Being Audrey Hepburn

Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman

being audrey hepburnLisbeth comes from a broken home in the land of tube tops, heavy eyeliner, frosted lip-gloss, juiceheads, hoop earrings and “the shore.” She has a circle of friends who have dedicated their teenage lives to relieve the world of all its alcohol one drink at a time.

Obsessed with everything Audrey Hepburn, Lisbeth is transformed when she secretly tries on Audrey’s iconic Givenchy. She becomes who she wants to be by pretending to be somebody she’s not and living among the young and privileged Manhattan elite. Soon she’s faced with choices that she would never imagine making – between who she’s become and who she once was. (Goodreads)

 

I was really excited to read this because of my background in fashion and well, because of this:

breakfast-at-tiffanys

I don’t think there’s a girl in the world who hasn’t imagined themselves in this dress and known how different they’d feel with it on (that’s the draw of high fashion, right?).

But I struggled with this book. It started out with a bang. It was fun and witty and cute, but somewhere fairly early on, it lost me. Maybe it was some of the family drama with a difficult mom, maybe it was the possible love interest from Jersey (or the one from Lisbeth’s new life), or perhaps how implausible everything felt–but I could not get into this book.

I’m interested to know if anyone else has read it. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mindset and need to give it another go? For now, it’s safe to say, that while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

 

Crush Intensity: 2.75-3.0/5

 

Where’d I Get It: An e-galley from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press.  Thank you!

 

Since You’ve Been Gone

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

 

Since You've Been GoneThe Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…(Goodreads)

 

The Skinny:

Emily’s best friend, Sloane, has disappeared at the beginning of what was to be the most epic, off the charts summer of their lives. There’s no warning, no phone call, no note–Sloane is just gone. Emily tries to reach her, searches for clues as to her whereabouts, but all she finds is Sloane’s family home abandoned and no sign of her friend.

That is, until a mysterious To Do list written in Sloane’s unmistakable handwriting arrives at her door. It’s full of random tasks, the kinds of things you only do at the prompting of your best friend, the kind of things Emily would never, ever do alone. Sloane is the vibrant, fearless, life of the party. Emily has always been the loyal sidekick. But there’s a dash of hope in this list, a belief Emily holds to that if she takes the journey, if she completes each task, perhaps it will all lead her back to her best friend.

With unexpected help of Frank Porter, an undeniably cute guy from school (they’re always cute in YA aren’t they? Love it), Emily dives head first into the list and begins a summer full of changes.

My Thoughts:

First of all, I am so with Emily on this fear of doing anything too crazy. I always felt like more of an accessory than the main event. And with items like “Kiss a Stranger” (no, I didn’t want to kiss people I knew, let alone strangers), and “Steal something” (WHAT IF I GET CAUGHT?), “Break something (I mean, that’s just plain rude), or “Go skinny dipping” (Uh, let me think. No), I felt for Emily.

But with Sloane gone Emily was suddenly faced with a big, empty summer. Life feels less interesting because Sloane and Emily have one of those all-consuming tight knit friendships (except that part where Sloane forgot to mention she was about to skedaddle). Outside of her family, Emily honestly doesn’t have anyone else she’s really close to. She realizes that she’s basically alone. She only attacks that mysterious list because she feels that through it her best friend is sending her a message about how to find her. The enormous courage it takes Emily to do some of these things is what is so enchanting about this book. No, they aren’t tasks that will harm her or truly change her life in any way, but they’re different. She has to take a step outside of the comfort zone she’s been in. She begins by going to the local apple orchard where she runs into Frank Porter, schoolmate and problem solver deluxe. Frank begins to help Emily in her search for clues and the more time she spends with him the more she opens up to the possibilities around her, things she didn’t always see with Sloane standing nearby.

One element I enjoyed about this book was the flashbacks. Matson allows us to see inside Sloane and Emily’s world so much so that even though Sloane isn’t truly present in the current day storyline, as the reader I felt like I knew her (and I was as charmed by her as Emily was). Matson paints a vivid picture of what friendship is like for girls, especially high school ones. There’s a real sisterhood, a bond that runs deep and is felt clearly. And we’re left with the same question Emily had, “Why would she leave without a word?”

I also loved watching Emily grow into an individual. At the beginning, she is Emily of Sloane and Emily. She starts her trek in a cautious, single-minded way, but by the end she views herself as an individual, as someone who matters to those around her (and stands out to them) and she sees the importance she holds.

Crush Intensity: 4.5/5 I loved this book. It was so cute. Morgan Matson never misses. And also, though I didn’t put a ton of focus on him in the review, Frank Porter is adorably crushworthy. Read this book!

Where’d I Get It: Bought this one for my Nook.

Bookish Shopping

One of my favorite things to do lately is search for bookish items on Etsy. I buy tons of things there anyway, from pillows to my oldest daughter’s Halloween costume (because on Etsy it is possible to buy your thirteen year-old daughter a costume that is cute, modest, and not the sexy version of a boy costume. ie, sexy vampire, sexy pirate, etc).

Here are some items I’m totally drooling over as of this moment:

 

Narnia Wooden Directional Sign

Narnia sign

I know! I love this. In fact, I think I’m going to buy it. I’ve scoured this shop and she’ll make her signs in any color. This is destined for my book quote wall.

 

Mischief Managed Coffee Cup

Solemnly swear mugs

 

Starting your day with some Harry Potterisms is never a bad idea. I don’t drink coffee, but I would happily guzzle some hot chocolate (or butterbeer, anyone?) from this sweet mug.

 

Jane Eyre Pullover

Jane Eyre shirt

Besides looking like something I’d want to put on and never take off, this quote is perfection ( “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”) . It’s everything Jane stands for, the reason I love her, the reason she’s still a strong, feminist role model for girls today. Also, I love grey. This is going on my Christmas Wish List.

Wuthering Heights Cuff Bracelet

Wuthering Heights cuff

I may actually like this better than the book. Truth.

And what a beautiful quote:

“It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles bending to the thorn. “

Darcy Proposal Book Bag

Darcy Proposal

Love this cute bag. Perfect for toting around the tons and tons of books I seem to be reading and rereading at any given time. And you can never go wrong with Jane Austen, amiright?

Hey Boo Necklace

Hey Boo Necklace

This necklace is so simple, but so sweet. I’m a sucker for all things related to To Kill A Mockingbird and though Atticus Finch is my all-time favorite literary character, Boo Radley has a very special place in my heart (so much so that we named the family dog after him).

Golden Snitch Necklace

golden snitch necklace

I’m pretty sure I need this. I’d be curious to see how many people would recognize it. It could be like a little Harry Potter Potential Friend Litmus Test and an accessory all in one (just kidding. My friends don’t have to read Harry Potter, I just like it when they do).

Cutest Pencils Ever

Write That Shit Down

So, I can’t really buy these because it would be horrifying to see my fourth grader doing her math homework with one of them, BUT I can love them from afar.

Persuasion Artwork

You Pierce my soul

Ahhh, best for last. There is perhaps no better love letter written in the history of man than the one Captain Wentworth gives Anne near the end of Persuasion. It is the utter definition of swoonworthy.

Happy Monday!

Isla and the Happily Ever After

IslaIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

 

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. (Goodreads)

 

The Story:

Isla has had a crush on Josh–yes, that Josh. The one with his tongue permanently down Rashmi’s throat in Anna and the French Kiss–since forever. When she runs into him at a cafe in NYC  as she’s hopped up on Vicodin following oral surgery, it’s not exactly ideal (though it’s quite charming to read). She proceeds to make a fool of herself, Josh is amused and perhaps slightly intrigued, then it’s over. They don’t see each other for the rest of the summer.

When school starts and the two are back at SOAP in Paris, it takes time, but they make their way from Awkward Cafe Encounter to Awkward Almost Friends to OMG We’re So Adorable. You see, unlike other Perkins books, this one isn’t so much about the will they or won’t they get together, it’s about will they or won’t they make it. They both have issues. Josh’s family is Not Amused with his regular antics and as much as Isla and Josh want to believe they’re in their own little romantic world, real life sort of slaps them in the face. The question for this couple is will they get their happily ever after, the one Isla’s been dreaming about (hint: look at the title)?

My Thoughts:

I didn’t loooooove this book (though I liked it) and I feel sort of terrible saying that. It’s not a bad story, in fact, there are some uber-cute moments. I guess it just doesn’t compare to its near-flawless predecessors, Anna and Lola.

Josh is well-written, flawed and funny, yet still raw and edgy in his complete apathy toward all things regarding school. While I didn’t necessarily crush on him the way I immediately did with St. Clair and Cricket (I’m sorry. It’s so unfair to compare), I saw why Isla liked him.

But Isla. You guys. I had such a hard time with her. I found her to be whiny and completely lacking the humor of Anna or the whimsical charm of Lola (not that she has to be them, she just didn’t have something good that stood out to me the way those girls did). She felt so one-dimensional to me. And the feelings for Josh, like I said, I get it, but she was, forgive me, kind of stalkerish about the whole thing. Then, when they finally got together he was EVERYTHING. I understand that first time love feels like everything but Isla lived as though it was.

But what would a companion novel be without St. Clair (still utterly adorable. I want to kiss his cute little cheeks. Because I want to act like the French, obviously. That’s all). And we see Anna (still strong and funny. Everything Isla is not, actually), and, be still my heart, Cricket (in all his sweet, nerdy awkwardness) and Lola (sucking the air out of the room with her quirky brand of awesome). Their scenes are fabulous. They make the book. And the ending. I LOVED the ending (basically from the time the old characters come in all the way to the very end I was in love. It was perfect). The end of this book is what romance stories should be. Perkins did a beautiful job there.

Crush Intensity: 4/5 Not my favorite, but still definitely worth the read.

Just Call My Name

18607158Just Call My Name (I’ll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

 

Emily Bell has it all. She’s in love with a boy named Sam Border, and his little brother has become part of her family. This summer is destined to be the best time of their lives–until a charismatic new girl in town sets her sights on Sam. Now Emily finds herself questioning the loyalty of the person she thought she could trust most.

But the biggest threat to her happiness is someone she never saw coming. Sam’s criminally insane father, whom everyone thought they’d finally left behind, is planning a jailbreak. And he knows exactly where to find Emily and his sons when he escapes…and takes his revenge. (Goodreads)

Just Call My Name picks up soon after the close of I’ll Be There, the stellar debut novel by Holly Goldberg Sloan. After the emotional, nicely tied up ending of the first book we settle in with the characters we first fell for and find out exactly what happens when they get their happy ending.  The truth is, it’s a lot of work, especially for Sam and Riddle, who’ve never had a normal life, never had stability or security, and have only been able to rely on each other.

In Just Call My Name, the boys are settling into their new lives, Riddle with the Bell family, who have adopted him, and Sam in an apartment nearby (the Bells wanted to adopt Sam as well, but since he was about to turn eighteen they were told it wasn’t necessary). Riddle is learning to read, trying to fit in with the adoptive family he adores (and the new brother who seems a teensy bit jealous of him). Sam is attending college and walks to the Bell family home on a daily basis to visit his younger brother. He’s struggling more with the adjustment process, so used to constantly worrying over Riddle. This new happiness is foreign and he lives as though it may somehow slip from his grasp.

Emily has a job at a local restaurant, joined by the ever-annoying Robb. Don’t call him Bobby. No, no, no. It’s Robb. Two B’s. And he’s every bit as obnoxious as that extra B makes him sound–at first. He still has this odd fixation with Emily that borders on creepy and he just doesn’t get what she sees in Sam. Sam and Emily are treading slowly, but we are able to see that these two seem to have an unshakable bond, something even they don’t quite understand.

But remember that they are, in fact, teenagers. As such, one night as Sam waits outside the restaurant for Emily to finish her shift, he meets Destiny, a girl who works at the boutique next door. Destiny has a pretty rough background and can use the help of a few friends, but she makes Emily uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s so experienced in life. Maybe it’s the way she dresses, or her obvious interest in Sam. Whatever it is, Emily can’t shake the feeling that this girl is trouble.

And let’s not forget Clarence Border, that stealth, arrogant man, so evil and driven in his contempt for his boys and the way they’ve been “brainwashed” by the Bells. He manages to escape prison and sets out get Sam and Riddle back to teach them all a lesson about how traitorous they’ve been.

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. I fell in love with the characters the first time around, and I loved them equally here. Sam is a genuinely tormented young man, balancing the damage done by his father, the changes in responsibilities with his brother (entrusting him to the Bells), and his deep love for Emily,which often confuses him in how beautiful and overwhelming it can be. The closer he gets to her, the more afraid he seems to be of letting her see how damaged he really is.  This is where Destiny finds a slight connection with him. In some ways, they understand each other. Emily is understandably insecure, but she’s still the bright, brave girl we met the first time around. I had mixed feelings about Robb and Destiny (of course I hated her at first because DON’T EVEN), but they both earned my respect in the things they were willing to do for their friends. The star of the show though was Riddle who, through the love of his new family and that of his big brother, has grown more vocal, and has embraced his new life with bright curiosity. I dare you not to fall in love with this kid.

If I have any complaints about this book it’s the fact that Emily’s parents play such a small role. They were such an integral part of the last book and they are the reason Emily is the girl she is, which is evident in the way they’ve taken in the boys (especially considering how awkward it must be to have their adoptive son’s big brother who is an almost-adult dating their daughter). Otherwise, this was a great book and a good follow-up to a story I already felt immersed in.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 I love Holly Goldberg Sloan’s omniscient storytelling style that lets us into the minds of multiple characters. Excellent sequel.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and to Little & Brown for giving me an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Ignite Me (please)

Ignite MeIgnite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

 

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her. (Goodreads)

 

Ignite Me. Finally. Even though I read it the week it came out (and fanned myself frequently), I’m finally reviewing it.

Fair warning, if you have not read Shatter Me, Destroy Me, Unravel Me, Fracture Me–first of all, why are you reading this when you clearly have books to read?–there will be spoilers here.  Go. Go read them now because Warner. You’re welcome.

Little Bit of a Recap

Ignite Me is the final book in the Shatter Me series, a trilogy (plus novellas. I don’t know what you’d call that) I have loved every step of the way. Juliette is a fabulous protagonist, one we watched grow from timid to courageous, one who has found her strength in what she originally thought was a flaw. She has a gift so powerful no one can touch her except…wait for it…Warner (I know. Lucky duck). In Unravel Me we discovered that while Adam was at one time able to freely touch her, it comes at great cost and he has to work hard to safely have physical contact with her. This is a struggle because Adam believes he loves Juliette. It’s in Unravel Me that we also discover a shocking truth: not only is Warner able to touch Juliette, he can “borrow” powers from other people. Also he can touch Juliette. Did I already say that BECAUSE IT’S WORTH REPEATING, especially because in Unravel Me we also see how desperately Warner wants to get all up on that.

The Final Book

The big challenge for Juliette this time around is getting her team from Omega Point, one that includes Adam and Kenji, to trust the guy who was enemy numero uno, Warner. They have to join forces, move into Warner’s facility, train together, and build an alliance against Adam and Warner’s father.

In this book we learn more about Warner. We delve further into his past, learn about his mother and his childhood, and begin to understand just where his fascination with Juliette began.

In this part of the story, the love triangle fizzles a bit. One guy turns into a giant jerkhead (completely crazy bananapants) and Juliette, even before that point, makes her heart pretty clear. While I won’t spoil it or say whether or not my choice was the one, I will say that Mafi makes it abundantly clear that there is a guy who wants to help Juliette control herself (while in some ways, be controlled by him) and there is another guy who wants her to unleash herself and fly free. Either way, Juliette taking steps toward one guy over another opens up the romance in a serious way. I’m talking SERIOUS STEAM.

Final Thoughts

Ignite Me is good. I thought it was a pretty epic close to a thoroughly awesome series. The final sequence is particularly good. And leading up to it all are many tingly scenes, so there’s that. Also, Juliette’s relationship with Kenji blossoms and I have to tell you, I could read an entire book about that man. He is hilarious and he’s loyal to Juliette to the very end. I felt as though at the close of the book, I could have kept reading. It feels like there is so much story left to tell because the characters are now on the verge of something huge, but alas, it’s over.  We just have to trust that this ending is a good beginning for them all.

My biggest complaint is one brought to my attention by my dear friend Sandie. In order to resolve the love triangle, Mafi chose to have us more fully see two characters we may have once misunderstood. In one case it was a breath of fresh air to learn that this person was not quite what we thought he was. In the other case, it was sad to realize that the guy was not at all what we thought he was. We see hints of this in the novellas written from each guy’s perspective, Destroy Me (Warner) and Fracture Me (Adam). In the case of one guy, he took such a dramatic turn that it felt like a character assassination.

But you should be the judge. Either way, I really liked this book.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 WARNER OMG

Where’d I Get It: Bought it for my Nook so I could highlight and bookmark to my heart’s content.

 

A Little Off Topic

Normally we talk about books here since, you know, this is a book blog. Today we’re switching gears a bit.

I’m not sure how many of you are aware of this, but before I became a stay at home mom and Michael Moscovitz fangirl extraordinaire, I had an extremely amazing time in my career in fashion. It wasn’t the uber-glamour you see  in The Devil Wears Prada (although I once worked for a woman just like Miranda and I felt that movie gave a very good glimpse of life in fashion), but it was incredible in its own way.

 

Devil wears

Recently someone asked me what ten fashion items I’d have, no holds barred, if money were no object. I have to admit, I had so much fun thinking about it that I thought I’d share it with you. The pictures alone are worth a good sigh. For my fellow fashionistas (she says as she sits at her computer in yoga pants. Life is funny sometimes), you’re welcome. For those of you who aren’t interested in this sort of thing, I promise, there’s a book review going up tomorrow. Indulge me.

My Top 10 Luxury Fashion Wants

Right off the bat I feel I should dive into creative wordsmith mode and suggest changing the term luxury to fantasy because short of breaking into The Met and pilfering their exquisite collection of vintage fashions, a few items on my list are no longer available for purchase (I know. I think that’s cheating. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone). I have included images. Drool without shame.

Balenciaga-1931-Metropolitan-Museum-of-ArtHouse of Balenciaga Vintage Cocktail Dress
I can’t imagine where I’d actually wear a dress this fantastic, but if I owned it, I’d look for reasons to put it on. Perhaps you’d find me traipsing through the aisles of Target, or the local library,  fully decked out, but I’d want to practically live this dress.

Chanel-1957-Metropolitan-Museum-of-Art

Chanel Vintage Lace Gown
I actually sigh every single time I look at this image. It’s truly breathtaking. I’m jealous of those who experienced the heyday of Chanel when the goddess herself was at the helm.
alexander-mcqueen23

Vintage Alexander McQueen
Again, a gorgeous, richly textured gown. I think it would be near-impossible to wear this without feeling as though you were a Hollywood star, minus the paparazzi and rehab, of course.

Red BirkinHermes Birkin Bag
The image is vintage but I have never seen a color more suited to this style than a gorgeous red. As a lover of fashion, even I am astounded at the price and degree of difficulty in obtaining a Birkin. Still, were money no obstacle, I would have this bag in a second. And I’m a mom, so there would still be bags of Goldfish crackers, ponytail holders, and crumpled school permission slips inside but it would look glamorous on the outside.

Classic Chanel JacketVintage Chanel Jacket
Clearly, I’m a huge Chanel fan. I love her suit designs. I particularly adore this look because it’s feminine and luxurious, yet balanced with a great graphic tee and boyfriend jeans it feels modern. This is exactly how I’d wear a Chanel jacket. Anyone want to buy me one?

Frye Shearling Lined BootFrye Shearling-Lined Combat Boots
These are a little more modern. They remind me a bit of my Doc Martin days, but I especially adore the buckles. Don’t you just LOVE these? I found them at Neiman’s. Not that I’m going to buy them. I’m on a Target budget.

7 for All Mankind Vintage Boyfriend7 For All Mankind Boyfriend Jeans
These may not be as luxe as a Chanel jacket or a Birkin bag, but as a stay at home mom, 7 For All Mankind jeans generally run at higher price points than most jeans I purchase. But oh, they fit nicely. They’re worth every penny.

Janessa Leone hatJanessa Leone Hat
As someone who doesn’t wear hats often, I feel that these are flattering to everyone. There are many great looks to choose from, but I’m partial to the grey.

Donna Karan CashmereDonna Karan Cashmere
This whole look—the sweater, the leggings, the boots—I want it in a very Veruca Salt kind of way.

JCrew Herringbone FlatJCrew Herringbone Flats
To the eye these may not seem as luxurious as, say, as two-tone Chanel heel (another shoe I’d die for), but as an “of the moment” look I’d buy right now, I love this herringbone flat. I favor ballet flats because I’m incredibly tall, so I’m always looking for flat shoes in patterns that pop. And again, as a stay at home mom, I’ve bought ballet flats in multiple price ranges, but paying almost $150 for this pair would be a luxury for me.

chanelshoe_two-tone_BChanel Two-tone Heels

I’m cheating again since I was only supposed to list 10 items. But I mentioned them above so I figured I should share a picture. These are my favorite version of this style. The bow. That just makes it.

I hope you enjoyed this tiny look into another part of my life. Maybe I’ll share more in the future.

Have a great day!

Film Talk: If I Stay

I’m so sorry it’s taken such a long time to get this review up. I’ve tried in a multitude of ways to make an actual vlog because…there’s stuff to say. I mean, Jamie Blackley? Hubba hubba. But technology, at least of the video posting variety, is not my friend. I probably could have gotten my twelve-year-old to figure it out in two seconds, but there this thing called pride.

Have you seen the film, If I Stay yet? And if so, what did you think? I saw it at one of those early release Thursday night showings. There were no dudes in the theater, which, while not surprising, I found funny. I went with two dear friends who love the books, and we had our tissues in hand.

I have to say, I really liked it. I think it’s absolutely a fan’s movie. It is, of course, possible to enjoy it if you haven’t read the book, but as is true in all cases, the book is always better. Let’s break it down:

THE CAST

Mia and Adam

Mia and Adam

I thought this group was put together beautifully. I initially had my doubts about Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia only because I still see her as that foul-mouthed cutie from Kick Ass, but she held her own as this strong young woman who is literally grappling with life and death. Jamie Blackley was divine as Adam because, well, Adam is Adam, flawed and perfect all at the same time. He captured that desperate way Adam loves Mia, a heartfelt, soulful guy rolled up into a rocker on the verge of something big.

More than anyone else in the film—more than Kim, or Teddy, or Grandpa—I loved Mia’s parents, Kat and Denny. They were played so well by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard. I fell in love with these characters in each book, this quirky balance of aging rockers meet loving, hip, parents. They are innately cooler than their daughter, at least, in her eyes. And these actors nail it. They are Kat and Denny.

Mom and Dad encouraging Mia, as always.

Mom and Dad encouraging Mia, as always.

Dad and teddy

Dad and Teddy

Dad with Teddy as a baby. OMG. Be right back there’s something in my eye.

 

The Changes

Every movie does it. Sometimes it seems quite necessary, other times it makes no sense to me. In this film there are minor changes and some details left out, but nothing HUGE. Adam’s background is a little different and I guess that was supposed to make him seem edgier. After the accident there are some changes in terms of injuries and who is hurt at what times (meaning, Mia’s dad is not killed on impact). It didn’t feel necessary to me, but it didn’t really change things either.

I think they kept the most important scenes. I would have loved to have seen Mia reading Harry Potter with Teddy (that’s possibly due to the super Harry Potter nerd in me). The issue of Mia and Julliard was a much bigger deal, not only in whether Mia lives or dies, but before the accident, in terms of her relationship with Adam. Of course, the book doesn’t go into exhaustive detail about it really, we just know she and Adam have reached a difficult crossroads in their relationship just before the accident. Overall, it made him feel more demanding.

The Swoons

Yes, they’re all there. Jamie Blackley is quite adept as Adam. He hits the right note, balancing that aching love Adam has for Mia with this sexy confidence Adam has in all things. AS HE SHOULD. There are many lines taken directly from the book, and while they’re beautifully written in the novel, in some moments they feel a little cringeworthy. As with many book to film translations, it’s so different to read those words than to say them out loud.

And can we talk about the sex scene? I took issue with this part of the book, mostly because I was never entirely sure what happened (If you’ve figured it out, that’s great. Don’t e-mail me or anything).  It was really my only complaint about the novel (other than the band name which, thank God, has been changed in the film). But that whole “play me” business? Gone. They have a scene that alludes to sex and it involves chords in music, but it’s tastefully done and gets the point across without any cheese factor. That was definitely a positive change.

Also, I’ve heard some criticism of Mia and her uncertainty about her self worth, about where she fits into her family, and about whether or not Adam really loves her. I cannot tell you how much this aggravates me because, guess what? She’s a teenager. Not only that, she’s a human. I don’t know anyone who had the answers as a kid. As an adult, I’m still grappling.

The Music

Stellar. The fact that Jamie Blackley is a real musician played into it all, I’m sure, but I found myself wanting to go to a Willamete Stone show. Mia has this great moment where she’s explaining to Kim that sometimes after one of Adam’s shows she just wants to lick his face. Normally, I’d say that’s super-gross, but I have to say I SO GET YOU MIA. Maybe when my husband comes home from a tough day of teaching, I’ll lick his face. You never know what love will drive you to do, right?

Here’s a quick clip of the band:

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this movie and yeah, I totally cried. There are some melodramatic  moments, but overall it was good. It wasn’t a perfect film, but at the end of the day, I found it to be a thoughtful tribute to a book fans loved.

Recently I’ve read a ton of reviewers who are doing the whole “it’s not The Fault in Our Stars thing. This irks me to no end. Outside of the fact that this film is based on a widely successful YA novel, they are completely different. I hate to see them compared in such a way because while yes, they are stories that grapple with death, and love, and life, they are not the same. For all those who want to bash If I Stay as though it’s some sad copy, please remember, If I Stay came first. I say this as an honest devotee to The Fault in Our Stars. Trust me, there’s room for both stories and both films.

Let me leave you with this, one of my favorite scenes in the book, beautifully translated into one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Here a short clip:

 

 

 

 

Casting Call: A Little Something Different

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Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is  A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. This is the first release from a new imprint, Swoon Reads.

A Little Something Different

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together… (Goodreads)

This month I have the pleasure of hosting the Casting Call. This book is slightly different in that it’s is written from multiple POVs. I’m going to touch on the two lovers in question, as well as a couple of others who stood out to me.

 

Jamie Chung as Lea

Jamie chungChung is too old to be Lea and yet this is how I pictured her. Pretty and innocent looking (in this picture!). Lea is a difficult character to get to know. She’s somewhat consumed with whether or not she and Gabe should be together as well, but I found out very little about her. She has friends she enjoys and her Creative Writing class, but I don’t feel I know her well.

 

Steven R. McQueen as Gabe

 

Steven R. McQueenGabe is shy. He has some issues he’s grappling with that aren’t quite clear until further in the book. For some people I think it makes him seem weird. For others, he’s that mysterious loner dude. I think Lea sees that he’s a good guy. She’s obviously attracted to him, but he’s so quiet and insecure that she often mistakes that for a lack of interest in her.

 

Sharon Stone as Inga

Sharon StoneInga is Gabe and Lea’s Creative Writing Professor. She’s described as having short, spiky blonde hair and she wears hipster glasses. Stone may be a bit older than Inga is in the book. The thing is, Inga is somewhat obsessed with getting Gabe and Lea together. It’s more than a passing “look how cute they’d be” kind of fascination. She admits to her wife, Pam, that she wants them together (in fact, she picks a couple every semester and works on it) and she tells Pam about the little things she oh so casually does to encourage Gabe and Lea to be together. Frankly, it’s unprofessional and creepy and if there’s one thing I think Sharon Stone can pull off it’s crazy sort of creepy.

Squirrel!

SquirrelSo, there’s this squirrel who spends his time searching for wherever it is he’s hidden his stash of nuts. And he see Lea and Gabe and it seems ever obvious to him that they should be together. I think there is a cuteness factor here that will certainly attract people. For others…make of it what you will.

 

Bench

BenchThere is a bench on campus where Lea and/or Gabe and their friends usually sit. Bench remarks inwardly about them and yes, even he knows Gabe and Lea are destined for true love. Bench, along with everyone else who sees Gabe and Lea together, feels the feels for them.

 

Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- ALSD Playlist

Gone Pecan-Author Interview & Giveaway

The Grown Up YA-Freebie

Teen Lit Rocks-Roundtable Discussion

 

Many thanks to Swoon Reads, a division of Macmillian, who sent us all copies of A Little Something Different.

Film Talk: The Giver

My daughter asked me to read The Giver by Lois Lowry, one of her favorite books,  sometime last year. Of course, I loved it. It goes without saying then that I was so excited to finally see it on the big screen. Like any other fan, I watched the trailer over and over, watched every featurette, and scoured the internet for images from the film long before the release date.

 

We went to see it opening day (and ran into tons of kids from our school) and while there were some slight changes, and maybe a thing or two I would have done differently, I have to say, all four of us really, really loved it. In fact, virtually everyone we know who is a fan of the book that saw the film was very pleased.  So I’m not really understanding the criticism or why it hasn’t done well at the box office. With the kind of following those book have, I’m surprised.

Now, I understand that the book is always, always better than the movie. There’s no question about that. No one can match what’s in our own minds, no one can look or speak or react in the same way our brain dictates. But in this case I felt Jeff Bridges, who labored for years to make this film, made it with love and respect for the story and characters the fans hold dear.

The main issues I hear people griping about are:

1. Jonas’s Age- So, in the book he’s twelve. In the film he’s sixteen. I don’t know the reason for this change. I absolutely believe the story itself has a greater impact when it’s a twelve year-old who takes on the burdens Jonas does. BUT. Sixteen year old Jonas is not like every other sixteen year old you or I know. He is all innocence. In fact, Brenton Thwaites captures that wide-eyed sweetness so well. To me, he looked exactly as I pictured Jonas, only older. I totally freaked out when he was cast, too. I mean, he was way too old, right? Esoecially considering Twaites was twenty-four when he was cast! But I had a year to get over it. It’s not as though it was a surprise going in. And with time and with the images I saw, and finally, the film, he seemed like an excellent choice considering they’d decided to go with a teenage Jonas. Would I have preferred a twelve year-old? Definitely. But it did not make or break the film for me. What everything hinged on was Jonas, who he was, what he was willing to do, and the fact that he–still a child, especially when you consider his upbringing and naiveté concerning the world–was willing to go to the lengths he did.

Jonas and Gabe

2. The Love Story-  I am so sick of hearing this! We know that in the book, Jonas started having dreams and thoughts about Fiona, which he recalled led him to having to start taking his pills. His parents referred to these feelings as “The Stirrings” and assured him it was normal. Had Jonas been twelve in the film I think it would have made sense to leave it there. But he’s sixteen (see item #1). He’s not taking his injections (vs. pills in the book). It’s only natural that he develops an attraction to Fiona. Would I call it romantic love? No. It was the beginning of something. It was curiosity, and considering his age, it was far more authentic to do that than to ignore that hormonally and emotionally he was going to experience changes. If it was possible for him to feel love for Gabe or Giver, it was also possible for him to feel something–attraction, attachment, stirrings–for Fiona.

Fiona and Jonas

 

3. Meryl Streep’s Character Was Way Bigger- I have no issue with this. It makes sense to identify the evil and the control with one individual than with some ominous but vague threat. Also, when you’ve got Meryl Streep in a movie you capitalize on it.

Meryl Streep Giver

 

4. Been There Done That- This is the complaint that I struggle with most. Yes, we’ve seen YA dystopic worlds successfully turned into films in recent years. And we’ve seen legions of excellent (and not so excellent) book series that are all doom and gloom societies where it’s essential that one unlikely teen prevail over evil for the good of all. And yet Lowry was pretty much the YA writer from whom such ideas originated. Everyone, in some way stole from her genius, if only a little. So let’s give credit where credit is due. Maybe this movie took too long to make it to the screen, maybe not, but a strong story is timeless. It’s always good.

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry

 

My Praise:

1. Jeff Bridges as Giver- Simply put, there could not have been a better man to play him. It’s been said that when he bought the rights to this book he envisioned his father playing Giver, and with all due respect to his father, I think Bridges was perfect.

Jeff Bridges, Giver

 

2. The Memories- I loved the imagery used, especially when Giver seeks to give Jonas strength for what he’s about to do. I’m not going to lie; I got choked up.

Giver images

3. Jonas- As I said above, I think Brenton Thwaites captured the heart of Jonas. He has great moments with Giver, with Gabe, and with Fiona.Giver and Jonas

4. Love- The scene where Jonas asks his father if he loves him. I really liked his father’s reaction (“I enjoy you”) and his mother’s reaction(which, honestly, it’s been a while. I don’t remember if it’s in the book), calling love “a word so antiquated it’s lost all meaning.” And I loved that he finally experienced love with Giver and with Gabe.

Giver parents

5. The End- I struggled with the end of the book because it was so ambiguous. Did they live? Did they die? Was it all some weird plan of Giver? Who knows? I didn’t know until the THIRD BOOK that Jonas and Gabe both survived.  I think the simple ending of the film still left it with clarity without truly changing the outcome.

As a fan of the book series, I really enjoyed this movie. Later this week we’ll discuss the film version of If I Stay.