Book Review: Leigh Bardugo’s “The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic”

Leigh Bardugo’s fairy tales are, much like the Grimm Brother’s, not as cheery and happy as Disney would have you believe they are. These tales are, simply put, beautifully terrifying. There’s something dark and twisted about many of them that keeps you turning the pages.

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The Language of Thorns is a collection of short stories from Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Her Grishaverse is seen in the Grisha trilogy as well as the Six of Crows duology. All the stories are fairy tales from the universe.

The following short stories are included in the book:

  • Ayama and the Thorn Wood
  • Little Knife
  • The Too-Clever Fox
  • The Witch of Duva
  • The Solider Prince
  • When Water Sang Fire

Some of the stories were written specifically for the collection, but a few of them were written (and released) in copies of her books. Throughout the book, there are also breathtaking illustrations from Sara Kipin to go with each story. Like, legitimately breathtaking. I’m absolutely in love with every single drawing. As the stories go on, more and more drawings are added to the border of the page, and there’s one big picture at the end of each story.

Below, I give a brief overview of what happens in each story and then talk about what I liked/didn’t like about them.

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Music Review: “Going Grey” by The Front Bottoms

Here’s one thing you should know about me: besides Fall Out Boy, The Front Bottoms top of my list of favorite bands. I’ve liked them for a couple years now, ever since someone I knew got me into them.


In mid-October, the group released their latest studio album, Going Grey. Since they’re one of my favorite groups, I was incredibly hype for the album. I was also hype because I knew they’d be going on tour soon, and I wasn’t wrong. They went on tour immediately after the album was released, and I have the privilege of seeing them (for the second time in my life) at the Fillmore in Philadelphia over my Thanksgiving break.

It was, hands down, the best damn concert I’ve ever been to. I’ve never had so much fun in my life.


I talked a little bit about each track off the new album below, as well as a few things from when I saw them.

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Music Review: “Burst & Decay” by The Wonder Years

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of punk, indie, and pop punk. You might not know that I’m also a huge fan of acoustic music. So when the two combine, I instantly love it.

Burst & Decay is the most recent release from one of my favorite bands, indie/pop punk group The Wonder Years. Instead of being an EP full of new songs, the album features 7 acoustic songs from all of their previous albums. The songs included are: “A Song For Ernest Hemingway,” “There, There,” “Coffee Eyes,” “Cardinals,” “Don’t Let Me Cave In,” “Dismantling Summer,” and “You in January.” It was released back in September of this year.

Even though the EP is only 25 minutes of old songs, it’s 25 beautiful minutes. The Wonder Years did everything correctly in releasing acoustic versions of some of their songs.

I talked about the 7 songs below.

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Book Review: “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” – V.E. Schwab, Vicious

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of reading the book Vicious by V.E. Schwab, which is where the above quote is from. It’s the first book in the Villains series, although the other books have not come out yet.

I’m shocked at myself. This book came out back in 2013 and I only learned about it now. I could have read this wonderful masterpiece years ago. But, if I had done that, I would still be waiting for the second book in the series. I’m not sure if I would have survived that.

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Music Review: My Chemical Romance’s “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys”

Instead of reviewing a newer album, I decided today that I wanted to write about an older album that I’m incredibly fond of.

On my drive back to school from Thanksgiving break, I got stuck in heavy traffic. I have a 3+ hour drive and most of it is on the turnpike. I was in the car for about 4 1/2 hours the day I drove back, and the only thing that kept me sane was this album, which I listened to a whole 3 times (along with some other music).

The album that I’m talking about is Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, the last album from My Chemical Romance before they broke up. It’s hard for me to decide whether or not this album or The Black Parade is my favorite from them, but this is for sure up there.


Anyway, I’ve been listening to a lot of MCR these days. It reminds me of my younger middle school days, and I kind of miss the music I listened to back then. I listened to a lot of Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy, which I still listen to today. I mean, for Pete’s sake (haha, get it? Pete? Pete Wentz? No? Okay.), Fall Out Boy is still my favorite band (I saw them in concert at the end of October and it was great). Back in the day I was also a huge fan of MCR, and I’m just bringing it back now.

Maybe I’m regressing back into my old emo phase. Or maybe I just miss the music. Either way, who cares? Danger Days is a fucking great album. It’s absolutely magnificent.

Now let’s talk shop.

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Music Review: Greta Van Fleet’s “From the Fires”

I have no problems saying that Greta Van Fleet has the chance to be the second coming of Led Zeppelin.

The band is made up of three brothers – Josh, Jake, and Sam Kiszka – and their friend Danny Wagner. Josh’s killer Robert Plant-esque vocals and the Jimmy Page-esque guitar riffs make it hard not to compare them to Zeppelin. It’s apparent in every single rock-and-blues-filled song that Zeppelin has had a huge influence on these boys.

Greta Van Fleet. Picture via Universal Music Canada.

Recently, on Nov. 10, the band released their second EP called From the Fires.

When I heard that GVF was releasing a new EP with eight songs, I was stocked. I’ve been a fan for a couple months now, ever since my dad showed me the music video for their song “Highway Tune” when we were in the car one day. He was going to see them in Lancaster the next month and I was curious as to who they were. Obviously I was sucked in right away, but sad about the fact that they only had four songs on Spotify. I’ve been waiting patiently for new music for what feels like forever, but in reality, has only been a few months. 

I was a little disappointed to learn that the EP only included four new songs in addition to their four songs of their first EP Black Smoke Rising. I was ready for eight brand new songs. And even out of the four new songs, two of them – “Meet on the Ledge” and “A Change is Gonna Come” – are covers.

But my disappointed ended the minute I started listening to the EP.

Despite only having four new songs, From the Fires brings the same 70’s style rock that the band perfected in their first EP. It’s nostalgic and hard, and I love it. I might not have been alive in the 70’s, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know good classic rock when I hear it, and what Greta does is beyond good classic rock. 

I’ll be honest with you guys. Every single song of this EP is a highlight for me, from the new “Talk On The Street” to the old “Flower Power,” I’m mesmerized and impressed. So, for the sake of this blog post, I’m going to review what I think about each song. I’ll be going in order of how they appear on the EP. 

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Captain’s Log: Stardate 95414.95

For my Digital Storytelling class, I had this neat assignment where I had to record 10 seconds of what I was doing every day at a certain time for a week straight. The time that I picked was 4:30. You can watch the video below.


The quality is really bad because I had to upload it on YouTube (WordPress won’t let me upload it here because I don’t have the upgraded version) but anyway, here it is!

I named the assignment “4:30 p.m: Surrounded” because in every single clip, I’m surrounded by people. As a CA, I’m constantly around people, which makes me really happy. A lot of the clips are me and my residents hanging out (or eating dinner, because we’re all starving college kids and usually eat dinner around 4:30).

Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s happening in each clip:

Day 1 – This is a clip of me and some residents (and my fellow CA Kara) eating dinner. Later that day me and Kara went and saw George Takei speak at Pitt Main and it was wonderful.

Day 2 – This is a clip of me and my residents walking down to dinner. It was really nice that day.

Day 3 – Again, clips of residents hanging out outside of Robertshaw. Yes, we were listening to the Backstreet Boys.

Day 4 – This is a clip of me sitting in the Press Room with my people as we work on newspaper things.

Day 5 – And here we are again, eating dinner. This was Saturday, the night of the Casino thing for Blue and Gold Weekend, so they were trying to figure out what Matt was going to wear that night.

Day 6 – We were waiting to go to dinner. Yeah.

Day 7 – Me, Kara, and one of my residents, Ricky, went shopping for our ghost story/caramel apple bar program that was happening that night. As you can see, it was pouring when we left the store. The white car that pulled up was Ricky waiting for us to come outside.

I hope you enjoyed it!! Thanks for watching.

The Most Important Parts of a Good Book

We’ve all read a great book. Even if you’re not much of a reader, there’s usually one book that made you wonder where its been all your life.

I, on the other hand, have roughly 1,000 novels that I feel this way about.

There are many parts that make up a great book. Sometimes it’s not even about the actual story in the book – sometimes it’s about the feeling before (and after) you read it, or the characters. Or maybe it is the plot that makes it great. It really depends on the reader. But, here are the 6 most important things for me that comes with a great book.

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