Category Archives: Movies
This being the last week of the semester, it’s a miracle I’m even reading anything at all. But I am able to sneak in some moments, especially with my beloved audio books. Here’s what I’m reading, albeit in small doses, this week:
You Got to Be Kidding: A Cultural Arsonists Literal Reading of the Bible by Joe Wenke
Adult non-fiction e-book. I’m reading this one before bed. Basically the guy reads the Bible and writes what happens, in comedic form. I’m enjoying his “WTF?” tellings of traditional Bible stories, but it does make me want to read the corresponding passages. When read like this, the Bible does seem to have some weird stories in it.
The Holders by Julianna Scott
YA Fantasy. I’m reading this one at the breakfast table. It’s like Harry Potter/Percy Jackson/X-Men, etc. A boarding school for teens who have recently discovered their powers. I’m particularly interested in the main character’s rejection of female tropes, so I’m hoping this one does some interesting things.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks
YA realistic fiction, graphic novel, e-book. I’m reading this one on my iPad between classes (it’s a graphic novel, so it shouldn’t take too long to finish). How did I just now notice that the authors are named Prudence and Faith? That’s kind of awesome.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Adult classic, e-book/audiobook hybrid via WhisperSync. Reading this for two reasons. 1. I’m determined to read the five classics I challenged myself to read in 2012. This will be #3. and 2. I pledge to read the book before I see the movie, and I want to see the movie.
What are you reading this week? Are you also reading any books in preparation for any of the big book-based movies coming out over the holidays?
Since The Perks of Being a Wallflower is both a movie and a book (a mook), I’ll be doing a short review of both. If you are interested in more book-to-movie reviews, including another great review of this pair, you should check out the blog Mookology. And, as always, I hope you ALL pledge to always read the book before you see the movie for any mook.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
Review copy from publisher
Well this book is a throwback to my younger years! I read the book thirteen years ago, when I was the same age as Charlie. I actually bought it the day it came out after seeing a commercial for it on MTV. While I like it enough, I only read it once and it definitely never made any of my lists of favorite books. Charlie was a hard character for me to connect with, and I didn’t have enough life experience at the time to really appreciate everything going on behind the scenes in the characters’ lives.
My main criticism of the book was that it was trying too hard to be the Catcher in the Rye of the modern age, and I only sorta-kinda liked A Catcher in the Rye. The novel is popular because teenagers connect to the isolation Charlie feels. Charlie watches life from the outside. Every character in the novel is dealing with some really shitty stuff, while Charlie just describes what happens with a strange, detached, naive style. The story celebrates the weird kids: the gay kids, the former “sluts”, the Rocky Horror fanatics, and the Nobodies, to name a few. I guess that’s why it is adored, especially amongst actual teenagers and hipsters. Fact: hipsters love quotes from this book.
I saw the movie yesterday, and enjoyed it. Though I was expecting a more awesome soundtrack, I was generally pleased with how well the film stayed true to the tone of the novel. Parts of the story definitely came alive more on the big screen (such as the epic feel of riding in the tunnel), while others got lost (watching Charlie’s writing grow).
I think I liked the story better as a movie. I liked Logan Lerman’s portrayal of Charlie, and the way the movie captured both the darkness and optimism of the source material. And Emma Watson? I’ll watch her in anything. How is she so damn charming? I completely forgot about her British accent, too. Homegirl can play an American borderline-manic-pixie-dreamgirl like a boss.
So here’s the final lowdown: The book is okay, and the movie is good. If you are a YA fan, you are required to read the book and it is strongly suggested that you go watch the movie. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is basically canon YA lit, so it’s necessary to have read it if you are going to say you know/understand/love YA. Just please remember not to stand up in the back of any trucks while someone drives you through a tunnel. It just doesn’t sound/look very safe.
Have you read this book or seen this movie? What did you think?
Recommend A…is run by Chick Loves Lit, and I love this little meme because it is basically like a practical test in reader’s advisory, which was my favorite part of being a librarian (and the reason why I run this blog). People come up to librarians all the time requesting some very unique or odd things. I also like the challenge of recommended unique or odd things for popular requests (romance, fantasy, “a book like The Hunger Games”).
Today we are looking back to the fun days of vacations and the books we read when we have time to really sit back and enjoy them in a more carefree environment. A good vacation for me is one where I have time to read lots of books, especially books that challenge me or have been in my TBR pile for too long. Since I’ve already shared the oodles of books I read on my vacation this summer, I thought I’d think back to the times of my youth. We often go to my family’s cabin in Vermont for a week or two in the summer, and other people are always leaving old books in the cabin. One summer (I think I was in middle school), I picked up a copy of this book and couldn’t put it down…
by Stephen King
Plot in a nutshell: Carrie White lives with a mother who is crazy religious, and she’s different. Her classmates bully her, and she’s an outcast. But one day Carrie gets her first period…and telekinetic powers that she uses to fight the forces that have made her miserable for so long. Oh, and there’s a popular boy asking her out as his fake prom date, a bucket of pig’s blood, and lots of killing. Stephen King’s first published novel.
Why I recommend it: I first read this book as a kid, which is probably the perfect time to be reading such things. What it shows is how good a horror writer ole Steve-o is. That man can take a story that has the potential to be a Friday The 13th-esque-cheese-fest, and make it something that really frightens us. I wasn’t scared in the check-under-the-bed-for-serial-killers kind of way, but more in the general “people are SHITTY sometimes” kind of way. I think Carrie’s mom was the most frightening character, with her crazy religious fanaticism, but the way Carrie’s powers manifested really showed how much crud that girl put up with over the years. So yeah…don’t bully people. Oh my.
Who I recommend it to: I’ve heard people refer to Carrie as a sort of Stephen King gateway drug. It’s still the only Stephen King novel I’ve ever read, and I enjoyed it. You don’t have to be a fan of horror to enjoy this novel, but you do have to be able to tolerate psychologically terrifying stuff. But it’s pretty short (maybe 200 pages?) and it will stick with you for a long time. I still remember it, sixteen years later. I recommend it to everyone who can handle it, ages 11 and up (yes, I said 11. Some uber-cool kids might enjoy it).
Have you ever read Carrie? What did you think of it? Have any other Stephen King recommendations for me?
Five by Fitzgerald
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Narrated by Bronson Pinchot, Stephen R. Throne
Audio Go!, Published 2/14/12
5 hours and 6 minutes
Received for publisher for review
[#55 in my 75 book challenge]
GUESS WHAT, GUYS?
I finally read a classic for my classic challenge! Since The Great Gatsby is coming to movie theaters this Christmas, I thought I’d read some of his other works. This audio book is a series of five short stories, each about an hour long, and all very different:
Bernice Bobs Her Hair: Boring Bernice is staying with her friendly, popular cousin Marjorie. Marjorie teaches Bernice how to be popular, which includes telling the boys she’s going to bob her hair. The story is full of catty girl behavior, 1920′s style.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: You might have seen the movie for this one (I haven’t, but I want to!). Basically, Benjamin Button is born an old man and ages backwards. Pretty fascinating, actually. And weird.
The Diamond as Big as the Ritz: One family is the richest family in the world because they live on a diamond. Literally, they live on a mountain that has a solid diamond inside. However, being impossibly rich isn’t always easy when you always have to hide and defend your wealth. This story would make an excellent action movie…ahem, Hollywood, take note.
Dalyrimple Goes Wrong: Dalyrimple is a salesman who just can’t catch a break. The other guys are making more than him, and he’s pissed…so he takes matters into his own hands. I felt this story was a little reminiscent of Death of a Salesman at the beginning, though it does stand on its own by the end.
Head and Shoulders: A prodigy philosophy student meets an actress, turning his world upside down. That’s about all I can say about this story, and it wasn’t really my favorite.
Each story had a few things in common. First, it takes Fitzgerald a few chapters to really introduce the central conflict of the story. He takes his sweet time in setting up the story, which can be difficult when listening to short stories in audio form. Second, Fitzgerald treats extraordinary events like they are completely normal. For example, in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the guys just brings home a septuagenerian from the maternity ward without much question. Finally, they all have a little twist at the end. Not a huge OMG moment, but a brief twist to end the story and make the listener go “Ooooohhhhh!”
Both of the narrators did an excellent job here, and I really liked Bronson Pinchot’s storytelling. I’ve certainly found a few audio book narrators annoying, but these guys were pretty neutral — which I like. I’m quite glad that I chose this as an audio book instead of reading it in print, since the short stories felt like story time in my car. Kind of fun!
FINAL GRADE: C Remember, C is good grade! It means the book was average, just maybe not exactly my thing. I can appreciate classics, but they certainly aren’t my go-to books for most of my reading. Fitzgerald’s creativity surprised me, even if I found myself rewinding the book at several points because I got lost, bored, or confused. I liked some stories (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Diamond as Big As The Ritz) more than others (Dalyrimple Goes Wrong), but that’s true of any short story collection. I recommend these stories to English students and fans of Fitzgerald, and it would definitely be a good choice before Fitzgerald is back in the spotlight this Christmas. It’s also a good for anyone looking for accessible “classics.” Probably not a good addition to a middle school library, but any of these stories would make a good choice for reading with a high school class!
(Would you call this collection a classic? I was on the fence about that. Ultimately, I decieded yes, why not? It’s my challenge, so I make the rules. But I was wondering what y’all think!)
Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
Library Overdrive E-book
[#51 in my 75 Book Challenge]
In the year 2044, the world sucks. Most people live their lives in OASIS, an entire virtual world where players can do, buy, and play almost anything. When the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, dies, he leaves behind all of his wealth and control of the company to the person who can locate three hidden keys and open three hidden gates with in the virtual world he created. Our hero, Wade Watts, may live a crappy life in an Oklahoma trailer park, but he’s up for the challenge. He just may be the one to finally win Halliday’s challenge, but quickly he realizes he up against more than casual competitors.
Let the games begin.
If you love the 80’s or video games, you’ll love this book. Since Halliday was a child of the 80’s and was completely obsessed with 80’s culture, there are 80’s culture references and video games galore. However, I’m not obsessed with video games or 80’s culture and I STILL loved the story. While Wade is everything I don’t want to be (obsessive, reckless, and reclusive), I still had to root for him through the non-stop action. I loved the world building, both within OASIS and outside of it.
Essentially, this is a classic quest novel, just inside a virtual world. You have your hero (Wade), your hunting group of companions (fellow “gunters” Aech, Art3mis, Shoto, and Daito), the enemy (Sorrento and the Sixers, from a corporation that wants to own OASIS at all costs), and the grail (the final Easter Egg). Add in some techy gadgets, giant robots, teleportation, magical talismans…basically anything goes in this world. The novel is kind of like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in way, and I think it can be enjoyed by more than just video game enthusiasts.
FINAL GRADE: A I’m on a good book roll this summer. I don’t know if it’s that I have time to really enjoy my books or because I’m just having a lucky streak, but Ready Player One had me ignoring people around me just to find out what happened next. Wow, you guys. I also see why Ready Player One has been recommended as an adult book for teenagers, since the content would definitely appeal to this age group. I would by it for my library for my more mature middle school students, and recommend it to my friends who like fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian books.
Oh, and the book gets a GLBT tag, but I can’t tell you why. Just trust me that there is an awesome GLBT character and read the book to find out more.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to the bloggers and readers who reviewed and recommended this book, inspiring me to read it. Here are their reviews if you want to know more:
Lucy @ The Reading Date (she reviewed the audio book, narrated by Wil Wheaton)
Stephanie @ Misprinted Pages (she’s also a gamer)
April @ Good Books and Good Wine (she compared it to The Westing Game)
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week is a freebie week, which got me all excited. I jumped on this TTT business a little late in the game, so there are oodles of topics I missed that I always want to do. What did I pick? Well, I’m always talking about things that drive me crazy in books, so I thought I’d do at list of my Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves so I could make a list and vent my negativity. I’ll also be able to link back to this list in future reviews for terrible books, which makes the topic doubly awesome. Here we go…
Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves
[or things that will drop a book at least one letter grade]
1.) Unnecessary Length – Listen, folks. I’m a very busy lady. It says so in my domain name. I’m fine with long books when they have lots of stuff going on and the length is necessary. But sometimes the little chunky-monkey books could do to lose a few hundred pages and still keep the integrity of the plot. I don’t have all day. If nothing’s happening or I’m bored by a character’s inner dialogue that goes on for multiple chapters, I’m going to be peeved.
2.) Mary Sues – For those who don’t know, a Mary Sue is when the author inserts him/herself as the main character in a novel. This character serves as wish-fullfillment for the author, and is usually annoyingly flawless. That or the character is flawless in a way that isn’t really flawless. Regular fiction doesn’t usually have characters that are 100% Mary Sue, but if the character has enough of this quality, I get peeved.
3.) Cliffhangers – We all know that YA trilogies, especially of the dystopian variety, are guilty of this. I like a book to follow a general plot pattern, with a proper climax and resolution for the main conflict of the story. I’m okay with series cliffhangers or teasers for the overall arc of the big plot, but I want a novel to have an end. Some books are guilty of having no end at all! It’s like a book was split in half/thirds and sold a separate parts. I find this cheap and manipulative and it peeves me.
4.) Kindle Giving Me a % Instead of a Page – This is not related to plot, but it drives me nuts. I like to know what page I’m on, and how many pages are in the book. It’s completely arbitrary, considering some books cram very little or a whole of text on a single page AND considering that e-readers let me set these choices myself, but I want to know how much I’ve read and how much I have left in real number. This is especially annoying on Kindle books that combine multiple books in one…collections, series, etc. I’m reading the Jessica Darling collection now, and I’m in the second book, but only 19% through the series. How much have I read in book 2? How much do I have left? No clue. Peeving.
5.) When Boys Fall For Girls For No Reason – I think I hate this because it gives readers (especially female readers) unrealistic expectations for relationships. The boy saves the girl, tells her she’s beautiful even when she thinks she’s ugly, understands when she lies, worships her from afar, puts up with her rude behavior, etc. How many times can I watch a female character hot-headedly chew out a guy without listening to his side of the story, make assumptions, and give the silent treatment, only to have the guy come crawling back to win her love? Listen, ladies. We need to love ourselves before someone else can love us. We also need respect in a relationship to go both ways.
6.) Mean Librarians – My peeve here is strictly personal. I know some librarians really are mean, but I like to think we are pretty nice, liberal people. I read of stories with nice librarians, but just as many where the librarian is a jerk. And the librarian is almost always a bit character. What’s that about?
7.) When Characters Meet “The One” At Age Sixteen – Very few people end up marrying the person they are dating at age sixteen. I’m glad I’ve spent the past thirteen years dating all kinds of people! Many YA romance plots end with the beginning of the relationship. The characters finally overcome their obstacles, finally get together and commit to each other. But that’s not the end! You know they all break up with they get to college. Wow, I sound really bitter. But I do count this as a major pet peeve.
8.) The Paranormal – (Please don’t hit me). There are exceptions to this: I loved Harry Potter, and I guess the magic element is paranormal. I think it can be done well, but most of it is not to my taste. I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with me not liking bad boys. I also like my stories to be realistic. I think I only like paranormal elements when the creatures who are vampires/werewolves/ghosts/etc are not main characters in the story, but elements to be overcome or fought against. I recognize that my anti-paranormal thing is a huge bias, so please feel free to recommend a paranormal book that isn’t obnoxious.
9.) Movie Poster Covers – Dear publishers: this is the quickest way to get me to NOT buy a book. I like to think of books as timeless. A good book can be enjoyed years, decades, or centuries after it was written. Regular book covers may date a book (check out ANY 80′s book cover), but a movie book cover will make a book look dated in just a year. It also reminds me that some people are using the movie to sell the book instead of the other way around. Tsk tsk.
10.) Characters With Weird Names – Just pick a normal name for your character, please. Or if one or two characters have to have quirky names, don’t make them be 1.) your main character or 2.) the love interest. It also drives me nuts when many of the characters all have names that start with the same letter, since I think my eyes only catch a few letters when identifying words in the text.
What are your bookish pet peeves?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by JK Rowling
Own/checked out from library
[#43 in my 75 book challenge]
Here we go, here we go again…after finishing Goblet of Fire and not liking it as much as the previous two times I read it, I found that I liked Order of the Phoenix FAR more on the third read. It may have taken me six whole weeks to get through all 23 discs of the audio book in my car (well, actually, I gave up around disc 20 and just read the ending in the print version), but I finished it and LOVED it.
I think I appreciate it more in the context of the story as a whole, rather than as an independent book. When I first read it, it had been two years since I had read the first four novels, and I read those basically in one weekend. It was my first experience with being desperate for the next installment of the story, while also knowing I was painfully in the middle of an epic tale. I like endings, I like resolutions, I like satisfaction! Now that I have read the series multiple times, though, and I am satisfied, I found the developments in this book to be far more interesting. There is a lot going on here, and all of it becomes quite important in the final two novels.
Things that struck me on this read:
- I really hate Dolores Umbridge. Now that I am also a teacher, I recognize that she is completely unqualified to be running a school. I also paid more attention to how the other teachers at Hogwarts obviously felt the same way.
- I like that Harry had a lot of angst. It was tedious the first time I read it (“get over yourself, Harry!”), but now I understand. Plus I think it’s realistic. Let’s be honest, I’d probably behave the same way.
- I wish the DA played a bigger role in the book and the series. I loved them in this book, and my memories had them playing a bigger role than they actually do. I remember thinking the DA was going to be huge in the final battle against Voldemort, but they ended up being mostly background players (important in the battle, but not Harry’s specific story).
- I don’t like Cho Chang. I don’t hate her, but now that I know who Harry ends up with I just wanted him to move along. However, I’m glad that Harry doesn’t marry the first girl he likes/dates/kisses.
- I paid more attention to the prophecy. Voldemort really is a whole special brand of crazy with the way he handled that prophecy business. Did he learn nothing from Greek mythology?
- Fred and George…tsk tsk. I wish they had just finished that last school year. C’mon! They were so close.
- And, once again, Voldemort waits until AFTER exams to hunt down Harry. I like to think it’s because Voldy values education.
So, there you have it. I’ve finished the book I thought would be the most tedious, and I’m ready to start my favorite book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I’m quite looking forward to it, but I’ll probably take a break from Harry Potter for several months before considering it. There are just too many books out there to read for the first time!
FINAL GRADE: A This is where Harry Potter really starts to get good. No more games — people are really dying, and Voldemort is back. Must I say more?