Beautiful Chaos – Series Wrap-up

Warning! Spoilers for the Beautiful Creatures series books 1, 2, and 3!

Alright peeps, this is where it gets real! I lent my copies to a friend, so if I misquote or get something wrong please let me know with some comments.

Show of hands, please, who know that the “one who is two” was Ethan? I think that Beautiful Chaos went on a smidge too long? But at the same time I didn’t want it to end. Does that make sense? A little bit? I will admit I teared up at the end. How could I not? We’ve been following this boy for two other books, we want him to succeed and now his train is cut short!

Then again, there is another whole book. (Which I will not be reading until it comes out in paperback.)

I love the changes going on with Macon, he’s probably my favorite character and I nearly cheered when he came back in the second book.  I’m glad he got to be a light caster and I’m glad Lena didn’t have to choose what to be and kill half her family. Then again, part of me just wanted her to choose the light already, especially once Ridley was human, because if she had just chosen light, Sarafine would have died and half of their problems would have ended. So every now and then I’d get annoyed with Lena because all her justifications for not choosing the light had suddenly disappeared.

Can we talk about Linkubus? He’s consistently been a sweetie and I adore him. I’m conflicted on his change into an Incubus, because on one hand it brings him closer to Ridley and Lena’s world, on the other it kinda takes him away from Ethan and the human world and that’s sad. In fact, I’m disappointed that this can’t be made into a movie because the producers and writers shot themselves in the foot with the changes made in the movie. Even if they wanted to make a sequel it would be hard to fix what they’ve changed and the movies would just get further and further away from their source material.

One of the things I didn’t like about this entire series was the way the adults in the novel were constantly keeping secrets and sabotaging Ethan and Lena. It does create the atmosphere of suspense a little, but after some time, the fact that every adult in Ethan’s life is keeping something important from him, gets annoying and suspicious. There should be at least one adult on his side who will let him know what’s going on. He’s a seventeen year old in the apocalypse, baby’s gotta grow up.

Overall I liked the series, it got better as it went and there was always a surprise around the corner. It becomes less about their romance and more about Ethan as you get further into it. I’m glad there’s a fourth book.

If you have some thoughts you want to share on this series, go for it, I’ll be excited to discuss it!

Next Post: Man of Steel movie review

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Beautiful Darkness – A Sequel that Doesn’t Suck

No spoilers

Beautiful Darkness is the second book in the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. And when they call it darkness they’re not kidding. That book gets dark real quick. Nothing is quite right after the events of the first book and Lena starts pulling away from Ethan.

After being a little bored with the first book, the second was a welcome change. There are a lot of secrets and a lot of adventures in this one. A new character gets introduced; she’s from England and seems to be a foil for Lena. She’s there to tempt Ethan and to add a little bit of a complication to the story.

The one thing I did not like in this book was the way Lena acted. Throughout my entire reading I was just angry. Her reasons for acting out were justifiable, and yet I couldn’t help but be angry with her. It might have been because the novel is narrated by Ethan and he was angry and sad, so I was angry and sad? I’m not quite sure.

Overall it was a pretty good read, an exciting second novel, unlike a lot of second novels which just seem to be fillers between the first and third. But Beautiful Darkness sets in motion the events that culminate in the third book without being boring.

Not much to say about this book. Next review will have spoilers for the whole series.

Next Post: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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Beautiful Creatures – As Lena Would Say “Define Good”                     

No Spoilers

Darn, I broke my streak of posting when I said I would! Oh well, it’s still Friday somewhere, right?

In February I saw the film adaptation of the Beautiful Creatures novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The film was only the first book, but there are no plans to make a sequel at the moment. This is a real shame, I think, because the books just got better and better. Though the changes they made in the film would make it difficult to recreate the events of the second book.

So this is going to be a review of the book and the movie, not as a compare and contrast, but just as two separate but related entities.

I’ll begin with the movie, because I enjoyed it a lot. Alden Ehrenreich is utterly charming as Ethan Wate. He’s gives Ethan a smile and accent to steal hearts. I have to admit that a lot of the appeal of this movie, for me, comes from Ethan and Lena’s bonding over books and the many literary mentions within the first half of the movie. I really enjoy witches/casters though, so that’s another like button of mine they hit.

There’s comedy, mystery, and supernatural action. It’s so much more than just a romance. I think that’s one of the reasons this movie didn’t do so well in theaters, from the posters and the trailers it seems they were trying to market this movie as something like Twilight. Which sucks, because Beautiful Creatures is much better than Twilight. The characters are deeper and more complex, the story is darker, and as I said, it isn’t entirely about the romance of these two young people.

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Ethan is angry at Lena for “acting like a brat” because he gives voice to the moviegoers who might be annoyed with Lena’s attitude closer to the end of the movie. Ethan gives her a speech about what it means to be normal and human and that he’s angry because he cares about her. It’s a great speech to give someone when you actually just want to bitch slap them.

There is a point in the movie that is actually a little more heart rending than any scene in the first book of the series. I won’t spoil it, but it was, in my opinion, a really great twist, and it makes the ending much more satisfying than it would have been otherwise.

Ah, the ending. Some people have had issues with the climax/ending of the film, but I thought it was brilliant. It’s fairly simple and very surprising. It keeps the tension and then when the tension breaks, the heartbreak is still there.

So all in all, I liked the film, though I liked it more before I read the series, because if they wanted to make three or four movies then there were a few things they shouldn’t have changed in the film. As a one film thing though, it’s pretty entertaining and satisfying. I mean, just look at the cast, you’ve got the voice of Scar, Professor Trelawney, and Octavia Spencer. It doesn’t get much better than that.

After I saw this great film, I was hankering to read the books; you’ll notice they were at the top of my list. I’ve wanted to read these since February.

However, because I had seen the movie, the first book seemed a little slow to me. I knew what was going to happen, I knew who the characters were, and I knew how it would end.

That being said, it was a fairly good book. Ethan’s narration was funny, sarcastic, and just as charming as his film counterpart. There’s actually more supernatural stuff going on in the book than the movie and there’s more Ridley involved in the book, so anyone who liked Emmy Rossum’s character, you get more of her.

The one thing I had issues with was the ending. It gets really confusing because for the entirety of the novel, we’re getting Ethan’s point of view. Then something happens and the narrative switches to Lena for a chapter and then we’re back with Ethan. It probably confused me because of the movie and when something happened differently I didn’t understand what was going on. So if anyone who read the book before the movie wants to discuss how the end/climax went down, I’m totally game. This means there might be spoilers in the comments.

I understand why it had to switch to Lena’s point of view, because Ethan isn’t aware of what happened, but I still feel like there was something confusing in the way ‘Lena’ narrated it.

Basically Beautiful Creatures, movie and book are both good. The movie is better than expected and the novel was alright, but not as good as I wanted it to be.

Next Post: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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The Great Gatsby – Spectacular Spectacular~

On Tuesday the 29th I saw The Great Gatsby for the second time. I’ll probably see it a third time. When the movie finished, and Tobey Maguire’s final words faded, the gold design fading back onto the screen, there was a hush in the audience. No one was talking, no one wanted to breathe. Gatsby casts a spell over the theater that is palpable.

There is no doubt that Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is a spectacle. It’s vivid and beautiful and heart wrenching. A faithful adaptation to the novel, this movie will quickly become a classic.

The acting in this film is completely wonderful. Carey Mulligan is charming and beautiful as ever in this role. The film cleverly makes us fall in love with her too. We know her husband is cheating on her, we can see the sadness of her life and our hopes are raised even more that she will choose Gatsby. The affection between Gatsby and Daisy is tangible, which makes their ending that much more tragic.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays obsession well and we all know it; as early as the Aviator and Catch Me If You Can Leo was playing crazy like he plays charming, flawlessly. We can never quite tell when Gatsby is telling the truth, and Leo plays it just this side of shifty. The scene with Wolfsheim felt tense and strange while Leo as Gatsby remained cool and in control. A perfect illustration of the relationship between him and Nick.

I’ve read a few criticisms that suggest the new film erases some of the ambiguity about Nick Carraway’s sexuality (Tobey Maguire). There is a scene in the novel during the party in the city with Myrtle and Tom where Nick finds himself alone with the photographer guy and the man is in his underwear in bed. It’s quite strange and raises a lot of questions. Nothing like that happens at the party in the film, however, I think Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Nick Carraway and his awkwardness with Jordan Baker at times, makes up for leaving out a scene that makes us questions Carraway’s sexuality.

The staging and effects on this film were magnificent. Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s home is grand beyond belief. In the novel, I could never quite picture that scene with the billowing curtains and the girls lounging on the couch, but the film absolutely brings it to life. Daisy’s entrance in the film is magical.

And can we talk about the soundtrack a little? Because OH MY GOD! It’s wonderful. The Big Band orchestration of Crazy in Love sounds so 20’s it blows my mind. I’m not usually a fan of Lana Del Rey, I think a lot of her songs sound the same, kinda trance-y mellow music, but her song Young and Beautiful is so full of longing and sadness, and the scenes they underline with it in the film are perfect. Will. i. Am’s Bang Bang is one of my favorite songs on this CD, it’s classy, it’s twenties and techno hip hop romantic dance-y, this song has everything. I can’t stop listening to this soundtrack.

I cannot rave enough about this movie. Of course there will be some differences, but this seems to be as close as one can get to great adaptation.

Next Post: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

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Moll Flanders – A Feminist from Olden Tymes

Moll Flanders is the story of a woman trying to survive in the 1600’s. I was required to read this for one of my classes this past semester and I didn’t manage to finish it until a few weeks ago, not because it’s long or difficult, but because school keeps me too busy to even finish the assigned books.

The style this book is written in is completely fascinating. It’s passed off as a true account of Moll Flanders, which Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe) allegedly ‘cleaned up’ for public consumption, according to the preface of the story. It’s written in what could be considered free indirect discourse, or stream of consciousness. There are all these pieces that are skipped over though! There is a scene where Moll Flanders mentions that the ship she was on was attacked by pirates and that many horrible things happened, but she and her husband made it safely to America eventually. But she glosses over it as unimportant and a story for another time. Then the story moves on to her time in America and never returns to this story of the pirates.

Moll Flanders’ tale is one of debauchery, trickery, deceit, and thievery, and it’s pretty awesome. She details her life, how she found husbands and how she lived to support herself. One of the questions in my class was “Is this a feminist text?” which I would answer with a resounding yes.

Despite using the means of the time to survive (aka husbands) Moll Flanders boasts her own agency. She makes her decisions for her own benefit; she is not the pawn of men. They are her pawns. At one point in the novel she goes on a little tirade to say that if women didn’t fear becoming old maids so much, they wouldn’t be as hasty to enter into a bad match. They wouldn’t let the men call the shots; they would play the game with a clearer head and therefore catch the guy they desired. This, for the 1600’s is a pretty big step. Moll Flanders doesn’t think that women should fear growing old without a husband and that they should use intelligence and strategy if they really want one, rather than desperation.

And for a man to write a book like this, well, Daniel Defoe seems like a pretty awesome guy.

Another thing this book plays with is the idea of corruption versus redemption. In the preface by Defoe, he claims that it is more satisfying to read about someone else’s corruption, decay, and bad choices, than about their sweet redemption. I think I have to agree, at least in part. The redemption of a character wouldn’t be as sweet if we hadn’t seen the depths to which they sank. Even then, sometimes, we’d prefer to see a character come to a tragic end instead of gain redemption and forgiveness.

But read the preface and give me your own opinion.

Next Post: The Great Gatsby movie review

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Sula – How Deep Does Friendship Penetrate?

Warning; slight spoilers for one scene of the novel.

It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it?

I think one of the reasons I’ve taken so long to write about Sula is because I still don’t know how I feel about this book. A month after finishing it, I’m still trying to grapple with whether or not I liked it, let alone the deeper thoughts inspired by this slim novella.

Sula is by Toni Morrison and my copy is only 174 pages, so it’s a quick little book. It reminds me a bit of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway with its timeless narration and the period that it’s set in, which is post-WWI. Where Mrs. Dalloway deals with England and several old friends, Sula is set in Medallion, Ohio and deals with the black population in that small town.

(I’d like to mention before we go further that I’m still feeling out the tone I want these posts to take, so these first posts might be a little strange or different.)

There’s really so much to discuss in Sula that I’m stumped as to what to write about. It’s a beautifully written piece, even though the events depicted are not nearly as pleasing as the language itself.

One of the things that really caught my attention in this book was the friendship between Nel and Sula. It is described as being sudden and intense, where “in the safe harbor of each other’s company they could afford to abandon the ways of other people and concentrate on their own perceptions of things.” They’re described as being two halves of a whole.

In the later half of the book, I began to wonder if perhaps there was some unspoken, unacknowledged longing to their friendship. At one point Sula sleeps with Nel’s husband, which causes Nel’s husband to leave her with their children. Nel, understandably, can’t get over this betrayal for quite some time, but on her deathbed Sula reproaches Nel for not being able to let it go. She cites the fact that they were so close they were almost the same person, so why should it make a difference if Nel slept with him or Sula? Or that’s the general gist of what she says. This brought to mind an essay in which it was postulated that men create relationships with each other through the trade of women, however, Sula seems to be the opposite.

Did Sula want a closer relationship with Nel by sleeping with her husband? Was there something lesbian in their relationship? Something that was never mentioned and never consummated? Some deeper love? The very last page of the book convinces me that there was something rather sexual/sensual between Nel and Sula. Some deep longing that they never understood.

There are a few spoilers in this post but not many. I’ll attempt not to spoil the books I write about in my posts, but if I do I’ll put something at the top of the page to warn everyone. I’m still unsure how to go about these posts, but I’m going to attempt to make a new blog post every Monday and Friday. I’m several books ahead of my posts, so as long as I keep up I shouldn’t have a problem.

Next post: Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe.

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Good Day! Intro and Booklist

Good morrow fellow Bibliophiles! I am here to review and discuss books, movies, music, and other bits of pop culture, internet culture, fandom, life, and just plain stuff. This summer I plan to embark on a wild reading journey as well as an arduous job search, which is sure to be full of adventure! So follow me if you dare 🙂

My first post will be a discussion of the novel Sula by Toni Morrison. It’s about the small town of Medallion and the lives of Sula Peace and Nel Greene. It’s an exploration of love/lust, good/evil, race relations, and black feminism. More on that next time.

Without further ado, this is a list of the books I hope to read this summer. It will be a bit of a challenge, but what’s more fun than that?

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Beautiful Creatures 1-3 by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Unnatural, Unwelcome, and Unafraid by Michael Griffo

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

The Infinities by John Banville

Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton

Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help by Robert Lupton

How It All Began by Penelope Lively

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer

The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls by John R. King

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Canada by Richard Ford

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami

Suite Française by Irène Nèmirovsky

The Hound of the D’Urbervilles by Kim Newman

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Talking to the Moon by Noel Alumit

I think that’s quite enough to be getting on with, don’t you? I’ll probably read this in this order, so if any of this sounds interesting by all means, follow!

Good night all!

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