Book Review: The Merciless 4

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Found on Google Images

Title: The Merciless 4: Last Rites

Author: Danielle Vega

My Rating: ★★★★

Summary: “The ropes tighten on Berkley Hubbard’s wrists. Blood drips down her fingers and lands with a smack on the cold floor of the church basement. She’s trapped, bound, and petrified by fear. A knife punctures her fragile skin as Berkley’s captors search for the mark of the devil on her body. They say they want to save her–drive the devil away and cleanse her soul–but the cuts are deep, the pain is agonizing.

When Berkley arrived in Italy a week ago, she never expected to be fighting for her life. After spending six months at the Institute, confined to a room with the dangerous-yet-alluring Sofia Flores, Berkley was certain that a vacation in Italy with her two best friends would be the perfect getaway.

But Berkley is hiding a terrible secret, one that threatens to upend her life all over again. As she’s forced to face her wicked past, she learns that the devil is always watching, and no one is coming to save her.”

My Thoughts:

Here are the links to my reviews for the other books in the series:

  1. The Merciless
  2. The Merciless 2: The Exorcism of Sofia Flores
  3. The Merciless 3: Origins of Evil

Onto the review!

I was pulled into this book right from the start. It starts with Berkley counting down how much longer she has to spend in the mental institution she’s in. It was intriguing to start with a totally new character, but see an old character, Sofia, in a new setting. Vega does a good job of describing the setting early on, which makes the institution come to life. Something else that is cool about The Merciless 4 is the way it’s written. It jumps between Berkley in the institution and in Italy, which allows the book to move along quickly in both plots.

Speaking of the plot, like I said with The Merciless 3, the plot is better built than the first two. It is more interesting and feels like there is a plot outside of the gore. The friendships (while not as developed as in the third book) are fairly interesting. Berkley and Sofia’s relationship changed over time and was fun to see develop. The readers know more about Sofia than Berkley does, which is a cool dynamic for a book like this. One thing I noticed in the first and last book of the series is the shitty friends. Sofia and Berkley both make friends with horrible people! I’ve had toxic friendships before, but (not even including the gory stuff) they are on another level of terrible people. I don’t understand how they really thought those people were their best friends??!

This isn’t important, but Berkley, Mara and Harper all get into NYU and are super chill about it?! That is a hard college to get into and they all seemed like it wasn’t that hard to get into or something? (I just checked and their acceptance rate is less than 20% this year).

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Something I didn’t love about The Merciless 4 was the setting. This series is supposed to be set in the present, but most mental institutions like the one Vega described have been shut down. Vega described a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest situation, but those have been shut down with good reason. (Examples of why can be seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

Additionally, the fact that everyone inside the institution is supposed to be crazy is a little bit of a problem for me. I understand that this is a horror novel and so that works with the plot, but regardless, authors need to be careful with their portrayal of mental illnesses. Sofia is crazy and that’s fine. She’s evil and murdered someone, so her being insane is part of the plot. (She’s not even necessarily human, because she’s possessed by the devil). Berkley tries to say she’s different, that everyone else is crazy, but in reality, they are probably in similar situations to her or have mental illnesses. To portray everyone as crazy when they aren’t supposed to be crazy or evil like Sofia is a little problematic.

As I have said with every book in the series, Vega’s descriptions are what really makes the books so good. There were a few lines I almost didn’t want to read because they were gross. But so good. For example…

“Blood runs down my arms and legs in ribbons.”

Lastly, the ending to this book was perfect! It completed the series in a very satisfying way, which is hard to do. I definitely enjoyed this series a lot, though it had some pretty major faults.


Playlist:

Every time I make a playlist for a Merciless book, they get less and less cohesive as I try to use different songs (and end up with many of the same ones). But here goes…

  1. Evil In the Night – Adam Lambert
  2. No Wrong No Right – Soundgarden
  3. Broomstick – L7
  4. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  5. Voodoo – Adam Lambert
  6. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  7. Devil in Me – Halsey
  8. Ghost – Michael Jackson
  9. Gasoline – Halsey
  10. Basket Case – Green Day (with the music video, this seems very fitting)

You can listen to the whole playlist here.


Thank you for reading! 🖤☠️🔪

Book Review: The Merciless 2

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Found on Google Images

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?”

My Thoughts:

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.


Playlist:

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.

  1. 665 – Soundgarden
  2. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  3. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  4. Ghost – Michael Jackson
  5. Devil In Me – Halsey
  6. Is It Scary – Michael Jackson
  7. Gasoline – Halsey
  8. Threatened – Michael Jackson
  9. One Eyed Girl – Hands Off Gretel
  10. 667 – Soundgarden

You can listen to the whole playlist here.


Thank you if you got all the way here! I know this was a long one ❤

Halloween Playlist

Happy Halloween everybody! I hope you all have a good costume to wear or at least eat some good candy. I have finals (so a bunch of tests) to do today and tomorrow, so I’m just doing the latter. To celebrate this Halloween, I decided to make a playlist of songs that are creepy or sound that way. I’m not sure that the transitions are super smooth, as I had trouble making all of these songs flow together well, but I tried. Here it is:

  1. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  2. Milk and Cookies – Melanie Martinez
  3. Gasoline – Halsey
  4. Morphine – Michael Jackson
  5. One Eyed Girl – Hands Off Gretel
  6. Broomstick – L7
  7. Blood on the Dance Floor – Michael Jackson
  8. Mad Hatter – Melanie Martinez
  9. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  10. Threatened – Michael Jackson

You can hear the playlist on Spotify here.

Book Review: The Merciless (The Merciless #1)

First off, I just want to apologize, as it has been a whole 3 months since posting on this blog! That is way longer than I wanted to go, but sometimes I just don’t know where my time goes. A lot does go to my homework, for sure. Also, I am going to try something new with my book reviews. With each review, I am going to make a playlist of songs on Spotify that I will link at the end of each review. I’ve been wanting a way to talk more about music and I think this will help do that. The music will also add to the overall mood of the book. Anyway, on to the review!


18667769Title: The Merciless

Author: Danielle Vega

My Rating: ★★★1/2

Summary: “Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream. Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended the popular girls on her first day at school, she admired their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed. Now Sofia’s new friends are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn. But their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation.”

My Thoughts:

The Merciless was intriguing from the beginning. The book stayed that way (for the most part) until the last page. This led to a fast read because there was hardly ever a dull moment. It may have taken me a long time to finish, (again because of school), but I sped through the pages when I did pick it up.

One aspect of the book I was disappointed by were the characters. As other reviews have noted, The Merciless is not a very new plot in terms of the characters. This was not always pointed out in a negative way either, as MTV said, “Mean Girls with an occult twist.” However, I felt the lack of depth the characters made the book less exciting, as the characters didn’t feel original. The basic plot is the same: there’s a new girl at school who makes friends with the most popular clique. Obviously, the plot was a lot darker than Mean Girls, but the base of the story was one I definitely recognized. In addition to this, the relationships between the characters fell a little flat, so I didn’t care as much about them as I could have. Stronger relationships between the characters would have helped later on in the story.

Something Vega did a good job of was making this book really gross. I mean this in the best way possible. The Merciless is a horror series, so the fact I cringed a lot and couldn’t read it too close to bed for the fear of not being able to sleep is a compliment. It was pretty graphic throughout the book. For example:

“Riley presses the knife into Brooklyn’s exposed thigh and pulls the blade toward her knee. She moves the knife so slowly that I hear the skin rip seconds before a thin red line of blood appears on Brooklyn’s leg.”

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to YA readers with strong stomachs.


Playlist:

For this playlist, I picked songs that have a creepy atmosphere to them, including some that are actually about scary things. For example, “Eating Simon” by Hands Off Gretel is about basically what the title states. It talks about a girl who fell in love with a boy named Simon so much so that she wanted him to be a part of her forever…so she ate him. (Lauren Tate, the lead singer’s description, not mine. That is not an interpretation, it’s actually what the song is about). With some (hopefully most) of the songs, I will link a live performance. The link to the whole Spotify playlist will be at the bottom of the post.

  1. Morphine – Michael Jackson
  2. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  3. Voodoo – Adam Lambert
  4. Mad Hatter – Melanie Martinez
  5. Threatened – Michael Jackson
  6. Control – Halsey

You can listen to the playlist here.


Thanks for reading! ❤

Oregon Book Haul

For the header I made for this post, I was just going to find a stack of books, but I think this girl looks like me, so I thought it was cute. Just thought I’d point it out because I really like this header 🙂


I visited my family in Oregon recently, and I went to two different book stores while I was there. Here are the books I got:

Smith Family Bookstore – Eugene, Oregon

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Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan and John Rocco

Powell’s – Portland, Oregon

 

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer

Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Moonwalk by Michael Jackson


Comment Below: What books have you bought recently?

15 of the Saddest Lyrics I Know

First of all, I want to quickly apologize for how long it’s been since I last posted. I’ve been pretty busy with school and Driver’s Ed, but now I have more free time and it’s spring break! Finally! Anyway, onto the post!


I listen to a lot of music, much of which is really sad. But some of those really sad songs are really beautifully written, so I thought I would share them with you. I’m all apologies in advance if you cry *ba boom chhh*

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At least Kurt thinks I’m funny

(If you didn’t get it, All Apologies is a song on the 1993 album by Nirvana, In Utero.) Anyways, on to the crying.

There are going to be four quotes in a row from Troye Sivan, because he likes tearing my heart apart, apparently…

“So what are you waiting for?
‘Cause someone could love you more
I’m just a lost boy, lost boy.”- LOST BOY by Troye Sivan

“Yeah, we knew from the beginning
That this wasn’t never ending
Shouldn’t stay too long
‘Cause we’re both too young
To give into forever.”- LOST BOY by Troye Sivan

Yes. Both of those extremely sad lyrics came from one song. It’s so good, but so sad. 

“‘Distance makes the heart grow fonder’
Said by someone stronger than me.”- DKLA by Troye Sivan

“I don’t mind that I know that you’re wrong
I don’t mind that you think you’re right
All I want is a fight to fight
Anything but quiet.”- THE QUIET by Troye Sivan

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My heart hurts

But we must continue!

“Broken pieces, break into me
So imperfectly what you should be
Lay here, it’s safe here, I’ll let you be broken open
Hide here, confide here so we can be broken open.”- Broken Open by Adam Lambert

This one is a little more inspirational, but still super sad. The whole song is about falling to pieces. If that’s not sad, I don’t know what is.

“Think I got myself in trouble
So I fill the bath with bubbles
Then I’ll put the towels all away
Should’ve never said the word ‘love’
Threw a toaster in the bathtub
I’m sick of all the games I have to play.”- Soap by Melanie Martinez

Here’s another Melanie lyric, this time about rape, capturing the idea in a very chilling way.

“Eenie meenie miny mo
Catch a lady by her toes
If she screams, don’t let her go.”- Tag You’re It by Melanie Martinez

Back to the subject of relationships, here’s another one…

“Wish I could just find a way
To have all your memories erased
‘Cause constantly they’re haunting me.”- Can’t Let You Go by Adam Lambert

“I wish I was like you
Easily amused.”- All Apologies by Nirvana

And more Nirvana…this one is a bit more bittersweet, but still pulls on your heartstrings.

“She loves him more than he will ever know
He loves her more than he will ever show.”- Swap Meet by Nirvana

“Radio – radio
I’d sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights.”- Radio Ga Ga by Queen

More Queen…

“Mama, ooo (anyway the wind blows)
I don’t want to die
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.”- Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

This next one deals with war in such an interesting way. It’s another Troye Sivan lyric.

“Let’s go have fun, you and me in the old Jeep
Ride around town with our rifles on the front seat
Fun, you and me in the Middle East
Shooting at rocks, bullets cocked in the midday sun
You and me in the old Jeep
Ride around town with our rifles on the front seat
Fun, you and me in the Middle East
Shooting at rocks, bullets cocked in the midday sun.”- Fun by Troye Sivan

Any song dealing with death is sad, but this one stabs me in my heart. The artist knew he was going to die when he wrote it, and knowing that makes the whole song so much sadder.

“Well I’ll never get my chance
Be ready to live and it’ll be ripped right out of my hands.”- Clouds by Zack Sobiech

This one is not necessarily about death, but I listened to it after someone I knew died, so I associate it with that, and it’s a very sad song any way you look at it.

“But you are not alone
I am here with you
Though we’re far apart
You’re always in my heart.”- You Are Not Alone by Michael Jackson

Ugghhhh…ouch my heart. I don’t know why I do this to myself! But the songs are so beautiful, so I guess I understand why. I made a playlist with all of these songs on it, so go listen to it hereClouds is not included on the playlist because it’s not on Spotify, so sorry for that, but I have the link to listen to it on YouTube here.

Comment Below: What is one of your favorite sad lyrics?

Mash-Up Mini Series, Song #10

I’m starting to realize this title is a little stupid. 12 songs is kind of a lot. Oh well. I’m not changing the name of this series now.

This one I first heard a few years ago. I have a live performance of this by Bruno Mars, but on account of the fact that he didn’t come up with this, I also linked one that wasn’t a live performance. I wouldn’t have thought of these songs going together, but it works really well. The mash-up is: “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

This was uploaded by DI4VOLO, I hope you like it! Now on to the live performance…

This video was uploaded by Purple Wire, so thank you! This performance is so good 🙂 I hope you like it as much as I do.

Check out the rest of the series:

 

Mash-Up Mini Series, Song #7

Today’s mash-up is another one of Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson. Again, I want to make it perfectly clear that I don’t like either of them, at all, and I haven’t been in either the Moonwalker or Hooligan fandom for two years. (That was sarcasm if you didn’t catch on). Anyway, on to the mash-up. This one is of “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars and “Beat It” by Michael Jackson.

This is “Beating on Heaven’s Gates” by Supa11Goku, I hope you like it 🙂

Listen to the rest of the series:

Mash-Up Mini Series, Song #4

For the fourth song in the series, I chose a mix of two very powerful singers: Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson. This mash-up is a mix of “I Want to Break Free” by Queen and “Black or White” by Michael Jackson.

Thanks to TheBennyJ88 for putting this on YouTube 🙂 I hope you like this one! The videos sampled in it are very different, which makes for an interesting video…

See the rest of the series here: