Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Been a While, Huh?

How ashamed of me would you be if I told you I've only read two books since I officially went on hiatus in September? I hope not too much because I am already judging myself - hard.

Since that time, I've kind of replaced the obsessive reading/blogging with knitting and crocheting. I know - crazy, right?! I taught myself to do both once I quit my part-time job and realized that if I didn't find a "productive" hobby, I'd be sitting at home every single night after getting home from my day job and watching 5 hours of Netflix and having nothing to show for it.

I reached this major slump in reading - I just couldn't find anything that I really wanted to read. I am still dealing with this issue somewhat, but I'm at least reading again. I went weeks without picking up a book - WEEKS!! Everyone who knows me was shocked to hear that. Hell, it still shocks me when I say it out loud.

I read Legend by Marie Lu after I went on hiatus which I enjoyed but didn't love. Then I started Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta which took me ages to read because it's a very intense and involved book, and ya know, slump and all. But I finally finished it, and it was amazing and I'm slowly getting back into a reading groove. I honestly can't see myself reading two books a week anymore because I really love this needlework hobby I've picked up, plus I'm really engrossed in a few Netflix shows (One Tree Hill, Heartland, Vampire Diaries [which I'm just re-watching], etc.). But I'd really like to get back into the bookish blogosphere.

I feel like I have no idea what is going on these days, what books have released lately or what's being released soon. I think you can expect to see more of me once I can catch up on all the reviews I never wrote, but maybe you can help me out? What have I missed? What are some of your most anticipated released for the end of the year and the beginning of 2015? What really great debuts should I read that came out in the last couple of months? I mean, Christmas is coming and I need to submit my book requests soon. Can't wait to hear from all of you and to check out everything I've been missing out on thanks to Netflix and yarn.

A.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Taking a Break

I know, I know. You're all sitting at your computers day after day, wondering where the heck I've gotten off to, right? Kidding! - I know that the only person who truly cares about this post is me. But for the sake of my ego, and the few good friends I've made through blogging, rather than ignoring my blog entirely, I wanted to tell you all that I am officially on hiatus!

It'll only be for a few weeks - probably until after my birthday in the first week of October. Why, you ask? For basically the same reason most bloggers take breaks or leave entirely: reading has become a chore again. This happens to me every so often. I took a month long break at the end of last year and it felt amazing, and I was back and better than ever in January.

I haven't been able to really get into and enjoy anything lately and I was pushing myself to read things I just didn't want to read. You can also thank The Sims 4 for taking over my life because once that game released, I realized I was choosing a video game over literature and knew I needed some time to myself.

I do have a few ARC reviews and scheduled posts so I won't be totally gone. But I'm going to play the Sims to my heart's content and go on the search for the book that will get me back into my groove. Any suggestions?

What do you all do when the pressures of book blogging worm their way under your skin? Do you take a break altogether like I am? Change up your reading "schedules"? Re-reads? (I'm totally going to devote the next week to HP just to be reading something I know I love) Or are you one of the smarter bloggers who make sure to keep things light, fun and low-pressure most of the time to avoid things like this? I'd love to hear what you do when you start feeling the heat!

I'll be around - I'm sure I'll be back to posting regularly soon!


A.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781619630659
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Released: September 2, 2014
Length: 565
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

     REVIEW

I went into this book definitely feeling afraid of what was to come. I loved Crown of Midnight so much. I knew I would love Heir of Fire too, because Sarah J. Maas is a genius and this series is a new favorite of mine, so that isn't why I was afraid. I'd seen a lot of posts about new characters, intense feels, being utterly ripped apart over and over again, etc. You can see why I had some reservations. Not to mention this is a beast of a book. I love myself a good long book but I always know it's going to take me a while to get into it, especially when it's something I'm really in to.

Heir of Fire definitely did take a day or two for me to get in to. It's a slower start. Celaena is unhappy. Actually, unhappy is the understatement of the century. Celaena is utterly broken, and though it takes quite a while, we journey with Celaena through every bit of her broken heart, soul and spirit. Sometimes slower paced books are not for me. I loved it in HoF, though. Every last word devoted to Celaena's pain, healing, gaining of power, etc., was worth it. It was necessary, even if it tore me apart while I was reading it. Maas writes pain like no other.

New characters: there are some. Are you surprised? This is one of the best epic fantasies I've ever gotten my hands on, incredibly in depth, so you can imagine how many characters we have to deal with here. There is Rowan, likely the most important of the new characters. You've probably heard/seen tons of people shipping Rowan/Celaena, and I know what you're thinking. You're probably thinking the same thing I was thinking when going into this. HELL NO, NO ROWAN NONSENSE CHAOLAENA FOR LIFE! I was adamantly against any other ships for Celaena. Don't worry, things don't go as you would expect in this area and it is perfect and wonderful, and for Chaol/Celaena shippers, you'll find yourself rooting for Rowan in a few different ways even if you think there is only room for Chaol in your heart. Trust me, I'm still team Chaol.... but I wouldn't be mad if something took a turn in a future book and it didn't go that way. As a matter of fact, I have some speculations. Not really educated guesses, just regular old guesses - things I suspect could happen... if you've read all of the books, send me a private message. We can discuss all of the horrible (and wonderful) things that could happen!

There was also Manon, a POV from a not so nice person - a witch. I won't go into much detail, but I will say this: Maas, you are a genius. How do you make me interested and even feel FEELS for evil people? HOW!? Some may have thought this POV was pointless, but I get the feeling it will be very important in the rest of the series. I have high hopes for this POV actually.

This world, this story, everything in it is so detailed, so many nuances and "storylines" to remember that all wrap into one amazing ball of brilliance. And Maas keeps adding more and I'm almost inclined to wonder how the hell this is all going to work out and tie together but the thing is is already does! Every aspect of every book matters. I remember when I read ToG, thinking that the whole magic aspect seemed out of place. I take nothing for granted in this series now. Nothing is out of place. Nothing.

HoF wrecked me, by the way. I cried like a baby for Celaena, for Dorian, for Chaol, for Rowan. But I also cheered for them, grinned like a fool, laughed like a loon. Maas knows how to write characters we will love (or hate, but in that she-writes-really-good-villians kind of way) so, so much, and I can't even fathom having to let one of them go, because we all know that there will be someone, if not multiple more someones, who don't make it out of this alive. Listen, I'm still mourning over Sam and he was only around for a few short stories.

I feel like it is impossible to not like this series. The only book I can see not liking is ToG, but if you trust me, if you trust the rest of the bookish world, CoM and HoF (oh and Assassin's Blade) will change that for you. It will change everything for you.


     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★1/2 - Really enjoyed it!

I loved Heir of Fire so much! It added so much to the world, a world that I didn't think could expand that much more, and I get the feeling Maas is going to give us even more come the next book somehow (which by the way we have to wait God knows how long for and it is killing me).

I know most of you loved this book. I've seen your reviews and status updates. I now this one killed you inside also. But I have so many thoughts on what could possibly be coming and I want to talk to someone about it without worrying about spoiling. I want to know what you thought, but I also want to know what you think is coming!

Also, can we talk about how excited I am for the other series Maas has coming out next year - A Court of Thorns and Roses?! A Beauty and the Beast retelling! God, I can't wait!!

So tell me your thoughts on all things Sarah J. Maas. Go!
A.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781619630628
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Released: August, 2013
Length: 420 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

     REVIEW

We all know that so far Throne of Glass is the least amazing of this amazing series. After reading ToG I went into Assassin's Blade which changed my entire view on ToG. Then along comes Crown of Midnight which Sarah J. Maas took upon herself to use to wreck her entire fanbase and rip our hearts out. And that's putting it nicely.

There were so many amazing things about CoM that I don't even know where to start. First of all, for those of you who haven't read Assassin's Blade but were disappointed with Celaena's lack of Assassin-y skills, she surely redeems herself in the best ways possible in CoM. I won't go into detail because it is actually a wonderful aspect of the storyline, but Celaena really is the best of the best.

The world building gets deeper here, too. We learn little tiny tidbits about Celaena's past, how Adarlan came to rule and other things important to the story. Maas builds an even richer, more detailed world than what she gave us in ToG and Assassin's Blade. It also really brings together several different aspects, such as the assassin thing, the magic thing (which felt so displaced to me in book one), some other barely mentioned aspects from book one that take on a huge and amazing role in book 2. I love that Maas brings it all together. It's not one storyline per book with small connecting things along the way. No, it all matters, it all interconnects, so make sure you're paying close attention!

Also, there is Chaol. In case anyone was wondering who I ship, it's Celaena/Chaol. Pretty sure I've made that abundantly clear in the past but just in case.. ya know.. it's Chaol. CHAOL CHAOL CHAOL. This book has all wonderful things Chaol. The great part is that Dorian isn't all of a sudden cut out and forgotten just because great Chaol-things happen. Actually, some really awesome, important Dorian things happen. I just happen to heavily ship Celaena/Chaol.

Crown of Midnight basically builds you all the way freaking up, just to tear you the hell down. Like, rips your soul right out of your body. Yes, bad things happen. It's an epic fantasy series, so I know you weren't expecting things to be all hunky dory. But it is for a reason. A really, really important reason, and I forgive you Sarah J. Maas for ending me the way you did.


     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★★ - Absolutely loved it!

When I started Throne of Glass a few months ago, I didn't think I'd find my new favorite fantasy series. I didn't think I'd find another set of books that keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time I'm reading them, a ship that would make me f*cking cry when happy things are happening, characters that I become way too attached to, a main character I admire and identify with (I love that she's such a brat sometimes. Like me! Oh and she's a bit of a book worm), etc., etc.

Seriously, I hope this review finds its way into the hands of readers who are on the fence about Throne of Glass, people who kind of liked it but want to see what Celaena is capable of and see this series at its full potential. Well I'm telling you right now, everything you were hoping for in ToG takes off at such a high level in CoM that there is no way for you to be disappointed. I promise, you'll go from on the fence to absolutely in love right from the beginning of CoM.

I'm currently reading Heir of Fire and I can't to talk about it with those of you who have read or are reading as well. So If you haven't read CoM, get your ass up and read it, so you can move on to the epically epicness of HoF!

Have you read Crown of Midnight? I'd love to know what you thought of this one, especially in comparison to Throne of Glass and with/without having read The Assassin's Blade. As you can tell, I'm obsessed. I want to know what you thought!



Let's talk books!
A.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781408852590
Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Purchased
Series: Throne of Glass #0.1 - #0.5
Released: March 4, 2014
Length: 448 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.
     REVIEW

This collection as a whole rivals literally every short story I've ever read. I tend to read the occasional short story to enjoy some more of the world and see some scenes I may have read about in passing. Most novellas/short sorties are nothing special - usually. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started the Assassin's Blade, but it was so much more than what I was expecting.

The first story was interesting enough - it was just about a covert mission of sorts that Celaena undertakes for Arobynn Hamel, her Master, I guess you would call him, with an associate of hers that Celaena really disliked: Sam (<3 <3 <3). I remember thinking that the story was what I'd expected - a story about "before", a fun little read that didn't add much to the story. Well, alone, it would have been exactly that. A nice insight into before but nothing life changing. That is, until I realized that the short stories in The Assassin's Blade read almost like one long book. Yes, that's what I said. The Assassin's Blade is like a very important, full-length prequel to Throne of Glass. The Assassin's Blade literally leads us right up to how Celaena came to Endovier, right before ToG starts, letting us see exactly what was Celaena's downfall.

And for those of you who have only read ToG, and were frustrated with Celaena's lack of apparent assassin-y skills, here is your fix. Not only will you get to see Celaena is action, which is amazing all on its own, but you will find out some of the reasons why Celaena is the way she is in ToG.

Basically, if you are having doubts about reading The Assassin's Blade after ToG, I implore you, pick it up - you won't regret it. I'm not a short story kind of person - nine times out of ten I don't even bother picking them up. But these are essential to the Throne of Glass series. YOU MUST READ THEM.

THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★ 1/2 - Really Enjoyed it!

I loved The Assassin's Blade more than I've ever loved a collection of short stories before. It seems like every author is cashing in on the novella thing these days, but I didn't feel as if I was reading something written to make more money or to give the series a push. It was a prequel to ToG, plain and simple. Just go read it already so I can stop trying to convince you that it's necessary, that you won't regret it and that it makes ToG make so much more sense! Okay? Okay.

Have you read The Assassin's Blade? Did you read it before or after reading ToG and CoM? I read it in between the two, and while I wished I'd read it before ToG, I was fine with the feeling of having an epiphany once I realized what Celaena had been through and why she acted the way she did. Did you love tAB like I did? Or did you find it to be an unnecessary collection of stories? I'd love to know what you thought about The Assassin's Blade.

Let's talk books!
A.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781619630345
Source: Gift
Format: Paperback
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Released: May, 2012
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
     REVIEW
It probably isn't very fair for me to review Throne of Glass at this point, having read the short stories and the second book in this series. I probably should've been smart enough to write my review right after I finished it. Because right now, I almost can't bring myself to say anything bad about ToG when I know that it I enjoyed it a lot but didn't love it.

However, after reading the other books/stories in the series that have been released thus far, my love for this series and this book are far beyond the four star rating ToG gets all on its own. Like I said - not fair, right?
Allow me to make an attempt at writing an unbiased review.

For starters, the main character, Celaena Sardothien, is touted as Adarlan's assassin, the greatest assassin for all intents and purposes. Dangerous, unbeatable, etc. Without factoring in what I know from the other books, I was a little disappointed that we barely saw any of Celaena's mythical skill. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Celaena. She is smart and witty and funny and a little bratty which I can definitely appreciate being a huge brat myself, but I wanted to see her being assassin-y and we actually don't see much of that.

Throne of Glass takes on a weird paranormal subplot that at first didn't seem to fit and didn't interest me. It was annoying, didn't make much sense and I wished at some points that it would just disappear. Needless to say it all comes together but it was just weird.

The romance - oh the romance. I hate love triangles. With that being said, while this has a very frustrating love triangle, I loved it. I truly found myself torn between the two men and that has never happened to me before. Usually in a love triangle, one guy is like awful and everyone knows it, and the other one is perfect for her and the only reasons the awful guy has fans is because he's a bad boy and "knows" the MC better than anyone else (cue eye roll - give me a break). However, that is not the case here. I obviously am Team Chaol For Life but I couldn't help but find reasons to love Dorian, too. They are both such great, lovable characters and I got a little mad when Dorian was making me love him too much!

All in all, the book comes together, weird paranormal subplot and all, enough that I wanted to read the next book. Like I said, since the time I read Throne of Glass, I've read Crown of Midnight, The Assassin's Blade (novellas) and am eagerly awaiting Heir of Fire, so right now none of those things matter because the rest of the series makes up for the good but not amazing first book. I almost don't remember a time when Celaena wasn't being a super assassin!

     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!
CoM notwithstanding, I really liked ToG. It has great characters that just unfortunately didn't reach their full potential in this book, such an interesting world with pretty good world-building (which just gets better), and a frustrating but amazing and perfect in every way love triangle. TEAMCHAOLFORLIFE.

Have you read Throne of Glass? What did you think? I hope you loved it and didn't let the lack of Celaena showing off her mad skills effect your opinion about the book like I almost did. If you didn't love it, can you tell me why? I'd love to hear what your thoughts are!

Also, Heir of Fire comes out in just a few days!!!! I'm so beyond freaking excited I can't even EVEN. That's right, that's what I said, you didn't read that wrong. I NEED THIS BOOK NOW! How excited are you (and simultaneously horrified at the thought of waiting another year for the next one aghhhh)?

Let's talk books!
A.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book-to-Movie-Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I went to see this movie (1) because the preview made me cry when I saw it at TFIOS premiere, so duh and (2) I'm such a dedicated blogger that even though I didn't love the book, I knew I needed to tell the world how the movie held up.

I mentioned a few times over the last few weeks that I've been having this crying issue - nothing has been making me cry. That is until I read Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins last week and it cured me! So at first I was afraid I was going to leave this movie dry-eyed and heartless, just like I'd been with every book for the past month.

I obviously didn't realize that I had nothing to worry about on the crying front. I was a fuckin mess.

     IT STAYED PRETTY CLOSE TO THE BOOK
I'm quite forgiving when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations when things are changed or moved around for the sake of the adaptation being smoother or portraying a feeling or a message better. I hate when things are totally changed around, but I can forgive when the necessary things are moved around.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that If I Stay the movie stayed rather close to the book. Not much was actually added in or changed - it was more like a lot of the tiny less important details were left out. For example, Kim's crazy mom, while amusing, wasn't necessary and was left out of the movie. A couple of other minor things but nothing that changed the story.

The only thing that was "added" in was this weird fight between Mia and Adam. I mean, don't get me wrong, the fight scene was great, Adam was awesome and rude and an asshole, just like they were trying to pull off, but I don't remember anything like that from the book at all. Mia and Adam were more passive aggressive and Adam in the book was a sweetheart but he could be a dick, too. Otherwise I was pretty pleased with how close the adaptation was.

     THE ADDED BONUS OF MIA'S AND ADAM'S MUSIC
We get to heard "Adam's" music!!! Sometimes when a book has a musician as one of its main characters, albums are made in partnerships with one or two real-life musicians, (e.g., Jodi Picoult, Colleen Hoover). The music is often good, but it's nothing like what we fall in love with on the radio or from our favorite underground artists. In the If I Stay movie, Adam's music comes to life - and it is awesome!

We see him rockin' and rollin' and his voice is even pretty great. Now I did absolutely no research whatsoever as far as the music goes and who wrote it or if Jamie Blackley was the one who was singing, but I suspect it was. I could be wrong, but I'm just guessing here. I have no idea, but I know that it was one of my favorite parts of the movie watching Adam sing on stage and getting to briefly be a part of what he loved.

It was also really awesome seeing/hearing Mia play. Now I also did zero research about Mia's music but I suspect Chloë Grace Moretz was not the source of that wonderful sound. It was mesmerizing though, and beautiful. The cello music was enough to have me tearing up at times. Definitely these were my favorite parts.

     ITS A SHAME THAT THE ACTING WAS... JUST OKAY
This Chloë Grace Moretz girl... she looks familiar to me... and she's got quite a lengthy filmography, but I hadn't ever heard of her before this movie. I think she was a good Mia, but she just didn't really do it for me. She was so clean cut (which yes, is like Mia, but the emotional parts [except for one particularly difficult one] I felt should have been more raw) and sometimes I felt like I was just watching a movie, not like I was part of it. It's just like when reading a book and no one wants to be reminded that they are reading a book, ya know? I hope that makes sense.

Jamie Blackley (Adam), quite the opposite of Moretz's performance, was pretty perfect. What a brilliant portrayal of that character! He just tore my heart right up. Plus seeing him up on stage was hot and he looked like he really belonged there. Contrary to the case with the rest of the cast, Blackley was pretty much flawless.

The parents were cute, quirky, funny, and it was hard not to love them, but acting was a bit awkward. I didn't feel much chemistry between the actors other than between Mia and Adam. OMG I forgot the grandfather. He killed me. He was amazing. And he killed my heart. But overall, it was just alright acting-wise.

     I'VE FINALLY DISCOVERED WHY I DIDN'T LOVE THE BOOK
Finally! After reading If I Stay, and after having not shed one single real tear (my eyes got watery, that's about it) I knew a lot of my blogging pals were going to be wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I know so many of you who sobbed and sobbed over the book and I started wondering what was wrong with me, too.

But the movie kept doing this really annoying thing that I realized the book (kind of) did! Every time a really sad part was happening, it would suddenly rip you from that scene and flashback to some random part of Mia's life, or vice versa - we'd be watching a particularly touching flashback then suddenly jump back to Mia in the hospital. It was hard to connect with it when the transitions seemed to be at inopportune times and not very smooth. My sister and mom even commented to me at one point during the movie, "OMG, why do they keep doing that!?" I wondered that myself. I assume it was some kind of technique to get the emotions all over the place, and for the movie it kind of worked (I mean I was a mess either way, even if it was annoying), but with the book it made it really hard to connect.

Also, I've decided I didn't like how focused the book and movie were on the romance. Is this listed as a romance? Probably, but based on the way the story starts, I felt like it should have been more even, with just as much time spent on Mia's family, friends, music, school, boyfriend, etc. So maybe I'm being picky because this probably is listed as a contemporary romance, but I wish it'd been a bit more contemp and a little less romance.

     THE QUESTION YOU'VE ALL BE WANTING TO ASK: DID I CRY?
F*** yeah I cried. Like a damn baby! I shed about one measly tear for the book while reading it. I cried almost from beginning to end with the movie. Even with the choppy, poorly-timed transitions and Moretz's slightly less than stellar emotional scenes, I was a wreck. A freaking wreck. I remember at one point, I thought I was going to lose it - like not be able to hold in my ugly cry anymore and start sobbing and making strangled noises in the back of the theater. It was rough - really, really rough. The movie connected me to all of the feelings that I was totally missing while reading the book.

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!

I really liked this movie. The book was alright for me (I rated it 3 stars) but nothing to write home about. I wanted to feel something when I read it and finally after seeing this movie, I do! Everything I wanted to cry over, wanted to rage about, I got the chance to while watching If I Stay in theaters. It was well done, the actors, while not amazing, were great, the music was fantastic, and I fell in love with this story once and for all. I actually left the theater wanting to read Where She Went which I'd written off after finished If I Stay and not loving it. I might actually pick it up!

Did you go see If I Stay this past week? What did you think? Were you like me, blubbering like a baby regardless of the small annoyances? Or did you find it not up to your expectations? Did you read the book first or did you not bother? Loved it or hated it? Let's talk about this book and movie!

A.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

ISBN: 9781471403989
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: No, Stand Alone
Released: May, 2014
Length: 240 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.


Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
     REVIEW

By now I'm sure you've heard all the hype surrounding We Were Liars. Look at the blurb up there ^^^. The end of it specifically says "and if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." That's basically been everyone's MO who has read this book and reviewed it. No one will talk about it. When I was looking the book up before I read it, it was very nearly frustrating that I couldn't get any information on it other than whether it was good or not. Obviously not that I don't want to even remotely give anything away, I completely understand those reviews and why they were so vague. So I'm going to keep this really, really short.

We Were Liars is beautiful, haunting, poetic, sometimes strange. It spoke to my soul, telling me things I'd never heard before but somehow understood completely. That might sound like I've gone off the deep end, but you will understand once you read the book. It has a real "classic" feel to it that was like being in a dream and even sometimes a nightmare.

Disclaimer: I've see a lot of reviews by people who didn't like We Were Liars for various reasons. The story can be confusing at times. It's slow. It's dramatic. At times it is hard to even like the MCs, even when you understand the feelings being portrayed. And you will have absolutely no idea what is coming (unless you're like my sister who says she guessed what was going to happen like 2/3 of the way through the book, but I still don't know how).

Like I said, this is a slow book. It took me a while to really get into it but every time I picked it up, I was captivated by Cady's and the Liars' story. I loved this book so much that I finished it, then decided to re-read it the next day. That's all I can say to you without giving any of the plot away. I'm going to go cry in a corner now kbye.


     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★★ - Absolutely loved it!

I adored We Were Liars. After a bit of a reading slump and reading some things I just wasn't really into, WWL really surprised me. It was just fantastic. There's a very high chance that this will be a book I re-read over and over for years to come - it is just that dear to me.

Have you read We Were Liars? What did you think? I've heard from tons of people who loved it, and I can't wait to discuss this one with you, but I really want to hear from those of you who didn't like it. Other than it being slow and rather confusing until you realize what the heck is going on, what didn't you like about it? Can't wait to hear from you all!

A.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Really Want to Read but Don't Own Yet

This is gonna be a tough one for me - mainly because I have a serious book buying problem. I have over 60 books physically sitting on my shelves and I still go out and stock up on books on my TBR list just so I can have them. Even when I know I'm not going to read them for months (in some cases, years!)! Basically if I see a book I really want, I find a way to get my hands on it. Surprisingly, right now there aren't a ton of books that I really want that I don't already have. There are a few though:

TOP TEN FIVE BOOKS I REALLY WANT TO READ BUT DON'T OWN YET

1.     Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas - Yes, this is a little bit cheating, but I don't care! I NEEEED this book and some people do have ARCs and I DON'T AND I WANT IT RIGHT NOW WAAHHH.

2.     Winter by Marissa Meyer - Okay, this is 100% cheating because I'm pretty sure ARCs have not gone out for this yet. Unfortunately this was pushed back so we could read a story about freaking Queen Levana in the beginning of the year. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for Fairest but I NEED WINTER.

3.     Far From You by Tess Sharpe - This recently made it onto my TBR list and it's probably one of those ones that I will make sure gets into my hands some time very soon. A lot of my trusted blogging pals enjoyed this a lot and that's usually all it takes for me to pick something up that I was already kind of interested in.

4.     The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - I read A Thousand Splendid Suns last year which I thought was fantastic and have been wanting to read his other books and just haven't gotten around to it.

5.     Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - I'd originally had no interest in this one but after finding out that it isn't actually a horror novel, I became much more interested. I'll definitely be making a trip to the bookstore soon for this one.

What books do you really want to read but don't own yet? I can't wait to see all your lists!!

A.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

ISBN: 9780142415436
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Series: If I Stay #1
Released: April, 2009
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
On a day that started like any other,Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.
     REVIEW

This is going to be one of those tomato-throwing reviews. You know, the one where I tell you that I didn't really like this extremely popular book that you all love. I'm sorry. Actually, I'm not sorry. But I'd still like to not be hit with tomatoes if that's okay?

I was really excited for If I Stay. It had been on my radar as a future read for a while, Gayle Forman being who she is and all that. When I went to see The Fault in Our Stars, the trailer for If I Stay was shown. I actually had no idea what the book was about until I saw the movie trailer (sorry, geez - I'd never really looked into it) and that one little clip was enough to make me need to read it. I picked it up almost immediately and went home to dive in.

The first thing I noticed was that the writing was beautiful but simple and the dialogue was amusing but a tad bit awkward. Honestly, both of these things kind of annoyed me. It made me want to like what I was reading but it also made it difficult to like it. Mia was a teenager, a brilliant one so I can forgive it, but she spoke like a cultured adult. Even the little brother who was what, seven or eight, spoke like he was much older. It was a little too stiff and awkward for me, but like I said - I didn't hate it, it was just hard for me to enjoy as much as I wanted to.

Unfortunately, the thing that really cemented the fact that this book wasn't for me was that it didn't make me feel anything. I think I shed a total of two tears throughout the whole book. Even the love story didn't give me any feels. It was just pleasant but nothing to write home about. It did make me think, which I always appreciate in a book, especially young adult novels which always get such a bad wrap. But to me, the book was supposed to do both and I just didn't really care about Mia's struggles or having to make a choice other than feeling incredibly sad about her losing her family.

Maybe I really have an icebox where my heart used to be and I'm incapable of any human emotion because I know that it should have made me feel but it didn't. I didn't hate this book, but honestly I didn't feel much of anything about it. I had and still don't have any plans to read the sequel because I honestly just didn't connect with Mia. I might go looking for spoilers so I can know what happens to her, but I can't dedicate several days of my life to reading about it. I forgot about If I Stay the second I was done and decided to give it away, hoping someone else might like it more. Winner of said giveaway, I hope you enjoy it.

So please, hold the tomatoes. I'm just not human, that's all.

     THE BREAKDOWN


RATING: ★★★ - It was OK

Though this is a favorite of many of my trusted blogging pals, it just didn't do it for me. I still want to see the movie, actually, because I find that when I can't connect with a book but really want to, I tend to connect with the movie pretty well, such as with Vampire Academy (even though I adored the rest of the series) and TFiOS (yes, I liked this book well enough but adored the movie).

If I Stay didn't do much in the way of moving me but on the bright side it did make me think about life, it's fragility, the deaths that will one day take us all and whether or not we may have a choice to live or die, maybe not the way Mia did, but in the way we live our lives now - and what to choose if we do have that choice?

It wasn't a bad book, just not for me and I really do think it's something that a lot of others would enjoy if you haven't read it yet. I think I'm just emotionally deficient.

Have you read If I Stay yet? Did it move heaven and earth for you or were you like me, just kind of meh? I'd love to hear from you on this one!

Also, the movie comes out tonight (technically tomorrow). I'm going to go see it on Saturday, and don't you worry - if you're not sure about it, I'll let you know what I thought. Are you planning on seeing it, unsure, or totally against it? Let's talk books... and er... movies!

A.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book-to-Movie Review: The Giver, and How it Kind of Surprised Me


Some of you may remember my post last week on 6 Reasons Why I'm Terrified to See the Giver Movie. You may also remember my crazy ranty-ness throughout the post and through other social media avenues the past few weeks as I re-read and reviewed The Giver and had a lot of time to think about everything. I was thoroughly convinced that I would hate every single aspect of the movie and that we'd have a repeat of Beautiful Creatures (I really should write a review on that one for reference, huh?).

I went to see the movie last Friday night with my cousin who grew up on The Giver as I did and had crazy high expectations, and my sister who recently read The Giver for the first time and didn't hold the crazy love in her heart for it like I do, and had little to no expectations. Basically, here's what happened.

THE BEGINNING: My first impressions

As I expected, the beginning started off a lot like Divergent, talking about times of great unrest or something like that. They showed this weird map of the community which I of course scoffed at. The map showed many communities, not just one, and it was this whole strange set up. It looked a bit like a floating island in the sky. That then reminded me of a book by Lauren DeStefano, Perfect Ruin, which indeed was about a floating island in the sky - and the government constantly referring to people as being "lost to the edge" or something to that effect. It was weird - out of place. They could've done anything else to reinforce the fact that the community was isolated and that once you got past the border, memories would go back to the people living there. There was no need for the floating island look with fog around the border. At all.

I was annoyed already, but it was hard to stay mad when I started getting choked up at Jonas' "graduation" ceremony (aka Ceremony of Twelve - because Jonas is like 18 in the movie). It was modern and weird and aged up, but I still couldn't stop the chills skating up my spine at hearing the community chant his name when he was selected.

THE ROMANCE: Did it really affect the story?

I will admit it distracted the crap out of me. I think the movie would have stood just fine if they had played up Jonas lusting after Fiona, developing feelings of "love" as described in the book, but I think the mistake came from making her have feelings back, making her skip her injections, making her rebel, too. Like I mentioned in my post last week, in reality, Jonas would've only had someone else's memory to go off of, and Fiona would have had nothing. Hormones maybe, but don't we think that after living life the way they did, they wouldn't just jump into a romance with ease? I mean, Fiona was freaked out, but I don't think she was freaked out enough considering how things ended up.

I stand by what I said - the actual romance should've been out. Let Jonas feel how he feels, but watching him try to make out with this chick because he had someone else's memories of love and people kissing was just too much.

ASHER WAS A PILOT?: Of all the WTF-ery!

When the kids were assigned their jobs, Fiona was assigned Nurturer. Oh, wait, you noticed something wrong with that, too? Yeah, she was not a Nurturer in the book, she was a Caretaker of the Old. This didn't bother me all that much just because the Nurturing Center played somewhat of a part in story. But Asher, our dear Asher was assigned as a Pilot who flew out of the community limits, probably to deliver things to other communities, but not outside of the real boundaries. Our irresponsible friend almost instantly turns serious, abiding by the rules that Jonas is developing a distaste for. This adds for some extra drama when - gasp - Asher has to hunt down his own friend when Jonas tries to escape. It was wayyyy overdone and not necessary. I think the near-capture scenes would've been just fine if they altered things a little and left that tidbit out. Does it effect anything all that much? No, but like I said, way overdone and it was another thing that made me roll my eyes.

WHAT I LOVED: Yes, there were actual things I enjoyed!

Even with the things I didn't enjoy, e.g., the romance and the overly modern nonsense that you can see right from the trailer, a good portion of the movie stayed marginally close to the book. Surprise, surprise.

I loved Jonas' passion for the memories, the world as he's never seen before, his passion for love and happiness and doing what is right. Brenton Thwaites really pulled this off well. In the book, Jonas' passion doesn't develop until later on, whereas in the movie it's almost instantaneous after Jonas becomes the Receiver, but it was wonderful to watch his thought process play out (even if it was on fast forward).

The acting was on par. In fact, it was above par. Brenton Thwaites did a lovely job as Jonas. I especially loved Odeya Rush as Fiona. Yes, I thought Fiona has too much of a part, but Rush was fantastic playing what was given to her. She got me all worked up at the end. Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgård, they were fantastic. TayTay (Swift), however, whom I adore because she's so adorable, was just alright playing Rosemary, a character that had no real part in the book.

I did struggle a bit with Meryl Streep. Not because of the acting - obviously Meryl Streep is a goddess and is amazing. I just struggled because she was another character who has a significantly smaller part that was played way up. It added to the drama and excitement but she was not a likeable character, so that was hard for me.

JEFF BRIDGES. Oh my heart, Jeff Bridges. He played the Giver and he was amazing. He made the movie for me. He was absolutely brilliant. He was exactly what I imagined, though maybe a tad younger and a tad more groomed than the book-Giver. He is one of the main reasons I didn't hate this movie, or why I actually kind of enjoyed it. Jeff Bridges brought the Giver's character to a new level but not like all the other characters, by adding in things about them that aren't true. He was just... perfect. He was another character who brought me to tears.

Which leads me to the main reason I actually kind of enjoyed the movie: THE MEMORIES. The most perfect parts of this movie were the parts that were actually adapted directly from the book. Watching Jonas receive memories was so fun (like his first memory of the sled, or of being on a boat in the ocean at sunset), but then the movie did this thing: it showed a montage memories, of what the world is. We see everything, people dancing, laughing, crying, praying, going to concerts and parties, having babies, dealing with heartbreak, fighting a war, EVERYTHING. Everything that makes this world beautiful and horrible all at once. Let me also point out how beautiful and appropriate it was for them to end of the montages on a picture of Nelson Mandela. Freaking brilliant. It was the one of the most moving things I've ever seen and every time they showed it, I was tearing up like a fool.

OVERALL: It got the point across

All I could think of when we left besides "I don't know what to think" (which is what a ton of people were saying when it was over) was that Lowry was right. Before I went to see the movie, the production company tweeted me a link to a video of Lois Lowry talking about the adaptation:


She mentions how true the movie stays to the book. I remember watching this clip last week before the movie and thinking, psht, how could you call that staying true to the book? Like, was she even watching the same clips that I was?

But after watching I know exactly what she meant. They changed a lot, they really did, and in my opinion some of it was so simple and it didn't even need to be changed (like the weird birthmarks in place of light-colored eyes on the ones who could see/hear Beyond). But still, she was right. I could plainly see that the movie still delivered its message: making people think about what is important, making people appreciate the world in all of its beauty and glory, realizing that we can't forget our history no matter what horrible things have happened, we need to learn from it in order to grow and be better people. If we forget the bad, we lose the good, too. We lose what makes life worth living. I may not have loved the execution but it stayed so true to Lowry's core values and message in the book that I couldn't be mad.

SHOULD YOU GO SEE IT?

Well... that's for you to decide. Like I said, they've changed a lot. If random little changes, the romance and overly-modern work and rebellion are going to bother you that much then honestly, no. I'm not saying you should pass it up entirely, I'm just saying wait for red box, rather than spending 10 bucks to go see it.

If you're more generous like me and you can see past Hollywood's need to make everything more sexy and exciting and focus on the amazing beautiful scenes between Jonas and the Giver which really made the movie for me, then I say yes. It's only 10 bucks right? And if you're as big of a fan as I am, even though some things will down right piss you off, you'll still find that it did its job. Oh and, FYI, for any changes or stupid things I didn't mention specifically, you can just assume that it wasn't important enough to make any kind of impression on me, and if you see this adaptation at all like I do, then those things won't really matter to you either.

And finally, for those of you who haven't read the book and don't plan to, GO SEE THIS MOVIE (even though I'd really love it if you read the book, too). If you have nothing to base it off of, I promise you, you will love it. The things that annoyed me will seem like nothing if you don't have anything to compare to. It's action packed, meaningful, well done as far as production and acting go, and its overall a good movie when it's totally separated from the book.

If I had a chance to re-do the movie, of course there are things I'd change - lots of things. But there are also things I'd leave exactly the same (the memories, mainly, and the wonderfulness that is Jeff Bridges). The Giver movie really, really surprised me by not being the complete disaster I was expecting. I honestly think I'll be going to see it again, to analyze a bit more.

Did you go see the Giver movie yet? What did you think - and were you a fan of the book first? If you haven't seen it, what do think about the trailers and other reviews? Do you think you will go see it or are you staunchly against this adaptation? I can't wait to hear what you thought!

A.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Must Reads

Happy Tuesday! As a book blogger, I recommend books to people all the time (more now than before, since my friends and family actually come to me for recommendations now). Most of the people in my life don't read half as much as I do. Okay, no one in my life reads a quarter as much as I do, so when one of them recommends a book to me, I definitely check said book out. Of course with my never-ending TBR pile it's difficult to just pick up one of these books, but they've all made it on my to-read list and I will get to them eventually. The ones that are recommended to me the most are:



10. Anthem by Ayn Rand
Who recommended it: My teacher-friend, Amanda
This was recommended to me by a co-worker who is also a psychology professor at our university here. She's crazy smart so I'm a little afraid to read this. She knows my love for YA dystopia and tells me that this is an "original" dystopia, unlike any I've read thus far, but like I said, she's crazy-smart and I'm unsure if this one will just go right over my head.

9. The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred
Who recommended it: Author Jay McLean
This has been recommended to me by a book group I'm a part of, specifically by an author I'm a huge fan of, Jay McLean. However, I'm a bit of a cover snob, so I'm having a hard time getting past that. I did buy it for Kindle last week though!

8. Any book by Colleen Hoover
Who recommended it: The More-munity (book group)
I read one Hoover book that I really enjoyed, Maybe Someday, and one that I didn't enjoy all that much, Slammed. The same book group that recommended Sweet Gum Tree recommends every Hoover but my success rate right now is only 50%. I think I'm going to try Hopeless though - we'll see how that works!


7. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Who recommended it: (everyone - the bookish community)
There was no one person to recommend this to me, it's one that basically everyone says I need to read like right now. I definitely want to and it's sitting on my shelf just waiting! I'll get there.

6. The Selection by Kiera Cass
Who recommended it: My cousin Melissa
My cousin loved this series and repeatedly tells me I should read it. I have it on my to-read list on Oyster, so that's a start, right?

5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Who recommended it: My friend Fabiana
A good friend went so far as to buy me this book for Christmas last year - it's one of her favorite books ever. I really do need to get around to reading it.

4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Who recommended it: My former boss at a shoe store
My boss read this years ago and she absolutely loved it. She offered over and over to lend it to me but I always had something else going on book-wise (as usual). She's even gotten a little ticked off at times because I simply am too busy to read it, but I do want to. I'm intrigued... I'll get around to it.



3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Who recommended it: My cousin Melissa
My cousin and her boyfriend constantly talk about this book and ask me if I've read it yet. I plan on reading it for the movie, but they are downright obsessed. Rightfully so, from what I hear, but it's certainly a lot of pressure.

2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Who recommended it: My Outlander-obsessed friend Jill
Not only does the bookish community demand that I read this (it's a show now), but my former co-worker and good friend Jill is obsessed with this book. She actually told me that it's almost the only book she ever reads (I did get her to read the Hunger Games once). She's re-read Outlander countless times (she was holding it last time I saw her) and has threatened me with bodily harm if I don't pick the damn book up and read it. I will, Jillian, I will. Promise!

1. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Who recommended it: My fiance, Sean (a total non-reader)

My fiance doesn't do books like I do. He listens to audiobooks (which is totally fine) and "reads" about 1 per month. He picked up this book for me one day (he likes to pick out random stuff he thinks I'll like by the cover and blurb). I noticed that the ratings were not amazing, but I wanted to read it, especially since he bought it for me. He went so far as to download the audiobook so we could read it together. Yeah... then I was just too busy, then I hit a slump, then I had to catch up. Now I have it on my calendar for the end of the year and Sean has read all three. I will get to it, my love, I swear. (Did I mention that he no longer believes me when I say that anymore? Haha oops!)

What books have people been recommending to you as a must read? Do you want to read them or are you just nodding and smiling and moving on? Have you read any of the ones on my list so far? Would you also recommend them or have any opinion on them? I can't wait to hear from you!

A.

P.S. Did I mention I was having a giveaway? You can enter to win a paperback copy of Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare below. The giveaway is US Only (sorry!) and it ends on Monday, August 25, 2014, at midnight! Good luck and thanks for stopping by :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bout of Books 11 - and Giveaway!

Hey - here I am at the last minute! Bout of Books 11 began today and I'm jumping on this train right before it leaves the station! Did you know that this is my first Bout of Books? I missed the last one :/ but I'm gonna go for it today!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Time Devoted to Reading

I have work all week, but I plan to read during every free moment (as usual) :)

My Goals

I usually read 1-2 books per week, so I'm setting a goal for 3 books!

Books to Read

I'm definitely going to read:

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn,

and

One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

I also hope to finish re-reading Chamber of Secrets which I suppose I can count as half a book. Wish me luck!


Can't wait to meet and talk books with all of you - good luck on all of your goals!


Also, I'm running a giveaway this week. One person will win a paperback copy of the first two books in Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series. Enter below!! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

ISBN: 9780525425632
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Released: August 14, 2014
Length: 339 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.
Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

     REVIEW

Check out my status updates down there. There a was whole lot of OMG-ing while I read this book. both out of swoon and heartbreak and what the frig, oh and one tiny moment of Harry Potter. I'd been waiting for ages to get my paws on this book, along with the rest of you I imagine. Anna and the French Kiss was one of my absolute favorite books last year. Lola... eh not so much a favorite but a good addition to the Anna world. I think I just liked being in Paris :)

Isla starts out kind of the opposite of Anna and Lola. In Isla things are pretty freaking awesome at first: funny, interesting, swoony. Then of course, as you can tell by my updates, eventually things take a turn for the worse. This book built me up and broke me down like no other.

I've had this weird problem where I've barely been able to cry at anything - sad, happy, real life, fiction. My eyes sometimes get a little wet but nothing has been able to move me to actual tears - until Lola. I cried pissed off, furious, heartbroken tears and a few ridiculously happy ones. Stephanie Perkins fixed my tear ducts! Or my heart! Or both! She's a miracle worker!

As always, Perkins' writing is impeccable, and she's so funny I can't even stand it. She makes me feel like I'm in Paris, in this world, in love all over again. I re-read Anna before I read Isla and tried to pay particular attention to Josh and even though I always liked him and thought he was amusing, broody little guy he was, I never knew he could do the things he did to my heart.

Alright, I'm past the point of being able to write a rational review. I'm full of too much swoon. I'll just say that Isla was PERFECT and it was everything I wanted and then some (especially at the end there OMGGG!!) and I really wish Perkins would just continue writing about these characters.


     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★★ - Absolutely Loved it!

Since I have nothing coherent to say about this book: I will just remind you how much I loved it. It was amazing and perfect in every way. It was everything I wanted from a finale to a much loved series and more. I just have one thing to mention: can we petition to get Meredith her own story? Please. I just love her and I want to watch her fall in love too. In ROME!

What did you guys think of Isla? I loved her, I loved Josh, I loved Paris, I loved everything. I see a lot of people didn't like it because it was centered around a lot of teenage "drama" but I thought that was perfect because I know I was dramatic as hell when I was their age and I really, really identified with the characters in this story. I'd love to know what you thought!

A.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Son by Lois Lowry

ISBN: 9780547887203
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: The Giver Quartet #4
Released: October, 2012
Length: 393
Goodreads  |  B&N
*Please note, this review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series*

     SUMMARY
They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.
     REVIEW

Finally FINALLY after all these years, there is an ending to one of my favorite books in the entire world. I've read The Giver so many times since childhood, I've lost count. Son came out back at the end of 2012. I ordered the entire new hardcover set as soon as Son was released and never read it until now. Maybe I was afraid considering everyone was saying how much they hated it and how horrible it was.

Well, let me just make it clear how much I disagree with those opinions. After reading Gathering Blue which was a bit underwhelming and Messenger which I really enjoyed, I was so eager to read the conclusion. I needed to know about Claire, about Gabe, about how it all happened.

Son is broken up into three parts: the happenings of The Giver from Claire's point of view; what happens to Claire immediately after; and her quest to find the son she lost so many years before. I enjoyed every single part, every single word of this book.

I especially loved reading about Claire in the community of The Giver. It was our first glimpse at that world other than the glimpse we got through Jonas many years ago. It never ceases to fascinate me, that "utopian" society. I wish there was another entire book on it.

I lovelovelovedddd reading about what happened to Claire after The Giver was over. It was beautiful and lovely and tragic all at the same time and I wish things could've happened differently so I wouldn't be sitting here heartbroken before you, but it is what it is. I've accepted it and am beginning the road to recovery.

The final section I suppose was my least favorite but that's because I was less fascinated by Village than I was by Claire's oceanside home for much of the book and by the community of The Giver. But this third part is where all of the action happens, where all of the metaphors and lessons come into play. A lot of people didn't appreciate the villain and what he stood for, but I did. He was so creepy all on his own, but this book spoke to me on a whole other level. Maybe I took things a little too seriously, I don't know, but I really was blown away by the implications of Son and what it portrayed about our world and the evils we succumb to. I won't go on though, or else we'll be here all day.

Aside from the profound meanings deeply rooted in this entire series, especially in Messenger and Son, it really was an emotional ending for me. I've obviously grown attached to the characters over the years and seeing things play out the way they did... it was tragic and heartbreaking but beautiful and gave me a huge sense of satisfaction when it was all said and done. I of course still have so many questions about the little things but I'm okay with never knowing, or with drawing my own conclusions as I have done with Lowry's books for so many years now. I'm happy with how it ended. I am.

     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★ 1/2 - Really enjoyed it!

Son was a brilliant ending to The Giver Quartet after so many years waiting to find out what happened next. I guess I never really expected to know what happened next considering Lois Lowry wasn't exactly known for giving specific and detailed endings to her novels in this series. The deeper meanings and symbolism in this book blew my mind and left me thinking long after I'd finished. It also left me a little creeped out - just sayin'.

I loved Son and I can't wait to read it again to (hopefully) go through it on a less emotional level and really be able to understand everything that is this book, aka Amazingness. I was thrilled with this final book and I can't help but wonder what it was that others found so lacking that they specifically disliked it (or even hated it - gasp). Either way, it was my second favorite in the series next to The Giver and I recommend the entire series to anyone who has read and loved The Giver or to anyone who wants to experience speculative (children's) fiction at its finest.

Have you read Son? Did you read the entire series? What did you think? Were you among those that wasn't happy with it for a conclusion to such a popular series, or were you like me - loving the crap out of this book? I can't wait to hear what you think!


A. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

6 Reasons Why I'm Terrified to See The Giver Movie

It feels like I've been waiting centuries for this movie to come out. I remember being a teenager and hearing rumors (over 10 years ago) about a possible adaptation "coming soon" and I remember freaking out and fan girling (though I don't think fan girling was a term) like crazy. I also remember being severely disappointed when year after year passed and nothing came of it. I held out hope though. I had faith.

Then BAM. Last year I found out that The Giver really was becoming a movie and I just about pooped my pants. I'm trying to remember when I saw the first Giver trailer. I was definitely at the premier for another movie - possibly Hunger Games? Or maybe it wasn't until TFIOS, I don't remember, but anyway - I was so excited because it was the freaking Giver.... yet I felt a twinge of wariness in the pit of my stomach. It annoyed me a bit, too, because I was busy trying to love the shit out of that trailer but I could tell that something was off - it was too different from what I'd pictured.

Let me clear the air first - I am incredibly generous when it comes to reviewing book-to-movie adaptations. I am used to changes, I am fine with cutting out unimportant things or things having to be moved around for the transition to the big screen. I take every adaptation with a grain of salt and with the understanding that things aren't going to look and play out the exact way they did in my head. Need proof? Dude, I liked Vampire Academy. Enough said.

Maybe I'm being irrational and holding on to my childhood/teenage ideals as far as what The Giver movie should undoubtedly be rather than accepting what it is, and maybe I am this close to throwing a massive book-related tantrum, but it's The Giver. THE GIVER!! You know as well as I do that this movie is going to blow and HARD. Here's why:

1.    Too modern: I understand and appreciate that the adaptation needs to speak  to the now and speak to its target audience, rather than to the young adults (by that I mean actual young adults such as my self, in their 20s) and middle aged readers who read this back when the book was written, but it's not even staying remotely true to the book! With hovercrafts and sleek buildings, unnecessary techologies, injections (rather than pills) - it's all just too modern. Have we forsaken the simplicity and bleakness and "innocence" that is The Giver? I guess the writers/directors figured that since they made part of the movie in black and white, that was all they needed to capture the concept of Sameness but no. It's just all wrong.

Why are they on a poster together?! Fiona doesn't
even frickin' matter!!!!!!!!
2.     A Romance!?: Am I suffering delusions right now or are there scenes with Jonas and Fiona frickin' kissing?!?! Just ...no. For the love of all that is holy - whyyy!? I get that Jonas is older in the movie because no one is interested in a twelve year old playing this role and I've accepted that but adding in the element of romance and a connection that is barely even thought of in the book does it a huge injustice. Even if book-Jonas had more than just some fleeting thoughts about Fiona, he wouldn't have even begun to know how to have any kind of romance or probably even want one. Because no one had those feelings or types of relationships in their community! It would've been all new to him except through memories given to him from the Giver! Not to mention that there are so many more important things going on in this book that, other than the fact that love and other feelings are suppressed by the society (which, yes, is a pretty important aspect), romance just cannot be. It can't exist in the context of what is important in the story.

3.    A Rebellion!?: The few scenes I've had the opportunity to watch make Jonas seem... rebellious. There's Jonas telling Fiona to skip her morning injections (because he's secretly been doing the same, but WTF because in the book Jonas is told to skip his pills), and Streep declares that Jonas is dangerous, when again WTF because no. He isn't looking to incite rebellion! He just wants to make things right, and he doesn't even come to that conclusion until right before the end!

4.     Seems like a sequel to Divergent: It seems as if every YA dystopian adaptation starts with a reference to "Before" but Jonas doesn't even learn about Before until mid-book and no one, I repeat, no one understands the concept of Before or even cares. It's not part of the book until Jonas learns about it from the Giver which he then passes on to no one but an infant, and to add it into the movie as though it is the motto of the community, blah blah blah a Time of Great Suffering and there was a Solution, communities and no choices, blah-blah-blahdy-blah, is not only blasphemous, but sounds exactly like the opening lines to Divergent and that little video they play at the reaping in Hunger Games. Not to mention when Meryl Streep says something like "When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong." Much like the concept of the test in Divergent that divides people into their factions. Add in all the rebellion and the romance and it just seems like The Giver is trying to cash in on the success of Divergent and other YA dystopians that are so popular right now. That'd be wonderful except for the fact that they are cashing in on something that doesnt exist in the book! At least Divergent and The Hunger Games stayed true to their cores and what the books are actually about.

Let me say again before I continue, in case you think I'm being nitpicky and irrational and freaking out because "movies are not like books" - I am okay with changes in book-to-movie adaptations that make it easier for books to be transitioned to the big screen. I am not okay with movies that change the fundamental ideas of a book to make more money off of it.

5.     It's (practically) all made up: I was watching PLL last night and there was a "special sneak peek" or whatever it's called of The Giver movie showing the scene where Jonas tries to convince Fiona not to take her injections. I mentioned this above but my outrage now is over the fact that the scene they showed, along with some of the things Jonas mentions (like sneakily skipping his injections) don't happen in the book at all. Actually, that conversation never even remotely happens! How about Jonas and Fiona kissing? I mentioned that before too and it's not even a little true. It's made up. Oh, how about when they show Jonas being captured - scooped up by a hovercraft/plane thingy (just like in Catching Fire!), because um WHAT? Ohhh and how about when the elders (Meryl Streep, etc.) freaking have the nerve to question the Giver himself and tell him he "should have known better"? Once again, we're losing the entire point of the book, we're losing the concept of Sameness and how clueless the community, including its Elders, really are. No one is looking to start a revolution here! NONE OF THIS HAPPENS! IT'S ALL MADE UP!!

6.     My Childhood will be Ruined: Not only do I hate a bad adaptation (ahem Beautiful Creatures, I'm lookin' at you) which is bad enough all on its own, but I grew up on this book. 7th grade English class was never the same after I read this book. This was the one and only book I was ever assigned in middle and high school that I went out and bought myself (I liked my elementary school reads), went back and re-read on my own. This was the first book I ever really loved, and now it's being butchered in the public eye and made out to be just like everything else when it is not. What upsets me more is that the people who tend to get into certain books or become part of fandoms because of the movie releases (bandwagoners, yes, but I can't be mad due to the fact that they are actually reading or enjoying the stories I've loved for so long) will see this movie, will think "oh no, not another Divergent/Hunger Games/YA dystopian book-to-movie" and will be missing out on one of the best books I've ever been blessed enough to read. DAMN YOU HOLLYWOOD!

Why don't you see for yourselves:



I think my tantrum and the trailer were enough to show you what I mean, yes? Basically, if you want to like this movie, don't read the book. But if you want something better than what's already out there, better than just another money-making copy of all the popular YA books/movies, read The Giver. If you don't, you'll be missing out, I can promise you that. And, no, I'm not going to say "then don't see the movie". Obviously I can't tell the future. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this will be the biggest, baddest adaptation to ever grace the screen. Unfortunately, evidence points to the opposite, but in either event, I am going to see The Giver this Friday when it comes out, (1) because I am a HUGE fan of the book/series and Lois Lowry and loyalty dictates that I see this movie no matter what, (2) my job as a blogger means I must enjoy the good, suffer the bad and grit my teeth and bear it through the ugly for you, my loyal readers, who obviously depend on me to inform you about this adaptation and whether this movie is worth $10+ bucks and almost 2 hours of your time.

Well what do you think about the trailers? Please don't tell me you think it's going to be awesome? Kidding. Actually, if you think that, I'd love to hear why. I want to like the movie, so maybe there's something you can say to change my perspective a little? Or you can just rant with me about this nonsense and we can cry together when our favorite childhood book is ripped to pieces.

Let's talk!

A.