Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book vs. Movie Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies, the Book:

Publisher's Description:
A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel. 
R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.


In this quaint not-quite-traditional Zombie love story, our lovable, but definitely dead, protagonist R, meets and falls in love with a young woman after consuming the brains of her boyfriend, and thus his memories. Easy to read, fun, light and full of hope and plenty of chuckling, I really enjoyed Warm Bodies. I think it'll translate nicely on to the screen as a lighthearted comedy (look for a movie review coming soon too!)

I love, love, loved R's voice. His inner monologue is much more extensive than what he's actually able to verbalize, but subtly gets better throughout the book as he gets his feelings and humanity back again. He still retains a few very human aspects - his love of music for example.

I also really enjoyed the thought Marion put into the post-apocolyptic Zombie world. The little details like the city in a stadium, the zombie-land at the airport and the different factions and jobs people take after the Zombie-plyse are nice details that set this "zombie-novel" apart from others.

Warm Bodies, the Movie:

I finally got a chance to go see the Warm Bodies movie last night after I won a Fandango gift certificate!

What I liked: The tone of the movie and the style in which it was filmed really kept the feeling of the novel. R's monologues are almost word for word out of the book and the first two thirds of the movie stick almost exactly to the plot line of the novel. Nick Hoult makes an amazing R, he's kind of awkward and dead, but still loveable. He's not over the top either as a zombie or a human and really portrays "I'm just a kid that got stuck in this weird situation" really well. Teresa Palmer reminded me a lot of a much better Kristen Stewart (maybe just because she has similar facial features when she's acting) and I thought she made an excellent Julie. I wasn't too invested in either of the characters ahead of time though, so I wouldn't have been too picky about who played them anyway. The soundtrack, by the way, is fantastic.

What I didn't like: There are major changes to the end. Warm Bodies the novel is the first in a series and is left very open ended. The movie, naturally, goes further and ties up all of the open strings. I really loved the idea of this city within a stadium that didn't really come to life in the movie. They also took some creative liberties with the city (which is supposed to be post-apocolyptic impoverished, not mansion-y). Also can I say what the hell?? to the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene in the movie? Where did that come from? And whyyyy on earth was it put it? So terrible! It almost ruined the rest of the movie from me. Come on now, your viewers aren't so dumb that they don't realize that "R" and "Julie" and "M" aren't based loosely off of Romeo and Juliet! Yuck.

Overall: Would totally go see it again, would probably buy the movie on DVD. I just adored the feel of the movie. I know that's very ambiguous, but it was clever, funny, and beautiful with a kickin soundtrack.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Lynn's Auto-Buy Authors

On this week's Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, we're talking auto-buy authors. Those wait-for-the-newest-release authors, the gotta-be-good-gotta-get-it authors, and the when-all-else-fails authors.

These are my auto-buy authors (which doesn't necessarily mean favorite authors). These are the authors who I've liked most of their books. If given the choice between buying one of their newest books and an unknown, I'm likely to pick up theirs.

I was pretty pleased at how quickly this list formed and how many authors of different genres there are on it. So without further ado, my list:

1. Chuck Palahniuk - author of Fight Club and Invisible Monsters.
Chuck Palahniuk is actually one of my all-time favorite authors. Doesn't mean I love everything he writes all of the time, but I really love his writing style and have come to appreciate even his quirkiest books. Fight Club is incredible, but doesn't even rank in the Top 3 of his best books.
2. Gillian Flynn - author of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects.
I fist discovered Flynn when Gone Girl hit the bestseller list and quickly devoured her other two books. Both Sharp Objects and Dark Places are darker and much better than Goen Girl. I usually recommend her with the caveat that she's a horror writer, so people have some idea of what they're getting into.
3. Julie James - author of Something About You and Practice Makes Perfect.
Julie James doesn't write books fast enough! Her FBI/U.S. Attorney series is one of my favorites. Who doesn't love a strong, intelligent chick lit book? And as a law student, I just love that I can relate... well sort of, where's my hunky FBI agent, huh?
4. Christopher Moore - author of Lamb and Fluke.
One of my favorite humor writers, Christopher Moore has a very unique writing style. His stories are fantastical bordering on absurd but always keep me in stitches. If you haven't read anything by Moore, start with the heartwarming and hilarious Lamb, the story of Jesus' childhood, as told by his best friend, Biff.
5. Ian McEwan - author of Atonement and Enduring Love.
Although Atonement is probably McEwan's best known novel, I was introduced to his incredible writing through Enduring Love on (a off the record) recommendation from my high school literature teacher. Enduring Love is an incredible love story, told in McEwan's powerful language. Since then I've read just about everything (although his newest release Sweet Tooth, is on my TBR list.) I also highly recommend Saturday 
6. Suzanne Collinsauthor of The Hunger Games trilogy.
Even better than the movie, the Hunger Games are incredibly detailed and beautifully written. If and when Suzanne Collins writes another series, I will probably be standing in line waiting for it.
7. J.K. Rowlingauthor of the beloved Harry Potter series.
Come on, you knew this list wouldn't be complete without the author who wrote seven books of the most incredible series of our lifetime. I picked up the Casual Vacancy last summer when it came out, and while I hated it (and no, not just because it wasn't Harry Potter) I would still race to get my hands on anything Rowling wrote.
8. Charlaine Harris - author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels.
Charlaine Harris is one of my favorite guilty-pleasure authors. The Sookie Stackhouse series is pretty lengthy, which is wonderful when you just want to spend days being completely engulfed in another world entirely. I've read some of her other series and while I didn't like them quite as much, you know I'm on the reserve for every Sookie Stackhouse book as soon as it's released.
9. Erik Larson - author of Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts.
The wonderful thing about Erik Larson is how completely unique his novels are. Mostly non-fiction but with the touch of a story teller, Larson has the incredible ability to make a single moment in history come to life. Both of his novels have been incredible as I'm sure his next will be as well.
10. Tamora Pierce - author of the Song of the Lioness and Protector of the Small series.
I loved Tomaora Pierce and the entire Tortall series growing up. I think I still have her books lined up on my shelves in the basement or in a box, I never could get up the courage to donate them or give them away for good. I read absolutely everything I could get my hands on and they were so great. I would highly recommend them to young girls looking for amazingly strong female protagonists. 

 There you have it, my top ten must buy authors!
What are yours?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Publisher's Description:
Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment. 
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. 
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.


Alright folks, you've heard this story before...

Scene: high school science classroom

Cast: awkward teenage high school girl, interested mostly in her academics and not in guys; confident, handsome, quiet but snarky guy (who looks like a teenager but is really hundreds of years old)

Plot: Hot, smart, bad boy is strangely attracted to awkward young shy girl. Shy girl resists, then can't deny the attraction between them and isn't sure if she can trust him at first...

No, we're not talking about Twilight... this is Hush, Hush folks. Instead of vampires we have angels and "fallen angels" and instead of Bella we have... Nora. Really we just have Bella again with another name. The really unfortunate part of the novel is that the supporting characters aren't even as good as the ones in Twilight (and that's saying something because I didn't even like Twilight).

Let's see, we have Vee - the extremely dense, hair twirling, lollypop sucking idiot of a best friend. Vee is shallow and self-centered. She's entirely expendable until the second she's used as collateral, and suddenly Nora can't live with the thought of anyone hurting them... what? Her mother is clueless and convienantly out of town all the time and the police never fill her in on what's going on. Twiddle-dee and twiddle-dum who are supposed to be the "villians" just seem like roid-rage meatheads, again, until the last second when -poof- one of them becomes pure evil. Hmm, okay, what?

The mythology is just so... off. It attempts (I think) to draw from the Bible, but is so inaccurate that I'm not entirely sure that the author isn't just making up her own crap. I know this series is popular online, but holy crap YA readers, get some standards. Expect your authors to make their own stories instead of stealing other's. (Not even good ones at that.)

Can we get over this whole guy-saving-the-girl-at-the-end-makes-up-for-him-sexually-harassing-her thing already? Sheesh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite [Classic] Characters

This week's Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and Bookish has us discussing our favorite characters from whatever genre we choose. This week I chose the classics genre - because more often than not, I hate characters more than I love them and this was the only category I could find 10 characters I loved!

(P.S. - Yes this is a day late, but in my defense, I started writing it yesterday...)

1. Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind 

I think I fell in love with Rhett Butler the very first time I read the book (of many, many re-readings of Gone with the Wind.) I loved his stubbornness, his ingenuity (he was a rum-runner after all), his romantic side, the fact that he wouldn't let Scarlet push him over even though he was madly in love with her, their bickering, sigh, just... everything.

2. Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings 

To me, Sam is one of the best characters ever written. Is there any character who better exemplifies true love? ... 
and I don't mean that in the way that over-zealous online fan-groups do. Sam is one of the greatest friends in the history of literature, literally willing to walk through the fires of Mordor by his friend's side to support him. I loved reading about Sam and his loyalty, kindness, bravery and dedication even more than I loved reading about Frodo's adventures (and that's saying a lot...).

3. Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby
I think Nick Carraway is one of the most underrated characters in The Great Gatsby. We see everything as he sees it while at the same time recognizing the things that he chooses not to acknowledge. He's a romantic at heart while being sucked into this insane world that while he's infatuated by, he's not not entirely a part of. If you've ever felt on the outside of the "cool" group, then Nick Carraway is the perfect character to relate to.

4. Hester Prynne from the Scarlet Letter

I really love strong female lead characters who stand up to the social norms around them (you'll see this as a reoccurring theme on this blog). I've always loved The Scarlet Letter because I think there are so many parallels to modern society still. Hester Prynne's self respect and love for her child struck me so strongly when I had to read it in high school. I still think the story bears a strong moral for most readers and love Hester as a protagonist. Confession: I actually love the idea of this book as a high school English assignment and think it's a great reminder for most high school girls
5. Ponyboy from the Outsiders 

Ponyboy, oh Ponyboy, besides suffering through the most horrific nickname in the history of nicknames, you put up with so much. There's something about how Ponyboy grows up throughout the novel without losing his innate innocence and optimism that won me over heart and soul. Ponyboy reflects what so many of us wish the world was like, easily divisible into black and white, greasers and socs. We tend to put things in nice, neatly labelled boxes the same way Ponyboy does, and we learn the lessons about the dangers of doing so through him (rather than you know, getting caught up in a murder ourselves.)
6. The unnamed narrator from Rebecca

Although she is never named in the book and is significantly overshadowed by the late Rebecca, the narrator is one of my favorite characters. Thrown into one of the most tumultuous situations, the author is able to keep her remarkably human. She's emotional and she's protective; she's paranoid and she's a rationalizer - she does what many of us would do in the same situation. She's not perfect and at times she's not even loveable. Throughout most of the book sometimes we forget that she's the narrator at all - just wishing the novel would get on with it already and discover the secrets. She's a quiet but constant present and there would be no novel without her.
7. Antigone from Antigone

Have I mentioned how much I love strong female protagonists from a patriarchical era? Meet the original, Antigone - the brave woman who fights the King for love. And no, not romantic love, familial love. (Have I mentioned how much I love characters with strong platonic or familial love yet? *cough* Sam *cough*) Antigone fights the King for the right to bury her brother after his less than honorable death, bringing the reader to series of ethical and legal questions as only Sophocles can. BUT! She's also passionate, funny and wonderfully feminine throughout it all, right

8. Milo from the Phantom Tollbooth

First of all, yes, I consider the Phantom Tollbooth a classic. at least it has been in my life. First published in 1961, my dad grew up reading the book and read it to my brother and I, and I am sure I'll do the same with my children.

Milo, the young, disaffected bored child doesn't know what to do with himself most days. Then he makes the wonderful discovery that every child makes that life itself is the journey and that you make your own adventure. Milo acts as the perfect relatable character for his transformation and journey from mildly spoiled complain-y kid, to independent everyday adventurer.

...the next two you might also disagree should be considered "classics" but this is my book blog and I shall categorize as I please... 

9. Professor McGonagall and 10. Hermione from Harry Potter

It's a strong female protagonist.

(But you know, a good one, not a Bella Swan I'm-so-strong-because-I-almost-killed-myself-when-my-boyfriend-dumped-me one, ugh.)

First, McGonagall reminded me very much of a Spanish teacher I had in high school that I loved. Smart, sharp, independent, took crap from no one, not even the chosen one. Actually in some ways, McGonagall reminds me of a grown-up Hermione. She's the backbone of so much of the series, she is both comfort and strength in a dark time and cracks the whip when the rest of the characters are too busy bandying about with trolls to realize what's actually brewing.

Hermione, Hermione, what is there to say about her. I love that Rowling wrote such a brilliantly smart female lead, whose main characteristic is her intelligence and her loyalty to her friends, then followed by her romantic involvements. She's neither infallible (Krum) nor blind (Ron) but seems to well, have a good head on her shoulders. Besides, as I've mentioned, I'm a sucker for intense platonic love and fielilty and next to Ron, Hermione is one of the most intensely loyal characters in the book.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Publisher's Summary:
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand. 
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.



I had to give Beautiful Disaster 3 stars because (like so many other readers, it seems) I was torn between giving it 5 and giving it none. I had a real love-hate relationship with this book.

5 stars for: the chemistry, and the heartbreak, and the muscles, and the cursing, and the sex appeal, and a lead female who has to be tutor-ed instead of being the one doing the tutoring, and for it not being fantasy, and for it not being set in high school.

0 stars for: the entire second half of the book, for dramatic plot point after dramatic plot point that seem completely unnecessary and unrealistic, for dragging the book on way too long, for unnecessary fights, for the worst epilogue in the history of epilogues (straight cheese guys) for allowing men and women to think it's okay to be absolutely off their rocker cray when having sex and mostly to


Because you know, OHEMGEE, women can't have sex or they're whores. Or "sorority bitches" as they're referred to in the book. (As a sorority bitch myself who would rather read than jump into bed with some muscle-y guy, why all the hate?)

The book kind of sucks from a literary perspective but major props to Jamie McGuire for writing a book where I hated most of the characters and yet I could not put it down. Not for a second. Not to walk from the elliptical to my car. Not to walk from my car to the house. I did nothing until I finished that book. So 5 stars for that.

Summary: Not a bad trashy read, grab it on the beach, don't get too invested or offended by the characters and enjoy the sexual tension.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Romances in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a link-up hosted by Broke and Bookish every Tuesday. This week's topic in honor of upcoming Valentine's Day is "Romances in Books." So here are my favorite romantic reads:

“I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I'm tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that's been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by abscense?”
1. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
One of my all time favorite books and one of the greatest romances ever to grace the page. Is there anything more heart-wrenching than waiting for love to return to you?

“No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”
2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Another classic romance! I grew up loving Rhett and Scarlett's tumultuous, passionate relationship. They bickered and fought bitterly but loved each other through it.

“I stare at her for a long moment. I want to kiss her. I want to kiss her more than I've ever wanted anything in my life.”
3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Some of my favorite romance books are ones like this where the two ill-fated lovers would give up anything and everything to be with each other and yet find a way to make it work.

“The anticipation and dread he felt at seeing her was also a kind of sensual pleasure, and surrounding it, like an embrace, was a general elation--it might hurt, it was horribly inconvenient, no good might come of it, but he had found out for himself what it was to be in love, and it thrilled him.”
4. Atonement by Ian McEwan
Swoon! Ian McEwan has a talent for writing non-traditional romances and Atonement is no different, speaking to the things we do for love in our deepest and darkest places and the importance of timing.

“Now anyone who has ever been on a blind date is well familiar with “The Moment”—that moment where you first walk into the bar or restaurant or coffee shop and scan the crowd and suddenly your heart stops and you say to yourself: oh, please—let it be him.” Practice Makes Perfect
“It should've been illegal for a man to walk around like that without some sort of permit.” Something About You
5/6. Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James tied with Something About You by Julie James
I just can't get enough of Julie James! She writes such smart chick-lit with great, strong characters and incredible romantic tension. These are two of my absolute favorites.

“Ah," she cried, "you look so cool."
Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.
You always look so cool," she repeated.
She had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw.”
7. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Who could forget about one of the greatest love stories? The Great Gatsby, a love story in an era that rewarded excess in just about everything except love.

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
8. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
One of my more recent reads, I fell in love with Hazel and Augustus the second the two of them met.

"You do care," said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. "You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.”
9. Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling
What is Harry Potter about if not love? Love for friends, family and the good in life, and even some romantic love too.

“Just...ate," M says, frowning at me a little. "Two days...ago."
I grab my stomach again. "Feel empty. Feel...dead."
He nods. "Marr...iage.”

10. Warm Bodies - Issac Marion
A more non-traditional romance, Warm Bodies had me rooting for Zombie on human love the entire way through.