Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

Summary: When seventeen-year-old Shannon's father loses his job, she must find a way to earn money for college. A lot of money. Shannon finds a job at a Casino working as a waitress (for which she has to use a fake ID and birth certificate to snag). A couple of days into the job, Shannon gets a mysterious invitation from an even more mysterious guy to join an secret poker society called Aces Up. At first, Shannon is skeptical of joining, but once she tries it out, she starts raking in the money. But between working, gambling, and going to school, Shannon's grades are slipping while her lies and sneaking around has grown and grown. Shannon must decide if the money from illegal gambling is worth the hurt on her family, friends, and chances of going to her dream college. 

Review: With summer finally here, Aces Up is the perfect book to lay outside under the sun and read. It is a quick, charming read that really draws you in. Though it's not as good as Lauren Barnholdt's other books, the story line is unique to other books I've read, but it is very similar to the movie 21. Aside from that, I really liked Shannon and felt for her when things didn't end up going her way during the book. Her relationship with Cole was kind of weird, but I loved her fragile relationship with Max and how it wasn't even close to perfect, which many readers can relate to. Though the whole being-amazing-and-winning-tons-of-money blackjack was kind of hard to truly believe, Barnholdt made it up with the lovable characters and cute story. Aces Up was a pretty good read, but if I had to choose between Barnholdt's other books, I would say choose one of her other books first before picking this one up.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Movie Review: My Soul To Take

Summary: An average man living in a small town with his pregnant wife and daughter turned out to be a savage serial killer. One night, the police caught him, but the ambulance crashed before it could make it to the hospital with the man and police officers. Since that night, no one knew if that man lived or died in the crash. Now, 16 years later, seven kids, who were born the day the serial killer was caught, are slowly being killed off. Did the man survive or has his soul been reborn into one of the seven? Bug (played by Max Thieriot) must figure out the truth before every one of the seven, including him, are dead. 

Review: Now normally I hate scary movies, but My Soul to Take was okay because, to me, it wasn't that scary. Yeah, people die and scary things pop out of nowhere, but the over all story was predictable, so I wasn't too freaked out. The only reason I really saw this movie was because of Max Thieriot (from Nancy Drew and The Pacifier), who I am completely in love with. So enduring an okay movie to see him was definitely worth it. The story itself was mediocre, but one thing that bugged me (pun intended) was when strange things would happen to Bug and they never really explained why. They may have hinted at some explanations for his behavior, but they never actually came out and said it. Other than that, I liked how the seven kids were SO different and that not all of them got along, but they were linked by their birthdays that were scarred by the serial killer's capture. That, however, was one of the only good things about the movie. So even though this movie wasn't all that scary or even amazing over all, just being able to see Max Thieriot on the TV screen definitely makes watching My Soul to Take worth the two hours. If you're looking for a good, scary movie, this isn't it. But if you're looking for a movie with an below-average story, but one where you can ogle over the cute, drool-worthy guy, then check out this movie. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Summary: In a dystopian society, a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, making teenage pregnancy prized rather than shunned. Teen girls are encouraged to have unprotected sex and have babies not for love or passion, but for profit and image. Melody and Harmony just learned they were twins, both being raised in completely different settings. Melody's parents raised her to be so perfect that they form a conception contract that will sell Melody's perfect baby, with they father of the buyer's choice. Harmony, on the other hand, grew up in a religious community, where she learned that being a wife and then a mother is the prime way to live When Harmony runs away to find her long-lost sister, both girls will experience so much more about life, love, and the future they thought they wanted. 

Review: I wanted to like this book SO bad. At first glance, it looks like it's going to be an amazing book about a future society that you hadn't even thought could be possible. A couple pages in, though, I was presented with the exact opposite story: one lacking connection and interest. The story starts off as if it's the second of a series, so we do not know any information about the characters in the book, how they go to where they are today, or the society they live in. Futuristic terms are used that are not explained, so the first half of the book is read in confusion, which makes a good plot idea not so good in story form. I found myself not caring about either Melody or Harmony in their lives because I barely got to know them or their backgrounds. Also, it was nice to have the chapters alternate between sisters, but most of the chapters were short (some only lasting three pages), so I felt like someone was sitting on the remote, constantly flipping between channels of completely different shows. Then, these chapters were separated into three different parts, but there was no change in the story, so to me, they were just random parts where the chapters were two pages apart instead of right next to each other. Lastly, the characters lacked depth. The only character I actually like was Zen, while the other characters got annoying or childlike. I think the idea of the plot about a world where teens are pressured to have sex to make and sell babies is very interesting, but I think that Megan McCafferty failed to make the whole story engaging and enjoyable. I really wish this isn't what happened, but sadly, it took a lot of work just to finish the book.

Wednesday's Wonders (2)

Every Wednesday I will post songs that are rocking my world, including anything wonderful, wacky, or just plain weird. Welcome to my world of Wednesday's Wonders!

Song: Blink by Revive 

When I first heard this song, it was for the preview of the show Rookie Blue (an amazingly awesome show that you should watch!). After it played, I had to rewind what I was watching so I could hear the song again so that I could buy it on iTunes. It's about life going by fast and that you have to act now before the chance passes. This just seems so appropriate for my life now because graduation is in a week and it feels like high school just passed by without me even noticing. Not only is this song sung by good singers with good music, but it tells a really important message that I'm going through right now. I don't need to want life to rush along, I can slow down and try to enjoy it now. So check this song out! There wasn't an official music video, but here's a video with the lyrics along with images for the song. I hope you enjoy it! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: We'll Always Have Summer (Summer #3) by Jenny Han

Summary: Two years after finally deciding to be with Jeremiah, Belly isn't living the happily ever after she expected to have. Once at college together, Jeremiah starts to act different than the boy Belly fell in love with, betraying her trust in the worst way possible. Jeremiah's actions make Belly question if she chose the right brother after all, and force her to confront feelings that she has never forgotten and to choose, once and for all, if it's Jeremiah or Conrad she really, truly loves. 

Review: Words cannot even begin to describe how mad I was after reading this book. I fell in love with the series since the first book came out, but now I can't believe it ended the way it did. First off, Jenny Han COMPLETELY changed the characters I had grown to love. Jeremiah was sweet, caring, and amazing, but in this book he was such a jerk I couldn't stand it! Secondly, nothing really happened in the book except for maybe three major events. This makes it move slow and repetitive. And then it all wraps up in three pages, which really made me upset because I wanted to know how life was after Belly finally made her decision, but no. Now I have to say, Jenny Han is an excellent writer who really knows how to bring out emotions in her book, I just hated the way she toyed with her readers by making them jump from guy to guy because she kept on changing personalities throughout the series. Maybe I'm just bitter because I don't like not being sure about what I'm feeling, especially about people who aren't even real. So all in all, I feel like two is too harsh, but four is too generous, so a I give three stars to the book that is written exceptionally well but was unfair to the readers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Movie Review: The King's Speech

Summary: King George VI of Britain (father of Queen Elizabeth II) was not ready to be king. He was always the younger brother with a stutter. Any public speech King George (otherwise known as Bertie in the movie) had to make, he would freeze and barely get a word out of his mouth before leaving the stand. Before he becomes king, he seeks out the help of a speech therapist, Lionel Logue. After many, many sessions of weird, yet helpful and entertaining speech exercises, Bertie finds himself in a race against time to fulfill his position as King of Britain and give the speech that can bring his country together in the time of war. 

Review: The King's Speech only reiterated what I had known all along: Colin Firth is AMAZING. Though the plot of the movie isn't really what I would choose to watch, Firth flawlessly delivers King George's stuttered speech and mannerisms. There is a reason why Firth and the movie itself won so many awards for acting and screenwriting: it's amazing. The plot may be more serious and slow, following the King's trials in overcoming his stammer, but it had its funny moments where I couldn't help but laughing at (like Lionel's unusual techniques to improve the King's speech). So even though I got a little bored at times in the movie itself, the amazing writing and acting in The King's Speech made the time worthwhile and unforgettable. 


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Books to Movies

The Hunger Games:This new issue of Entertainment Weekly came in the mail yesterday and I flipped out when I saw the cover!! Jennifer Lawrence (on the cover) looks like she's going to be an amazing Katniss in The Hunger Games movie. She carries the whole kick-butt, rebel, strong personality that Katniss has in the books. What I'm a little bummed about for the cast of the movie is who are playing Gale and Peeta. If it were up to me, I would have Liam Hemsworth (from The Last Song) play Peeta while Josh Hutcherson plays Gale, but unfortunately it's the other way around. Maybe it's because I love Liam Hemsworth so much and would rather see him as Peeta, instead of Gale (who's barely in The Hunger Games). Other than that, though, I absolutely cannot wait until this movie comes out!!! I just hope the movies don't ruin the series like Twilight did. 

Matched by Ally Condie: Now this is a book that when I heard it was going to become a movie, I cringed. Though the cover makes it seem like an amazing book that could be the next Hunger Games, the plot is seriously lacking in any interest. When I was reading the book, I felt like the main character acted like she was 10 years old and following the plot was like swimming in a pool of caramel; hard to do and impossibly slow. For that reason, I could only hold onto the book for about halfway through until I had to give up, and I rarely stop reading a book halfway through. According to Entertainment Weekly, the writers of the Sherlock Holmes sequel are working on the screenplay for Matched. As of now, I'm not all that excited for this to come alive on the big screen but who knows, maybe these writers will be able to salvage this book and make it into a movie that can actually capture my attention for more than 5 minutes at a time. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Family Forever Friday (1)

Family Forever Friday

The blog I just recently started to follow, E & K Family Book Review has started a "meme," which I guess is something that other bloggers participate in every week (sorry, I'm kinda new at the whole blogging lingo), and I've decided to participate! It's called Family Forever Friday and E & K will have weekly questions for bloggers to answer so that others can know more about them. I know I don't have any followers yet, but hey, I gotta start somewhere! 

This week's question: What is your most embarrassing moment as a kid? 

My most embarrassing moment was when I was about nine years old. I was at my older brother's baseball game (he was about eleven, so it was rec baseball) and I was forced to come by my mom. In order to prevent my inevitable boredom of just watching the baseball game, I brought my pink CD player with the new Play CD (they were popular all-girl pop band that I loved then). I was listening to their remake of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and I could never remember the right order of the words in the chorus. After listening to that song about ten times, I was determined to finally get them right. When the chorus came along, I started to whisper (or what I thought was a whisper) the words out loud. I was finally getting them right until my mom tapped me on the arm and gave me a bizarre look. I took off my headphones and saw that everyone in the bleachers was staring at me, including all the boys on my brother's team's bench. I had sang the song a lot louder than I had thought! I had to spend the rest of the game avoiding eye contact with anyone in the stands while my cheeks were bright red with embarrassment. Now, I'm not shy of belting it out in front of people (with not-so-lovely voice), but as a nine year old, I just couldn't wait to get out of that baseball game and forget any of that had ever happened. 

If you want to check out E & K's website, here's the link!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Summary: After Ginny’s Aunt Peg died, she left her thirteen little blue envelopes, in which included an adventure across Europe for the summer. Ginny followed the first twelve letters, only to arrive in Greece and have the last letter stolen. Now, a couple of days before Christmas, Ginny receive an e-mail from a guy named Oliver, claiming he found her stolen letter. Ginny agrees to go to England to meet up with him and retrieve the last little blue envelope, in which details the whereabouts of one last painting waiting to be discovered by Ginny. The catch? That Oliver gets to come with her and gets to keep half the profit of the painting. Ginny finds herself embarking on yet another journey across Europe with a strange yet intriguing young man and only one little blue envelope to show her the way.

Review: When I saw that there was a second book to Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, I was a bit surprised. The first book had come out in 2006, so I had read it about five years ago. I barely have time remembering the details of the books I read last month, so trying to remember what had happened in the first book was somewhat difficult. Aside from being published so late, I thought this book was pretty charming. We get to follow Ginny on yet another adventure, but she only ends up going to three different places, which was kind of disappointing. Also, I really liked Oliver's character but we only got to know more about him in the last five pages of the book. The story was nice and fun, but it was lacking some of the details and explanations that I really wanted to read about.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday's Wonders (1)

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Every Wednesday I will post songs that are rocking my world, including anything wonderful, wacky, or just plain weird. Welcome to my world of Wednesday's Wonders! 

Song: Summer Rain by Matthew Morrison 

With summer right around the corner, I just can't seem to get this song out of my head. Last week, this song came on as my alarm (it's set to the radio) and I found myself humming the tune for the rest of the day. Every time I hear Matthew Morrison's smooth voice and the ukulele coming from the speakers, I can't help bobbing my head, imagining I'm on a beach dancing in the summer rain. To celebrate the anticipated arrival of summer, check out this song! You won't regret it! 

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