Wilder Mind

Helloooooooo.

So a few months ago, one of my favorite bands – Mumford & Sons – released a new album after breaking up for a few years (which was devastating, let me tell you). I just got around to listening to Wilder Mind through and through, from the first track to the last. And I love it. The sound and tone are slightly different than those of the band’s previous works – a little less folksy, with a sort of “movie score” undercurrent to the rhythms. Also, there are fewer, if any, really intense songs on the album. There’s nothing like Broken Crown from Babel, nor any crazy, fast-paced, cheery hits like I Will Wait or Hopeless Wanderer. Though the first two singles that released, Believe and The Wolf, have loud moments, the biggest difference between this album and the band’s previous ones is that the banjo is muted, less noticeable, not emphasized. It doesn’t get as many solo moments as it used to, and coupled with other musical and artistic adjustments, this noticeably changes the sound of the album. Wilder Mind is a toned down, softer, and subtler version of Mumford & Sons’ traditional sound. It’s melancholy and humming and somehow still hopeful. And every song is more poignant because of it.

Don’t let its mellower tunes fool you, however: this album is a hit. I adore it for its cohesiveness, with some songs like Tompkins Square Park and Believe actually leading into each other when you listen to the album in order. I love the quieter feeling and passion that underlies tracks like Broad-Shouldered Beasts and Wilder Mind, the tenderness of Cold Arms, and the lovesick chants of Just Smoke. My favorite track on the whole album is probably one of the most haunting and underrated in my eyes: Tompkins Square Park. I also adore Monster and Snake Eyes – they’re slower and darker and just wonderful. The four bonus tracks on the deluxe version of the album are live versions of four of the album’s songs: Tompkins Square Park, Believe, The Wolf, and Snake Eyes. The live versions are lovely and sound just as good as the studio versions, but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, skip them and just buy the regular album.

Believe and The Wolf were my anthems in the spring. But even though the album released in May, I think it is the perfect soundtrack for fall. To me, it just has a fall feel to it. Every new school year when fall rolls around, I find a new album to play on repeat and it becomes my mantra, the piece that can always bring me back to where I was, what I was doing, who was I with during the months I absorbed it into my body and mind. I have a funny feeling that Wilder Mind is going to be that for me this fall, the start of my senior year in high school. My last year here. I love listening to this masterpiece while driving to school in the dark, early morning before the sun creeps up and after swim practice on the way home as I’m racing the sun across the sky. I love, love, love it and the mood it puts me in, one of tranquility and assuredness.

So to any Mumford & Sons fans out there, give Wilder Mind a go with an open mind and I think you’ll be able to see a goodness in the slight change from the sound we all so loved. And to anyone who hasn’t yet fallen into this band’s folksy alternative British music – well what are you waiting for?

Thanks for reading,
xx. Martha

Preview and buy Wilder Mind on iTunes (Deluxe Version here). 

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Manga Classics: Great Expectations

23332875Novel: Manga Classics: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Stacy King, Crystal Chan, Nokman Poon  | Goodreads
Release Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Format: Ebook
Source: NetGalley

Great Expectations has it all: romance, mystery, comedy, and unforgettable characters woven through a gripping rags-to-riches tale. Naive Pip, creepy Miss Haversham, beautifully cold Estella, terrifying Abel Magwitch, and the rest of Dicken’s fantastic cast are perfectly envisioned in this new adaptation in this 300-plus page volume featuring artwork by artist Nokman Poon. Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.

This is the second manga book I’ve ever read and, like the first one, I enjoyed it more than I ever would have expected. The goal of this line of Manga Classics is to get more people interested in reading classics. This goal has been reached with me, because I now want to read Dickens’ original Great Expectations in full. I loved the graphics and found Pip to be a protagonist with depth and character. I was able to follow the story easily for the most part, though the mystery holds less weight than it probably does in the actual novel. Nevertheless, this was a fun, entertaining, and easy read. I highly recommend the Manga Classics line for anyone who would like to explore classic literature but is a bit hesitant to do so. Also, anyone who loves Great Expectations and is interested in reading it in comic form should give this book a shot.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free through NetGalley. All opinions are honest and my own.

Manga Classics: Emma

23332879Novel: Manga Classics: Emma | Goodreads
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Format: Ebook
Source: NetGalley
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

Just in time for the 200th Anniversary, Manga Classics: Emma brings Jane Austen’s classic tale of youthful folly and romantic exuberance to a modern audience with this beautiful, new manga adaptation. The impulsive match-making of Emma Woodhouse delivers both humor and heartache through the gorgeous artwork of manga-ka Po Tse (Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice). – Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.

Let me start off by saying that this is the first manga novel I’ve ever read. I’ve never had an interest in this type of book before, but I do have a strong interest in reading classics. However, my dilemma is that sometimes classics are, well, stuffy and boring and more than a bit pedantic. I have never read Jane Austen’s Emma before so I cannot compare this manga edition to the original novel. But I will say that I quite enjoyed reading manga Emma and I now have a strong desire to read the actual classic. I think that’s what’s so great about the entire collection of Manga Classics: they get readers interested in classic literature by making it fun to read and easy to breeze through. I am sure that I will find it much easier to follow the complete novel after experiencing this version than I would have otherwise. And lovers of the original Emma will surely be delighted with the way the story is brought to life on these pages. The illustrations are charming and easy to follow once you get the hang of reading right to left. I did struggle at times to keep track of characters by their last names, but was always able to sort them out quickly within any given scene. Above all, I really enjoyed the story and the manner in which it is depicted. It is entertaining and cartoonish, but I can still see the appeal of Austen’s work that has lasted two centuries. I myself will most definitely be picking up her original novel soon!

I recommend this edition of Emma to any reader who wants to delve into the world of classics but is hesitant to do so. In addition, I recommend it to any Jane Austen lovers as an hour and a half illustrated adventure with Emma Woodhouse. Happy 200th anniversary, Emma!

DISCLAIMER: I received a digital copy of this title for free through NetGalley. All opinions are honest and my own.

Drag Me Down

Drag-me-down-One-directionIt’s been a long time since I’ve done a Song of the Moment post. But I’m finally back again with one, and to no one’s surprise (hopefully), my inspiration for this post is the new One Direction single.

Song: Drag Me Down
Artist: One Direction
Album: Drag Me Down – Single
Source: Bought on iTunes

Favorite Lyrics:
I’ve got fire for a heart
I’m not scared of the dark
You’ve never seen it look so easy
I got a river for a soul
And baby you’re a boat
Baby you’re my only reason

Drag Me Down is the first song One Direction has released since Zayn left the band earlier this year. But never fear, he gave his approval via Twitter:

Proud of my boys the new single is sick. Big love. 🙂 x

This song dropped just as I woke up the morning of my last day in Europe (the day I flew home). I listened to it on repeat in the airport and on both my flights. It’s catchy, has a great beat, and is a slightly different sound for One Direction: it’s a bit darker and more intense sounding than some of their other tunes. The lyrics are repetitive, but the boys switch up parts throughout so it’s never boring. Drag Me Down is unapologetic; I love it. And the guys look so happy in the cover art. Even better, the release was a complete surprise! The Drag Me Down music video was apparently shot a few days ago at the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas. Needless to say, I am highly anticipating its premiere.

iTunes | Lyrics | Audio

The Simple Things

Well, after nearly a month of being out of town, I’m back home and loving it. I spent a week in Portland, Maine before adventuring on to Paris, London, Belfast, and Dublin for two and a half weeks. I learned so much and gained valuable traveling experience, yet it’s good to be home. The Common App released on Saturday and I’ve begun filling out bits and pieces of it, all while studiously ignoring the essay portion. I finished a book over the weekend – The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – and it was actually the first book I’d completed since June. This year has been very slow reading-wise but so fast-paced in almost every other way. I spent a good portion of Saturday and part of Sunday totally reorganizing my bookshelves and, for better or for worse, I’m satisfied with the way they turned out. (There’s only so much a girl can do with more books than she has shelves to put them on.) I’m back to using my beloved planner after a month-long hiatus. It’s nice to feel productive again, though my suitcase still lies unpacked in my entryway. I guess it’s a work in progress.

I’ve caught up on my ridiculous reality TV shows and done even more college research, slowly whittling down my top choices and safety schools into a selection that will hopefully comprise my final list. I’m touring three more schools in mid-September, and possibly one or two more after that, though nothing of the sort is firmly planned. I started posting on my “bookstagram” account again yesterday after a very long and unintended absence. (For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the word bookstagram is used to describe an Instagram account dedicated to bookish posts.) My family has been eating home-cooked meals for dinner since I returned from Europe and it’s a surprisingly welcome change. The baked ziti and delicious salads have been my favorite parts so far.

Yesterday was a particularly good day: I had a balanced day of relaxation and productivity. I managed to watch TV, work on college stuff, nap, and exercise and truthfully I was very proud of myself. *Pats self on back.* Then one of my closest friends and I went out for dinner at a newish sushi joint called Kelp. While the service was mediocre, the menu was awesome and the food we tried – crab rangoon, the Mexican roll, and a tempura fried tofu and sweet potato roll – was fantastic. It’s not a pricy place either, so if you’re in the area and looking for reasonable and delicious sushi, then check it out. Afterwards, we tried to rent The Hobbit from RedBox, but it was unavailable so we went back to my house and watched the first Lord of the Rings movie. I hadn’t watched it in a few years, and had forgotten there was so little action in the first installment (compared to the next two, of course). However, I enjoyed seeing Tolkien’s Middle-earth brought to life again and we have plans to watch the second movie later this week when the weather’s supposed to be awful.

One of my other good friends is turning 18 on Monday, which is crazy. I haven’t seen her in forever due to us both having hectic schedules and being out of town, but I’m looking forward to celebrating with her and her family this weekend. She requested a Thanksgiving-style dinner because she adores Thanksgiving and I absolutely love the idea. More home-cooked food… Yay!

It’s my half-birthday today. I finally get to see my trainer again and I’m thrilled because he’s sardonic and witty and lovely because of it. We get along grandly and I have a few fridge magnets to give him from my travels that he can add to his ever-growing collection. What I’m learning from my few days of being back is that home, family, and the simple things are those that I sometimes forget to appreciate at their full value and that they deserve to be recognized more often. Getting away from it all and seeing the world is amazing. I cherished my trips while I was on them, and before, and after. But learning to appreciate the quirks of your family, the flaws of your friends, and the familiarity of your hometown is harder when you’re here living through it all. It’s easy to love what you don’t have, so it’s easy to miss these things when you’re away from them. The trick is learning to appreciate what you have while you still have it. It’s an invaluable lesson. And I’m still learning.