Live By Night: Book Review

Live By Night stamp wait for the movie

Live By Night book cover Book: Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

Publisher: William Morrow and Company

Year: 2012

Genre: Crime/Drama

Pages: 402

Rating: ☆☆☆ – Above average

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Ben Affleck (Matt Damon’s bff, every movie in Boston ever made)
Zoe Saldana (Sci-fi goddess: beautiful blue babe in Avatar, beautiful green babe in Guardians of the Galaxy, beautiful human babe in Star Trek)
Scott Eastwood (Clint Eastwood’s fine son, The Longest Ridethe cop in Suicide Squad)
Elle Fanning (Dakota’s little sister, Princess Aurora in Maleficent)

When can I watch?
January 13.

What’s it about?
Mobsters in the 1920s. The story starts during Prohibition in Boston. Joe Coughlin, the son a Boston Police Captain, makes a career of breaking the laws his father enforces and is becoming deeply entrenched in organized crime. One day Joe and his two buddies rob a Albert White’s (a rival mob boss’s) gambling room where Joe meets the beautiful Emma Gould. Emma is involved with Albert but begins an affair with Joe, obviously.

One thing leads to another and Joe finds himself in Tampa, Florida. He becomes involved in the crime ring there and builds his own (very) successful business. In Tampa, he meets the beautiful Graciella Corrales. Joe finds trouble in old mob bosses, the government, local spiritual leaders and his own love life.

What did you think?
I liked but not as much as I hoped to. Boston and old school gangsters are two of my favorite so I thought this would the perfect book for me when I first heard about it. But part of my disappoint lies in how little of the book actually takes place in Boston. While Boston is Joe’s home, the plot quickly moves into Florida and remains there for most of the story. Nothing against Tampa, I just like everything better when it’s happening in Boston.

Overall I liked but wasn’t blown away. The plot was a little slow in some parts for taste, not something I would call a “page-turner.” I was easily able to put it down and sometimes forgot about it for a while, but when I did pick it up I was interested and was never completely bored by the story– just never completely hooked either. This is one of the few books that I think will have a better movie counterpart. Since movies always have to cut out parts of the book anyway, I think I’ll like watching only the best and most exciting parts of the story on screen rather than reading the whole thing. I’m basically hoping the the movie is a “Best of Live By Night.” Also the movie will have Ben Affleck and Zoe Saldana so it’s a win.

Should I read it?
I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you’re really in crime/the mob then I would definitely recommend. If not, I hate to say it but i might just wait for the movie. 😳

Here’s the Live By Night trailer.

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The Girl on the Train: Movie Review

the_girl_on_the_trainMovie: The Girl on the Train

Director: Tate Taylor (The Help, Winter’s Bone)

Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Length: 1 hour 52 minutes

Rating: ☆☆☆ ½ – Good

Read The Girl on the Train book review!

Stars:
Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt
as Rachel

 

 

Haley Bennett

 

Haley Bennet
as Megan

 

 

Rebecca Ferguson

 

Rebecca Ferguson
as Anna

 

 

Justin Theroux

 

Justin Theroux
as Tom

 

 

Luke Evans

 

Luke Evans
as Scott

 

 

Remind me what it’s about…
Three beautiful and mentally unbalanced women. Just kidding (but not really).

But there’s a lot going on with these characters, so here is a hideous chart to show how they are all connected.
The Girl on the Train character chartWhile all the women are the storytellers, titular character Rachel (Blunt) is at the center of the plot. She is a drunk divorcee who rides the train every day under the ruse she is going to work (but she’s actually been fired) and becomes obsessed with one couple she passes daily, Scott (Evans) and Megan (Bennett) Hipwell.

One day Megan goes missing. That same morning Rachel saw something that compels her to involve herself in the investigation. Rachel’s presence in Anna’s (Ferguson) neighborhood is deeply troubling to her, especially since Rachel continuously calls and harasses Tom (Theroux) during her (frequent) blackouts.

And general chaos ensues.

What did you think?
I thought the movie was really good! It was exciting, the cast was great and I like anything with a good plot twist.

The only gripe I have is that sometimes the shift in time is not always apparent. It’s very clearly announced when the story goes back in time (ex. “4 Weeks Earlier”) but then it’s not always clear that we’ve come back to the present. I just wish that they took a moment to show “Present Day” when we shift back. It normally only took a second to figure it out, but I’d rather stay connected with the movie the whole time than to pause and have to think “wait, is the present day or still the past?”

Other than that it was quite good.

Was it a good adaption?
Yeah, it was pretty much seeing the book played on screen. It’s definitely one of the most accurate adaptions I’ve ever seen. The biggest difference is that Rachel is always described as being fat/having gained so much weight and Emily Blunt is thin. A few things here and there weren’t exact but that’d be impossible. Top marks for adaption✓

Should I watch it?
Yes! I would recommend everyone go see it. Not necessarily something you have to see in theaters but it’s kind of fun to watch with a crowd, especially when the crowd is full of people who haven’t read the book.

The Girl on the Train: Book Review

the_girl_on_the_train_us_cover_2015 Book: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Penguin Group

Year: 2015

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 336

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ – Very good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Emily Blunt (Anne Hathaway’s fashion-obsessed co-worker in The Devil Wears Prada, John Krasinski’s wife)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho, Rachel Green’s Jennifer Aniston’s husband)
Haley Bennet (Cora from Music & Lyrics, the vengeful wife in The Magnificent Seven)
Allison Janney (Anna Farris’ MomJuno‘s mom)
Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay)

When can I watch?
Right now!

What’s it about?
The story is told from three women’s perspectives. The chapters alternate from Rachel’s narrative (~the girl on the train~), Anna’s narrative and Megan’s narrative.

Rachel is a bit of a big ol’ mess. Her ex-husband left her for another woman, she became an alcoholic, her alcoholism lost her her job, and when she blacks out (which is frequently) she calls/harasses her ex, Tom. Even after Rachel loses her job, she takes the same train to London every day to hide her unemployment from her roommate. She is obsessed by this one house on her route and makes up imaginary lives for the couple living there. Then one day Rachel sees something upsetting as she passes the house and chaos ensues.

Anna is Tom’s old mistress and new wife. She is young and beautiful (as mistresses/second wives tend to be) and a stay-at-home mother to Evie, her and Tom’s baby. Anna hates Rachel. She used to enjoy flaunting her relationship with Tom in front of Rachel, but is now annoyed and frightened by all of the harassing phone calls and visits from her.

Megan is missing. Hers is the only perspective told from the past. Rachel’s and Anna’s narratives start from just before Megan goes missing, while Megan’s narrative is leading up to her disappearance. Megan and her husband Scott are neighbors to Anna and Tom and she helps Anna care for Evie.

What did you think?
This is one of the many books I’ve read because it was marketed as “the next Gone Girl” and it was definitely the closest to reaching that standard. They both had alternating perspectives, a missing woman, page-turning suspense, “Girl” in the title, and a lackluster ending.

Overall I really liked The Girl on the Train. Even though I found Rachel to be extremely frustrating as an alcoholic who is frequently making poor choices, but books wouldn’t be very interesting if they were filled with characters who were great at making decisions all the time. But I liked Rachel for all of her issues. Well, I liked reading about Rachel– not sure I’d be her BFF, but her chapters were the most interesting to read. There’s also something to be said about the “at least I’m not that much of a mess” factor. Reading about Rachel makes you feel good about you. Or as the Germans say, schadenfreude.

The biggest pitfall to having altering narratives throughout the book is that if there’s one character/storyline you are not interested in then there’s a lot of boring chapters for you. While I didn’t feel that negatively about Anna’s chapters, seeing her name at the start of the chapter was slightly deflating. Granted, I still enjoyed reading them to figure more of the story and moving the plot along. But Anna was the most boring of the three women for me. I didn’t dislike her narrative, but I think just by having three different narrators my instinct is to rank them (1. Rachel, 2. Megan, 3. Anna).

Being mostly a really good read, my actual biggest problem was with the end. Without talking about what actually happens (no spoilers here) I’ll just say that it was disappointing. Not as disappointing as the Gone Girl ending, but it was no Fight Club.

Should I read it?
Yes! Especially if you like thrillers– and not to sound like everyone who’s trying to advertise any thriller right now…but if you liked Gone Girl, you’ll definitely like this. You can buy The Girl on the Train used on ThriftBooks.

Here’s the The Girl on the Train trailer (it shows a lot IMHO, watch at your own discretion):

Scorch Trials: Movie Review

Scorch Trials movie posterMovie: The Scorch Trials

Director: Wes Ball

Writers: T.S. Nowlin who only skimmed the book

Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Thriller

Length: 2 hours 11 minutes

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ – Very good

Read The Scorch Trials book review and The Maze Runner movie review!

Stars:
Dylan OBrien
Dylan Bæ’Brien
as Thomas

 

 

Ki Hong Lee

 

Ki Hong Lee
as Minho

 

thomas brodie-sangster
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
as Newt♥

 

 

kaya scodelario
Kaya Scodelario
as Teresea

 


Remind me what it’s about…

At the end of The Maze Runner, the Gladers get out of The Maze and think they finally escaped WCKD. But we know that The Maze was only Phase I and our poor Gladers are still in WCKD’s hands and about the enter Phase II. That’s about where the similarities between the book and movie end – before the movie starts. In the movie, the Gladers try to escape from WCKD into the  Scorch to reach a rebel group in the mountains, the Right Hand.

But really both The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials books and movies can be summed up in these two gifs:
The Maze Runner Thomas no
The Maze Runner

What did you think?
I really liked The  Scorch Trials (speaking strictly as a movie, I’ll talk more about how it’s vastly different from the book later) and not just because my boyfriend Dylan O’Brien makes looking dirty look so good. He also makes getting clean look so good. Also I will love any movie that features my angel baby prince Newt and my bad-ass best friend Minho.

But I promise I liked more than just the cast/characters. The movie was exciting, suspenseful and fun. Is it going to win any Oscars? No. Is it entertaining and a good way to spend two hours? Yes! There’s a good mix of exciting action sequences and less intense, plot-driven scenes. I hate when movies are just action action action and there’s no lull for me to catch my breath. While Scorch Trials is far from slow-paced, it’s not so fast-paced that it’s overwhelming.

Also cranks are scary. 😱

Was it a good adaption?
LOL no. Here’s what I imagine happened:

Wes Ball/T.S. Nowlin: *reads The Maze Runner*
Wes Ball: What a great book!
T.S. Nowlin: Let’s make a movie!
Wes Ball/T.S. Nowlin: *makes The Maze Runner movie*
Wes Ball: Boy did that go well! We should make the sequel!
T.S. Nowlin: Yes! Have you read the book?
Wes Ball: …
T.S. Nowlin: …
Wes Ball: No.
T.S. Nowlin: Me neither!
Wes Ball: Great, let’s do it!
Wes Ball/T.S. Nowlin: *jumping high five*

The movie is such a departure from the book that I didn’t know what was going to happen next for most of it and I read the book twice. I said in my Scorch Trials trailer breakdown that I thought the movie would be different, but I didn’t anticipate quite how different it would be. There were pretty much only two scenes in the movie that stayed fairly true the book. After watching the trailer (hundreds of times) I thought the movie would start very differently but meet back up with book my the middle/end. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was so incredibly different that it astounds me. I don’t even know what’s going to happen in Death Cure. Everything is different.

One of the things that bothered me most about the changes was Brenda. While the book and movie were both really different, I still enjoyed both of them (maybe even the movie a little more?). But one thing I definitely liked more in the book was Brenda. Soon as I saw the way Brenda was cast and styled I could tell I would be disappointed. Rosa Salazar was bad-ass and tough, but not as flirty and sassy and book Brenda.

Should I watch it?
Yes! If you haven’t read the book (WHY HAVEN’T YOU?!) you will love it. If you have read the book, pretend you haven’t and that the movie is something brand new that you don’t know anything about.

Find Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials playing at a theater near you!

Here’s the trailer which still looks dope AF even after seeing the movie

Heist Society: Book Review


Heist Society by Ally CarterBook:
 Heist Society by Ally Carter

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Year: 2010

Genre: YA, Mystery, Crime

Pages: 304

Rating: ☆☆☆ ½ – Good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
There might not even be a movie, right now it’s under option at Elizabeth Banks’ production company. But hopefully it does get made into a movie and I’m thinking it should star YA Queen Chloë Grace Moretz and late 90s Leonardo DiCaprio.

What’s it about?
Kat has to bid adieu to her family’s life of crime. All Kat’s known her whole life is theft and cons until she became a normal student at a normal prep school. But that life doesn’t suit Kat as well as she hoped and is quickly thrown back into the life of crime when her father is accused (and threatened by a powerful mobster) of a heist he didn’t commit. Kat is now back at her literal partner-in-crime’s side, heartthrob Hale, to find the missing paintings and prove her father’s innocence.

What did you think?
Obviously I loved it. It’s a YA book with heists and mobsters so there’s almost no way I wouldn’t like it. I read this one twice because I went to start the third book in the series only to realize that I had forgotten almost everything that happened all the way back at the start of series. I will say that I enjoyed the book more my first time through, but that’s true of most books. As I read the story started coming back to me, but it still kept me rapidly turning page after page.

One thing that I really like about Heist Society is that heist squad is all teenagers. I especially loved that aspect when I first read because I was a teen and felt like I could join the team…now I’m old and it makes me sad (and my crush on Hale much creepier). But it’s still the only heist story I know where young people are the cons/thieves. The other heist stories are about adults – which are still great, I just really like the new teen perspective.

The only negative thing I have to say about Heist Society is that the characters aren’t super original or particularly deep. It’s a little cookie cutter; there’s the main girl who is smart, brave, stubborn and doesn’t realize how people see her/her beauty, the hot guy best friend who is super suave, the really beautiful girly girl who knows how beautiful she is, the nerd, the brawny brothers… All the characters were fun and I liked them, I just felt like I had seen them before.

Should I read it?
Yes! It’s a really quick and fun read. You can buy Heist Society at Thriftbooks and at Amazon.

Paper Towns: Book Review

Paper Towns stamped Looking For Alaska 2?

paper towns book coverBook: Paper Towns by John Green

Publisher: Dutton Books

Year: 2008

Genre: YA, Mystery

Pages: 305

Rating: ☆☆☆ – Above average

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Nat Wolff (the blind kid in The Fault In Our Stars)
Cara Delevingne (model for Burberry, Mulberry, Dolce & Gabbana and Jason Wu, and Mother Chucker in Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”)

When can I watch?
July 24

What’s it about?
Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has been in love with his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, since their childhood. Margo is more beautiful, more carefree, more funny, more popular and just more than anyone else Q has ever met. But despite being next door neighbors, Q and Margo haven’t been friends since they were kids.

That is until one night Margo sneaks out and asks for Q’s help for a night of pranks, mayhem and revenge. Margo pushes Q way outside his comfort zone (and into a moat…). After their adventurous all-nighter Q goes to school wondering how that night might change his relationship with Margo. But much to his disappointment, Margo has run away (again). At first no one is concerned – it’s not the first time Margo has left town for a few days without telling anyone. But as the days go by Q’s concern grows and he begins to find clues Margo left for him.

With the help of his best friends, Ben and Radar, Q is on a mission to solve this riddle and starts looking for Alaska Margo.

What did you think?
Didn’t I already read Looking For Alaska? Q and Margo are pretty much the same as Miles AKA Pudge and Alaska. Margo/Alaska is the girl you want to be (although I personally don’t care to be either) and Q/Pudge is the boy you want to give a big bear hug to and feed cookies. Q/Pudge is the sweet, shy, thoughtful, lovable, wide-eyed boy that is hopelessly in love with beautiful, wild, charismatic, brilliant and unattainable Margo/Alaska. So since I’ve already read Looking for Alaska, a lot of it felt kind of repetitive. They’re good and interesting characters, but nothing felt new about Q or Margo. But I kind of hate Margo…this might be an unpopular opinion but I think she’s a b!tch.

I get that some people run away or harm themselves or do a multitude of self destructing things as a cry for help, but that does not seem to be Margo’s MO. She just seems flaky, foolish and selfish. She doesn’t even make it clear as to whether Q will find her alive or dead at the end of her little game. Instead of leaving cryptic messages and clues for Q, she could have just left him a note explaining herself. But no, the world had to revolve around the mystery of Margo and she couldn’t make it easy for anyone. But if she did leave a note for Q that would make a very short and very boring book. So literarily, I know Margo has to leave clues for him. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I might have shot myself in the foot by reading The Fault In Our Stars before reading any other John Green books. So far I’ve red three of his books and TFIOS is by far the best one. I keep holding his other books to that standard and keep being disappointed. Not that I didn’t like Paper Towns, I actually really enjoyed it. It’s like wanting a home cooked meal but getting Chicken McNuggets; both are great and delicious, but Chicken McNuggets just weren’t what you were looking for.

Now that I’ve talked about what I didn’t like about Paper Towns I can start praising the good stuff. Yay! I can’t talk about a John Green book without applauding his writing. His writing is equally beautiful and witty. Even during parts when I wasn’t loving the story or characters I still loved reading Paper Towns simply because of the way John Green writes. I want to live in a world where people think and talk like John Green characters – that is, if there were more Qs, Radars, Bens, Pudges, Colonels, Hazels, Gus’s and Isaacs than there were Margos.

Another thing that I love about Paper Towns is the theme of perceptions and expectations vs. reality. There’s a reoccurring idea that people may not actually be how you see them to be, and about not holding who someone is against themselves. My favorite passage from Paper Towns is about that theme, my man Radar summed it up well:

“You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend – but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you… I’m too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That’s okay, too. That’s me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You’re funny, and you’re smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.”

Should I read it?
If you like John Green books then you’ll probably like this. If you haven’t read John Green then this isn’t a bad place to start. You can buy Paper Towns at Barnes & Noble for pretty cheap.

Here’s the Paper Towns trailer:

The Fault In Our Stars: Movie Review

TFIOS stamped

The Fault in Our Stars movie posterMovie: The Fault In Our Stars

Director: Josh Boone

Writers: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (The Spectacular Now(500) Days of Summer)

Length: 2 hours, 6 minutes

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ ½ – Great

Stars:
Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley
as Hazel Grace Lancaster

 


Ansel Elgort

Ansel Elgort
as Agustus Waters

 

 

Read the The Fault In Our Stars book review!

Remind me what it’s about…
Young love, life and the Literal Heart of Jesus. Hazel is terminally ill with lung cancer is content to live out the rest of her days reading and binge watching America’s Next Top Model reruns on Lifetime. That is, until she meets Augustus “Gus” Waters in the Literal Heart of Jesus. ~*~babe alert~*~ After meeting the dazzlingly charming Gus, Hazel is conflicted between getting to know him better and limiting the people she hurts in her inevitable death.

What did you think?
Hold on while I dry my tears. *grabs mop*

I love this movie and I love Shailene Woodley and I love Ansel Elgorgeous and I hate John Green for writing such beautiful characters I can’t befriend and date in real life. It’s engaging, it’s funny, it’s painful, it’s smart, it’s beautiful, it’s real and it gives a new meaning to “okay.”

But I will say The Fault In Our Stars isn’t for everyone. This is a great movie if you are a (probably female) tween/teen/young adult. It’s definitely a girl’s night/chick flick kind of movie (sorry for being horribly sexist). But if that’s what floats your boat, then this is the movie for you. TFIOS made me laugh, cry, contemplate life, laugh again, then cry a lot. I went through an infinite amount of emotions in a limited time.

Was it a good adaptation?
Definitely; it’s one of my favorite adaptations. Woodley and Elgorgeous bring Hazel and Augustus to life in the most (emotionally and physically) beautiful way imaginable. When John Green writes unrealistically perfect characters (like Hazel and Gus), it’s no small task to fill that role. Fortunately for us, Woodley and Elgorgeous were actually born from the heavens to be Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. They’re charming, captivating, they’re chemistry is enviable and I can’t imagine anyone else playing these parts.

There’s always some differences but they were pretty minor and I don’t think they affected the story/themes at all. The main advantage the book had over the movie was the cheese factor. Augustus’ spiel about his cigarette metaphor and his declaration of love (and half the things from Augustus Waters’ mouth) read better than they were heard. It’s easier to get away with cheese and drama in written word than it is in spoken word. Some things just sound a little too much when said out loud.

But I don’t think the movie as a whole was cheesy, just that it is TFIOS‘ one minor flaw. Overall, it was great movie and a nearly perfect adaptation.

Should I watch?
Yes, with a box of tissues on standby.

Here’s The Fault In Our Stars trailer: