Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Book & Movie Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten
by Gretchen McNeil

Summary: Shhhh! Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island. You do not want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
So I've been meaning to read this book for ages and finally got around to it because I wanted to watch the movie adaptation that Lifetime did. And, well, the book was a pleasant (or not so pleasant, given the genre?) surprise but the movie was a let down.

Let's start with the book: it had me thoroughly hooked right from the start and it kept me guessing right the way through, even when I'd guessed right I still didn't lose interest. The book was pretty much what I was hoping for when I read There's Someone Inside Your House but this one really delivered that 90's slasher movie feel in a way TSIYH didn't quite pull off.

Basically, I really enjoyed the story. I read it in one sitting. The only thing I kind of hated was the mental health representation in the book, I felt like that aspect was kind of done poorly, but other than that, it was good.

Now...the movie. I loved the cast (especially Meg, TJ, Kumiko and Gunner), but the rest of it was kind of a hot mess. 

It stayed pretty true to the book but the script was kind of mediocre and the direction was pretty terrible (the pacing was all off, the transition between scenes wasn't done well and in the book, a lot of the story takes place during a storm and yet in this, it was all bright and broad daylight, which didn't really give the story the atmosphere the book had). Large parts of it had a very high school class project vibe to it rather than professional movie.

It is worth watching for the cast or if you like the book, or you just want something quick and fun to watch, but I wouldn't recommend going into it with high expectations.

Overall, the book gets 4 stars out of 5. The movie gets 2 out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Top Ten Books From My First Year of Blogging

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in a while (if one showed up last week or the week before? I wrote this one first)...but I saw this topic and couldn't not post. It was fun going back to see the books I was reading back in 2008/09 (blog started late 08).

So...these are the books I was loving almost 10 years ago:

1. Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Melina is one of my favourite authors, and I'm including two books from her because after I read Jellicoe I went on to read and love her other books as soon as I could. My love for Jellicoe Road and her as an author have definitely stood the test of time, I still love that book just as much (if not more) and have loved her more recent books too.

2. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

I don't remember too much about this book beyond a micro pig and a snow storm, but I remember loving it at the time...and I think I might actually give it a reread this year nearer Christmas.

3. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

I think this one might have been my first Sarah Dessen book and I obviously loved it enough to put her on my insta-buy list. I think I own all but a couple of her books, though I've yet to read them all. And I think I need to have a week dedicated to Sarah Dessen catch up reading sometime soon.

4. The Boys Next Door and Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

I remember loving these books so much at the time. I had an addiction to those little Simon Pulse romcoms with the awful cartoon covers and Jennifer's were some of my favourites, she used to be on my insta-read list (she didn't do anything to warrant not being on the list anymore, I just got distracted by other books by other authors and fell behind with hers). I still have the new bind up of The Boys Next Door with the sequel she wrote for it, but I've not read it yet.

5. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

I lovelovelove this series so much. I remember binge reading all of the books in a few days (granted, they are tiny, but the point was that I was hooked). I've been struggling so much trying to read the newest edition she wrote for the series, it's made me question whether it's just a really bad sequel or maybe the other books were like that too and I just didn't notice...so I guess I'll need to reread at some point to find out.

6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This is another one I used to love so much. I still have so much love for the original trilogy, but I'm still trying to drag my way through the last few books in the series, I just want for the series to be over now (a trilogy, extended to 6 books, with a prequel trilogy, spin off books/novella's, and a sequel spin off series and more planned for after that...there can be too much of a good thing).

7. Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell

I think I won this book in a contest and ended up loving it way more than I expected to. I'd quite like to reread it now just to see what the representation is like now that I'm more aware of it...the main character is a fat girl, the love interest is a guy in a wheelchair, so it's a pretty diverse romance (I just wasn't paying much attention to whether or not it was good representation at the time).

8. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

I loved this book and this series (again, I'm not sure if it would be considered good racial/cultural representation or not), and I think Simone was actually the second author we ever interviewed on the blog (I think I actually reached out to her to see if she'd like to be interviewed on the blog because I loved her books so much and she was kind enough to say yes).

9. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I...can't remember if I loved this book or not (I actually didn't read the reviews for the books on this list because my old reviews make me cringe). I think I at least liked it because I bought Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (another David and Rachel co-authored book that came out later). I do remember not loving it as much as I loved Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist...but I was really excited when I saw they'd adapted this one into a movie too, so I must have some fondness for it, I just don't really remember how I felt when reading it.

10. Evernight by Claudia Gray

I think I loved this book. I remember reading it back when I wanted a vampire book to fill the Twilight void and this one was fun and I remember loving the twist in the story...and I bought at least one of the sequels. Problem is, I never got around to reading the rest of the series and I'm not convinced I'd enjoy the series if I went back to it now.

But anyway, it was fun wading through some old blog nostalgia for a while.

Later.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Franklin's Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett

Franklin's Flying Bookshop
written by Jen Campbell
illustrated by Katie Harnett


Summary: Franklin the dragon loves stories and loves reading stories to people too, but everyone is too scared to even talk to him. One day, he meets a girl named Luna who, rather than being afraid, is fascinated to meet Franklin, having recently read all about dragons in one of her books. They instantly become friends and talk nonstop about what they’ve read: books about roller-skating, King Arthur, spiders, and how to do kung fu. Together they hatch a plan to share their love of books with others by opening a bookshop―a flying bookshop, that is―right on Franklin’s back!
I don't read/review many picture books, but I love Jen's Youtube channel and my best friend is having a baby next month so I got this book for her because...well, dragons and books, how could I not?

The artwork is absolutely stunning (and the quality of the finished book with the foiling is beautiful), the style matched the story perfectly. And the story? I loved the story, it's just as adorable as I expected it to be.

I didn't love the writing style (which is what lowered the rating), but that might be because I like writing in picture books to have a bit more rhythm to them and to be memorable than it was in this one (although lines like "Luna and Franklin feel like they are made out of stories." were lovely). I think maybe my expectations for the actual writing might've been too high given some of Jen's poetry I've read before.

Overall, it's an excellent book. I'm tempted to get a copy for myself just for how aesthetically pleasing it is.

Rating break down:
Story: 4.5/5 stars
Writing: 3.5/5
Artwork/aesthetics: ALL OF THE STARS!
Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5

Later.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Ten Books I Struggled With

So the theme for this week was basically books we struggled with (whether it's ones we DNF or ones we loved in the end or whatever).

This topic interests me because I have such a hard time giving up on books, even if I'm struggling with them. There haven't been many books I've definitively decided to DNF, usually I put them down with the intention of going back to them at some point...and that frustrates me so much. I wish I could quit books more easily, but this list explains why I don't.

The Ones I've Left in Limbo

These are books I've been struggling to finish for over a year but haven't entirely given up on yet.

And I Darken by Kiersten White - I started reading this book last year. Still haven't finished it. So many people seem to love it and I can get why they do...the main character is really interesting, she's so unlike most of the female narrators I've read...the problem is the book is boring. At least, it's boring to me. I'm determined to finish it, I just don't know when. 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - I tried reading this one a couple of times but the style just isn't my kind of thing...but everyone speaks so highly of it that I feel like I can't just quit it entirely. I will read it. At some point. Someday. In a galaxy far far away...perhaps. 

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey - I absolutely adore the first book in this series and I was so excited for this one...but what I read of it was kind of boring and I wasn't really into the way the plot was going and it lost the spark the first book had...but my love for the first book is making me refuse to quit this one entirely.

The Ones I Loved in the End

These books were ones I struggled with, but I ended up loving... More than that, they ended up on my favourites shelves. These books are to blame for my inability to just put a book down and decide its not for me -- because had I given into that impulse to give up on these books, I would have missed out on fantastic books, so whenever I'm struggling with a book there's always that little "but what if it gets good?" voice that won't shush.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I had so many false starts with this book. The writing was beautiful, but I found it so easy to put down and forget about...until one time I just sat down and finally read it all and I've never forgotten it since. 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - The first 50-100 pages of this were...not a struggle, per say, but it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the story, to really click with the characters and get what was going on. Melina is now one of my top 5 authors, this book is my favourite of hers. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - The first two thirds of this book were quite dull...and then the last third happened and it was love at first big plot twist. I adore this book so, so, so much and I was majorly close to giving up on it, was so baffled by all of the hype surrounding it because I was so bored...and then that last chunk of the book totally made up for it. 

The Ones I'll Never Go Back To

I should maybe explain the primary reason I struggle with certain books: boredom. I can hate the characters, hate the story, be absolutely furious at the content...or a combination of all of these things (lookin' at you, Fifty Shades of WHY DID I READ THAT BOOK?!). I can tolerate a lot of crap in a book, is what I'm getting at. But I hate being bored when reading, that's one of the worst things a book can be for me, and these ones bored me (as well as having other issues).

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff - This book was...Well. It had potential to be fantastic (and this was before all of the issues with the author happened) but it felt like it was trying way too hard and the footnotes were so beyond annoying and completely boring and ruined the whole book. The footnotes were what made me quit the book entirely, but the plot moving at a snails pace didn't help matters.

A Brighter Fear by Kerry Drewery - This was a combination of boredom and hating the writing. I remember this book was one I was so excited for but I just could not finish it. 

Off Magazine Street by Ronald Everett Capps - I love the movie A Love Song for Bobby Long and then I found out it was based on a book. The book was not only duller than watching paint dry, but what I read of it was such pretentious, misogynistic trash. It's one of the rare occasions where the movie is better (the movie was written by a woman, I don't know how she managed to create something beautiful from the hot mess that was this book but she did). I think I got about a third of the way into the book before I threw it (literally) across the room and decided I was done with it.

The Ridiculous One

Just to make it an even ten...

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente - This book makes the list through no fault of its own  really. I remembered it when trying to think of DNF books for this section and this one made me laugh. 

What it boils down to is this: I'm scared of chalk. The sound of chalk, the feel of chalk...it makes me feel sick, it makes me want to cry. I cannot touch it. And this book had chalky pages (because of the paper it was printed on). I literally tried wearing gloves to read the book but I could still feel it and just - it's bothering me even trying to explain it. Trying to read this book was the biggest of reading struggles and in the end I gave the book to my best friend and sulked about the whole thing because I'm ridiculous. I'll probably read the Kindle version at some point.

There are way more books I could include on this list (especially the limbo section) but let's just leave it with the ten.

Later.

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