Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spotlight: Pretty Bad Things by Yoly Marquez

Title: Pretty Bad Things
Author: Yoly Marquez
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Romance
Goodreads Link
Buy on Amazon

This isn't exactly a review. I think the best word for it would be a "spotlight." I haven't officially read the published edition of Pretty Bad Things. However, I had the privilege of reading the initial version of it on Wattpad. I fell in love with the characters, story, and author.

The basic premise is that Livvie is just about the lamest high schooler ever. She drowns herself in cardigans and lives without living. Until she crossed paths with Harvey, that is. Harvey is the cliche bad boy--motorcycle, reputation, and all. One thing leads to another, and Livvie ends up on the run with Harvey and his friends. Fortunately for her, this gives Livvie the perfect opportunity to go down the list of crazy things that she's always wanted to do. For the first time in her life, Livvie is about to do some pretty bad things.

For those of you who don't know, Wattpad is a platform for authors to share their work. It provides support and encouragement for writers as they struggle through the writing process. I discovered Pretty Bad Things way back when and it quickly became one of my favorites on the site. Though the plot isn't exactly realistic or relateable, the characters draw you in. Yeah, no one in my high school has ever been on the run. But I can definitely relate to an inexperienced teenager who just wants to live and let go for once in her life.

Though the grammar and the writing wasn't perfect when I first read it, the story captivated me enough that I hardly noticed. Who cares about a run-on sentence when I can't stop laughing? Who cares about a misplaced comma when my heart is skipping? I can't even imagine how fantastic the story is now that the book has gone through the final editing stages and is now published.

Behind the book is the exquisite author. Yoly Marquez, only a college student, is somehow already accomplishing amazing things. Not only has she now published a book, but she also works as a cover designer for other authors. Please, leave me alone while I cry about how cool she is. I'm so proud of her and she deserves recognition!

I haven't read the published edition of Pretty Bad Things, but I have read one of the first editions. If the final copy is even half as good as the initial copy... It's definitely worth reading. Please check it out and post some reviews! You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book to Movie Adaptations (feat. Insurgent)

Everyone knows that the book is nearly always better than the movie. It's common knowledge that two hours of content can't live up to 300+ pages of juicy plot, twists, and character development. Yes, that may be true. However, that doesn't mean that a movie adaptation can't still be fantastic.

Through my time as both a book and a movie addict, I've learned that the only way to enjoy an adaptation is to go in blind. You can't get caught up in the details. Okay, so they didn't include that one line that defined the book. Okay, they took out your favorite character. Okay, they cast her as a brunette instead of a blonde. Okay, so they completely changed the plot (I'm looking at you, The Duff). But that doesn't mean the movie was bad.

When it comes down to it, any adaptation is a good adaptation. If a book gets a movie, it gets publicity. If a book gets publicity, it gets more readers. It's as simple as that. Movies build an interest in books. Isn't that what we want?

Especially in the Young Adult community, adaptations bring us leaps and bounds in the right direction. In the past few years, dozens of books have been optioned for movies. Just a few:

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • The Duff by Kody Keplinger
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
  • I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (scheduled)
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (scheduled)
  • and so on...

I have seen all of the above (that have been released), though I haven't read all of the books. I haven't had a chance read The Maze Runner, If I Stay, Ender's Game, or I Am Number Four. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the previously stated movies. Yes, some of them were completely different from the books, but that didn't make them any less enjoyable.

Take The Duff. The movie was almost unrecognizable when compared to the book. They added a mean girl. They changed the Toby's character, as well as the plot involving him. They removed the friends-with-benefits dynamic of Bianca and Wesley's relationship. They stuck Bianca with her divorced mom instead of her divorced dad. And so on. But does that really mean the movie was terrible? It was different, yes. But different isn't always a bad thing.

Books are made to be books. If they were made to be movies, they would be scripts. They're not scripts. Books are made to be read. Movies are made to be watched. A movie simply can't be exactly the same as the book. It's not reasonable.

Insurgent is another great example. If I'm completely honest, I hated the book. Everything Tris did got on my nerves. It ripped my heart apart every time Tris did something stupid and reckless, every time she risked her life, every time she lied to Tobias, every time someone died. I don't have enough fingers (and toes) for the amount of times I wanted to tear the book apart. Yet somehow the movie took everything I didn't like about the book and smoothed it over.

The movie was exquisitely done. Yes, the plot was different, but it had a singular focus, necessary to keep interest in a movie. The plot revolves around Jeanine's quest to find a Divergent to open a box that contained a message from the Founders. She needs a strong Divergent who can survive the simulation (Surprise: Tris). It wasn't like the book, but it was a great vehicle for everything the book stood for. We got the necessary character development. The movie flawlessly conveyed Tris's internal struggle over Will's death. There was a beautiful moment of forgiveness. We got to see the perfect portrayal of Tris and Tobias's relationship--their chemistry is out of this world. We got everything that was at the book's core, but in a different format.

Honestly, I couldn't give Insurgent higher praise than this. I never thought I'd say it... but I actually thought the movie was better than the book. I loved it.

However, I knew what I signed up for going into that theatre. I knew that the movie would be completely different from the book. I knew not to have expectations. And I enjoyed the movie.

You need to go into these things blind. You need to know that the movie won't be perfect, and it won't be a 10 hour portrayal of every page of the book. But that doesn't mean it won't be good.

And keep sight of the most important thing: movie adaptations get us attention. They help us spread the love of reading to more people. They help our community connect to more young adults. Isn't that our goal?

What did you think of Insurgent? What's your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #1: Spring Releases

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that give us those book tingles!

This is my first "Waiting On" Wednesday, so bear with me. I'm itching for just about a million books right now, but there are three in particular that I'm currently heart-eyed over. I have grabby hands for The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Abdieh, Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry, and Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins. All three come out in the spring (April and May) and all three are at the top of my TBR list!

1. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: May 12, 2015

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

I first learned about this book from Kelly (of Effortlessly Reading) and have already fallen in love. I've seen so many glowing recommendations already. It sounds like it has an amazing Game of Thrones vibe. I love the promise of more, the promise of intrigue. The Wrath and the Dawn has instantaneously jumped to the top of my TBR list. It gives me the most overwhelming book tingles.

2. Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 26, 2015

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

I love Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series. I recently read (and reviewed) Take Me On, which reminded me just how much I love her writing. Nowhere But Here sounds edgy and interesting--who wouldn't want to read about a motorcycle gang? I'm a sucker for unexpected love too. This book will definitely be on my TBR pile. I actually just preordered it!

If you preorder before May 26, you get a full-length ebook about Abby and Logan (from the Pushing the Limits series). Preordering Nowhere But Here is the only way to get this book, Chasing Impossible! So everyone should consider preordering and registering their preorder here.

3. Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: April 7, 2015

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.

This is the sequel to Rebel Belle, which I recently read and reviewed. If you've read my review, you know I fell in love with the book. I love everything about the series: the characters, the plot, the mythology. Rachel Hawkins is a genius and I'm eagerly awaiting the follow up to Rebel Belle. Definitely a TBR.

What books are you waiting for? Share in the comments! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Title: Take Me On
Author: Katie McGarry
Format I Read: Hardcover
Pages: 544
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Romance
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Stars: 4
Goodreads Link

I will preface this with a single statement: Damn, this book is long. That's the only downer for me. Typically, I love long books. They give me the greatest sense of accomplishment after I plow through them. Unfortunately, Take Me On didn't have that "it" factor that made me dive in like I wanted to.

The premise was interesting. Haley was a national title holder for kickboxing. West is a rough-around-the-edges trust fund boy. When he nearly hits her with his car, West finds himself plunged into her world. He finds himself scheduled to fight with Haley's ex-boyfriend's brother (isn't that a mouthful) in two months. Haley knows that a.) she got him into this mess and b.) he doesn't have a chance in the fight. So she decides to train him, despite the fact that she abandoned fighting after she broke up with her ex-boyfriend, Matt. Unfortunately, it turns out the breakup wasn't simple or peaceful. Matt fought for a competing gym and Haley's relationship with him was a betrayal to her family. Ever since then, she's just been trying to protect her family. But how can she protect them when they don't even know the whole story?

This novel is the fourth in Katie McGarry's series of relatively standalone novels. West is Rachel's (from Crash Into You) brother. I really liked that connection; I love seeing the follow up with all of the characters from previous books. It's so cool how each novel builds on the previous without technically being a sequel. It's impressive how perfectly Ms. McGarry builds the world of these books and connects everyone together!

I liked the struggles that Haley and West had to deal with. Haley had to struggle with the burdens of her family. When her dad lost his job, they spiraled into debt and now live with Haley's verbally abusive uncle. She tries to protect her family while also trying to build a future for herself. West had to struggle with the crushing guilt after Rachel's car crash. Her legs are damaged and she's stuck in the hospital, and West blames himself. His dad kicks him out of the house, and West suffers as he tries to find himself. It was fantastic how Haley and West balanced each other out. West taught Haley how to fight for herself, and Haley taught West how to be himself. West taught Haley to think a little less, and Haley taught West to think a little more. They both taught each other self-worth.

West thinks to himself: "Rachel said she saved [Isaiah]. He saved her. Guess they saved each other" (407). I think that's one of the truest statement in these books. There is no spineless damsel in distress that the boy saves. It's never one-sided. The couples always save each other. There's always an amazing sense of balance.

So overall, it was great. Katie McGarry writes exquisitely, as usual. Honestly, the only reason it didn't get 5 stars was that it was too long. The plot just wasn't perfect enough to keep me fully invested for 544 pages. I didn't devour it. Nonetheless, an awesome read. The ending tied everything up and left me satisfied. The book as a whole proved to be empowering and heartwarming. Definitely a fantastic follow up to Ms. McGarry's string of novels.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Title: All Played Out
Author: Cora Carmack
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 320
Genres: Romance, Realistic Fiction, New Adult
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Stars: 5
Goodreads Link

Since I first saw this cover (eep!), I've been calculating just who I have to kill to get a copy of it before May 12. Fortunately, no deaths were necessary. When I attended Apollycon, I was graced with an Advanced Reader Copy after a raffle. Cue the screaming and crying.

I know I say this every time, but nonetheless... Cora Carmack strikes again. I'll admit that I am not a football fan, yet somehow each installation of the Rusk University novels leaves me wanting to scream "Bleed Rusk Red!" off the rooftops. I know it's a fictional school, but damn, do I want to go to Rusk.

I think that one of the greatest things about the Rusk novels is that no couple is the same. Carson and Dallas, Silas and Dylan, Mateo and Nell: they're all different people with different dynamics. I love that. Each book is a new adventure, a new story. Not only was All Played Out's story new, but it really struck a cord with me.

The basic premise is that Nell is a die-hard student. She's the first in her family to attend college and she's studying biomedical engineering (talk about intense). She's spent the first three years of her college career pushing herself to succeed. On track to graduate early, she suddenly realizes that succeeding may not be everything it's cracked up to be. College isn't just a place for education; it's a place for experience. And Nell has had 0 experiences. Insert Mateo Torres. Mateo is the joker of the football team, the carefree partier. The most common description is "flashy and shameless." After he learns of Nell's "College Bucket List," he vows to help her get through all of her firsts. However, Mateo isn't the shallow flirt that he seems to be. It turns out that he's got an ex haunting him, and Nell just might be the cure to help him move on. Cue classic college experiences, off-the-charts chemistry, and a little exploration.

As someone who will be going to college next year, someone who is hoping to get a BA in three years, someone who has always put studying above all else, I identified with Nell. I identified with her internal struggle, her constant questioning of her capabilities when it came to relationships. Is she even capable of love? Is she just too analytical? Is she destined to be married to her work? That resonated with me.

At first, I didn't really like Nell. She was just too stereotypical. Too "nerdy." It felt like Ms. Carmack was trying too hard to make her the typical girl genius. But as the book went on, she grew on me. She loosened up and she became more real, which I think was the whole point. She didn't start living until Mateo broke her out of her shell. And even though Nell didn't seem quite real at the beginning, the relationship always felt real. Despite their differences, Nell and Mateo just fit. Brookes even says, "I literally have no clue how you and Nell work. None" (ARC 229). I don't quite know either. But they just do. Nell is the brains and the rational; Mateo is the heart and the fun. Together, they blend and Nell becomes a little bit of the heart and Mateo becomes a little bit of the brains, and they balance. It just works.

So I reiterate: Cora Carmack strikes again. All Played Out did not disappoint, which was impressive considering the insanely high expectations I had for this book. Definitely worth 5 stars. Everyone should buy it ASAP (March 12 cannot come sooner)!

Now I'm just eagerly awaiting Stella's story!

Also, side note: we get to see Dylan/Silas and Dallas/Carson being all cute and coupley. Totally adorable!