Tuesday, December 31, 2013


By: Rainbow Rowell

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives. Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

RAINBOW ROWELL HAS DONE IT AGAIN. She made me feel all of the things and care about all of the characters, and that's why she's become one of my favorite authors. I mean, she had me sold on this premise, while under the management of any other author it could turn out incredibly weird, she made it work.
The flow, the language, and the characters really shone. I loved watching Lincoln going about his life. It felt normal, like what life is actually like. He had good days and bad days and days that were slow and sort of gray. I just love the portrayal of real life.
Fitting with Rainbow Rowell's strengths, Lincoln felt like a very genuine person. All of his relationships (with his D&D friends, with Justin and Dena, with his mother and sister) were incredibly real.
^^That is exactly what I feel like when writing a review for a Rainbow Rowell book. But I can't say that it's not completely accurate.
My favorite part, however, was probably the emails between Jennifer and Beth. They were hilarious, in a incredibly witty way. I wanted to be friends with them, because not only were they funny, they were loyal and kind and great friends to each other. It was spectacular how Rainbow managed to make them 3-D characters in just a few lines of emails to each other, not even describing most of their lives, not even knowing what they looked like.
I loved how you didn't know what they looked like, but you didn't need to. You knew their fears and the things they loved. You (and Lincoln) experienced their essences before ever seeing them in person.
The plot moved along like I think a contemporary's plot should. It was sometimes a bit anecdotal, in the best way. There were some meandering scenes that you didn't see how they would fit into the overall plot, but then somehow they did and they added to the atmosphere of the read along the way.
This lived up to all the things I have come to expect of a Rainbow Rowell book. I'm pretty certain now that I will read anything and everything that she writes. (Including Landline, that comes out next year and for which I AM SO EXCITED).
"Tonight it was enough to be one of them. To be someplace where he always had a spot at the table, where everybody already knew that he didn't like olives on his pizza, and they always looked happy to see him."
"Every moment feels meant for me. In October...I have faith in my own rising action. I was born in February, but I come alive in October."
"It's so easy for someone else to say, "Don't worry. Everything's going to be all right." Why not say it? It doesn't cost anything. It doesn't mean anything. No one will hold you to it if you're wrong."
"Things get better--hurt less--over time. If you let them."
""So what did you see?"
"Just...the sort of girl who would write the sort of things that you wrote."
"What things?"
"...I pictured a girl who could be that kind, and that kind of funny. I pictured a girl who was that alive...A girl who never got tired of her favorite movies, who save dresses like ticket stubs. Who could get high on the weather... I pictured a girl who made every moment, everything she touched, and everyone around her feel lighter and sweeter. I pictured you."
"I didn't know love could leave the lights on all the time."

Monday, December 30, 2013

Magic Under Glass

Magic Under Glass
By: Jaclyn Dolamore
Magic Under Glass (Magic Under, #1)
Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport.
I don't have that much to say about this book other than that it was a really engaging short fantasy. It was really cool to find a good fantasy that's also compact. Fantasy (particularly high fantasy, which this sort of is) is typically longer and more detailed. But I liked this story because it was a compact fantasy with deeper aspects disguising itself in a quieter type of story.
The characters were really touching, if not overly memorable. I think it stuck to the important aspects of fantasy, light versus dark, fighting for love, but in its own distinct way.
This book also included steampunk aspects to the story which I LOVED. The whole idea of steampunk excites me, but it's not often that I find a steampunk book. In fact, going into this one I didn't even know that it was a bit steampunk. So it was this amazing surprise while I was reading.
I think the plot was handled very well in this just-over-200-page book. It managed both introspection and action, as well as plot progression and character development despite its length.
Like I said, I don't have much else to say, but that I really enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to reading the second one quite soon to find out what happens to Nimira and Erris.
"What's the good of modern progress if you haven't any gardens."
"Sometimes before you make any plans or resolutions, before you declare your heroic intent to persevere, you just have to cry."
"It isn't the place of mere men to judge who is godless, but rather, our duty to be the world's keepers and protectors..."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Book Thief---Movie Review

The Book Thief---Movie Review

It took forever for us to find this movie because it was not released anywhere near us for about two months. But I've finally seen it! AND IT WAS SO GOOD!
Things I Loved:
-The casting was really great, especially Rudy, Hans, Liesel, and definitely MAX! The acting was emotional and overall brilliantly done. I felt like I was seeing the actual characters, the story came to life in them (which is the most important aspect of movie adaptations). The relationships between them felt like they did in the books. They evoked the same emotions from me that the book did. Possibly heightened emotion because I did know the characters from the book, but the people I was with who hadn't read it said they felt for the characters as well. I loved that they kept in the parts that made it a sort of meandering story. It still felt like a documentation of their lives rather than a plot-driven type of story, which I loved.

-They did leave out some of the more anecdotal stuff, their neighbor and her son and things of that sort. Rudy's story was also changed quite a bit. But I felt like those changes were necessary in the movie (plus it leaves some things for people now motivated to read the book to discover).

-The cinematography was gorgeous. The scenery, like Himmel Street and their city, were beautiful and quite a bit like how I imagined it. I think this story especially deserved to be a visually beautiful movie.

-I liked their focus on the twisted parts of Germany, using music and the children from school to show how messed up it all was. One scene that particularly struck me was the choir of children singing while the Jews' homes were being destroyed. It felt like what the book was trying to get across.

Things I Didn't Love:
-I know that there were reasons to leave them out, but I'm still a bit sad that they left out Max's drawings. That is a big part of who his character is, and while they used other moments to showcase that side of him, I think they could have done some gorgeous scenes with his drawings and his stories to Liesel.

-Death's voice was too cheery. It almost came off as comical and I think they could have done more with him and his deeper statements. But he didn't show up too much, so it was sort of okay.

Overall Rating: This was a fantastic book-to-movie adaptation. There were obviously some language related things that couldn't translate because the writing in The Book Thief is just that gorgeous. But I think they stayed true to the purpose and feel of the book. 4.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars
By: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Wow. Oh wow. What a ride in this book! I've heard nothing but rave reviews of this book since the ARCs first started coming out. Now I get why! The characters are delightful, the world was interesting, and the writing was really great.
Let's talk about the characters first:
Lilac: I loved her. Her story arc was terrific and her development, both mentally and behaviorally was through the roof (which I love to see, especially for characters that only get one book from their perspective). I loved that her strength was something other than physical power or even brain power (although she had fair amounts of both by the end). Her power was in turning tables, dissecting conversations. Her power lay in very social situation; she could read people. So it was interesting seeing her thrust so thoroughly outside of the world she was used to, but then seeing her use her strengths from that world throughout her development.
"If my father were here...He'd tell me to find the power in this situation and get it back."
I also appreciate that despite her slightly vapid behavior and her shallow beginning, she truly is good a the core of her. It was just letting that part of her show that was the issue.
Tarver: I really liked him. I think his character was well developed. He was exactly what this story needed, moral, hard-working, and a bit too sure of himself sometimes. I think all of his flaws perfectly contrasted his attributes. That being said, sometimes I felt like something was missing when reading his chapters. I'm not sure what it is, so I don't know if that still counts as a viable critique, but I did feel something missing. But I did enjoy his character. I especially loved his and Lilac's bantering and it was cool how it kept them motivated in the beginning. I loved all of his comebacks.
“Major, to what extent did you act upon your feelings for Miss LaRoux?"
"Excuse me?"
WOAH. As wonderful as the characters were, I think the plot is where this book really shone for me. It was engaging, enthralling and it kept you guessing. It was very well-thought out and very, very well-written. Along with the plot of the story, the pacing matched the plot fantastically. It wasn't too quick, leaving time for the proper character development, but it wasn't slow either. There were rises and falls before the ultimate climax.
The tone of this book was also one of its strongest points. It was so clearly sci-fi, in the best possible way. I feel like sometimes sci-fi tries to hide behind other things, like it's afraid to be so openly science fiction. But this book didn't feel ashamed of all of its science-fiction (it's a word if I say it's a word) goodness. The scale of the adventure managed to work its way into epic territory, while the relational aspect remained intimate. It felt like both a large story and a quaint one simultaneously, which makes for a very good mix.
"You don't mention death when it's hovering near someone you love. You don't want to attract the reaper's attention."
"I nearly killed it when I fell of the roof and landed in the middle of it, but it was tougher than it looked. Kind of like another Lilac I know."
“And there it is, against all hope, like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. The smallest hint of a smile.”  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dying to Know You

Dying to Know You
By: Aidan Chambers
Dying to Know You
Karl, aged seventeen, is hopelessly in love. But the object of his affections, Firella, demands proof, and poses him a series of questions regarding his attitude to the many sides of love. But Karl is dyslexic, and convinced that if Firella finds out, she will think he is stupid, and unworthy of her, and leave him. So Karl asks a local writer to help him construct his replies - and an unlikely, but extremely touching, friendship develops between the two men. They both come to learn a great deal about about life from a very different perspective, and when an act of violence shatters their calm, they find their respective appraisal of life shifting in profound ways.
A heart-warming read that is solely relationship based, something that, when done correctly, can be truly touching. That is exactly what this book was. Refreshing and new, but in a quiet sort of way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Since this was a character and relationship based story, there wasn't all that much plot to speak of, namely that Karl meets the author. I loved the author's understanding of Karl, based on his younger self as it was. (And in a strange way, I really love that the author is never given a name.)
The most intriguing thing about this Young Adult book is that it is not told from the perspective of a young adult, not even close. The narrator is a seventy-something year old man with no children. So how can this be Young Adult, you ask? Well, the main character is a young adult. This is not the narrator's story, but Karl's. That was such an interesting concept and something that you do not encounter all that often, but it worked really well for this story. It was a coming of age story from the perspective of someone long come of age. It was someone who already went through that confusing time observing and describing someone else go through that time. For some reason, in this book it felt like that sideways go at the topic of youth made it hit its point even stronger.
Part of that is due to the fact that the difference between the struggles of the old and the struggles of the young stood in stark relief. The young are trying to find out who they are and what they want to do for the first time; the old know who they've always been and it wears at them that they can't go back and change things.
The relationships in this book felt genuine. It was true-to-life in its portrayal of the true kindness and the true ignorance that both exist in the world. The characters alone were also very realistic. I understood their motives, their emotions, their struggles. For example, I don't like Fiorella, but I get her character. I have known people much like her. She was a character that I had seen and thus, her motives made sense to me. I love how her emails showed just how desperately she wanted to be a great writer (too desperate) with the misunderstanding of big words.
Dialogue was a huge part of this book. Aidan Chambers showed himself to be a master of conversation. The words they said felt like what they should be saying, even when they weren't saying what needed to be said. By that I mean that their language corresponded to their individual character.

I loved the dialogue near the end about what art means and how hard some people who don't understand it try to destroy it. It was bittersweet, yet hopeful.

This book contains a quiet story. It isn't boisterous or exaggerated. It doesn't shout at you. But it does whisper important things, things that could help you in your own life, lessons that all the young must learn. That is what made it so beautiful.


“However much you love somebody, you should always keep a part of yourself to yourself. Never give it all. You can never be yourself otherwise.”

“And trust dies from ifs and buts”

“Rooms are a fixed size, which can't be altered without pulling down walls and building new ones. They should be unchanging in shape and proportions. But sometimes they do change depending on who's in them."

“Life is not like a novel, but a novel can be like life. The best ones always are.”

“For one thing, the dickheads never manage to smash everything. And for another thing, if you, and the people like you, the true artists, keep on making, the philistines can’t smash up everything. There may be fewer of you. Of us. But we win in the end.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
By: Mindy Kaling
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
One thing that you should know about me is that I love The Office. The humor is always brilliant and the characters are weird, but loveable. As it is Christmas season, I've begun indulging one of my personal Christmas traditions. That tradition would be watching all eight Christmas episodes of The Office on repeat. I can't explain it, but they get me in the Christmas spirit like no other.
For this reason, I decided it was a great time to pick up Mindy Kaling's book. (If you don't know, Mindy Kaling is a writer on the show as well as playing Kelly Kapoor). I knew that to be a writer on this particular show she must be hilarious in her own right.
Basically, I was correct.
It was the kind of funny that works really well in books like this. You know, books that tell stories from the person's life, not necessarily in chronological order. It told about her childhood and her college years, her time in New York looking for an in into the industry, and eventually it told about her time in LA working on The Office. I really enjoyed all the stories she told. She had a way of including enough detail to give you a good laugh, but not so much as to make the stories boring.
I also particularly loved the sections where she wasn't exactly a story, it was more like she was giving an opinion about life in general (like how men look best, why she loves karaoke, and other random tidbits).
I don't have much else to say other than that this was a charming and genuinely funny read. If you like The Office or funny books of any kind, I'd recommend this one.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings
By: J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)

In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power - the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord's evil dominion.

Okay, I know I haven't added a review in a while, but now that you see what I've been reading, it makes sense. Right? I've wanted to read these for the longest time, but we have the bind-up version of all three and it's HUGE. and INTIMIDATING. and also SCARY. Yeah, so I put it off over and over again.
But for a high-fantasy buff like myself, it was an inevitability. But 2013 was the year, the year I finally did it (and in about 10 days, too). I FREAKING LOVED IT.
I think that this is the kind of book that, if you love it, you REALLY love it. It's like Harry Potter, it's above reproach and reduces you to blabbering on about honor and heroism and sacrificial acts of courage. You know, the beautiful things that seem to exist on a different plane when they are present in fantasy.
I could discuss those sort of obscure topics for ages, but now I'll try to hone the discussion down to just talking about these books.
Basically, I don't know how to even talk about these books. They were beyond anything that I was expecting. This truly is high fantasy at it's best. It sets the standard. I think it's fair to say that in our culture, it IS the standard. And it has earned that title with every page, every word.
If you love fantasy, DO NOT PUT THIS OFF. Read it now. You will not be sorry.
Let me list the reasons:
1. It's organic. It's not forced. J.R.R. Tolkien almost seems to play the role of historian rather than writer, in the best way. Honestly, Middle Earth seems like a world to its own, like it could actually exist in an alternate universe.
2. The sheer scale of the world is off the charts. There is so much history in the world that you know exists, but that is just hinted at. You don't have to know everything, but you feel like there is so much knowledge there to learn about the world.
So many bromances, man. Legolas and Gimli. Sam and Frodo. Pippin and Merry. Gandalf and Aragorn.
I loved them all. They were really sweet and genuine. They made the characters seem real because they had little jokes with each other and everything. They were just beautifully written relationships.
4. The Characters
I loved and hated each as I was meant to. They were strong, unique, interesting, and heroic in turn. It would take an incredibly long time to go through each every character and say what I liked about them, but I'll discuss a few of them.
Pippin: It would be nearly impossible to quantify a favorite character. But Pippin is pretty high up there for me. He's hilarious and downright adorable (not to mention freaking awesome). I just love him, okay?
Frodo: Just what the hero of a tale this grand should be, compassionate, clever, and determined.
Sam: Adorable! He made me sad and he made me laugh in equal measure. His loyalty to Frodo was easily his greatest quality and one that I love in a character as it isn't displayed this honestly all that often..
Gandalf: LOVE. Such a great character, truly understood wisdom is seen displayed in Gandalf quite clearly. He also got around 60% of the epic moments all to himself. He deserved them, too.
Eowyn: YES! Beautifully written and such a touching subplot. I loved every bit of her story. I was crying and cheering at her big scene, you know the one I'm talking about. ("But I am no living man").
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli: It was so great reading about them, too. I loved all who were in the fellowship.
5. The Epic-ness
As to be expected of a phenomenon fantasy that is 1,000 pages long, it was quite the epic tale. Quests and magic, Royal bloodlines and mythical races. All of it fantastic. All of it glorious.
I know that my pitiful words can't possibly sum up the absolutely brilliant piece of work that is The Lord of the Rings. But I hope I've done a fair job.

And now, with glee in my heart and complete and utter excitement, I am going to watch ALL THE MOVIES (probably extended editions, too). *grabs popcorn* *scurries off to watch eleven hours of footage*


"And he who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."

"The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came..."

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps greater."

"Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?"
"A man may do both,"

"For it is easier to shout stop! that to do it."

"Often hatred does hurt itself!"

"The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Fold seem to have been just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on - and not all to a good end, mind you' at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, finding things right, though not quite the same...But those aren't the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?"
"I wonder," said Frodo. "But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to."

"But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place."

"Follow what may, great deeds are not lessened in worth..."

"There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?"


Monday, December 2, 2013

City of Bones

City of Bones
By: Cassandra Clare
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
This book begins when fifteen-year-old Clary Fray first meets the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know... 

Let me start this review by saying, I have been putting this book off for ages. That's why I was sure I had heard a chorus of, "Wait, you haven't read this yet?" the entire time I was reading it. But yes, I was procrastinating big time. Because I'd heard some pretty mixed things about the series and the characters, so I just didn't read it (I wouldn't say I actively avoided it, more like I had so many other things to read that I purposefully didn't give it a second thought). But now, having read it, I can say that I really quite liked it. So that's good, yeah?

---Let's get one more thing out of the way. I adored The Infernal Devices (which I read first because I typically enjoy historical fiction better than things set today). I promise not to compare (too much). But I'd just like to mention that City of Bones didn't quite grab me like Clockwork Angel did, but that it was still a great read.---

Clary: She's a good character, I think. I didn't mind being insider her head, even enjoyed it. She's funny and caring, if sometimes a bit too naïve. I think she has a lot of potential for character growth so I hope that's utilized in the coming books (which I will be reading and probably soon).
Jace: Okay. I have opinions about him. He's a well-written character, complex, characterized thoroughly. My problem is that he's a love interest at all (**not because of the 'plot twist.' I've been spoiled so I know it's not true.**). Just because he's so rude all the time. I don't think his small kind comments make up for the arrogance and the harsh words. I feel like he sandwiched every tiny compliment between fifty rude comments. I don't think it makes sense for Clary or for Jace's previous characterization. But beyond the romance, yeah, I think he's a well-developed character, at least so far.
Simon: I LOVE him. He's hilarious and dorky, which is always a win. I really like his and Clary's friendship. I want more of his sass. One of my favorite comments by him was,

"Filters are for cigarettes and coffee."

As soon as I read it I said out loud, "Well that's something I'll be saying more often."
Isabelle: I don't think we saw enough of her for me to say anything beyond that I like her character. I'm interested in seeing her and Clary's friendship develop, too (assuming that it does).

The beginning was a bit slow, but as soon as the action toward the end hit I did not want to put the book down. The action was engaging and engrossing. The climax was interesting and didn't disappoint on plot twists.
But, having read this now I can see why people say that Clare recycles plots. This book wasn't as different from The Infernal Devices as I would have hoped. The only difference was that this one wasn't as appealing to me personally.

Overall Feeling:
I did enjoy this book. It's a fun and intense ride with well-conceived characters (for the most part). Some aspects were kind of meh for me (like the love triangle-ish things). But I get why this series is a hit, it's action-packed, witty, and immersive.


"There is nothing...quite like the moral absolutism of the young. It's easy as a child to believe in good and evil, in light and dark."

"Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow. Royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants...and it's no picnic being different."

"They say pity is a bitter thing, but it's better than hate."