After finishing a book about WWII, my initial reaction is "NO. NEVER AGAIN. THAT WAS TOO SAD AND I DON'T WANT TO SOB UNCONTROLLABLY WHILE READING. I H...moreAfter finishing a book about WWII, my initial reaction is "NO. NEVER AGAIN. THAT WAS TOO SAD AND I DON'T WANT TO SOB UNCONTROLLABLY WHILE READING. I HAVE TOO MANY FEELINGS" (or something like that). But seriously, WWII books are real downers, for obvious reasons, and I tend to avoid them. So why on earth did I pick up Sarah's Key? Obviously I like torturing myself.
We get a split universe of sorts in Sarah's Key. One world is that of Sarah, and young girl in 1940s Paris. When police officers come to round up her and her Jewish family, she locks her little brother in a cupboard for safe keeping until they return. Her last words to him are a promise that she'll come back for them. Unfortunately, to her unknowing, she and her parents are to be taken to a concentration camp. We follow her amazing and heartbreaking story through the concentration camp as her only wish is to get back to her brother.
On the other hand, we also meet Julia, a journalist in modern day Paris. She does some research on Paris' involvement in WWII and digs up information on Sarah's story and family. Feeling deeply connected to her, Julia tries to track down Sarah's fate and see if she's still alive. Normally I don't like when there are two characters with completely different storylines in a book; usually it seems that one doesn't belong. However, I really enjoyed Julia's story and her own family problems. It's a book I would've read on its own.
I really can't stop raving about Sarah's Key. I've recommended it to everyone I know, even those who aren't readers. It's an amazing story that may not always have happy endings and will leave you feeling sick to your stomach at times, but will still inspire you the same. (less)
Kicking off my Harry Potter reread, I started the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone t. It almost makes me giggle how tiny this book is...moreKicking off my Harry Potter reread, I started the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone t. It almost makes me giggle how tiny this book is! My version is around 380 pages......a mere baby compared to The Order of the Phoenix at 900 pages. I'm on page 147; Harry is just about to get sorted into his house. There hasn't been much action yet, just a sniffy Hermione and the start of many descriptions of how green Harry's eyes are.In my opinion, the Dursleys don't get enough screen time in the film! Mr. Dursley's antics to keep Harry out of Hogwarts are hilarious in the book. Also, I'm going to try and restrain myself from comparing the books and the movies, but I do like how The Sorcerer's Stone movie takes lines word for word out of the book. It's much more accurate than the latter movies.More thoughts later! --*-- I finished The Sorcerer's Stone in less than 36 hours! I was reading this in the atrium outside of one of my classes and I got some weird looks from two boys. I proceeded to mentally give them the finger...wait until I break out my Sex with the Queen book! Can I just say that I am so jealous of those people who were infinitely smarter than me and started reading this series as soon as it came out? I actually read them for the first time last summer. If I enjoyed them as much as I did at 18, I can't imagine how much more amazing they could have been at 7. This is still one of the books that I wish I could read for the very first time again. It's easy to tell that this was a children's/young adult book. J.K. very effectively has the writing style 'grow up' with Harry and the readers as well. I loved re-meeting the characters that we see evolve through the following years. I also noticed a lot of points and details that maybe went unanswered in the first book, yet resurface and are answered in later books (such as why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts). It's nice to see clues tie up neatly! I don't know how many of you have ever read any of The Baby-Sitter Club books, but those 13 and 11 year old girls never had adult supervision and did crazy things like solve mysteries and medically diagnose children all while never telling any adults what was going on. Harry, Ron and Hermione remind me of The Baby-Sitters Club in that sense - they are some of the sneakiest kids ever! It ends up making Dumbledore and the other professors look irresponsible. While reading through the book and thinking about the series as a whole, something occurred to me that I find interesting. When people are asked who their favorite characters from the entire series are, you get answers like Ron, Snape, Luna, the Weasely twins (my personal favorites), or Lupin. Very rarely is somebody's favorite character Harry...you know, the namesake of the series. Why is that? Sometimes I think that Harry is actually the most overlooked and forgettable character. Is that bad writing/character development on J.K.'s part? Is Harry just a so-so hero? I'm not sure what to make of this. Thoughts? I enjoyed re-reading this one book more than anything else I've done this month! On to The Chamber of Secrets! (less)
I've never really been one for memoirs written by celebrities. In a genre overrun with "books" by Miley Cyrus and Spencer Pratt/Heidi Montag (barf), i...moreI've never really been one for memoirs written by celebrities. In a genre overrun with "books" by Miley Cyrus and Spencer Pratt/Heidi Montag (barf), it's rare to just find a witty, fun book by a down-to-Earth celebrity. I recently gave Tina Fey's Bossypants a try and since I liked it so much, I hoped that Mindy Kaling's book would be just as great.
Mindy covers her life as a "chubster" kid, her college years, and how she got to her position in comedy as an actress, writer, and director. She also throws in other "life lessons," such as karaoke etiquette and how men should properly dress (amen). Two of my favorite quotes are "There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it,” and "Bren and I befriended each other early on. We clung to each other with blind loyalty, like Lord Voldemort and his snake, Nagini. I, of course, was Nagini."
My favorite section was the part about her life working and acting on The Office, which used to be my favorite television show ("used to" as in I got extremely bored not long after Michael left and haven't watched since). She quickly establishes that she is NOT like her character Kelly, at least in the bad ways. Mindy has injected so much of her personality into her work and it really shows. I loved hearing about the different actors on and off set, as well as the writing process and finding out which episodes and bits Mindy wrote or came up with (Kevin spilling chili all over himself/the floor in a cold opening was her brainchild? Excellent).
There have been a lot of negative reviews about the book, dismissing it as pure fluff and having no substance. What did you expect? This isn't high literature, it's just fun. The overall tone is very casual, as if you are just talking to a friend. The book isn't chronological and arranged in neat chapters, it's more or less a collection of random thoughts/reflections. It can seem a bit spazzy at times or egotistical. She also spends a lot of time professing her love for Amy Poehler, but really, who doesn't love her?(less)
Oh wow. I'd totally forgotten about my HP re-read! I read Sorcerer's Stone at the end of July...and nothing until now. Since I've had a long weekend, I finished Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban! I'll just focus on the second book for now.
So how about this book cover? This is the 'adult' version of the book, for those adults who deem themselves too sophisticated to be seen with a normal Harry Potter book (they look class but are really expensive). Anyways, in normal J.K. style, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has gotten just a wee bit bigger than the last book. This didn't stop me from reading it in less than 5 hours, but because I read it so fast, I'm not sure I am able to collect my thoughts for this review as easily...if that even makes sense!
So in this book, Harry has returned for his second year at Hogwarts. We are introduced to new characters such as Dobby, the insane house-elf, and Gilderoy Lockhart, the narcissistic Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. We get to learn more about Ron and his strange but lovable family. Snape is still a prick, Hermione is still the tolerable know-it-all, and Dumbledore is still our magical Santa Claus.
As in the previous book, Harry has bitten off more than he can chew. He, Hermione and Ron were the only ones aware of the troubles in the school in the last book, but here, the whole school is aware of the new dangers haunting Hogwarts. Unlike the last book, these troubles are in the present, not the past, which makes the action run smoother.
As in all the books, one of my favorite aspects of Harry's world is the creativity/usefulness/hilarity of the spells! A favorite of mine is ducklifors (used to turn someone into a duck. Why?). Avis causes a flock of ducks to fly out of the tip of the wand. In this particular book, Ron's faulty wand backfires....causing him to vomit slugs uncontrollably. The creativity (or in this case, disgusting-ness) always amazes me! On a related not, Ron was quite excellent in the film, especially the slug scene (at the left) and in the Forbidden Forest with the spiders.
A lot of HP fans don't especially like this book. The biggest reason I've seen is because of Dobby. It seems that he is a rip-off of Jar-Jar from Star Wars (I've always pictured him as Smeagol) and this sends people into a flurry. I personally don't care for Dobby that much, but since he plays a larger role later on, I put up with him. And to my delight, there is a nice amount of Weasley twin mania in the book to keep me more than satisfied! :) Well, that's it for this review. It's not as good as it could of been, but the new school term has really been killing me and I've had an ever enduring sinus infection. I'll put up my Prisoner of Azkaban review sometime next week!(less)
I think this may be my favorite book in the entire series.
Why? Remus Lupin, who is probably the most awesome person EVER. He's a werewolf, but not one...moreI think this may be my favorite book in the entire series.
Why? Remus Lupin, who is probably the most awesome person EVER. He's a werewolf, but not one of those kinds that takes their shirt off every five seconds, like you find in other places...hmph. He may dress like a homeless person, but he's kind, a great teacher, and even has a creepy little mustache in the film.
Anyways, Harry is back for his third year at Hogwarts (even though we have a hilarious encounter with his aunt blowing up in the beginning). This crazy murderer, Sirius Black, is after him and causing havoc all around Harry (big surprise there). It is interesting and suspenseful to see how that interations between Snape, Dumbledore, Harry's parent's, Sirius, and Ron's rat all link together in the end! Speaking of Ron's rat, I love the 'tension' between Scabbers and Crookshanks. Talk about odd foreshadowing. I also love (in an creepy, twisted way) the Dementors.
Something else I noticed is how amazingly long the book is, even though it's one of the shortest books. It almost feels as if it's three books shoved into one: book 1 being Harry's summer and majority of the year at Hogwarts, book 2 as Sirius' pursuit of Harry and the whole Shrieking Shack confrontation/Lupin is a werewolf/Scabbers is really an overweight man in a rat's body debacle, and then book 3 is when Harry and Hermione go back in time to save Buckbeak and Sirius. Whew. I don't know if it's an overkill or a miracle. It feels a bit overwhelming at times.
Let's talk about the movie. The third film got a new director and it had a totally new feel to it. There were little visual things I liked, such as the Whomping Willow showing the changes in the seasons, yet overall I disliked how different the movie was as compared to the previous two. Now to the biggest change of all: Dumbledore. The actor who played Dumbledore in the two other films died and Michael Gambon replaced him. His Dumbledore is much more full of life (truthfully, the other actor put me to sleep sometimes with his amazingly slow speech), yet is very loud and almost aggressive. In the later movies, I'd call him scary, which is definitely not true about him. Which actor did you like better?
Goblet of Fire may not be posted for awhile - I haven't even started it yet and it's about 3 times as big as this one. I also have other books I want to read first. Let's hope I can read the whole series before the movie comes out, fingers crossed! (less)
I swear I didn't forget about my Harry Potter re-read. Sadly though, I didn't get to finish the whole series before Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows came...moreI swear I didn't forget about my Harry Potter re-read. Sadly though, I didn't get to finish the whole series before Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows came out; I'm aiming for part 2 now. I read book 4 and 5 in less than a week, so I'm back on track!
[Image]OK, on to the Goblet of Fire. The first time I read the series, this book was by far my least favorite. Several big things bugged me (not to mention the length freaked me out, but I definitely got over that as the series continued), yet when I re-read it, I realized it's not so bad. I appreciate it much more now.
The beginning of the book is all about the Quidditch World Cup, where I was heartily reminded of the FIFA World Cup (cue the vuvuzelas! *bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*). The whole concept of how the wizards concealed their ginormous stadium from the muggles and set up portkeys was fascinating! Wizards from all over the world attended, and a tidbit I found interesting were the witches from the Salem Institute in the US. Ha! Later at Hogwarts, Harry and his fellow Hogwartians find out that a prestigious and ancient tournament will be held at their school and that they will be getting some guest students from other magical schools. Harry's usual luck follows him into this book and he is accidentally chosen to compete. The rest of the book follows him and the other contestants as they fight dragons, demon-possessed mermaids, and trippy mazes. Everything climaxes at the end when Harry meets Voldemort in the flesh. Lord V. is no longer attached to the back of people's heads or remembered through dreams - he's legit now. Just in the last 100 or so pages, you know that the rest of the series is going to get a whole lot darker.
Movie time! I have several things I'd like to point out about this particular movie, the first being THE HAIR. In the summer of 1994, almost every male character apparently turned hippy-ish and grew super long hair. Why?? Everyone is clean shorn in the very next movie........yeah I know, this isn't a major catastrophe, it just bugs me majorly. Second of all, MAD EYE MOODY/ BARTY CROUCH JR IS THE DOCTOR. Even though he's the bad guy, I couldn't help loving him just for that fact alone. Third......yes, you knew it was coming. Robert Pattinson when he was actually taken seriously. He played Cedric Diggory, Harry's fellow Hogwarts champion who was killed by Wormtail. After R-Patz achieved his fame through Edward Cullen, I was amazed at how many people (well, girls) stated that their all-time favorite Harry Potter character was Cedric. Really?
Well, I don't really know what else to say about this one. It is still my least favorite, but I like it for that fact that it is the last book where Harry is truly a child. He's definitely growing up, but he's still innocent, so to speak. It's grown on me. I think my favorite part in the whole book is when the Weasleys come to pick up Harry to go to the World Cup and the twins turn Dudley's tongue into a 4 foot long purple monster. I would have loveddd to see that in the movie.(less)
The majority of the YA/contemporary book blogging world is afflicted with a condition known as "John Green-itis." Once you've caught it, you feel a va...moreThe majority of the YA/contemporary book blogging world is afflicted with a condition known as "John Green-itis." Once you've caught it, you feel a variety of symptoms such as breaking out in hysterical laughter, delving into deep thought, over the simplest sentence he's written, and crying until you actually feel as if you are empty inside and will never live again. Until recently, I'd avoided this epidemic. However, when I saw a shiny copy of The Fault in Our Stars staring at me from the library shelves, I gave into temptation.
I've caught a bad case of John Green-itis.
The Fault in Our Stars is Hazel and Gus's story of how they met, fell in love, and lost everything. They are young cancer survivors who meet suddenly at a support group. They aren't your typical teenagers, both physically and mentally, which makes them the perfect fit for each other. This isn't a book on how the character is learning to adjust to cancer or the aftermath; they've already been through that. This is a love story and cancer is just a side-story. I loved each and every character; I felt as if they were all there for a specific purpose and no one was superfluous. Of course, our main characters are the best. Hazel and Gus are so intuitive, quirky, and complex. I saw another reviewer of the book say "We need more Augustus Waters in this world" and nothing could be farther from the truth.
I realize that this is a pretty terrible review, but honestly, no words could do it justice. This is one of the most quotable books I've ever come across. There are such deeply profound thoughts, as well as sentences that are just plain hilarious. If the copy I'd been reading wasn't from the library, I would've highlighted the hell out of it. (less)
I received Bitter Greens about a week ago in the mail and was pretty worried that I wouldn't get it finished in time. However, even at almost 500 page...moreI received Bitter Greens about a week ago in the mail and was pretty worried that I wouldn't get it finished in time. However, even at almost 500 pages, I finished it in less than 12 hours! It was simply - and I don't EVER use this word lightly - unputdownable and is already a contender for my favorite book of 2013.
Bitter Greens is a retelling of the fairy tale about Rapunzel, but it still so much more than that. It's the story of three women: Selena, a great Venetian beauty in the early 16th century, who in order to preserve her youthful looks, kidnaps Margherita (of course not named Rapunzel, but that still has a part) in order to feed off of her youth, and Charlotte-Rose, a former lady in the court of French king Louis XIV who has been banished to a nunnery and is having the story of Selena and Margherita told to her. Sound confusing? It may be at first - if you need a better explanation, click HERE for the book's goodreads page. The POVs are not sequential and jump around a fair bit, but soon enough you'll get used to this. Kate Forsyth is one of the most wonderful storytellers I've come across - everything from the decadence of Versailles to the stink of Venice was written so vividly.
Charlotte-Rose's story is by far my favorite. Of course I love reading about kings and their courts, but Louis XIV is one of the best and Charlotte-Rose's role in it all was intriguing. She is a person who really existed and is a wonderful person to read about. She wrote books, was sassy to the king, and rescued her lover by dressing up as a bear. It was interesting to see her change from a fancy, liberal court lady to a humble woman in a nunnery. I can't wait to check out some biographies about her! In all three stories, witchcraft plays quite a big role, and as a historical novel, there is always some danger in those stories. Bitter Greens is a great look into the beliefs and laws of the times. God forbid if you were anything but Catholic in either France or Italy during these times! You'll certainly read about these wars and prejudices as well. I love that I received subtle history knowledge while reading an entertaining story.(less)