Top 3 Thursday :: Favorite Violins

Heeeeeey! Look at me actually following through two weeks in a row. I think I deserve a cookie. Or four. Last week <late> I shared my first Top 3 Thursday (Top 3 Thursday :: Series I Fell in Love with Out of the Blue) and was super excited with the results! Had a few people send me recommendations based on the series I’d bragged on – which is awesome. I literally will give just about anything a try. So, don’t hesitate to send them my way at any point, fellow bibliophiles.

This week I wanted to go in a more specific direction for a couple of reasons: (1) I haven’t gotten to set a lot of time aside for my journal this week due to some familial reasons and (2) this Top 3 post will actually have two of my favorite reads from 2016 and one I consider a STAPLE. These are three books I enjoyed thoroughly and don’t even have to recollect my thoughts on them because they stuck with me. I’m writing this on-the-go, you know. 🙂

This week my Top 3 Thursday includes three YA books I adore featuring my favorite VIOLINS/VIOLINISTS:



(1) Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Violinist: Etta

Okay, so Passenger was a 2016 YA read and was one of my FAVORITES! I’ll spare you a full synopsis and link to the Goodreads profile so you can check it out because I want to focus on my favorite parts: Passenger // Alexandra Bracken <– click to read the long version. So, here’s my thoughts…

I have read several reviews claiming Passenger to be “tedious” or “boring” and I have to say – just because it’s intense and heavy doesn’t make it “tedious” or “boring” in my opinion. YA has such a stigma about it – and I appreciated that Passenger took a dive off the deep end and avoided a love triangle and starchy, cliché teen angst –> Passenger has it’s share of romance, self-growth, and magic and Bracken managed to pull it all together in a fiery way. Yes, there’s a lot of elements spinning around at the same time and there’s still questions lingering. (That’s what book two is for.) I ADORED the hopscotch pattern of settings/time periods/time travel. My favorite part of Passenger was the jumping of eras and locations. Rich. And the characters? I won’t say I was absolutely crazy about Etta in the beginning (I liked her, don’t get me wrong) but I was crazy about Nicholas. Not only because of his male-lead dreaminess but because he was an interesting character with multifaceted charms/flaws. I think Bracken opened up with a world that will suck you in and characters you WANT to fall in love with. (Except that one girl and that one patriarch. Y’all know who I mean.)

So, after some reflection (I wrote that review the day I finished the book) I’ve decided I’ve come to like Etta even more. You know those feelings you get after you read a book where the characters stick in your mind for a while? That’s what happened with me and Passenger.

Etta is a classically trained violinist – a prodigy, if you will – and the emotion she feels/releases in music is palpable throughout the entire book. This story is thick with atmosphere, okay? The settings, the character depth, the connection to different times and social standards = all pretty intense. Etta’s love for music was one of my favorite aspects, however. When she can’t play, she aches. And I found myself throughout the entirety of Passenger wanting to truly hear what Bracken had in her head when she created Etta’s music.

“Free the fire fluttering inside her rib cage. Work her muscles, the bow, the violin, until she played herself to ash and embers and left the rest of the world behind to smolder.”
― Alexandra Bracken, Passenger


(2) A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Violinist: Charlotte Holmes

A Study in Charlotte  was ALSO a 2016 YA read. Holy smokes, I loved it. I’ll go ahead and link Goodreads here, too –> A Study in Charlotte // Cavallaro but here’s the overview: A modern-day Holmes and Watson mystery. Sherlock’s great-great-great granddaughter = Charlotte Holmes, as brilliant and self-absorbed as her namesake. Watson = Jamie Watson, as gentle and loyal as his namesake. They’re teenagers, drawn together when tragedy strikes on the Connecticut campus of their private school. At first, Jamie does his best to avoid Holmes – her temperament and arrogance making her equally hard to be close to. Their type of on-edge, rivalry quickly flips to a more urgent relationship. What develops isn’t necessarily a love story but more a story of learning to trust someone through thick and thin. (Okay, a little romance might be in the mist.) The minute they start working together (since they’re being framed…duh) sparks are there, man. I LOVED these characters; their flaws are oddly as endearing as the original Holmes and Watson. Charlotte plays violin as a self-soother (much like the Sherlock Holmes we all love) and is both proficient and emotional in her talent. It helps her shut off all the white noise and breathe, usually assisting her with putting pieces together. Here’s a quote I loved after there was an explosion in Holmes’ lab:

“He put it into drive and turned on the headlights. And there she was, standing in their white glow.

Holmes’s skin was smoked black from the explosion, her hair flecked with snow. Her violin dangled from her fingers. She opened her mouth, and I saw her say my name.

I was out of the car in a heartbeat, and in the next, she was in my arms . . . “You’re alive,” I murmured, tucking my head over hers. “I’m so sorry.”

― Brittany Cavallaro, A Study in Charlotte



(3) The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

Violinist: Jem 

Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices series) by Cassandra Clare are some of my favorite books in the History. Of. YA. Ever! These are the books that turned me on to steampunk – and for that alone – thank you, Clare. Thank you. This series connects with The Mortal Instruments series she’s written (don’t judge these books by the somewhat terrible show I will not ever mention again) centering around the world of Shadowhunters. Again, I won’t bore you with the full dialogue of their world – so, give them all a look-see. There are: angels, demons, paranormal, steampunk, romance, smarts…and a LOT more to offer. I think they’re all staples in YA but that’s partially because they were what I used to fill the gap once I’d finished Harry Potter back in the day. Once I read the first installment, I was hooked. I haven’t really ever been able to stop loving Clare since.

There IS a love triangle. However, I could care less. Both male MCs are…phenomenal IMO.

The violinist in focus though is a Mr. Jem Carstairs. Holy swoon, ladies. The books take place in the late 1800s London and he is, in part, the perfect gentleman. He’s also broken (from both a physical and an emotional reason/no pity party, here folks/he’s tough even with his disability) and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. He has a smooth humor about him, he’s brave, and a gentle character. He lets music take him away to a world where he doesn’t have to use a cane to walk or face an addiction. (No spoilers.) There is a scene where Tessa sees him playing in his bedroom and it’s the perfect scene to describe who Jem is as a MC.

This series will easily go down as one of my best-loved worlds. 

“So you don’t ever get angry at him?”

Jem laughed out loud. “I would hardly say that. Sometimes I want to strangle him.”

“How on earth do you prevent yourself?”

“I go to my favorite place in London,” said Jem, “and I stand and look at the water, and I think about the continuity of life, and how the river rolls on, oblivious of the petty upsets in our lives.”

Tessa was fascinated. “Does that work?”

“Not really, but after that I think about how I could kill him while he slept if I really wanted to, and then I feel better.”

― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel



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