Summer Reading….Had Me a Blast

Today, as part of my fun in the sun series, Summer Reading….Had Me a Blast, I will be reviewing The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. Check back each week for my thoughts on all of my summer reads. And remember, you might, just might, have a chance to win all of these books later this summer.

Summary:

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

(Source: http://www.barnesandnoble.com)

Review:

Not going to lie, I hadn’t heard of this novel until the critically acclaimed movie, which is pretty sad cause it’s pretty darn great. Don’t worry novel enthusiasts, I didn’t watch the movie until I finished the book. I am certainly glad I made that choice because the differences between the two are super important to the message that each narrative is trying to sell ( but more on that in Thursday’s Book to Screen blog post). 9780385754309_p0_v2_s260x420

So, let’s get to it….I LOVE this book. As someone getting ready to venture into the world of Contemporary YA, I think Tharp nailed it.  Smart, smart, smart. This book is so smart and real. I love a an author who isn’t afraid to write real people and not just characters. The most beautiful thing about life is how imperfect it is. How both beautiful and dark the world’s imperfections are.  I am all about embracing that.

Sutter, the novel’s main character, is, at times, an asshole.  Seemingly fatally flawed. But with Tharp’s use of wit, he never comes across as unlikable. And those are the most depressing of people—-the people you only see potential in,  the people who waste it. That’s why this story of addiction works. It’s do damn realistic. Everyone knows someone like this. Someone you want to shake and scream at: Don’t you know how loved you are? Don’t you know the things you could do? Don’t you know you could be happy?

Now, a lot fans did not like the novel’s abrupt and less than sun-shiney ending. I thought it was perfect. Because guess what? That’s life. It doesn’t always provide you the answers you seek, and it doesn’t always end the way it should. And as a reader, and writer, I am so thankful Tharp was brave enough to take the narrative in this direction.

My one complaint is the novel’s love interest. She wasn’t a female character I could get behind…but maybe that’s the point. And another reason I totally support the novel’s ending.

So, if you like stories that are funny, smart, and brutally real, pick this book up now.

From Books to Screen….Sizzle or Scream? The Fault in our Stars

By now, you have probably seen it…at least twice. Maybe even a third time if you spent your first two viewings attempting to navigate through the constant flood of tears that steered you off your movie-enjoying course. But enough with the metaphors…today, I am here to talk about the film adaptation of John Green’s wildly successful novel. So let’s find out, did the film sizzle or make me want to scream?

The trailer: 

 

Anyone with half a brain could tell you this trailer screamed Young Adult in the type of swoony-tear-jerky-notebook type of way that would drive young girls to the theaters in hordes. And had audiences merely based their decisions to see or not see the film based off the trailer alone, I can imagine a lot of people, including myself, might have waited till DVD. It’s the same reason I put off reading the book for over a year after snatching a copy at BEA. I thought it was just another doomed love story, high on the corn syrup and low on the actual heart. Fans of the story know it is much, much more. Hands down one of the smartest YA novels I have ever had the privilege of reading (I have since read everything Mr. Green has seen fit to publish and pretty much think he is the best thing to happen to reading since J. K Rowling). I think word of mouth drove the masses to the theaters more than this trailer, and thank God it did. 

What Worked:

Can we talk about Shailene Woodley for a minute? I loathe the show, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and I have to admit I based my distaste for it largely on the shoulders of Ms. Woodley. I thought she was one of the worst actresses I had ever seen. Goes to show you how important good writing is when inspiring good acting. When I first heard she was going to be playing Hazel, I nearly loss my cookies. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. She was so effortlessly natural as Hazel that I utterly lost myself in her performance. She wasn’t playing Hazel, she was Hazel. So much so that while I thought Ansel was well-suited for the film, he got lost in her performance as well. It was her story.

Finally, a film that knows how important the small roles are. From the parents to best friends, the supporting roles were perfectly executed, saving the film from moments of deep, never-ending darkness with their spots of brightness. 

The music. I love a good soundtrack, and the songs selected for this film helped a timeless story stay relevant. 

What didn’t work:

One of the reasons I recommend TFIOS to anyone who asks is because of how achingly, beautifully smart it is. I love the conversations about philosophy, mathematics, and literary theory. While the film did pay homage to these conversations and musings, it was always in a watered down version. I don’t think the film needed to do this, and I felt a bit cheated at times. These discussions are part of what made so many fans love the film, and it would help those who didn’t read it and those who constantly try to label YA as juvenile to see that it could be so much more. 

Verdict: Sizzler! Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Even watered down, the TFIOS movie is a nice chance of pace, and I will def be adding it to my DVD collection. 

Summer Reading…Had Me a Blast!

Good Morning Blogging Friends,

Today, I am excited to share with you the first post of my latest blog series: Summer Reading…Had Me a Blast. Each week for the rest of the summer, I will be sharing with you reviews of my summer reads. I will be reading and reviewing everything from nonfiction to YA to New Adult. And you might, just might, have a chance to win all of my summer reads later this summer with the release of my first YA Contemporary novel, The Language of Silence.

So, let’s get reviewing:

Book: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout

Genre: YA / Mystery

Summary: Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend. 

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. 

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night aren’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

(Source: Amazon.com)

Review:

There are two things you should know about me. 1) I LOVE mysteries. Ever since being introduced to the works of R.L Stine and Agatha Christie, I have sought the perfect mystery. Which leads me to the second thing you should know about me—(2) I am freakishly good at guessing the endings of movies and books. Sixth Sense? Guessed it. Prisoners: Guessed it. With that being said, it should be known that I guessed the ending to Don’t Look Back within the first couple of chapters. This should not deter you from picking up the book. My crazy deductive skills are my cross to bear, and none of the students I shared the book with were able to guess the ending. But, if you share my affliction, I still implore you to give the book a chance.

51QnleMwlfLWhy? Because Armentrout has a knack for the teenage voice. She’s hip and fun without ever coming across as forced or fake. And she doesn’t shy away from tackling the issues that face young teens today. Instead of filling her novels with long bouts of brooding, introspective moaning (I’m certainly guilty of that), Armentrout deals with the hardships of teenage life with a bit of wit and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. And let’s be honest, she’s good with the heat. It’s part of the reason she is so popular with readers and the blogging community.

So, if you are looking for a fun, fast-paced summer read, this is a good mystery to pick up. Perfect for a day at the pool or beach.