you need to watch: Captain Fantastic

Books, Movies, Review
:: director : Matt Ross :: released : July 29 2016 :: my rating: 5/5 :: rating: R :: genre: comedy, drama :: IMDb
hello my lovelies!
a free weekend + good tea + windy night compelled me to prop open my laptop and finally get around to watching a movie my co-worker had been raving about for some time. i was not disappointed. this movie seamlessly incorporated concepts of love, loyalty and innocence with hard topics of politics and religion while also providing critiques about current societal problems associated with child rearing.
whew. that was a mouthful. but so is this movie.

“let’s dig. Otherwise she has to lie under that bullshit forever.”

the power of words, actions, conformity and death were somehow rolled into one giant production that left me speechless and reaching for my mouse to hit the replay button. all spoilers have been identified in red, so lets delve in and get started 🙂

synopsis from IMDb:
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In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

my review:
beginning with a breathtaking shot of the forest in which the father, Ben, is currently raising his six children. we are exposed to their primitive ways that seems almost like a scene out of an adventure book we read when we were young. this misplaced scene is contrasted by the teamwork, love and drive each of these characters have and their distinct personality begins to show within the first five minutes of the movie.
this movie combines stunning scenery and diverse characters to keep the viewer engaged while teaching important life lessons. we are also given various critiques on the current state of society.

here are 10 truths garnered from this movie
  1. children can handle the truth
  2. and sometimes the truth is what everyone needs more of
  3. structure/routine is important. standards are not
  4. mental health is as important as physical health and neither should ever be neglected
  5. death should be celebrated, not mourned
  6. find your roots, learn your identity, remember your past
  7. books can’t teach you everything
  8. actions, not words define us
  9. don’t follow the norm. question everything. create your own beliefs
  10. sometimes you have to break the rules. and that’s ok

spotlighting this unique way of living highlighted elements of today’s society that we have grown accustomed to but may not be the best option. by returning to the basics, reconnecting with nature, a higher level of understanding and ability can be obtained. contrary to popular belief, this movie demonstrated how living with only the basics does not mean less intelligence of competence. rather, returning to our primitive ways can allow for a higher level of understanding.

5 quotes to compel you to watch
  1. Father:”We can’t go to mommy’s funeral. We have to do what we’re told. Some fights, you can’t win. The powerful control the lives of the powerless. That’s the way the world works. It’s unjust and it’s unfair. But that’s just too damn bad. We have to shut up and accept it.
    [now turning around in his seat]
    Father: Well, fuck that!
  2. If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.
  3. We’re defined by our actions, not our words.
  4. It’s a beautiful mistake. But a mistake.
  5. Live each day like it could be your last. Drink it in. Be adventurous, be bold, but savor it. It goes fast.

Have you watched or heard of this movie? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, do you think you will watch it in the future? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers

review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Books, Contemporary, Movies, Novel, Review, Young Adult

 

:: author:: Stephen Chbosky :: published: 2010 :: my rating: 4/5 :: genre: novel :: young adult :: contemporary :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends!

I’m trying something new today and posting a movie and book review all rolled in one post! I recently watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower, something I had been meaning to do for some time, and because I had finished the book fairly recently as well, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Lets go ahead and get started 🙂


Synopsis from goodreads:

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Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.


My Review: (No Spoilers)

The first time I read this book, was during my pre-teen years when I can’t say I was emotionally or mentally prepared to broach the topics presented. However, after revisiting the book, I was better able to grasp and appreciate the topics and issues that were being addressed. If there was were issues with the book, it would be the following.

  1. There was too much going on in the book. I felt like Chobsky tried too hard to include too many topics, and often times it felt overwhelming. Although this could have been done on purpose, I still felt myself having to stop periodically and just think. 
  2. I had to remind myself that Charlie was only a freshman and that this book took place in high school. 
  3. I had trouble understanding why Charlie was unable to identify any emotion other than sadness and regret. Although this is how depression works, I felt that this cycle of whining and inability to understand his situation to be monotonous.

However, I loved how real the book was. How it illustrated mental issues, and the realistic perspective into the struggles adolescents have.

First lines in the book:

“August 25, 1991
Dear Friend,

I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don’t want you to find me. I didn’t enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.

I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.

The movie, was equally as good, and I found myself falling in love with Emma Watson and surprisingly, I felt like Charlie became so much more real to me. The movie, however, expounded upon the drug culture, and I found myself thinking that this seemed to be more of a college setting than that of high school. This could be in part because my high school experience was so much different, but it was difficult to grasp that these kids were merely high schoolers, as they had so much terrible history behind them.

Characters:

I believe that Chobsky’s characterization and descriptions of the characters were the highlights of the book, and what made the book so lovable. By the end of both the book and the movie, I felt as if I knew each character at a personal and deep level. Each were multifaceted and brought so much dimension to the book.

Charlie is the embodiment of all that adolescents are afraid to admit and be. Innocent and honest, he works as the perfect narrator, providing insight into all the ugly and terrible things that accompany growing up, while also showing the beauty of friendship and love. Suffering from childhood trauma, and depression, Charlie is simply trying to make his way through high school as a normal student. Not only does Charlie have an ugly past that always threatens to ruin his social life, Charlie finds himself to be smarter, and more insightful than the rest of his class. Although his complaints and inability to function correctly in society grew to be annoying, I could understand and empathize with his plight.

In the movie: Charlie is everything I imagined him to be in the book. I had trouble grasping what sort of exterior Charlie exuded at school, and the movie helped me to realize that even with his conflicting interior, he was just that kid in school that we never talked to. This prompted me to realize that these people suffering from problems are all around us.

Contrasting sharply to Charlie’s naivety is Sam. Patrick and Sam take Charlie under their wings, and teach him about life. I believe that it is Charlie’s interactions with these characters that develop him, and expose him to the reader. I won’t say much about the supporting characters, as I found myself enjoying reading and learning about them the most.

The Plot:

There are a series of love stories in this book, all very different from each other. I loved this aspect of this book, as the reader is shown the pain and hardship that accompany any sort of relationship. There were relationships that didn’t work out, a LGBT relationship, one without love, and an abusive one as well. This helped me realize that it’s not always happily ever, and that in the world, there is always a lot more under the surface.

Though I won’t say much about the plot, as I found the characters to be what made the book amazing, I never was bored, and found myself devouring each page to discover more about each character.

Final Thoughts:

This story provided moments to cry, learn and empathize. This coming to age novel taught me a lot about mental health, as well as allowed me to realize that some of the thoughts and issues I was having was not exclusive to me. I was able to better grasp the value of friendship, and what love is. I recommend this to everyone and anyone!

Both the book and movie were wonderful, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to reread and watch.


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Have you watched or read either The Perks of Being a Wallflower? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

review: blood orchids by toby neal

Books, Fiction, Mystery, Review

 

:: author:: Toby Neal :: published: 2011 :: my rating: 4/5 :: genre: mystery :: fiction :: thriller :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends!

First order of business, I’M NOT IGNORING YOUR COMMENTS! I’ve found that a lot of the comments you have been leaving have been falling under my “spam” and have not been posted. I’m slowly going back through and replying to these comments. Please check your spam boxes as well!

I decided it was time to entertain myself with a mystery, something I had not done for quite some time. When the title Blood Orchids popped up, I was intrigued for two reasons. 1. because it takes place in Hawaii

2. I love orchids

And what a coincidence that I was looking for a mystery right about then. Lets jump on in to the review.


Synopsis from goodreads:

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Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.


My Review: (No Spoilers)

All potential spoilers marked.

This debut thriller doesn’t ease you into the mystery at hand, but takes off running from the first line and never stops. Even the first sentence is made to grab the readers attention.

“Drowning isn’t pretty, even in paradise”

The pace never slows down for the reader, and I was constantly amazed by the series of plot twists and the way every detail weaved together to create a story line that had me frantically reading to finish. What I enjoyed about this mystery, was how unpredictable it ended up being. Characters I wished to dislike ended up finding their way into my good graces, and those that I initially found to be disagreeable, later became a favorite. I also appreciated the depiction of a strong, young, female character. Although there were times in which I felt annoyance for her paranoiac behavior, I was able to reason why she must act in that manner.

This is not your typical thriller. Very jarring topics such as rape and murder are addressed, and not in a flowery manner. I found this to add to the story, and although none of the descriptions went very in depth, there was just enough to keep you on your seats, and beg for the perpetrator to be caught.

A couple of things that I found to detract from the book were:

  1. Lei’s constant sense of mistrust and constant attempts to push people away. I know, this is just part of her character. But often times, this bad girl act became frustrating and I found myself wanting her to have some human feelings rather than constantly chasing after her definition of justice.
  2. How many problems were caused just by Lei’s unwillingness to listen. (Is it obvious that most of the problems I had simply stem from Lei’s personality?) Though her pushy, nosy personality helped solve the mystery, I still found it disappointing that so many pages were made up of others fixing her mistakes.
  3. The ending. It was to fairy tale-esque. Everything ended perfectly, people ended up where they were supposed to be. And I felt empty when something so suspenseful and exciting came to a screeching halt for a perfect ending.

The Characters:

The main protagonist in this story, Lei served as an amazing central character. She was not only complex, but there were multiple layers to her personality and as Toby Neal did a phenomenal job of putting the reader inside Lei’s head. At first, I found Lei’s brash, tough front annoying. It felt as if she was pushing everyone away, and refusing to trust or listen to others. I greatly abhor these characters, and it takes me a long time for them to grow on me. As Lei’s history slowly was revealed, I was better able to understand the reason behind her callous facade, and this helped greatly in making this thriller more interesting. I especially loved how Neal took his time in revealing Lei’s childhood secrets, as this added to the suspense of the book.

Each supporting character had his/her own unique personality and I found myself falling in love with them. One of my favorite characters in this book was Lei’s dog Keiki.A giant rottweiler that serves to protect Lei, and her only confidante. I felt as if Lei was extremely lucky as she had many people around her that were so willing to help and love her, if she would allow them. The walls that Lei built up to protect herself were frustrating at times, but necessary as you learn of her past. From Pono, her beloved partner in the police force, to her supportive friend Mary and auntie, I found all these characters lovable in their own way. Each had demons they were facing, and problems the had to deal with, but each had great love for Lei, and watching them support her through the times in which she had to deal with intense problems, was touching. (Even if they were quite brash in the way they showed it.)

The characters had real emotions, and expressed them in real ways. Pono’s gruff exterior, through his actions showed his soft, caring interior. *SPOILER* Lei’s aunt, who initially seems to be the perfect aunt taking in her niece, later has a dirty secret revealed. *SPOILER*  and a down to earth therapist all served to spice up the story. This added a more relateable edge to the story which I enjoyed.

The Plot:

I appreciated the fast paced plot, as I was never bored or skimming throughout this book. Neal does an excellent job of introducing various scenarios for the mystery, and each caused me to suspect/mistrust each character. This greatly added to the suspense. However, the downside to this was that it forced Lei to look much to suspecting and at a certain point I began to become annoyed at her obvious distrust towards everyone (except her dog). At no point was the plot ever at a standstill, and each new page seemed like a revelation abut a character. I really wanted to enter the book and help solve the mystery!

I’ll leave the plot review here, as I’m worried I’ll divulge too much and spoil the mystery…

Final Thoughts:

I loved the setting, loved the mystery, and found this book to be everything I expected. So why not the five stars? I felt as if it was too difficult to connect with Lei, and I had problems with her character. But I’ve always had problems with “tough girls” in book, and thus unable to appreciate the book as much as I would have (as I found myself becoming frustrate throughout the book.)


Quotes

One thing I liked about Lei was how she left little quotes hanging around so that she could read and ground herself in reality. Although the following quotes are not a part of the collection she had, they are little lines that caught my eye.

“It seemed like she was always too little, to late”

That feeling of helplessness and loss of self worth are perfectly summarized in this one line.

“There were apparently still beautiful things in the world”

Even as Lei is surrounded by crime and terrible things, she manages to find beauty and pleasure, which I very much appreciated.


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Have you read any mysteries lately? What mystery do you recommend me? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Books, Contemporary, Novel, Review, Romance

:: author:: Jenny Han :: published: 2014 :: my rating: 3/5 :: genre: novel :: romance novel :: contemporary :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends!

Just another shameless plug: my twitter account @_kimmiegg is up and running! I’d love to catch up on your daily lives, and am looking forward to meeting you guys through twitter.

This book has been on my TBR list for a while, due to the plethora of amazing reviews about this book. Furthermore, after learning that it was a book based on a Korean-American family, I immediately included it in my eBook haul. I know many of you have read this book, but I can’t wait to share my thoughts on why this book doesn’t deserve the five stars I wanted to give it with you 🙂

(Since many of you have read this book, I have included a few could-be-spoilers. None divulge main plot twists or details. Read on at your own risk.)


Synopsis from goodreads:15749186

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.


My Review:

The aspect about this book that I loved was how relateable and realistic Lara Jean (the main character) was. Her struggle with finding love, and maneuvering through relationships, though often immature, were still always in character. I appreciated how Jenny Han included dialogue that was not only there to fill up space, but to provide insight into each personality and really develop each character into something real.

However, there were aspects of this book that made me question the hype.

  1. There didn’t seem to be any TRUE romance throughout the book. Especially because the relationship that permeated throughout the book was simply one that was supposed to be fake. I felt as if the various relationships presented in this book served to show Lara’s development. Although the majority of this book was devoted to her interaction with boys, I felt as if no real spark was found between any of them.
  2. I disliked how each sister seemed to have a romantic interest in their older sister’s significant other. Sure, it’s better to like your sister’s boyfriend, but not to crush after him… And mutually, if you’re dating someone, please don’t crush on her younger sister.. That’s just so, wrong…

The Characters

Each character is the typical archetype of a middle class family dealing with some sort of problem. In this case, it’s the death of a mother. Starting with the typical overworked father who loves his daughters and is always trying to find ways to give them the love and attention they deserve while trying to figure them out. I loved the attention and effort this father put into raising his family of three girls. Then there’s Margot, the oldest, most mature responsible and organized sister. She is the one who has kept the family together and running smoothly, and it is her departure that throws this book into motion. Kitty is the youngest of the group, and naturally plays one of the most vital (and predictable) parts in this story. Lastly, we have Lara Jean. The protagonist of this story.

Lara Jean is a sheltered, romantic teen trying to make it through the most important years of high school. Not only is she facing the hardships of exceeding her sister’s footsteps, but she has an issue with not ever truly expressing her feelings for others, but rather, choosing to lock them away in a box. In a way, I appreciated this side of Lara, as I found myself being able to relate to her inability to open up and share how she felt with others.

Then of course, we need to add in a troubled friend who always sticks up for the main character. Chris is the typical “this is not a phase mom” character who  helps Lara through her difficult times. To thicken the plot, we add Genevieve, the beautiful, flawless mean girl who adds drama to the story. And her perfect boyfriend, Peter, who enters Lara Jean’s life with a lot of emotional baggage.

The Plot

Although the characters were not very unique and this story was lacking in that department, the plot was very unique. There were times I really had to wonder what was going to happen next, and what choice Lara Jean was going to make. I was also constantly curious as to how each character would react to the actions of others. Because the characters are quite archetypal, I thought I would be able to predict how each of them reacted… Surprisingly, my conjectures were proved false.

Although these small aspects of the plot really made the book, I failed to find much romance. As stated before, I felt as if this book explored more of Lara’s development through failed relationships. When before, Lara measured her ability and worth against her sister Margot, we see her beginning to break free of that. I believe that was the best part of the book, and what made it so readable/relateable.

Ending Thoughts

This book was a light, fun read that I did finish in one sitting. It was hard to put down, and although there were parts that I wish had been dealt with better, I found myself really enjoying this quirky fun romance. *SPOILER*  I was disgusted by how Lara so easily cheated on her sisters boyfriend. Especially after she learned that they had had sex. *SPOILER* All in all, I wish that she had taken more control over her own life, although from my own personal experiences, I can relate to how difficult that could be.

This book was definitely a fun read, but I can’t give it the five star rating that I want to give it for the above reasons. Although I can’t say that I agreed and loved the book 100%, I will be reading the sequel as I have to know how Lara ends up!


Quotes

“I do this to feign confidence, because the more I fake it, the more it’s supposed to feel true.”

So, this is me all the time, and it really works! Sort of like the smiling theory that if you force yourself to smile, you’ll become happier.

“It’s scary when it’s real. When it’s not just thinking about a person, but, like having  a real live person in front of you, with , like, expectations. And wants.”

Love is a hard concept to grasp, and I think that often we read or watch stuff about it and think we know what love is. That we have a tangible definition only to find that explanation falling apart when we actually fall in love.

“A hundred years ago eighteen-year-old guys were out there fighting wars with bayonets and holding a man’s life n their hands! They lived a lot of life by the time they were our age. What do kids our age know about love and life”

This was said by Peter, and I just had to agree. Context is such a vital part in creating expectations.


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Have you read any books by Jenny Han? What do you think about the book? Have you ever written any love letters yourself? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

review: Environmentally Friendly by Elias Zanbaka

Books, Review, Short Story, Thriller

:: author: Elias Zanbaka :: published: 2016 :: my rating: 3/5 :: genre: thriller :: short story :: goodreads

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Hello my lovely friends,

Today I’m here to talk about a short story that I read multiple times. Curious why? Read on to find out!


Synopsis from goodreads:

Out of seven billion people, one man has declared war on Mother Nature and plans to bring it to its knees.

Out of all the criminals in Los Angeles, he’s the number one target being hunted by the LAPD tonight.

And out of the entire LAPD, one officer is hell-bent on helping him complete his mission.


My Review: (no spoilers)

This action pack book sure had me on the edge of my seat from the start to finish. Zanbaka does a phenomenal job of grabbing the readers attention and never letting it go. That being said, I found that I had to read the book twice before I fully grasped what was going on. Luckily, it was a short read, and both times, I found myself just as tense as I waited to find out what was going to happen next.

Characters:

Because it is a short story, there’s not much to be said about character development. However the way Zanbaka described each gave a powerful description that really painted a picture in my mind. Though I had no clue during my first read through, Sergeant Schaefer was fighting, I could grasp his sense of determination and the intensity in which he believed his purpose to be true. The interactions between the characters were similarly just as realistic, and interesting.

Plot:

I loved the premise of this short story. In fact, the part that intrigued me the most is the idea of how Mother Nature has brought death to many, yet we never have tried to fight against this force. I feel as if there had been more lead up, and more exposition, it would have been more interesting.

Ending Thoughts:

The way this book grabbed my attention and never really let go made this a fun, and exciting read. Overall, I’d recommend to anyone who is itching for a short, suspenseful read. The reason why I had to give it only a three out of five, is simply because it felt as if something was missing. If there had been a tad more detail and background information, this book would have been a five.


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Have you read any books that relate to mother nature? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

review: Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Books, Contemporary, Novel, Realistic Fiction, Review, Romance, Young Adult

:: author: Deirdre Riordan Hall :: published: 2016 :: my rating: 4/5 :: genre: novel :: romance novel :: realistic fiction :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends!

First off, I’d like to announce that I have finally taken it upon myself to make a twitter account! Make sure to follow @_kimmiegg to stay caught up 🙂

Anyways, I’m back today with a review on a book I was not expecting to read. I had not heard of this book, nor had it been on my TBR list, but upon accidentally stumbling upon it, I found it to be a fun read. Maybe it was the cover, or my infatuation with pearls in general… Whatever the case, this was a easy, light read that I ended up enjoying.


Synopsis from goodreads:

Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me.

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?


 My Review: (no spoilers)

From the start, this book was jarring. It begins with Pearl sneaking back home, in order to avoid the wrath of her intoxicated mother. What follows is a detailed description of the mentally and physically exhausting act of taking care of a once famous rock star, drug addicted mother while discovering ones identity. This book caused me to deliberate on how much of my life was the result of my upbringing (nature v nurture anybody?), and the resilience someone needed in order to break free from their parent’s bonds.

Characters

The part that I could relate to with Pearl, the protagonist in this book, was her constant confusion about guys and life in general. I felt as if there was dimension to her, which I appreciated. Brought up in an unstable household, with no permanent residence or father, Pearl constantly finds herself moving to accommodate her mother’s new boyfriend or drug addiction. Furthermore, Pearl struggles to root her identity in her mother’s legacy and demise. I found Pearl’s inner conflict of hating her mother, and wishing to hold a part of her very realistic and painful.

Pearl’s relationships are all a tad complicated. Because she is constantly moving, she has no steady friends, and it isn’t until she joins the elite boarding school that she finds people to regularly socialize with. These relationships help fortify what we know about Pearl’s personality, and I believe the author did a great job of showing Pearl’s multifaceted character through these relationships. One character that I just could not stand was Sola, the mother hen that was the embodiment of Pearl’s mother.

Plot

The plot flowed very easily, and I was surprisingly ok with the ending. Although it was a bit too perfect for me, there were still some loose ends, and it was nice to see where Pearl ended up. I found Pearl’s situation, oftentimes to be also too perfect at times. Things would always work out in ways that wouldn’t normally have worked in real life. Throughout the book, I never struggled with being bored, or confused, which was nice.

HOWEVER, this book is riddled in drugs and sex. It doesn’t stop with her mother, but seems to follow Pearl everywhere. No matter how much Pearl hates the drug culture, and how much the drug culture has hurt her, she isn’t able to remove herself from it. At times, I had to remind myself that Pearl was still in High School and not in college. This could be due in part that this takes place in a boarding school, but also because every student seemed to be obsessed with drugs and making out. Although this concept is essential to the ending of the book, I found it frustrating sometimes to see her following exactly in her mother’s footsteps.

Ending thoughts:

Overall, I thought this was a nice, easy read (I finished in two sittings), and it did keep my attention. The biggest aspect that I disliked THE MOST about this book was how cheating was portrayed as a way to make a relationship stronger. Coincidence or not, I had just finished reading this book, when the lovely Reg from She Latitude posted her Top Ten Turn Off’s in the Book. (Most of which I agree with) Number eight, on her list is cheating. I find cheating in real life and books alike to be frustrating. When the two parties get back together, I’m always infuriated, and when the allusion is made that a relationship can get stronger though such a betrayal, you can imagine how livid I am. This aspect of the book can be seen as almost the sole reason I dropped a star.


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Have you ever read Pearl? What did you think? What is a book you will be reading next? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Books, Novel, Review, Romance

the time travelers wife

:: author:Audrey Niffenegger:: published: 2013 :: my rating: 2/5 :: genre: novel :: romance novel :: speculative fiction :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends,

It’s been a while since I’ve done my last book review, but then again, I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind called life. As you all know, the last book I was currently reading was The Time Traveler’s Wife. Though I finished it a month ago, I’m shamefully uploading the review now. I have to say, I needed time to mull over the book, and was hoping to actually watch the movie, to maybe see what the craze was about. Well here goes!


Synopsis from goodreads:

Audrey Niffenegger’s dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry’s unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.


My Review (no spoilers):

Honestly, I was expecting a lot more from this book, especially because it is a well known title, and has brought raving reviews from some. The premise of the book is interesting, and I must say that the idea behind the plot is great. A love that surpasses all time? Great, but I felt this book didn’t really develop that idea. I found that this book was hard to get through, not emotionally engaging, and doomed from the start.

Characters

Although this book jumps back and forth in time, the characters voices are the same throughout their entire lives. It seems as if Clare is always scared, always waiting for a man who is never there during her critical moments. Henry is constantly complaining about his predicament, and the author never fails to remind the audience of the hardship this couple endures due to his tendency to appear in a different time period, naked. Although Niffenegger attempts to paint a passionate love story between the two, it was overshadowed by Clare’s constant need for Henry, and their constant attempts to keep his time traveling a secret. Niffenegger’s mode of illustrating the passion between Henry and Clare is through sex, and it is difficult to grasp their intimacy when every tender moment must be through this act.

Furthermore, both the characters have lives that are extremely difficult to relate to, as both are brought up in familial situations that are far from ordinary. The characters were also obsessed with bands and artists, which is fine, but the constant mention of band names and artists was distracting, and seemed like a pathetic attempt for the author to try and show her hipster side.

“I won’t ever leave you, even though you’re always leaving me.”

What angered me the most was Clare, and her willingness to wait, and save herself for a man that is a womanizer and drug addict. I believe that quote in and of itself shows how willing Clare was to throw away her life and wait for the only man she ever had in her life. Because Henry tells her that they will be married some day, she finds herself waiting, and waiting and waiting for a man that ultimately can’t be there for her in the end. I found this draining, and the unrealistic expectation  on her hand was disappointing.

Plot

The characters in this book made it difficult for me to engage in the plot and enjoy the book. Because I was unable to relate, or understand both characters, their actions that made up the plot, often seemed silly and boring. I felt as if lots of needless sub plots were added throughout this book that did not particularly add to the book, but made it treacherously long. Often, the subplots seemed unresolved.

This book had potential, and I believe would have been greatly improved if all the characters were given more chances to develop and grow. The premise of the book was exciting, and I was definitely intrigued, only to find myself repulsed by their love story, and the lack of closure and conflict. The end did semi redeem itself, though I do believe even that could have been executed in a better manner.


 Quotes

Although the book overall, was not to my taste at all, there are some quotes that I did love.

“Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?”

I feel as if every moment in your life should be filled with intense happiness, and that mediocrity is silly. However, to be extremely happy for a short while, and live in fear and sadness for the rest, also does not seem like a healthy alternative.

“Everything seems simple until you think about it.”

Now isn’t that the truth. This quote is short, and a tad humorous, as we tend to overthink and thoughts become convoluted in our brains.


Not a favorite, and will not be reading again soon. This book was incredibly difficult to get through, and I hope to watch the movie just to see what the craze is about. I’d only recommend for those that enjoy slow reads, and reading about borderline abusive relationships.

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What types of romances do you enjoy reading? Is there one you would recommend me? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Review: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Books, Novel, Review

09a10e231450e8ef250329c7c9fbdc1e:: author: Jan Philipp Sendker  :: published: 2012 :: my rating: 4/5 :: genre: novel :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends! This book was a part of my June TBR list and I have already started reading the second book in this two book series.


Synopsis from goodreads:

A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.


My Review:

Suspenseful, chilling and captivating. This novel will have you turning it’s pages in order to learn more about the tale that brings two unassuming characters together. The love and commitment that each character shows is refreshing and will leave you breathless. Originally written in German, it is not hard to see why this book was such a hit. The protagonist of the story, Julia, wishes to unearth her father’s past after his sudden disappearance the day after her graduation. Spurred by her mother’s indifference, and her father’s mysterious personality, Julia travels to Burma in hopes to gain insight into the past her father had strictly hidden. Join Julia as she unravels a love story so innocent, pure and strong that it withstands the test of time.

Sendker does a phenomenal job in his debut novel by bringing to life characters and a plot that will have you breathless. Instead of enticing the reader with a dark, secret past that Julia’s father may have harbored, Sendker presents an innocent, pure, strong love story. Shrouded by superstitions and a strong sense of filial duty follow a blind young monk and a poor crippled girl in pre-WWII Burma find a love and trust that cannot be broken. This story is heavily influenced by fairy-tale romanticism and opens a door to the Burmese cultures and values. I found the book hard to put down, and although there were large gaping plot holes (like why did Tin Win never return to his first love?), this fairytale is a love story that most dream of. The book kept me fully engaged with it’s simple, yet beautiful writing, and there was a lot of wisdom to be garnered from the simple Burmese traditions.


Favorite quotes:

“He expected nothing more from life. Not because he was disappointed or embittered. He expected nothing because there was nothing of importance that he had not already experienced. He possessed all the happiness that a person could find. He loved and was loved. Unconditionally.”

The greatest theme in this book is love. The love that Tin Win holds for Mi Mi is intense, pure, overwhelming and genuine. She is who liberates him from isolation and teaches him the delicacies of life and joy. This quote captures the extent of his love towards her and I believe is a description of the love many want to receive.

“Eyes and ears are not the problem… It is rage that blinds and deafens us. Or fear. Envy, mistrust. The world contracts, gets all out of joint when you are angry or afraid.”

After Tin Win becomes blind, he is taken to a monastery where he meets his greatest mentor U May. It is here that Tin Win learns that blindness is not an impairment, in fact, the removal of the superficial aspects of life can even be seen as a blessing. Tin Win is taught the detriments of fear, envy and mistrust, and the blindness that those emotions cause. This is a universal truth that must be acknowledged, and this quote is just an example of the nuggets of wisdom Sendker offers his readers.

An easy read, this book is for anyone who wants a fairytale-esque love story that is rooted in traditional values of commitment, loyalty and purity.

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Review: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Books, Novel, Review

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:: author: Kim Edwards :: published: 2005 :: my rating: 3/5 :: genre: novel :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends! This is a book I picked up on a whim from the library (mainly due to the promise of a story about twins). Though interesting, I can’t say that this was necessarily a page turner, nor did I fall in love with the characters. Although the beginning was exciting and suspenseful, I’d have to say that the following chapters left something to be desired.


Synopsis from goodreads:

On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down’s Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this story that unfolds over a quarter of a century – in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night. Norah Henry, who knows only that her daughter died at birth, remains inconsolable; her grief weighs heavily on their marriage. And Paul, their son, raises himself as best he can, in a house grown cold with mourning. Meanwhile, Phoebe, the lost daughter, grows from a sunny child to a vibrant young woman whose mother loves her as fiercely as if she were her own


My Review (contains spoilers!):

This novel revolves around a secret that brings one family together, while tearing another apart. Beginning in 1964, Norah Henry gives birth to a pair of twins on a cold winter night. Her husband, David Henry, delivers the babies all while experiencing flashbacks of the day he first met Norah. It is evident that he was completely infatuated by her beauty and even followed her into a lingerie shop in order to get her contact. Norah gives birth to a beautiful baby boy, Paul, and an equally beautiful sister, Phoebe. Phoebe, however, is born with down syndrome. David fears distressing Norah, and in hopes of protecting her, sends Phoebe away with Caroline to a hospital that cares for children with mental disabilities. On her way, Caroline decides to take Phoebe, and begin her life anew. David lies to his wife, saying how Phoebe died during birth, and thus the story begins.

If you’re already confused by the plot presented in the first chapter, have no worries, this book is written in a straightforward, simple manner which serves to accentuate the plot. Each character disappointingly tends to remains quite static, but Edwards attempts to develop each of them by  divulging their thoughts.

The characters seemed to follow archetypal patterns that made it difficult to find the book interesting.  Each plot twist could be easily predicted, which caused the spotlight to be focused on each character. While the male characters tended to remain static throughout the novel, the greatest transformation were with the two female protagonists. However, none of the characters were likable as each had faults that were expounded upon. This inevitably made them unpleasant and hard to relate to. Furthermore, each small details that were emitted caused the entire novel to be unsatisfying. Plot holes such as, how David was able to sign a death certificate for a live baby, left the book incomplete. Although intriguing, the way each character’s actions and thoughts were excused/explained by the secret David created, is also unrealistic and is a pathetic attempt to justify much of the plot. This book touched not only on grief, but on music, redemption, love, mental illness and revival.


Favorite quotes:

“You missed a lot of heartache, sure. But David, you missed a lot of joy.”

The entire premise of this book revolves around David’s secret of giving away his girl. This, he believed, was the right thing to do in order to protect the wife he loved. Instead of expressing his feelings and thoughts, David chooses to do what he believes is best and inconsequentially, brings about a series of unfortunate events.

“He’d kept this silence because his own secrets were darker, more hidden, and because he believed that his secrets had created hers.”

Even as David learns of his wife’s infidelity, he chooses to remain silent because he believes it to be his own fault. Of course the pattern of excusing each others misdemeanors on this secret, soon breaks the entire family apart and forces a distance between David and his family.

A simple read, I would recommend to housewives or those who have time on their hands and needs a late night book.


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Review: Tuesday’s With Morrie

Biographical novel, Books, Memoir, Philosophical Fiction, Review

:: author: Mitch Albom :: published: 1997 :: my rating: 5/5 :: biographical novel :: philosophical fiction :: memoir :: goodreads

This heart-wrenching, poignant novel allows readers to enter into the world of Morrie Schwartz, a professor at Brandeis, philosopher and friend. Filled with short, insightful anecdotes about the meaning of love, life and death, this novel features the wisdom of a man, dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Although Morrie is forced to undergo immense pain due to this unforgiving disease, his outlook and philosophy on life never changes, as his relationships with others flourish and he is able to become an encouragement to many others.

Mitch Albom, accompanies Morrie’s transition to the next life, and in the process, begins to appreciate and understand the importance of relationships and how to achieve a fulfilling life.  Although successful by the world’s standards, Mitch struggles to discover the meaning of life as he finds himself feeling empty and devoid of purpose.  This all changes the day he sees his beloved professor on the news and decides it is finally time to pay his “coach” a visit he had promised the day he graduated. Thenceforth, a weekly meeting is agreed upon, and classes with Morrie resume, granted in an unconventional manner.

Mitch compiles a list of topics that include death, fear, aging, greed, marriage, family, society, forgiveness, and a meaningful life to his old professor in hopes to attain insight into some of the most contested subjects. The succinct, straightforward nuggets of wisdom Morrie offers can be applied to anyone’s lives and radically transform the outlook many have. Here are a couple of things I learned.

“Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.”

It is not uncommon for those on the brink of death to desperately find peace through renewed relationships. Suddenly, it is essential to reconnect and mend relationships in order to leave in peace. This is a recurring theme throughout novels and movies as the protagonist often embarks on a journey to exonerate themselves or their loved ones. Morrie, approaches the topic of forgiveness through another perspective and especially emphasizes the necessity of forgiving oneself. It is not enough to be kind to others, but to yourself. The mistakes and failures you have made are a part of you and in order to attain true peace, it is vital to forgive yourself and to love not only those around you, but yourself as well.

Not only should one forgive themselves, they need to appreciate the life they are living and to understand the blessings they are granted each and everyday. To seize the moment and to celebrate in even the ordinary.

“Accept who you are; and revel in it.”

After forgiving oneself, it becomes easier to accept who and what you are. To understand your capabilities and limits, and to enjoy yourself within that range. Morrie realized the different abilities of others, and the limited world in which he was now subjected to. Instead of throwing himself a pity party, and swimming in despair, Morrie chose to look outward at those around him in attempts to provide encouragement and advice. It wasn’t as if Morrie felt no pain or heartache, he chose to embrace the unwanted feelings and to acknowledge what he was unable to do.

Unlike many of us today, Morrie accepted his impotency, and permitted others to care for him. By swallowing his pride, Morrie found joy in receiving help. This was only possible through his realization that love is being dependent on one another and being vulnerable enough to allow others to pinpoint your faults.

“Because if you’ve found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward.”

Once you accept yourself and your lackings, you enter into a state of contentment and self efficacy. It is at this stage that it becomes possible to accept the past and to look towards the future.When forgiveness of oneself and others is completed, then the past cannot hold one back anymore, and with the acceptance of oneself comes contentment. This permits people to live in the future, and to enjoy life the way everyone out to: in the present.

Death is not something to avoid, nor should it be avoided. The moment one finds their sense of purpose and belonging, there is no reason to turn back with nostalgia or regret. Although suffering physically from ALS, Morrie managed to remain cheerful and embraced the dependency that it brought. Learning to revel in the embrace of others, Morrie realized the immense need for humans to feel and give love. Instead of grieving over his loss of mobility, Morrie accepted his fate, and lived his very best within the bounds of his impairment. He connected with friends, families and strangers, and offered advice to those who were also undergoing difficulties. Despite the hardships he himself had to endure, Morrie chose to focus on the blessings of life and continued to nurture relationships to those near and dear to him.

“If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down on you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.”

The unending race to the top can easily consume our lives as fame and riches become the focal point in our lives. It is easily to get discouraged in this race, especially when after all our efforts, we look up (or down) and find a myriad of people competing directly against us. Though having grand dreams and high hopes are necessary, Morrie demonstrated the greater fulfillment that is achieved through truly connecting with others. This skill, a mix of undivided attention and eye contact, never disappoints as he even manages to connect with Tim Koppel. (watch their interview here)

Morrie demonstrates the frailty and beauty of life and continues to give well after his death by offering wisdom and insight to the meaning of life, death and all that’s in between.