Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Movie Was THE WORST: The Host

Words cannot convey how bad The Host movie was. But maybe Gifs can!


I have to admit when I read the book about four years ago, I quite liked it. I thought the writing was an improvement on The Twilight Saga and the story was entertaining.


When I found out they were making a movie, I was moderately excited.


When I heard they cast Max Irons, I may have let out a little squee.


Still, I was nervous about how The Host would translate on screen, especially considering a large portion of it is two people interacting in one head.


As it turns out... it didn't translate. It didn't work at all.


'Melanie' was this weird echoey voiceover while 'Wanda' talked to her out loud, but it just looked like she was talking to/arguing with herself.



Things got hella awkward when the two guys were introduced.



Although Max Irons was pretty.



But the corny, corny lines and obligatory kisses in the rain were laughable.



And the love triangle square was completely absurd to watch.



Especially when Wanda would be kissing one of the boys while Melanie's voiceover screamed in protest.


Not even Max Irons or Saoirse Ronan (who I actually think is pretty great) could salvage this awful, awful movie.


I can say one good thing about this movie: It made me laugh.



A lot.



But I don't think that was its intention.


I give The Host one star.



Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

Actually, I push books
 1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's so beautiful and exquisite and wonderful and all the amazing things.

2. Anything by Melina Marchetta. She is the best.
 
3. Persuasion by Jane Austen. A lot of people have read Pride and Prejudice, but I love Persuasion almost as much and not nearly enough people have read it.

4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I also recommend this to fans of Pride and Prejudice; it's a lot darker but has the same kind of awesomesauce hate-turned-love story and a totally swoon-worthy hero.

5. Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. I was blown away by this biography when I read it last year so I push it on to everbody.

6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The lame name and cover for this book really don't do its delightfulness justice (although it has had a redesign!), so I try to tell everybody how fun and non-lame it really is.

7. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. I devoured this book in a day. It's a remarkable, beautifully-crafted Australian story featuring brilliant characters.

8. Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan. I read this quite recently but I've already pushed it onto several people. Such a sublime read.

9. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. A gorgeous fairy tale adaptation/historical romance. It's pure magic.

10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I think pretty much everyone has seen the movie (if you haven't, what are you doing with your life?!) but not a lot have read the book, which is a shame because it's wonderful.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Be My Guest: Bree from 1 Girl 2 Many Books

I visit Bree's blog pretty much every day. She's a super fast reader (I'm jealous of how quickly she gets through books!) and always has new, thoughtful and in-depth reviews up. She's made me want to read so many books - including Good Oil and Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo, Speechless by Hannah Harrington, Mary Bennet by Jennifer Paynter, Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty and The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth. She's also awesome to chat to on Twitter and Goodreads.

 
What are we eating and drinking at this party?
It’s stinking hot here (I never thought I’d say this, but I’d really like to wave summer goodbye and say hello to autumn) so definitely drinking something summery/fruity with LOTS of ice. So daiquiris or pina coladas maybe (virgin or alcoholic, we have both!). And there’s chocolate, because there always has to be chocolate! And Weis Bars! All of the Weis Bars.  


What part of the world do you hail from, and what's something not many people would know about that place? 
I’m from a town on the Mid North Coast in NSW… it has a secluded nudist beach that you may stumble upon because it’s part of a walking track that goes from one end of the town beaches to the other. Oh and Toni Collette likes to holiday there. 

Tell us one random fact about yourself.  
Every year I buy this amazing new diary with the aim of writing in it every day. And yeah, that lasts for about 2-3wks before it gets sporadic and then….nothing. I have a stack of unfilled diaries!   

What do you do when you're not reading/blogging?
 Look after my two boys (who are 4 and 1), take photographs, write and if I can get a spare hour or two to myself then I have to admit, I am a total sucker for shopping. One thing I am not doing is housework.   

What kind of books do you read, and what is your ultimate favourite? I read a fair bit of everything except for non-fiction. I do read some but 99.9% of my reads are fiction. Probably what I read the most is contemporary fiction and YA. My most favouritest book ever is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Timeless – and even reading this for school couldn’t ruin it for me.   

Describe your blog in three words. 
How I feel.  

What is your favourite thing about your blog/blogging?  
My favourite thing about blogging is actually other bloggers! It’s a lovely added bonus of getting my thoughts down to find people who feel the same way about books.  

What post or review are you most proud of, and why? I think probably my review of Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta because it’s a miracle that it made sense after the way that book affected me.   

What are your top three favourite book blogs, and why?  
Really, Belle?! Just 3? I have close to 100 that I read every day including this one of course! I actually try to answer this question differently each time I’m asked because of the fact that I do read so many! I love Shannon over at Giraffe Days – her reviews are always very insightful and detailed and she always has me adding books to my TBR pile. The girls at The Broke & the Bookish for their fun lists and interaction and Lauren over at The Australian Bookshelf. We like a lot of the same types of books and it’s always nice to discuss them and get some different perspectives.   

Can you think of a time another blogger's review made you actually buy/borrow/read a book?
To be honest, there are a lot of reviews I’ve read that have made me purchase a book! It’s probably how I acquire at least a third, if not more of my books. But I think the one that comes to mind recently was a review of The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion. And I loved it.   


What were thefirstand thelastbooks that made you... 

 -Laugh. First one that I can remember really laughing my ass off in was One For The Money by Janet Evanovich, many a year ago. The last one was The Rosie Project.
 
-Cry. First would be Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian, and the most recent is probably Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty.  


-Throw it across the room in fury. I don’t like to throw books but reading In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje for school made me pretty mad. And the fury has lasted until this day because I cannot pick up another Ondaatje. The most recent one was Regan’s Pride by Diana Palmer. I get mad just thinking about it.
 
-Push it onto others. I’m a notorious book pusher. I push lots of books onto everyone but I probably started with the early Stephanie Plum novels because I loved them hardcore 12 or so years ago. Most recently - The Girl In The Hard Hat by Loretta Hill.


 -Stay up til 2am reading. I used to do this a lot when I was a lazy uni student. Now that I have little people who demand attention each morning, not so much. The last book that I remember doing this with was Good Oil by Laura Buzo 

Thanks for being my awesome guest Bree!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Friday Link Dump: Bookish Manicures, Game of Thrones Videos and Cute Babies


-Mandee from Vegan YA Nerds has created a new blog dedicated to her book-inspired manicures. They're amazing.

-Mandee has also teamed up with Rey and Trinity for a brilliant podcast called Ladies of YA.

-Cuddlebuggery has a new feature: In 10 Lines. Their first micro-summary is for Hush, Hush. It's predictably hilarious.

-This is what Game of Thrones would have looked like if it came out in 1995. And this is what it would look like if it was set in a modern high school.

-Zoe Kravitz will give her dad a run for his dystopian money after being cast in Divergent.

-I giggled at Book Riot's post on whether popular YA is secretly fanfiction.

-YA Highway has a great post about writing through depression.

-Laini Taylor's post about her brain being a jerk is a bit old but still brilliant.

-The blogging world has had a bit if a meltdown this week over news that Google is killing its Reader in a couple of months. Here's a handy lists of the alternatives.

-You've heard of Better Book Titles, but now there's alternate movie titles to keep us entertained.

-This talented dude harmonises (with himself) about what happened to the Disney princesses after their Happily Ever After. It's pretty great.

-The trailer for Kick-Ass 2 is here and I am excited.


-A law-defying artist has taken to defiling decorating five dollar notes in creative ways.

-I'm not the only one who had a mad crush on Devon Sawa as a pre-teen. That spin!

-Ever wondered about all the things Carrie wondered about on Sex and the City? Wonder no more. Here's a list of them all.

-Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon performed a barbershop quarter version of Sexyback and it was great.

-Cute babies being cute and discovering new things about the world are pretty, well, cute.

-Buzzfeed gives evidence for what we already know: Zac Efron is perfect.

-So this is what dogs get up to when they're home alone.

-Cadbury Cream Egg pudding. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Review: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner


I dont really know how to rate or review this book. Im afraid Ill be kicked out of the cool kids club* for not absolutely adoring The Queen of Attolia. Im really upset that I didnt, because I was expecting to. I had super high expectations. Pretty much everyone I know told me how amazing it is. How you only read the first book in the series to get to this one. But I have to say, I think I like The Thief more. Its not that I didnt like The Queen of Attolia. I did. I just didnt love it, no matter how much I wanted to.

What I did like about it was the world, the characters and the plot overall. But I really didnt like the frequent, tedious descriptions of politics and war maneuvers and meetings. Yaaawn. I also didnt like the big twist towards the end. The plot point itself isnt what bothered me, its that it wasnt even alluded to beforehand. It was too much of a surprise and wasnt plausible to me. Of course I thought the story was heading there eventually, I just didnt expect it to have already happened behind the scenes (trying to be as clear as possible without being spoilery!). While I admire Turners capacity to intricately build a plot and surprise the reader, I dont like that we end up so removed from the inner workings of the main characters. I read to be immersed in not only a different world but a different person, including their thoughts and feelings. One of my only reviewer friends to have given this book less than five stars, Steph Su, used the analogy that it feels like the characters are acting and talking behind soundproof glass, and this is exactly how I felt. It was as though I couldnt quite get at the action and emotions. It was quite frustrating. The few times there was raw emotion on display and intimate interaction between the characters, it was stunningly rendered, making it even more frustrating to be cut off for the rest of the book.

Im glad I had already bought The King of Attolia when I finished this, because I probably wouldnt have continued with the series otherwise. Thats how disappointed I was. Thankfully I did have The King, so I read it and ended up loving it. It makes me think perhaps I should reread The Queen; I might get get more out of a second reading. As it is I feel like I missed something, because I didnt love this anywhere near as much as pretty much everyone else. 

*Not that I was ever in it. 

Rating: 3/5

Spoilery Talking Point
-OK, as I alluded to above, I did think Eugenides and Attolia would fall in love. But after he kidnapped her. I did not expect him to already be in love with her. I could get behind it if the fact that, you know, she CUT OFF HIS HAND, was resolved. I felt like this wasnt addressed enough, especially Eugenides' feelings about it. Surely he must have been conflicted and thinking twice about his love for her. It would have been good to see how he had managed to come to forgive her – if he did at all. You spend most of the book thinking he hates her, and then all of a sudden youre supposed to believe he loved her all along? It just didn't make sense to me.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Top Ten Books TBR In Autumn


I'm always a bit nervous about making these kinds of lists because inevitably, I read approximately none of the books I set out to get through. But it's a good reminder of what I've got waiting for me, at least. Here are some of the books I'm hoping to pick up this season:

1. Children of Liberty by Paullina Simons. I loved Simons' The Bronze Horseman trilogy, so I was excited when this prequel came out. Unfortunately I've heard it's not that spectacular, but I'm still keen to read it.

2. All This Could End by Steph Bowe. This has gotten rave reviews amongst a few of my friends and it makes me very excited to read it.

3. Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo. Some people love this new adult book, some people really don't like it - I'm interested to see which side I fall on.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I've had this since it first came out, but have never been brave enough to pick it up. I should just bite the bullet, because I really want to read a John Green book.

5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. My husband and I decided to read some modern classics together this year, and this is the top of the list.

6. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag. This is about a house that features "living" potraits of literary legends, and it sounds delightful.

7. Tales of the Macabre by Edgar Allan Poe. I've had this edition of Poe's stories for awhile, and watching The Following, which draws heavily on Poe's work, has made me really want to read it soon.

8. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. I've just finished the first three in this series and have ordered A Conspiracy of Kings - now I just have to wait for it to arrive!

9. Girl Defective by Simmone Howell. The plot sounds unique and the St Kilda setting is enticing.

10. Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. This just sounds like a fun read, and I need that right now.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Review: When You Were Mine By Rebecca Serle

I liked this much more than I thought I would.


Initially my interest was piqued by the new take on Romeo and Juliet - a modern adaptation from the point of view of Rosaline, the girl Romeo was desperately in love with until the moment he spotted Juliet. Having recently rewatched Romeo + Juliet and being put in an angsty teen mood, I decided to give When You Were Mine a go. But Rose was soon driving me nuts; she had basically no personality and depended upon her best friend, Charlie, to dictate her thoughts, feelings and actions. Every second line was, "Charlie says this" or "Charlie thinks that". Frustrated, I went looking for reviews to see what other people thought. While there were a fair few positive ones, what struck me were two quite negative, but thoughtful reviews by Emily May and Ashleigh Paige. I had a feeling I'd have the same reaction to the book as them, and came very, very close to DNFing.

I'm glad I stuck with it, because in the end I did like it - quite a lot, actually. While I think the criticisms that Emily, Ashleigh and others have made are valid, I thought that there was a good amount of growth over the course of the novel. Rob was a total dirtbag douchcanoe for ditching Rose the second her cousin Juliet comes to town, and while Rose still loved him, she did blame him as well as Juliet. Granted, Juliet got the brunt of the blame, but as Mandee points out, the slut-shaming aspect of this, though not ideal, is certainly true to life. That is how teen girls - and indeed, many adult women - act towards a girl who "steals" their guy. That doesn't mean the author endorses this behaviour as positive. It is simply true to life. I think what really helped was the way Juliet was given more layers and agency. I felt for her in the end, along with Rosaline. I still hated Rob, but I was sad about what happened. It's not spoiling anything to say this has a sad ending - it is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet after all. I really liked the way Serle developed the tragic aspect of the story, and gave it a unique spin while maintaining an emotional punch.

Although When You Were Mine is heartbreaking at times, it does have quite a few lighthearted moments. The humour came primarily from Rose's friends, Charlie and Olivia. OK, so Charlie was a cow at times, and said some pretty awful things, but she was fiercely protective of Rose and not just a one-dimensional mean girl. Olivia was totally like Karen from Mean Girls, as Mandee mentions, which provided some entertaining moments. Then there was Len, the lovely, funny nerd who saw the real Rose and encouraged her to be herself and stand up for herself. He was very cute and a nice foil for the knobsticle Rob.

I don't think this book is for everyone, but I enjoyed it and found it to be a refreshing take on a done-to-death (no pun intended) story.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Eye Candy
Coz I watch way too much trashy teen drama:

Ashley Benson as Juliet

Penn Badgley as Len

Tyler Posey as Rob

Lucy Hale as Rosaline
Fine Print
Published: April 2012, Simon & Schuster
Get It: Fishpond

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Well, that was disappointing.


When Divergent came out in 2011, there was a ridonkulous amount of hype around it. Every review I read said it was ah-mazing. Some said it was as good as or better than fellow YA dystopia The Hunger Games. Needless to say, I had very high expectations. They were definitely not met.

In an unspecified future, society has been divided up into five factions, with each one placing one particular value above all others. Tris has grown up in Abnegation, where selflessness rules, but she's always been fascinated by the brave Dauntless. When the time comes for her to choose the faction she will spend the rest of her life with, she discovers she's actually Divergent, excelling in more than one area. It's dangerous to be Divergent, apparently.

I didn't buy it. The worldbuilding was very weak and didn't make sense to me at all. Why would society divide into factions to keep peace, when division brings the opposite? Moreover, why is being Divergent so rare, when in reality most people are good at and do value more than one thing? It's more rare to find someone who only has one strength! After all bravery, intelligence, honesty, selflessness and peacefulness are not all mutually exclusive.

Divergent was slow to start with, and the majority of the plot is taken up with training and tests that kind of go nowhere. It picks up towards the end, but takes awhile to get there. I really didn't like Tris at first - she seemed cold and unkind. She grew on me a bit but I didn't love her. The chemistry between her and Four, the love interest, was great in a couple of scenes but it all felt very predictable, like I'd read it 50 times before.

It was entertaining overall but OK at best. I really don't see what all the fuss is about.

Rating: 3/5

Eye Candy
I saw Teresa Palmer as Tris and Zac Efron as Four.



Fine Print
Genre Young Adult Dystopia
Published: 2011, Harper Collins
Get It: Book Depository

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Be My Guest: Stephanie from Read in a Single Sitting

Read in a Single Sitting was one of the very first book blogs I discovered - and Stephanie was the first ever commenter on my blog! So I'm definitely honoured to have her as my guest today. Stephanie always posts insightful, thoughtful and in-depth reviews for a range of books, from The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum and Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery to We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and Tantony by Ananda Braxton-Smith. She also does some great, informative features like her themed lists and publishing news. If you want to stalk her like I do, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Now on with the fun...


What are we eating and drinking at this party?
Double espressos and chocolate so dark that it's positively astringent. Or we could have the best of both worlds with chocolate-covered coffee beans!
 

What part of the world do you hail from, and what's something not many people would know about that place?
I'm from Melbourne, Australia. You might not know that Melbourne has a flourishing tango scene, a market that's reputed to be haunted, a wonderful art deco cinema with its own special cinema cat, and that it was once the home to a chocolatier whose fame and achievements were not unlike those of Willy Wonka! I could talk about Melbourne all day—it's probably dangerous to get me started.
 

Tell us one random fact about yourself.
I absolutely cannot stand the smell of bacon and egg McMuffins. And for some reason, whenever I'm in a lift, someone is always eating one. Why, world, why?

What do you do when you're not reading/blogging?
I'm a freelancer and author, so I'm basically here at my computer! You can also find me dancing tango several nights a week, or catching an arty movie with my poor long-suffering husband.

What kind of books do you read, and what is your ultimate favourite? 

Literary fiction and middle grade fiction are my two great loves, but I'll happily dip my toe into most genres. There are many books that I adore, but the one that I keep forcing on to others is The Three Loves of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds. I can't help but feel that that book was written just for me.

Describe your blog in three words.

Verbose, ambitious, analytical.

What is your favourite thing about your blog/blogging?

I love that blogging has opened up so many avenues for me as a writer and author. I'm always amazed at the relationships that I've been able to develop, and that people have a genuine respect for and appreciation of bloggers. I also love that I have a record of everything that I've read over the past few years—it's fascinating to be able to go back and see how I've changed and developed as a reader.

What post or review are you most proud of, and why?
I'm quite fond of my The Story Girl and Anne – Why We Need MoreQuiet Books post; my post on whether buying second-hand books makes us bad people; and my post on culling my book collection. These seem to have resonated with other readers, which is always nice. :)


What are your top three favourite book blogs, and why?

I enjoy The Uncustomary Book Review for its, um, uncustomary book reviews. I love that the reviews are written as a given book is being read rather than after, as I think that it lends them a certain sense of curiosity and discovery.


BrainPickings isn't a review blog as such, but I adore the curious tidbits that Maria Popova manages to dig up and share with her readers. If you're after strange and wonderful pieces and extracts on all sorts of arcane topics, you'll love this site.


TheWalker Books Walk-A-Book blog is wonderful as well. It features a variety of guest posts from authors, editors, and other bookish people, and it's utterly inspiring.

Can you think of a time another blogger's review made you actually buy/borrow/read a book?

Hmm, not a particular review as such, but I've definitely bought, borrowed and read books based on recommendations from fellow bloggers over Twitter and in the comments on my site. I have I Capture the Castle to read thanks to Violet from Still Life in Books, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. :)

What was the last book that made you...

-Laugh. Shaun Micallef's Preincarnate. Absolutely hilarious.

-Cry. Hmm, not quite cry, but I was definitely feeling pretty emotional by the edge of Michael Kimball's
Big Ray.


-Throw it across the room in fury. The Forsaken by Lisa M Stasse. My review of that one is just a wee bit grumpy...


-Push it onto others. The Emperess of Ireland
by Christopher Robbins. I have a friend who's enjoying it as we speak!


-Stay up til 2am reading. Robert Cormier's
I Am The Cheese. Cormier always keeps me up late!



Thanks for joining me Steph! Here is the embarrassing part where I admit I've never been to Melbourne. It sounds delightful though, hopefully I get down there this year!