Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

Sadness Between The Pages: A Book Review For “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

This book was finished on March 12, 2013. 

I give The Fault In Our Stars by John Green a solid 3 stars.  

I’d like to preface this review with the disclaimer that I do not mean to be jerky. However, my feelings in this review come from a place of wonderment at the state of emotion that come from bringing certain topics up in our society. 

That being said, something that I find so interesting about stories that deal with illnesses is that they seem to skirt the issues of being sick and the “perks” that terminally ill people seem to receive. However, John Green stands stoically in his authorship and calls us all out on our bull****.

Both, Augustus and Hazel are made into optimistic if not angsty teenagers who are speeding toward oblivion furiously reaching out for a lifeline to keep them tethered to this world. While,I respect Green’s writing style and story, I found that the characters themselves are not entirely new to literature. Hazel becomes the symbolic character that gets left behind once her boyfriend gets spirited off (no pun intended) to the after world and Augustus is the character who dies before his time. Together, their story while cute in some spots and heart-wrenchingly sad in others is not one that was fresh enough for me to fall down in total awe upon it’s ending.

Yet, I can say that I was enticed by the idea that two people could go on this sort of journey together to excavate a story’s ending from their favorite author half-way across the world. Green produces this adventure in a way that’s so realistic that I found myself seriously thunderstruck when I got to the scene where Peter Van Houten denies these two cancer-ridden teenagers their last grand “wish.” At this point in the story, I came to the conclusion that maybe what people like Augustus and Hazel really need is not so much our pity for them but, our understanding that they are really just individuals who are just like their “healthy” contemporaries who are searching for life’s answers. Therefore, the one thing that seriously struck me in this novel is that people like Augustus and Hazel are no different than you or I. Like us, their death is inevitable. However, unlike us, they have a ballpark figure of when their final days are going to draw to a close. 

Comment below and tell me what you thought of the #TFIOS book!

Overall, I found the book to be an interesting and funny read with a light romance laced throughout the plot. I would recommend the book to others as a conversation starter but, not as a book that needs to be continuously read to understand it.

You can watch the film adaptation on Amazon Prime.

(Originally posted on blogger on Saturday, March 30, 2013.)

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Ruby Red Trilogy Review

I gave this series a solid 5 stars and also added these two books onto my favorite of all times list. 

The Ruby Red Series by Kerstin Gier took me by surprise. When I initially picked up Ruby Red, the first novel in the series, I was expecting a quaint story about a teenage girl who time traveled and a few historically relevant scenes that made for just another angsty teen fantasy novel. However, what I got was a fun and witty story about a girl named Gwyneth who inherits her family’s “time traveling” gene instead of her cousin, Charlotte who was believed to be the apparent heir for sixteen years. Unlike Gwyneth, Charlotte was thoroughly trained to handle being a time traveler and was initiated into the society’s secrets through private lessons since the time of her birth.

Ill-prepared for her new job Gwyneth makes up the rules as she goes along. From falling in love with her time traveling partner, Gideon, to being introduced to the infamous Count Saint-Germane, leader of the secret time traveling society (who has long been dead), Gwyneth proves that she is not just an accessory to anyone else’s agenda. Instead, she searches for clues in the past and the present with the help of her best friend, Leslie and the ghost and demons who follow her around.

To make matters even more interesting, Gier has stretched the cast of the series across different time periods, which gives the story a Clue like feel. Each characters’ motives come off as suspicious and it seems that Gwyneth can only trust herself, which causes the series’ plot to be full of suspense.

The first book in the series is geared more toward character formation and unraveling who Gwyneth is and what role she plays in the time travelers’ mystery. However, Sapphire Blue has a bit more action than Ruby Red. In this second installment readers get to see Gwyneth travel back in time more and converse with her ancestors, which allows her to obtain more answers to her questions about why she must time travel.

Also, in Sapphire Blue, the love connection between Gwyneth and Gideon becomes more apparent. Gier constructs this weird dynamic between these two characters in her first book and it only gets
more complicated as the series goes on. At first, it seems like Gideon likes Gwyneth. Then, it seems like he hates her. THEN, it’s like okay, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t…in short, his character holds a lot of secrets. None of which, are really revealed until the end of Sapphire Blue.

Gideon’s character seems to be good however, my actual feelings toward him changes continuously throughout the first two books. When he’s first introduced, I just assume that he is a sort of secret bad guy. Later on, it’s revealed that he was mostly raised by the secret society and was unable to 

actually spend time with other kids besides Charlotte. Therefore, the fact that Gwyneth is his new untrained time traveling sidekick is a little much for him to bear. Yet, he outwardly warms toward her, but still gives multiple hints that he would rather work alone. This places him on the potential bad guy list along with like 50 other people.

This series is definitely one that I would recommend. Sadly, with this new installment comes a new cover design. Gone are the beautiful original jeweled covers and instead, readers will see a dark-haired girl in various colored ball gown standing next to a clock-tower. I am hoping that I can find a copy of the final book with the original cover since these books are translated from German into English.

(Originally posted on my Blogger on June 9, 2013.)

Happy Reading!

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The DUFF by Kody Keplinger Book Review

 I gave this book 5 stars.

Kody Keplinger’s novel, The DUFF is the type of book you could read at any age and connect to. The main character, Bianca is a tough as nails girl who’s heart has been hardened by the pains of love. Adamant about never falling in love again, she chooses to enter into an “enemies with benefits” relationship with Wesley, the notorious womanizer of her high school who has problems of his own. Together the two teenagers work through their problems in the form of..ahem…advanced cardio for the grown and sexy. However,  even with their preconceived rules of “no feelings” being involved, Bianca and Wesley learn the hard way that love can infiltrate your heart when you least expect it no matter how hard you plan.

Keplinger’s characters are well developed and likable. Even though Bianca does come off as cynical at times, the reader gets shown that her feelings of anger and frustration are justified. The way that this character antagonizes over being “the duff” a.k.a the designated ugly fat friend, is something that is especially well portrayed by the author and made into a relatable point for anyone who chooses to read this book due to the fact that most people have felt like the dud of their circle of friends at one point of their life or another.

On the flip side, Wesley’s character while clearly placed into the cliched role of being resident bad boy is endearing opposed to annoying. Even when he makes Bianca feel ashamed of herself by calling her the duff, it’s apparent that his character is battling his own set of demons and does so only as a knee-jerk reaction to his pain.

Keplinger’s choice to use cliched roles in her work is balanced off by the fact that her storyline is solid. Never does the reader feel as if they are being rushed off into a tidy conclusion. Instead, the author paces the story so that her audience can get the full benefit of watching the character’s lives come undone and then slowly pieced back together again. Both Bianca and Wesley’s character are funny, interesting, and sarcastic enough to keep readers entertained and willing to stick wound to finish Keplinger’s story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a good chick-lit book or who just loves a good novel about bad boys and strong opinionated female leads. Yet, I would caution against letting younger readers begin this book being that it is meant for a mature audience due to explicit sex scenes throughout the novel.

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Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Book Review

This book was finished on April 13, 2013.

I gave this book 4 stars.

After reading Lola & The Boy Next Door, I was a little skeptical about the hype surrounding Stephanie Perkins’ novels. However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised in reading Anna & The French Kiss.

Anna is a rising senior from Atlanta, Georgia who’s father sends her off to spend her last year in high school at the American School of Paris. Crazy as it sounds, Anna is UPSET that her father would do something as wonderful as give her an all expensive paid YEAR in Paris! So grudgingly, she enters her final year of high school in a distant land where she doesn’t speak the language. However, once Anna is there, she meets a group of amazing friends and starts off a year full of new beginnings. There’s just one problem….she ends up falling for a boy who is taken.

While Anna’s’ character is somewhat cliche, her storyline isn’t overly unbearable. Perkins adds depth to the storyline by pairing Anna’s trials and tribulations with different viewings of cinema or books that the character studies in school or goes to see in her free time. I really enjoyed this maneuver by Perkins because unlike in Lola’s story, Anna’s dream of becoming a film critic are acted on subtly instead of drastically. This allowed me to not feel overpowered by the extraness of Anna’s character. The interweaving of movie knowledge within Anna’s story also gave me something to draw comparison’s to in Anna and St. Clair’s (i.e., her French crush) encounters.

In addition to this, I enjoyed the fact that Perkins’ novel was set in the romantic atmosphere of Paris, but she didn’t try to beat readers over the head with too much romance too quick. She spoonfeeds her readers Anna and St. Clair’s story in a way that isn’t tedious or too overbearing. ***SPOILER*** Yet, I was a little peeved that one of Anna and St. Clair’s other friends was hurt in the process of the two becoming a couple. I would’ve preferred if Perkins didn’t insert an extra girl for Anna to have to compete with within her own circle of friends to date St. Clair. This just seemed extra brutal in terms of the standard rules of friendship do’s and dont’s.***SPOILER***

This being said, while this book isn’t fully original in plot or theme, I did truly enjoy it. I would definitely reread and recommend this book to others. I’m seriously really looking forward to Isla & The Happy Ever After to come out in September after reading this novel.

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Dreams of Murder: A Book Review of "The Nightmare Affair" by Mindee Arnett

I gave this book 5 stars!!!!

This book was absolutely amazzzzzzzzing! I happened across The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett on Amira from AmirasBookReviews on YouTube during her list of anticipated books of 2013. During her synopsis of the book, I heard one of my favorite words for describing any book….MAGIC! That’s right! This book stars a magical cast of characters who are students at a magical boarding school (think Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins not, Harry Potter) and looking for clues to solve who’s behind the murders at their school. 

Fortunately, Arnett doesn’t take the normal character route of other YA writers and instead makes her main character, Dusty a nightmare. Not nightmare as in a whiny, obnoxious character but, nightmare as in a magical character who feeds off others’ dreams to obtain her magical powers. The story starts off with Dusty breaking into her crush, Eli’s room to “feed.” While doing so, she notices vast differences in Eli’s dreams. For starters, Eli’s dreams are in color and he’s dreaming of a murder. Thus begins one of the best paranormal/fantasy books I’ve read since I finished Hawkins’ series.

Arnett takes readers on a journey to find out who is killing the Keepers, a group of three magical beings one from fairykind, darkind (i.e., nightmares, demons, etc.), and witchkind. These Keepers are protecting some secret within the story. To solve this mystery, Dusty has to pair up with Eli allowing the two to become a dree-seer pair, a duo who help each other see into the future through dreaming.These two along with Dusty’s best friend, Serene, a siren become junior detectives pursuing the killer using all types of wacky tricks to stay ahead of the murderer and their teachers who have warned them to stay put.

With this book, I didn’t feel as if the author was reaching or even using recycled cliches to tell the story. Arnett’s characters felt fresh. The story line drives you to keep reading even when you think you know who the killer maybe. Dusty’s character is also relatable in the fact that, even though readers may not have magical powers, they may have experienced feeling like an outsider before, a feeling that Dusty often feels. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who loves a good “who done it?” series or who just loves fantasy fiction.

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Book & Movie Reviews

Playing Dress Up: A Book Review On Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I gave this book 3 stars.

You know those books who get raved about by everybody in all of Booktopia and you tell yourself, “I’m going to read this book because it must be fan-tastic if everybody else loves it so much?”….Whelp,  Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins falls under that category for me.

I chose to read this book before its companion because well, Anna & The French Kiss was checked out at my local library and this was all they had at the time. I went into the book all drummed up and ready to sing its praises afterwards. However,…I was faced with disappointment.

While this book isn’t bad, it’s not technically good either. The characters in this story seemed to me to be ones that were harvested from other YA Fiction and placed smack-dab in the middle of Perkins’ novel. For instance, Lola is a somewhat contrived character who is labeled as the fashionable/artsy daughter of a same-sex male couple. The couple adopted Lola from one of the dad’s drug addicted sister when she was younger and wasn’t ready to raise a child.

Perkins also gives Lola the somewhat obvious aspiration to become a costume designer and formulates Lola’s character to dress up as different “characters” throughout the novel to mark herself as an individual while also showing her creative side. Keeping with this “individual rebel” act, Lola’s boyfriend, Max is delegated the role of the 20-somethin year old rocker who treats everyone else like crap besides Lola (or so it seems in the beginning). From here, we get the return of Cricket, the goofy/smart boy from next door who Lola was previously involved with and the usual sparks start to fly.

 Major Things That Bothered Me About The Book:

1. To me,  Lola and Cricket’s courtship falls flat and the characters also comes off as a tad mismatched. Cricket’s character seems so juvenile while, Lola seems to be this worldly girl who captures everyone’s attention.

2. Lola’s refusal to acknowledge her feelings for Cricket sends her in a relentless circle dance. She goes from not wanting to say how she feels. To hiding her actual feelings from Max and Cricket. Then, when she finally gets to the point where she can’t hide her feelings  anymore, Lola has to confront Max and he breaks her heart and leaves her in ultra-goth mode (which, she vehemently denies being in).

3. By the novel’s end, the only thing left to do is to “tidy up” and write a final romance sequence for Lola and Cricket……but wait!…..Perkins decides to go the extra mile and spice things up by giving Lola a final chance to showcase her clothing designs in the form of Calliope, Cricket’s twin sister who happens to be a figure skater. This chance for Lola to showcase her talent seemed so random in the midst of the story’s ending but, it does give readers the chance to see Lola’s versatility in fashion. Suffice to say, Perkins has Lola rescue the day and then, sends both Cricket and Lola on their blissful way to a ball-like ending with Lola wearing a gown inspired by Marie Antoinette’s fashion and Cricket looking dapper in a regular suit.

Even though I would label this book as a typical YA love story, my biggest gripe with the story was that it didn’t feel authentic. I felt as if I’d read the conversations between Lola and Cricket before and seen the “boy loves girl but, girl’s with another guy” storyline before. Even Lola’s zany outfits just seemed to be pilfered from other books with similar plots. I’m still looking forward to reading Anna & The French Kiss and even Isla & The Happily Ever After but, this book didn’t exactly work me into a frenzy. Yet, If you’re looking for a light, quirky read I’d suggest this book.

Cheers.

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With Brothers Like This, Who Needs Boyfriends: A Series Review of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I finished reading the first two books sometime in February 2013.

I gave the City of Bones 5 stars and City of Ashes 4.5 stars. I am currently reading City of Glass.

Sooooooo…this book review is going to be a general review of what I think about the series so far.

Things I Like About The Series:

1. Cassandra Clare’s description of the Shadowhunters’ world is phenomenal. We’re talking kickbutt, over the top action, in-depth mythology, jaw dropping magical realm, coo-koo villains type of good. Clare makes her characters believable if not annoying. I never felt as if she was stretching the reality of her world too far to a point where it was like,”ummmmm…okay if you say so, I guess portals can be opened in the sky and weird crap can reign down on Earth.” Her writing style really makes you feel like this magical world she created exist somewhere.

2. Two words: Magnus. Bane. The way that Clare integrates today’s social issues into her novels didn’t feel preachy nor, unrealistic. I knew that Magnus’s character was a fiercely fashionable warlock and I was totally okay with that. His dialogue in the novel was sarcastic and witty and added life in places where the novel could have easily turned into a constant battle loop. I especially looked forward to hearing what outfit this warlock had thrown together for each random adventure the Shadowhunter crew went on.

3. Clare integrated so many supernatural characters into her novel I couldn’t even keep up. The way she used the creatures (i.e., werewolves, demons, demon hunters, etc.) was fresh and exciting as well. Often times, this genre of YA gets saturated with the same type of storylines and for Clare to pick up these time worn archetypes and dust them off and breathe new life into them left me seriously impressed. I was especially in love with Luke and his ragtag gang of werewolves.

4. The fact that these novels aren’t written from a dystopian point of view sent me into a gleeful dance…seriously how many ways are authors and film directors going to imagine our end? The creation by Clare of a world that is slotted into ours made me pretty excited and interested at what would happen next.

Now…..

Things I AB-SO-LUTE-LY ABHORRED About This Series:

1. How many time can Clary fall in love with her brother or someone who is supposed to be her brother? I seriously need her to be given a portable family tree so that she can know who is and who isn’t her family so she can stop exchanging saliva with her brothers. smh Even if her brothers/psuedo-brothers are extra fwine incest is still disgusting. Clary seriously just needs to find a nice werewolf or vampire and settle down away from the Shadowhunter men….speaking of Clary…

2. Once again…smh…Clary’s character is seriously one of the more annoying female leads that I’ve seen in YA. In the beginning, I was totally rooting for her but somewhere between the second book’s end and the third book’s beginning, I became frustrated with her outside of her above mentioned tendency. It seems to me like Clary suffers from “helpless syndrome,” an affliction that gets handed to pretty female characters who really have no real weight in stories except to be the damsel in distress and get thrown around the story by authors to drive books’ action. Clary’s character needs to be schooled in Shadowhunting 101 or giving training in her new “gift” so that she can be made useful instead of forcing everybody into uncomfortable situations with her helplessness since she needs to be rescued every few chapters.

3. I sometimes feel as if Clare is dragging certain things out and could skim a good 100/200 pages from each novel. There are times when I have to refrain from skipping ahead due to Clare’s longwindedness.

4. Valentine’s character probes a question I’ve always had about men who become evil dictators. At what point in these men’s rise to power do their followers/society not realize…hmmm…this man is a psycho? I swear Valentine’s back story made me skeptical that absolutely NO one saw the telltale signs that this man was fifty shades of cray. Even Jace defends his “father” to a fault causing me to want to shake him and yell, “WAKE-UP!, HE IS CRAAAAAAAZY!”…But, I digress.

Love it or Hate it, Clare’s depiction of life as a shadowhunter is totally making me want to dig into the back of my closet and pull out my black hoodie along with my black converse and ride into the night to hunt demons…ok maybe just ride on over to my local Half Price Bookstore but, still, I totally love this series.

Sidenote: How many city’s are in the Shadowhunter world?

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