Cardinal Critics

Reviews on music, books, and various other media…




Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

Many people believe in the saying “opposites attract.” But putting an atheist in a catholic school? There is no sort of “attraction, only chaos. Heretics ANonymous, Katie Henry’s Debut book, is a gritty, hilarious story about life and religion. 

Michael’s dad just made his family move once again, so he is looking for some friends. Max thinks he found another non believer when a girl in his class, Lucy,  challenges her teacher, he is severely mistaken. Not only is she a catholic, she wants to be a priest. Lucy introduces him to her band of misfits: Avi, who is Jewish and Gay, Eden, who is Pagan, and Max, who likes to wear capes. They call themselves Heretics Anonymous. 

Once Michael joins the group, they start forming plans to go on missions and put to light some of the true intentions of the church. But when Michael goes a little too far for a mission, he risks the identity and reputation of the group members.

Just a little disclaimer: this book isn’t for the faint of heart. It tackles the idea of religion, and really does dig deep and ask the questions some are scared to ask. It might bother some readers, but I think Katie Henry approached this in a lighthearted, and comedic way. The simple,yet intriguing cover drew me in right when I saw it. 

The more main characters, Michael and Lucy, were developed in such a complex and beautiful way. We get to experience Michaels struggle with his dad uprooting their life for his job, and we also get to see Lucy have to take care of her siblings all on her own. It is a really great testament to the fact that, no matter what you worship or if you even worship everything, everyone is a human and everyone has struggles in their life

Mid way through the book,Michael starts developing feelings for Lucy, and says one of my favorite quotes from the book: “I still don’t think any of it’s true. But if Lucy, the smartest, most logical person I know, can feel something real and powerful when she talks to God, then the whole thing is a lot more complicated than I thought.” It really is, as the book cover says, a divine comedy.

I also love how the author tackled the other characters of the group. I enjoy a book more whenever there is more development with less main characters, instead having a large group of main characters who you don’t get to know. Reading a good book means you  get to know the characters and their story so well, you feel like you are a part of it. 

Heretics anonymous is one of my favorite reads. It really does keep you on your toes, and is one of those books that you will never want to put down. Each character comes from a very different religious background; they do question each other at first, but they learn to respect each other’s beliefs. I will leave you with this section from the Heretics Anonymous creed, which truly sums up the message we should all take from this story “We believe in one God, and many gods, and the possibility of none. And also that the existence of the almighty is largely irrelevant, because regardless of who is maker of heaven and death, it is our duty to care for all of creation, both visible and invisible.”

Rating: 5/5

Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Author William H. McRaven takes you through the steps in life he has taken to change his life. Retired U.S. navy seal worked his way up in every level in the 37 years of the navy and was a commander of all U.S. Special Operations forces. Throughout the book he explains how the little things in life really do matter and they are what benefit you throughout your life. If you make your bed every single morning, that’s already one task completed at the start of your day. You will hold a small sense of pride knowing that you have completed something already and those small accomplishments will encourage you to do another task, and then another and so on. 

On May 17th 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their commencement day. He spoke about the 10 principles he learned during navy seal training that helped him overcome challenges throughout his life and not just with the navy seal training. 

McRaven explains the experiences and those who he had encountered throughout his time during his military service who dealt with misfortune and made tough decisions with persistence, fortitude, and honor. This book is an inspiring gem, packaged firmly into a small book and lends itself to a quick read. 

Star Rating: 5/5


Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

Lockhart’s brilliant YA novel covers all topics. It covers love, loss, health, friendships, families, and even a giant summer mansion.

The main character has vacationed at a mansion in the summer for all her life along with some close family friends, until there’s a twist. Fate is not on her side, we quickly realize.

I read this book in two days, because I could not put it down.I was hanging on to every word, every sentence, every detail, any and every emotion the characters were feeling. I took it with me everywhere I went, and when I was driving I listened to the audio book.

The novel is full of unexpected twists.The ending had me in tears, and I felt every emotion while reading this heart wrenching novel. You feel like you are walking along the main character, in a story that is so profoundly brilliant.

The author’s diction and writing, leaves you wanting more. I can’t say much without spoiling but I urge you to read this book.

When reading We Were Liars, you will become so attached to the characters and feel every emotion as they did. You won’t want it to end, but when it does you will be left speechless. Throughout the whole book you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat, clinging on to every last word. It’s worth the read and the heart break. It’s worth the journey. If you ever find yourself bored and having a lack of assignments, pick up We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, because it’ll will move you and give you another look on life.

Star Rating: 5/5


Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

“Of all the ways today could’ve gone, I couldn’t have predicted this. But now I’m sure that everything that’s happened today has been leading me to her and us to this moment and this moment to the rest of our lives.”

Some view life as a series of random events while others see life as a series of moments, each with their own meaning. In this young adult fiction novel, Nicola Yoon gracefully intertwines these two perspectives when writing a story of fate and love. 

Natasha’s family is scheduled to be deported to Jamaica and Daniel is heading to a college interview while questioning what he really wants for himself. They cross paths and end up spending the day together discussing their perspectives on life’s most asked questions and the concept of fate.

Natasha views the world from a realistic and science-based perspective while Daniel passionately believes in the power of fate. This day together will alter both of their lives and the way they view destiny. 

What sets this book apart for me is the impactful stylistic writing choices of Nicola Yoon. Not only does Yoon write the story from both Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives but she also writes from a universal perspective that makes you step back and evaluate how you view the moments in your life, their reasoning, and their ultimate role in your life.

She dives into the perspectives of faintly mentioned characters with intricate and emotional detail, leaving no character a minor one. The Sun is Also a Star is an intricate and well-crafted storytelling of fate, timing, and how our lives are all intertwined even in microscopic ways.  

Star Rating: 5/5


Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

You are living in the aftermath of a plague riddled Earth. You struggle attempting to balance your job on Earth, the mistreatment from your abusive step family, and your own hopes for life. However you have a secret: you are a cyborg.

There is a horrible disease spreading through Earth with no cure in sight.  Among all the chaos, you meet someone new.

However, they do not know the truth about who you are. And with an upcoming ball you are not allowed to attend, you are scared and lost. This is the life of Cinder.

Cinder is a story that tells a futuristic version of the classic Cinderella story we all know and love.  The unique spin on a classic fairytale is what intrigued me the most. The futuristic and intergalactic aspects of the plot made the story exciting.

It is such a unique book, unlike anything I’ve read before. Not going to lie, when I first picked up the book, I was a little bit skeptical. Turns out, I could not put it down once I started reading it. There is so much to uncover and learn I never got bored with it.

The book ends without a real ending, so you have to read the next book in the series to discover what happens. 

If you are a fan of futuristic type novels, or any book that takes a classic story and puts its own unique spin on it; Cinder is great for you.

Cinder is the first book out of the Lunar Chronicles series. Once you start reading, you won’t stop. The book is unusual and unlike anything you’ve probably ever read. 

Star Rating: 5/5


Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

In a dystopian world where hate and division run rampant, Tris Prior must hide her true identity in order to live another day.

This book follows the life of a girl named Tris in a dystopian future. When you turn 16, you are tested to see which one of the five factions you fit in best.

Each faction has their specific value: Candor-honesty, Abnegation-selflessness, Amity-kindness, Erudite-knowledge, Dauntless-bravery. Their system had worked for many generations until it didn’t,

Tris doesn’t fit into categories she is divergent. Divergents don’t belong to one specific faction; they are a combination. Being different in a society like this is highly dangerous, because their abilities cannot be controlled.

As you read you will see Tris go through many trials and tribulations as she fights hard to hide who she truly is.

I fell in love with this book when I first read it. The most captivating aspect of this book is that it is constantly drawing you in. Veronica Roth writes this book in a way that transports you into the book.

Every emotion the characters feel you feel, when they are afraid your stomach will be in knots, when they are excited you’ll feel ecstatic. She portrays these characters so well that you almost feel you have formed a relationship with them, and that you know them personally.

The action-packed pace of this book almost makes it addictive. It is nearly impossible to put it down, because of the urge to know how the characters wll get out of their current predicament. 

If you enjoy books with a futuristic aspect or a dystopian universe this book is for you. It can be compared to books like the Hunger Games or The Giver.

I highly recommend that you read Divergent it is one of the best books i’ve ever read, it won’t let you down. I will also note that this is the first book of a three part series, so the excitement doesn’t stop here.

Star Rating 5/5


Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

You’re never allowed to leave your house, you can never go outside, and you can never have visitors, that’s the life that Maddy lives. She looks out her windows everyday hoping that one day she can go outside and feel and breathe the same air as everyone else.

She’s never had friends her own age, just her mom and nurse, until Olly moves in across the street. She soon finds her best friend. Maddy becomes more and more reckless and her mom can’t handle it.

Maddy wants to break free but her mom holds her back, until one day when Maddy discovers something that will change her life forever. 

The way the author describes and details the characters makes the book come to life, you can really feel how Maddy feels throughout the whole book. When reading the book you can see and feel Maddy’s relationship with each of the other characters.

The way the author writes about each of the characters lets you know how they all feel about Maddy without being so abrupt.

The plot of the book can be a little basic because you can tell at some parts what’s going to be next which I didn’t love, but the way she brings each character and the setting to life makes up for it. 

If you like any of the books written by Nicola Yoon then you will love this one too, her writing and storyline is similar throughout most of her books. Everything Everything is perfect for anyone wanting a more easy and fun read. 

Star rating: 4/5


Graphic by Ashlan Brookshire

You are outside on the street and you see them…the Scythes. While you want to look at them, you are afraid of being chosen. Within the future, there is no more death. Scythes now have the job as death did in the past; they pick random people and they have the responsibility to take their life. Two tennagers are being trained to become a Scythe, but only one of them will be able to get the title. Throughout the book they are put through trials and lessons to see if they are qualified to do it. As the book goes on, you learn that there are many odd things going on within the Scythedom. 

Scythe, for one, has an amazing plot. There is always something that makes me want to read the next book of the series. Within the three books, the detailed history helps me understand why certain actions had to take place in order for something else to happen. There was never a dull moment, which caused me to always be on the edge of my seat when reading. Scythe’s character development is phenomenal . Both the antagonists and protagonists are incredible because you get to know them and how they feel…like you’re in the book with them. Death is a hard topic so there are some depressing parts in this book, which I didn’t find interesting. However, the fun relationships that are made make up for it!

The fight of knowing how to handle the future and death is well written in Scythe. If you enjoyed the Maze Runner and Hunger Games series, this book has similar aspects to Scythe. 

Star rating 4.5/5


Kendall Harrison



Coldplay kicked off their career with Parachutes in 2000. This is also the album that popularized the band, and rightfully so. Most people know and love ”Sparks” and “Yellow”, but this album fails to have a single bad song. As beautiful as the aforementioned songs are, it’s hard to not favor the heartbreaking tune of “We Never Change” or “High Speed“— the black sheep of the album that proves to be even better than the songs that topped charts. Coldplay tends to stick with one theme for each album, and Parachutes explores the highs and lows of love with a somber, yet hopeful tone. As far as how first albums go, this one is the epitome of the best case scenario. It’s easy to find a lack of originality in first albums, many songs reciting the same clichés, and the general gist of most of the songs on Parachutes fall victim to this; however, they find a way to keep the lyrics unique and catchy. Coldplay falls into the alternative rock category, and this album is an amazing showcase of that; it’s comparable to the works of U2. This album deserves an 8/10. The only “issue” is that it can be hard to distinguish the songs from each other due to the general theme being the same, but individually each song is amazing. The best song is “We Never Change”, and the worst— if you can even call any of these songs bad— would have to be “Spies” as it seems to just not hit the spot like the other songs do. Parachutes is Coldplay’s third best album. 

A Rush of Blood to the Head

In 2002, Coldplay released A Rush of Blood to the Head. Much like Parachutes, this album was popularized by “The Scientist” and “Clocks”, but every song it features is unskippable. Where Parachutes lacked in original themes, A Rush of Blood to the Head is the antithesis of that fact. The title track, “A Rush of Blood to the Head” and “Amsterdam” are both such unique tales of relief and revenge. “Green Eyes” is arguably one of the best love songs by Coldplay, it just isn’t given the attention it deserves. Not only are all of the songs on this track beautiful lyrically and instrumentally, but Chris Martin’s vocals take them to the next level. The studio versions are amazing, but I urge you to listen to the live versions as they add so much more emotion to the songs. It’s hard to ignore the uniqueness presented in this album. “Politik” and “A Whisper” are simply unlike any other songs from this era. A Rush of Blood to the Head sticks to a theme about loss and findings, and it deserves a 10/10. The songs stick to the theme, but the tempo is varied a lot more, making this album have songs for every occasion. The best song in this album is the title track, and the song that falls behind the rest is “Daylight”. A Rush of Blood to the Head is the epitome of perfection, making this Coldplay’s best album. 


Lily Fogle


Album Reviews by Lily Fogle



After School Ep – Melanie Martinez


After School is Melanie Martinez’s second EP in her discography, and her fourth body of work. After School takes a spin on Melanie’s usual story telling songs, as she dips into her own experiences to write these songs. The lead single on this EP is the seventh and final song on the album, The Bakery. This song is about how growing up, Melanie had to work in a bakery to be able to afford both her art and music. The second track on this album, Test Me, takes a different turn than the other songs on this album. It has a backing electric guitar, and has a darker sounding beat compared to the other tracks on this album. Test me, one of the more popular songs on this EP, is about how you should be learning more from your life experiences than what you would learn in school. Overall this album has a darker undertone than her other albums, because she uses real life experiences and doesn’t shy away to how she really feels. It’s more of an experimental album than a full thought-out work of art. This EP is a solid piece and I would give it a 5/5. She goes out of her usual comfort zone and talks about her real experiences, and not a storyline she has made up about her character, Crybaby. I would definitely recommend listening to this EP.


9 – Cashmere Cat


9 is Cashmere Cats’ debut album. There are a lot of electronic beats and reverbs in this album.  The album is full of features from popular artists (9/10), some of which helped Cashmere Cat make a name for himself. Quit, featuring Ariana Grande, turned out to be a hit song. Quit is about being in a relationship with someone you know deep down is wrong, but you just can’t give it up. 9 (after Coachella) is a song that really highlights the electronic influence. The sounds used in this song seem like sound effects, but they pull the whole song together. The song is about knowing you really like someone, but they just don’t like you back. This album shows you can get different with what you can listen to. These kinds of electronic songs would have never hit the height they reached if it weren’t for the help of this album, and the features. People’s first choice when listening to music isn’t usually an electronic song, but this album proves that it can be.  I would give this album a solid 4/5 stars. It’s a very good body of work, and the features just make it that much better. I’m not a fan of some of the backing sound effects. I would totally recommend listening to this album, especially if you’re already into electronic music.