Twilight – Stephenie Meyer, Book Review

Everyone remembers the first time they heard about Twilight. I’ll share my story with you. I was in a bookstore at some point in tenth grade and went through the teen books. There was a book on the shelf called Twilight. I read the back and it sounded kind of interesting. I like vampires. So I bought it and started reading. This was before all of the hype, before anyone knew what it was. Before anyone was there to impede on my experience and tell me it was bad before I read it. And that made it much more of an interesting read.

Twilight is about a fairly typical, awkward teenage girl, Bella, who moves in with her dad. She falls in love with a boy in her new high school, Edward, who reveals to her that he is a vampire who thirsts for her blood.

That’s the basic plot. No point going any deeper – mostly everyone knows the forbidden love story. But because no one ruined my idea of the book, I actually liked reading it the first time. The grammar and writing is not amazing. I’m surprised at the horrid editing job. Aside from that, the story was kind of captivating. Would Bella survive to the end? Would Edward be able to hold himself back from hurting her? Would her regular, human friends find out Edward’s secret?

People call Bella a boring Mary Sue character meant to be an empty vessel wherein the reader can put their own personality. I found Bella to have a personality. Sure, it wasn’t a good one. She tends to be very moody, selfish and kind of dense, but she’s a teenager. And whether or not teen girls want to admit it, that’s what they’re going through. Edward, on the other hand, was mysterious and fairly gentlemanly. I actually found it intriguing and creative that vampires sparkled in the sun rather than melting or burning up, but here’s where I finish the positive comments.

What I find irritating about Twilight is the author and her fans who think that this is a wonderfully romantic love story. Edward and Bella do not have a healthy relationship. It’s great that they’re trying to conquer the odds, and it’s very entertaining to read for a teen girl who only dreams of her own romance tales, but it is not a good relationship, as he is very controlling.

Twilight isn’t an epic novel. It’s not a quality read. It’s a book that people read simply for entertainment, so they have something to do that makes them smile. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with this.

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell – Chris Colfer, Book Review

The minute I heard that Kurt from Glee was writing a children’s book, I knew I had to get a copy. A lot of people were hesitant because a lot of actors who think they can write really cannot write. People were also hesitant because it was a children’s book. Well here’s my philosophy: Chris Colfer is a hugely talented man of many words, and a book should not be judged on its intended audience. So I read it as soon as I possibly could.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of 11-year-old twins, Alex and Connor, lovers of fairytales who find themselves in possession of a strange storybook. When Alex falls into the pages of the book, Connor jumps in after his sister and they become stranded in a mysterious land of talking frogs and fairy princesses. But the Land of Stories isn’t everything they’d always expected, for Goldilocks is on the run from the law, Cinderella is expecting her first child, and Jack (right, like the beanstalk boy) is the unrequited love interest of the spoiled-rotten Red Riding Hood.

My reasons for loving Colfer’s book are copious, but I’ll try to contain my excitement. Firstly, I loved how he spun classic tales on their heads. Taking something well-known and making it into something completely new is a really good technique for drawing in readers, which Colfer clearly executes successfully. His original characters, namely Alex and Connor, are absolutely loveable.  You will find yourselves rooting for them to get through this wild adventure, constantly having you turning the pages.

I’m not a very fast reader, so the large volume took me a good day to complete. And when I say a day, I mean a day. I picked it up in the morning and did not stop reading until I was finished. Books rarely have that affect on me, or people in general.

If you’re looking for something to challenge your adult mind, you may want to skip over this, but if you’re looking to be entertained and charmed by a book that challenges the expectations of what constitutes a typical children’s book, I highly suggest The Land of Stories.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel, Book Review

Life of Pi ended up being my favourite summer read a few years ago. When I heard the summary, I was not too thrilled. It’s not something I would typically pick up and read, but I figured I’d give it a try. The minute I picked it up, I found it extremely difficult to put down again. I stayed up later at night to get more reading in, read on the bus, and read at my friend’s house until I got it done.

Life of Pi is a wonderful story about a boy, Pi, and his family zoo in India. The family decides to move their entire zoo to Canada, so they made arrangements, got on a boat and began their journey. But when a destructive storm rocks the ship, it leaves Pi stranded in the middle of the ocean on a small lifeboat with their most dangerous tiger. Pi must affirm his dominance over the tiger while trying to find his way to land, and find any trace of his family.

This book was simply mesmerizing. I was enthralled by the danger of Pi’s situation. I always wanted to know what would happen next. I was constantly wondering if he would ever find his family, or if he would outlive the tiger, or if they would ever make it to safety. And by the time I reached the end, I realized it wasn’t just a compelling story; it delivered a lovely message as well. I really recommend Life of Pi to anyone else who is slightly interested, and I’d gladly read anything else Martel decides to write.

Liebster Award!

So I was nominated by my good friend, Jessica, who writes at her blog The Music Enthusiast for this “award”, which is not really an award at all but a fun questionnaire where you answer questions and ask your friends new ones! Read the rules below, it’ll make more sense, I promise!

The steps/rules to complete The Liebster Award:

1.    Thank and mention the person who nominated you.
2.    Answer the 11 questions that you were asked.
3.    Nominate 5-11 blogs.
4.    Create 11 new questions for them to answer.
5.    List these rules in your post.
6.    Lastly, tell the blogs you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award, linking to your blog post on it so they can learn more about it.

Jessica’s Questions:

1. Best day of your life? (So far!)
I have a few really good days, but when I hear “best day of your life”, I honestly think back to last year’s Fan Expo when I got the chance to meet Nathan Fillion and have a ridiculously awesome fangirl moment. That entire weekend was great, but that was the highlight, so I choose that!

DSC00337

2. Favourite food?
Lots of foods! It depends on my mood, really. But if I have to be specific, I love burritos. Vegetarian burritos are my kryptonite.

3. Favourite month?
July! July is summer, July is my birthday, and July is just all-around chill.

4. Favourite book?
WHY DO YOU TORTURE ME, SO? I can’t pick one! But since I read it most recently and have declared it my favourite read of 2014, I’ll say Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Such a great read and the writing is phenomenally entertaining.

5. How do you take your tea? (or coffee?)
Tea: fruity tea, or green tea, lots of sugar.
Coffee: extra shot of espresso, skim milk, lots of sugar. I’ve been addicted to maple macchiatos from Starbucks, recently!

6. First concert you went to?
My first rock concert that I went to was Billy Talent with my dad when they toured their second album. It was definitely a great way to start me on the right foot for concert-going!

7. Your favourite photo of yourself? (could be a selfie, at an event, any age, etc.)
This is awkward, but I have quite a few LOL. I’m not vain, I just think I’m photogenic. But I’ll pick this one. It’s me from before the most recent Green Day concert I went to :D

IMG_50788. Most embarrassing moment?
My entire childhood. Next.

LOL No, I’ll answer. There was a guy I really liked in seventh grade, and we “dated” or whatever you want to call it when you’re twelve and in “mutual-like” with someone. Anyway, there was a school dance and we were dancing, but I guess because we were young and awkward, our arms were really outstretched, like we were trying to push each other away. And one of the teachers found this adorable and took a photo. And posted this photo on a bulletin board of photos from the dance.

To this day, I have people I knew from back then coming up to me and making fun of me for it. When the photos went up in seventh grade, it was merciless.

9. Favourite colour?
PINK. I’m not reall “feminine” or “girly” at all, but I love pink! It’s bright and funky.

10. Favourite album?
It’s a tie between two and the contrast is basically a summary of my life.
Green Day’s American Idiot and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.

11. Coolest place you’ve ever been to?
IMG_0391 IMG_0395

Hogwarts is my home.

 

I’m only going to nominate the one person I know who runs a blog, Christine – she writes at Padfoot’s Library – and here are my questions!

1. What’s your favourite concert you’ve been to?
2. Who is your favourite writer that you’ve only read one of their books?
3. If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
4. Share a photo of your bookshelf!
5. Where’s your favourite place you’ve been on vacation?
6. If you could learn one language, what would it be?
7. Share a photo of your favourite thing in your bedroom!
8. Who was your best friend from elementary school?
9. What’s your favourite restaurant?
10. Who is your favourite YouTuber?
11. Share a photo of you in cosplay!

 

My Inspiration: John Green

John Green is a huge inspiration to me for a number of reasons. In the order I’ve experienced Green’s novels, I have read: Paper TownsLooking for AlaskaAn Abundance of KatherinesWill Grayson, Will Grayson, and The Fault in Our Stars. The second I finished Paper Towns, I knew I’d discovered someone wonderfully unique. After having completed my first Green novel, I was introduced to his YouTube channel, vlogbrothers. And that is when my life became so impacted by this man.

First, I learned that it doesn’t matter how you write, as long as you find a voice of your own. I know that I’m reading John Green when I come across a series of thoughts executed in a) a list, or b) a Venn diagram. He inspired me to find my own creative voice in my writing and be confident in it, even though it may be different than how people normally write.

As a person, John Green inspires me to remain young at heart. Through watching his videos on YouTube, I’m so happy to see that a person who is silly and doesn’t dwell on how people view him can still remain such a highly respected personality. It’s reassuring to me as such a silly and unique person that an audience has respect for authors who can fully embrace the child (or even the fangirl) in themselves. It gives me hope for the youth of the future.

On a similar note, I see the way Green inspires young people all over the world to read, to do good for their community, and to be comfortable in their own skin, and it makes me want to follow in his footsteps. I want to convince teenagers that it is cool to be different, and it is cool to be a little dorky – because that’s what helps make a happy and understanding society.

John Green inspires myself and other nerdfighters to be ourselves, that it’s alright to be smart and nerdy. I really hope that when I become a published author, I could be half as inspirational and influential as my favourite author.

The Breakfast Club (1985), Film Review

I was in about eighth grade when a friend of mine shunned me for never having watched The Breakfast Club. She immediately brought the VHS the following day so she could come over and we would watch it. Once the credits were rolling, I couldn’t believe I had waited this long before watching the film. It is definitely a classic that goes much deeper than the average teen movie.

For those who aren’t familiar with the film, The Breakfast Club takes place when five high school students get punished with Saturday detention – one a prom queen, one a wrestler, one a nerd, one a loner, and one a punk. Forced to spend hours together, the five teens soon discover that they have more in common than they ever would have assumed.

The Breakfast Club has a fairly average plot when looked at half-heartedly, but if you’ve ever seen the film, you know it’s much more than a typical teen drama. Claire, Andrew, Brian, Allison and Bender not only realize the things they have in common, but they delve into an analytical mindset and start picking apart high school stereotypes as a whole and how dangerous it is to label a person.

I love the message this movie sends about labelling people in general – whether they be teens or adults. Unless you are very best friends with an individual and tell each other everything, you don’t know anything about other people. You don’t know their family life, how they feel about their friends, or how they feel about themselves. You can’t judge anyone based on the way they look or act. You don’t know how much of it is sincere.

If you haven’t yet fallen in love with these characters, please do yourself a favour.

(500) Days of Summer (2009), Film Review

 

I don’t even remember why I immediately wanted to see (500) Days of Summer. It may have been the fact that I love both Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but whatever the reason, I’d wanted to see this film since its release in theatres. Of course, I didn’t get to see it until it came out on DVD and the price dropped considerably. It was given to me as a gift, and for that I will be forever thankful.

(500) Days of Summer is a wonderful film wherein a boy (Gordon-Levitt) falls head over heels for a girl at work (Deschanel) and is crushed to learn that she isn’t interested in being in a relationship with anyone at this point in her life. Tom tries to inch his way into Summer’s life and convince her that they’re meant to be, while everyone in Tom’s life warns him that he should just let her go.

There were a few aesthetic choices made in this movie that really drew me in. First of all, I loved that it was executed out of order. Tom had Summer in his life for 500 days, but the story is not told in typical linear structure: you’ll see their relationship on day one, then maybe day three hundred, or day fifty-five… Knowing how it ends and going back to see what happens is always a great way to approach a story – you have more of a chance to critically analyze the situation as opposed to learning and analyzing at the same time.

I also really enjoyed the reality of the plot. Every movie has a love story, but not a lot of movies give a realistic story about falling in love and having to deal with it. When I finished watching this movie, I sat in my room and cried like a baby for an hour. (500) Days of Summer is a pretty powerful film that is funny, emotional and intriguing. If you haven’t seen it, take the time out of your schedule to learn about what love is really like.

Places, Please!: Becoming a Jersey Boy – Daniel Robert Sullivan, Book Review

In Sullivan’s Places, Please, he describes four types of Jersey Boys fans. And I’m not sure whether I’m a squealing teen girl, or a theatre girl who has the potential to be on Glee one day, but either way, it is for that reason I read this book. I’ve always prided myself on being part of the family that is the fans of Jersey Boys: Toronto, so when Dan Sullivan (ex-Tommy DeVito) asked us some questions for his upcoming Jersey bio, I was already excited to see the finished product. And it’s exactly what I hoped it would be, if not more.

Sullivan recounts his journey of months and months of auditions and rehearsals with hopes of accomplishing his mission of being cast in a big, Broadway show. And sure, Toronto isn’t exactly Broadway, but becoming part of the Jersey Boys family is close enough. Much like reading pages right out of Sullivan’s journal, the reader gets a very in-depth behind-the-scenes perspective of the audition process to get involved with a show of such great magnitude, and draws you in using interesting and, quite frankly, adorable anecdotes from his personal life.

I had a lot of trouble actually putting this book down, and not just because I’m already a huge fan of both Dan Sullivan and Jersey Boys as a whole. It was ridiculously entertaining to learn about the audition process and the New Yorker’s experiences in my favourite city.

Some of the grammar issues were painful, but I took those errors to be like I was reading a journal – errors that add personality and add a certain tone to the book. If it wasn’t written in a journal entry style, those things would bug me. But I enjoyed the style, and I really enjoyed the writing. Sullivan has a captivating sense of humor that will have you laughing out loud.

If you’re at all interested in musical theatre, I highly suggest giving this book a read!

The Rocky Horror Show – Play Review

I was practically jumping out of my skin when I found out that The Rocky Horror Show came to a nearby theatre. It would be put on by a local theatre school, which had me a little hesitant, but I’d been waiting too long for the opportunity to see this musical. Strangely, it’s something my family and I had loved together – so my dad, my sister and I all went with wide smiles to our second row seats and got ready.

I’m not even sure how to properly summarize The Rocky Horror Show, that’s how weird it is, but it’s weird in a wonderful way. Newly engaged Brad and Janet decide to go tell their old science professor about their upcoming wedding, because it was in his class that they met. On their way, their car breaks down and the couple find shelter from the rain in a nearby castle. But by making this stop, Brad and Janet have no idea what kind of a night they’re in for.

Rocky Horror is strange, funny and extremely entertaining. You’ll never know what’s coming next (unless you’ve seen the movie version beforehand, of course), and you’ll find yourself tapping your feet to the very catchy tunes. Audience participation is allowed and highly encouraged. A lot of the time, people are scared to go see this popular musical because they will feel silly participating by shouting or throwing things at the stage, or they won’t know what to do. But if you give it a chance, you’ll catch on soon enough.

Attending a production of Rocky Horror is something all theatre enthusiasts should do at least once in their lifetime.

To Mark or Not to Mark? On Personalizing Your Books.

I find that when it comes to books, there are two types of people: there are the book collectors who like to keep their pages clean, and there are the readers who like to mark up their pages. I am one of the latter.

I’m not biased one way or the other. I don’t hate on people who want to keep their books perfect; I get that. But I’m the kind of person who just likes to write things in the margins. I make notes. I highlight portions that I find particularly witty, funny, or philosophical.

A lot of people, even the marker-uppers, will disagree with me, but I love bending my spines. I love seeing those creases and saying, “Yes, I read that far into the book”. It’s making my mark on the novel, proving it’s my own. But again, it does ruin the spine and if you choose to read it multiple times, you’ll probably end up splitting your prized novel in two halves. I tend to not re-read my books, so I don’t mind so much.

I also love having people write in my books. I want to go through and write my name on the inside of each book. If the book was given to me by someone, I’d love for them to make their mark and sign the inside cover.

So I clearly like to personalize my books, no matter what damage it may cause. Though I completely understand why others disagree and try to keep their own books in mint condition.

Do you keep your books unmarked, or do you personalize?