I like this album and I think it does a good job of showing the different sounds of Soundgarden. It has some really great songs on it, even though I don’t think it’s my favorite album of theirs. For the first time since I wrote about Ultramega OK in February, that I have found a Soundgarden song I don’t like. On Screaming Life/Fopp, I’m not the biggest fan of Tears to Forget or Little Joe, but even those songs have aspects I like about them.
Title: The Merciless 2: The Exorcism of Sofia Flores
Author: Danielle Vega
My Rating: ★★★1/2
Summary: “Sofia is still processing the horrific truth of what happened when she and three friends performed an exorcism that spiraled horribly out of control. Ever since that night, Sofia has been haunted by bloody and demonic visions. Her therapist says they’re all in her head, but to Sofia they feel chillingly real. She just wants to get out of town, start fresh someplace else. Then her mother dies suddenly, and Sofia gets her wish.
Sofia is sent to St. Mary’s, a creepy Catholic boarding school in Mississippi. There, everyone is seemingly doing penance for something, most of all the mysterious Jude, for whom Sofia can’t help feeling an unshakeable attraction. But when Sofia and Jude confide in each other about their pasts, something flips in him. He becomes convinced that Sofia is possessed by the devil….Is an exorcism the only way to save her eternal soul?
Readers won’t be able to look away from this terrifying read full of twists and turns that will leave them wondering, Is there evil in all of us?”
I struggled slightly with this book because I read The Merciless (The Merciless #1) (you can see my review here) in April of last year. I had forgotten a few specific details, but I was able to remember once I started reading. Plus, the big events were pretty easy to remember, like: girls torture a girl in a basement for a long time and then that girl murders the people who tortured her. (Not to diminish the story, however, because I really liked it). Anyway, on to book 2. Just like the first installment, I found The Merciless 2 very fast-paced and hard to put down.
The Merciless series is good because of Vega’s ability to describe a scene really well. I always feel that I can really picture exactly what is going on (especially when what’s going on is gross). This descriptiveness is what makes the scary scenes so scary, and the less scary scenes still creepy. Everything is very detailed, but not in a way that makes it boring, just in a way that makes is exceptionally creepy and gross. Some examples are:
“…moss covers their trunks and knotted roots creep up from the ground like huge, muscular snakes.”
“The leather tears into my skin like some wild animal’s fangs.”
“I brace myself to feel the warm spray of blood across my cheeks…”
Another thing she has done well in both of her books I’ve read is the endings are so good! They make me curious to read the next one and just finish off the book perfectly.
The Merciless 2 focused on religion, which I found interesting. The first book also had a lot to do with religion, as they baptized Sofia and talked about wanting to “save” Brooklyn and read Bible verses during the exorcism. However, The Merciless 2 focuses more on religion and the idea that anything is okay if it is done in the name of God or to “save” someone. As this is horror, that idea is taken to terrifying lengths, but it is an ideology that is interesting to explore, as it is seen in real life in much less extreme ways.
One thing I didn’t like about this book, (which was also a problem I had with the first book) was that the characters and their relationships with each other didn’t feel like they were developed enough. For example, I sort of cared and could, of course, empathize with Sofia when her mother died, but it wasn’t the writing that made me care, it was just the thought of losing a parent. At certain points in the book, I felt that it would have had more impact and would have served the story better if I cared more for the characters than I did.
After reading the second book in the series, which I really enjoyed, I’m not sure if it is necessary to read all four books (which I will be doing). While I liked both books, they are a little repetitive. The reader does get to see what happens to Sofia, which is interesting, however, the books have a very similar arc and to an extent, storyline. I have read the descriptions of the next two books, and they seem to follow the same arc. The main character does something for a while and then meets a person or people who give them an exorcism or the protagonist gives someone else an exorcism. But, as I already said, I will be reading the rest of the series, so obviously it doesn’t bother me that much.
Overall, I really like the story and think Vega is excellent at writing about disgusting things.
For this playlist, I used songs that sound creepy or fit the theme by being scary or creepy. (Or literally have the word “devil” in them…) I know there’s a lot of the same artists, but I don’t know that many songs that fit for this book.
Title: The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars #1)
Author: Frank Beddor
My Rating: ★★★
Summary: “The myth – Alice Liddel was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook.
The truth – Wonderland is real. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss’s parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author, to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.”
The Looking Glass Wars was an okay book. The plot was interesting and Alice in Wonderland was a good choice for a re-telling. Beddor kept the story close to the original in some ways, but put interesting twists on the story. However, the characters were not developed enough and their relationships with each other were kind of boring. One thing I did like was how the action scenes were written. I thought they were intriguing and fun to read. Overall, the idea of the book was good, but it was not well executed. I am not going to read the rest of the books, but I will look up what happens because the plot was what I liked about this book.
Some quotes that stood out to me:
“King Arch greeted Nolan as if the mere sight of him brought on fatigue.”
“For most of the universe’s inhabitants, life is not all gummy wads and tarty tarts; it is a struggle against hardship, unfairness, corruption, abuse, and adversity in all its guises, where even to survive – let alone survive with dignity – is heroic.”
“But the rebels had righteous anger working for them, which could be a better weapon than mere combat skills…”
Comment Below: Have you read a re-telling of a fairytale? What was it and how did you like it?
Sorry to have three of these posts in a row now! I should have a book review coming up soon, so that will help change everything up a bit. But for now, here’s another post about the music I listened to last month.
This EP is really great! I love her voice a lot and in just 4 songs there is good diversity in the sound. I knew Red Rover and Don’t Grow Up Too Fast (sort of, from the super cute music video). I can’t wait until she comes out with more music! I’m not going to pick favorites like I usually do because that would be a little pointless since there are only 4 songs.
Before I tell you what I listened to last month, I just want to acknowledge that this post is very late. I have been very busy with IB tests and was too busy to put this up earlier. I’m also sorry that there will be two of these posts in a row, but I hopefully I’ll have more up as the school year ends. Anyway, on to the post!
This is probably starting to sound old, but I really like this album. It’s a little more chill than Soundgarden’s other albums overall, but still has plenty of loudness to it. I like being able to hear Cornell sing as well as scream because he did both so beautifully.
Shockingly, I like this album too! (I know, what a surprise…) It stands out to me as different from their albums because, as it was made so much later than the rest, Cornell’s voice sounds different. (But, of course, still as amazing). His voice has more rasp to it than in previous Soundgarden albums. This is normal, as all singer’s voices evolve and change the longer they sing.
I really like this album! It’s very cohesive in terms of sound, although a lot of it sounds Hair Metal-ish, which is generally not my favorite because of the people that tend to be making those albums. *cough* Axl Rose *cough* However, as Chris Cornell was not a known sexist and racist, as the previously mentioned was, I have a much easier time enjoying myself while listening to some Hair Metal-sounding Soundgarden. Again, not surprised that I liked this album, as I really like pretty much any and every Soundgarden song I’ve ever heard.
I love this album! Not really a surprise, again. I unknowingly already knew a lot of this album before I sat down and listened to it, as it is Soundgarden’s most commercially successful album. I knew Black Hole Sun, The Day I Tried to Live, My Wave and Fell on Black Days. (Honestly though, if you only know one Soundgarden song, it’s likely Black Hole Sun).
Some of my favorite songs (I tried not to include the Superwellknown ones):
Summary: “A stunningly candid portrait of the Seattle grunge scene of the ’90s and a memoir of an addict during the last great era of rock ‘n’ roll excess, by Hole drummer Patty Schemel.
Patty Schemel’s story begins with a childhood surrounded by the AA meetings her parents hosted in the family living room. Their divorce triggered her first forays into drinking at age twelve and dovetailed with her passion for punk rock and playing the drums. Patty’s struggles with her sexuality further drove her notoriously hard playing, and by the late ’80s she had focused that anger, confusion, and drive into regular gigs with well-regarded bands in Tacoma, Seattle, and Olympia, Washington. She met a pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain at a Melvins show, and less than five years later, was living with him and his wife, Hole front-woman Courtney Love, at the height of his fame and on the cusp of hers. As the platinum-selling band’s new drummer, Schemel contributed memorable, driving beats to hits like “Beautiful Son,” “Violet,” “Doll Parts,” and “Miss World.” But the band was plagued by tragedy and heroin addiction, and by the time Hole went on tour in support of their ironically titled and critically-acclaimed album Live Through This in 1994, both Cobain and Hole bassist Kristin Pfaff had died at the age of 27.
With surprising candor and wit, Schemel intimately documents the events surrounding her dramatic exit from the band in 1998 that led to a dark descent into a life of homelessness and crime on the streets of Los Angeles, and the difficult but rewarding path to lasting sobriety after more than twenty serious attempts to get clean. Hit So Hard is a testament not only to the enduring power of the music Schemel helped create but an important document of the drug culture that threatened to destroy it.”
In Hit So Hard, Schemel did a very good job of adding humor to her stories. Throughout the difficult subjects she talks about, like drugs, death and being homeless, she makes the reader laugh. It always felt well timed and provided relief for the times the reader was left to sit with the pain Schemel endured. As I have read and watched a few documentaries about rock stardom, which often end in death, it was refreshing to have someone live through it (this…I had to) and be able to make jokes about it. Here are some examples:
“Adolescence. Oh God, red hair, and glasses. That was me in a nutshell, the dark side of a John Hughes movie. Also: GAY.”
Another, on heroin addiction:
“There was nothing like a free expensive candle and a shot of heroin to make my life complete.”
Along with the humor, Hit So Hard is very honest. Schemel is being brutally truthful about everything she experienced and felt during her life. As someone who went through so much, it would have been easy to sugarcoat how difficult things were or not include certain experiences. The fact that she puts it all out there makes this book so clearly honest and brave. It really helps to see just how strong Schemel is to have lived through (…this) all she did. And because of how honest she is, Hit So Hard can be heartbreaking and I found parts difficult to read.
After reading this book, I felt even more respect for someone I already had a lot of respect for as a musician and from watching the documentary Hit So Hard. It makes me really admire her strength.
Lastly, I think Hit So Hard and books like it are very important, because it really helps people see (and helped me see more clearly) that addiction is truly an illness and should be treated as such. Often people have very little sympathy for addicts and act like they want to be addicted or don’t look very deep into why they have drug or alcohol problems. Schemel’s book promotes empathy and compassion.
Also, obviously I think you should read this book, but if you like movies better and want to watch instead of read about Schemel’s life, you can watch the documentary Hit So Hard.
This playlist is some of my favorite Hole songs, not including Nobody’s Daughter, because that album didn’t have any original Hole members other than Courtney Love. Although I really like it, I don’t consider it a real Hole album because of that reason. I also included only one Celebrity Skin song because even though I love that album, it seemed unfair to include much from it as it was recorded without Schemel.
I’m starting something new! I’m going to be talking about what music I listened to each month. I’m slightly worried about this as I can be pretty terrible about listening to anything new, but we’ll see how this goes.
So first off, I decided to do this towards the end of February, which means this month may not be the most accurate. There are certain songs or albums I may have listened to a lot that I forgot here. March will be more accurate as I will be tracking my music, as I will know the post is coming up.
Now I just want to tell you a little about how I listen to music. Overall, I am pretty bad at listening to new music. I have a long list in my Bullet Journal of music to listen to and I want to, but then I don’t. So hopefully, for your sake, this is not as bad as I think and I don’t just talk about how I listened to Live Through This every month. Another habit I have is when I actually listen to new music, I dedicate my time to work my way through their entire discography. In 2016, this is how I got into Hole and Foo Fighters, although listening to all 8 (plus some extra ones, also if you plan to do this, it’s now 9) is admittedly more impressive than Hole’s 4. I am currently doing this with Soundgarden (so that might be noticeable in coming months, as well as this month).
I don’t know why, but it took me so long to actually listen to this album. I knew I liked Halsey’s music before it came out, as I love Badlands, so why it took me so long to actually listen to it I don’t know. But when I finally did, I found I really like it! It re-tells Romeo and Juliet in an interesting way and I like every song on the album.
Some of my favorite songs (in no particular order):
This album is pretty good, but not amazing. I like all of the songs and there are definitely some I love. But generally, it doesn’t stand out much as an album. Additionally, this is not the most creative U2 has ever been. There were a few remixes and lines I recognize from other songs, a few from Songs of Innocence (the album they forced on everyone), which may not have been the best choice as people really didn’t like that album. One reason it does stand out to me, though, is how hopeful it is. It was written during you know…right now, and for being a band that involves themselves in world issues, it is very optimistic. But Bono has always seemed to believe in America more than most Americans.
Some of my favorite songs (in no particular order):
I really love this album! (I still haven’t decided if I like Circle of Power though honestly). Other than that, I really like every song on this album and can’t get over how amazing Cornell’s voice truly was (if evidence is needed, just listen to Beyond the Wheel or Smokestack Lightning). I’m not at all surprised I like it though, as I like nearly every Soundgarden song I’ve heard.
Some of my favorite songs (in no particular order):
Goodreads Summary: “In his New York Times bestselling memoir, A Work in Progress, Connor Franta shared his journey from small-town Midwestern boy to full-fledged Internet sensation. Exploring his past with humor and astounding insight, Connor reminded his fans of why they first fell in love with him on YouTube – and revealed to newcomers how he relates to his millions of dedicated followers.
Now, two years later, Connor is ready to bring to light a side of himself he’s rarely shown on or off camera. In this diary-like look at his life since A Work in Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment – with others and himself.
Told through short essays, letters to his past and future selves, poetry and original photography, Note to Self is a raw, in-the-moment look at the fascinating interior life of a young creator turning inward in order to move forward.”
Note to Self is a fast and easy read. Not only is this because of the format of pictures, poems, and short essays, but this book reads in a pretty casual or personable way. This voice works well, as the book is intended to read like a diary as if it’s coming straight from Franta’s head. It is not meant to seem super planned out, rather what he was feeling at the time (or almost, after being edited a lot to make those ideas better).
One aspect that did not bother me much, but I can see annoying others is Note to Self can get a little cheesy. (He does acknowledge this at least once in the book however). This book talks a lot about mental health and positive thinking and Franta’s relationships with those topics. For example: “No sailor, no fisherman, no captain of a ship has ever earned his stripes on calm waters.” See, cheesy but not overwhelmingly so.
On another note, aesthetically, Note to Self is gorgeous. Franta is a very talented photographer and this is apparent in the pictures interspersed with his writing. Here are some examples:
Found on Google Images
Found on Google Images
As I sort of already mentioned, this book felt very authentic which was likely because of the way it was written. Note to Self was very casual, which made me feel that Franta was being very much himself. This honesty helped make it a good memoir because it made the story intriguing.
Another aspect that made Note to Self strong was that it was easy for me to relate to. There were many times when I felt I could really understand his struggles, which came from having experience with some of the issues. Additionally, Franta’s descriptions of his emotions were well written. However, there were also times I felt his topic choices or ideas were unoriginal or generic. I felt like there was depth missing because there was less personal connection for him. (And therefore less connection for me). An example is when Franta talks about wanting to disconnect from technology more and how in our current society, (largely because of our constant access to everything), everyone seems busy all the time. I don’t think that these ideas are generally new or unheard of.
Lastly, I sometimes had issues with the poems specifically. Not always (but there were a few times) I felt that the poems read like fake deep Tumblr poems. People who frequent Tumblr know exactly what I mean, but for those who don’t, it means basically what it sounds like. Someone is trying to be deep and meaningful but it really just sounds cheesy or like they are trying to sound emotional or deep and really aren’t. I don’t mean that Franta didn’t feel these emotions, because it is clear he did, however, the execution was not always as good as other times. For example: “your smell and smile/could make even the strongest/fall to their knees” It’s just a bit much.
No playlist this time 😦 It was hard to come up with anything for this book, so there is none, sorry!
Comment Below: What good books have you read recently?
As I looked at the side of my blog, where there are tags from my blog listed, you can see Melanie Martinez listed. This is because I have talked about her a few times, in my Mash-Up Mini Series and used her songs in my playlists. I have talked about this on Twitter and Facebook, but wanted to make it crystal clear that I no longer support her. She has been accused of rape by a friend of hers and I could and will never support anyone like that. I won’t delete my other posts with her in them, as her music or song was just part of a whole playlist or book review. I will link more information on what happened here, because it is not my story to tell.