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 🙂