Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Paramore" | Paramore

Female-fronted alternative rock band Paramore has recently released a self-titled album, giving listeners something a bit different than their past three albums.

Throughout their history, Paramore has been a bit on the fence for me. Most of my favorite bands are ever-changing, and Paramore hasn’t changed much at all since they first began - with the exception of this new album. Though I still cannot consider myself a fan, they’ve put out some interesting songs here and there that have made me happy, and unfortunately, their positives didn’t take precedence on this CD.

But what everyone really wants to know is how they’ve changed. A few new electronic elements can be found off and on within the general flow of the album, though it’s still undeniably alternative rock. It’s not so much that they’re converting to a different genre; the songs were just written and executed in more of a lighthearted way than their older music.

This new vibe can be found on the first track, “Fast in My Car,” which is one of the best songs from the album. It’s a very fun song, very laid back yet so upbeat. Overall, I prefer it over their lead single “Now,” (what kind of title is that anyway?) of which I loved the chorus despite its repetitiveness. The main issue I have with it is Hayley Williams’ technique of talk-singing in the verses. Other highlights include short indie interludes entitled “Moving On” and “I’m Not Angry Anymore,” and they sound as if they could’ve been on the Juno soundtrack.

These tracks were especially refreshing because I have issues with interludes. More often than not, interludes in modern music tend to be uninteresting and simply attempt to set the mood for the next full-length song. Once in a while, an outstanding one will come along (most notably Linkin Park’s “Wisdom, Justice, and Love” and Epica’s “Anima”), but I never expect much from interludes in general. Kudos to Paramore!

Other than those few songs, this new album did very little to entertain me with the exception of “Last Hope,” a slower-paced song that stood out among the other tracks. A secondary song I enjoyed is called “Part II,” which had a great chorus and middle eight.

Fortunately for Paramore, there were only three songs I completely disliked: The ever-corny “Grow Up,” the ever-bubbly “Still into You,” and the vocally-obnoxious “Anklebiters.” As far as the rest… Well, they weren’t necessarily bad songs, but the problem is that they weren’t exactly good either. They were boring and disappointing, especially “Future,” a nearly eight minute monster of a track. I was hoping for a long masterpiece, but I really just didn’t understand the musical purpose of this song; it dragged on repetitively without doing much for the ears other than one change midway, and I wasn’t a fan of either half.

So, will Paramore fans like this self-titled album’s new adjustment? Much like with any other band that’s undergone change, it all depends on what a specific fan liked about the band and the other music they listen to. But, the change still isn’t all that big. Just because it's different than their other albums doesn't mean it's innovative, for the seventeen tracks of this albums sound a bit too similar.

All things considered, this CD has a few songs that shine, but it isn’t impressive overall. There simply aren’t enough standout tracks. Some diehard Paramore fans that really connect with their music may like it, some may not, but I would only recommend a few of its songs to music lovers in general. Listen with caution.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like More/Less Than I Did

Top Ten Tuesday is a really awesome meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish! I'm so happy to participate when I can!

Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like More/Less Than I Did

Dracula by: Bram Stoker
I liked it LESS
I thought I'd really like this classic vampire novel. One of my friends tried reading it before me, and she said she couldn't handle the writing style. I thought she just meant that she couldn't handle 19th century writing, which is my favorite time period for writing (particularly the middle of that century). Well, I misunderstood. The writing is impossibly passive, so passive that I could hardley notice the plot, and I just couldn't finish it. I tried reading it twice so far, and I've had no luck. Honestly, I know a few people who tried reading it, and only one finished. One of my friends has even tried reading it three times without success. Is there anybody out there that has enjoyed this book and can convince me to try and find something decent in it?
Crusade by: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
I liked it LESS
It took me a really long time to get to this book. I wanted to read it ever since it was first released and was so excited to finally get my hands on a copy. But, as I was reading it, I was caught off guard. I didn't expect it to be so... vampire-esque, for one thing (not that I have anything against vamps, I just didn't realize they were in this book). For another thing, I know enough Spanish to save my life, and I could understand the bits of Spanish in this book. When the Spanish was constantly translated, I got a little antsy. Sure, that's great for people who don't know Spanish, but I'm just not one of them. Not to mention, I wasn't a fan of any of the characters or the writing in general. So, I gave up.
Circle of Fire by: Michelle Zink
I liked it LESS
Michelle Zink's first two books in her Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy were absolutely amazing, and I had high hopes for Circle of Fire. It just didn't live up to my expectations. I felt like the romance was overly-magnified, and I wasn't reading this book for romance. I was reading for the paranormal elements that seemed to lack. Still, I enjoyed the ending and I like Zink's writing when she's writing about something I really care about. It just wasn't quite as good as I wanted it to be.
Untamed by: P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast
I liked it MORE
The House of Night series didn't really impress me at first. I thought the first two were okay and that the third wasn't that great, but then I read the fourth, Untamed. MUCH better! It was creepy, exciting, and the plot started to grow into something bigger than I expected from this series. The Raven Mockers were such an interesting addition, and so was Kalona.
Hush, Hush by: Becca Fitzpatrick
I liked it LESS the first time but MORE the second time
The first time I read it, I liked it much less than I thought I would. But, I decided I'd read the second book in the series anyway. By the time I got to the second book, Crescendo, I realized I forgot a lot of Hush, Hush and reread it. Whether it was a mood issue the first time I read it, I don't know, but the second time around was the charm. I love this book as well as the others in the series. Patch and Nora are great characters, and the general storyline is full of suspenseful moments.
White Cat by: Holly Black
I liked it MORE

I read this book shortly after my local library got a copy, and I simply picked it up because it looked like it might be an interesting read. Maybe. More than anything, I was curious. I certainly didn't expect to love it as I did. The main character, Cassel, was such a great narrator, and the plot was complicated and mysterious! I had a lot of fun reading this book, giving it a 4.5/5 star rating on my blog and anticipating the next books in the series... which I have unfortunately not read yet, but hopefully will one of these days.

'Salem's Lot by: Stephen King
I liked it LESS

Stephen King and vampires? That has to be a cool combination, right? But, 'Salem's Lot just didn't do that much to entertain me. Sure, it wasn't terrible or anything; I was okay with it. I just didn't understand the purpose of some of the characters, particularly Dud, who did nothing to contribute to the plot other than be gross. It could've been better.

The Hobbit by: J.R.R. Tolkien
I liked it LESS

Before I read The Hobbit, I read the first two books of Tolkien's infamous Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I enjoyed. So, I figured I'd like The Hobbit all the same... But, I didn't. It's similar to The Lord of the Rings in the sense that it's about a long journey, but I felt like all that Bilbo encountered on his journey was a little pointless. And besides, Tolkien doesn't exactly have the most favorable writing style in the world, and that didn't help either. I feel like the movies will bring it to life.

Piper by: Brett Rutherford and John Robertson
I liked it MORE

Never heard of Piper? That's not surprising. It was originally published in 1987, it's out of print, and it's not on Goodreads... So how did I discover it? It was on my parents' bookshelf and they both loved it (so did my grandma and aunt; they borrowed the book when my dad first got it), and I needed something to read before my Twilight books came in the mail (this was before Twilight was available at just about every bookstore, dollar store, or Wal-mart). I didn't expect to love it as much as I did. It was so creepy! I definitely need to reread this sometime soon!

The Hunger Games by: Suzanne Collins
I liked it MORE

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Someone misinformed me, saying it was about cannibalism, and I suppose that's part of what drew me away, but I honestly didn't know much of anything about this book before diving in. All I knew was that the world was in love with it for some reason, and I thought I might benefit from giving it a try. Thank goodness I did. The Hunger Games is one of my favorite book series of all time; it made me think a lot. Many characters struck a chord in me, particularly Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick (who doesn't come along until the second book).

So, my list includes five books I liked more than I thought I would and five I liked less. It seems that for every disappointment, an unexpected book will come along and prove itself more than worthwhile. Are any of my selections on your lists?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Classics: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

I don't think I've ever heard a negative word directed at Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and quite frankly, I can't find anything negative to say about it either. There's nothing really wrong with it. It entertains readers with comical, lighthearted moments, but by the time one finishes the book, Huck Finn's adventures of fleeing his hometown with Jim, a runaway slave, are bound to leave a meaningful impact on the reader.

Sure, I'll admit, the writing style could be a bit tricky to understand due to Twain's ability to accurately scribe what the English dialect sounded like at the time, but it puts a clear picture into one's head. The type of writing of a novel has a huge impact on how emotion is thrust upon the reader, and the innocent, real-life approach to Huck's story helped get any emotions across in just the right manner.

I mean, how can someone not feel anything when reading this coming-of-age novel that demonstrates the wretched racism of the time? As Huck and Jim travel, Huck has to figure out what kind of person he is and what he really believes in, even if it does go against the status quo of that time period. His inevitable realization that he didn't care if he was going to hell, that he couldn't betray Jim and give into the corrupted laws of humanity... That was the best part of it for me. I shed a tear or two. Jim and Huck's father-son relationship really tugged at my heart strings from time to time.

Apart from their relationship, I just felt so sad for Jim.

But don't get the idea that this book will cause emotional turmoil, because as I previously mentioned, there are comical moments, oftentimes with Tom Sawyer. However, Tom drove me crazy with his need to make everything a complicated adventure, but everything that annoyed me made him a more interesting character. Still, I did like Huck, and couldn't help but feel sympathetic for his negative situation with his father and proud of him for listening to his conscience instead of the status quo. That, my friends, was the point of Huckleberry Finn's adventures, and it is indeed a good point.

Although I have nothing but nice things to say about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and genuinely enjoyed it, I cannot necessarily say it is one of my favorites, primarily because I would've liked less time with the Duke and the King. But, it's an important piece of literature that's bound to work its way into any heart; anyone who reads it is bound to appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Nonfiction Books on My TBR List

*By the way, I'm sorry about my review-slump. I hope to have some reviews up soon; I've just been kind of busy lately.

Top Ten Tuesday is a really awesome meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish! This week, bloggers were given a chance to choose their own topic, and I chose:

Top Ten Eight Nonfiction Books on My TBR List

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by: Susan Cain

I need to read this ASAP. As an introvert, I've often felt misunderstood and alone "in a world that can't stop talking," not to mention annoyed that some people seem to think that 'anti-social' is a synonym for 'introvert.' (It isn't. Just letting everyone know.) I hope that this book will be relatable for me and teach me a little more about the general concept.

Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir by: Amanda Knox

I kept up with Amanda Knox's case when she was on trial for murder, and the whole situation really dumbfounded me. I definitely want to read this book when it's released to learn more about what Knox had to go through before she was finally free to go home.

Last Words by: George Carlin

George Carlin is one of the most interesting people that ever lived. 'Nuff said.

On Writing by: Stephen King

I feel like this book is mentioned in every bookish corner of the internet. I've heard so many people say that all writers must read this, and I'm taking that recommendation. Surely Stephen King can offer some good advice.
Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of Cosmos by: Michio Kaku

I'm a nerd. I watch the Science Channel, and I see Michio Kaku talking in documentaries all the time. He explains things very well, and he's always talking about interesting concepts like dimensions and black holes. In this book, he talks about the M-theory, and I'm really excited to read about it!

 Angela's Ashes by: Frank McCourt

I read an excerpt of this autobiography a little over a year ago, and it was quite sad, and people confirmed that the book in general was a bit bleak. (But, it's about poverty, what else could a reader expect, happiness?) Due to the more-than-likely depressing content, I've been holding off on reading it... I tend to get really emotional when it comes to sad autobiographies.
Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by: Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox seems like such a nice person, spreading positivity in this book and also on nearby billboards. I'm sure Always Looking Up will be a very worthy read.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by: George Carlin

The title explains my interest pretty well. Besides, George Carlin is a legend. (That's why he has two books on this list!)

I feel like I never read enough of nonfiction, and I always have this weird craving for it once a year. Is that normal? Anyway, if you have any nonfiction on your TBR, please tell me about them in the comments.