Monday, February 25, 2013

If I Stay

I read If I Stay by Gayle Forman and really liked it.

There were some things I loved about it, some things I had mixed feelings about, and no hate for nuthin'.

I loved the cover. It was an easy buy at the book store. No League Of Shadows invisibility skills needed for the purchase.

I had no idea what the story was about before I started reading. When I go into a book blind, multiple things can happen. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised. Sometimes I'm like, "Oh, hell...vampires?" And other times the unexpected is so powerful it's as if the author somehow reached an invisible hand out of the book and grabbed me by the balls.

So yeah, Gayle Forman grabbed me by the balls (Can I say that?) right from the start.

As the story went on, though, I began to have mixed feelings about the pace. That initial attention-demanding, ball-grabbing was wearing off as the story dipped into the main character's (Mia) past. It was necessary and important in getting to know the characters, but I found myself not caring about the characters as much, and just wanting to see how the ending would play out.

I did like the characters, though. I found them to be authentic and interesting. I liked Adam (the boy). He was good to Mia and I liked watching them struggle with the idea of Mia having to leave for school. That's an issue most "young lovers" have to deal with at some point, so I'm glad Gayle Forman wrote about it in a realistic way.

One area I feel differently about than the peeps that LOVE this story, is the intensity of emotion I felt. Or, rather, I didn't feel any intense emotions while reading this story.

When I eat a reheated Chipotle burrito...it's really good. I eat it and enjoy it.

When I eat a fresh Chipotle burrito, with a side of guacamole and a coke...it's freakin' glory. (My friend accuses me of "making out" with the burrito. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with holding the burrito close to your lips and taking in the aroma before slowly sinking your teeth in.)

If I Stay was sort of a reheated burrito for me. I knew what choice Mia was going to make in the end (because there's a second book), so I missed feeling those intense emotions.

Seriously, the entire story hinges on Mia's big decision.  If you already know what she's gonna decide, it takes the suspense away.  Know what I mean?

With that said, I still give If I Stay 4 out of 5 reheated burritos. And, I'm definitely gonna read the second book: Where She Went.

The writing is excellent and the storytelling is unique.

I'm gonna go ice my balls now.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Top 5 Manly Disney Cartoon Characters

5. Buzz Lightyear


He's daring. He's courageous. And what do ladies like more than a confident man?

4. Tarzan

He's manly enough to wear a jungle speedo, and sensitive enough to hold a butterfly.

3. Mr. Incredible

What lady doesn't like a big man in spandex? And, he's a freakin' superhero!

2. Kronk

He's a woman's dream man. He's full of muscles. He's great with kids. He's a whiz in the kitchen. He'll do whatever you tell him to do without question.

1. Marlin

Everything in the ocean scares the fish shit outta him.

But when his son needs him, he faces his fears.
He finds courage deep inside his smelly fish scales.

This is a Real Man. 
He's unselfish. He's courageous.
He risks his life for his son.
He's motivated by love.
Impressing others with his manliness is the last thing on his mind. 
His priorities are in the correct order.
He's man enough to make the changes in his life that are needed to be a great dad.
This is a Real Man. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Summer I Turned Manly

I read The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, then I checked to see if I was still a man.

This is the type of book I hand to the cashier with the cover facing down. It's the kind of cover the cashier smiles at if the buyer is a teenage girl. But if you happen to be a grown man, you get fingerprinted.

The cover is neat and clean. Well, except for the tall dude on the right giving the, "I'm watching you out of the corner of my eye" creeper look. And yes, there is ONE girl, and TWO boys on the cover. Ugh.

Ok, this is a story for teenage girls.  And, after reading it, I can confirm that this is a story for teenage girls.

This is the first YA book in a while that tested my manhood.

This is a tough review for me because this book wasn't written for adult men.  I want (so badly) to make fun of it, but I can't. Why? Because I believe most teenage girls will like this story.

The writing style is smooth, but the story itself is a little bland. I found it easy to put the book down and wander around the house aimlessly.  I didn't connect with any of the characters.  In fact, two of the characters (Conrad and Taylor) were super annoying.  I felt like the time spent reading about Belly's brother and the two dads in the story made an already slow pace get even slower.

I wanted to like the main character, Belly, but I just couldn't.  She did the one thing that annoys the hell outta me more than anything: she liked the guy that was the biggest dickhead in the story.  She had other options.  There are TWO boys on the cover.

I'm rating this book on two different scales.  On the manly scale it gets a 0 out of 5 testicles.  On the "I understand this book is for teenage girls" scale it gets a 3.5 out of 5 best friend necklaces.

I equate reading this book to a nice walk around the block.  Nothing exciting or new to see, but hell, anything's better than sitting inside and watching Dance Mom's all day.

I was holding out hope that in the end, Belly would make me like her by doing something I didn't expect.  She let me down.

I give credit to Jenny Han for writing for a specific market and having much success.

This one wasn't for me.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All The Single Ladies

To all you single nerdy book girls:

Happy Valentine's Day!

Are you dateless this Valentines's Day?  No problem.  Say hello to St. Clair Gosling.

Sit back, relax, and put yourself in the place of Nerd Girl.


St. Clair Gosling

If one more woman in this damn office gets flowers, I'm going to throw my new Kindle through the window.

It's Valentine's Day. I'm the only girl at work that doesn't have a date tonight. It's the fifth year in a row that I've had this honor. Out of 123 woman on this floor, 122 have received flowers.  Every one but me.

My mom sent me a Valentine's E-card.  This only makes things worse.

It's almost time to go home.  The women around me are chatting like schoolgirls about their hunky dates. I've given up hope.  I'm just going to go home and listen to Single Ladies by Beyonce, over and over and over.  Then I'll watch Big Bang Theory, play video games, and end the night with The Deathly Hallows.

"Excuse me, are you Nerd Girl?"

I quickly minimize the window on my computer screen showing pictures of One Direction and turn to answer.

"Yeah, I'm..."

I'm speechless.

"I'm St. Clair Gosling, from Accounting."

"Oh, hi."  Well, hello, St. Clair.

"I was just looking for that report on the Chipotle account," he says.

"Oh...umm...I wasn't working on that."  Dammit!  Don't leave, God of Accounting and perfect hair.

"Sorry.  I'll track it down."  He leaves.

I put my elbows on my desk and plant my face in my hands.  Looks like tonight it's just me, Beyonce, and a large pizza.

"Sorry to bother you again," says St. Clair.

My head pops up.  "You're not bothering me.  I was just...praying."

"Praying?  I could...come back."

"No, no...umm, Amen.  What's up?"  You want me to watch you do push ups with your shirt off?  Sure.

"I'm sure you already have plans tonight, but--"

"No, I don't have plans.  My...date called earlier and he's...sick.  Bird flu."

"Sorry to hear that.  Maybe fate has brought us together?  Would you like to meet me somewhere tonight?"  He runs his manly hand through his thick, perfect head of black hair.

"Yeah, that would be neat."  Neat?  I'm such a dumb ass!  Neat?

"Fantastic.  There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about."

He smiles.  He has straight, white teeth.  He definitely flosses.  Which means he takes care of his teeth.  Which means he probably has breath that smells like peppermint.  Which means I'm probably going to stick my tongue down his throat after he takes me to a romantic dinner.

"Yeah, fantastic," I say.

Later that evening...

"Shall we?" he says, placing his hand on my lower back and leading me into the diner of a 2-star hotel.

It's not exactly what I was picturing for our romantic Valentine's date, but I guess it's better than sitting at home by myself.  Our table is wobbly, the silverware is dirty, the lighting is bad, and it smells like mildew.

"So, tell me about yourself," I say.

He smiles.  He looks just like David Beckham when he smiles.

"Well, let's see.  I like to work out.  I do 500 Sit Ups a day.  I like to cruise around in my Ferrari.  I LOVE reading YA.  I listen to Beyonce.  I take care of orphans.  I get tattoos.  I do squats so I can have firm butt cheeks.  I read Harry Potter every night.  I speak French, Italian, and whatever other language you think is sexy.  I haven't lost one hair to baldness.  In fact, the top of my head is the only place I even have hair.  I play video games.  I visit Comic Con every year.  I dress up as Gandalf and visit children's hospitals.  I'm an adviser for both Marvel and DC.  I love Pride and Prejudice.  I did a Calvin Klein underwear commercial.  I won first place in a Ryan Gosling look-a-like contest AND a Channing Tatum look-a-like contest.  I have six college degrees.  I also wrote a book titled, Bad Boys Guide to Puppies."

Did he say something about firm butt cheeks?

I'm in love.  Like, true love.  I'm going to propose to him tonight.

After a terrible meal, he asks, "So, what would you do with an extra $500 a month?"

He's already wanting to give me money!  "I don't know.  I'd probably save up enough to go visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter."

"Wonderful.  So you could say that's one of your goals?  You know, achieving that goal is easier than you think.  I'd like to take you to another room now."

It's happening.  He wants to take me to another room...on Valentine's Day!

"That sounds neat."  Neat?!  What the hell is wrong with me?

As I follow him out the room and down the dim hotel hallway, I barely notice all the people in suits and slicked back hair chattering away about vitamins and cleaning products.

This is gonna be a night to remember.  No more lonely Valentine's for this Nerd Girl.

He brings me into a room full of people, but I don't even care.  I'm too focused on thinking about what his abs must look like.

We sit down next to a nervous looking elderly woman.

I gaze at St. Clair.  He's perfect.  He's everything I ever wanted in a man.  I'm going to marry him.

A man at the front of the room taps a small microphone and says, "Welcome, everyone.  Our Amway meeting will start in about five minutes.  It's a terrific day."

Shit.








Saturday, February 9, 2013

My First Negative Review

You know how some authors are really good at creating worlds the reader can get lost in?

Well, brother and sisters, The Maze Runner by James Dashner had me feeling more lost than a blind penguin at Disney World.

I don't get it. I really don't get it. How did this book become a New York Times Bestseller?

This is my first negative review. I'm not a negative person, so it pains me to do this. I also am a strong believer in encouraging others, so again, this is hard for me. I actually wrote a somewhat negative review for a different book yesterday, and then deleted it because I felt bad.

This book pushed me over the limit, though.  I hated it that much.

The Maze Runner was an easy buy at the bookstore. No girls in flowy dresses on the cover. I didn't have to avoid eye contact with the cashier when handing it over. I was just a manly man buying a manly book written by a man.

It was awful. I laughed at it, not with it. I rolled my eyes at how the plot unfolded. I looked out my window at the happy clouds to calm myself.

I literally hated the characters. I wanted them all to die. They made up all these weird words that confused me. They were inconsistent and unbelievable. I think they were all raging alcoholics. They were always slamming their fists on the table and yelling, then being completely normal in the next sentence.

"Hi, Jimmy.  That's a cute puppy."

"WHAT THE HELL YOU TALKIN' BOUT? BASTARD!!!!!" says Jimmy, grabbing the kid next to him and biting his ears off.

"I just wanted you to know I like your puppy.

"Oh, that's cool.  So how have you been?"

That's what it felt like.

There was one girl. She was annoying and unbelievable. Her and the super annoying main character get along great. I think they even have a little insta-like. This works out great cuz they're both annoying as hell. They can grow up and make annoying, confusing, unbelievable, undeveloped character babies together.

I couldn't picture anything in this book. If it wasn't for the picture on the cover, I would have pictured nothing. Actually, I would have probably just pictured Jessica Alba eating a Chipotle burrito. That would have been a much more enjoyable experience. All I really knew was that a bunch of boys were in compound thing and every day they run out in a maze and try to find an exit.

Yeah. So exciting.

There's these things that will get the characters if they stay in the maze at night. They're called...grievers. These have the weirdest descriptions of anything I've ever read. I have no idea what they are, or what they look like, or what they do, or...

Slimy squishy cows with blades and saws that come out of them? What?

The worst part of all is that there's no real action until page 200. I'm serious. I wanted to quit on pages 20, 40, 53, 67, 82, 109, 121, 134, 145, 159, 170, 189, 200.

Finally, the last hundred pages delivers a little action and some answers.  But, at that point...WHO GIVES A RAT'S ASS?

It's kinda like stopping at the gas station on your way to the prison to serve your life sentence and buying the $300 million dollar winning lotto ticket.

It doesn't matter.  It's too late.

All these characters where getting killed and the main character was so tore up and I was like, "So who just died?" I felt like a serial killer laughing at the character deaths. I started getting a kick out of how the main character cared so much every time someone died. And the author would go on and on about it like it was soooo emotional.  I was still like, "So who just died?"

The only emotions I felt reading this book were frustration and annoyance. Ok that's not true. I got a little excited thinking about Jessica Alba, but that had nothing to do with the book.

I give The Maze Runner 2 out of 5 slimy cows.





  

Monday, February 4, 2013

FanMANing over Wild Awake and Hilary T. Smith

*This review will not contain any spoilers.  I was going to give away all the surprises, but Hilary T. Smith broke into my house in the middle of the night screaming and punching holes in my walls like a madwoman!

"If you even think about putting spoilers in your review I'll come back here and rip down all your Luna Lovegood posters!"  She found my weak spot.  I was defeated before I even had a chance to fight. 


"Stop being a bitch-nacho."  -Wild Awake

I mean...is there really anything else I need to say?


Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is my favorite contemporary YA read of all-time.

I realize that's a bold statement but I mean every word of it.  I don't know Hilary outside of a few tweets and emails, and I'm not being compensated for this review in any way.

Wild Awake follows 17-year-old Kiri Byrd through six crazy-ass weeks of being home alone. Six weeks of discovering family secrets, love, loss, chaos, music, madness, heartbreak, and...

My prediction is that Wild Awake will go bat-shit crazy with the "I don't read much" teenage crowd.

Why?

-Every character is authentic, believable, relatable, and memorable.  If you hear someone talking about the characters in this book and they say, "well, that's not how teenagers talk."  Grab them by the ears, put your face directly in front of theirs, and as loud as you can, yell, "BULL SHIT!"

-Clean, crisp, clear setting.  I'm NOT a setting kinda guy.  Books that go on and on and on about setting make me and everyone else with ADD wanna drink a case of Mountain Dew and play foosball for 9 hours.  Action, baby.  Gimme some action braided in with setting.  Setting is usually the only part of a book I struggle with.  I can't stand books that describe things like what color the front door of the house is, and how wide it is, and what color the door handle is, and the scratch on the lower left side, and the bush to the right with three leaves missing, and the blade of grass next to the bush that's cut a half inch shorter than the other blades of grass, and the blade of grass next to that blade of grass that's a little slimmer than the blade of grass on the other side of the cement sidewalk...the sidewalk that's three and a half feet wide that Grandpa helped put in.  The sidewalk that stretches down to the dirty road filled with old cars parked along the filthy curb speckled with Burger King cups and Chipotle napkins.  Two feet from the napkins are more blades of grass. There's a little worm sunbathing.  There's a ladybug buggin'.  There's a little green grass snake about 12 inches long and about .34 inches wide.  It has a smile on it face that's about .12 inches across.

Ya feel me?

I was lost in Kiri's world without ever realizing it.  I can still picture everything. Everything.

-Hilary writes in a way that won't scare the "I only read when I'm forced to read boring books in school" crowd.  And at the same time, more advanced readers will be like, "Damn, yo!  H. Smith got skillz!"

I mean, let's face it the average teenage boy thinks about food, girls, food, girls, food and girls.

"So, average teenage boy, what did you think about the plot in that classic novel you just read in English class?"

"I liked the sex part."

Had I been assigned to read Wild Awake in high school, I would have read it and been excited to discuss it with my class.  I would have been engaged in writing essays about the deeper themes laced throughout the story.  I wouldn't have spent entire class periods staring at the hot girl with tan legs sitting across from me while the teacher rambled on and on about...?

There's more emotion packed into Wild Awake than there are ingredients in my burrito (and that's A LOT).  I lol'd so many times that I started keeping track.  Then I got so lost in the story that I forgot to continue keeping track.  Then I thought I'd read it a second time and really keep track.  Then I read it a second time and got so lost in the story that I forgot to keep track.  I am a failure.

Wild Awake is an Emotion Smoothie.  A well crafted mix of joy, pain, loss, gain, happy, sad, crazy, mad. (That's right, bitches...rhyming skills.)

"Oh, so you laughed a lot?"
"Yes."
"So it's like...a funny book?"
"Well, some of it is."

"Oh, so you cried?"
"I didn't cry!"
"Oh, so..."
"Stop looking at me like you know I cried!  Someone shot me in the eye with a pellet gun while I was reading!"


Buy this book, read it, then give it to a teenage boy that doesn't "read stupid books."  Tell him there's sex, drugs and Battle of the Bands in it.  When his eyes glaze over...that means he's thinking about it.  Quick!  Repeat this part, "Sex. There's sex in it."

He might not make eye contact with you, but he'll take the book.

I give Wild Awake 10 out of 10 nachos.  I'll even throw in a side of guacamole and some jalapenos.

Order Wild Awake here.

Follow Hilary on Twitter here.