Young Adult July Reads Book Review: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

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Photos via Goodreads.

Book Review:
Book Title: The Fault in our Stars

Book Author: John Green

Rave and Rant: I read this book after my father lost his battle to cancer, and it gave me a beautiful insight into a land where cancer is not viewed as the villain and rather as a fact of life. This book is not your typical love story! It followed sarcastic teenagers who live with cancer, and does not mainly focus on the cancer, it follows their life. It is a beautifully written book and John Green brings his excellent wits in this novel. I’d suggest it to anyone, but remember to have a tissue box nearby once you’ve finished the first half of the book! This book deals with strong emotional themes. Five stars!

Potential Issues: This book does make cancer seem a little romanticized. When I look back on reading it, at the time it was the type of book I definitely needed. I was hurting and I needed a book that didn’t make cancer seem like this horrible villain in my story. This book might not be for everyone, but it helped me at the time. Is cancer scary? Yes. It is life ending, horrible, and ruins lives? Yes. But can this book help heal? Yes.

This book will make you cry – it’s definitely sad, but at the same time it gives you  a different insight into cancer. Yes, there is a romance story in it, but these characters will give you some form of hope. There are beautiful quotes throughout the novel that show you cancer from a very different perspective. Readers must keep in mind this book was written after John Green lost a friend to cancer as well, so this book could have helped him heal.

Final Thoughts: This book is a YA novel – that means it is not going to be 100% realistic. This novel has it’s ups and down in many ways. The characters don’t seem to talk like teenagers would (but the novel was written by an adult). I found Hazel (the main character) to be quite average (other than her amazing quotes), but sometimes you don’t want the perfect Mary Jane as your main character. Gus is kind and a jerk, all wrapped up in one package. He’s not your perfect male lead, which is why I like him. Yes he has his issues, but at the same time he is romanticized for the audience this book is aimed towards. There’s a villain who has his reasons for being evil, but they don’t entirely make up for his behaviour. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it was there when I needed it to be – it’s a good book to read to heal after losing someone to cancer because it gives you a very soft and sweet look compared to the horrors a cancer story typically is.

Five out of five stars. I enjoyed this novel.

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Murderous May: The Girl on the Train – BOOK REVIEW EXTRAVAGANZA!

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Book Review
Book Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins

Introduction: I have had this book on my shelf for AGES. I had been dying to read it but I never had the time. And then, with a hint of luck, I had to go sit during a long appointment and I had all the time in the world to read this book! And I read about 85% of the book in one sitting and finished it one day later. I not only wanted to read it because of all the fantastic reviews I had read about it, but because I want to watch the film adaption as well. I always love reading the book before seeing the movie – hence why I haven’t watched many movies lately! So many are based on good books!

Review:

This book has been compared to Gone Girl since it hopped on the suspense/mystery novel scene – and while you can definitely say they are similar (because of, you know, murders and mystery) they are both fantastic in their own ways. They are two separate entities that shouldn’t be compared! Unless you are using them in a list of the best suspense books in the last decade, then list them together!

This book follows Rachel, a drunk, angry, depressed, bitter woman who has been divorced by Tom. Slowly throughout this book we are introduced to her back story – a glorious tale woven so beautifully by Paula Hawkins. Tom is now married to Anna, the other woman in his and Rachel’s relationship, and it all goes downhill from there. When a girl that Rachel has seen is missing, Rachel decides that she has to help this mystery.

Reading this book from Rachel’s, Anna and Meghan’s point of view is truly incredible. Rachel isn’t totally reliable because of her being an alcoholic, Anna sounds like the not-so-perfect housewife Tom probably desired at some point, and Meghan gives an inside view to the outside view Rachel has been watching. These three tales woven together are just so beautifully written that it’s hard not to want to tell everyone to read this book just to show them how three separate characters who barely interact can have  their lives so entwined with one enough.

So is all this hype worth it? I would say yes. Don’t put this book in some high and mighty place in your mind and then be disappointed. I decided I would read this to see the movie – all the comparisons to Gone Girl made me quite suspicious so I didn’t leave my standards high. But, surprisingly, this book was excellent. If I would have given it silly expectations, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.

If I could describe this book in a few words, I would give it – insanity, murder, and suspicion. Every time I thought I had an idea of where this book was going, Paula had to go and shake it up like a magic eight ball. Typically I can see the ending from a mile away, and this book was different. I did NOT expect the ending. Will the reader guess it? Potentially, but it’s not a dead giveaway – which is why I like this book! Paula didn’t make it obvious and made the reader work for it if they wanted to guess.

Overall – this fast-paced, mind-blowing novel is definitely what I needed in my life! It lived up to the hype, and I’m excited to watch the film now! The psychological, murderous novel full of absolute insanity is spectacular! I can’t wait to read more by Paula Hawkins! Her and Gillian Flynn need to write a book together…because the insanity between the two of them in one book? That’d be killer!

Five out of five stars.

Positives:
1. Fast-Paced
2. Unpredictable Twists and Turns
3. Unreliable Narrators
4. Well Developed Characters
5. Complex Plot with a Layered Storyline
6. Unique Concepts

Negatives:
1. Comparisons to Gone Girl
2. Over-Hyped? Maybe.

Positive & Negative All Wrapped Up In One:
1. Dual (3 to be exact) POVs
2. Stereotypical Relationships
3. Black-Out Drunk Moments

Film Review: Zulu (1964) starring Stanley Baker, Michael Caine

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Film: Zulu (1964)
Director: Cy Endfield

Producer: Stanley Baker, Cy Endfield

Starring: Stanley Baker, Michael Caine

Introduction: A dear friend of mine recommends past films to me that I should watch. He tends to pick older films that I might not have heard of or wouldn’t see hanging around the local big brand shops that sell movies. He lent me Zulu so I could see Michael Caine in his first big role, and I couldn’t say no! I remember my Father used to love this movie, so I felt a little sentimental watching it for the first time.

Quick Plot: The film follows the British Army’s 24th Regiment of Foot in 1879. During this time, there was a battle against the Zulus – where the British army gets defeated. This movie chronicles some of the events that happened.

Review: I wasn’t sure if or how I would like this film. I never enjoyed war films and it had always been hard getting into them. While watching this film, I did tend to lose a little focus, but that was because it wasn’t a genre I typically enjoy watching. I wanted to watch this movie to see Michael Caine in the beginning of his acting career, since I find him one of my favourite actors.

This film moves slowly, but it is filled with extravagant details and imagery. The Zulus walking through the fields of the dead bodies of the British soldiers and the  waves of Zulus and soldiers attacking each other,

Overall, I found this film to be beautiful but slow. This film was definitely not a film made for me – I prefer fast moving, action packed and sometimes mysterious movies. This film was more a fictional documentary of the battle of the Zulus. But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fantastic. It is definitely a movie I suggest to film goers. Seeing Michael Caine in his prime, the beautiful imagery, and the way the story was captured within this film is a real treat!

I give this film 85% out of 100%.

Batman: The Killing Joke – Book Review

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Batman: The Killing Joke is an excellent graphic novel following two of comics leading stars: Batman and the Joker.

Introduction: I have always loved superheroes – Adam West’s Batman was a key staple of my childhood. Slowly as I got older and Marvel and DC were the beckoning lights at the movie theaters, I became totally obsessed with everything superheroes, super villains and comic books. I began collecting them, reading them, and trying to get my hands on every adaption possible. So, I decided to watch The Killing Joke animated movie. I was so enchanted and enthralled with the film that I had to see the famous comic/graphic novel it was based on. It was a short search – a local store had it in stock the first time I went to look for it, and the rest is history.

Review:

This comic is so simple in theory, but so complex in art. A joker origin (of sorts), a splash of James and Barbara Gordon, some tragic ultimatums, Batman, and beautiful art.

The introduction to the Joker’s “back story” is so interesting. The Joker has always been this mysterious character, and the reader is welcomed into one theory of how the joker came to be. But the joker says it himself – he prefers his past as multiple choice. So is anything he tells us actually true? That’s up to you to decide.

The Joker is cunning and intelligent, as well as insane and wild. The reader gets to see his thought pattern and how truly manipulative he is when he takes control of the plot and causes his destruction. But then, he makes it worse by not only physically torturing his victim, but try to mentally destroy him as well. How can someone be to cruel yet so smart? It’s an incredible reading experience for fans of the Joker.

The ending leaves viewers with many questions – one that we may never know the true answer to. This cliff hanger wasn’t as troubling as other cliffhangers have been for me in the past. It leaves it off at the perfect ending – the reader questioning the events that happened. This leaves the reader to interpret the ending in their own way. What truly happened and what are we to believe?

Brutal is one word to describe this novel – there are graphic scenes, ones that changed DC comics dramatically – and it’s not for the lighthearted.

Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It changed my views on the Joker and Batman, and I really appreciated the little splash of Barbara Gordon (one of my personal favourite characters DC has ever created).

For those who are fans of the film / want to watch The Killing Joke animated film: The plot is very similar, but there are a few changes. These changes don’t impact the end of the story, but it may change some of your personal feelings/understandings of the characters.

Five out of five stars.

Quick Book Review: Coronation Street the Novel by Katherine Hardy

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Book Title: Coronation Street the Novel
Book Author: Katherine Hardy

Introduction: A lovely friend of mine lent me his copy of Coronation Street the Novel – ironically I had the same book on my shelf (his cover was purple and my cover was red). He asked me to read it first and give him a small recap, and I hardly think I’ll need to! Why? Read the rest of my review! 😉

Review:

This book is a great starter for anyone wanting to get some back story on Coronation Street (especially if you don’t want to go through a million pages of Coronation Street wiki…Those websites are insane!). It starts off at the early years of CS and continues up to about the 2010s. For those who want a back story (if they are new) or want a recap (those who’ve watched the series for years) this is a great start!

There are parts of this novel that are not perfectly aligned with the show – characters missing, characters doing something another character did or entire plot lines gone – but how can you fit over 50 years of television into a 1000 page book? it’s quite difficult, and Katherine Hardy has done an excellent job.

As an avid Corrie fan (I’ve been watching for about 10 years), I can say this was a great book to give me some back story on the famous families and characters I already knew. To me, it was a lot nicer to read from the beginning and understand the movements of the plot then just hop onto the Wiki page and try to figure it out as I click different characters and read their entire life story.

The book starts out with Elsie and Ena, moves into Ken Barlow (who’s still on the show! He’s incredible), and continues forward with Valerie, Deidre, the twins Peter and Susan, and Tracy Barlow as well! It showcases Gail and Brian, as well as Nick, Sarah and David with a splash of Audrey as well! Sally and Kevin make an appearance, Molly, Jack, Fiz, Steve! So many great characters from across the ages make an appearance and tie this series together.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It rolls along like the television show. For a different manner of showing off Coronation Street, I think this is great for readers. It shows how crazy and dramatic Coronation Street came be as a soap opera but in book form.

Four out of five stars!

Book Review: DC ESSENTIAL GRAPHIC NOVELS 2017

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Book Review
Book Title: DC Essential Graphic Novels 2017

Introduction: I LOVE comic books and graphic novels, and I LOVE superheroes (you can often find me lurking in the graphic novel section of any bookstore I go to…maybe for a bit longer than necessary!).  It is very obvious to anyone who has met me that I am obsessed with everything DC and I’m uber fond of Marvel. So, when I got the chance to read and review a graphic novel from the DC collection I was over the moon excited and I hopped on it immediately.

I received this book for free through Netgalley for an honest review.

Review:

The first comic was The Flash and he is holding this exact graphic novel in his hand. It’s quite amusing, and it’s totally in the Flash’s realm to do this. He’s always a comic relief!!! The artwork is impressive in this initial comic, which impressed me. The Flash discusses the comics that will be featured within the novel all while saving the day!! What a great way to start a graphic novel!!

This graphic novel is an introduction to the DC comic book line up and I definitely suggest it to anyone trying to get a basic start within this massive series of comic books. You get a little pinch of many titles and this can help readers figure out which comic book characters and series are best for them! Every comic book character/series has a different tone and might not match every reader so it is important to be informed!

Some of the comics/characters introduced within this series: Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, The Justice League, Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad as well as collectibles, suggested reading orders and back list (plus an ordering list!).

Each series is described and showcased at the beginning of this graphic novel. For example, the Watchmen are given a description for a general reader to understand what they are about and some of the characters. This series is described as grim and psychological realism – this can assist readers who do not want a gritty, real story to make an informed decision on what series to read or delve into.

Readers also get a sneak peak at artwork and covers, which showcases the illustrators wonderful artwork! Some of my first comic books I became interested in were just because of the artwork – you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but sometimes that introduces you to books you never thought you’d like!

Some of my favourite parts of this graphic novel include:
The Batgirl art and comic book – oh how I love her!
Batman: The Killing Joke – I have this graphic novel, but I always love seeing it pop up everywhere! It’s perhaps my favourite graphic novel of all time (so far…).
Justice League Origin Vol 1 Cover – I love superhero team up covers!
Everything Harley Quinn – I love this character, and seeing her pop up made my heart swell!! I try to pick up every comic book and graphic novel I find involving her!
DC: The New Frontier – this Justice League comic book has a very different art style than the typical Justice League stories, so it was great to see this line of comics shown off within this graphic novel.
DC Universe: Rebirth – Again, seeing the different styles and editions makes a great introduction to new (and old!) comic book enthusiasts!
Injustice Gods Among Us – For fans of the video game, there is in fact a graphic novel with the same name!!
Gotham Academy – I had never heard of this series before I noticed it in this book! So I’m pleased to see a small introduction floating around!
Aquaman – I have so many Aquaman comics hiding in my house, how could I not love seeing him showcased in this graphic novel?!
Birds of Prey – For those not introduced to the Birds of Prey, it follows some of the major female characters in the DC universe. Girl power!!
Nightwing – I haven’t seen as much of Nightwing lately as I would like to, so a splash of Nightwing makes my day!
Red Hood and the Outlaws – Another great character I haven’t seen floating around as much as I would like!
Teen Titans – For a very long time I have been obsessed with the Teen Titans, yet I’ve only seen the animated series getting more attention than the fantastic comic books.
Modern Classics section – While the old graphic novels are fantastic, some of the newer graphic novels and comic books have been hitting me the right way. Seeing a whole section on this fantastic selection is great in my eyes.

There’s also a little introduction to the current Zack Snyder film universe and DCEU on television and the comic books that influenced them/readers could enjoy.

Overall, I thought this was a great introduction to many comic books. This graphic novel would be fantastic for anyone wanting to get into the DC universe but not knowing where to start! I wish I had this when I started my obsession in June 2016!!

Five out of five stars.

Side note: I am now using the selected backlist to make sure I read in the correct order and not purchase second copies of comic books and graphic novels. How helpful!!!

Book Review: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket

In honor of the Netflix release of A Series of Unfortunate Events, here is a throwback review of The Bad Beginning!!

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review:
Title: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Author: Lemony Snicket
Date Read: October 4th – October 12th, 2016
Date Reviewed: October 12th, 2016

Introduction: I went to a local bookstore and saw that quite a few books in this series was on sale. Since I read these books a long time ago when I was younger, I figured rereading them now as an adult would be fun. I also figured since a new Netflix series is going to be coming around soon that I should go over this book series so I can watch the show!!!

Spoilers Ahead?: Yes.

Quick Summary: Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire face a horrible tragedy – their parents have passed away in a tragic fire and they must go live with the horrible, no good Count Olaf (who is not only a Count but an actor as well). When Count Olaf finds out that Violet has money from their parents in an account, he tries to marry her to acquire this money.

Evaluations: This book is an incredible children’s read that adults can also find humorous. For children, this book is full of action and adventure, and the situations seem “realistic”. They might have a horrible four times removed third cousin that could take them in!! Reading this book was quite nostalgic, but I find that it still stands. While it’s quite foolish and silly, it makes for a great adventure. Overall, I really enjoyed re-reading this book. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Jim Carrey as Count Olaf since the movie that was made was actually quite funny (and great in my opinion), but this book will make a great television series!

Plot: As an adult, the children seem boring. They have faced horrible circumstances and it seems like the children are to young to deal with it. For a child, this seems like a great adventure story. These kids have been put through terrible times, but they still fight back in child-like ways. If the reader goes into this book expecting it to be like Harry Potter (where it translates well for both adults and children) then the reader will not be impressed. This book was aimed at children, not adults, so most of the plot seems unrealistic and unimpressive. The kids are whiny, they’re constantly wallowing in distress, and they complain how they want their parents back – but aren’t mots kids like that? I work with kids, and when they have a bad day they act that way. Overall, the plot is not written to be a fantastic, adult novel. This is a children’s novel, so adults beware.

Characters: Violet, Klaus and Sunny are interesting characters within the story. I do not relate to them as much as I did when I was a kid (I used to think I was just like Violet, and now looking at these characters I can’t relate at all to any of them). Violet seems to be older and “wiser” in mature situations, Klaus seems to be more intelligent but whinier, and Sunny bites and can’t speak well. To a kid, this is essentially an Avengers roster of your average every day kids. To adults, it’s three archetype children. As an adult, I also noticed that after their parents die the children are almost perfectly fine. How I understood this concept, is that a child cannot grasp that death is forever, but an adult can. An adult understands these intense feelings, but a child cannot grasp it until it happens. So while many of the situations that occur may seem out of place for an adult, you still need to realize it’s aimed towards children. This is simply an adventurous novel for kids to read.

Count Olaf is strange, but I love him. He’s a wacky character and keeps the novel interesting. He brings a lot of the twists and turns about that keeps the reader interested. Yes, he’s inappropriate when you look at it from an adult point of view (why would he want to marry a pre-teen?..) but in a child’s point of view he’s a great, wacky villain. I like to compare him as the child’s Joker (from Batman). Wacky and strange, but they keep it interesting (of course the Joker is more intense and R-rated, but hopefully you get the point).

Themes/Creativity: This book is definitely creative! It brings a crazy and wacky plot together with some relatable child characters and then finishes it off with some silly villains. The only theme I might find in this book is family sticking together, but I’m sure there’s more hanging around for those theme heavy readers.

Uniqueness: Is this book unique? Absolutely! A book with thirteen novels in the series that kept changing it up is definitely unique. It fits in it’s own little category alongside novels like Harry Potter, Eragon and The Wizard of Oz for must reads! I would definitely recommend parents try to get their kids into reading with this series!

Strengths: This novel is definitely aimed at children! It does a great job mixing in child problems, silly villains and adventures for your child reader.

Weaknesses: This book might be considered unrealistic for adults. It definitely doesn’t transcend into the older age groups for a good, relatable read.

Score: Three out of Five.

I find that the relatable-ness factor brings this book down in score, and that the children are sometimes incredibly annoying for an adult audience.