is very catchy, and I imagine it'll be widely well-liked. But the fourth track isn't shy about sex references even in its title. It's called "Sexxx Dreams" - I'm sure you all can figure out what it's about. This track takes a different turn from the first few since it's more mellow and dark during the verses, but it picks up during the chorus. It's not one of my favorites.

The flavor of the album completely changes with "Jewels N' Drugs," which is a collaboration with T.I., Too $hort, and Twista. I'm not the biggest hip-hop fan, but there have always been exceptions. "Jewels N' Drugs," for the most part, is one of them. The instrumental is really badass and Gaga's harmonies in the chorus sound great, but I think I'll have to be in a certain mood to fully appreciate this one. Like I said, hip-hop isn't really my forte.

Yet another change is upon us within the split-second that "MANiCURE" begins. (No, it isn't actually about getting Gaga's nails done.) First and foremost, it is a pop song, but some rock elements are thrown in as well. My best friend Nickster mentioned in his review that Gaga's vocals (particularly in the verses) can remind one a bit of Joan Jett, and I definitely agree. She really belts it! Plus, we get some guitar action, a little bit within the chorus, but a more significant amount at the end. "MANiCURE" is such a fun song; I can already tell that I'll be listening to this when I'm having a good day.

Follwing "MANiCURE" is "Do What U Want," which is a mellowed-out track that features R. Kelly. This is definitely one of my favorite songs from ARTPOP. The instrumental puts me in the mind of Depeche mode, and even though I've never really heard much from R. Kelly other than that comical "Trapped in the Closet" song, I ended up liking his contribution to this track. An excellent collaboration and an excellent song in general.

The next song is the title track, right in the middle of the album. "ARTPOP" is probably the funkiest gem of all, and I absolutely love it! It's creative and classy, not to mention catchy. A string line is prominent through much of the song, tying the groovy synths together in a very smooth fashion. "Swine," however, might have the weirdest instrumentation. I swear, I'm hearing hiccups! Anyway, Gaga's vocals get sassy in this song; if voices could do a Z-snap, this is what it would sound like. I like the instrumental breakdown after the first chorus, but like I said, I keep hearing this hiccup-like sound throughout, and I don't think I like it. Maybe the general sound will grow on me, but for now... Eh.

But Gaga's sassiness comes full force in "Donatella," particularly with all the mention of size, fashion, and wealth. I really love every moment of this fun, fashion-oriented song, and the chord progression in the chorus gave me chills somehow. I must memorize the lyrics to the half sung, half yelled pre-chorus soon, because I'm already ready to start yelling it along with the music. I'm dancing in my chair as I type this and listen to it, actually... Typing and dancing isn't as easy as I thought it'd be.

The subject of fashion is still prominent on the next track, "Fashion!" (Pretty self-explanatory, eh?) This track opens with a pretty piano part before the chilled verse comes in with a very noticeable bass line. Gaga's voice is especially jazzy in the verses, but I'm really not a fan of all the "lookin' good and feelin' fine" bits. "Fashion!" doesn't really float my boat, but the next track, "Mary Jane Holland," gets better. It turned out quite nicely in terms of electronic structure.

Nearing the end of ARTPOP, we run into a very heartfelt piano ballad bound to tug at heart strings called "Dope." Electronic elements add in throughout the song, but they don't take away from the primary piano line. "Gypsy" starts out in a way that might make us think that we're in for another piano ballad, but electronic elements take precedence rather quickly and carry on for the whole song. It's a great song; almost like a combination of "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" and "Marry the Night" in some musical senses. Another home run for Gaga; another favorite Gaga song for me.
The album ends with "Applause," which was the first single and could be seen on cute Kia commercials. It seems appropriate for this song to be the final track so we can all applaud her at the end of the album, and it certainly isn't a bad song. It was a perfect single choice, but I'm just generally not too enthused about it, probably because it's the most mainstream and I'm always looking for something more experimental. Lyrically, I've never really been able to understand the need for this wording: "Give me that thing that I love/ Put your hands up, make 'em touch." But, I digress. It's not my favorite, but it isn't bad, and I suppose it was the best way to end ARTPOP.

Even though there were a few songs here and there I wasn't quiet as crazy about, I'm crazy about ARTPOP as a whole. This is a truly fantastic album. It's so cool to see how much better Gaga has gotten since her debut album, The Fame. Her musicianship just keeps expanding and evolving with each and every album, as does her voice; she doesn't hesitate to sound as jazzy as her voice naturally is, and I've always loved her voice because of that aspect.

So, how is it possible for a superfan of symphonic metal who enjoys musical complexities and abnormalities to love Lady Gaga so much? There's a reason why she stands out so much to me; go listen to ARTPOP and you'll find out. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Character Names I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is an extremely fun meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today, bloggers must compile our Top Ten Character Names/Top Ten Unusual Character Names. I guess I got two birds with one stone because my favorite character names are unusual!

It didn't take me long to write such a list, for there have always been quite a few names that have stood out to me. But it was after I finished it that I realized how much I love names that are either weird, old, or both (which is why I love constellation names). I'm definitely curious to see other bloggers' lists for this topic because I want to know if I'm the only one who's a fan of such unconventional names, and maybe I'll find some other cool names.
But enough rambling, here's my list for the week:
- From Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Arraine Alter
- From Fallen by Lauren Kate
- From Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
- From the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- From New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
- From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
- From The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Erik Night
- From the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
- From the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- From the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black

What do you guys think? Do you like any of these names? Please let me know and have a happy Tuesday!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hallelujah! Floor Jansen is Staying in Nightwish

Every fan of symphonic metal knows that Nightwish has had some very prominent line-up changes. They started out with operatic powerhouse Tarja Turunen, but Anette Olzon took her place. Much drama tainted the fandom with this switch (which I discuss a bit in this post), for Anette's voice is so different than Tarja's. Anette has more of a rock/pop sound, and many complained that she wasn't the true face of Nightwish. Personally, I loved the two albums Anette made with Nightwish (Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum) but I've often been the odd one out in this situation.
However, even though I liked Nightwish with both Tarja and Anette, I never felt that either of them were the perfect fit for the music per se, with certain exceptions. Both have made amazing records with Nightwish, and both have made very different records with Nightwish. I love their sound with Tarja, and I love their sound with Anette. The only problem is, we'd never have both at the same time.
Recently, Anette left the band while they were on tour, and Floor Jansen of After Forever and ReVamp filled in. I'd never been a Floor fan simply because I'd never been a fan of any of the bands she's been in, I knew her voice well enough to know that she'd be able to bring older Tarja songs to the setlist, and all the tarja fans that loathed Anette would love Floor. I was indifferent. I tried looking up videos of live sets with Floor, but the crowds were oftentimes too loud for me to properly judge. Yet, I did.
Then, I saw an HQ video of Floor singing "Ghost Love Score" with the band in Buenos Aires. It's a long, classic Nightwish tune originally performed by Tarja on the album Once. I was sort of impressed, sort of indifferent as I heard the first half. It was good, no doubt about it. But then when things got epic during the second half, I kept becoming more and more excited. I saw how great she is with this band, a subconscious process I began to feel effects of amid my happiness.
Then I heard her new ending of the song; I heard the note. The note. I cried. This band I've always loved despite never finding either singer to necessarily be the perfect fit... Floor is the perfect fit. She didn't just fit; she helped enhance. Her ability to switch up vocal styles as needed made her unique as a singer already, but now that she's been with a band that has music that appeals to my personal taste, I can now truly appreciate her.
For a while, this was all very bittersweet. Though Nightwish finally found a singer that I consider perfect for the music, there was a possibility that she'd only stay for that tour and not an album. But, in this press release found on the official Nightwish site, it has been confirmed that she is the new lead singer of Nightwish.
I'm so excited and relieved to hear that she's staying. When I found out, I couldn't stop fangirling! She's a great vocalist and frontwoman for Nightwish, and the rest of the band seemed to be so happy with her performing alongside them. I can't wait to hear how the band will evolve for her voice on the next album, and I really want to see them live next time.
Towards the end of the year, their live DVD with Floor at the Wacken Open Air festival, Showtime, Storytime, will be released. "Ghost Love Score" is on the set, and the very performance in Buenos Aires that made me a Floor fan will be a bonus feature. It's as if they knew I'd want it. Until we can all get our hands on this DVD, I assume there will be much celebration among the fanbase. In all honesty, I haven't heard a single negative comment about Floor. For the first time since 2007, I think nearly all Nightwish fans will be happy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Paradise (What About Us?) EP | Within Temptation

After postponing the release of their upcoming LP to January of 2014, Within Temptation has given us the Paradise (What About Us?) EP, which is titled after the future album's first single. In addition to the single, three demos of songs that will be included on the full-length album are featured, giving fans a taste of what to expect from the future LP and easing the pain of waiting.
The lead single is the first track on this little EP. "Paradise (What About Us?)" is a duet with former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen, and it's a heavier single than one may expect, especially since the singles from their last album, The Unforgiving, were a bit  more mainstream than usual. Still, it's a great single choice with its catchy string line and high-profile collaborator. It's hard to stop listening, and it's hard to keep from singing along. Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel and Tarja may be very different singers, but they sound great together on this powerful track. Tarja's vocalizing seemed to morph into the general instrumentation; vocalization in that sense has been one of my favorite elements of Within Temptation, and it's what I missed most on The Unforgiving. I truly hope that the extra vocal line written for Tarja is a sign that den Adel will get plenty of opportunities to do so on the upcoming LP.

The first of the demos we've been privileged to hear on this EP is called "Let Us Burn," and it sounds amazing in this unfinished form. The opening riffs are so dark and epic, and much like during Within Temptation's first album Enter, that cool part is repeated a few times, as if the band actually realizes that it'd be the best part. That part is the basis of the chorus, and Sharon den Adel's voice hits some impressive notes considering she's using her chest voice. (She typically switches to the upper register.) The verses are interesting enough with a subtly dark feel, and the middle eight is very prominent; den Adel's voice is distorted amid driving guitars and a male choir, but then the whole thing just explodes. "Let Us Burn" is fantastic; it's like a combination of The Heart of Everything and The Unforgiving.

But there are more throwbacks on this EP. "Silver Moonlight" brings back Robert Westerholt's grunts, which haven't been heard in Within Temptation's music since the song "Jane Doe" nearly ten years ago. I never thought I'd say this, but it sounds like a combination of Enter and The Unforgiving... Weird combination, I know. Though it starts out mellow, it's a fast-paced, heavy track, and den Adel pushes her vocal limit in the pre-chorus, practically yelling "NO!"

Our small preview of what to expect of the LP coming in January ends with "Dog Days," which is basically the ballad of EP, but it isn't particularly a slow song per se. It's very atmospheric in the verses, but guitars come in during the chorus. I was a bit caught off-guard by the vocals in the chorus; we run into yet another throwback. In their earlier music, I always thought Sharon den Adel's voice was so eerie and shrill, and I haven't heard her quite like this since Mother Earth. I must say, I'm quite happy we get to hear her sing in that way again, though her voice sounds good no matter what she's doing with it. The song itself sounds very emotional, and I really like the chord progression at the end of the chorus. I'm especially excited to hear what this will sound like on the LP since I imagine the instrumentation will definitely change up a bit.

So, that's it from Within Temptation for now, and I must say I'm very pleased with the direction they're headed musically. Just about any fan can find something they like on this sample EP, for Within Temptation are creating something completely new while paying homage to their past sounds. I was definitely not disappointed in what this EP had in store; it's making me even more excited for the new album. Since the demos and lead single sound great, I can confidently predict that this new album is going to blow everyone away. I can't wait to hear it!

Until then, we all must enjoy this EP. It is, after all, very solid material.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Within Temptation and Tarja Release "Paradise (What About Us?)" Music Video

"Paradise (What About Us?)" is the first single from Within Temptation's upcoming album, which features Tarja Turunen, another highly popular force of symphonic metal. For many fans of the genre, the two doing a song together is a dream come true, and this finally brings an end to the constant teasing by the band, for they've released a few snippets of the song and video off and on for what seems like eternity.
In a few days, I will review the digital EP of the same name that "Paradise (What About Us?)" will be part of, which will include demos of a few songs that will appear on the January LP. But for now, I ask everyone to just enjoy the song and video. It's a bit heavier than the singles from their previous album, The Unforgiving, and I haven't heard anything too negative about it thus far. I honestly believe that anyone who wasn't a fan of The Unforgiving will see this as an improvement - even I do, and I really loved The Unforgiving. The video is definitely one of my favorites; it's very epic and we get a little twist at the end. Truthfully, it's possibly their best music video.
So, here it is. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Favorite Television Shows

Recently, I came to the realization that I rarely ever talk about TV shows on this blog. I must admit, I don't watch that much television, but it's impossible not to watch any shows at all. Sometimes, one can find a really good show and become hooked 'till the end. The main problem I end up having is the inability to stay committed and keep up with each and every episode; I rarely ever succeed. Still, I've discovered some seriously amazing shows over the years, and it's time I share them.

Gilmore Girls
Out of all the shows I've ever watched in my whole life, Gilmore Girls is the only series I've watched several times through in its entirety. I love this show. Everything about it makes it stand out, from the wonderfully-crafted characters, to the comedy they bring, to the plot (which is always bound to have some drama). It was, and still is, so different than anything else on TV. It was kind of... perfect. There will never be another Gilmore Girls.

The Twilight Zone
When I say that I love The Twilight Zone, I mean the original black-and-white classic with Rod Serling, not that awful remake of the show that made me want to vomit. This oldie has a lot of elements that I think are missing in today's thrillers, which aim to entertain by making audience jump in their seats. The original Twilight Zone was so subtle on the scare-scale in that sense, but it could be horrifying nonetheless. More than anything, though, it never fails to make me think. It explored so much more than science fiction; it explored real-world philosophy concerning subjects such as what beauty and difference really are.

Teen Wolf
*You can read my appreciation post here.
Oh, Teen Wolf. People don't always understand my continual fangirling over it, but how can I not love it? It's so fun!  The characters are so well-developed, and its been so cool to watch them grow over the past few years as the plot becomes crazier and more dramatic. It's so addictive! And the commercials for this season have been so tormenting, asking viewers "who will die?" or telling us "more will die" and "an alpha will die"; whoever they hired to market this did a little too well. Those commercials make me crazier than I already am with the plot's growing complexity.

The X Files
I'll admit, I haven't watched this show nearly as much as I always want to, but I've seen enough to call it one of my favorites. (Plus, it has the best theme song ever. FYI.) It's so creepy, full of mystery and intensity. And there's something quite meaningful about how it's all presented, particularly with how Mulder is presented. His personal backstory makes this science-fiction show into something more meaningful as he investigates odd cases that often involve extraterrestrials ... "I want to believe" is such a powerful phrase.

Kyle XY
When it first began, I was sort of opposed to Kyle XY; I thought it looked a little stupid. I don't remember exactly when I became so fascinated with it, it just sort of happened at some point. It was an intriguing series filled with mystery and drama, making it relatively easy to get addicted to. However, I must complain... The series finale was not even a series finale. It was hardly a season finale! It was so abrupt, right in the middle of a scene. Even now, I wonder if the writers were initially planning on having another season and were faced with the show's cancellation at the last minute.

The Middle
The Middle is such a cute family sitcom; it always makes me laugh. I love how quirky and weird the characters are. In fact, I don't think there's a single one I don't like. But seriously, what's not to love? Brick's a bookworm that whispers to himself, Sue is a very colorful and loud peppy teenager that is somehow invisible to everyone at school; Axl is a lazy, moody teenage boy that is somehow invisible to no one at school despite his laziness; and their parents, Mike and Frankie, are a happily-married couple that deal with an assortment of their own issues, from weird neighbors, to financial hiccups, to miscommunication hiccups, and everything in between. It all contributes to a life of real-world adventure.
Sure, sometimes this show can probably be a little far out, but in some ways, it's incredibly realistic in the most hilarious way possible. Anyone who has lived in real-life suburbia will likely understand the humor of Tessa's neighborhood, and I imagine that there are a lot of teenage girls that can relate to Tessa's general personality, trapped in a 'suburban purgatory' of preppy Dalias.

Modern Family
I don't think I know a single person who dislikes this show; it's so hilarious! It paints such a comical picture of the reality of families today with Phil and Claire and their three children (the more stereotypical family), Jay and his much younger wife and their children, and Mitch and Cameron (a homosexual couple with a very outspoken adopted daughter).

Mob Wives
I don't usually watch reality television, but when I do, I watch Mob Wives. This show is pretty intense. When people think of the mob, they don't always think of the women that have to watch their men go in and out of prison and wait with one another. They don't think of people like Drita, whose husband had to do his time while she raised two children, and how emotionally draining and conflicting it can be. They also probably don't think of all the drama that goes on with these women. These aren't your typical cat fights, because these women are tough.

Heroes (the first season)
I kind of forgot about this series until compiling this list. I was unable to keep up with it after the second season, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but the first season seemed to really stick with me. It was so epic! The first season's finale blew me away! Hiro, Peter, and Isaac were my favorite characters.

Sailor Moon
*You can read my appreciation post here.
Granted, I still haven't seen all two hundred episodes, and I mostly watched this as I was growing up, but I still have a place in my heart for Sailor Moon. I always will. Ever since the manga has been reissued, I've been purchasing the books and watching the anime again, regenerating my inner fangirl. As a little kid, I was too young to understand all that it enforced, but now I realize how empowering this series is, how it is the perfect series for girls. Anyone could watch this anime (or read the manga) and pick out characters that they can relate to. Making connections with characters is great with any story, but this one is particularly special because it makes us feel like we can overcome anything, that the Sailor Scouts really aren't that different from us after all.

Another show I liked for a while was Wildfire, which was on ABC Family for a while. The first season really held my attention, but after some time, the love triangle became so crazy that I couldn't take anybody seriously. But while I'm at it... What happened to Happy Town!? Seriously? ABC pulled it off the air two episodes away from the season finale! I get it, not that many people watched it, but I highly doubt it would've been that strenuous to keep it going for two more episodes.

But anyway, these are my definitive favorite TV shows. The supernatural, the hilarious, even the dramalicious have ignited so much hype in me. I hope your favorite shows have done the same.