Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars Movie: My Thoughts

When I read the news tonight that The Fault in Our Stars movie has officially hired a director, I was at first ecstatic.

However, after thinking about it for awhile, I got worried.

I absolutely adore John Green and everything he does. I love his books first and foremost, and I will always be a fan. I adore his and Hank's Youtube channel. I also love Crash Course and his Swoodilypoopers videos. Basically, everything he and his brother do is amazing to me. So I am incredibly happy that The Fault in Our Stars will probably be made into a movie.

However, I know what happens when books become made into movies, and that's what has me worried.

The Fault in Our Stars is such a gem, and as a book it really functions to directly touch a readers' soul and inspire them. I know it has helped people through tough times, and people have a connection to that book that goes way deep.

How is that connection going to be translated into a movie?

Well, only time will tell. John seems thrilled about the director; he thinks that Josh Boone's close and personal connection with the book will translate well into the direction of the movie. However, I can't help but be skeptical.

I have a firm belief that what makes a good book is not what makes a good movie. I have always believed that, and that is why I am so accepting of movie adaptations that some of my friends might cast off as bad adaptations. However, a book like The Fault in Our Stars- which already has such a huge fan base with such a large amount of the readership having a personal connection with the story- might not translate well onto the big screen. I remain optimistic; I would love for this movie to be a huge success. However, I can't help but remain skeptical.

Which leads me to ask the question.... how do you feel about The Fault in Our Stars being made into a movie?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Pendragon: The Merchant of Death && The Lost City of Faar

Book One: The Merchant of Death, 2002
Book Two: The Lost City of Faar, 2003
D.J. MacHale
Reading Level: Middle Grade-YA

When I was younger, I was absolutely obsessed with this series. I compared it to Harry Potter and recommended it to all of my friends. After rereading the first two books in the series, I have to admit, I was wrong for comparing it to Harry Potter-- HP doesn't have the fan base it does for no reason-- but I would continue to recommend this series to my friends regardless.

The Pendragon series is not fantastically written. However, that can be explained by the premise of the books: they are written as journal entries from Bobby Pendragon, who is a 14-year-old Traveler. This means that he "flumes" through time and space to different Territories to try to bring peace and stop the nasty Saint Dane from wreaking havoc. That being said, it makes sense that the journal entries aren't high-quality literature. What makes these books wonderful is not that the writing is beautifully crafted, but rather that the story itself is crafted in such a way that pulls a reader in from the very first paragraph.

As previously stated, these books are told from Bobby's perspective, with chapters thrown in which are written in 3rd person showing what his friends Mark and Courtney are doing with Bobby's journals while he's living his adventures. MacHale does an excellent job of building suspense; the journals will end right when something exciting happens, which will make you read faster through the alternating chapters to get back to his story. The descriptions aren't perfect, but coming from Bobby's perspective you can see through his eyes what he's going through, and through his journals you can feel his frustration, anger, fear, and hurt as he travels.

I think readers of all ages will be swept away by Bobby's story. I would especially recommend these books to a young, reluctant reader- boys and girls can both find entertainment from them, and I can promise that once you're done with the first you'll be dying to know what happens next. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Island Summer

Island Summer
Jeanine Le Ny
June 2007
Reading Level: YA

Just in time for summer comes the perfect beach read! Humor and romance abound in this fresh, fun take on summer love.

Nikki may spend the school year on the New England mainland at the ritzy Richfield Academy (on scholarship), but during the summer, she returns home to the decidedly less-posh Pelican Island. Despite an invite from her rich friend Blair, Nikki has to spend the summer working at her parents' sandwich shop. During one of her deliveries to the mainland, she meets Daniel Babcock, and they begin a whirlwind summer romance. But when Blair invites Nikki to spend the weekend, Nikki sees her walking hand in hand...with Daniel!
Can summer love survive?

It's impossible to write a truly insightful and meaningful critique of a book like this, so I'm not even going to try.

This book is exactly what you expect it to be. It's summer-y, fun, cliche, cheesy, easy to read, and cute all in one tiny little paperback. This isn't the book that you take to school and impress your friends with, it's the one you throw in your beach bag at the last minute because you want to take something to the beach that will be quick and easy and you won't care if it gets water damaged, sandy, or greasy from your suntan lotion.

I honestly don't think there's anything to say about it other than that. It's fun and easy and sometimes fun and easy is just what you're looking for!

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Hook a Hottie

How to Hook a Hottie
Tina Ferraro
January 2008
Reading Level: YA

At 17, Kate Delvecchio has one goal in life: to become a millionaire before the age of 20. And as far as she’s concerned, college will only slow her down. Unfortunately for Kate, the one thing her parents do agree on is that they totally disagree with her strategy. And so the deal is born. If Kate can raise five thousand big ones by graduation day, her parents will hand over the balance of her college account to invest as she pleases. No college, no degree, and no way she’ll ever be able to pull it off. But when Kate accidentally agrees to go to the sports banquet with the hottest guy at school, she stumbles upon a possible cash cow. The rest of the junior class is amazed that no-nonsense Kate could hook such a hottie, and one by one they approach her for help hooking their own. She doesn’t know anything about getting guys, but for $100 a pop, she’s more than willing to invent a six-step plan for How to Hook a Hottie. And how could that possibly backfire?

One thing that I love about this book is the main character. Kate is such a goal oriented and motivated person, and I admire her for that completely. She reminds me so much of myself, except for the fact that I am in college and she's dead set against college. However, she knows what she wants out of life, and she's willing to do anything to get it.

Including getting wrapped up in a plot to hook hotties for others in exchange for $100. Sounds smart, huh? Well, any reader can see how this would backfire. And any reader could predict the ending. But the ride is all the fun, and I immensely enjoyed watching Kate get herself into trouble time and time again. The book was short and cute, which makes it a great beach read, but at the same time you still feel connected to the characters in a way that you won't forget instantly. A very cute story, one I would definitely recommend. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Something Borrowed && Something Blue

Something Borrowed
June 2004

Something Blue
May 2005

Emily Giffin
Reading Level: Adult

Something Borrowed tells the story of Rachel, a young attorney living and working in Manhattan. Rachel has always been the consummate good girl---until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend, Darcy, throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy's fiancé. Although she wakes up determined to put the one-night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy she should run from. As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren't always neat, and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness. Something Borrowed is a phenomenal debut novel that will have you laughing, crying, and calling your best friend.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed comes a novel that shows how someone with a ‘perfect life’ can lose it all—and then find everything.

Darcy Rhone thought she had it all figured out: the more beautiful the girl, the more charmed her life. Never mind substance. Never mind playing by the rules. Never mind karma.

But Darcy’s neat, perfect world turns upside down when her best friend, Rachel, the plain-Jane “good girl,” steals her fiancĂ©, while Darcy finds herself completely alone for the first time in her life…with a baby on the way.

Darcy tries to recover, fleeing to her childhood friend living in London and resorting to her tried-and-true methods for getting what she wants. But as she attempts to recreate her glamorous life on a new continent, Darcy finds that her rules no longer apply. It is only then that Darcy can begin her journey toward self-awareness, forgiveness, and motherhood.

Something Blue is a novel about one woman’s surprising discoveries about the true meaning of friendship, love, and happily-ever-after. It’s a novel for anyone who has ever, even secretly, wondered if the last thing you want is really the one thing you need.

Let's start with Something Borrowed.

Rachel is somebody that probably 99% of all women can relate to. Most women have probably felt at some point in their life that they are being overshadowed by their best friend. I know I've felt this way, and it sucks.

The other 1% of the female population is composed of the Darcys. These are the women who live to win and must always be the best at everything.

Obviously this is not scientifically proven, but you get the idea.

I would say that most people are somewhere inbetween the two characters. There are times when you are the shining star, and there are times when you're the scruffy friend.

But what you have in Something Borrowed is a situation where opposites attract- literally. They are the extremes, and it's amazing that it works so well, but it does.

Rachel is so easy to like, because she is relatable. Darcy just the opposite, she is easy to hate.

I loved this book because it was so easy to cheer for Rachel to triumph in the end. You knew she was in an impossible situation-- a best friend or boyfriend situation-- and yet you hoped she could keep both.

Something Borrowed was fluffy and fun, and it explored the intricacies of the adult female relationship. I was happy with it overall. I liked Dex, I liked Rachel, and I loved to hate Darcy.

Then jump forward to Something Blue, where you're forced to listen to Darcy's side of things. Ugh. I almost didn't bother reading it because I hated Darcy so much, and I'm sure a lot of lovers of the first book felt the same way as I did.

To those readers, I have a message: read Something Blue!

The beginning is almost unbearable, because it's impossible to take Darcy seriously, but obviously the point of a book is to show the growth and transformation of the main character, and Something Blue is no exception! I loved seeing her struggle, and seeing her become a better and stronger person.

While these two books are companions, not necessarily a series, they obviously both focus on the same two characters, and over the course of the two novels you get to love them. I enjoyed seeing them change and grow, and at the same time got swept up into the magic of big city living and an adult world that I have yet to experience. This is chick lit at its finest!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Waiting for You

Waiting for You
Susane Colasanti
May 2009
Reading Level: YA

At the beginning of her sophomore year, Marisa is ready for a fresh start and, more importantly, a boyfriend. So when the handsome and popular Derek asks her out, Marisa thinks her long wait for happiness is over. But several bumps in the road—including her parents’ unexpected separation, a fight with her best friend, and a shocking disappointment in her relationship with Derek—test Marisa’s ability to maintain her new outlook. Only the anonymous DJ, whose underground podcasts have the school’s ear, seems to understand what Marisa is going through. But she has no idea who he is—or does she? In Waiting For You, this third romantic novel from Susane Colasanti, Marisa learns how to “be in the Now” and realizes that the love she’s been waiting for has been right in front of her all along.
One of the things that gets old with young adult romance is the use of stock characters. It seems like every female narrator sounds the same all the time, with little variance from book to book.

That's why I love this book: Marisa is totally different from all the young adult heroines I read about. First of all, she suffers from depression and she struggles throughout the book to put it behind her and move on. Second, the way she talks and interacts with others is entirely different. She's simply not that stock character; she has layers and that makes me like her that much more.

That being said, this book is perfect for a lazy summer day because it takes you through her transformation. In the beginning, she just wants a boyfriend, any boyfriend. Throughout the novel, she realizes that she has to be careful what she wishes for. She also goes through some family trouble, and this forces her to see things in a new light. Marisa's transformation is incredible, and best of all, it's totally relate-able. I also suffered from depression, and I have mood swings like Marisa, and I also can see her perspective on most of the decisions she makes.

I definitely enjoyed this book's depth. Even though it's not the most insightful YA romance, it's definitely got a lot going for it that takes it a step above the rest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Book of Luke

The Book of Luke
Jenny O'Connell
April 2007
Reading Level: YA

Emily Abbott has always been considered the Girl Most Likely to Be Nice -- but lately being nice hasn't done her any good. Her parents have decided to move the family from Chicago back to their hometown of Boston in the middle of Emily's senior year. Only Emily's first real boyfriend, Sean, is in Chicago, and so is her shot at class valedictorian and early admission to the Ivy League. What's a nice girl to do?

Then Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father announces he's staying behind in Chicago "to tie up loose ends," and Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice.

She reconnects with her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, only to discover that they too have been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don'ts. So when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They'll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys -- an instruction book that teaches them the right way to treat girls.

But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston -- the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email -- Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.

This book can be described using two words: fun and flirty!

You can tell by looking at the cover that this is a quick and fun read. Emily's plan is completely idiotic. Making a reference guide for guys? Obviously this is gonna blow up in her face. This book is completely predictable from beginning to end, from the creation of the book to the huge blow up, finally leading up to the fairytale ending.

So why bother reading? Well, it's the fun and flirty aspect I mentioned earlier. This is the perfect beach read, and the characters really make the book. Emily is a snob who thinks she knows everything, so you hope and hope that the wonderful and sexy Luke will teach her a lesson and that she'll stop being so self-centered.

Really, if it weren't for the characters, this book wouldn't be half as fun. But in the end you start to like Emily, and Luke is sexy throughout so it's a win-win situation for everybody.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Replacement

The Replacement
Brenna Yovanoff
September 2010
Reading Level: YA

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

I've gotta admit: I didn't like this book very much.

The problem is that it's hard to articulate what I feel about it. The whole thing just doesn't sit right with me. I didn't particularly like Mackie, and I didn't particularly like Tate, so the characters didn't quite do it for me. I also wasn't particularly intrigued by the story. Which odd, considering I've been dying to read this since it came out.

Overall, this book just left no impression on me. The characters fell flat, the story was dull, and it was just overall an unmemorable book. I tried so hard to like it; I really did. And it was kind of interesting, and definitely unique, but it will rest next to books like The Forest of Hands and Teeth (which I also found to be dull and uninteresting) in my heart. Was it inherently bad? Not at all. Just not my cup of tea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Host

The Host
Stephenie Meyer
May 2008
Reading Level: Adult

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.

I have to say this first and foremost:


Just in case anyone out there says, "Oh, Twilight sucks so I'm not even going to bother reading The Host, because I'm sure that sucks just as bad."

The Host totally blows Twilight out of the water. Where Twilight is all fluff and bad writing, The Host is intellectual and captivating and thoughtful.

I read it when it first came out in 2008, and I loved it then. I read it again recently, and once again I was struck by how wonderful this novel is.

The uniqueness of it really strikes me. You would expect someone who started the whole vampire craze to lack imagination and stick to preapproved subjects, but Meyer does something completely different. While it is dystopian, it is not like other dystopian novels.

The relationships in the novel are so powerful, and that's the main reason I love this book so much.. Nothing is black and white.. With two "people" inhabiting one body and one mind, it's impossible to draw clear and distinct lines, especially when it comes to strong emotions such as love and hate.

This book also takes a good look at what it takes to be human. One of my favorite parts is when a character states that The Wanderer (who is not human) is more human than other actual humans. It shows that being human is more than skin deep. This is something that's hard to articulate, and yet Meyer shows it clearly through The Wanderer's interactions with the humans she lives with.

While I'll admit the book has a slow start, I would highly encourage anyone to push a little harder if they are struggling. The book picks up so suddenly, and it's impossible to put down once you get into it. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Lost Summer

The Lost Summer
Kathryn Williams
July 2009
Reading Level: YA

"I died one summer, or I almost did. Part of me did. I don't say that to be dramatic, only because it's true."
For the past nine years, Helena Waite has been returning to summer camp at Southpoint. Every year the camp and its familiar routines, landmarks, and people have welcomed her back like a long-lost family member. But this year she is returning not as a camper, but as a counselor, while her best friend, Katie Bell remains behind. All too quickly, Helena discovers that the innocent world of campfires, singalongs, and field days have been pushed aside for late night pranks on the boys' camp, skinny dipping in the lake, and stolen kisses in the hayloft. As she struggles to define herself in this new world, Helena begins to lose sight of what made camp special and the friendships that have sustained her for so many years. And when Ransome, her longtime crush, becomes a romantic reality, life gets even more confusing.

Told with honesty and heart, Kathryn Williams' second novel tackles the timeless theme of growing up, set at a camp where innocence is created and lost.
In order to review this book, I have to give you an idea about what I was expecting. First of all, the title: The Lost Summer. Okay, a summer book. Secondly, the publisher: Disney. Yes, this book is published by Disney. And Disney is the King of the Happy Ending. So I knew it was going to have a cheesy ending. Third, the cover and the genre. A girl standing on a dock? Okay, that goes with the summer theme. YA? Obviously this is going to be some cheesy book about a girl getting her fairytale ending.

The one redeeming quality that I found at first was the summary. I love tales of camp, and the story seemed interesting, at least.

As you've probably already guessed, I was completely wrong and learned my lesson about judging books based on little evidence.

I was actually surprised to find a book published by Disney that doesn't fit nicely into the mold of What to Expect from Disney.

Obviously, it is a summer book. I was right about that aspect. However, I wasn't really accurate in thinking that everything was going to be happy-go-lucky and turn out happily ever after. The ending was bittersweet and totally unexpected, which is a definite plus.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the relationship between Helena and Katie took precedence over the relationship between Helena and her camp sweetheart. While both were important, I'm glad that each got their fair share of attention and both were shown in a realistic way.
Overall, this is still a tale of summer. But it's also something much more than that. It's a coming of age tale, first and foremost. Helena goes through milestones this summer, and you can see the change in her as she grows as a person. It's also a tale of how relationships between people change as you age. Her relationship with her camp sweetheart and her relationship with Katie both define her for awhile, and in the end she realizes what's important in life.

This is still a short and sweet summer book, but it's got an extra layer of depth that isn't found in a lot of the books classified as "beach reads." I'd definitely recommend this as a book to read for any season.