Mini Book & Movie Reviews: Fairest, The Half-Blood Prince, and The Theory of Everything

The Books

minireviews-fairesthpFairest

This backstory on Queen Levena was certainly illuminating. You can understand why, with the family that she has, that she would turn out so twisted, but that certainly does not excuse what she does. What she did to Evret Hayle made me extremely uncomfortable, and I was so sad for him and Winter and everyone else who was really involved. It was also really interesting though to see how everything tied in, and I think that helped me enjoy this book a little more. I think this is definitely an interesting addition to The Lunar Chronicles and have to hand it to Marissa Meyer for not pulling any punches with Levena’s character.

Rating: 4 stars

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

So I rated this one 4.5 stars on Goodreads, and I stand by that rating, but this has been one of the more forgettable books for me so far I think. I mean, what happens? Going to class, SNOGGING (I hate that word so much, especially since it sounds make up, but I guess it’s British?), Harry trying to spy on Malfoy, more snogging, Dumbledore sessions, and then SADNESS. Yeah, I had not been spoiled on that so I did not see that coming.

Ron was ridiculous in this book. I mean, I know he’s a teenage boy but wow, I wanted to rattle him. And then Ginny. I thought I was supposed to like Ginny? Actually, I did like her in the end and what she says to Harry, but I don’t like the Ginny who makes out in public and yells at Ron about it and just acts annoying. I was thinking what the heck does Harry see in her? And not only that, but I don’t feel Harry having feeling for her, I’m just told that he does. I’m not buying into the Harry-Ginny or the Ron-Hermione romances the way I hoped I would.

But I adore Luna. And I did like this book, overall, it just mostly feels like another stepping stone to the grand finale.

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Movies

minireviews-hptheoryHarry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

This is definitely my second favorite movie of the series so far now, as I felt it did a much better job of sticking with the highlights and not making too many unnecessary changes, except for a couple of glaring exceptions. First, what the heck was with them burning the Weasleys’ house?! And then that’s it, no follow up?! Maybe it will make sense to me later, but right now I’m just perplexed. That’s a big thing to just add in there! And then of course there’s Ginny…

I’ve seen where a lot of people complain about movie Ginny, which at first I wasn’t understanding, because, as I mentioned before, I found her kind of annoying in the book, and she seemed sweet in the movies, including this one… UNTIL IT GOT WEIRD. What was with her in the Room of Requirement when she’s like, “Close your eyes,” and kissing Harry and “I can stay if you’d like me to.” I mean, really?! That was the weirdest crap ever.

But I loved that scene with Harry and Hermione when she asks Harry how it feels to see Ginny with Dean, and he responds to her crying, “Like this.” So sweet. And I liked Luna saving Harry in the beginning, not that I had a problem with Tonks doing it in the book, but this way we got less Snape and more Luna. (I HATE THAT MAN.)

Rating: 4 stars

The Theory of Everything

This movie was not what I expected. No doubt that Eddie Redmayne did a phenomenal job playing Stephen Hawking, but I felt very hollow at the end. I didn’t feel I really got the “point” of the movie, and all the triumph in Hawking outliving his life expectancy is overshadowed by the brokenness of his family. If you’re expecting this movie to simply be a feel-good love story of Stephen and Jane and how they deal with Stephen’s conditions, then you’ll find yourself as disappointed as I was. This story ends with the deterioration of their marriage, which made me just feel sad for them, even more so than the diagnosis had.

Rating: 3.5 stars

What are your thoughts on any of these books and/or movies?

My Top 10 Books I Have Read So Far This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013. Well, I’m an extremely lightweight book blogger, so I have read exactly 10 books so far this year (if you don’t count a couple of really short companion e-books). Though this isn’t much for some, this is actually pretty big for me as it means I am on par with my goal of reading at least 20 books this year (though I would love to pick up the pace and read a few more!), which will put me at reading more books this year than I have in a single year since… before high school. So there you have it.

Since I have read only 10 books this year, I thought I would rank each book from least favorite (which thankfully I still didn’t hate) to most favorite, and why I ranked them accordingly.

TTT

10. Reached by Allie Condie (2 Stars)

This book, as the end of a series, was fairly disappointing. The beginning of the book showed potential, with a plague outbreak caused by the Rising, who we had believed were supposed to be the good guys, but then it went downhill. For starters, since this was the first book of this trilogy I had read since reading The Giver, I suddenly realized that the Society in this series was a little too similar to that of The Giver. Also, I thought most of the characters felt out of place. I don’t want to re-review the book; you can see my thoughts on it by clicking on the the book title.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (3 Stars)

I loved the concept of this one… a girl who is cryogenically frozen wakes too early on a spaceship still years from its destination. The execution of it… was just OK for me. It featured a really creepy mating season among humans on the ship, a lackluster romance, but some interesting twists. I plan to finish the series one day as I’ve heard it gets better, but let’s just say I wasn’t rushing to buy the second book after finishing this one.

8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (3 Stars)

The Last Battle turned out to be neither my favorite nor least favorite in The Chronicles of Narnia, with a story that was part boring, part interesting, but wrapped up with a beautiful ending.

7. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (? Stars) 

I still haven’t figured out how to rate Till We Have Faces, because it left me with more questions than answers. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, as I know C.S. Lewis was much smarter than I am, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Still, there was a certain captivating quality to it. Watch for my review to come soon.

7-10

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

This follow-up for Cinder did not do as much for me as the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, but I still found it enjoyable overall. I do love the characters and world Meyer has created, and I am looking forward to Cress!

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4 Stars)

Reading this book was me dipping my toe into science fiction waters. It’s an interesting story about a bright boy who is sent to train for a war when he is far too young, and the secrets kept from him. I enjoyed it overall, but there were parts that were slow and that did not enjoy as much. By the recommendation of a friend, I do plan to read at least one of the follow-up books, Ender’s Shadow. I’m also looking forward to the movie later this year!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

I absolutely adored this first book of The Lunar Chronicles, especially the friendship/blooming relationship between Cinder and Kai. Truly the most swoon-worthy romance (even though it was really a pre-romance) I’ve read this year! The only real reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was because it was just way too predictable. Still, this was a great debut by Meyer!

6-4

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 Stars)

A heartbreaking book filled with beautiful words. I’m not sure what else to say without writing another review.

2. Start by Jon Acuff (5 Stars)

If you’ve been on this blog long enough or read my About Me, you know I have been influenced by author and speaker Jon Acuff, who has this idea that anyone can work towards their dream, but it may not always happen the way you expect it. I can’t really do his words justice, though. But if you’ve had a dream banging around the back of your mind, if you’ve ever wondered what your next step in life should be, if you wake up every morning wishing you could quit your day job, read Quitter and Start. They are five star books for me because if you follow his advice, it’s life-changing. I’m still in the middle of the process of working on my dream, and starting this blog has played a role in that. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (5 Stars)

Unbroken, the true account of a WWII fighter pilot’s life before, during, and after his incarceration at multiple Japanese POW camps is simply a stunning tale. I don’t read much non-fiction, especially long historical books like this one, but it always kept my interest, and Louie’s story never ceased to amaze me. If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one. I would recommend it to EVERYONE.

3-1

What have been your favorite reads this year so far? 

Wednesday Round-Up: Cress, Audi Commercial, & Ender’s Game

Marissa Meyer just posted some news about the next installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Cress. The retelling of Rapunzel is set to release next February! I’ve just jumped on this bandwagon but I’m pretty excited! I’ll be even more excited when we get some cover art! For now, I’ll just post this perfect GIF from Tangled’s Rapunzel:

RapunzelFor all my fellow Trekkies out there, you have to watch this hilarious Audi commercial featuring old Spock and new Spock (AKA, Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto). I laughed so hard:

And then last in my round-up today is the new trailer for the book-turned-to-movie Ender’s Game. I reviewed the book recently and I am looking forward to the movie, which looks pretty good, but I’m sure it won’t be quite as good as the book. Though the one to two second clip we get of Valentine (Abigail Breslin) hugging Ender brought on the feels for me. Check it out here:

Enders-Game-Poster1

I was originally going to post my Top 10 Light and Fun Movies  today, in honor of me skipping out on yesterday’s TTT due to lack of ideas, but be on the lookout for it on Friday instead.

Anyone else excited about Cress and the Ender’s Game movie? And please share your thoughts on the Audi commercial!

Review: Scarlet

scarlet

I was so excited about Scarlet about reading Cinder, though I wondered, Will I love Scarlet the character as much as I love Cinder the character? 

So I begin to read. And several chapters into it I was wondering when the action was going to happen. Though Cinder does not begin action-oriented, it was able to hold my interest right from the start. But Scarlet at the tavern… Cinder meeting Thorne and breaking out of jail… Scarlet at the fights… blahblahblah… it was all very slow and didn’t hold my interest as well as Cinder’s story at the beginning. I did like the part where Scarlet’s dad shows up at the farm searching for what his mother was hiding. But for a while, I was starting to seriously wonder about this sequel.

Things finally started to pick up after a while, and somewhere probably in the last third of the book, the action and plot really kicked up a few notches. This time, I didn’t see ALL the plot twists coming (like I did in Cinder) and so was a little bit more surprised. I wondered after Cinder how the story could continue to be stretched over three more books, but after reading Scarlet, I understand better, and the overarching story is becoming clearer. I like that we continue to get Cinder’s POV at times, Kai’s, and once even Queen Levena’s! I ended up not liking Scarlet nearly as much as Cinder, though this is more personal preference than anything, as she is a pretty strong character. Wolf was deeply complex, but he’s definitely no Kai. Not that he should be necessarily, but he doesn’t even compare on the charm factor. Thorne annoyed me at first, but I actually grew to like him better as the book went on. I feel Cinder probably felt the same way.

The story flows well, even with its growing complexity and multiple POVs (I think it really helps to have the third person POV when doing multiple characters’ POV (I’m looking at you, Aly Condie)), and I’m interested in seeing how the story continues in the next installment! I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you’ve read Scarlet, what were your thoughts?

P.S. And on a completely unrelated note…

may-the-fourth-yodaI should have prepared for this day better and tone a top 10 related to Star Wars. Maybe next year!

Review: Cinder

Cinder

When I first heard about Cinder, it sounded interesting, but did not really appeal to me initially. Then I kept I hearing nothing but love for it, so I finally checked it out.

graphic-synopsisCinder is a cyborg mechanic who lives in New Beijing with her awful stepmother and two stepsisters (one also awful, one nice). Cinder does not remember life from before she was 11, when she was told she had reconstructive surgery after an accident, and with no real rights of her own, her future looks grim.

graphic-thoughtsCinder was one of those books that hooked me right from the beginning, and I am not even sure why. I don’t know anything about this world that Cinder lives in, I don’t know what it’s like to be a cyborg or a mechanic, and I don’t know what it’s like to have an android as a best friend and for your guardian to hate you, but I found Cinder so relatable and likable from the start. I believe that the way Meyer crafted the story was just so good that it made me understand Cinder right away and root for her.

It’s fun to see the parallels of this story and the Cinderella story we all know, but it’s even more fun to explore this completely different world that Cinder lives in. I love her interactions with her android Iko, her sister Peony, and of course with Prince Kai, who is instantly charming but not in a completely unrealistic way. We even occasionally get his POV, which I like, but it’s never too much, just enough to sympathize with him and what he is going through. I love watching how their friendship blossoms, how it starts off innocent and somewhat flirty instead of it being rushed into something serious or being “insta-love.”

The plot is good too, but a story can thrive or die because of its characters, and Cinder has strong characters. Even the characters you hate serve their purpose and serve it well, and you hate them because you’re supposed to, not because the author made them unintentionally stupid or annoying. The pacing of the story is also great; things move quickly enough for the action to flow, but not too fast.

My rating for this book would be 4.5 stars, and it loses half a star for two reasons:
1.) The “big reveals” are extremely predictable.
2.) There is no real resolution at the end, but that’s because it’s the first of a series. I don’t really fault it for this, but it’s hard to give a book 5 stars if you don’t know how the story actually ends.

Though I pointed out all the happy, fairy tale-esque moments of the book, but there are some heavy undertones with a threat of war and vicious plague killing thousands, and the end of the book leaves our protagonist in a darker place than where she started. But there is hope, and more books, so I look forward to seeing how the journey unfolds! I found Cinder to be a fast, enjoyable read.

graphic-quotable

“Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?” – Prince Kai to Cinder

If you’ve read Cinder, what were your thoughts on it?