December 30, 2014

Movies I Loved in 2014

Hello and here comes another list.

This year I went to the movies a lot and I watched some seriously awesome movies that made me so very happy, so here is my list of the best of the year, plus a few trailers!

The Pretty One and What If?
Genre: Rom Com, for the most part. 
I loved both of these movies, which starred Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson, and Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe respectively. 

The Pretty One starts with two identical twin sisters who couldn't be more different but love each other fiercely, one of them is super outgoing and glamorous, while the other is stuck in their home town wearing their mom's old clothes and tending to their father. When they get into an accident together, everyone thinks Laurel (the shy one) is the one who dies, when actually was Audrey (the pretty one of the title), so Laurel takes her place and discovers there was plenty she didn't know about her sister. 

What If? is a friends to lovers kind of deal, and I loved that the characters took the time to get to know each other, it's pretty obvious that they are attracted to each other from the start (though they are both in denial) yet they really do become good friends and respect each other's relationships as they were. It was sweet and I totally bought Dan Radcliffe as a romantic lead, who would have thought Harry Potter had actual game?

Big Hero 6, Penguins of Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon 2 
Genre: Comedy, Animation
I was sitting here trying to figure out what these, my favorite animation movies of the year had in common, and I realized they are all about family, and the many incarnations of it. Plus they were all really funny movies with surprising turns of drama and, in some of them, tragedy. All three movies gave me big warm fuzzies by the end though and I can't recommend them enough. 

If I Stay
Genre: Book Adaptation, Drama, Young Adult
It's no secret that I ADORE this book (though I probably love Where She Went even more) and I think the movie did an great job of capturing all the things that broke my heart wide open when I was reading the book and translating them to the screen. Yes, there were some changes but I didn't mind any of them. Also this is how you make me cry with a movie: you show me the characters and what matters to them, and then let me crumble all on my own when the bad stuff happens... you don't just throw cancer at me and expect me to care *cough*Fault in Out Stars *cough* while I can see and resent the strings you are trying to use to pull at my emotions. 

100 Feet Journey
Genre: Drama, Romance, Foreign-ish 
This movie was so adorable!!! It had food and romance and family and was just such a lovely story about a young indian chef and how he's captivated by French cuisine when his father decides to relocate to France and open a restaurant there after a big tragedy strikes their family - the movie never turns dark and sad, by the way. Absolutely loved it. 

Guardians of the Galaxy, Dawn of Planet of the Apes and Edge of Tomorrow
Genre: Action, Comedy (Guardians), Drama (Edge of Tomorrow and Planet of the Apes)
I group these three together because of me they are made of similar stuff, these three movies thrilled me and made me enjoy the popcorn experience in the theater. Guardians was super funny, I appreciated shirtless Chris Pratt for the first time EVER and I LOVE Rocket and Groot. 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was so fast paced and exiting, I loved humans and apes alike (and hated some apes too). 

Lastly Edge of Tomorrow fulfilled so many of my manga/anime loving heart fantasies. I loved the story and how it played out. Probably my favorite Tom Cruise movie since A Few Good Men, he plays the sleazy, kind of cowardly thing so well (yet I didn't hate him) and actually shows some range as he's character changes through out the course of the story. and Emily Blunt, I loved her, probably my favorite female performance of the year. 

The Invisible War
Genre: Documentary. 
The Invisible War was an amazing and brave film about sexual assault and abuse in the US military, it was hard to watch at times, slow in some places but very eye opening. It's not a fun documentary but very worthwhile. 

December 26, 2014

Favorite Books of 2014

Hello my lovelies!!
So, it's time to make lists again and on this occasion I bring you my list of my Most Favorite Books of 2014. 

I have to say the year started very, very promising as I was reading at least one AMAZING book every month but in the second half of the year I hit a slump and a long string of average to meh books. Which was sad. 

Still, there was some awesome to be read and these are my picks, in no particular order except for #1

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins -- I admit I didn't think the author could pull off an awesome book that made up for the super long wait, but I'm happy to say that she did. Isla is probably my favorite out of these girls, I really loved her and her story. 

Season for Temptation by Theresa Romain - the only historical romance to make the cut this year. This book made me laugh so hard! I loved the Julia and James and how they interacted with each other. From the moment they met I was rooting for them, I couldn't help it, they were that sweet. 

Heartbreak Cake by Cindy Arora -This one was a little different from my usual and I was quite surprised by how much I liked it. Indira, our protagonist, starts out in the middle of an affair with her married ex-boss and making a few questionable choices, but in the end she emerges as a strong, independent business woman who finally learns to put herself first. She deals with the fall out of her mistakes and eventually thrives thanks to her true friends and her love of baking.

Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan - This book spoke to me as a little sister and I loved it for it. Josie wasn't always easy to like but I understood her so well with all her idiosyncrasies and quirks. And I really liked her best friend.  

Crossing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux - This was easily one of the most fun I had with a book this year, I love Jennifer's ice-skating books since I'm such a huge fan of the sport and I think she captures pretty well the whole ambiance and nuances of it all. I like Courtney and I loved reading about pair skating and all that good stuff.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate - Ivan made me cry so hard and gave me so many feels. I connected to him and the other characters so quickly that it felt like something physical as the story unfolded. I loved Ivan and Ruby and their world. 

A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori - The only manga I read through this year was a doozy, Amir is a 20 year old girl, living in the 1800s in central China, and she's married to a 12 year old boy named Karluk. Their story is very sweet, and I love Amir, she's such a badass hunter and rider and really loves her husband and her new family. 

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keli - I read this one at the beginning of the year and I'm still thinking of it. It's told from a guy's point of view, is about falling in love and being there for your friends and it's super lovely. Also, lots of nerdy and movie references to go around. Favorite Aussie read of the year.

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev - Oh, I loved Bollywood Affair so much, the protagonists Milli and Samir stayed with me long after I finished their story, which was complicated, familiar and different at the same time. There were parts that were very sad, and others that made me laugh out loud, a delightful book. 

And my favorite read of the year was: 

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH, it gave me so many feels and as soon as I finished I wanted to read it again. T.C. and Augie have been brothers since they were in the first grade and decided to be brothers rather than friends; their parents jumped on board and years later they are still sticking to it. When they are 14, Ale transfers to their school and quickly bonds with Augie - due to their shared love of musicals - and T.C. falls head over heels for her, yet actually stops to become friends with her and win her. They are so incredibly adorable, I swear. 

I love their other friends and how you get the full scope of their lives, as they navigate high school. They have excellent parents and are great friends to each other, bringing out the best in one another and helping each other to fulfill their dreams. 

So, those are my favorite books I read in 2014, what about you? what's your number one of 2014?

Happy Christmas and see you soon!


December 22, 2014

DNF: Love and Other Theories

Summary (GoodReads)
If you want more, you have to give less.

That’s the secret to dating in high school. By giving as little as they expect to get in return, seventeen-year-old Aubrey Housing and her three best friends have made it to the second semester of their senior year heartbreak-free. And it’s all thanks to a few simple rules: don’t commit, don’t be needy, and don’t give away your heart.

So when smoking-hot Nathan Diggs transfers to Lincoln High, it shouldn’t be a big deal. At least that’s what Aubrey tells herself. But Nathan’s new-boy charm, his kindness, and his disarming honesty throw Aubrey off her game and put her in danger of breaking the most important rule of all: Don’t fall in love.

Why DNF?
I don't usually bother with books I don't finish because usually that seems like a waste of time, but I made it a fair ways into the book - about 50% - to see how it turned out, and it made me so angry with the hooking up and 'slut' shaming that I just had to share my fury. 

See, Aubrey and her friends are the pretty, popular girls of their high school, they party hop and hook up and live by these rules they have made up (the theories of the title) about how to handle everything. Their ring-leader is Shelby who, really, is a poor-man's Regina George wannabe, but the way Aubrey and her friends talk about her is like Shelby is the messiah or something, and they do pretty questionable stuff while following her like sheep, and they don't see anything wrong with that. 

The parts where the girls were around Chiffon - and ex-friend whom Aubrey & Co. froze out when they were all 15 because a guy liked Chiffon and not another girl in their group - made me cringe and killed any chance for me to like them. They were the worst kind of bullies. 

The guy, Nathan, started okay enough but soon morphed into one of Aubrey and Shelby's cronies, following right along with the questionable behavior. 

No, I didn't like any of these girls but I could at least made it to the end if Aubrey (who narrates in first person) had a little internal consistency, or just a back bone, but no, she was just the worst kind of mean you can be: blind-follower-can't-say-no kind of mean. 


December 16, 2014

Book Review: If I like by Corrine Jackson

The Deal: Everyone around Sophie Quinn thinks she's the town slut, having committed the ultimate crime in her small, military town: cheating on her deployed marine boyfriend Carey. Since Carey's deployment, Quinn has put up with all kinds of bullying from her former friends, teachers and even her own father seems more ashamed of her than ever, mentally linking her to her own mother- who ran off on them years before.

But things aren't always what the seem. The truth is that Quinn didn't cheat, she and Carey aren't even together anymore but she is keeping a big secret for him, and taking the fall while he's away. Quinn had even gotten good at dealing with it, being invisible; until Carey goes MIA and the entire town seems to turn on her once again. 

The only respite she gets is when she's at the local V.A. hospital, hanging out with George, an 80 something veteran and former war photographer who encourages Quinn to follow her own passion for photography.

As the days go by without any news of Carey, Quinn's life keeps on turning more and more complicated.

My Thoughts: I didn't love Corrine Jackson's If I Lie, I read it all in one sitting because I wanted to see how it ended but I didn't love it. 

See, a big part of the plot has to do with The Big Misunderstanding trope, and in this case I didn't find said misunderstanding very compelling, and Quinn's reasoning had way too many holes. The person she 'cheated' with was very wishy-washy and I didn't even like him for the most part. 

Carey's secret was problematic, and I can totally see why he wanted to keep it but why he had to drag Quinn into it? that just never made sense to me. It was overly complicated and dramatic. 

I did like Ms. Jackson's narrative, but I didn't enjoy the plot. It's very readable though. 

December 8, 2014

Book Review: Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

At First Sight: Tyler O'Neal was used to life in the fast lane as a pro-racer in the skiing circuit, but he has not settled into domesticity at his family resort following a bad fall during a race and his teenage daughter move to live with him permanently. 

He still misses racing - perhaps a lot more than he lets on - but he loves his daughter Jess and likes doing what he can to help bring up business for the resort.

What Tyler is none too happy about - at least not lately - is working so close to Brenna Daniels. Not because he doesn't like her, in fact, Brenna is one of his favorite people in the world and his best friend since childhood... which is why it annoys him to work closely to him when he's starting to notice her as more than a friend.

Brenna has been in love with Tyler since they were children, but long ago came to terms with the fact that he sees her as one of the guys and not as a girl. But when they are thrown in together thanks to some scheming by her friends, his mother and daughter, things begin to change. 

Living in the same resort was hard enough, but sharing Tyler's house might send things into overboard. 

Second Glance: Maybe This Christmas was a fun Christmas read. After meeting and seeing both Brenna and Tyler in past books, I was quite eager to get to their stories and it didn't disappoint. 

I really liked that they were really good friends first and foremost and that they both put his daughter first - yet they didn't jump into a relationship just to make Jess happy - and in a way that justified why they were so reluctant to get together (and hadn't before the start of the story): Neither of them wanted to risk their friendship, but it just wasn't enough anymore. 

I appreciate when characters make sense like that. 

Now the book did have some problems, like the drawn out situation with between Brenna and Jess's mother, which for me took to much of the book. Also, the lack of support from Brenna's mother bothered me a bit too.

But in the end, like I said, it was a fun read. I enjoyed seeing Sean and Jackson and their partners around, and seeing the dynamics of the family from another perspective. And I really liked Jess. As far as book moppets go, she was very nice. 

Bottom Line: I do recommend Maybe This Christmas as a cozy Christmas read, it's breezy and fun and I liked the people involved. Plus, it has a wonderful wintery feel to it.  I only kind of wish the author would do a book about the sheriff guy because he sounded really sweet.