Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a really awesome meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

The Hunger Games by: Suzanne Collins
I've recommended this to everyone I know; I can't find anything about it that people won't like. It's got the perfect amount of action and meaning as well as great characters. Hence, it's something for the general human race and doesn't limit itself from either gender. I wanted the whole world to experience this amazing book!
 The Help by: Kathryn Stockett

I've recommended it to most people; it's just such an appealing piece of work. The characters are so funny, yet their story in general will make readers pity their situation. The Help is one of those books that kept me laughing and crying.

The Host by: Stephenie Meyer

I've recommended it to majority of my friends. Since it's one of my favorites, I naturally started blabbing to all my friends that they needed to read this book pronto whether they liked Twilight or not. This story is just wonderful!

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

I've recommended it to those I believe will actually get something out of it. I'm hesitant to recommend this masterpiece, and I won't recommend it to people that can't handle it or won't be able to appreciate it. Holden Caulfield tends to be a bit much for some people.

The Fault in Our Stars by: John Green


The Diary of a Young Girl by: Anne Frank

I've recommended it to the people I know who will connect with Anne's personality. Because this diary doesn't just give us an insight to what the Jews of Eurpoe had to do to stay safe, it also gives us a personal insight to the valuable lives destroyed by Nazi Germany.

The Silver Kiss by: Annette Curtis Klause

I've recommended it to fans of paranormal romance, and it's probably my favorite book of the genre. There's something about it that flows like a contemporary, for even though Simon is a vampire, it's more than a cutesy paranormal love story. It's a story centered around death.

Under the Dome by: Stephen King

I've recommended it to my guy friends. Does that necessarily mean that girls won't enjoy it? Obviously not, because I liked it and I'm a female. However, there's nothing particularly girly about it. I feel like the male population will especially appreciate how action-packed it is.

 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by: Seth Grahame-Smith

I've recommended it to fans of historical fiction as well as major fans of Abraham Lincoln and Edgar Allen Poe. Seriously, these fictional connections between Abraham Lincoln and vampires (and between Lincoln and Poe) are endlessly amusing.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by: Carrie Ryan

I've recommended it to fans of zombies and beautiful writing. I don't even like zombies but I loved this book! The dystopian setting makes us feel stuck in the past instead of a very bleak future, and Mary's story was filled with suspense.

Even though I naturally recommend different types of books for different people, I see that most of what I do recommend are some of my favorites... I wonder if I'm actually recommending or if I'm just being a crazed fan girl! Well, either way, I want someone to be excited with when it comes to these awesome books.

Have a great Tuesday!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Requiem for the Indifferent | Epica

Epica's latest album is entitled Requiem for the Indifferent, and its concept is something I've thought of frequently after reading Elie Wiesel's Night. Since I was happy that the album would be centered around that theme, I was quite surprised to find that I didn't like this album as much as I wanted, but as it turns out, Requiem for the Indifferent is a grower. It's different than their previous albums, almost more progressive. Their last album, Design Your Universe, is one of my favorite albums of all time and didn't take any time for me to like it. This new album, on the other hand, required patience.

"Karma," the intro, is rather primitive-sounding, which is quite different for Epica. The choir, however, is not so out of their box, and the voices lead to the second track (and first full song), "Monopoly on Truth." This cues in the guitars, and the album picks up. This song took a while for me to really love. It's a fairly long song with different sections, and I found a couple of parts I really liked, and I eventually began to appreciate the parts around those sections. As a whole, it may not be one of my favorites, but the parts I immediately loved (4:33 to the end) never fail to excite me. Simone Simons' voice soars, the choir's stocatto overlapping the chugging guitars... They achieved some sort of perfection with this song, but the beginning doesn't leave that kind of impact.

Next on the album is "Storm the Sorrow," the lead single, and Simone's voice is a powerhouse. Seriously, how did she not collapse after singing those pre-choruses? Even so, "Storm the Sorrow" is quite fun to sing; rarely can I ever listen to the chorus without singing along because the melody is so beautiful, as are the lyrics. Before the final explosive chorus, the chorus is slowed down with just a piano and Simone, which created a memorable contrast with the rest of the song. A fabulous contribution on Requiem for the Indifferent!

"Delirium" takes a break from heaviness and lets listeners hear Epica's softer side. Here, the choir is more potent than ever in the intro before the piano and Simone take precedence. (But don't fret! The Epica choir isn't gone forever!) The band comes in later on, in typical power-ballad fashion, and though the symphonic elements are evident in the choir, I think fans of general rock and metal will enjoy this song, not just symphonic metal fans. The same can be said about "Internal Warfare," though it's certainly not a ballad and still has plenty of symphonic elements. The bottom line is that it's a metal track with a catchy vocal line in the verses.

(But, to be honest, the whole album will potentially appeal to fans of general metal and not just symphonic metal.)

"Requiem for the Indifferent" is the title track, and it was initially my least favorite, but like much of the album, it grew on me. (Honestly, I didn't even like it much until I sat down to listen to it for this review.) It's so hardcore and complicated... I'm not so sure how I was ever able to deny it before. Though the primitive feel of "Karma" returns for this song, it's still very Epica. It demonstrates that Epica's songwriters are not only masterminds of today's metal, but also today's classical music, and the way they merge the two results in a very epic product.

The seventh track is an interlude called "Anima." I feel like I'm always saying interludes are "effective" but I'm never a big fan of them, because they're usually never more than that. "Anima" is a piano/string interlude that is more than effective, it's gorgeous, and possibly my favorite interlude EVER. So, if the interlude blew me away, than the follow-up track, "Guilty Demeanor" must have made me twitch from awesomeness, right? Well, not really. However, "Guilty Demeanor" is a great song nontheless, it's just not a favorite of mine.

But I start to get mesmorized by "Deep Water Horizon." The guitars, strings, and vocal line of the verses are so pretty. Already, I can tell that this is a masterpiece of Requiem for the Indifferent. Though the chorus doesn't grab me immediately, it did grow on me. The song gets heavier throughout as Mark Jansen's grunts come in, making room for catchy guitars and strings.

The next track is called "Stay the Course," one of the heavier tracks. It may seem to be led by Mark Jansen's grunts at first, but Simone Simons has control of the chorus, which is the best part of the song other than the choir in the bridge. There's something nostalgic about it... Anyway, it's not bad, but not a favorite of mine either. I can say the same for "Deter the Tyrant," though the songs are a bit different. "Deter the Tyrant" has a grand choir line and great guitar riffs, and it's generally bolder than "Stay the Course." All in all, I feel as though I need to give "Deter the Tyrant" a bit more time to grow on me.

Nearing the end of the album, "Avalanche" opens silently with an eerie sound. Oftentimes in this track, I am reminded of Tristania's wondrous guitar riffs, but Epica seems to do it better, freeing themselves of any flaws one could find in Tristania and adding their many great qualities. Yet somehow, it seems more progressive. "Avalanche" features a decent blend of Simone's vocals with Mark's grunts, and Simone's classical training is quite noticeable as her voice overlaps the choir (I'm referring to the section with lyrics: "Degenerate the love and hate..."). Plus, the guitars in that portion are classic at this point.

The final song is called "Serenade of Self-Destruction," and since I bought a physical copy of the album, I ended up with the instrumental track. (There was an accident when making the album; "Serenade of Self-Destruction" is not supposed to be instrumental.) Of course, I listened to the finished version of the track on the internet, and it's fantastic either way, one of the best of Requiem for the Indifferent. Though Mark and Simone add a lot to the song, the instrumental will show listeners that the music underneath the voices is quite phenomenal. But even on the instrumental, one can hear the (mostly male) choir in the first verse, their haunting lyrics sung in a staccato manner. Really, all of the lyrics are quite superior, and Simone 's voice is so pretty in the chorus. "Serenade of Self-Destruction" wraps up the album in a demonstration of many different emotions such as urgency and sadness.

Needless to say, Requiem for the Indifferent is a strong album with elements that many metal fans will enjoy, but I advise listeners to give it time to grow on them. Is it one of my favorites? No, but it's a more-than-satisfying album nonetheless. And after all, it is Epica, and in case anyone's failed to observe, they're called that for a reason.

4/5 Stars

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I'd Like to Start but Haven't Yet

I'm finally participating in Top Ten Tuesday, a really awesome meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish!

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

Across the Universe Series by: Beth Revis
Books: Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth

I heard about Across the Universe over a year before it even had a cover. I totally loved the summary and put it toward the top of my reading list, and that awesome cover only fed my urge to read it. (Really, even though the last one doesn't match, I love all of these covers.) So, why haven't I read this series yet? I haven't even heard a single bad thing about them! This is ridiculous! I WILL start it this year!

The Dreamblood Series by: N.K. Jemisin
Books: The Killing Moon, The Shadowed Sun

The Dreamblood Series looks so unique and otherwordly, and I'm talking about the beautiful covers and the summary. I only discovered it a short while ago, but I'm still impatient to read it when I have time.

 The Exilon 5 Trilogy by: Eliza Green
Books: Becoming Human

I'm a sucker for science fiction, especially when astronomy is in focus. (That's probably not surprising considering my blog header and my Sailor Moon obsession.) The summary reminded me a bit of Avatar, but it doesn't seem to be a copy-cat either.

Bones of Faerie Series by: Janni Lee Simner
Books: Bones of Faerie, Faerie Winter, Faerie After
**Faerie After is planned to be released this year

I remember the first time I saw Bones of Faerie at a bookstore, and I thought I would buy it soon. So much for that idea. I actually forgot about it for a little while, but after reading the summary once again, I'm sad I haven't gotten around to it. Usually stories about faeries have this inevitable lightness to it, but this one actually seems to be a bit darker than usual.

Warm Bodies Series by: Isaac Marion
Books: Warm Bodies

It's a rare occasion when a zombie series catches my attention, since the only zombie series I've ever read is Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth... series? Trilogy? Anyway, a couple of my friends were talking to me about how they loved Warm Bodies, and the summary they gave made me look into it. Of course, I've also been seeing TV spots for the movie, and altogether, I think this series sounds kind of cute.

 Caster Chronicles Series by: Kami Garacia and Margaret Stohl
Books: Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos, Beautiful Redemption

I'm sure I'm the last person on the planet who hasn't read these, which is insane since I've had my eye on this series ever since the first book came out years ago. Nothing about it has turned me away; I haven't heard anything bad about it at all.

Awaken Series by: Katie Kacvinsky
Books: Awaken, Middle Ground
The concept of these books have intrigued me from the start, how basically everything is done with a computer. It seems kind of realistic, with the way technology is improving and affecting how humans interact. Looks like this dystopian series has a lot of potential.
Nevermore Series by: Kelly Creagh
Books: Nevermore, Enshadowed
I really can't believe I haven't started this series yet. There are to be Poe references! POE REFERENCES! I love Edgar Allen Poe and am so interested in reading these!

 Raven Cycle Series by: Maggie Stiefvater
Books: The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves
**The Dream Thieves is to be released September 17th

This new series by Maggie Stiefvater sounds promising. Though I generally liked her Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy, I wasn't the biggest fan of it, but I feel like her writing would be put to better use in a story like this.

Theatre Illuminata Series by Lisa Mantchev
Books: Eyes Like Stars, Perchance to Dream, So Silver Bright

The Theatre Illuminata Series is yet another series I've had my eye on ever since the first one was released. Just as I was about to purchase Eyes Like Stars, I heard somewhere that one must be familiar with Shakespere to be able to follow the storyline. Can anyone confirm if this is true? Of course, I've read some Shakespere but not enough for me to feel confident in diving into this story.

I just realized how pretty all of these covers are... I don't know how I haven't fallen into a Cover Trance and bought them already. Now, I kind of feel proud of myself for not splurging based on what's on the outside, yet so disappointed for not splurging knowing how cool these stories look! But, I think I'll be able to start tackling these within the next year or two since many of the series I've been keeping up with have ended (i.e Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, Aprilynne Pike's Wings series, Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series, Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy... Not to mention Holly Black's Curse Workers trilogy that I've only read one book of...)

So, as soon as I complete all these, I'll start working on this list, which won't be too long.

Monday, March 4, 2013

World Evanescence Day: Happy 10th Anniversary to 'Fallen'

Well, it's March fourth, World Evanescence Day. But this year is most important, for it marks the tenth anniversery of their first big album released by Wind-Up Records, Fallen.

Fallen is one of my favorite (if not, my single favorite) albums ever crafted. I got my hands on it in 2005, and it changed my life. It introduced me to different types of music that I'd never listened to before and helped discover some of my secondary favorite bands. That album showed me what a great voice really sounded like, but more importantly, that it's okay to express any of life's negativity through art.

Sometimes on forums, I'll be asked to make a list of my top ten favorite bands, and the top two are always the same:

1. Evanescence
2. Within Temptation

There are some times when I feel like Evanescence and Within Temptation may be tied for first place, but Within Temptation never exceeds Evanescence in my mind. There's something about that band, something wonderful, that has kept them in my heart for the past seven (going on eight) years. No, not something, but many things that have made me love this band and their music so much.

In general, Evanescence is my go-to band whenever I need to feel better. Not only do I rely on Fallen, but also their other albums, The Open Door, Evanescence, and even their early EPs. Sure, their music isn't the happiest, but it's the most relatable music I've ever come across. Amy Lee's lyrics have described some of my life situations ever-so perfectly, and the music has pulled on my heart strings, conveying the emotion even more realistically.

Not to mention the band members themselves. Amy Lee is the definition of a role model, and she maintains this simply by being her (very artistic) self. She's such a great person, always gracious for her fans, and she's never lost her femminist-edge. (Of course, I mean the real definition of femminist; that word has been thrown around and changed too much lately.)

Even though the line-up changes have been a bit frequent in the past ten years, I must say, I love the line-up that they've had since The Open Door Tour, which includes Terry Balsamo on lead guitar, Troy McLawhorn on guitar, Tim McCord on bass, Will Hunt on drums, and of course Amy Lee on vocals/piano. I finally saw Evanescence live for the first time last summer, and they all rocked. The songs from Fallen have improved live, particularly potence of the drums.

Naturally, ten years has brought a lot of change in their sound as well; no two albums sound too similar. But it all started with Fallen and a hit single entitled "Bring Me to Life" (which is still played on the radio regularly after all this time) to make them known in the world.

Happy anniversery, Fallen. The world is lucky to have you for all this time; the world is lucky to have Evanescence for all this time.