Tag Archives: music

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin (with bonus songs)

Memoirs

“You forget all of it anyway. First, you forget everything you learned– the dates of the Hay-Herran Treaty and the Pythagorean theorem. You especially forget everything you didn’t really learn, but just memorized the night before. You forget the names of all but one or two of your teachers, and eventually you’ll forget those, too. You forget your junior year class schedule and where you used to sit and your best friend’s home phone number and the lyrics to that song you must have played a million times. For me, it was something by Simon & Garfunkel. Who knows what it’ll be for you? And eventually, but slowly, oh so slowly, you forget your humiliations– even the ones that seemed indelible just fade away. You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, athletic, and not. Who went to a good college. Who threw the best parties. Who could get you pot. You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even the ones you actually did. They’re the last to go. And then once you’ve forgotten enough, you love someone else.”
-Grant Porter

Depending on how long you’ve been following my reviews, you may or may not remember my previous attempt to review this book. Sadly, as I had just finished writing and was about to post, the entire thing erased itself, save for the “bonus playlist” I added at the end. So here I am, ready to review this book over again.

After losing a coin toss and having to go back to school to retrieve a camera, Naomi fell down the stairs in front of her school and hit her head. She awoke in an ambulance, confused and scared. By the time she got to the hospital, she discovered that all of her memory from the past four years was gone. Now, Naomi struggles to fit in and figure out everything she’s forgotten– including her best friend, boyfriend, her parents’ divorce, and the birth of her younger sister.

My review probably didn’t do this book justice, but trust me, it was a great book. It’s clear that Gabrielle Zevin did her research, because everything seemed very believable and accurate. Her character development was great, and the slow memory regaining made me not want to stop reading. I think the best thing about the entire book, though, is the tension between Naomi and the three guys she has to pick from– her boyfriend Ace, her best friend Will, and James, the boy she just met who saved her during her accident.

Since I can’t add the playlist (it’s still posted here), I’ll add my favorite song of the entire playlist in the back, which somehow didn’t make it onto the first list. It’s called “A Certain Romance” by the Arctic Monkeys, one of my favorite bands of the moment. And, just for a little something extra, I’ll add a link to the song I haven’t been able to stop listening to for about a week now: “Evolution of Get Lucky” by PV Nova on YouTube. Basically, he took the song “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams, and he did one of those “how music changes over the decades” things with it. It’s hard to explain, so it would probably be best if you just listened to it. I promise, it’s incredible.

Thanks for reading, guys, and I’ll see you soon!

-J

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Fall to Pieces by Mary Forsberg Weiland

Fall to Pieces

“I hate to say this, but, God– what have you sent me to love?”
-Mary Forsberg Weiland

Mary Forsberg Weiland, famous 90s model and ex-wife of Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland, has been to hell and back. She’s had her fair share of the tabloids’ distorted versions of the truth, and in her autobiography, she sets the record straight. Fall to Pieces is a walk through her modeling career, relationships, addiction, recovery, relapse, mental illness, and everything in between.

I absolutely adore this book, and I’ll tell you why. I first read it last year, when I needed a nonfiction book for a report for my freshman English class. I really wanted to read Girl, Interrupted, but since my parents had already bought me that book for Christmas and it was currently November, they brought Fall to Pieces home one day after shopping. I wasn’t a huge fan of Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver– I didn’t know many songs other than the big hits, like “Vasoline,” “Plush,” and “Fall to Pieces”– but I decided to give it a try anyway, considering the caption on the front of the book said it involved three of my favorite subjects to read about.

The book starts off with a memory of Mary’s first try at heroin, which automatically reeled me in. Unfortunately, it was just an attention-catching prologue, and I had to wait for page 72 before she even met Scott. Their relationship is heartbreaking, and although I really disliked Scott for the games he’d play with Mary, he eventually grew on me and came to be known as a really nice guy. Even while using heroin, he tried to protect Mary– when she first tried it at the very beginning of the book, he tried to stop her because he didn’t want her going down the same, dark path.

You may have heard the story, but you haven’t heard it like this: the truth, not over-exaggerated or glamorized. It’s not only great for fans of Scott Weiland’s bands or those who like it for its subject matter, though. It mentions encounters with various other celebrities as well: musicians like Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols; actors and actresses like Robert Downey Jr. and Charlize Theron; and countless others. Fall to Pieces is dark and twisted, yet inspirational and beautiful in the aspect of recovery and always seeing the good in things, even when they don’t turn out the way you planned. Please, go out and buy this book– it won’t let you down.

-J

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Crash Into Me by Albert Borris

Crash Into Me

“Self-esteem is overrated. Anyone will think they color great if enough people tell them. Artificial praise. Down inside, compliments like that are hollow… Real self-worth comes from mastery, from getting good at something. It doesn’t matter what. Then you don’t have to worry about empty compliments. You don’t worry about what other people think. You have self-respect.”
-Mr. Clark

Frank, Audrey, Owen, and Jin-Ae are four suicidal teenagers with one common goal: a cross-country road trip to visit celebrity suicide sites ending in Death Valley, California, where they will kill themselves together. They spend the rest of their time completing bucket list items and sharing secrets, knowing that death is final and this is their only chance to finish what they’ve started. But will time during the road trip change their minds before they reach their final destination?

This is and always will be one of my favorite books, for a few reasons. One, the suspense. You just don’t know what will happen at the end. Everything is so completely unpredictable, even when you think you know exactly what’s going on. Two, the awesome subject matter. I’ve always been attracted to books about suicide (I’m not obsessed with death or anything, I promise), and this is a perfect choice for someone like me. Sad? Of course it is. But not as sad as you’d think, and it’s not an all-out tear fest. It’s just like any other book, just with a much darker subject matter.

And finally, number three deserves its own paragraph. This is one of those few books where I like all of the main and supporting characters. Owen, the narrator and main character of the story, is quiet and easily lovable boy you wish you knew in real life. He seems considerably more vulnerable compared to the other characters. Frank, the other male of the group, is mainly described as an awkward-looking “jock” who really likes beer and hates his father. Jin-Ae is the only gay member of the group, and also a cutter with a love for poetry. Audrey, the youngest member of the group, is an extremely outspoken Nirvana fanatic with a buzz cut and a large scar across her forehead. Despite their total oppositeness, together they make one awesome pack.

I’m kind of rambling now, but you get the main idea. As a whole, the book is great, and I believe everyone should take the time to read it at least once in their lifetime. This book is very underrated, so if you do read it or have read it before, please let me know what you think of it. (I haven’t found one person yet who has read it, and everyone I try to convince thinks it looks too depressing.) Have a great night, and happy June! 🙂

-J

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Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went

““A day might just be twenty-four hours but sometimes getting through one seems as impossible as scaling Everest.”
-Adam

The sequel to If I Stay is set three and a half years after the car accident that killed Mia’s family and put her into a coma. It is told from the point of view of Adam, Mia’s boyfriend during If I Stay. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, has risen to the top of the Billboard charts and granted him the fame he’s always wanted. But one night he spends in New York changes his life– and his opinion on music– when something he’d never expect happens. (I can’t say too much else about the plot without ruining the first book.)

Where She Went is just as great as its predecessor, which is a pretty big deal considering how awesome the first book was. You can really see the change of character in Adam from the first book to the second; it’s like he’s become a whole new person, leaving behind every trace of his old life for what he thought would be much better.

But, as always, I have one complaint. Gayle Forman has a tendency to use half of her books to tell the real story, and the other half as flashbacks. If I Stay was full of them, which was understandable since Mia was in a coma, but I think Where She Went took it a little too far. Being set three and a half years after the first book makes a huge gap in time, which is, understandably, filled with flashbacks. But there are also flashbacks of before the events in If I Stay, and then flasbacks that you’ve already heard in the first book but for some reason need to be retold by Adam. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Don’t mainly focus on my complaining, though. It’s a very minor complaint, one I was debating whether to even include in this review, and it really doesn’t take away from the great story. I’d recommend anyone who read and enjoyed If I Stay to read Where She Went immediately after, because I had my doubts about the sequel being worth anything at first, but was proven wrong (as I usually am when I question books).

I’m going to use the end of this review to inform any of you If I Stay fans that the film version is in production (hopefully soon), starring Chloë Grace Mortez (who starred in Kick-Ass and Let Me In) as Mia. Even though she’s nowhere near the Mia I had in my head as I was reading, she’s an incredible actress and I know she’ll do the part justice.

-J

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If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay

“Please, Mia. Don’t make me write a song.”
-Adam

The day started out great: a snow day had been issued, and Mia Hall and her family were going to spend the day visiting her grandparents and some family friends. But in an instant, they are involved in a crash that claims the lives of her parents, and lands Mia and her brother under intensive treatment in the hospital. During an out-of-body experience, Mia realizes she will have to decide whether to continue her life or end it all.

If I Stay is one of those really tragic books that you can’t help but read over and over again. Half of the book is Mia’s experiences as she wanders around the hospital; the other half tells of flashbacks from before the accident. It’s really suspenseful, mainly due to the fact that for most of the book you don’t even know if Mia’s brother is still alive, nor do you know if Mia will decide to let herself go or force herself to live without her parents. But I really love the element of music featured in this book, from Mia’s classical cello style to her family’s and boyfriend’s punk-rock obsession.

Mia goes through serious hell in this book, besides her parents’ death. Some of the flashbacks and memories she tells of are really depressing, and involve a lot of death as well. Also, the car-crash scene is very graphic, so if you’re squeamish, I’d advise you to either skip over those pages or just don’t read the book at all. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea, considering there are full explanations of her parents’ appearance after the crash.

-J

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Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin – Bonus Playlist

(I included a bonus playlist with my review for Saving June; if you enjoy this one, you should definitely check out that one as well. It’s mostly the same type of music, but that one has a lot more classic rock songs. Also, if you’d like the full list, contact me and I’ll send you them.)

-J

J’s Top Ten Songs from Memoirs

1. “Learning To Fly” by Pink Floyd
2. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
3. “I Will” by The Beatles
4. “Higher Ground” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
5. “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve
6. “Baba O’Riley” by The Who
7. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
8. “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” by Arcade Fire
9. “Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessional
10. “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins

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Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

Get Well Soon

“I hardly think it wise to put the idea of flying into the heads of impressionable teenagers who are already battling the challenges of lunacy.”
-Anna Bloom

It’s so difficult to write a review of a book with the kind of storyline that giving away tiny details could ruin the entire plot. So, all I’ll say is that the main character, Anna Bloom, is in a mental hospital, trying to make sense of everything and deal with the problems from both her old and new lives.

At first, I thought this would be just another mental hospital story. I still liked it; it was just kind of a “what else is new?” book. But at a certain point, where Anna notices something different about one of the patients (that’s the best I can do, sorry!), I started to get really into it. I wanted to know everything about this kid. The suspense was nearly killing me, especially because nothing regarding it is revealed until almost the end of the book. I read half the book in one sitting, I was so desperate to know. And when the truth came out, I was impressed. The signs were subtle but there, and I was a little surprised I didn’t pick up on it sooner.

Although I liked most of the characters (which doesn’t happen often), I have to say my favorite is Matt O. I don’t know what it is about him, but I just want to be friends with this kid. It was a little weird how many shared interests Anna and I had, too. (Imagine reading a book while listening to a band you really like and wearing one of your favorite shirts and pair of shoes. Now, imagine the narrator start talking about that band, describing your shirt to you, and mentioning the shoes you’re wearing. Then, a while later, the narrator mentions that she really likes to do one of your favorite passtimes. Wouldn’t you freak out too?)

And, a quick note before I leave: Since tomorrow is my birthday, I don’t know if I’ll get around to reading or not. If I do, great; if I don’t, you guys will probably have to wait an extra day until I post again. And since I’m basing what book I’m reading next over whether I get to read tomorrow, that may mean waiting up to four or five days for another review. 😦

Have a great weekend, guys. See you later!

-J

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Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine

“The dark does not weep for itself because there is no light. Rather, it accepts that it is the dark.”
-Balder

After being diagnosed with mad cow disease with no hope for a cure, loser Cameron Smith becomes everyone’s hero overnight. While staying in the hospital, an angel named Dulcie visits him in the middle of the night and tells Cameron he has to search for the cure in order to find it. He takes with him a Spanish dwarf named Gonzo and they travel across the country, meeting all sorts of unusual people, villians, and Viking gods as they look for not only a cure for disease, but a cure for the end of the world.

This book poses the possibility of so many different things, such as “What would happen if there were nothing but happiness?” and “If you only had one wish to base your life on, what would it be?” It’s definitely the kind of book to make you think right up until the end.

I know you guys probably hate my nerdy comparisons, but I can’t resist this one. This is the only way I can think of to make you understand what reading this book is like. Going Bovine, to me, is a lot like the movie Total Recall (both the Arnold Schwarzenegger one and the Colin Farrell remake)– the best part about it is the fact that throughout the whole thing, you don’t know if most of it was real or not. I’ll provide you with some examples–without spoilers, of course:

In Total Recall, Douglas Quaid uses a sort of memory-implanting device called Rekall to see what his life would be like as a secret agent. Just as it’s about to take effect, the people who have set up the device for him learn that he’s not who he appears to be and try to kill him. The basic plot of the movie revolves around the whole idea of “Is this whole thing really happening, or is it just part of the Rekall?”

In Going Bovine, Cameron is diagnosed with mad cow disease and told the symptoms he will face, incluidng dementia and hallucinations. After a few nights in the hospital, he is visited by a punk-rock angel and told he needs to search for the cure if he wants to find it. Everything he encounters on his crazy adventure could very well be a hallucination from his disease, but who knows?

This book is pretty intense. You have to be open to all possibilities while reading it, or you probably won’t like it at all. I was really skeptical about reading this, but now it’s within my favorites of my new books (and yes, I do say that a lot, but I truly believe this one passes up almost all of the others). It’s definitely an adventure you won’t want to miss out on, and an adventure I’m glad I decided to take.

-J

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Saving June by Hannah Harrington (with bonus music)

Saving June

“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.”
-Jake Tolan

I absolutely love this book. Saving June is officially tied with a couple of other books regarding my favorites of the ones I got for Christmas. It’s hard for me to write this review without gushing, so please try to ignore it if anything slips out.

Harper’s sister June killed herself a week before her high school graduation. While her family, friends, and everyone around her is recovering, Harper holds it all inside, vowing to be strong and untouchable. But when her recently divorced parents decide to split the ashes, Harper decides to take the ashes and go to the place June had always dreamed of living: California. Along with her best friend, Laney, and a mysterious boy with an unknown connection to June, Harper travels across the country on a great, music-filled adventure and tries to let go of everything that’s been weighing her down.

First thing’s first: I love the huge element of music in this book. The quote I used above was taken out of a conversation about Eric Clapton and how he wrote “Tears in Heaven” after his four-year old son fell out of a window forty-nine stories to his death. Also, the whole book mentions classic rock songs, and even has three playlists in the back with incredible songs. I’d recommend listening to all of them after reading this book, because a great number of them are fantastic. (I’ve linked the first of the playlists at the end of this post, for any of you who are curious.)

Now, to the actual book itself. For this being her first novel, Hannah Harrington’s writing style is amazing. She seems to really understand everything that’s going on, and how each character feels after each event, as if she had experienced all of these situations herself.

I didn’t hate most of the characters like I do in a lot of books, either. Hannah Harrington isn’t one of those authors who makes every character sound the same in terms of dialogue and actions; she even took the time to distinguish the extremely minor characters. And even though this book probably doesn’t sound exciting or adventurous (I didn’t think it would be, at least), it totally is. The main characters end up in so many different places that you can practically feel the memories being made.

Well, I’m done obsessing over this book for now. Below are the links to each of the songs in one of the playlists featured in Saving June. I’ve bolded my favorites, so if you’re only planning on listening to a couple you know which ones. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out the rest of the playlists featured in this book (you can Google them or just contact me and I’ll send them to you). Hope you enjoy the music!

-J

Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum

1. “Start Me Up” – The Rolling Stones
2. “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ “ – The Velvet Underground
3. “Nights In White Satin” – The Moody Blues
4. “Stairway To Heaven” – Led Zeppelin
5. “Gloomy Sunday” – Billie Holiday
6. “Where Is My Mind?” – The Pixies
7. “Asking For It” – Hole feat. Kurt Cobain
8. “Boom Swagger Boom” – Murder City Devils
9. “Train In Vain” – The Clash
10. “Under Pressure” – Queen feat. David Bowie
11. “If Six Was Nine” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
12. “American Girl” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
13. “Tangled Up In Blue” – Bob Dylan
14. “Wonderful World” – Sam Cooke
15. “Michaelangelo” – Emmylou Harris
16. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” – Nancy Sinatra
17. “God” – John Lennon
18. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” – Nirvana
19. “The Sounds Of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Perks of Being a Wallflower

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
-Bill Anderson

Surprise review! I borrowed this book from a friend yesterday, and finished all but 20 pages in one day. Yes, it was that good.

I’ve had this on my to-read list on GoodReads since the day I saw the commercial for the movie, though I had no idea what it was about. I knew I heard about it, and if they were making it into a movie, that was automatically enough for me to want to read it. I had high expectations because of all of the good things I’ve heard about it, and it didn’t disappoint.

Charlie is a freshman in high school and makes friends with a group of seniors after his best friend Michael commits suicide. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is set in the 90’s, so there are countless references to 80’s and 90’s music, movies, and TV shows. Charlie is also a big reader, so the book mentions many English literature books.

Since this book is about life in high school, there are so many topics involved, which makes it perfect for anyone. I laughed, I cried, I felt the characters’ emotions– which is more than I can say for most of the books I’ve read. This is a truly unique novel that definitely deserves every bit of hype that it gets, and I can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD. In my honest opinion, everyone should read this book, even if it’s not your style. You won’t be disappointed.

-J

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