Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

ISBN: 9781619630345
Source: Gift
Format: Paperback
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Released: May, 2012
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
     REVIEW
It probably isn't very fair for me to review Throne of Glass at this point, having read the short stories and the second book in this series. I probably should've been smart enough to write my review right after I finished it. Because right now, I almost can't bring myself to say anything bad about ToG when I know that it I enjoyed it a lot but didn't love it.

However, after reading the other books/stories in the series that have been released thus far, my love for this series and this book are far beyond the four star rating ToG gets all on its own. Like I said - not fair, right?
Allow me to make an attempt at writing an unbiased review.

For starters, the main character, Celaena Sardothien, is touted as Adarlan's assassin, the greatest assassin for all intents and purposes. Dangerous, unbeatable, etc. Without factoring in what I know from the other books, I was a little disappointed that we barely saw any of Celaena's mythical skill. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Celaena. She is smart and witty and funny and a little bratty which I can definitely appreciate being a huge brat myself, but I wanted to see her being assassin-y and we actually don't see much of that.

Throne of Glass takes on a weird paranormal subplot that at first didn't seem to fit and didn't interest me. It was annoying, didn't make much sense and I wished at some points that it would just disappear. Needless to say it all comes together but it was just weird.

The romance - oh the romance. I hate love triangles. With that being said, while this has a very frustrating love triangle, I loved it. I truly found myself torn between the two men and that has never happened to me before. Usually in a love triangle, one guy is like awful and everyone knows it, and the other one is perfect for her and the only reasons the awful guy has fans is because he's a bad boy and "knows" the MC better than anyone else (cue eye roll - give me a break). However, that is not the case here. I obviously am Team Chaol For Life but I couldn't help but find reasons to love Dorian, too. They are both such great, lovable characters and I got a little mad when Dorian was making me love him too much!

All in all, the book comes together, weird paranormal subplot and all, enough that I wanted to read the next book. Like I said, since the time I read Throne of Glass, I've read Crown of Midnight, The Assassin's Blade (novellas) and am eagerly awaiting Heir of Fire, so right now none of those things matter because the rest of the series makes up for the good but not amazing first book. I almost don't remember a time when Celaena wasn't being a super assassin!

     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!
CoM notwithstanding, I really liked ToG. It has great characters that just unfortunately didn't reach their full potential in this book, such an interesting world with pretty good world-building (which just gets better), and a frustrating but amazing and perfect in every way love triangle. TEAMCHAOLFORLIFE.

Have you read Throne of Glass? What did you think? I hope you loved it and didn't let the lack of Celaena showing off her mad skills effect your opinion about the book like I almost did. If you didn't love it, can you tell me why? I'd love to hear what your thoughts are!

Also, Heir of Fire comes out in just a few days!!!! I'm so beyond freaking excited I can't even EVEN. That's right, that's what I said, you didn't read that wrong. I NEED THIS BOOK NOW! How excited are you (and simultaneously horrified at the thought of waiting another year for the next one aghhhh)?

Let's talk books!
A.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book-to-Movie-Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I went to see this movie (1) because the preview made me cry when I saw it at TFIOS premiere, so duh and (2) I'm such a dedicated blogger that even though I didn't love the book, I knew I needed to tell the world how the movie held up.

I mentioned a few times over the last few weeks that I've been having this crying issue - nothing has been making me cry. That is until I read Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins last week and it cured me! So at first I was afraid I was going to leave this movie dry-eyed and heartless, just like I'd been with every book for the past month.

I obviously didn't realize that I had nothing to worry about on the crying front. I was a fuckin mess.

     IT STAYED PRETTY CLOSE TO THE BOOK
I'm quite forgiving when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations when things are changed or moved around for the sake of the adaptation being smoother or portraying a feeling or a message better. I hate when things are totally changed around, but I can forgive when the necessary things are moved around.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that If I Stay the movie stayed rather close to the book. Not much was actually added in or changed - it was more like a lot of the tiny less important details were left out. For example, Kim's crazy mom, while amusing, wasn't necessary and was left out of the movie. A couple of other minor things but nothing that changed the story.

The only thing that was "added" in was this weird fight between Mia and Adam. I mean, don't get me wrong, the fight scene was great, Adam was awesome and rude and an asshole, just like they were trying to pull off, but I don't remember anything like that from the book at all. Mia and Adam were more passive aggressive and Adam in the book was a sweetheart but he could be a dick, too. Otherwise I was pretty pleased with how close the adaptation was.

     THE ADDED BONUS OF MIA'S AND ADAM'S MUSIC
We get to heard "Adam's" music!!! Sometimes when a book has a musician as one of its main characters, albums are made in partnerships with one or two real-life musicians, (e.g., Jodi Picoult, Colleen Hoover). The music is often good, but it's nothing like what we fall in love with on the radio or from our favorite underground artists. In the If I Stay movie, Adam's music comes to life - and it is awesome!

We see him rockin' and rollin' and his voice is even pretty great. Now I did absolutely no research whatsoever as far as the music goes and who wrote it or if Jamie Blackley was the one who was singing, but I suspect it was. I could be wrong, but I'm just guessing here. I have no idea, but I know that it was one of my favorite parts of the movie watching Adam sing on stage and getting to briefly be a part of what he loved.

It was also really awesome seeing/hearing Mia play. Now I also did zero research about Mia's music but I suspect Chloë Grace Moretz was not the source of that wonderful sound. It was mesmerizing though, and beautiful. The cello music was enough to have me tearing up at times. Definitely these were my favorite parts.

     ITS A SHAME THAT THE ACTING WAS... JUST OKAY
This Chloë Grace Moretz girl... she looks familiar to me... and she's got quite a lengthy filmography, but I hadn't ever heard of her before this movie. I think she was a good Mia, but she just didn't really do it for me. She was so clean cut (which yes, is like Mia, but the emotional parts [except for one particularly difficult one] I felt should have been more raw) and sometimes I felt like I was just watching a movie, not like I was part of it. It's just like when reading a book and no one wants to be reminded that they are reading a book, ya know? I hope that makes sense.

Jamie Blackley (Adam), quite the opposite of Moretz's performance, was pretty perfect. What a brilliant portrayal of that character! He just tore my heart right up. Plus seeing him up on stage was hot and he looked like he really belonged there. Contrary to the case with the rest of the cast, Blackley was pretty much flawless.

The parents were cute, quirky, funny, and it was hard not to love them, but acting was a bit awkward. I didn't feel much chemistry between the actors other than between Mia and Adam. OMG I forgot the grandfather. He killed me. He was amazing. And he killed my heart. But overall, it was just alright acting-wise.

     I'VE FINALLY DISCOVERED WHY I DIDN'T LOVE THE BOOK
Finally! After reading If I Stay, and after having not shed one single real tear (my eyes got watery, that's about it) I knew a lot of my blogging pals were going to be wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I know so many of you who sobbed and sobbed over the book and I started wondering what was wrong with me, too.

But the movie kept doing this really annoying thing that I realized the book (kind of) did! Every time a really sad part was happening, it would suddenly rip you from that scene and flashback to some random part of Mia's life, or vice versa - we'd be watching a particularly touching flashback then suddenly jump back to Mia in the hospital. It was hard to connect with it when the transitions seemed to be at inopportune times and not very smooth. My sister and mom even commented to me at one point during the movie, "OMG, why do they keep doing that!?" I wondered that myself. I assume it was some kind of technique to get the emotions all over the place, and for the movie it kind of worked (I mean I was a mess either way, even if it was annoying), but with the book it made it really hard to connect.

Also, I've decided I didn't like how focused the book and movie were on the romance. Is this listed as a romance? Probably, but based on the way the story starts, I felt like it should have been more even, with just as much time spent on Mia's family, friends, music, school, boyfriend, etc. So maybe I'm being picky because this probably is listed as a contemporary romance, but I wish it'd been a bit more contemp and a little less romance.

     THE QUESTION YOU'VE ALL BE WANTING TO ASK: DID I CRY?
F*** yeah I cried. Like a damn baby! I shed about one measly tear for the book while reading it. I cried almost from beginning to end with the movie. Even with the choppy, poorly-timed transitions and Moretz's slightly less than stellar emotional scenes, I was a wreck. A freaking wreck. I remember at one point, I thought I was going to lose it - like not be able to hold in my ugly cry anymore and start sobbing and making strangled noises in the back of the theater. It was rough - really, really rough. The movie connected me to all of the feelings that I was totally missing while reading the book.

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!

I really liked this movie. The book was alright for me (I rated it 3 stars) but nothing to write home about. I wanted to feel something when I read it and finally after seeing this movie, I do! Everything I wanted to cry over, wanted to rage about, I got the chance to while watching If I Stay in theaters. It was well done, the actors, while not amazing, were great, the music was fantastic, and I fell in love with this story once and for all. I actually left the theater wanting to read Where She Went which I'd written off after finished If I Stay and not loving it. I might actually pick it up!

Did you go see If I Stay this past week? What did you think? Were you like me, blubbering like a baby regardless of the small annoyances? Or did you find it not up to your expectations? Did you read the book first or did you not bother? Loved it or hated it? Let's talk about this book and movie!

A.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

ISBN: 9781471403989
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Series: No, Stand Alone
Released: May, 2014
Length: 240 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.


Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
     REVIEW

By now I'm sure you've heard all the hype surrounding We Were Liars. Look at the blurb up there ^^^. The end of it specifically says "and if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." That's basically been everyone's MO who has read this book and reviewed it. No one will talk about it. When I was looking the book up before I read it, it was very nearly frustrating that I couldn't get any information on it other than whether it was good or not. Obviously not that I don't want to even remotely give anything away, I completely understand those reviews and why they were so vague. So I'm going to keep this really, really short.

We Were Liars is beautiful, haunting, poetic, sometimes strange. It spoke to my soul, telling me things I'd never heard before but somehow understood completely. That might sound like I've gone off the deep end, but you will understand once you read the book. It has a real "classic" feel to it that was like being in a dream and even sometimes a nightmare.

Disclaimer: I've see a lot of reviews by people who didn't like We Were Liars for various reasons. The story can be confusing at times. It's slow. It's dramatic. At times it is hard to even like the MCs, even when you understand the feelings being portrayed. And you will have absolutely no idea what is coming (unless you're like my sister who says she guessed what was going to happen like 2/3 of the way through the book, but I still don't know how).

Like I said, this is a slow book. It took me a while to really get into it but every time I picked it up, I was captivated by Cady's and the Liars' story. I loved this book so much that I finished it, then decided to re-read it the next day. That's all I can say to you without giving any of the plot away. I'm going to go cry in a corner now kbye.


     THE BREAKDOWN

RATING: ★★★★★ - Absolutely loved it!

I adored We Were Liars. After a bit of a reading slump and reading some things I just wasn't really into, WWL really surprised me. It was just fantastic. There's a very high chance that this will be a book I re-read over and over for years to come - it is just that dear to me.

Have you read We Were Liars? What did you think? I've heard from tons of people who loved it, and I can't wait to discuss this one with you, but I really want to hear from those of you who didn't like it. Other than it being slow and rather confusing until you realize what the heck is going on, what didn't you like about it? Can't wait to hear from you all!

A.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Really Want to Read but Don't Own Yet

This is gonna be a tough one for me - mainly because I have a serious book buying problem. I have over 60 books physically sitting on my shelves and I still go out and stock up on books on my TBR list just so I can have them. Even when I know I'm not going to read them for months (in some cases, years!)! Basically if I see a book I really want, I find a way to get my hands on it. Surprisingly, right now there aren't a ton of books that I really want that I don't already have. There are a few though:

TOP TEN FIVE BOOKS I REALLY WANT TO READ BUT DON'T OWN YET

1.     Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas - Yes, this is a little bit cheating, but I don't care! I NEEEED this book and some people do have ARCs and I DON'T AND I WANT IT RIGHT NOW WAAHHH.

2.     Winter by Marissa Meyer - Okay, this is 100% cheating because I'm pretty sure ARCs have not gone out for this yet. Unfortunately this was pushed back so we could read a story about freaking Queen Levana in the beginning of the year. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for Fairest but I NEED WINTER.

3.     Far From You by Tess Sharpe - This recently made it onto my TBR list and it's probably one of those ones that I will make sure gets into my hands some time very soon. A lot of my trusted blogging pals enjoyed this a lot and that's usually all it takes for me to pick something up that I was already kind of interested in.

4.     The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - I read A Thousand Splendid Suns last year which I thought was fantastic and have been wanting to read his other books and just haven't gotten around to it.

5.     Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - I'd originally had no interest in this one but after finding out that it isn't actually a horror novel, I became much more interested. I'll definitely be making a trip to the bookstore soon for this one.

What books do you really want to read but don't own yet? I can't wait to see all your lists!!

A.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

ISBN: 9780142415436
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Series: If I Stay #1
Released: April, 2009
Goodreads  |  B&N

     SUMMARY
On a day that started like any other,Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.
     REVIEW

This is going to be one of those tomato-throwing reviews. You know, the one where I tell you that I didn't really like this extremely popular book that you all love. I'm sorry. Actually, I'm not sorry. But I'd still like to not be hit with tomatoes if that's okay?

I was really excited for If I Stay. It had been on my radar as a future read for a while, Gayle Forman being who she is and all that. When I went to see The Fault in Our Stars, the trailer for If I Stay was shown. I actually had no idea what the book was about until I saw the movie trailer (sorry, geez - I'd never really looked into it) and that one little clip was enough to make me need to read it. I picked it up almost immediately and went home to dive in.

The first thing I noticed was that the writing was beautiful but simple and the dialogue was amusing but a tad bit awkward. Honestly, both of these things kind of annoyed me. It made me want to like what I was reading but it also made it difficult to like it. Mia was a teenager, a brilliant one so I can forgive it, but she spoke like a cultured adult. Even the little brother who was what, seven or eight, spoke like he was much older. It was a little too stiff and awkward for me, but like I said - I didn't hate it, it was just hard for me to enjoy as much as I wanted to.

Unfortunately, the thing that really cemented the fact that this book wasn't for me was that it didn't make me feel anything. I think I shed a total of two tears throughout the whole book. Even the love story didn't give me any feels. It was just pleasant but nothing to write home about. It did make me think, which I always appreciate in a book, especially young adult novels which always get such a bad wrap. But to me, the book was supposed to do both and I just didn't really care about Mia's struggles or having to make a choice other than feeling incredibly sad about her losing her family.

Maybe I really have an icebox where my heart used to be and I'm incapable of any human emotion because I know that it should have made me feel but it didn't. I didn't hate this book, but honestly I didn't feel much of anything about it. I had and still don't have any plans to read the sequel because I honestly just didn't connect with Mia. I might go looking for spoilers so I can know what happens to her, but I can't dedicate several days of my life to reading about it. I forgot about If I Stay the second I was done and decided to give it away, hoping someone else might like it more. Winner of said giveaway, I hope you enjoy it.

So please, hold the tomatoes. I'm just not human, that's all.

     THE BREAKDOWN


RATING: ★★★ - It was OK

Though this is a favorite of many of my trusted blogging pals, it just didn't do it for me. I still want to see the movie, actually, because I find that when I can't connect with a book but really want to, I tend to connect with the movie pretty well, such as with Vampire Academy (even though I adored the rest of the series) and TFiOS (yes, I liked this book well enough but adored the movie).

If I Stay didn't do much in the way of moving me but on the bright side it did make me think about life, it's fragility, the deaths that will one day take us all and whether or not we may have a choice to live or die, maybe not the way Mia did, but in the way we live our lives now - and what to choose if we do have that choice?

It wasn't a bad book, just not for me and I really do think it's something that a lot of others would enjoy if you haven't read it yet. I think I'm just emotionally deficient.

Have you read If I Stay yet? Did it move heaven and earth for you or were you like me, just kind of meh? I'd love to hear from you on this one!

Also, the movie comes out tonight (technically tomorrow). I'm going to go see it on Saturday, and don't you worry - if you're not sure about it, I'll let you know what I thought. Are you planning on seeing it, unsure, or totally against it? Let's talk books... and er... movies!

A.