Looking For Alaska: Book Review

Looking For Alaska book coverBook: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Publisher/Year: Dutton Juvenille/2005

Genre: YA

Pages: 256

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Very good

Is it going to be a movie? Yes! But it’s in very early stages. All we know is that Sarah Polley will be directing.

What’s it about?
Miles “Pudge” Halter leads a very boring with life with no friends until he attends Culver Creek Boarding School searching for a “Great Perhaps.” There he meets Alaska Young, Chip “The Colonel” Martin and Takumi Hikohito who changes his life for the better (and the worse). Pudge falls for Alaska upon meting her; she’s smart, funny, beautiful, screwed-up and draws him in completely. He goes from reading biographies and memorizing people’s last words to smoking, drinking, pulling pranks and having the time of his life. But then something happens that completely changes his world again.

What did you think?
Looking For Alaska reminded me a lot of The Perks of Being A Wallflower. There’s the socially awkward yet lovable boy (Pudge/Charlie) that gets pulled into a new circle of friends consisting of a beautiful, charming and self-destructive girl (Alaska/Sam) and the girl’s best friend who is more stable but just as fun (The Colonel/Patrick).  But I loved Perks so I didn’t entirely mind all the similarities. Even though I probably prefer Perks, I still really enjoyed Looking for Alaska. I am becoming a huge fan of John Green (I know I’m a little late to the party) as I mentioned in my Fault in Our Stars review. He has an infinite amount of great quotes and his style is perfection. Basically all hail John Green forever and always.

One thing I really like about Alaska is that it’s split into two sections: Before and After. Every chapter starts with a countdown (X Days Until…) to After. It’s a simple but effective way to keep me even further enthralled in the book. The story and characters were enough to keep me reading but the countdown made me feel like I had to know what was going to happen.

Should I read it?
Yes! Especially if you are a girl in the preteen-young adult age range. Even if you’re not, it’s a great book. You can get a copy at Thriftbooks or Amazon.

They Did It With Love: Book Review

The Did It With Love book coverBook: They Did It With Love by Kate

Publisher/Year: Plume/2007

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 336

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ – Above average

Is it going to be a movie? Nope.

What’s it about?
It’s “Desperate Housewives meets Agatha Christie.” Sofie and her husband leave their nice Manhattan apartment and move to the suburbs of Connecticut. Struggling to find her place in the suburbs, Sofie joins a mystery book club with Bree, Gaby, Susan and Lynette Priscilla, Susan, Ashley and Julia. Perfectionist Priscilla is the queen bee, host of the book club and everything happens the way she deems it will. Sweet Susan is Priscilla’s oldest friend most dedicated follower. Attractive Ashley is the youngest and strives for the acceptance of the other girls despite her young age and second wife status. Jaunty Julia appears to have it all: the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect job, perfect looks, and an overall perfect life. But is everyone’s life as it ~*seems*~??? (No.)

But things get flipped turned upside down when one of the girls turns up dead (oh noOoOOooO). Now the women of Wysteria Lane some random street in a wealthy Connecticut suburb have a real life mystery on their hands and Sofie is determined to solve it. As her investigation deepens, the secrets of suburbia quickly start unraveling like a sweater off the clearance rack in Forever 21.

What did you think?
Short and sweet and a decent read. Intriguing enough that I kept want to read to find out everyone’s secrets and whodunit, but not as exciting or shocking as other mystery books (like Gone Girl). It’s a lot more Desperate Housewives than Agatha Christie which didn’t thrill me. I was hoping for more of a mystery thriller with a jaw dropping twist ending, but instead got a lot of suburban gossip with a mediocre ending. I love Desperate Housewives, so I probably would have liked it more if I knew that going into the book (but even so, it’s still not nearly as good as DH).

Should I read it?
Sure, I would recommend it but not emphatically. You can get a copy at Thriftbooks or Amazon.

The Maze Runner: Book Review

The Maze Runner book cover art

Book: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Publisher/Year: Random House Children’s Books/2009

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Outstanding

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Dylan O’Brien (the best friend in Teen Wolf)
Will Poulter (the “son” in We’re the MillersThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the adorable love-struck child in Love Actually, the warg guy who gets seizures and hangs out with Bran inGame of Thrones, Ferb of Phineas and Ferb)

When can I watch it?
NOT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 19. UGH.

What’s it about?
Thomas (O’Brien) wakes up in what appears to be a large freight elevator and doesn’t remember anything about himself besides his name; he has no idea where he is, where he’s been, who is mother is or even how old he is. Eventually the elevator stops and the doors open from above him and he sees a group of teenage boys staring down at him. Once he’s out he finds out he’s in a place called the Glade — a huge piece of land with a few shacks were the boys live, a farm for food and a small area of trees. But the most intriguing part about the the Glade is that it is in the center of a giant unsolvable maze.

The boys (Gladers) have been there for two years with a new boy (a Greenie) coming up from the Box once a month. No one knows how or why they are there. Like Thomas, the only thing anyone can remember is his name. Then things get shaken up because the next day the Box opens again and there’s a girl inside. Game. Changer. No one knows what this means or what to think of the girl or the ominous note that came with her. All the Gladers know is that they have to keep trying to solve the Maze no matter how hopeless it may seem.

What did you think?
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Yes, it’s another young adult post-apocalyptic trilogy…but it’s one of the best of it’s kind (second only to The Hunger Games). I’ve read it twice and I still couldn’t put it down the second time around even though I knew what was going to happen. It’s. So. Good.

Along with Thomas, I just had to find out who all these boys (and girl) were, who put them there and why. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to learn everything I could about the Glade and about the Maze from Alby, the apparent leader, and Newt (Brodie-Sangster), one of the older boys and seemingly second-in-command. Dashner achieved the perfect balance of information and suspense; he tells you enough so you feel like you’re starting to figure things out, but not enough that you can put it all together. He teases you with pieces of the puzzle to keep you hooked but doesn’t let you see the big picture until the end.

I also happen to be in love with all the characters. Okay, not all the characters, but enough of them so that it works. I love Thomas, I love Newt, I love Minho and I love this book. Minho is a Runner (someone who runs throughout the Maze looking for a way out) and he is my favorite. His sarcasm and sharp tongue are some of the highlights of The Maze Runner and makes me want to be his friend. Newt is just perfect. He’s a great leader, kind and wonderful. Although I did imagine him to be more strong country boy (think: Southern Zac Efron) and less like the adorable Thomas Brodie-Sangster, but we’ll see how it goes. And, of course, our lead Thomas is a dandy fellow too. He’s got a good heart and thick skull, so he may not be the most original hero but it doesn’t make him unlikable. I can’t wait to see him played by Dylan O’Brien, it seems like a perfect match.

Should I read it?
Definitely! You can buy it on Amazon or Thriftbooks.

Here’s the trailer and it’s perfect.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Book Review

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day book cover

Book: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Publisher/Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/1972

Genre: Children’s

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Outstanding

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Jennifer Garner (Alias, Daredevil — which doesn’t suck as much as everyone thinks it does, okay? and Dallas Buyer’s Club)
Steve Carrell (The OfficeThe 40-Year-Old Virgin)
Bella Thorne (Shake It Up!)
Dick Van Dyke (The Dick Van Dyke ShowMary Poppins)

When can I watch it?
The movie comes out October 10, 2014!

What’s it about?
A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Poor Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair and his day just continues to get worse as the day goes on.

What did you think?
This is one of my favorite books from my childhood. Probably because I related to Alexander; we’re both able to just go on rants and just wish we were in Australia.

I have no idea how the movie will be, other movies that have come out based on childhood classics like Where the Wild Things Are and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs were not very well received by those who cherished the books as children. Which makes sense; the books take 10 minutes read and are made into hour and half long movies, so there’s a going to be a lot of changes and additions. Even though my initial reaction to the movie was excitement, I’ve since had more concerns. Despite my love for Jennifer Garner (whose face is like sunshine) and Steve Carrell (who is hilarious in pretty much everything), I will be going to see the movie with low expectations. But I will definitely be going to see it.

Should I read it?
If you haven’t already then I’m sorry for your childhood. But you can buy a copy on Amazon or Thriftbooks. You can also watch a video of a random girl in a bookstore reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to you. Either way it takes 5 minutes or less so just read it and thank me later.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Book Review

The Wolf of Wall Street book cover

Book: The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

Publisher/Year: Bantam Books/2008

Genre: Autobiography, Crime, Comedy

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – very good

Who’s in the movie?
LEO (You know who Leonardo DiCaprio is)
Jonah Hill (Superbad, 21 Jump Street)
Rob Reiner (Jess’ dad in New Girl, he also directed The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men)
Matthew McConaughey ( he says “alright, alright, alright…” he’s also in How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days and Dallas Buyers Club)
Kyle Chandler (Zero Dark Thirty and Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights)


When can I watch it?
When you buy the DVD.

What’s it about?
Scandal. There’s more crime, prostitutes and drugs than I ever thought there could be in a real person’s life. Jordan Belfort (Leo) was an infamous Wall Street stockbroker in the 1990s who literally was making thousands of dollars a minute in his financial prime. Was it legal? Absolutely not. He has more money than he knows what to do with and recklessly spends it on his wife, yachts, hotel rooms, cars and of course prostitutes and drugs.

What did you think?
It doesn’t sound like a funny story, but the way Belfort talks about his life is hilarious. Now that he’s done his time and reflected on his choices, he sees how absolutely insane his life was and you can see that in the way he writes. He’s very sarcastic and constantly making fun of his past self and past life. Even if Belfort’s writing didn’t have a mocking tone, some of the things that happened in his life are so utterly batshit crazy that you have to laugh at its absurdity. Little things like throwing midgets in Velcro suits at a Velcro target. Everything in his life is so over-the-top, from his fights with his wife to his to business lunches…it feels parodic. I sometimes forgot that it’s autobiographical and not a work of total fiction.

But no matter how much of a douche Belfort was, no one can deny that he was brilliant. He had the wit and the charm to talk his way and work his way out of almost any obstacle that he ran into. He constantly had two realities going on at once, he could be holding a conversation with someone or improvising a speech for his employees while in his head he would be planning his next big move or scheming to get out of jam (either with the law or his wife). I don’t understand how anyone can think that much all time; he always had an inner dialogue with himself no matter what he was doing. Not to mention that he knew and understood stocks and laws so well that he knew exactly what he needed to do to make the system work in his favor or what he had to do to get away with things that were not so legal.

Should I read it?
Yes, if you can handle all the debauchery in his life. It’s kind of graphic and extremely excessive. But if you can handle all that, then it’s a really good read. You can get a copy from Thriftbooks or Amazon. You can also get theMovie Tie-In Edition on Amazon if you like actors on books (*shivers in disgust*).

The Book Thief: Book Review

The Book Thief book cover

 Book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 Publisher/Year: Alfred A. Knopf/2006

 Genre: Historical Fiction

 Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ – above average

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Geoffrey Rush (Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the CaribbeanThe King’s Speech)
Emily Watson (War HorseAnna Karenina)

 When can I watch it?
 Whenever you buy it or pick it up at your nearest Redbox.

 What’s it about?
Liesel is a foster child in 1939 Nazi Germany. Her and her foster parents (Rush and Watson) live in essential poverty just outside of Munich. Liesel is hesitant to open up to her foster parents when she first moves in and keeps her distance from them until her father, Hans, begins to teach Liesel how to read. Liesel lives for books (YES. We have common ground!). But since her family is dirt poor, she steals them. She gets her joy not only from reading and absorbing her books, but from stealing. In such a downtrodden and ominous time, Liesel finds her solace in stealing the things that she loves the most.

What did you think?
This is a weird one for me to review because I actually read the end several months after I read the first three-quarters of the book. I checked it out from the library, was unable to finish in my allotted time (because it’s long and I still had school and work), returned it and requested it again. But there was a really long wait list and when it was available for me to pick it up, I was home for break and unable to check it out of the library. So, I requested it again and waited for my turn one more time. By the time I was able to check it out again about four months had passed since I read it last. So, it was hard getting back into the story after such a long time between readings.

Regardless of all that I still think it was only okay. It’s really long and takes a really long time to get good. A majority of the book was really tedious reading. I liked the characters, Leisel and her best friend Rudy are actually awesome, but even so I was bored. If I like a book, there’s no way I would take longer than the amount of time the library allows me to check out a book. And there’s even less of a chance that I would wait months before reading the end of it. The fact that I did wait such a long time before finishing, without being phased, says a lot about The Book Thief.

But, the end of the book was so much better than the beginning (and middle). Even though it took me some time to get back into the story, once I did I read it much faster than the rest of the book. In the beginning it kind of drags on but once it gets good, it gets really good. I think that I would have liked it even more if I didn’t take such a long break from reading. Even though I did get back into the story, I still lost some of the connection I had with the characters and wasn’t as emotionally invested as I probably would’ve been if I read the book straight through.

Should I read it?
It’s really long and only gets good at the end — so it’s an investment. The reward won’t be worth the effort for everyone. But if you want to give it a go you can buy a copy from Thriftbooks or Amazon.

If I Stay: Book Review

 

If I Stay book cover Book: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Publisher/Year: Dutton Juvenile/2009

Genre: YA Fiction

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass500 Days of SummerHugo)
No one else worth talking about

When can I watch it?
It was released August 22.

What’s is about?
Mia Hall is 17 years old in a coma after a horrible car accident. While comatose, Mia has an out-of-body experience and can see all her friends and family gathering at the hospital where she is being treated. In the midst of watching her friends and family grieving, she experiences flashbacks and relives some of her most important memories. Then, she realizes that she has to decide whether she wants to wake up and live a life harder than anticipated, or if she wants to slip away into her coma and let herself die.

What did you think?
I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else in the world seemed to enjoy it, but I liked it. It definitely made me think and shed a tear or two. When I read I often end up putting myself in the position of the characters and that made reading this book hard and emotional. It’s hard to imagine what I would do if I were in Mia’s situation — to have one moment change my life so drastically and then to have to decide whether or not I want to keep living my life (which has been changed for the worse, forever). It takes me 20 minutes to decide if I want chocolate or swirl soft serve ice cream, so there’s approximately zero probability that I could make a decision like this.

One thing I didn’t love about the book was that all the characters were a little too perfect. Mia came from a perfect little family with the perfect boyfriend who was in a band. A little bland. Although I do have to admit that I loved her boyfriend, but who doesn’t love perfection? It’s really easy to love a character that has minimal to no flaws. If he did have a flaw it would be in his dramatic actions. He gets to be a little theatrical and pulls some over-the-top moves when Mia is in the hospital which I can see rubbing a lot of the people the wrong way, but I’m a dramatic person too so I thought he was great.

Something else that not everyone will love about the book is that I got a little bit of a “chick flick” vibe from it. It could get a little sappy which sometimes I didn’t mind and sometimes I felt like side-eyeing Chloe. But most of the time I was into it.

The trailer has me a lot more excited for the movie and made me cry so…

Should I read it?
It’s a decent read, I wouldn’t list it as a top priority but you should probably add it to the reading list. You can get a copy here or here.