Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movie Thoughts: The Proposal

Another movie "review". Just a heads up though, I will be the first to admit that I enjoy chick flicks a bit less than regular girls, and I'm not the hugest hugest fan of romantic comedies either. That being said, The Proposal was still enjoyable. I'm not including a summary or anything because I am lazy.

I didn't love love love it, I don't think I even loved it, I just liked it. It was maybe a bit above average.



What I liked: The humor aspect, Ryan Reynolds, the plot, the characters, and Ryan Reynolds. When I said I didn't like chick flicks, that didn't mean I don't enjoy my fair share of eye candy =P. The movie was funny. Like seriously, with the "stuck-up" Margaret (Sandra Bullock) who needs to marry Drew (Ryan-yummy-Reynolds) in order to prevent getting deported back to Canada - Where's the Canadian LOVE?!!?!- the characters are acted spot-on, with the perfect dialogue to keep it interesting and humorous at the same time. There were quite a few favourite lines, and favourite moments. You know how some movies are just trying to be funny? Well this one actually is, so that's good... Oh yeah, the fluffy white dog was adorable.

What I didn't like: The ending was a bit rushed, a bit meh. By the ending, I mean the part with Gamy at the end, btw. I didn't really like that, and I thought the conflict between Drew and his father was tied up too quickly and sloppily. To be honest, that particular conflict wasn't really drawn out very well, it was just 'there' to be resolved.

Bottom Lines: Watch the movie for laughs. And to admire Ryan Reynolds (I'm not even kidding, he is smoking in this movie. Must be the abs). Nothing too dramatic, nothing too serious, just a fun movie.

8/10 - where 7 is 50 First Dates and 9 is (500) Days of Summer.

-AyC

Friday, November 27, 2009

it's a quarter after one, I'm all alone...

It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone
and I need you now,

Said I wouldn't call, but I lost all control
and I need you now,

And I don't know how I can do without
I just need you now.

-Need You Now by: Lady Antebellum




This is my favourite song right now, it's a country song but I strongly strongly urge you to listen to it before forming conclusions. The melody, the harmony, and the lyrics are all so beautiful and mold together perfectly. This new band is definitely one too look out for, they already have a couple hits, I believe. This is my favourite song from Lady Antebellum so far :)

Here's a youtube link to the music video, check it out and give it a chance!!!

What are your favourite songs at the moment? I've got a couple other ones which I'll hopefully share on a later date!

-AyC

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday's 3 Couples (1)


Okay, so I've decided after a very short discussion with myself that I wanted to do something that will hopefully make me keep up with some regular posts. So, I came up with (after rereading a couple parts in various books) to write a small post about 3 couples in YA lit each week that I love/hate/have an opinion about.

This week, for celebrating week #1, I am going to do 3 Dessen couples because...let's face it, they are ususally the best!

In no particular order:

1. Remy/Dexter (This Lullaby - Sarah Dessen)
-Come on, the gangly musician with the hard-ass bitch who doesn't believe in love? This couple is so beyond perfect, and I heart Dexter.

2. Macy/Wes (The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen)
-I love the way Macy changes with Wes' help throughout the novel. It doesn't hurt that Wes is a serious heartbreaker, and is somewhat attainable, so his attractiveness is off the charts! Yes, I stole that from the book.

3. Auden/Eli (Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen)
-I actually love the insomniac aspect of AftR, and I love the night-time adventures between this equally-adorable couple. I love Auden's character, and how she 'gets back on the bike', and like practically all of Dessen's male leads, Eli is terrific. Yes, I used the word terrific (which I'm not particularly fond of) but that's how it is. Awww. <33

What are your fave couples? There are so many to choose from that I will never run out of ideas, I can schedule posts ahead, and I can moderately maintain some sort of structure for this blog! Oh, and feel free to go ahead and copy this (not that anyone will) if you want. :D

Next week: Uniforms (can you guess what I mean?)

-AyC

Monday, November 23, 2009

BR: Ballads of Suburbia


by Stephanie Kuehnert

I actually won this book from Stephanie during her Cyber Launch Party for the book, it was my very very first time winning anything, and it's only happened one other time since then... and I read the book quite a while ago (posted a mini review of it somewhere, I think). But... it was such a good book I wanted to write a full, "official" review of it, and hopefully spread the word!

Ballads of Suburbia is about Kara, who returns to Oak Park after a heroin overdose four years prior. She tells the story, or 'ballad' of her high school years (up to junior year) where she was brought into the the life of drugs, booze, and music while her family fell apart and her old life slipped away. She and her brother, Liam, find themselves hanging out at Scoville Park making new friends and trying new things. Kara writes about her experiences with the bad boy she fell in love with, a boy who hurt her in more ways than once, her crazy impulsive new friend Maya, and of course, her relationship with her family. Through it all, the music is always present, and so are the ballads of various characters integrated beautifully into such a raw book. Kara's gut-wrenching, honest narration will definitely invoke emotions in every reader.

I really loved this book, and for many reasons. Usually I comment on things like character and plot first, but I'm going to jump right in and comment about the writing. Stephanie Kuehnert's sophomore book (first book is I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone) is so beautifully written in such a dramatic manner than you can't help but be sucked in into Kara's life no matter how gruesome (kinda exaggerating) it is. "Ballads", which are basically short stories and confessions relating personally to other characters are integrated so well that it contributes immensely to the novel and to character development. You see the motives behind characters that you can't help but judge. For example, here is a tiny example:

He rolled his eyes and took me straight to the shrink, who recommended more meds, family therapy, institutionalization if need be. But I do what I want.
The one good thing about coming from no one is there's no one to answer to.

The writing is so very impressive and the 'harsh realities' are not sugar-coated, glorified, or handled in a bad way. Kuehnert turned the plot which is dark in itself, into a story that can even be interpreted as hopeful. The (constant) mentions of drugs and alcohol may be a turn-off for some readers, jsyk. Basically, the in-your-face prose that doesn't hide anything makes you do a double take on lives in the suburbia.

Now, the characters. I think I adored Liam the most, for the way he looked up to his big sister but ended up seemingly betrayed by everyone around him. He loses the 'puppy dog' effect though, yet it seems at time he is still soft and just lost. I thought the character of Kara's best friend, Maya, was well written as well. The character development is there, and these wonderful, flawed characters suck you into the story and prevents you from putting the book down.

I was never a big fan of Adrian (maybe it's the hair) probably because of his actions, or maybe just his influence over Kara who was just trying to escape her home and find herself. However, Kara is so well developed through her narration and through the story that I can understand and even accept her motives and her (however much I didn't support) admiration of Adrian. Adrian isn't the only boy in her life though, because there's Christian, the seemingly kind hearted boy who is just caught up in the 'life', but of course, there is more to it than that. Every character has their own flaws, and are extremely three-dimensional and well written. I can't say enough about it.

The plot in itself was interesting enough, but it may be the plot that makes readers dislike the book. It deals with a lot of those stuff that are frowned upon in society like drinking and drugs (lots, btw), and I find some people just dislike books like that in general. Personally, I have never done drugs or illegal things like that, so I probably can't relate personally to the issues shown in the book. I can, however, accept it as part of the plot and read about it without prejudice, while enjoying the book.

The 'scrapbooking' aspect, and the screen writing thing that Kara has going on is unique, and so is the "Ballads of Suburbia" notebook that defined and confessed the heartbreaking realities and moments that changed young, innocent lives. In fact, I think the Ballads were one of my favourite parts.

Lastly, just a heads up, this is more of a "mature" book, and includes things like: drinking, drugs of all kinds, self-mutilation, and abuse. I wouldn't recommend teens under 14-ish to read this book.

9.3/10 - because I basically loved the book. The writing, although the plot dealt with mature themes, was smooth and flowing, with just the right amount of edginess and power. The characters, although they won't necessarily be admired, were very well written and well developed (which is important!). If you want to enter the mind of a girl trying to find her way, fit in, and deal with life, yet not necessarily in the conventional way, try this book. I acknowledge this review isn't very good (I'm rusty!) but I just highly highly recommend this. The dark, desperate writing prevents sugar coating dealing with the problems we have in our society today, and the insight to the mind of a seventeen year old girl is no doubtedly powerful.

-AyC

PS- visit Stephanie Kuehnert's [website] & [blog]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Movie Thoughts: Star Trek

Hey guys, look, I'm updating again! Oh, and this is a Movie Thoughts as opposed to a Movie Review, because quite frankly, I don't watch enough movies to adequately be able to 'review' one. And my tastes are probably really different from yours.





So recently, I watched Star Trek when it came out onto DVD, and I have to say, I loved it. I have never seen any Star Trek previously, and had no idea what the heck would be happening, but I think the movie didn't require previous knowledge. You can go into the movie and still understand the storyline and hopefully enjoy it.

I thought the acting was superb, with the Russian Chekov guy (who is rly cute, seriously!) to Spock (Sylar from Heroes, sorry, I suck with actors' names!) and James Kirk (Chris Pine, which I do know now..). Nero the antagonist was portrayed very well, as were the other characters like Sulu and Ahura. (sorry for typos).

The special effects were also fantastic, with so much action and explosions, your like HURRAY, but it's not so much that it is nothing but explosions, it actually manages to carry a really interesting plot. I also really enjoyed the humor in it, Kirk's womanizing ways and Scotty the warp-calculator-person. Some of those lines made me burst out laughing :)

So all in all, it seriously surpassed my expectations (yes, I prejudged it to be a film aimed only for trekkies and nerds and I feel ashamed for that). Watch it, I don't think you'll be disappointed!

9.2/10 (where 10 is Lord of The Rings 3, and 9 is The Dark Knight)

Again, these are my honest opinions, so I'm sorry if, say, you hated Star Trek but loved The Dark Knight...

-AyC

BR: Leftovers


by Laura Wiess

I have previously read her first novel, Such a Pretty Girl, and liked (but not loved) it. I've heard her this book would be just as edgy, and just as good, if not better than her first. Also, the cover is simple but pretty, dontcha think? So I put it on hold at the library, then I read it all in one sitting.

Leftovers is a book about two girls, Ardith and Blair, who need to navigate their troubled lives, both supporting one another and just trying to survive by themselves. They commit an 'unforgivable act', and through this novel, you find out what drove them to such extreme measures from them, firsthand. QUOTED FROM BACK: "You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by adults around her as damaged goods. A girls who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?"

I had to reread that summary when I first got the book, it's incredibly gripping, entrancing, and powerful, not to mention it invokes so many different emotions, making me think about it even before beginning the novel.

I really really liked this book. It was so raw and emotional, and some may disagree, but I am mostly on the girls' side for their actions. Some say it may be pushing it, but what can you do when practically everyone is pushing you more and more into a corner but push back? And push back hard enough to actually make a difference? I won't spoil what they did though.

I thought having the girls come from completely different families was utilized excellently by Weiss, whose writing I'll comment on later. Instead of girls sharing the same horrible experiences, they share different horrible experiences, as they seek 'respect' from school, and respect from the people around them. They are sick and tired of either being pushed aside or being pushed around. Blair's parents are constantly absent workaholics who forced her to move into a huge empty house. Ardith's house is the party house where her brother and parents don't know how to grow up. Horny and perverted boys are constantly at her 'home', and even her father feels up anything with breasts. The lock on the door and the screwdriver under the pillow is a must for her.

Blair is eventually prohibited to talk to Ardith after a negative first impression that Blair's mother thinks will be negative to her up-and-rising reputation as a lawyer. Needless to say, the girls' lives at home is unbearable. I don't want to spoil too much of the book so I won't include too many plot points.

The writing, however, I can comment on and I can say it is so strong and in your face you almost want to take a step back. There is no ignorance, no sugar coating, it is a direct and powerful perspective of two girls who are 'sick of it'. I am impressed by how Wiess could make the two voices to distinct yet equally enticing (weird word to use in this case). Here's a quote that I really really liked:

See, guys freak out. They hit critical mass and blast nuclear, white-hot anger out over the world like walking flame throwers.
But girls freak in. They absorb the pain and bitterness and keep right on sponging it up until they drown.
Maybe that’s why nobody’s real worried about girls going off and wreaking havoc. It’s not that the seething hatred and need for revenge isn’t there, hell no. It’s just that instead of erupting and annihilating our tormentors, we destroy ourselves instead.
-Leftovers pg.3

See what I mean?

There wasn't much I didn't about the book, but readers beware: there are mentions of drinking, drugs, and rape. More than 'mentions' in some cases. It deals with dark issues and difficult circumstances, just so you're aware.

8.9/10 - because of how well written and powerful this book is. It makes you think of the way people can be treated, yet still try to maintain hope. No, this isn't a particularly hopeful book, but it's emotionally gut-wrenching and gives devastating insight to what we consider leftovers of society. I would recommend this to someone more mature because of the mature themes. I could compare this to Ballads of Suburbia, but not really, if you know what I mean. Yes, I realized I overused the word 'powerful' in this review, sue me.

-AyC

BR: Shiver


by Maggie Stiefvater

I picked up this book because of all the amazing reviews of it. I wasn't too keen of the "very central romance" but I wanted to give it a chance.

Shiver is about Grace and Sam. Grace, the girl who was saved by a yellow-eyed wolf when she was attacked by a pack. She has been watching 'her wolf' for years now, and has fallen in love with him. Sam is the wolf, who feels the connection with Grace from the moment he saw her reading on the tire swing, about to be attacked. He has never ventured too close, but he has always been there. Until he disappears in the summer that is. As you guys have figured out, Sam turns into a human when it's warm out, but in the middle of Oct/Nov (I forget!) he turns into a human and meets Grace. It may be Sam's last time as a human before he permanently turns into a wolf, so together, they must fight against the cold to preserve their love.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post how much Grace irked me in the beginning chunk of the novel. I still agree with my opinion: I didn't like how fast they 'fell in love' and how Grace acted when she and Sam got together. Plus, I also found some kinda-plot holes that bugged me (and I'm sure many people probably already mentioned..), Grace is locked in the car in a searing heat when she's 11. Uhmm, when you're 11, I really hope you know how to unlock the doors and open it. Yeah....

Apart from that, I also found Grace's love for the wolf a tad creepy. She's like "in love" with the wolf, not just fascinated. I could understand fascination, interest, maybe even a tad obsessed, but she's seriously "in love" before she even knows that it's a human. I'm not sure how Sam can just fall in love with Grace for so long when he has never really met her. Or talked (granted, wolves can't really talk) to her. It's like completely based on sight, like a crush on the gorgeous cheerleader you never talk to. What I don't like is how Sam is in love with her without even getting to know her. Who knows, maybe when the cheerleader opens her mouth, she turns out to be a total bitch or maybe really dim. You can't know just by watching.

I will say, I really like Stiefvater's idea for the premise of the story, with the temperature determining the shapeshifting of the wolves. It was a clever idea, and I liked how they would blast the heat, and bundle up. I didn't like, however, the fact that 'to share the heat', they slept in the same bed. On the first night. Grace, it's a bit weird, letting the boy you met 24 hours prior sleep in the same bed with you, not to mention creepy and to push it, icky.

It did get better, I think, during the end when actual action was happening. Through the middle chunk of the book, the romance was so sweet and syrup-y, with so many cute moments that I just kinda wanted to groan. The ending when Grace actually proves to not be helpless and dependant, as she fights to save Sam. I thought the "cure" was...meh.

Minor characters were interesting in their own right, but since Grace is so very focused on her newfound boyfriend, I feel like I didn't get to know them as well as I could have. I thought the flipping POV were cool, because it carried the plot instead of just having the same scene from two different points of view. I think I liked Sam's voice a bit better, I don't really have a great reason why.

One thing I did like with the book, however, was the writing. It was definitely well written IMHO, quite lyrical with pretty descriptions and very elegant prose. I enjoyed that aspect, while the dialogue felt a bit pushed.

8.2/10 - because I wasn't a huge fan of the 'very central romance', or some of the character's actions. I apologize if I come off sounding mean or judgmental, I'm just typing my thoughts so I might not have used enough evidence to back up my opinions. Leave a comment if you seriously disagree and I'll do my best to justify myself. I did, however, like the premise and the writing. The ending part of the story was quite enjoyable as well. Minor characters could probably have been fleshed out more, but I understand that the story is Sam and Grace. There is a sequel coming out next year, Linger, which has a gorgeous cover (like this one!) which I think I'll read. I'm not desperately waiting for it though. I would recommend this to people who enjoy romance, Twilight, werewolves, and... yeah, romance.

Also, I'm sure a bunch of you will disagree, so feel free to leave your thoughts on the novel!

-AyC

a Bit Off topic, short stories Anyone??

First, I just wanted to say yesterday I finished The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, and it was really good. It's been around for a while, and theres like over 200 reviews on Amazon so I won't be posting a review since I don't really feel I have anything unique to say apart from agreeing with people who loved it. Yes, I loved it (Rating 9.1) and would definitely recommend it. It's sad, hopeful, unique, and a whole array of other adjectives. I teared up, I got angry, I got frustrated, it was just a great read.

Okay, so for school, we have to create a mandella (basically a project) on 3 different short stories with the same theme. I've read a few different ones, but I haven't really found one I absolutely loved and adored, and definitely wanted to use. I think if I found "the one" I could center my project more around that, and use that theme as a central idea.

I was wondering, of you 7 visitors, do you have any short stories you recommend? I know, some people hate them, or haven't read them in 5+ years, but for those who remember a story they particularly enjoyed, please share! Some stories I liked are:
  • 'The Lottery'- Shirley Jackson
  • 'The Rocking-horse Winner'- DH Lawrence
  • 'The Darling'- Anton Chekhov
  • 'Miss Brill'- Katherine Mansfield
  • 'Harrison Bergeron'- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
And maybe a few others. I apologize if I have the author's names wrong, I am writing this from memory and somehow, Short Story authors don't stick with me as easily as novel authors.

Also, feel free to share some ideas for themes (love, death, innocence, society, etc.) that you think could be used in a project in an interesting way. I'm not a huge fan of romance, and I like irony in stories, along with maybe a bit of sadness...

What is your favourite short story?

-AyC

Saturday, November 14, 2009

currently Reading

Honestly, I was never one to read multiple books at once, yet I find myself doing just that at the moment. It seriously surprises me, but not so much because I guess none of these books are specatacular enough to finish in one sitting. Short attention span, so I go to the next book.

So, the books I'm currently reading are:

13 Little Blue Envelopes- Maureen Johnson (It's okay right now, not very funny, not very interesting, not amazingly written. On track for a 7/10)

Evermore- Alyson Noel (I actually won't be finishing this one. I really really don't like it, I dislike the plot and the characters, but the characters especially, ahem, hello Mary Sue? Got a 4 from me)

The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger (It's not as great as I hoped it would be, but I will finish after reading some other stuff. It's pretty obvious it's a bit more of an 'adult' book than a YA, but I already knew that going in. It can be a tad confusing with the timetraveling, but not impossible. on track for an 8)

Shiver- Maggie Stiefvater (Not a huge fan right now- see previous post, but I think I'll finish it. I don't like Grace's character and actions, and Sam seems 2-D, not to mention weird/obsesive/uhhhh. On track for a 7.5)


The order I think I'll read these are: Shiver, 13 LBE, Time traveler's Wife. Evermore won't make the list.
And I bought Just Listen and An Abundance of Katherines because they were on sale and I really enjoyed them :)
A Great and Terrible Beauty is sitting on my bedside table, I've read like the first 4 pages five times and I still can't get 'into' it. Does it get better??

What are you currently reading?

-AyC

my Thoughts On: love in Books

First, sorry for the long wait, I won't promise lots of updates in the futures, it's just that this thought came to me as I was reading, and it's about how sometimes, love in books seriously annoys me, and yes, I have my reasons.

Okay, I was reading Shiver today (I haven't finished it, so all my thoughts are relating to the firs 215 pages I have read. SPOILERS WILL BE INCLUDED)

1st thing I hate: Books that portray love ridiculously unrealistically.
Love at first sight is a total bleh. It is alright to use it as an excuse for mutual attraction because the guy and girl are no doubtly gorgeous, but seriously, when you have something like Edward falling in love with Bella after a sniff, and Grace falling in love with Sam when he's shot, it's just not like that. Okay, so Grace has loved "Sam the wolf" for years, but honestly, that's a bit creepy and a tad disturbing. I don't care about his yellow eyes, because my cat has gorgeous green eyes and I'm not unhealthily obsessed with him. He's a wolf. He's not a person, and you haven't done anything but stare at him. I'm sorry, I fail to see where the love comes from.

If not "love at first sight", how quickly the love develops.
Guys, you don't fall in love with a person in two days. I'm not even kidding, you can be physically attracted to someone, you can lust after someone, you can crush on someone, but you don't fall into the "love" you claim you do...especially after only a few days. You lie to yourself, and tell yourself you know everything about that person. How? In two days? Not to mention one in the hospital where he is taken after he's shot? I forgot to mention, you can also become obsessed with a person. Not love though. It just makes the character sound silly and immature, and I frankly don't care how greatly you describe your two-day 'vast love', it's just plain unrealistic.

If not the timing, how the female protagonist acts after "falling in love" (in a completely unrealistic time frame and unlikely situation).
The female protagonist becomes obsessed with this new found boytoy, and ignores everybody who was once important to her. How about Bella: after talking to Edward a few times, and claiming she is (completely and irrevocably) in love, she ignores all her old 'friends' who took her under their wing when she first came to school. She doesn't talk anybody much, and much prefers blowing everybody off to spend time with Edward. What about Grace? Again, she starts finding school completely useless and boring (true for almost every character in this position) compared to the time she can spend kissing Sam (I feel the physical attraction, yet where's the love?). All things important like best friends are pushed to the side, and return, she gets to kiss Sam (she never calls her 5-year+ best friends once. Not once after she meets Sam the human.) This kind of dependency annoys me because I, personally, like the strong female characters (Katsa and Katniss) who don't fall into pieces at the mere thought of their boyfriends leaving/shapeshifting. Yes, Grace bursts into tears when Sam is telling her how 'it's his last year'. More than once, I believe-feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I didn't read it as detailed as I could have.

I had a couple of friends/acquaintances who acquire boyfriends, and then act like Grace, blowing old friends off and spending every waking/sleeping moment with the boy. Wanna know a secret? After a while, these friends will stop forgiving you. They start getting annoyed. And when you break up and Facebook these friends to hang out cause you're lonely, can you guess what happens? Can you? Grace, your whole life isn't the couple months you spend with boytoy Sam. Think of the people who have always been there for you *cough*friends*cough* and maybe give them a call? I don't like how these girls throw everything away to be with the boy they just met a week ago.

And personally, I also don't feel the need to read constantly about your hopes of losing your virginity very soon. thanks, but no thanks.

Remember, all these opinions are my own, and I just kinda wanted to get them out there. I don't like how some authors (only some, very few actually!) turn their originally-likable female characters into blundering idiots "in love", and writing it not only unrealistically but annoyingly. Everybody wants to be like Grace, but have you ever thought what it would be like for Olivia and Rachel? Would you want to be those best friends that are cast aside simply because of a new beau? I have a cynical view on love, I admit it, and I'll also admit it influences me and my thoughts/opinions. And I haven't finished Shiver yet, so maybe I'm wrong in the end about Grace.

Your thoughts? I'll bet a lot of you disagree with me, so tell me!

--AyC

ps- When I write the words "unrealistcally" I'm not meaning the writing style, or how well the writer is protraying every kiss, touch, feeling etc. I'm just saying the situation is unrealistic.