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Talking As Fast I Can Book Review

So as you know I’m obsessed with Gilmore girls. (HA, understatement of the year.)

As you may also know (thanks to my Instagram that I much more faithfully update than this poor pretty little child blog of mine), when I found out that Lauren Graham was writing a book about her experiences as Lorelai on the old and new Gilmore sets, I completely freaked out.

Like, I don’t think I’ve as ever impulsively bought a book as I did when I clicked “preorder” on Amazon in September. (That’s a lie, I’ve grabbed off of the shelves at Goodwill faster than you could read the last sentence.)

When it arrived a while back, all pretty and shiny and new, I was ecstatic. It came out around when the miniseries reboot aired, and I had little time to touch it thanks to school and being completely preoccupied with the living breathing characters and Stars Hollow on screen.

When school ended for the winter break, and after I finished the show (*sniff*), I picked up my dear friend’s memoir and dove right in. I ate it up in a solid two days.

As a fan, I loved it. Lauren talked about her past, how her career began, where she started. I feel like all actors or comedians who write biographies throw this in there somewhere. (I also know that this is, in fact, what makes them biographies. It’s also a huge part of their story and who they are as people. As Lauren would say, “medical, medical.”) So I enjoyed learning about her past jobs and childhood, but I couldn’t help but keep thinking, “when does Gilmore Girls come in,” so I probably breezed through it a bit.

Other times, there were sections that were completely and interestingly insightful. The part about Old Lady Jackson and looking up every once in a while? Loved and bookmarked it. The writing advice she’d learned? Noted it and plan on using it. There were so many other brief little messages here and there that truly made me stop to think. I had been so hyped up that I wasn’t really expecting to find nuggets of wisdom, but they’re there—and plentiful.

Finally, the long awaited Gilmore Girls sections. First, Lauren described the process, what it was like originally. She had never seen all of the series herself (which I thought was odd at first but now totally understand), and so she literally watched it all and made notes about everything from what was going on behind the scenes to what was up with her hair at that point in her life. Oh, and she pointed out every time a technology was out-of-date, which was amusing.

Next (or actually, after several more sections and closer to the end of the book, which is fitting since so much time has passed and all of this is so recent), Lauren describes the reboot process. She describes it like a dream, and said she cried throughout the whole year in the life. So did I Lauren. So did I.

She kept a journal from the set of the set of the reboot, complete with pictures and the story of the things she stole from set. Alexis stole a Yale banner from the wall in Rory’s room, and when I read this I almost started crying. And the fact that every time Lauren mentioned how “cliffhanger-y” the ending was, Amy just smiled? Again in the words of Lauren Graham, “Hmmm.”

The Gilmore Girls tidbits were brief, but sweet. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into this side of not only Stars Hollow, but the world of acting and life of such a wonderful, quick-witted, and introspective actor as Lauren Graham. I only wish that this lovely little book had been longer because, like Gilmore Girls in all of its many forms, I hated to see it end.

Rating: 4/5

Where’d You Go, Bernadette Book Review

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple tells the story of a family, particularly a woman, who is a little “odd” and completely misunderstood by everyone. Misunderstood, but, throughout the novel, revealed—and redeemed.

As the title suggests, Bernadette, mother of Bee, goes missing. The novel, however, is more than simply a tale of how she goes missing and the madness that ensues; Bee, the narrator, goes deeper to tell why. Bee’s investigates the events originating from months prior, and readers can get to know each of the characters and walk around in their lives for a bit before things get complicated. They are privy to the secrets that Bernadette and the “gnats” keep from one another and their families, can witness the drama firsthand. Bee reads emails, police transcripts, messages between the neighbors that loathed Bernadette so strongly, to understand and share with readers who were mother truly is and why she did what she did. It is through these various mediums that the story is told.

The characters in this story were extremely unique and complex. It is difficult to fully understand Bernadette. It is helpful to see what she goes through as both a woman, but it seems as though sometimes her personality wavers.

What is more well-founded and clear, though,  is Bee’s fierce love for her mother. Their relationship and banter is similar to that of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, as well as, perhaps, readers themselves. They rang true, and was often hilarious. The scene in the car where they sing the Beatles was special. Truthfully, such scenes were far too brief, too rare. Such situations made the crazy events more realistic.

For many of the situations throughout the story that the characters find themselves in are just that: crazy. So many ridiculous things happen, unbelievable things, that the reader is reminded of it continuously. But the point is that they are surprised, suspended, and amused. And they are.

Sometimes things are clarified with later emails; sometimes things are confusing only to be explained in detail later on. Regardless, the events, be they funny, sad, exciting, or strange—keep the story moving at a quick, fun pace. For this book is certainly many things: twisty and exciting, relatable, outlandishly dramatic, complicated, and even thought-provoking. Most of all, though, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is completely and ridiculously fun.

Rating: 5/5

Crown of Midnight Review

Wanna hear something horrible? I don’t even remember actually finishing this book.

I did finish, though. So that definitely says more about the book than me. (Right?)

ttrIt wasn’t horrible. I just lost interest in it somewhere towards the supposedly most exciting part of the story, and didn’t even care to finish it until a month later when I came home from school. I also did what I said I wouldn’t and read it as an audiobook. (It was free, okay!) I’m sure a physical copy would have made the story flow better, would have forced me into world of the fae, would have me somewhat worried about Celaena when she fights monsters.

Because boy did she fight a lot of monsters.

Those parts were cool, but a lot of them were like, “oh crap I didn’t see that coming!” or, “oh no I have to save the world again I hope I don’t die!” or even better, “oh my goodness I have MAGIC? Where did THAT come from?!” Like with the first book, I just didn’t like Celaena and Maas’s groundbreaking(ly predictable) logic. It felt juvenile.

To be fair, though, not everything was obnoxious or predictable. There were a couple parts where I was shocked, freaked out, on the edge of the seat in my car. Some of the best bits that Celaena didn’t see coming, I didn’t expect either.

(I’m not going to spoil anything of course, but even if I tried I wouldn’t know how to spell their names.)

So it was exciting and exciting book. No revolutionary literature here, but exciting nonetheless. If you loved the first book, I’ve heard that this one is better, from much more enthusiastic readers and bigger fans than me. It just wasn’t for me. (That cliche applies here, I think. I also think that it was used in the actual book somewhere.)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


IMG_4006Let’s talk Throne of Glass.

I think this was the fastest I’ve ever read (listened to) an audiobook. I picked it up (not literally) because everyone online raves about it, has been raving about it. They go on and on about the love triangle and“awesome” fantasy elements. They fangirl over their “favorite bad*ss female heroine,” Celaena Sardothien. I’ve been curious about it all for a while.

I finally started it…and read it…and was swept into the messy sea of drama and magic…and yelled and groaned at it…and finished it. It was nothing like what I thought it would be, but I really liked it. It was entertaining, exciting. I couldn’t stop listening—I had to know what became of Celaena, where Chaol was, what the wyrdmarks meant.

Throne of Glass was fast-paced and amusing, but oftentimes unbearably confusing and, well, predictable and irritating. I’m still confused about the wrydmarks, to be honest. It took Celaena entirely too long to figure out what they sort-of meant. And why was she so unconcerned? Sure, she did research, but if evil forces are after someone so used to fighting, why didn’t she get more involved?

For a kick*ss assassin, Celaena also spent an awful lot of time threatening people but not doing anything early on. That is, anything other than going back and forth between Dorian and Chaol and puppies and music  and not liking to kill people and dresses and jewels and wanting blood. She was well-rounded; she had a “soft, kind-hearted girlish side” to balance out literally being an assassin. This made her more relatable, more human, but for a while it was like Maas was trying to make her everything, every heroine she could, wrapped into one.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t like Celaena, though. In fact, she was great—sometimes annoying, but always brave and sassy and strong. She stood out in this way from the very first page. I immediately liked her, cheered her on, felt pain for her, wanted her to win. She definitely grew on me throughout the book. She was my second favorite character. Chaol was my first, but more on that in a bit.

Another issue I had with Throne of Glass was the world. I have absolutely concept of it. I don’t even know what it’s called. Eralia? I know that magic was outlawed, and could imagine the grounds really well due to the beautiful imagery. But the names were so similar, and the politics were so shaky. It didn’t seem very well-developed. Why there are death camps? Why was Celaena captured? Why were there rebellions? The king—what? Who? He has a PLAN? What’s his plan? I have no idea. The king and so many of the characters seemed just as flimsy as the political atmosphere, just as one-dimensional.

And the fae, the MAGIC. I’ve never really read anything about fae before, and this book didn’t help me out at all. It didn’t help that I wasn’t even expecting magic. I was getting a really strong Hunger Games vibe, so I was pretty surprised (startled) halfway through the story when fairies and magic rune things began appearing, casually. And the demons and characters that like…don’t go away, just come and go?

Speaking of characters, where was Chaol for half of the book? His POV was SO underrepresented. Who cares about Dorian that much, anyway?

Oh, and what was the court doing? I loved the ball, I wanted more to happen at the ball! Where was the Queen? And Kaltain? Her POV in particular was shown so infrequently that it seemed as though her plotting never led to anything. At some points I forgot that she was a problem.

There were several problems, conflicts faced by the characters, though, that I was completely blindsided by. (Not by Cain, he was obvious. I rolled my eyes at him. OH, and the hidden passageway. That was so obvious too.) But the PLOT TWISTS! Those were excellently executed. They took me by surprise, twisted the story at just the right moment. 

I really did like Throne of Glass, don’t let my confusion and numerous complaints throw you. I enjoyed the action, the plot twists, the sass. I loved the tests, especially the wall-climbing and poison testing scenes. The main characters were so interesting, and had great chemistry. And the BANTER! So cute.

I would definitely recommend this book if you like YA magic and fantasy and love triangles. I would not recommend it if you are used to Game of Thrones politics and intrigue. I would also not recommend reading it as an audiobook. (At all. Usually I’m fine with them, but all of the quick magic scenes and world-building was completely lost on me. I might reread it at some point, but goodness.)

Despite this…print copy of Crown of Midnight, here I come.

Similar to: The Hunger Games (the characters, action, and competition), The Selection (the setting and castle vibe, the competition), Graceling (the magic)

Rating: 3.5…ok 4/5 stars

Me Before You

I don’t usually read what all of the BookTubers and Bookstagrammers are reading—at least not when they’re currently raving about and reading it. This isn’t on general principal, I just rarely have time, and am usually already reading something else anyway. But when I needed a new audiobook, I ran to the supposedly special and uber hyped-up little red book with swirly white letters on the cover. Especially since I had heard there was a movie coming out “sometime soon”—a movie starring none other than Daenerys Targaryen and Finnick Odair themselves.

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But then I actually started reading Me Before You. And I fell in love. And there is nothing fleeting or flippant about it.

Me Before You tells the story of a young woman named Louisa Clark who needs to find a job—and herself. She finds the former as a carer for quadriplegic Will Traynor, a man who has lived and loved and lost. He teaches her to embrace everything she has, everything she could have, and everything she could be.

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This sounds super cheesy—like, almost worthy of being photographed for social media but ripped apart in reviews. But it’s really worthy of so much more.

Yes, Louisa and Will fall in love. Spoiler alert. But the book doesn’t focus on this aspect of their relationship. It focuses on them as people, helping one another, living together and caring for one another in the limited ways that they can. It also focuses on their clever banter, which absolutely killed me. Louisa is hysterical—so awkward, so adorable, so relatable. Will is smart, sharp. Moyes’ characterization of them was impeccable. By the end of the story I felt like both characters were part of me. Or at least my children or something.

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Anyway, I absolutely adored the book. I loved the conflicts, the jokes, the message to live boldly. I easily forgave the pointless perspective changes, the sometimes annoying excess of sister drama (I hated Trina so this was amplified). I cried while listening to it. In my car. While driving down the road. Yeah. It was that good.

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So you can see why I was a little surprised when I didn’t shed a single tear when I saw the movie last night. I went to the screening at the Regal Theater in Atlantic Station, hosted by Warner Brothers and Harper’s Bazaar (thank you so, so much!). It was a good movie, but was nothing compared to the movie in my head, nothing compared to the book.

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Want some, Lou?

My main disappointment was due to how much of the story was omitted in the film. The backstory about why Lou isn’t as daring as she once was, why she hates the castle? Nope. Moving in with Patrick, fighting with the Traynors about taking Will places? Nothing. The freaking BUMBLEBEE TATTOO? NADA. Too many crucial, interesting, and character-bonding conflicts are smoothed over and erased.

Other than this, the movie was great. In fact, it was probably great to anyone who hadn’t read the book. Why so great? I don’t know, ask the Mother of Dragons and the darling of the Capitol. They were brilliant. Emilia WAS Louisa, and Sam WAS Will. She was so bubbly, so happy, so Lou. He was so rough and quick-mouthed, but later so kind. They were exactly what I imagined the characters to be like, right down to the facial expressions and costumes.

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This was the best part of the movie to me. Despite the simplified plot, despite everything happening so quickly, despite the imperceptible but pointless tweaks here and there, the movie Me Before You was mostly true to the book. But more importantly, it was true to the characters. Right down to the sparkly Wellies and bumblebee tights.

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Live boldly, all. “Just…live.”

Book: 5/5 stars

Movie: 7/10 stars

The Martian

the-martian-reviewWhen the Oscar nominees were announced, my mother and I set to work watching the Best Picture films. We struggled through The Revenant and sat enthralled by Spotlight and squirmed throughout Room. We watched them all—all, that is, except for The Martian.

We deftly avoided The Martian because—you can probably see this coming—I wanted to read the book.

And the only problem with this was that…I was reading four other books at the time. Four! Oh school.

While sitting boredoutofmymind in traffic one day, however, the solution was painfully clear: I should try an audiobook. Youtubers praise them, bloggers are mad about them.

So I tried it. And I am oh so glad that I did. The 300+ page book, of course, became a ten hour long story, but this is my only complaint. For I truly enjoyed hearing about Mark’s adventure from his own perspective, and the narrator’s voice became his voice to me.

So yeah, the audiobook, my first actual novel audiobook, was excellent. But I’m also pretty sure it was so great because the story and characters themselves were too. Bravo, Andy Weir.

rs_560x415-150608110132-1024-the-martian-cm-6815_copyThe Martian is such a good story—no matter what form it is told in or read from.

For those who don’t know, The Martian in a nutshell: really funny spaceman and crew travels to Mars, something goes wrong, crew leaves funny spaceman on Mars because they think he’s dead but spaceman really survives keeps surviving until he almost dies like five times and finally Earth realizes he’s alive and then they communicate and—Okay that’s all you get. No spoilers, right?

I loved Mark. I liked his optimism, his sarcastic sense of humor, his love of duct tape. I admired his “I better get to work so I don’t die on a planet by myself” attitude. I enjoyed every joke about disco, every panic-filled stream of curse words.

The story was constantly exciting—something kept going wrong, a canvas kept tearing, things kept depressurizing. And yet Mark never gave up.

The scienceaustronautchemistbotanist lingo and tech speak were plentiful, sure. A lot of people who reviewed the book thought that it was “so boring” because of this. However, I didn’t think that it was too much. I appreciated the fact that all of the science and math was accurate. The author? Yeah, he’s like a legitimate computer programming math wiz. I thought all of this information, in fields so foreign to me, was truly fascinating. I think I learned a little bit too.

the-martian4-1940x1289I made it through the book in a couple of weeks, diligently and eagerly listening to Mark’s misadventures as I drove to and from work and school. I watched the movie the very next night. It too was excellent: well-paced, great characters and casting, exciting, funny. And very, very Oscar worthy. I would know, I’ve seen all of this year’s Best Picture noms now!

Anyway, I genuinely enjoyed the book and the movie and I would highly recommend it to anyone who asks (or doesn’t).

Book: 4/5 stars

Movie: 8/10 stars

(Side note, I completely ship Johannsen and Beck and want to read the story from solely their POV. They literally fall in love in space and everything. Bless you Hollywood for adding the ending where they are happily married and have a baby but oh my goodness.)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

IMG_4199I committed the unforgivable book sin of watching the movie before reading the book.

Who can blame me though – I got free tickets! (Thank you, Fox Searchlight!)

The movie was playing at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta. It is the cutest little arthouse, complete with flowering trees and twinkling Christmas lights. I went with my mom, and we were completely prepared to cry.

We were not prepared to laugh our heads off. It was so funny I wanted to punch myself in the face.

(Not really, of course. Greg just says that a lot in the book and I find it humorous. I mean, just picture it.)

I know that laughing during a movie about a girl who is dying from cancer sounds morbid; I’ve gotten several strange looks while referring it to people for its comedic value. But I’m not kidding. It was mostly funny because of Greg and Earl, but comedians such as Nick Offerman (Greg’s dad) and Molly Shannon (Rachel’s mom, Denise) lit up the screen as well. Nick Offerman walking around in a robe holding Cat Stevens – don’t get me started.

It was the kind of movie that makes you cry with laughter and with sadness. But I didn’t really mind looking like a mess in a movie theater – it was that good.

It was so good, in fact, that I read the book solely to compare the two story formats.

First, there’s “me” – Greg, the novel’s brutally honest and extremely apathetic narrator. He’s flawed: he doesn’t care about the future, is lazy, and has a very low self-esteem. (In the book, this is sometimes exaggerated to an obnoxious extent. I was less annoyed with him in the movie.)

This isn’t to say that I hated Greg, or that he’s a bad character. He’s actually a really good character, one who is startlingly real. He makes bad jokes and has girl problems. His family is a bit odd, and school stresses him out. He felt like one of my brothers.

Greg’s tone throughout the novel is the kicker. It’s laced with humor, completely off-the-wall (but weirdly accurate) analogies, and his unfiltered thoughts about people and situations that he observes.

Then there’s Earl.

Earl is probably my favorite character. He’s so funny – crude, but funny. It takes a while to realize this, but Earl is much more mature and thoughtful than Greg. He calls Greg out on his crap, makes him take responsibility, makes him think. I felt like I knew Earl too, like he was someone I go to school with.

And we can’t forget about the dying girl.

I mean, even though the book seems to.

Seriously. I could easily count the number of chapters that Rachel is actually in. There are very few of them. Reading the book, I didn’t know her at all. It’s told from Greg’s memories and mind, and he’s so caught up with himself and conversations and making the film that, as a reader, I don’t even feel like Rachel was a real person. She was a shadow character.
me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girlThis is where the movie shone. The movie brought Rachel to life. It brought us out of Greg’s head and into his school, into Rachel’s house, into Mr. McCarthy’s office. (Why does the history teacher have an office? Whatever – respect the research.) The movie added humor (the scene in class where Greg discovers how he got high – not in the book) and took away useless factors (like Greg’s sisters, and the fact that he used to date Rachel). The movie was also nice because it showed bits and pieces of the films that they made. Because let’s be honest – it’s weird to read about someone doing stop motion.

Finally, the film added a level of depth and emotion that the book lacked. Like I said, everything in the book is told directly from Greg’s perspective, while in the movie you can see him struggle with things and see people interact with him. It’s less biased, in a way. You grow to love Rachel, and cry when it’s time for prom (also not in the book). The Greg in the book never would have done what Movie Greg did in this scene. Movie Greg does learn from Rachel’s situation, while Book Greg just seems to sort of move on.

(If that was vague, my apologies. Spoilers and whatnot.)

Long story short, the movie was perfect, and the book was pretty good. Weird as this sounds, I might like the book more because I saw the movie first, and because it was so good. I definitely would (and have) recommend(ed) this book and movie to others.

Who knew that a book/movie about a girl with cancer could be so funny?

Book: 4/5 stars

Movie: 9/10 stars (IMDb scale)