Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: This is book 3 of the trilogy The Illuminae Files. This review will contain spoilers for the first two books. Here are my reviews for Illuminae and Gemina.

With the jump station Heimdall destroyed and nowhere else to go, Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik, and all the remaining survivors decide to head back to Kerenza IV on the Mao to see if there is anything or anyone left.

And there is. Kady's cousin Asha, having survived the initial BeiTech attack, is now doing her best to survive BT's occupation of what remains of colony. With their jump platform damaged in the original standoff, the BT troops who weren't killed have now taken over. Asha is doing her best to stay under the radar as she helps the underground insurgent movement try to find ways to send out help signals and sabotage BeiTech.

Unfortunately for her, as it turns out, one of the newly assigned ground soldiers happens to be her ex, Rhys. And conflicting emotions besides, there are only so many days left before BeiTech fixes their jump platform and kills all the civilians before leaving them behind.

And in the meantime, the Mao is on its way.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Movie review: A Wrinkle in Time

Not spoilery, but if you want to be TOTALLY surprised, then maybe read this after you watch it.

I haven't read A Wrinkle in Time in a VERY long while (save for the first handful of chapters, which I read a few weeks ago in preparation for the movie, but then I got sidetracked and didn't continue), but this book will always have a place in my heart because I remember being assigned to read the first chapter in sixth grade English over a weekend, and I ended up reading the ENTIRE thing that Friday night. It was the first school book I had ever read that didn't feel like a school book, and I loved it so much.

So when I originally heard there was going to be a movie, I flipped. And THEN when I heard that Meg would be biracial, I freaked the F out. The book was first published in 1962, and while there was a lot that was forward-thinking about the book, I loved that the filmmakers decided to push the story forward even more.

I know that not all the critics' reviews of the movie have been favorable (and I've not been reading any of them, so I don't know what their reasons are), but keep in mind that this IS in fact a kids' story, and that this IS Disney, and that the source material is from 1962. Thus, a Disney-made movie from 2018 is not going to be identical to a 1962 novel. They were not trying to keep the story in 1962 with this movie--Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling's character), who speaks in famous quotes, throws in Outkast and a Hamilton reference. (It's toward the end of the movie so you will have to wait for it. LOL I'M HILARIOUS.)

So, with all that in mind, yes, I felt like there were some corny moments or jokes, but that's because I'm an adult watching a movie made for kids right now, not a movie made for adults who read the book as kids. And yes, I felt like the pacing and exposition could've been better (especially since I recently reread the beginning of the book), but movie adaptations of books usually have a lot of material to squeeze into a short time anyway, so the point got across, even if it was done quickly.

But otherwise? I really loved this!!! And I thought it was made even better by Meg being biracial because it added a whole new dimension to the ridicule and lack of sympathy she was facing as the story begins. The fact that no teachers (regardless of their race) seem to recognize the pain she's feeling, the fact that she gets branded a delinquent even though she's genius-levels of intelligent feels so much more... IDK... impactful? given that she is a black girl.

And I love that the writers and filmmakers didn't just ignore her race either, as if Meg could've been played by anyone of any race and they just happened to cast a black actress--her character is black. There are a couple points in the movie where Calvin (boy who is her friend and likes her, and who is white, btw) mentions that he really likes her hair as it is (natural), and initially she's just like, NOPE. It's no coincidence that the mean girls at school all have silky straight hair. And at a later point in the movie, when the villain shows her a "better" version of herself, that version has straightened hair.

But Meg's magic is that much more magical too. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but one of the moments that really made me cry was when Meg and Mrs. Which (Oprah) were having a conversation where Meg basically says she wishes she could come back from their journey as someone else, and Mrs. Which tells her (paraphrased by me), "But there were so many choices and moments that had to have happened since the birth of the universe for you to exist right here in this moment, as you are." It was such a beautiful sentiment, and I'm just imagining how significant that exchange is, between the two characters as well as between the two actresses. Imagine being Storm Reid and shooting this scene where OPRAH is telling you that you are awesome just as you are. <3 And in fact, there are so many moments where other characters tell Meg how beautiful she is and how special she is, and I cried through all of them. In the scene where Zach Galifianakis (I had to look up the spelling), playing The Happy Medium, tells her that she is precious, he looked like he had tears in his eyes, and you know what? So did I.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that there is #blackgirlmagic all over this movie, and I AM HERE FOR IT. The overriding message of the movie, for anyone of any race, is that each of us has the capacity for good and love (and that we all of us deserve goodness and love), but it was beautiful to see a black girl at the heart of it in this movie.

And Storm Reid really was SO good. I know the movie marketing materials all have the Mrses (how the heck do you pluralize that? Misses?) splashed all over the place because Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling are a Big Deal (and Mattel even made Barbies of them), but COME ON. This is Meg's story. This is Meg's journey. And maybe no one knows who Storm Reid is yet, but now they will.

Also, by the way, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Mrs. Murry, is like, the most stunning kid-movie mom of all kid-movie moms, possibly ever. And I love how the Murrys marriage was depicted--well, not just their marriage, but their professional partnership too. It was something I've always appreciated about their characters in the book, and I love that it was well-preserved in the movie.

So yes, I loved it. If you haven't seen it yet, I would say, be prepared for things not to be just like the book. It is definitely an adaptation. But all the important parts are there: the science, the magic, the love, and the power of one Meg Murry.

Now I REALLY need to go reread the books.

*Note: comments have been turned off because my movie reviews tend to attract spambots*

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Thoughts at a glance: **** (I really liked it)

Summary: Blue Sargent, daughter of a psychic, has been told all her life that whoever her true love is, he will die. Thus, she has decided that it would probably be in her best interest to avoid boys in any capacity, and most especially, the rich, douchey ones who attend the nearby prep school, Aglionby.

But on this particular St. Mark's Eve, watching for the spirits of the soon-to-be-deceased, Blue sees the spirit of one particular Aglionby boy named Gansey. Blue, who has no psychic power herself, has never been able to see any of the spirits before, and the fact that she saw his carries significance, and not just because he's going to die within the next year.

Blue suddenly finds herself caught up with (the real, alive) Gansey, and he and his friends' desperate search for proof of ley lines and a long-lost Welsh king of legend. But as their search awakens magical forces beyond their control, old secrets and dangers also come to the surface that affect their group of friends.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Love & Ink by JD Hawkins

While my blog post itself does not contain any sexual content, this book does. This is a review for a book that is meant for mature audiences, and therefore is unsuitable for minors.

This book was provided to me for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for also providing the press kit with the graphics and blurb.

Thoughts at a glance: *** (I liked it)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann

Disclaimers: while my blog post itself does not contain any sexual content, this book does. This is a review for a book that is meant for mature audiences, and therefore is unsuitable for minors.

This book was provided to me for free by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts at a glance: **** (I really liked it)

Summary: (as provided by the publisher)
Flint Hopkins finds the perfect tenant to rent the space above his Minneapolis-based law office.

All the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted on Ellen’s application. Her references are good. And she’s easy on the eyes.

Until …

Flint discovers Ellen Rodgers, Board-Certified Music Therapist, plays music. Bongos, guitars, singing—not Beethoven administered through noise-cancelling headphones.

The cut-throat attorney serves up an eviction notice to the bubbly, constantly humming redhead who's too sexy for her own good. But luck is on Ellen’s side when Flint’s autistic son, Harrison, takes an instant liking to her. A single dad can’t compete with guitars—and rats. Yes, she has pet rats.

This woman …

She’s annoyingly happy with a constant need to touch him—adjust his tie, button his shirt, invade his space, and mess with his mind.

Still …

She must go.

Their lust-hate relationship escalates into something beautiful and tragic. This sexy, romantic-comedy explores the things we want, the things we need, and the impossible decisions parents and children make to survive.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: 50 years ago, Earth received a transmission from space, from a group of beings who called themselves the Undying. In their heavily coded message, they not only gave warnings about their civilization destroying itself, but they also gave enticing clues for how to find what they left behind on their home planet Gaia.

Now, Earth is dying, and everyone believes that the secret to saving Earth is somewhere on Gaia, after an initial exploration discovered tech that is helping to offset the effects of climate change that have been wreaking havoc on the environment. And with the coordinates of Gaia revealed, EVERYONE is trying to make their way--legally or illegally--to this new planet to try and find what they can.

Enter Mia, a scrappy street scavenger who smuggles herself over to Gaia because she desperately needs to find some spoils that she could sell for money. Enter also Jules, an archaeology genius with a burning need for just pure knowledge. Thrown together on an alien hostile planet, they need to work together to find their way through the secret messages and deadly traps set up in the Undying's ancient temple. However, as they progress, they find that perhaps the traps aren't the deadliest thing they will encounter.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Thoughts at a glance: **** (I loved it)

Summary: This is book 3 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, so this will contain spoilers for the first two books. Here are my reviews for book 1 and book 2.

For the final act of this story, the major battle ends up being not between the seraphim and the chimaera, but all of them against the Dominion, the brutal force captained by the newly crowned emperor, Jael. And Jael's major plans involve showing up in the human world and returning to Eretz with weapons of mass destruction.

Finally united in a tenuous alliance, Akiva and Karou must find a way to convince the remaining seraphim and chimaera to set aside their differences long enough to stop this even greater threat to their existence, as well as anyone else who stands in their way.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: This is book 2 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, so this will contain spoilers for the first book. To read my review of book 1, please go here.

Karou has finally discovered who she is, but at great cost--the lives of her friends and family. As the surviving chimaera are being viciously hunted down by the seraphim, Karou finds herself in the unfortunate position of having to ally with the vengeance-fueled chimaera leader who had her executed in her previous life.

Meanwhile, Akiva strives to find a way to continue to rebel against the seraphim leaders' orders, to try to atone in some way for the pain he has caused Karou. But stirring up a rebellion is a dangerous thing, and what seemed like a simple plan ends up turning into something bigger and far more dangerous to more than just seraphim and chimaera.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: To her art school classmates, and everyone else in Prague, Karou is a mystery. Does her hair really grow out of her head blue? Where does she get the inspiration for the fantastical monsters and stories that fill her famous sketchbooks? And where does she keep disappearing to for her mysterious "errands"?

Karou is even a mystery to herself--she's not sure where she came from or how her life came to be what it is, but yes, her monsters aren't just real; they're her family. Her hair grows blue because wish magic is true. And the errands she runs are for Brimstone, who is famous in the chimaera underworld for trafficking teeth that he uses for... some magical purpose that Karou doesn't understand.

And now, black handprints are showing up on every magical portal door that leads to Brimstone's shop, and seraphim are rumored to be the ones behind it. Karou finds herself caught in the midst of an ancient war that has literally been brought right to her doorstep, as she catches the attention of seraphim soldier Akiva, who can't seem to stay away from her.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Thoughts at a glance: *** (I liked it)

Summary: Lily Abbott couldn't care less about chemistry class, and tends to spend that time brainstorming lyrics to songs that she'll never finish. But one day after she scribbles some lyrics to an obscure song she loves on her desk, she is surprised to find a response from a fellow student who sits in her same desk.

Lily and the mystery guy end up becoming chem class pen pals, sharing not just band recommendations but also deeply personal thoughts. Through him, Lily finds inspiration for a song for an upcoming contest and also possibly... love? But she has no idea who he is.

In the meantime, her best friend's ex (and overall popular jerk), Cade, keeps showing up in her life, unexpectedly and unwelcome. Lily can't stand the sight of him and verbally spars with him every chance she gets, but the more she gets to know him, the more there seems to be below the surface.

At any rate, she's got a song she needs to write, a house full of crazy family that she needs to balance, and a mystery letter writer that she needs to find...