Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top 5 Tuesday: Book to Movie Adaptation

My productivity level is at an all time high right now, so I'm really excited to make a Top 5 Tuesday post on schedule! This week's topic is book to movie adaptations! I would include a rationale for picking this topic, but it honestly just popped into my head randomly as I was scrolling through Goodreads and it stuck.

5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

This book is like a baby to me. I want to protect it and keep it all to myself, so when I heard that this book was a movie, I got a little nervous because 1) so many more people knew about the book now and it as no longer my little secret and 2) I did not want to see any injustice done to this book. Eventually I gave in and watched the movie and it made me just as emotional as the book, so it received an A+ in that regard, but I did have a few problems. Some of the plot got a little skewed in the movie, which disappointed me because I thought the way everything played out in the book was beautifully done; however, I can understand why the changes were made in order for the plot to be better carried out through a film. With this in mind, the film did a good job portraying the emotions behind the book, but it wasn't everything I hoped for.

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This movie came out the year after I had originally read the book for school, so it was still pretty fresh in my mind when I saw it for the first time. I remember distinctly being annoyed by everyone who had hated the book the year prior, but now professing their love for it just because Leonardo DiCaprio was going to be in the movie. With all that aside, I went in with an open mind and tried to ignore the swooning girls around me. I thought the movie captured the story of the book very well, but perhaps made the characters too likable. In the book I remember that the characters were all irritating and unlikable, but in the movie they all seemed more genuine, but that might just be due to placing faces with the names. Overall the movie was very well done and stayed loyal to the plot.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

I could have easily grouped all of the Harry Potter movies into one ranking for this post, but decided to just include my favorite one of the movies to evaluate this time. One of the major reasons why I think the Prisoner of Azkaban is the best of the Harry Potter movie adaptations is because it matches the tone of the book the best, which helps the movies transition from them being all about how cool it is to be magical to the more darker, mysteriousness of the later books/movies. I also think the introductions to new characters such as Sirius, Peter, and Remus were excellent and paralleled the book nicely. It is also was easy to follow along for people who hadn't read the book, which I know is important for movie adaptations so that they can appeal to a broader audience rather than just those who have read the book. I also thought the way the characters acted in this movie were very honest (besides Ron) in terms of how they are in the book. 

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is the only movie out of these five that I have only seen once, so it is more difficult for me to find things to say for this one. I remember seeing this in theaters and being in awe of how visually pleasing this film is. The visual elements helped bring out important concepts such as the overbearing presence of Nazis, which was represented with the huge, bright red flags that over powered the feeble, dingy homes and the pure, white snow. [SPOILER] My favorite scene from the movie is when the Nazis are smashing in the windows of shops and homes of the Jews and dragging them out into the streets while the only sound is that of the children singing. This part portrayed the childish innocence Liesel had in regards to the war. [END OF SPOILER] This movie also remained loyal to the plot of the book, for which I am extremely thankful.

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This book to movie adaption caps off my list simply because of how honest it is to the book. I don't think I have ever seen a movie that has remained as loyal to the book as The Help. I actually watched the movie before reading the book, but as I read the book I was thinking "oh my gosh, this is exactly how it happened in the movie too!" Entire monologues were even taken from the book, which is incredible. The movie also captured the era very well, which gave it a layer of authenticity. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

What am I Reading?

Since I have unfortunately put this blog on the back burner, I decided I would post a little something just to stay active. I have finally found a little bit of time to pick up some books and decided to share those with you.

As you can see, I am currently reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).
I recently received a care package from my grandma and in it she included The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm, which I have been dying to get my hands on. I have wasted no time getting started and have enjoyed everything thus far.
For my English class, I am writing an evaluation essay on Jonathan Safran Foer's writing and am reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (again) for "research". Basically I just wanted an excuse to set time aside to read this book again.
I hope you are all reading wonderful books as well! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top TEN Tuesday: Books I've Read for School

As you might recall, I did not post a top five Tuesday last week or the week before and promised to make it up by making this week a top ten! This week is going to be the top ten books I have read for school.

10. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I had to read Of Mice and Men my sophomore year of high school and I remember thinking I wasn't going to like it at the beginning. My teacher piled on assignments for this book which also initially took away any pleasure I could have had while reading. Since I was in honors English, we always read books after the regular 10th grade English classes so everyone had already spoiled the ending. Despite all of this, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written and created a great class discussion. The ending was my favorite part because at first it was a bit of a shock, but it really caused me to think about the book and think about it more. 

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I read this book for 9th grade English because we had to do group book reports and this was the only book my group agreed upon. It definitely took me awhile to get into it and for me to fully understand everything that was happening, but once I figured it out, I was hooked. I sped through the second half of the book and enjoyed it. Is it one of my favorite books? No, but it was definitely a book worth reading.

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This was one of three books assigned for my first ever summer reading assignment. I thought it was going to be a dry, boring, classic, but it is so much better than that. I was bored at the beginning, but once I got about halfway through, the plot started to reveal itself and became extremely interesting. This is actually a book I hope to reread in the near future. Also, if you haven't read this book yet, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Wuthering Heights.

7. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

This book was assigned during the same summer as Rebecca, so I definitely read some good books that summer. This book captivated me from the start because it was very mysterious and intriguing. I knew from the summary that it dealt with clones, but it was much more intricate and thought provoking than just a basic science fiction novel. I have actually recommended this to many people because it was a quick read and definitely interesting. I also hope to reread this book to see if my opinion has changed at all.

6. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Most of you are probably questioning why this was a mandatory read for school. Well, my seventh grade English class had a unit about mythology, specifically Greek mythology. This was the only time I remember every single person in my class actually reading an assigned book in its entirety and actually enjoying it. I know I was one of the people who immediately went out and bought the rest of the series when we finished reading this one in class. I have actually been meaning to read this one again because I know I will enjoy it because it's just a fun book and appropriate for people of all ages.

5. The Catcher in they Rye by JD Salinger

This is one of those books where I don't remember much of what happened, but I remember loving it anyways. I loved the writing style in this books and was one of those that I actually finished even though I didn't need to in order to complete a project. I also think this book is one of those love it or hate it books and I personally really enjoyed it. 

4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I can honestly say I don't remember anything about this book, but when I read it in 9th grade, I was the only one in my class who genuinely enjoyed it. I actually gave it a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, which is pretty good for a book I don't even remember. I think the creepy and eerie tone made me fall in love with it because something about creepy books just immediately speaks to me.

3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I remember this book being a really well written book that made it easy for everyone to enjoy. I especially loved the childhood innocence that was translated in the book, which only made it more enjoyable to read. This is one of those American classics that I think everyone should read. This was also my favorite book for awhile after I read it.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I think I was the only person in my 10th grade class who actually enjoyed this book when we had to read it. Most everyone else only pretended to like it a year later when the movie came out, which really irritated me. This book is timeless and captures the era of the 1920s perfectly. Also, F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing is simple, yet beautiful. I honestly did not expect to get such a great story out of this book when I started it.

1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Ah.Crime and Punishment. I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite books of all time. Despite the whooping page count, I managed to read this over the summer for AP Literature. I was intimidated at first and know that many of my classmates never even read it! I admit that near the middle it got a bit boring, but the last 200 pages really made up for it and tied all the elements together perfectly and left me on the edge of my seat. I stayed up until 2am to finish this book and was in awe by the time I put it down. 

I apologize for the inconsistency of my posts lately. I hope to get better at posting on a regular schedule. With school taking up so much of my time, it's difficult to find time to read or blog much. I did receive two books in the mail today so hopefully I can read and review those soon!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Liebster Award!

Today I am very happy to announce that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Kelley over at Bibliophile Bliss and by Erin at Hardcover Lover! Thank you, Kelly! I've only been blogging for a month so this is a huge honor and has fueled my confidence as a book blogger.

Once you are nominated, you must follow these rules in order to get this award:

1. Link & Thank the blogger who nominated you

2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator gives you 
3. Tag 11 other bloggers who have 200 or less followers
4. Ask the 11 bloggers you nominated 11 questions and let them know you nominated them!

Kelly's Questions

Where do you buy your books?
Barnes and Noble

What are you currently reading?
A Game of Thrones

Last book you did not finish and why?
The Bell Jar because I got bored

If you could meet any one in the world (it can be fictional), who would you meet and why?
Throwing in that fictional aspect made this difficult. I would probably want to meet Molly Weasley because she is so caring and maybe she would knit me a sweater.

Favorite book to movie adaptation.
Either The Book Thief or The Help. I thought both were loyal to the book and really captured the themes of the book.

Most anticipated book for 2014.
I don't actually know because I don't pay attention to upcoming releases.

Love triangles. Hate or love them and why. 
Hate them. They get repetitive and add uncessecary drama. There are so many other ways to add a struggle to a story.

Who is your favorite book boyfriend and why?
Like a character in a book who is a boyfriend to a character or a character I would want as a boyfriend? I really like Park in Eleanor & Park as a boyfriend in that story but I would want Sirius Black as my boyfriend because he is my fictional crush.

If you were stranded on an island, what would be the three things you would choose to have with you?
I'm going to turn this into three books I would have with me: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
3 random facts about you.
I can say the alphabet backwards from memory
I have a dog named Stanley (he was named after the Stanley Cup)
I really like doing still life paintings

Lastly, which book is next on your TBR pile?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as a part of my reread.

Erin's Questions

Why did you decide to start blogging?
I have been watching a lot (I'm serious when I say a lot) of booktube videos and wanted to be able to share my love of books, but didn't want to do it on a video platform so I resorted to blogging instead! 

Are there any books set in your hometown? If so, what one(s)?
None that I know of. I would be very surprised if there are.

Who are some of your auto-buy authors?
Jonathan Safran Foer and JK Rowling

What is your favorite series?
Harry Potter hands down

Do you like fantasy or dystopia better? Why?
Usually dystopia because I find it easier to connect to.

Have you ever written a book?
I have written short stories, but none were very good. 

What are some of your favorite book blogs?
Just everyone I follow

What is your favorite book you had to read for school?
Crime and Punishment. One of my all time favorites actually.

What are you currently reading?
A Game of Thrones

Are there any books that you just know you won't read even though everyone tells you that they are great?
The only books I can think of at the moment are The Giver and The Host

What is your favorite thing about the book blog community? Why?
I just love how excited everyone is about books and how supportive everyone is of each other! This award is proof of that!

Who I nominate:

I actually don't follow many book blogs at the moment so there is no one eligible for me to nominate at the moment.

That is all for this post today. I want to thank Erin and Kelly again for nominating me and I'm sorry that I literally have no one to nominate for this award.
Also so sorry if the formatting is really strange and if some things just look funky. I can't seem to fix it at the moment.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Announcment: Top 5 Tuesday

Due to my lack of time to prepare a Top 5 Tuesday, I'm afraid this week will have to suffer and not have one. I might redeem myself by making next week a list of top ten instead of five, but I'll have to wait and make up my mind when it gets closer to next Tuesday. I am incredibly sorry that I haven't been posting. Once I get comfortable with college life, I will be posting more regularly. I already have several posts planned, I just need to find the time to write them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Top 5 Tuesday: Comfort Books

Hey everyone! It's been an entire week since I last made a blog post and I'm sorry about that! I hope to be more active on this blog, but I just moved into college on Sunday and have been bust nonstop since. Since I moved into college, I'm looking for things to comfort me in this time of transition, so this week for my Top Five Tuesday I'm ranking books I go to for comfort.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Perks made it to this list because although it isn't an exceptionally cheerful book, it is extremely easy to relate to in someway or another. I find it extremely relevant for my current situation because I'm thrown into a new environment and I'm just trying to fit it just like Charlie. I find comfort in this book by knowing that I'm not alone in this world by being different or not fitting in with the majority of others. 

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Although I only actually read (and finished) this book recently, I know it is one I will turn to whenever I need a pick-me-up. It is a timeless and classic tale of love; what could get better than that? If I ever need a good book that will just make me feel peaceful, then this would be the book I would pick up.

3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

This book takes me back to my childhood. I had already read this a few times by the time I was ten years old and I can still read it today and enjoy every moment of it. It takes me back to the days when I sat with my dad and read together with him and discussed the book. I can't help but smile when I read this book.

2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

If you recall from my first Top Five Tuesday, Jonathan Safran Foer is my favorite author and this was the first book by him that I read and it changed the way I looked at reading. This book made me fall back in love with reading and the story touched me emotionally, so when I read it now, it expands those emotions even more. 

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

I'm sure this choice is obvious. This book also takes me back to my childhood and fills me with absolute joy. I can't read this book and not be happy. Reading this book is like getting a hug from someone you love. Nothing I could say would ever do this book any justice for how it makes me feel. I'm sure everyone who loves Harry Potter feels the same as I do. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top 5 Tuesday: TBR Shame

Another Tuesday, another Top 5 Tuesday. This week I have chosen "TBR Shame" as my topic, meaning that these five books have been sitting on my "to be read" list forever, but I have never gotten around to them. Not only that, but I am also ashamed to never have read these books. Let's get started!

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I am fairly certain that The Giver has been assigned reading for nearly everyone at some point during school, but not me. Because of this I feel like I'm the only one left who has never read this! I only found out recently that it is dystopian and the first novel of a series. I always assumed it was some dull book about an old man with a boring plot that was written purely to teach kids of some moral lesson (I think I got this impression just based on the cover). Since this book is commonly said to be a book everyone should read, I will definitely have to pick it up sometime, even if it's not in a classroom setting.

4. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I would not normally be ashamed for not reading this, except for the fact that I've owned it for five years! When I was in middle school everyone read this book right after they finished Twilight, so naturally I had to get this book. My mom picked it up for me at a church rummage sale for $5 and I immediately started to read it. I got about 50 pages in a stopped and have not touched it since (I even still have the bookmark in there). For some reason I just could not get interested in this story. To make matters worse, I saw the movie and enjoyed it, but still do not want to read the book anymore.

3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones has been on my TBR list since I first heard about it back in 2012. At first I was not in any hurry to read it especially since I knew more books in the series would be released later. But lately no matter where I look in the book loving community, someone is raving about it. It seems like everyone has read this book and is in love. As much as I think I would like City of Bones, I don't think I will be picking it up anytime soon. It looks like it will just have to get comfy on my TBR for awhile.

2. Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, & The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Naturally I would not be ashamed to say I haven't read these books, but considering I have owned them for 8 years now, it's pretty disappointing. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in fourth grade right before the movie came out and fell in love with it. I then read The Magician's Nephew and only read The Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian within the past few years. I don't know why I haven't just sat down and read these books yet since they are such short, enjoyable reads. I could easily read one of these in a single day, but every time I start one, I get distracted or disinterested. It always takes me a little while to get started with these books, which is probably my problem. I will make goal to read these either next summer or over Christmas break. Fingers crossed.

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy/The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein

The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit are my most shameful books on my TBR list. I have seen the movies and love them (I'm not a huge, obsessive fan, but I just generally enjoy them) and have been wanting to read these books forever! I have only heard good things about these books and I genuinely think I would enjoy them. The only thing that is setting me back from reading these books is that I don't own them. I really hope to buy these books soon!

Those are my top five books this week, but this time I would like to include an honorable mention: Hoot by Karl Hiaasen. I've had this book ever since I was in third grade and it was the most popular book among my class at the time. Every time I look at my bookshelf and see this book, I remember how much of a loser I was for not liking this book. I started to read it maybe five times, but never liked it. Now I just keep it because it adds a pretty pop of color to my bookshelf.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Harry Potter Reread: Prisoner of Azkaban

I recently finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, so that means it's time for another Harry Potter Reread post! If you have not yet read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban yet, first of all you should definitely go do that, but also this post may contain spoilers from this book. I'll try to be as spoiler free as possible, but I know that there will be mild spoiling so I apologize in advance. Without further ado, here were my thoughts from the Prisoner of Azkaban:

  • ❤SIRIUS BLACKI should say that Sirius is my favorite character ever, so every time I read this book I get a huge influx of feelings about him and everyone's perception of him. Also, it is make super clear in this book that Sirius is the biggest drama queen ever.
  • I loved the bits when the dementors go after Harry and he can hear his parents. It is bonechilling and depressing, as if a dementor is going after me as well.
  • Snape needs to seriously let things that happened when he was 16 go. (♬♪Let it goooo, let it goooo♬♪)
  • The pacing of this book is absolutely perfect. Although this book is shorter than the last four, it still manages to squeeze in a lot of excitement and drama. There is rarely a dull moment.
  • Some people may disagree with me on this one, but this book includes the beginning of the tone shift among the books. Everything up until this book was generally cheerful. From the beginning of this book, everyone is terrified about Sirius. Even the muggles! That's when you know there is something serious (haha get it?) going on.
  • Last thing: the time turner. I know many people do not like the time turner, but I love it! If you don't dig deep into the mechanics of it, it worked seamlessly in this book. It answered a reoccurring question and even helped solve the major problem in the end. 
That is all I have for this book! I hope you enjoy these posts because they are fun for me to write.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Publisher: Scribner 2014

Format & Page Count: Hardcover 530 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Date read: July 31, 2014

My rating: 4 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

My Thoughts: Before I dive in, I want to take a moment to appreciate the sheer beauty of the cover, which was one of the reasons I decided to buy this book. I had heard a few people on YouTube say that they loved this book, which also definitely intrigued me. What ultimately really hooked me was the fact that it is a new approach to World War II fiction. One of my favorite things to read about is World War II. I have no idea why, but I have a strange fascination with that era. Immediately I had high expectations for this book.

I'm not sure if this is due to the expectations I had, but I thought this book had a slow start. I became familiar with the characters quite quickly and after initial characterization, the exposition dragged out. This may have also been caused by my slight confusion while reading. The story is not set in chronological order; it is separated into thirteen parts which scatter the timeline. About halfway through everything starts to fall into place and becomes easier to follow. 

After I got comfortable with the timeline, I started to fly through this book because I was so engrossed with the characters and their stories. I needed to know how all the little details littered throughout the book lined up and I needed to know how the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner would intertwine. This book had my complete attention and I wanted nothing to distract me while I finished it. Within the last hundred pages, innumerable emotions flew through me from fear to joy to heartbreak, yet I loved every second of it. 

Overall, this book is worthy of the praise it has received thus far. The stories are so beautifully written that it is impossible to not fall in love with the characters and feel as if you are there with them. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, specifically concerning World War II, or anyone who wants to read a beautifully written story.

If you are looking for even more of a push to read this book, here is a video of the author explaining how he came up with his inspiration:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Top 5 Tuesday: Most Hated Books

Hello everybody and welcome to my second Top 5 Tuesday! This week I will be talking about the books I hate the most, but before I do so, I would like to make a disclaimer. I know everyone has different opinions and not everyone will agree with me. I am just sharing my personal opinion on all of these books and I mean no harm to anyone who did enjoy any of these books. With that being said, here are my top five most hated books.

5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies starts out my list at number five. I had to read this for school (this will be a common trend) and I had high expectations because my mom said it was her favorite book she read in high school. After reading this book I questioned her taste in books. It wasn't necessarily bad, but I found it boring and there wasn't really anything about it that I liked. It felt highly immature, which was probably due to the maturity of the characters. Nothing about this book interested me or made me want to keep reading.

4. The Blood Red Horse by K. M. Grant

The Blood Red Horse was another book I had to read for school, but this time it wasn't for a general analysis of the book, but rather for an event called Authors in April where blocks of two grades (up until 8th grade) are assigned a certain author who will come present to them and talk about their books, specifically the one the students were assigned to read. I remember in 7th grade reading this book and only getting through a fourth of it before I had to stop. There were two assignments I was supposed to do with the book, but luckily I also had two homework passes, so I was able to turn those in for credit and get away without reading the book. I honestly couldn't even tell anyone what this book was about.

3. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Guess what? I also had to read this book for school, but with a twist. Since this book was split into four parts, my class was split into three groups and everyone had to read the first part and a separate part was given to each individual group. We had to present our section so the rest of the class knew what happened without reading it. I ended up reading the first part, then using the ever so useful Sparknotes for my assigned part because I had lost all hope. The book was dry and boring. I fell asleep every time I attempted to read it.

2. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

This book is the only one on the list that I did NOT have to read for school. A friend had been requesting that I read this book for a few years until I finally gave in. I initially didn't want to read it because I had no interest based on the summaries I had read of it. I started reading it and sighed because Patterson tried way too hard in order to write a book that would appeal to younger audiences, which definitely turned me off. I remember making an entire list of reasons why I disliked the book and it was a page long. This book did not impress me in the slightest.

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The number one book that I absolutely cannot stand (I actually think I can go far enough to say that I despise it) is Catch-22. I have tried to read this book twice now, but I never have managed to actually read the entire thing because I get so infuriated while reading it. My hatred has nothing to do with the story or the plot. The way the book is written irritates me to no end. It's like having a child speak to you because Heller jumps from one topic to the next so rapidly that it seems as if he is just explaining whatever pops into his head without editing anything. And I swear nothing happens throughout the entire book because I was able to skip the the last few chapters and it didn't feel like anything new. Being forced to read this book for class twice just peeved me so much that during my second read, I read two pages at a time then proceeded to throw the book at the wall. (This kind of turned into a rant. whoops)

Harry Potter Reread: Socerer's Stone & Chamber of Secrets

For most people, if they know anything about me, they know that I love Harry Potter. I have actually transcended the point of loving Harry Potter and it is just a part of who I am; a key character trait. Every few years I reread the series, especially if I am running low on other books I have interest in reading. Earlier this summer I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as well as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and am now in the process of reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I thought it would be fun to make posts on my thoughts as I finish each book. These won't necessarily be reviews, but rather just general things that came to my mind while reading.

This post will be a combination of thoughts and reactions from Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets:

  • It has been awhile since reading the books so it was simply marvelous to be introduced to the characters again as if they were strangers to me. I'm used to them being all grown up, but in these books Harry, Ron, and Hermione are cute kids and I just wanted to give them hugs. And Draco was just as big of a slimeball as I remember.
  • The second thing that struck me was how happy and innocent everything is. One of the major concerns is who is going to win the House Cup and being suspicious of Snape. 
  • Going back and rereading after already knowing the fate of all the characters is bittersweet. You know who dies and all of the back story of Harry's parents, so it's sad to see everyone (especially Harry) so naive and clueless. But at the same time it is wonderful to see them all being cheerful before things take a turn for the worst. 
  • I'm positive J.K. Rowling is the queen of foreshadowing. I had read one thing at the beginning of the first book and think "Oh my gosh. Has she really been planning this the entire time?" For example, Sirius Black was mentioned at the beginning of the Sorcerer's Stone and I had to stop so I could squeal and hold my book to my heart. (He is my all time favorite character)
  • I have always loved Dumbledore, but now that I'm reading these books again, I'm getting very frustrated with him. He purposely leaves Harry in the dark and distances himself from him, when Harry deserves nothing but answers. 
  • The last thing I want to touch on is friendship. Friendships are a HUGE part of these books and I love reading the first few books and reminiscing about how it all began. "There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them." 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau 2010

Format & Page Count: Paperback 180 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir

Date read: July 14, 2014

My rating: 3 stars

Summary (from back cover): Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

My Thoughts: I'm going to try to keep my thoughts brief because I plan on writing an in depth discussion based on some topics that came up in this book. I think an appropriate place to start for this review would be why I decided to read this, since nonfiction is usually not up my alley. I am going to be starting college next month and the school that I will be attending has a Freshman connection program where we all read the same book over the summer, write an essay, and then get into groups and discuss it during welcome week. I wrote the essay just the other day, so now I feel the motivation to actually write this review.

If you were unable to tell based on my three star rating, I did not love this book. There were many problems, most of which will be elaborated on in my discussion. When I finished the book, I was immediately ready to move on. The story did not grip me or move me in any way. The reviews that plague the cover describe this book as "inspiring," "enlightening, encouraging, and empowering," and "a call to arms". I started expecting it to be a profound book that gave me a lasting impression, but for me it fell short of everything it promised. Not only did it not live up to expectations, but I felt cheated as I read it. The author described the two boys to be almost identical, but when I started reading, I noticed how different the boys were. Sure, they had some similarities, but if you take a closer look at them, it is clear why they ended up so differently. Also, the whole book was centered around why they ended up where they did in respect to each other, but the answer was ultimately never given. The author gave various ideas, but never elaborated on any reasons.

Overall, this book frustrated me more than it moved me. When I talk about this book, I end up giving a rant. The thing that saved this book from a lower rating was the way the stories were told. In one chapter a narrative about one Wes Moore would be told, then the next chapter would be a narrative from the other Wes Moore's life that either mirrored the first or gave insight into the juxtaposition of their lives. This gave the book potential along with the interesting stories, but ultimately fell short of my expectations.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Publisher: Harper Press 2010 (original publication 1813)

Format & Page Count: Paperback 373 pages

Genre: Classics, Romance

Date read: July 19, 2014

My rating: 5 stars

Summary (from back cover): Austen's best-loved tale of love, marriage and society in class-conscious Georgian England still delights modern readers today with its comedy and characters. It follows the feisty, quick-witted Elizabeth Bennet as her parents seek to ensure good marriages for her and her sisters in order to secure their future. Through the irrepressible characters of Mr Collins and Mrs Bennet and the sensitivities and nuances of the relationships between Darcy and Elizabeth, Austen's skill and artistry as a writer shines.

My Thoughts: This is admittedly not my first time reading Pride and Prejudice, but this was the only time I was able to get past the first 100 pages. I had initially "read" this book for a school project, which crunched me for time and ended with me relying on Sparknotes to get the information required to finish my project and left me with little desire to sit down and read the book. The second time I attempted to read it was when I realized that many people I know were appalled that I did not appreciate the beauty of it the first time around so I gave it another go. Suddenly I was drowning in school work and had to put leisurely reading aside. Now that I have no school work and ample reading time, it is a perfect time to take in this book for what it is worth.

The beginning was a bit slow for me since I had read it twice before with less than fond memories, but after I got past that 100 page hump, I was flying through. I ended up reading the last 150 pages all at once while on a short vacation. I was struggling between wanting to read it fast because I was so in love with the story and  taking my time to admire each detail. Apparently I went with the latter. I ended up loving this book and I now understand why it is the most loved classic for so many people. The writing is simply timeless as to where I felt as if I was a part of the action although I'm reading it centuries later. Even though the societal constructs observed in this book are outdated, the characters and their struggles are easy to relate to. Elizabeth is witty and headstrong, not willing to sacrifice her happiness in order to confide with what is expected of her as a woman during that time. I'm sure most people, if not everyone, can relate to this where they have had to make a decision between choosing what would best make them happy or what would be expected of them and considered the more rational decision.

If you are fighting with yourself about whether or not you should read this, I highly recommend you find a time when you have little else to do and sit down and give this book a whirl. It is also a great book if you are wanting to start to venture in the classics genre. I personally am not a huge classics reader, but it takes a gem of a book like this one for me to really appreciate why classics are a favorite to many.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top 5 Tuesday: Authors

Welcome to my blog! Since this is my first ever post on this blog, I figured I would do something quick and easy as well as something that allows you to get to know me a bit more. This post is going to be about my top 5 favorite authors with brief explanations as to why they are so well loved by me. I am also hoping to publish a top 5 sort of post every Tuesday as long as I can come up with a topic every week. I'm going to start with #5 and work my way up to my absolute favorite, so let's get started.

5. F. Scott Fizgerald

Starting this off at number five is F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you are unfamiliar with his work, he is the author of The Great Gatsby, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Beautiful and Damned, and others. Despite all that he has written, I have only read one of his books and that would be The Great Gatsby, but I immediately fell in love with his writing. I loved the sheer timelessness of his writing and how someone a hundred years from now could pick up his book and still understand the story. I also admired his ability to capture the setting and allow the reader to get a sense of the era. Basically I just thought that the way he crafted his story was effortless and beautiful and I look forward to picking up some of his other books in the near future.

4. Jodi Picoult

Next up I have Jodi Picoult who is the author of My Sister's Keeper, The Storyteller, and Nineteen Minutes to just name a few. The books that I previously mentioned are the only ones that I have read of hers thus far, however I look forward to reading more of her work. If you have read a Jodi Picoult book, then you know that she is the master of writing from various perspectives in order to form her story and make everything blend together beautifully. She takes every character and gives them such vivid and distinct personalities so that it makes the reader feel connected to each one of them, but also makes it so that each character is equally as interesting to read about. She also tackles tough topics (such as cancer, WWII, suicide, ect.) in a way that causes the reader to empathize without getting hit over the head with the theme. 

3. Markus Zusak

I fell in love with Markus Zusak before I ever read any of his books just based on what I had heard about The Book Thief. If you didn't already know, The Book Thief was written from the perspective of Death... need I say more? When I first heard that  I was blown away and once I started the book I surrendered my love to Markus Zusak because of how beautifully written it is. I also have read I Am the Messenger, which was also flawless and highly underrated. Both of these books exceeded my expectations and I look forward to reading more from Zusak in the future.

2. J. K. Rowling

Many many many people might be appalled that J. K. Rowling is only #2 on this list and not at the top, but I'm not even sorry. J. K. Rowling is forever the queen of writing in my book, but there is still one person who tops her. If you have been living under a rock for the past decade, J. K. Rowling is the author of the beloved Harry Potter series and also wrote The Casual Vacancy, followed by The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm under a pseudonym. I have yet to read The Cuckoo's Calling or The Silkworm, but I have read all the rest and they are much loved. Harry Potter is by far the most well crafted series I have ever read. The world Rowling created feels so real that I actually feel like I am at Hogwarts with Harry and they are all just perfect. When The Casual Vacancy came out I was super excited for something new and it blew my expectations and it was so wonderful to read something for adults by Rowling.

1. Jonathan Safran Foer

The god of writing. Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Everything is Illuminated, Tree of Codes, and Eating Animals. Out of those, Eating Animals is the only one that I have not read, but nonetheless he is still my favorite author. He reminded me that writing is a work of art, a form of expression, and a platform for creativity. Foer's novels are a breath of fresh air and always finds new and innovative ways to share his stories. Not only are his books a work of art themselves, but the stories told within their pages are simply breathtaking. I remember having to take breaks while reading Everything is Illuminated because I was tearing up because of the beauty in his words. Jonathan Safran Foer reminded me why I love reading and I will be forever thankful.

There you have it: my top 5 favorite authors. I hope you enjoyed reading this and are looking forward to more Top 5 Tuesday posts in the future. Much love to everyone who took the time to read this and I hope this was a good beginning to a blog I see myself continuing for a long time to come.

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