Books

Widely Read: Books I Have Been Reading

As I mentioned in my 2014 post, I have been reading widely about the changes taking place in my life. I have avoided writing a massive post about pregnancy and baby books and will instead provide a select round up of what I have been burying my nose in so far this year.

Bellagrand, by Paullina Simonsbellagrand

I was so lucky to catch this book almost as soon as it was available at the library by early reservation. It was perfectly what I craved to read. This was a beautifully written, but heart-breaking story, about the slow disintegration of a woman who fell in love with a radical socialist. Her life is plotted with so many downs and just a few magical ups – her love; for her husband, mother, brother and son.

I really enjoyed this story and the protagonist’s strength in the face of so much tragedy. But, by covering so much time, it felt like Gina’s life was mostly summarised, honing in on a few key moments or periods.

City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare

This is the fourth instalment of The Mortal Instruments series by stunning Young Adult author, Cassandra Clare. Like the previous three, it was an addictive, plot-driven read with a cast of characters I’ve come to love. These books seem so hard to sum up into a sentence, or even a paragraph, but this one follows Clary (now training to be a Shadowhunter), Simon (Clary’s best friend, a newly turned vampire) and Jace (Clary’s Shadowhunter boyfriend) as they follow three different paths that intertwine at the climax. It was a great read!

Chronic Resilience, by Danea Horn

chronic resilienceAuthor, Danea Horn, suffers from a few serious chronic illnesses, including kidney disease, but has not let this rule her life. She is a certified life coach and speaker with a great blog, www.chronicresilience.com. In this book she teaches 10 strategies for coping with chronic illness, featuring women dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses.

I found it to be a great book, well written and ultimately useful – particularly the activities she prescribes for helping you to articulate your own values so you can use your precious energy on the things that matter to you.

The Signature of all Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert

This was a big read. It followed the life of a remarkable woman born in the early 1800s. She is a special protagonist and it was a great journey to see the world through her eyes, the eyes of a naturalist. It was sad a great deal, but Alma managed to carve out a good life for herself doing what she loved. This book was exquisitely written, rather different from my usual reads and I enjoyed it.

In Brief

The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis

The story of the beginning of Narnia seemed appropriate for the first book that I read aloud to my bump. It is a gorgeous story and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series to my baby.

On Becoming Baby Wise, by Gary Ezzobaby wise

This has been my favourite book around early parenting routines. It advocates a flexible routine, based on the feeding and sleeping needs of infants and babies. It is written in a very accessible manner.

The Thrift Book, by India Knight

This was a very cute read with lots of great ideas for tightening your belt, from home to fashion to entertainment. Written in a funny, off-hand, but passionate manner.

Babyproofing Your Marriage, by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, Julia Stone, Rosario Camacho-koppel

An amusing read by four mums who tell both sides of the story in the mum vs. dad warfare that takes place in many homes. From sex to housework, to a(n amusing) table of parents’ time charted by the number of children they have, they approach the subject with honesty, humour and courage.

the fall of fiveThe Fall of Five, by Pittacus Lore

The fourth book in the I Am Number Four series was just as addictive and well written as the others. This one takes a spin and finds one of the garde (sent to protect earth as children from the invading Mogadorian aliens) on the wrong side.

At the moment I am concurrently reading four great books, including an Audrey Hepburn biography that I am zooming through for my book club next week. I am trying to squish in as many books pre-baby as I can as I am not sure my brain will be up for reading when I lose more sleep than I already have been!

Happy reading!

Books

Luke’s End of Year Reading Round-Up

AllegiantNow that the year is done for me, I have spent more time reading. So, I thought I’d write a round-up on the books that I finished more recently.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Tris and Four, along with a few others, decide to travel pass the limits of their world, where their faction-based society was shattered. But what they discover beyond the fence is an outside world just as dangerous as their old one. The conclusion to the Divergent Trilogy—where do I even begin? Firstly, Allegiant, just like its predecessors, was amazing; it was epic, action-packed, compelling…and heartbreaking. And it’s more than the fact that it is the final book. Veronica Roth has done it again, has astounded me, and I can’t wait to read her future novels. In the meantime, I am excitedly waiting for the Divergent film (March 21, 2014).

The Maze RunnerThe Maze Runner by James Dashner

Imagine this: You wake up in a lift, remembering only your first name, and join a community of kids in a place known as the Glade, surrounded by a maze with half-animal, half-machine creatures. But wait, there’s more: the very next day, a girl—who, like you, can only remember her first name—arrives with a note, and you discover a dark secret is trapped deep in your mind. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? The Maze Runner was also thrilling, intricate, and full of mystery. Looking forward to the movie next year (September 19, 2014).

OriginOrigin by Jennifer L. Armentrout

At the end of Opal, Katy was taken by the Daedalus after the raid on Mount Weather, and while trapped, questions arise: who is the real bad guys? Daedalus, mankind, or the Luxen? Meanwhile, Daemon will do anything to get Katy back—no matter what. Origin, the fourth book in the Lux series, takes the series into a more dangerous direction than its preceding instalments. It’s my favourite in the series so far. I didn’t want to put it down—at all—but do you know what the consequence of that is? Reaching the end. And waiting until the next book, Opposition, comes out in August 5, 2014.

Wait For YouWait for You by J. Lynn

All Avery wants is to escape her old life—especially what happened at a Halloween party five years ago. So, she attends a college far away from home. But there, she gets the attention of Campbell Hamilton—and even falls for him. Then she receives threatening messages from somebody who refuses to let her move on from that night. Unlike the first three books, which are Young Adult, Wait for You is a New Adult. J. Lynn (the pen name Jennifer L. Armentrout writes under for her Adult and New Adult novels) wrote a stunning, gripping, and unforgettable novel. I can’t wait to read Trust in MeWait for You in Cam’s point of view, and Be with You, Teresa (Cam’s sister) and Jase’s story (out February 4, 2014). 

Books

Luke’s Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble Review

Don't Let Me Go★★★★★ – excellent!

It’s been over a year since Nate and Adam started their relationship. But when Adam graduates, he takes an off-Broadway job in New York. Through Skype calls, Nate catches glimpses of Adam’s shirtless roommate. Then Nate starts a blog. He also becomes the centre of a school controversy. On meeting a new boy, Nate must confront who and what he really wants.

What influenced me to read Don’t Let Me Go was the review by Brigid Kemmerer, author of The Elemental Series, on Goodreads. I agree with her: it was amazing.

Nate is an awesome character. For one, he could’ve told Adam to stay, but that’s not what he did; instead, he insisted Adam to pursue his dream, not wanting to hold him back. All he wanted was for Adam to be happy. Also, in the present events, he isn’t afraid to show anyone who he really is. The t-shirts are a symbol of this—and he also wears them to piss off his English teacher.

I found the slogans on Nate’s t-shirts amusing. Closets are for brooms, not people, the first one says, then there’s the second one: I can’t even think straight. But wait, there’s more: Your gaydar should be going off right about now; the rumor’s right. But, unless I’m [bleep]ing you, it’s none of you business; HOMO, “the O’s were actually pink hearts
”; I kiss boys; and Sexy [bleep].

Overall, Don’t Let Me Go was an awesome read. It really shows the difficulties of a long-distance relationship. Also present, as the blurb says, is timely discourse about bullying, bigotry, and hate in high schools. I love the writing—it’s quite witty.

Books

Luke’s Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell Review

Rating: ★★★★☆ – great!

UndercurrentAfter Callum Harris tumbles down the waterfall, he wakes up in an alternate world of his own. One where his parents aren’t separated. One where his brother, Cole, is paralyzed. One where he is some big sport star. One where more than just his former best friend wants him dead.

“Well, if everything stays the same forever, you stop enjoying what you’ve got. And stop appreciating people.”

A couple of months ago, I came across Undercurrent while I was looking at the books coming soon list on the HarperTeen site. One aspect that reeled me in was the alternate reality. Fascinating, I thought.

When it arrived at the library, I got excited—the way I usually get after waiting, you know, ages. Then, when it came to reading it, I was immediately gripped. There was always questions running through my mind, and they propelled me to read.

However, I feel like there were some unresolved parts, but maybe a sequel can resolve them.

Overall, I thought Undercurrent was intriguing, gripping, and thrilling. I especially loved the sci-fi. Now I’m hoping there will be a sequel.

Books

Luke’s A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger Review

A Trick of the Light

★★★★☆ – great!

A Trick of the Light follows fifteen-year-old Mike Welles, who is losing his sense of direction; then a voice in his head tries to guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before—to get rid of everything that holds him back.

Like the author, I never knew boys could get eating disorders. It is described as a “girl’s disease,” but the males with eating disorders are understudied, as I found out in the Author’s Note. In this book, I learnt that 10 million people in the United States have an eating disorder, but about 10 percent—which is about 1 million—of those are male.

I found the choice of narrator interesting. Rather than the narrator being Mike, Lois Metzger decided to narrate from the point of view of Mike’s eating disorder, which is a nagging presence in his head. It knows Mike better than he knows himself. It even thinks it has Mike’s best interests at heart. I found this voice creepy and unsettling at times.

This is one of the most intriguing, original, and insightful books I have ever read. You don’t read about males with eating disorders every day. It is a short (190-page) and complex book. I am glad to have found it, and I can tell you that it is a much recommended read.

Books, Fancy, Movies/TV series, Writing

Adaptations: Every Reader’s Dream?

By Luke Parkes

It’s every reader’s dreams to see their favourite book on the big screen, but would it leave you disappointed?

The fact is the alterations made from novel to screen can be either a huge hit or an epic failure. It really depends on how filmmakers “translate” a full-length novel to the screen and how the reader responds to it. I will delve into the reasons behind changes and how readers can interpret the film adaptation as its own entity.

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Corrie says to Ellie in the film Tomorrow, When the War Began that her book is “better than the movie,” to which Ellie comments, “Yeah, books usually are.” I have to agree with Ellie there; books are usually better than the movie. Yet you’ll be surprised how many films are based on literature.

In the article Adaptation: From Novel to Film, it was estimated by John Harrington that if you include all the literary forms—such as novels, drama and short stories—the percentage of film adaptations might well be 65% (or possibly even more). It shows that most of the films are based on literature.

Most of the classic novels have been adapted to the screen at least more than once, such as Sherlock Holmes, which has over 200 adaptations. Some of the classic novels have been adapted to both a different time and setting, such as Cruel Intentions, an adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which is set among wealthy teenagers in modern New York. Filmmakers decide this so the film can be more appealing toward younger and older audiences, as well as for both sexes.

Many people in the world, including myself, rave about a favourite book being adapted into a TV series or movie. I am excitedly anticipating the film Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters (out February 14, 2014), which is based on the first book in the six-part series by Richelle Mead. If the author says the movie looks great, then it’s going to be great, right?

Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters

However, many other people fear that screen adaptations won’t do the book justice. All the omitted scenes, characters, dialogue, backstories and other details are the most troubling aspects in adapting from novel to screen. Changes, though, are made for several reasons. In the case of adapting a novel, the filmmakers have to cut scenes, characters, dialogue, backstories and other details to make a two hour long movie. Also, sometimes the filmmakers will make other changes to make it slightly—or possibly a great deal—different to the novel, so they get more than just the readers on board.

Some adaptations stick closely to the novel. I have seen many adaptations that only have very minor changes from the original novel, such as the film Tomorrow, When the War Began. None of the alterations made a difference to the plotline, like the omission of Ellie’s confused feelings for Homer in the film, which is “A-OK with me, as that was my least favourite part of the book,” says Aftran from Aftran’s YA Book Reviews.

Other changes can be major. I have seen many adaptations that divert from the book, like the television series The Vampire Diaries, based upon the novels by L.J. Smith. Excluding the first few episodes, it has developed in its own way, making it seem more like its own entity. Characters’ personalities and roles are different and the storyline takes on a completely different direction. One difference that anyone would notice is that in the show Elena has brunette hair and is really “sweet and caring and tough,” says Jenny from Forever Young Adult, while in the book she is blonde and “whiny and mean and snobby,” says Talya.

Cruel Intentions

Changes can have bad effects on movies, as well. Most reviews on the film Eragon, based upon Christopher Paolini’s debut fantasy novel, talked about the lacklustre acting, dialogue, and lack of pace, with a reviewer saying, “The only solid piece of real acting comes from the voice over work of Rachel Weisz.” An alteration from the book is when Eragon and Brom kill the Ra’zac, who aren’t actually killed until Brisingr, book three. Of course, not all reviews are negative; in fact, there are plenty of positive reviews, such as “It’s still a pretty good movie though.”

Always look to the positive side. When it comes to reading, you can visualise a movie playing in your head; whoever you’d cast in the movie, however the locations would look, that power is in your hands. For an adaptation, it allows everyone to see someone else’s interpretation, which gives readers an opportunity to compare and contrast to their own.

It’s true: every reader’s dream is to see his or her favourite book on the big screen. The question is: will it leave you disappointed? Yes, there will be disappointments, I admit, but you know what? Changes are inevitable, and it depends on how filmmakers “translate” a full-length novel to the screen and how the reader responds to it. Readers, like me, should enjoy the book and film for their own qualities.

Adventures, Books, Movies/TV series

Mortal Instruments and Fatigue

Never judge a book by the movieWhen I’m super tired and struggling with my neck I tend to crave “quiet” weekends and retreat into other worlds.

Last Saturday, I went to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones with my brother, Luke. It was a great movie of itself, but movie adaptations are rarely a good translation of the book. Especially where there are complex storylines that span several books, things are left out or altered for time and end up falling flat.

In saying that, they did portray the world/setting admirably. I adored the two main characters and I look forward to seeing Lily Collins in Love, Rosie, the movie adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s Where Rainbows End.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was based on the first book of the same name, in a six book series by Cassandra Clare. I picked up the third book right after, wanting to be transported, in the way only YA Urban Fantasy seems to be able to do.

mortal instruments city of bonesClare has created a fantastic world filled with delicious characters. She weaves the subplot and main story together building toward an inexorable climax. Her protagonist—a young, powerful girl whose journey of self-discovery leads her to the centre of the action and the solution—is delightfully flawed. The conclusion was satisfactory in the kind of way that leaves you pleased and settled. When I told Luke how I felt—not compelled to read book four right now—he informed me that Clare originally intended book three to be the conclusion of the trilogy.

I don’t thoroughly hide during periods of increased fatigue; I’ve still walked the dog everyday and carried on, with a slightly reduced schedule. But I find inhabiting another’s psyche to be a nice holiday from my foggy brain.

Books

Luke’s Dare You To Review

Dare You To

Dare You To follows Beth, who first appeared as a minor character in Pushing the Limits (review here), as she overcomes the obstacle of learning how to trust—not just in others but herself. It also follows Ryan as he risks everything for Beth, who won’t let him get too close.

“You’re a lot like that bird in the barn. You’re so scared that you’re going to be caged in forever you can’t see the way out. You smack yourself against the wall again and again and again. The door is open, Beth. Stop running in circles and walk out.”

—Ryan to Beth


Both Beth and Ryan have their struggles. Beth finds it difficult to trust as when she was younger, her father walked out on her and her mother. Also, her uncle, who was in his late teens at the time, said he’d come back for her, but he hadn’t. Instead, she had to fend for herself and her mother, who remains a wreck since Beth’s father left.

There is tension in Ryan’s family, as well. His brother walked away after coming out to the family. It’s mainly because of the father’s reaction—which wasn’t good. Also, he doesn’t know what he wants. Does he want to play ball? Does he want to go to college? His father wants the former. His English teacher wants the latter, because of his creative writing skills.

The struggles Beth and Ryan have together involved learning to trust one another and falling in love. My favourite part is the ending, but my lips are sealed.

In Pushing the Limits, Beth wasn’t a likable character. She didn’t react so positively when Echo came into Noah’s life. However, in Dare You To, I completely understand why she’s the way she is. Ryan is a great character himself. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks when he risks everything for Beth.

Overall, Dare You To was awesome! The writing style was brilliant, just like Pushing the Limits. It was different because it was written in first person present tense rather than past tense, and I love present tense a lot! Katie McGarry has impressed me yet again. I can’t wait to read Crash Into You, Isaiah’s story.

Books

Luke’s Goddess by Josephine Angelini Review

“She must rise, or they will fall”

Goddess300
UK cover (Macmillan Children’s Books)

Helen must find a way to re-imprison the gods when they are accidentally unleashed from Olympus. Along with this, fingers point to Orion when the Oracle warns that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them. And Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision—for the war approaches.

“My whole life I’ve wondered what it feels like to be loved like that. To be loved more.” 

—Orion to Helen

When I picked up Goddess from the library, it was hard not to start reading it. So…that is exactly what I did…despite all the books that needed to go back before it.

It continues from where Dreamless ended, after the battle against Automedon—who appeared in Homer’s Iliad, which is, by the way, on my to-read list on Goodreads now. Helen, Lucas, and Orion released the gods from their captivity in Olympus after becoming “Blood Brothers” at the end of Dreamless.

I loved the flashbacks of Troy and Camelot. Helen remembers the memories of Helen of Troy and Genevieve, her past lives, which started since touching the River of Styx. These two women share the same appearance as Helen, as do Orion, Lucas and his family look like the gods. All the memories included Paris and Lancelot, and both look like Lucas. I loved the portrayal of the two different times—they are much different from the modern world we live in.

The writing style is elegant. The characters are stronger than before, especially Helen, who seemed wiser, took up more responsibilities, and evolved into a goddess. It was action-packed—more so than the first two instalments in the trilogy. It’s one of my very favourite books, along with Starcrossed and Dreamless. I want to re-read them all!

Goddess3001
US cover (HarperTeen)

Josephine Angelini wrote such an enthralling, intricate, breathtaking, and unforgettable saga of love, hate, fate, and revenge.

Now that I’ve read Goddess, I am sad to see this amazing trilogy come to an end.

But…Josephine Angelini said in a Q&A that she hasn’t “really said goodbye just yet” to the Starcrossed world. She was thinking about “writing prequels to the series,” and to continue Helen and Lucas’ story in a few years. There was still a “few lingering issues to deal with that would make interesting storylines” at the end of Goddess.

Books

Luke’s Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer Review

Spirit

Hunter doesn’t have it easy—particularly since his grandfather is hostile toward him, the Merrick brothers assume he narked on them, and Calla is stirring up nothing but trouble for him. Also, the new girl, Kate, may be bold and funny, but she’s hiding her own secrets. Because of all this, Hunter feels he can’t trust anyone, but in order to prevent whatever Calla and others have planned, he has to find someone who he can trust.

The fact that no one trusts him—except for Casper, his dog—leads him to feel isolated. I felt empathy toward him for the entire story, and it’s because I can relate to him. I have felt isolated and I sometimes find it hard to trust people. In the story, it is vital for Hunter to learn how to trust others so he can stop the bad that’s about to happen.

I have to admit that Hunter has grown on me. In Storm, the first book in this series, I didn’t really like him—maybe because Chris Merrick, the narrator of Storm along with Becca, disliked him. Then in Spark, the second book, he was helping Gabriel Merrick, the narrator along with Layne, with saving people who got stuck in fires set by some arsonist, eventually becoming friends. Then when I read Spirit, Hunter’s story, my perspective on him changed. I understand his character better now.

BreathlessI felt lucky when I discovered a special novella at the back of the book. Breathless is about Nick Merrick, Gabriel’s twin brother. We get to know more about Nick. (I don’t want to be too specific on the plot.) The first two things you notice are his intelligence and kindness toward others—which made him my favourite character in the series. And from his perspective, you get to see his vulnerable side and hear his insecurities.  I can see why the fourth book will be called Secret (out January 28, 2014).

Both Spirit and Breathless deserve five-stars. They’re both well-written, with strong plots and believable characters, and definitely un-put-down-able. I’m very excited for the fourth book!