Book Review: An Untimely Love by Tendai Huchu

Imagine. Following a young man on his journey toward a form of religious extremism that reeks of toxicity toward all of mankind.

Islamic extremism.

Would you be willing to follow this young man’s journey, Khalid Patel, keeping an open mind, watching as he struggles with what he is told is ‘his destiny’ (to become a suicide bomber), all the while watching him discover the ability to tap into the core of his humanity. Before going through the fatal act of taking out others as well as himself, we see his internal struggle. The spirit of someone who in good conscience can not see to follow through on that which is expected from him.

This is a quick read. I know, I know. You think, a book about Islamic terrorism… yikes, why/who would want to read a book with such subject matter. Though let me stop you, and tell you that above all, this is a love story. (To be honest, I wish more of the relationship building between Khalid and Smokey came into play.) It is about a young man on his journey from a clouded, misguided truth, to one in which can only be represented by human emotion- Love.

GRADE: B

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Book Review: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Before getting into the guts and at the heart of Lisa Bustein’s YA book Pretty Amy, I first want to take a moment and thank her publisher Entangled Publishing for allowing me to have an ARC (advanced reader copy), and the opportunity to read and write a review on it before the book hits shelves next month, on May 15, 2012.

With that said, let’s get right to it shall we?

Brief synopsis:

Amy is like any other young girl getting ready for her senior prom. She’s excited, and anticipating the unknown of what the night has in store for her and her two friends, Cassie and Lila. Though things go a little different then how she had played them out in her head, when she realizes that all of their dates are no where to be found, and further concluding they were stood up. Things don’t stop there. What is suppose to be a harmless fun-filled night to be filed away in the memory books, becomes more of a nightmare as the girls are arrested, and thus left having to deal with the consequences of their actions.

This book is Amy’s journey into the unknown world of growing up. A quest into self discovery- a coming of age story where we the readers experience her life and entire range of thoughts and emotions which run anywhere from anger and frustration to fear and hope.

My Review:

First off, can I say the book was pleasantly pleasing to the senses in the fact that there were no glittering in the sun vampires to be found, or heart broken howling were-wolves professing their pain to the sky’s full moon. Hey, I am just like any other girl (well I’m a grown up, mother of 2…who am I kidding) who is a fan of great Young Adult literature containing both vamps and wolves, but let’s just say, it was a refreshing change to hitch a ride to reality-ville and walk alongside on a journey with our main character, Amy…..

One of the books greatest strengths is the narrative voice emitting a strongly believable tone.

Now to the heart of what I wrestled with while reading this book. It felt like many other coming of age stories that I’ve read/heard/seen, where I wondered: what is specifically unique about this one? Though I understand that this book was probably striving less for a unique quality and more of a commonality- a way for the reader to connect to and identify with our main character. But through this quality of ‘commonality,’ I look for that which is unique, as I believe they can exist simultaneously.

But this in fact is where I run into my second problem, as I (personally) had a hard time connecting with Amy. Not because she’s not a well written character, but because I did not go through much of what her character had gone through as an adolescent. To put it more clearly, I was what many may have classified as a ‘boring’ teen. I was part of the ‘we stay home friday nights at eachothers houses, play games, watch movies, sing kareokee, stuffing our faces while making prank calls, playing truth or dare and no need of curfew ’cause we really don’t go anywhere‘ crowd. Amy’s journey was very much different then my own. Unlike Amy, I had a solid relationship with my parents and I did not experience many of the abrasive qualities Amy and her mother had.

This book, though, wasn’t a complete wash. In the bigger picture and scheme of things, (or rather in the over arching message) I was able to relate with Amy. It’s hard to be a teenager. You’re feeling insecure and most of all, you desire to fit in…to belong. That, I think, is a universal thought and feeling had by all at one point or another, and it is touched on nicely in Pretty Amy.

My Recommendation:

There are those that may have a closer connection to Amy’s character then myself, and for that reason alone, I’d recommend this book. For me personally, however, I will give it a “C” in terms of grading (see grading system on side panel) for reasons mentioned above.

GRADE: C

Reviews To Anticipate…

GWL coming soon...

Photo Courtesy of: Yungenie

So, as the billboard states (better then I ever could), there are several new reviews I’m working on that are COMING SOON (to a computer with internet access near you). I cannot wait to share them with you, and in turn know your thoughts and opinions (as always).

With that, here are just a few that you can anticpate in the near future-

Book Reviews:

  1. Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
  2. An Untimely Love by Tendai Huchu
  3. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
  4. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
  5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Move Reviews:

  1. Winters Bone (Starring Jennifer Lawrence)
  2. Limitless (Bradley Cooper & Robert De Niro)
  3. Atlas Shrugged -Part 1 (Taylor Shilling and Johansson)

Other Reviews:

  1. Top 5 female character’s who possess a badass-ness while projecting a human-ness.
  2. The Swedish Lisbeth Salander vs the Hollywood Lisbeth Salander

 

 

Book Review: Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”

Coffee anyone? I felt like I was on a caffeine high while reading Stieg Larsson’s mystery/thriller novel, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. On so many levels, I found this to be a really great book, along with being an enjoyably suspenseful and heart palpitating read. “What was so good about it,” you ask… “Well,” I say in return. “Sit down… let’s have a chat… and let me tell you...”

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kobo edition)

Photo Courtesy of: I am I.A.M

1. First of all: I love every mention of the word coffee.. I love coffee, and felt it served as a healthy reminder of my need to quench the parchness of my taste buds.

2. Readability: I welcomed the change from YA (don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the YA genre, though it was a nice change of pace to be outside of it)

3. The characters: Let me explain. When I dive head first into a book, one of the first few things I look for are the characters and how they are described, their behaviors, personalities and how the interact with the other characters of the book. One of the questions I ask myself is: are these characters believable as “real people” or do they just seem like mere puppets being pulled by the strings of the author, aka puppet master. If the characters feel staged, fake, or lacking of true human complexity and yet simplicity all within the same moment, I completely disengage. When I’m reading, I look to connect with these characters. Identify with them. Does the character/person’s happiness, excitement, fear, or sadness feel real/legitimate… I don’t just see the people in Larsson’s novel as mere characters inked across a page. I can see them as real people. Why?/How? Because I am conscious of the world I live in and see how people say things without verbally having to say them. Body language. Quiet facial expressions. They are words… or rather represent words. And we all do it. We all don’t say everything that is at the tip of our brain. We have filters. Some of us don’t say exactly whats on our mind in every given moment of every given day simply because we don’t want to offend someone, or it is because we have built up walls around ourselves and are afraid to show our own vulnerabilities to the world. And Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, is one of these people. She is quiet, doesn’t speak much, though through her actions and the unspoken body language, she communicates quite effectively her intentions. Long story short, I dig the complexity of this character and all the others in the book as well. They feel multidimensional… and it was simply refreshing to read.

4. What Blomkvist, the journalist, represents: He is a truth seeker/crusader. A warrior for the people. He feels his duty, as a journalist, is to uncover the truths that scads of people work to cover up and hide.

5. The Suspense: I love a good mystery. A puzzle that will keep you guessing til the end. This book will definitely serve up nothing less. Though the puzzle in finding out what happened to Harriet Vanger, niece to high profiled industrialist Henrik Vanger, took a momentary leap to the backseat while I, the reader, was totally wrapped up in the current situation Lisbeth was in with her guardian. This is where character complexity comes into play. There is more back story to her character, though you just can’t get at it (at least in the first book). So you read, looking to know more.

6. The Story: Yep. It’s not your Doris Day, Shirley Temple read that will leave you unaffected and smiling, grinning from ear to ear. It’s full of ugly things (hate, rape, murder, lies, thievery, manipulation, etc) though who said life is always pretty pearls, and pb&j sandwiches. Life can get ugly, and this book just openly talks about it.

Have you read it? If so, what were your thoughts? If not, read it, then come back and let’s chat. Would love to know your thoughts/take.

**Disclaimer** This book has some scenes that may be hard to digest, subject matter wise. I would recommend this book to those who are ok with reading material that contains: bad language (cuss/swear words), sex, and violence.

Grade: +

Movie Review: The Hunger Games luandry list, airing it out to dry…

Call it unbelievably high expectations where in fact the movie could never stand a chance. That could definitely be the reasoning behind the somewhat bummed and disappointed feeling I had when the theater lights rained down and the credits scrolled up. Maybe it just goes back to the old saying of, “the book is always better.” …Maybe. But I feel that some concrete-ness should be applied when speaking of the successful book turned movie franchise, The Hunger Games.

Jennifer Lawrence

Photo Courtesy of: crushermerchant

THE NEGATIVES:

  • The scenes, at times, felt choppy and didn’t transition well. Often times, felt segmented.
  • The Cornucopia I pictured, when reading the book, to be a grand structure that just didn’t seem to translate well on-screen. Though I immediately forgave this as how could such a structure satisfy millions of imaginations who had already built it perfectly.
  • The history of the mockingjay, and mention of the jabber-jays, didn’t make the final cut.
  • The inability to be inside Katniss’s head. A fellow critic put it well when he said,

Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net

“…you’ll certainly get more out of the movie if you’ve read the book and can fill in the blanks.”

  • While the dogs were almost pit-bull in appearance, in the book were described to be wolf-like. I see no rational reason for changing this detail in the movie. And didn’t they possess human-like eyes. This was left entirely out.
  • The dandelion scene, signifying hope, was never realized.
  • The added scenes in the rose garden with Snow seemed to be minutes taken away from the film that could have been used to help better develop the scenes that actually did happened, though felt rushed.
  • Many of the key relationships seemed underdeveloped.

THE POSITIVES:

  • Jennifer Lawrence is phenomenal. Her embodiment of Katniss is like a hand finding it’s perfectly matched glove. Without her portrayal, this movie would be unsurvivable.
  • The cheering, unfeeling/lack of empathy Capitol was represented well. The ignorant collective being cheering as if the annual Hunger Games was a football game or caged fighting match.

But let’s remember that I am a big fan of this series. And although I feel the movie underperformed to the level I had anticipated, I will definitely stay tuned for the next installment.

GRADE: ^ (refer to rating system on left column)

Music Review: The Hunger Games Soundtrack

//mockingjay

Photo Courtesy of: Austin Graver

Old time sound in a futuristic world. Many of the Songs From District 12, The Hunger Games soundtrack, possess this quality.  During the first listen, I could detect shared threads of tone with musicians such as Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss.

Which I happen to think is really pretty genius.

Firstly, I want to share with you some of the songs that have already become my favorites. Abrahams’ Daughter by Arcade Fire, Tomorrow Will Be Kinder by The Secret Sisters, and Come Away To The Water by Maroon 5 (featuring Rozzi Crane).

Though, some of the songs do not have a quiet melody, such as Birdy’s Just a Game, or Taylor Swift’s (Civil Wars) Safe and Sound. Truly, a few of them sound ugly (The Ruler and The Killer by Kid Cudi and Take The Heartland by Glen Hansard), though who said The Hunger Games was a pretty book full of daisy’s, endless sunshine, and belly’s full of bread?

The album is a cohesive collection that reflects Collin’s Panem, and evokes all the feeling, thoughtfulness, and emotion emiting from the page. As far as I’m concerned… The soundtrack has given justice to what this book speaks of and represents. I don’t give letter grades, so I’ll satisfy you in saying….

GRADE: +

Upcoming Reviews

The Hunger GamesThe Girl With The Dragon TattooAtlas Shrugged
Please, oh please do forgive the absence I’ve created. I have to dust this blog off, and shine it with some new reviews that I literally just cannot wait to share with you… I’ve got a few things I’m working on and upon finishing them, I will be reviewing them for your enjoyment and think you will find them to be both witty and helpful, and containing a little magic… no, I’m no boy wizard, are glittering vamp… there’s just only so much one girl can do.

Though here’s a list of things I’m working on, and hoping you’ll stay tuned for:

REVIEWS:

  • The Hunger Games book
  • The Hunger Games Soundtrack (review on March 21, 2012)
  • The Hunger Games Movie (review on March 23, 2012)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book (March 30, 2012)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie (TBA)
  • Atlas Shrugged book and movie (TBA)