Book Review: The Young Elites

20821111Novel: The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) by Marie Lu | Goodreads
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This was my first Marie Lu book (I know, you’re all shocked) and OH BOY WAS I IMPRESSED. I’ve been wanting to read the Legend series for a while now, but I just never got around to it. (This is what happens when you have ARCs for a year and haven’t touched them.) The Young Elites blew my socks off though, so hopefully I’ll be getting around Legend sometime soon.

The Young Elites tells the story of Adelina, a lonely girl whose father has told her for the past years that she is worthless. This book is her tale of finding her people, the power within her, and learning how to use it for both good and evil. The other Young Elites in the Dagger Society are quite the cast of characters, helping Adelina along the way, but they are also doubtful of her usefulness. They’re an exclusive group of tight knit friends who don’t let a newbie in just for fun, and so Adelina must prove herself, in the process learning about herself and her own self worth.

One of my favorite things about this book is that Lu takes basic issues many people struggle with as teenagers – self confidence, doubt, and loneliness – and heightens them. She throws these characteristics into Adelina and puts her through trial after trial, taking the world of The Young Elites, as well as Adelina and the other Elites and making it relatable to the reader.

As far as the plot goes, the beginning is a bit slow. Lu builds the world in the first couple chapters, as well as helping us to understand Adelina. But once you get into the middle, the book picks up fast, with missions for the Young Elites and trials for Adelina. This book is one of my favorites of the year – I can’t recommend it enough!

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Classics Review {2}: A Farewell to Arms

This year, I’ve given myself a challenge of reading more classic literature, specifically from the 1920’s. I’m going to be chronicling my journey through some short reviews in this “Classics Review” series, and if you’re interested in tagging along, read with me!

46167Novel: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway | Goodreads
Release Date: 1929
Publisher: (my edition) Scribner
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway’s frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto—of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized—is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was thirty years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

I’ve been wanting to read some Hemingway for a long time, and A Farewell to Arms exceeded my expectations in so many ways.

Hemingway’s prose is like nothing else I’ve ever encountered – it’s simple, easy to grasp, and interesting to read. For “classic” literature, I was expecting prose a bit more complex and difficult to understand. Instead the length of his sentences, which are short giving it a unique sound and pacing.

As far as the plot goes, it was definitely a bit dry in the beginning, but as the book continued it picked right up. Catherine and Henry’s relationship is unlike relationships in much of literature now, in my opinion, but I don’t that’s necessarily bad. Catherine takes everything in stride, not even blinking an eyelash at some of the more surprising points of the plot, which fascinated me. The war element of this novel I think could’ve had a serious influence on the romance – what are your thoughts on that?

As far as being a classic, I think that A Farewell to Arms is a fascinating look at love, war, and sacrifice, and is timeless in so many ways. I can’t recommend this book enough!

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Music Monday {16}

music mondays

On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

This week will be new discoveries at ACL edition!

1. Maiden by MØ

I saw MØ at ACL last weekend and oh my gosh I loved it. She has such a fun and exhilarating stage presence. I bought her album right after I saw her perform and met her and she was such a sweet woman – I’m now a huge MØ fan!

2. All The Days by HAERTS

I knew very little about HAERTS before going to the show on a Sunday morning, and I was blown away by this band. I couldn’t get enough of their sound, the vocals, the instrumentation – all of it. I need their album right now.

3. How Good Does It Feel by Empires

I completely stumbled across Empires at their early morning show in the drizzle, and I loved it. Their music is so fun to listen to both live and at home, and I’ve been converted to a fan. I’m super stoked for the album!

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My ACL Must Sees

It’s officially almost one of my FAVORITE weekends of the year – ACL weekend! I’m going Weekend Two (mainly because I have to see Catfish and the Bottlemen) and I’m so so so excited to see all of the music. Here are my must sees for the weekend:

  1. Catfish and the Bottlemen – they’re playing at 12:15 on a Friday, and I’m skipping school (shhh) to see them. I’m not expecting there to be a big crowd because the album isn’t even out yet in the US, so I’m super psyched.
  2. Chvrches – I’ve been a fan of Chvrches for about a year now, and can’t wait to finally see them.
  3. Iggy Azalea – I can jam to Iggy Azalea, and so heck I’m going to.
  4. Cults – I just bought their most recent album and have listening to it non-stop in preparation for this show.
  5. Foster the People – I saw them at SXSW this past year and they were incredible live, so I’m definitely seeing them again.

If you’re interested in keeping up with my escapades, check out my Instagram this weekend – I’ll be uploading some photos and such there!

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Classics Review {1}: The Catcher in the Rye

This year, I’ve given myself a challenge of reading more classic literature, specifically from the 1920’s. I’m going to be chronicling my journey through some short reviews in this “Classics Review” series, and if you’re interested in tagging along, read with me!

Novel: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger | Goodreads
Release Date: 1951
Publisher: (my edition) Back Bay Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

I had absolutely ZERO idea of what this book was actually about before I started it. For some reason, I thought it was about rural/small town life (the rye part was what put me on that path I think) but it wasn’t that AT ALL. I was expecting a book I would drudge through, but I ended up laughing out loud and finishing it in days.

Holden Caulfield is seen by many as someone teenagers can relate to, and in some ways he is. He represents that desire to just go into the world and forget school, to absorb life around you, experience everything idea that even I have sometimes. But in other ways I couldn’t relate to him at all. I couldn’t relate to his image of the people around him – the “phonies” – and I value my school life way more than Holden does. The one thing that I really disliked about Holden was the way he treated women – he strung them along, played around, called and said he loved them and then never saw them again. But despite this, I still found him an enjoyable character to read about.

The humor in this book was by far my favorite part. It got me through the drier patches and brought Holden to life. I had low expectations coming in, but was very impressed by this one – I might be trying some Salinger in the future!

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Music Monday {15}

music mondays

On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

1. Westside by The Kooks

“Westside” is off The Kook’s most recent album entitled Listen and is on repeat at my house. I can’t get enough of this song. So danceable, with the killer vocals from Luke and the guitar and synth – it’s just SUCH a tune. The only videos I could find were live, so I had to use this one – but go check out the live versions and go see The Kooks live this fall!

2. Take Me Away by Bleachers feat. Grimes

I’m obsessed with Bleachers right now, and this track off of his album Strange Desire with Grimes has to be my favorite from the album. I love Grimes’s vocals, and the loops are great. Can’t get enough. (Yet again, one of the few videos I could find.)

3. I Can Hardly Make You Mine by Cults

I’ve been a Cults fan for a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to listening to their most recent album and WOWZA it’s good. This track, “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” I think shows off the talents of Cults in all of its strong vocals/killer sound combo. I’ll be seeing Cults at ACL this weekend and am absolutely stoked.

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Album Review: Listen – The Kooks

Listen by The Kooks

I first heard The Kooks somewhere on the internet – 8tracks maybe? and it was their song “Naive”. I loved it. I listened to that song on repeat for a week or two, and then they kind of fell into the back of my mind. But last month their new album, Listen came out, and one of my friends messaged me and was like, “WILLA. YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS. NOW.” It took me a while to get to it, but the minute I played the album I knew it was for me.

Listen opens with “Around Town” which incorporates backup vocals with a bit of a Gospel vibe almost, and some killer percussion, setting a tone for the rest of the album. Luke Pritchard (lead singer) has a very obviously British sound to his voice, and when he sings you can’t help but want to sing along. My personal favorite track is “Westside”, which opens with a strong and simple drum beat and guitar line, along with Pritchard’s vocals. It’s all very stripped down – but then we hit the chorus and the song erupts into synths and catchy lyrics, layered the percussion elements as the song progresses. For me, it’s the best song on the album, but “Are We Electric” comes a close second, with similar themes of synth and a strong beat. One of the most popular tracks though is “Forgive & Forget”, which is uses vocals and more – you guessed it – percussion to finish out the song.

I’m absolutely in love with this album. Listen incorporates all of my favorite parts of music – synth, strong vocals, and a killer beat, and then throws in catchy lyrics to create the perfect cd. Go check it out, and catch The Kooks on tour this fall!

Spotify | iTunes | Amazon

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