Monday, April 2, 2018

March Wrap-Up

For some reason, I feel like March wasn't a very productive reading month, but my Goodreads reading goal suggests otherwise. My perception of time is all off lately. Maybe March was some kind of weird time black hole.

Books I Read

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

3.5/5

This is the first classic I picked to read for my New Year's resolution (read 6 classics of my choice by the end of the year) and I liked it more than I was expecting to. Once I got past the first chapter or so, the story drew me in. It's not a happy book by any means, and I disliked just about every character, but it was exciting, to say the least. It was a fascinating (if disgusting) look at how violent humans can be if left to their own devices.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

3.5/5

I listened to the audiobook on a whim because I'd just downloaded Hoopla and wanted to test it out. It was a fast, fun, cute book and gave me something to do while I drove to school. Some of the book struck me as cliché and unrealistic, but then again, it's a fairytale retelling, so it was bound to have those fairytale qualities. I always love books that talk about the importance of fandom and the community you can find within a beloved TV show. If you're looking for something to give you the warm-fuzzies, try this book.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

4/5

As far as characters go, I felt more connected to the ones in Illuminae, which made Gemina feel a little longer, but the action in this sure made up for it. I felt on edge with each page turn. And WOW those plot twists! Though some parts of it were super confusing, the ending was satisfying and the perfect conclusion for a whirlwind of a book. I'm exciting to pick up Obsidio.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

3.5/5

It took me a while to get into this one, but once it got going, it was a nice book to pick up before bed. It was cozy and character-driven, which are some of my favorite aspects of a story. One thing that prevented me from rating this higher was the fact that I couldn't stand one of the characters whose perspective I was forced to read every twenty pages or so, which is the curse of most multiple POV books. I didn't like her, she didn't change at all throughout the book, and I didn't think her plot line really wrapped up by the end. The whole book could have done without most of her chapters.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

3.5/5

I feel very conflicted about this book. On the one hand, the romance was adorable, the messages it sent were positive and need to be talked about, and it was about a writer, which is always a big plus for me. On the other hand, there was so much about it I just couldn't buy. Certain aspects of the story seemed too perfect and super unrealistic. I couldn't picture it happening in real life. The stakes seemed high, but in reality, the consequences weren't as severe as they should have been. I also thought it was a little long for your typical contemporary romance. Sometimes 400+ page books work for this genre, but in this case, it could have used some trimming. A lot of the plot seemed repetitive. ALSO, I haaaaate it when characters ditch their best friends for a romantic partner. Not. Cool. At. All. And it happened a lot here and the protagonist didn't do much to remedy the situation.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

3.5/5

I had a really hard time reading about the animal cruelty in this book, which is part of the reason why I didn't rate it higher, but that's not to say the story wasn't good, because I did enjoy (most of) the rest of it. I was hooked right from the prologue and spent the rest of the book wondering how things would turn out at the end. I also loved seeing the protagonist far into the future and way back in time, however depressing the nursing home chapters were. I didn't enjoy the gratuitous sex scenes, either. I'm not at all opposed to having them in a book if it serves a purpose, but there were some moments (I'm thinking about Barbara's character, specifically) that went on for several lengthy paragraphs even though it did nothing for the plot. If you like elephants as much as I do, you'll love any of the adorable moments with Rosie, but fair warning, there are a lot of tough scenes that have to do with her, as well.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

5/5

I loved this! Stories told in verse can be really hit or miss for me. I like poetry, but when I pick up a book expecting a strong narrative, sometimes I feel too much like I'm reading a poem instead of a story. This was totally different. It was clearly poetry, but it didn't feel like that at all. You could easily read this in an hour, but it still makes such an impact. I love how the difficult topics were tackled and the amount of grief and emotion that were packed into just a few lines of verse was incredible. I know not everyone is a fan of ambiguous endings, but when done right, I totally am, and this ambiguous ending was done right. It definitely makes you think.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

3/5

I had to read this for my Intro to Literature class and mostly liked it. It was long and boring with a pretty simplistic plot, so those aspects of it made it hard to concentrate and actually finish the story, but the enjoyment for me came with individual lines of dialogue. The use of dramatic irony made it humorous and helped to lighten the mood since reading about stuffy high society people can be insufferable.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

2/5

Since I'm in a production of "Peter Pan Jr.," I wanted to read the original story for some background knowledge. Almost every single line of dialogue in the book is in the show, but the show keeps things moving way better than the book. There were lots of rambling, boring sections. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style, either, or most of the characters. But it's definitely imaginative and I like the story as a whole, just more when it comes to the Disney or theatrical versions.

Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer, Stephen Gilpin, and Douglas Holgate

4/5

I didn't love this one as much as the first book, mostly because I feel like the characters did a lot of monologuing and I'm not a big fan of that, in general. But everything else was great, in typical Lunar Chronicles fashion. The characters make the story and getting to spend more time with them in any form is always loads of fun. I love Iko and her spunk.

Movies I Watched

"Miss Representation"

5/5

This was an excellent documentary about the way women are viewed in the media. It touched on a lot of different aspects of media (politicians, news anchors, actresses, etc.). It made good points about how young girls need to see a variety of female role models in order to get a well-rounded portrayal of the kinds of women they can be. I highly recommend it.

"I, Tonya"

4/5

I'm not sure what I expected to see, but whatever it was, it wasn't this. I was pleasantly surprised at the quirky, fascinating, humorous way Tonya Harding and the people around her were shown. It doesn't deify them in any way, but it does get their side of the story and explains how Tonya became the person she is. I was hooked the entire time. I also laughed way more than I thought I would during the movie. It's very dark and the ending (without giving too much away) doesn't leave you with a lot of hope. Even with tough subject matters, I appreciate when a book or movie can include even a touch of lightness to the end so you don't leave the theater feeling heavy and lethargic, which is really the only reason I didn't give it a 5/5.

"The Mask You Live In"

5/5 

Made by the same creators of "Miss Representation," this documentary takes a look at men and boys in American society and why our culture fosters toxic masculinity. It shows how harmful it is to both men and women and highlights specific aspects of our society that cause boys to be raised with the "men don't cry or show emotions" kind of thinking. It was hard to watch, but it makes you think, and hearing from some of the men interviewed in the documentary gives me hope for the future.

"Get Out"

4/5 

This was definitely worth the hype. For those of you who were as confused about the genre as I was before I watched it, here's my opinion: for the first hour and a half of the movie, it's a psychological thriller, but by the last fifteen minutes, it's a full on horror movie. There are jump scares, violence, and gore, just not for a while. I spent the entire time on the edge of my seat, thoroughly creeped out by these off-kilter characters. I tried to guess what some of the twists would be, but for the most part, I was surprised (and disgusted). It covered a lot of racial issues discussed today in a genre you wouldn't necessarily expect to do that. The ending felt a little abrupt for me, but the rest of the movie was very entertaining.

"Finding Neverland"

4/5 

Again, because of "Peter Pan Jr.," we decided to watch this. I really enjoyed it! Kate Winslet is good in everything she does, and this was no exception. It was a really sweet story full of imagination, just like the story J.M. Barrie wrote. I loved getting the behind-the-scenes on how "Peter Pan" came to be and what the public thought of his idea. Some of it was pretty predictable, but overall I loved it.


"A Wrinkle in Time"

3/5 

I wasn't a huge fan of the book, so I tried to go into the movie without low or high expectations. It was all right. I didn't get a good sense of who the characters were (except for maybe Charles Wallace, who was adorable and definitely stole the show), a lot of the plot felt like convenient excuses to show off some fancy special effects, and some of the high points included cheesy dialogue and/or monologuing. Pros: it was visually stunning, the actor Charles Wallace was really freaking good for how young he was, Chris Pine (because Chris Pine), and for once a movie targeted for family audiences actually showed a healthy sibling relationship.


"Love, Simon"

5/5 

Loved, loved, loved "Love, Simon!" The book is better, of course, but overall I'm really happy with how it got adapted. The casting choices were perfect, especially when it came to Martin, Simon, and his family. Speaking of his family, I think they were actually portrayed better in the movie than they were in the book. I loved getting a closer look at his parents, especially. It did a really good job of showing things from both Simon's point of view and the other characters'. The soundtrack was excellent and all of the humor that was in the book came through in the movie. In fact, they even added more humor with character additions like their well-meaning but strange vice principal. Go see this immediately.

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall"

3/5 

As far as stupid humor goes, this was good stupid. I liked all of the actors (especially Russell Brand--what a wacky dude) and any of the scenes involving Jason Segel's Dracula musical (just trust me on this). If you're looking for something light and brainless, this is a good choice.


"Water For Elephants"

3.5/5

I liked the movie about as much as I liked the book. Maybe a little bit less since basically all of the nursing home scenes were cut, and I did like the juxtaposition of the protagonist's modern day experience with his experiences in the circus. But it was a good adaptation, and the actor who plays August was the perfect choice for a truly despicable character.

"Ready Player One"

3.5/5 

I haven't read the book for this, but I've heard it's much, much different from the movie. I'm still planning to read the book, so my feelings on this might change once I do, but as far as first impressions go, it was a decent movie. If it's not a Marvel or Star Wars movie, I'm not typically a huge action/sci-fi blockbuster person. This one interested me more than most blockbusters because the action was interspersed with actual plot. It wasn't just one extended battle sequence (*cough* "Justice League" *cough*). It was pretty funny and creative. I enjoyed the characters Aeche and James Halliday most. The main character and his love interest didn't do much for me, but that was probably more due to the fact that there was a heaping scoop of insta-love, which annoys me to no end.

Quotes I Wrote

“Hey.” The girl slid her hand to Melody’s wrist, squeezing it. “What’s your name?”

“Melody,” she answered automatically, trying to drown out the perpetual thought of dangerdangerdanger that her brain sent as somebody else let out a scream, accompanied by the sound of shattering glass.

The girl grinned, and in that flash of a moment, Melody glimpsed something wild. Reckless. She wasn’t sure whether to be alarmed or comforted. Maybe a bit of both.

“I’m Lila.” The girl released Melody’s arm and adjusted her leather jacket. “It’s going to be all right.”

-'Til the Last Star Dies

But she couldn’t shake the image of Melody’s expression, a mixture of determination and terror. It wasn’t often Lila had come across Freelancers so young and scared. Only in recent years had she started to notice them. That’s what war did to people, beat them down until they were forced to grow up and become a machine.

People weren’t made to break that young.

-'Til the Last Star Dies


Obsessions I Acquired

Words with Friends - I haven't played this in years, but now that there's an option for Android devices, I picked it up again to play with my family. It's a fun app to use when I need a quick break from homework. I especially like the lightning rounds, as stressful as they can be. :P


Pictures of the Month 


I auditioned for "Peter Pan Jr." with my brother and a bunch of my friends, and though I wanted to get the role of Captain Hook, I wasn't at all expecting to get it. But I did! And one of my best friends got Smee, so we're going to have a blast playing these characters together. We've had a few rehearsals so far and everyone in the cast is so fun and talented.
 
My "fandom of the month" jewelry kit happened to be Peter Pan themed, by some crazy coincidence!
Our audition group for "Peter Pan Jr." From left to right: Mr. Darling/Otto the pirate, Smee, Captain Hook, Mrs. Darling, and Dandelion the brave girl.
I got new glasses!
We saw Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp live in concert and it was SO much fun. They sang some "Rent" classics as well as various originals and covers. I loved it.

We went to see "Shrek: the Musical" at my friend TJ's school. Lots of the kids in that show are in "Peter Pan Jr." as well. TJ, who played the Ugly Duckling, will be Smee. His sister (on the far right) is playing John.
Their Lord Farquaad is our other Captain Hook!
Gingy is playing Peter Pan.
Loved "Love, Simon!"
My Scholastic awards officially arrived! Four silver keys and six honorable mentions this year.
Obligatory Scout pictures.
Wet from a bath.


How was your March?

12 comments:

Boquinha said...

What a fun post! I love these! The first line of your "I, Tonya" review made me laugh out loud. We've read a lot of the same books this month and watched a lot of the same movies, too. Those pictures are also awesome. And the coincidental fandom of the month correlations are just crazy!!

Ivyclad Ideas said...

* Offended gasp * I liked Justice League!
I have Ready Player One on my to read shelf and ever since I've bought it all I've heard are bad things. :( Before I bought it everyone was mad on it! I don't understand what happened!

Dr. Mark said...

Love these posts. For once, I've actually read a number of these books, and I think our opinions match pretty well. The first line of your "I, Tonya" review made me laugh out loud, too. So spot on. I think Ready Player One is better as a book than movie. I really enjoyed the book for what it was: a fun read with lots of nostalgic references, in a dystopian world that felt a little different from the ones we've been reading about lately. And I've seen a lot of mixed reviews, as well.

Great pics, especially your traditional Scout photos!

The Magic Violinist said...

@Boquinha

It's so true, though! I think we all walked out of the theater saying "well that wasn't what I thought it was going to be." We watched way more movies this month than I remembered watching, and I think you were there for all except for one or two of them.

@Ivy

I didn't hate Justice League, but I definitely had some issues with it . . . I can totally see why some people would like it, though.

Oh, really?? As far as the book goes, I've only seen positive reviews. Maybe I missed something. When books become popular it's such a roller coaster when it comes to whether or not people like it.

@Dr. Mark

Yeah, our opinions seem to match, in general. I don't doubt that Ready Player One is better as a book. It seems more unique than most dystopians that have come out lately. I'm excited to see what I think about it.

Jimmy said...

I need to read Lord of the Flies. And Peter Pan, and anything by Oscar Wilde. I just can't keep up with you.

Enjoyed I, Tonya. They did a great job with that movie. I remember living in San Antonio, TX watching those winter Olympics and kind of hating Tonya. The movie made me more sympathetic to her. I watched Three Billboards around the same time I watched I, Tonya and noticed that both movies have a really bad mom character in common. Parents that are hateful and teach hate--can't think of a worse crime.

The play with friends sounds like so much fun! And congratulations on all your awards!




The Magic Violinist said...

@Jimmy

I would recommend all of them if you're looking for new classics to read, though Peter Pan was just "meh" for me.

Since I only heard about the whole Tonya Harding situation from stories years after the fact, it was interesting getting a close-up perspective on it. I really want to see "Three Billboards," too. I don't know much about the characters, but from the little I've seen, it looks very intense.

Thank you! :)

Anna said...

It sounds like March was a productive reading month! I read both Lord of the Flies and The Importance of Being Earnest way back in high school and have zero memories of either; I also feel zero desire to read them again. Classics and I just don't get along well typically.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Anna

Ha, yeah, I liked them for what they were, but I definitely wouldn't go back for a reread. Classics can be hit or miss for me, too.

Cait @ Paper Fury said...

Well Scout is just SO CUTE THO. 😍😍 And oh I'm so happy for you getting the part you wanted in the play.!! CONGRATS. And getting so much reading done too!! I actually felt really unproductive in March too, despite reading waaay more than I thought I would so who knows?! March is an odd month for some reason.😂And I desperately want to see Love Simon! I can't wait till it's out on DVD/for hire. Aaaand yay for snippets!

The Magic Violinist said...

@Cait

I know, isn't she adorable???

Thank you!!

I have a theory that we get thrown off by how short February is and then forget that March is longer, so we feel more unproductive than we are. At least, that's the only explanation I can think of.

It's sooo good! I'm curious to hear what you think of it once you see it.

Boquinha said...

TMV, Cait's comment about Scout got me thinking that we need to send a picture of my new shirt. It will have an entirely additional meaning for her thanks to her cute dog! :D

The Magic Violinist said...

@Boquinha

That's true!