Me Before You

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I haven’t reviewed a movie since I started this blog and funny enough, one of them was The Theory of Everything, another disabled man-meets-perfect-soulmate romance (with a few more things found here.)

Let me start off by saying Sam Claflin played Finnick in The Hunger Games movies. There, got that off my chest. Some people don’t realize this. I’m all about movie trivia. So, if you thought he was sexy while trying to escape murderous monkeys and flesh-eating fog, he’s even sexier when he plays a quadriplegic. My husband just shakes his head at me.

I was totally going to go buy this book and read it before I saw the movie but let’s be honest, I have way too many books on my to-read list and I really wanted to see this tear-jerker movie. I forced my husband to not stare at me while I bawled my eyes out. I tend to not cry when he’s staring at me and smirking because he thinks I’m cute but I’d rather just cry as hard as I want to get completely involved in the lives of the characters who are obviously not real people. That’s what writers and readers do, right?

Without giving too much away, here’s a brief synopsis: woman needs job-gets job that no one else can stand taking care of an angry quadriplegic-said quad refuses to try to live in his new body because he misses his old life too much-girl befriends man-girl tries to help man find joy in life-girl and man fall in love–and

****SPOILERS AHEAD****

 

needle runs off the record–he commits assisted suicide ANYWAY! Why do good romance movies always end this way? Why does the man HAVE to die? I mean, couldn’t he just have decided that Clarke could make him happy and give him a new life? I understand him being stubborn about the whole thing, I’m pretty stubborn myself. But COME ON. The audience would have left the theater a whole lot happier. We all would have gone home with a nice warm fuzzy feeling instead of cold, dead-inside, mascara-running faces. This is why I need to read the book because there MUST be a reason this character had to die. The movie simply couldn’t explain everything in the book or it would be 8 hours long. I need to read the book to see if I’m happier with the outcome.

Has anyone actually read the book? Is it any different or am I doomed?

I give this movie a 4.5/5 only because of the ending.

Salt to the Sea

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It took me a couple of months but I finally finished this book. It was not my favorite of Sepetys’ three novels, but certainly ranks high as far as historical fiction goes. Reading the Author’s Note at the end gave me a greater appreciation for the amount of research Sepetys does for her novels. You know she’s dedicated when she spends 3 years doing research, interviews, tours, and traveling to multiple countries for 1 novel. I don’t have the patience to finish anything I start. That’s why I will never be a novelist. Plus, as most writers I hate my own work.

This novel is unique because Sepetys tells the story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff through the voices of 4 characters. Joanna, is a young Lithuanian nurse trying to help others to appease her guilty conscience. She meets Emilia, a 15 year old pregnant Polish girl trying to survive the deathly cold alongside Florian, a mysterious Prussian who is hiding a secret from everyone. The three characters come into contact with the fourth, Alfred, aboard the Wilhelm Gustlaff at the end of World War II. All 4 characters have a story to tell of how they are trying to survive the war.

I like the fact that not all the characters are likeable, especially Alfred. He is a tormented soul, not quite all there mentally but still a three-dimensional character. He writes letters to his Hannelore in his head, to keep himself sane and boost his ego about being an important soldier serving Hitler.

Joanna was probably my favorite. She is a young woman full of emotions but trying to hide them all. She is interested in Florian, whom Emilia calls “the knight.” She tries very hard to help others as best she can, to make up for all the needless guilt she feels. I related to her the most.

Emilia is a quiet, young girl with a strong will to fight all through all of the suffering she has endured. She stays close to Florian because she views him as her savior, literally and figuratively. She looks to him as protection and safe-keeping from the war.

Florian was a hard one to figure out. You don’t quite know his whole story until the very end. He is on a mission to save an important artifact but pretends to work for Hitler most of the time, to save his life. He doesn’t open up to anyone until he meets Joanna. I like him because he is the romantic figure in the book without trying to be.

Although I liked this novel a lot, I will say the shipwreck portion was a bit disappointing for me. I have seen the movie Titanic a hundred times and this has some of the same descriptions and lines as the movie. I will say she did do her research and got the time period very accurate as to what would have been available in case of a ship sinking and the realities of imminent death. I just wished for something a little bit different I suppose.

I would highly recommend this book, especially if you like historical fiction/ or World War II accounts.

I give this one a 3.5/5.

So, it’s been awhile.

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So, I haven’t had a new post in quite some time, for several reasons. I started a new job 3 months ago, I’ve had some new health issues, and I’ve generally been too stressed out and tired to read. I’m in the middle of 3 books, one of which, I should finish really soon. I got this idea from another blogger I follow—jessreadingnook.wordpress.com. You make a list of all the books you own but haven’t read yet, and make a goal to read some over the summer. Now, I’m kind of a slow-reader, in that, I read big chunks at a time with several days or week in between. I read the most when I had my tonsils taken out—7 books in 3 weeks! But I will make some sort of goal. This list is not completely accurate—it’s only the books from my To-Read list on Goodreads that I know I own, but there are several more that I can’t remember right now. Have to check my shelves later. So here you go, a list of books I own but have yet to read. Feel free to comment on which books you liked, didn’t like, recommend I read first, etc.

1. The Wizard of Oz books 2-10 by Frank Baum

2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

3. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

4. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

5. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

6. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

7. Yes, My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You by Kunal Nayyar

8. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

9. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

10. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

11. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

12. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

13. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

14. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

15. The Lighting Thief (Percy Jackson Series #1) by Rick Riordan

16. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

17. The Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (I’ve started it 3 times)

18. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

19. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult

20. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (about half-way through)

22. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (nearly half-way through, second time reading)

23. The Little House on the Prairie series (1 giant book)

24. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

 

The Lady and the Unicorn

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I read Tracy Chevalier’s other novel, The Girl with the Pearl Earring when I was in high school, so I figured I’d try another one of her novels. I didn’t like this one as much.

Chevalier likes to write about famous paintings like The Girl with a Pearl Earring and create a fictional backstory for the painting. In this case, she wrote about The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries from the 1490’s.

A French nobleman commissions Nicholas des Innocents to paint the designs for 6 luxurious tapestries. Nicholas is a self-serving bachelor, looking for pleasures only for himself. He is a great artist but morally, a terrible person. He tries to sleep with the nobleman’s daughter, but when he is caught by a lady in waiting named Beatrice, the daughter, Claude, is banished to the nunnery to keep herself a virgin until marriage. Nicholas goes to Brussels and meets with the cartoonist to enlarge the designs, and to meet the weaver family.

Georges de la Chapelle and his family work very hard to make sure the tapestries are finished in time. But when the French nobleman, Jean Le Viste moves up the due date of the tapestries, Georges must enlist his wife, Christine, to help weave, even though it is breaking the law. Meanwhile, Nicholas returns after many months and seduces their blind daughter, Aliénor to save her from having to marry a nasty man. After 2 years of 16 hour days of constant weaving, the Chapelle family finally finishs Le Viste’s tapestries.

The story is told from the point of view of several characters, a different one for each chapter. I thought this was an interesting way to tell a story, especially when I didn’t care for the main character, Nicholas des Innocents. My favorite was probably Aliénor. She is an innocent girl who was destined for the life of a dyer’s wife because she will never get a better offer due to her blindness. She ended up getting pregnant from Nicholas but the cartoonist, Philippe, offeres to marry her, because he  always loved her. That was my favorite part of the book.

I thought the book was fairly descriptive in terms of describing the tapestries, but since I am a visual person, I wanted to see pictures of them rather than read about them. It’s hard to write about something that is meant to be experienced with our eyes.

I would recommend Girl with a Pearl Earring before this book.

2/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife

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I saw the movie back when it was in theaters (2009) and don’t remember much about it. Honestly, I went with a guy that ignored me the entire time and it was so awkward, mostly because Eric Bana’s butt is shown multiple times throughout the movie and the couple in front of us made out the entire time. Cue awkward silence!

So I went into this book basically not knowing anything, which was good because I couldn’t put it down some nights. The story is about a man named Henry with a rare “Misplaced Person’s” condition: he time travels involuntarily. Every time Henry gets stressed or anxious or even watches TV, he drops his clothes and appears in either the past or the future. His travels are usually followed by much throwing up and the need for nourishment immediately after.

Henry meets his wife for the first time when she is 6 years old, in 1977, and he is 36 from the year 2000. He frequently visits his wife, Clare, when she is young and he is older in this way, always appearing in the Meadow near her home. Over the years, Clare keeps track of every date that Henry comes to visit her and she eventually gives him the list when she meets him for the first time, as a 28 year old man. She has seen him all her life, but he never meets her until he’s 28 but starts to see her as a child when he’s much older. Quite confusing, I know.

The book spans several years, going back and forth from when Clare and Henry meet on his time traveling-excursions, to when they are newlyweds, to when they are older and trying to have a baby. The author does a great job of keeping the story line on track with the ages of each character and the dates at the beginning of each section. The story is linear, but it moves between flashbacks and real time. It keeps the story interesting and sometimes you have to figure out what Henry knows about his life and when.

I was drawn to Clare much faster than Henry. He’s kind of a douche-bag before he meets Clare, when he tries to find love in all the wrong places. But Clare has known her whole life that Henry is the man she will marry someday so she spends most of her teenage years waiting for her “boyfriend” that none of her friends have seen or would believe if they did.

As a reader, you feel sorry for Henry because he can’t control when he leaves and what he will see, especially when he sees hard times ahead for himself and Clare. He even finds out when he will die and how, almost like a cancer patient. I think I feel worse for Clare because she has to pick up his clothes when he disappears and she might see him in 10 minutes or 10 days. I couldn’t imagine living like that, not knowing when my husband will come home and what condition I will find him in (at one point, he gets beaten up and even gets frostbite on his time travels).

The book overall is a page-turner, sad, and well-written. For a debut novel, this is a good one. I would recommend this to the romantic.

3/5

 

 

 

The Outsiders

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I had never read this book before, although a lot of you probably read it in middle school. This is a story about teenage gang life in the 1950’s.

The main character and first person perspective is Ponyboy. His brother’s names are Darry and Sodapop. They were orphaned after their parents were killed in a car crash. Darry got a job and Soda dropped out of school to work at a gas station.

Ponyboy is the youngest boy, a small but tough greaser just like the rest of his friends. Greasers are low-life, low-income, t-shirt and jeans wearing, greasy-haired boys. Their arch enemies are the Socials, or Soc’s. The Soc’s are preppy rich kids who think the greasers are nobodies.

The main plot is about when Ponyboy and his friend Johnny get in a fight with some Soc’s and Johnny kills one of them to save Ponyboy from getting drowned. The rest of the story involves them running away and their friend Dally helps bring them supplies. I don’t want to give anything else away.

The rivalry between the greasers and the Soc’s is interesting because it draws a lot of parallels to our own teenage years in the new century. Even though the differences between the groups are unique to that era, the reasons behind the differences are the same. It’s all about money and social status. The greasers were called greasers because they always wore a ton of grease in their hair, but it’s also a symbol of who they are and they are proud to be greasers.

I watched the 1983 movie after I finished the book. It followed pretty closely and then skipped some scenes with the brothers at the end. For an 80’s movie, it was alright. It’s packed with great actors, such as Patrick Swayze, Ralph Maccio, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, and Diane Lane. It’s so fun to see them all as babies!

I would recommend the both the book and movie.

2.5/5

Yes Please

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Amy Poehler: comedienne, actor, dancer, ex-wife, mother, occasional pot-smoker, sister of Tiny Fey. She is many things, and now, a writer!

Poehler mentions many times in her book about how hard writing is, and she would be absolutely correct. It’s hard to write about other books, passions, music, ideas. But sometimes it can be hardest to write about yourself. In this book, Poehler writes about her early childhood, family, friends, how she got started in comedy, how she came to work for SNL, and her biggest accomplishment (in my opinion) Parks and Recreation.

Let me say first that I loved the medium of this book. The pages were thick and bright. There were family photos and memories throughout, and each section began with a neon colored page and big lettering. There were a lot of pages but it was a quick read.

I only really new Amy Poehler from Parks and Rec and I recently saw her in the movie Sisters with Tina Fey. I thought she was funny without trying to be. Amy and Tina act like best friends in all of their sketches and that’s because they are! I like learning about celebrities’ real lives and Amy did her best to stay true to herself and speak honestly and openly about her life while also maintaining her sense of humor.

A few of the things Amy writes about:

  • First attempts at acting
  • Improvisation in college
  • Drugs
  • Getting wasted
  • Sex advice
  • Having children and being a working mother
  • The after-effects of divorce
  • Working with her best friends at SNL
  • Anxiety

I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of Amy Poehler. If you’re not, just get Netflix and turn on Parks and Rec and you’ll see what I mean.

4/5 rating