Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: A Movie Review

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guardians_of_the_galaxy_vol_two_ver4_xlgWhen Rocket steals some Anulax Batteries from the Sovereigns, the Guardians are helped in their escape by a stranger flying by on the top of a spaceship. They are even more surprised when the man, known as Ego, introduces himself as Peter Quill’s father. Wanting to know more, Quill, Gamora, and Drax return to Ego’s planet to learn the truth. When Gamora’s suspicions that there is something not right about the planet are proven true, the team must once again save the universe before it is too late.

I found Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to be just as hilarious as the first one, with great jokes and comebacks as well as continued character development. Behind the comedy, this movie showed the sadder sides to some of the characters—particularly Rocket, Yondu, and Nebula—while also showing some characters do have a romantic side and mixing it all together that nothing felt out of place. The special effects and costumes were also top notch, and although the movie was pretty long (over 2 hours), it kept me entertained the entire time to where I didn’t even notice. I was actually pretty shocked when I came out of the movies and saw what time it was.

What would have to be my favorite part of the movie was the soundtrack. Not only do I enjoy 80’s music, but I thought that this soundtrack in particular went really well with the overall feel of the movie. I loved how music seemed to be essential when it came to fighting the villains, and how mad Quill gets when his Walkman is crushed (beyond the sentimental factors at this moment, I find music to be a necessity in life).

So, if you’re a fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, I highly recommend seeing Vol. 2 (if you haven’t already). You will not be disappointed!

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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23299512Kate Harker has been kicked out of enough boarding schools that her father finally gives in to her biggest wish: to come home to the city of Verity, a city divided between humans and monsters. Although desperate to be human, August Flynn is one of those monsters—a monster who only has to play a song on his violin to steal a human’s soul. With the truce keeping the peace between humans and monsters strained, August—pretending to be human—is sent to Kate’s new school to keep an eye on her. Kate soon discovers August’s secret and decides to capture him and bring him to her father to show just how ruthless she can be. But a failed assassination attempt sets off a chain of events that could finally break the already fragile truce in Verity.

I’ve been trying (and failing miserably) to not buy a lot of books this year, because my library is already full of books that I haven’t read yet (current count is 82). But when I saw the ebook version of This Savage Song was on sale on Amazon for $2, I knew I had to go for it. This is actually the first book I’ve read by Victoria Schwab, but I’ve been pumped about reading her work for a while. I began to follow her on Twitter after I read a blog post she wrote about the struggles of getting published and how aspiring writer’s should not give up, but continue on with the knowledge that it will be a struggle. The post was inspirational, and I knew I had to read more of her advice. Between her tweets and the tweets of her fans (who are also amazing), I knew I had to get my hands on her work.

Anyway, it probably took me about one-third of This Savage Song to really get into the story. Schwab’s writing is well done, but the way she started this book was a bit disjointed, but not to the point where I wanted to give up. In fact, it made me want to keep going because I wanted to find out what it all meant. It wasn’t until after the reader begins to find out exactly what kind of monster August is that I got sucked in. From that point on, I felt that the story was better paced and the reader really gets a feel for the characters. While the majority of the ending was surprising and heart racing, there was one scene that I was able to guess prior to it occurring. However, Schwab has a way with words that captures the imagination and the ending of the book made me excited for the release of the sequel, Our Dark Duet

Glass by Ellen Hopkins

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glass28hopkins29It’s been a few months since Kristina’s son was born and even longer since her last walk with the Monster. The monotony of living with her parents—with no job, no friends, and no trust—has started to get to her. So when her alter ego, Bree, comes knocking with a plan to take the edge off, Kristina is quick to comply. Besides, one more stroll with the Monster couldn’t hurt, right?

I read the first in the this series, Crank, probably about 10 years ago and had always intended on reading the sequel. The ebook for Glass has probably sat on my Kindle for just as long. When I decided to finally read it, I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t remember what happened in the first one. Thankfully, not only did Ellen Hopkins include an overview of the first book in the first few pages of Glass, her writing is so captivating that I found myself remembering a lot of what had happened in Crank without it.

The story in this series—about the struggle of drug addiction and what it can do to a person and their family—is intense. Hopkins does a great job at putting the reader directly in the middle of the action and making the thoughts of the main character seem so plausible even though we know that it’s not. Hopkins has said that this series is loosely based off of experiences of her daughter, who struggled with the Monster. While a devastating situation, the experience helps make the book as realistic as possible, and leaves Hopkins vulnerable to her readers—an aspect that I respect her for.

Not only is Hopkins a stellar writer, I like prose/poetry style of her writing. While it makes the books seem huge (usually around 600 pages), it also makes them fast reads while still putting in the pertinent information that makes the story whole. There were one or two sections where I wish I knew more of what was going on, but overall the story flowed well and was tied up nicely without leaving the reader with questions.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

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9717After being divorced from his wife, Tomas comes to the realization that a monogamous relationship is not for him. When Tereza enters his life like “a child put in pitch-daubed bulrush basket and sent downstream”, he feels a connection to her that he hasn’t felt with another woman. But this love does not hinder him from still seeing other women, which makes Tereza jealous. Tomas’s mistress and close friend, Sabina, is an artist who takes satisfaction in the act of betrayal. When her lover, Franz, leaves his wife for her, she betrays him by moving away. Through these four complicated and intriguing characters, Milan Kundera challenges Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence by suggesting that the events that occur through our lives only occur once and never again.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a difficult book to explain—for me, anyway. I enjoyed the philosophy woven throughout the chapters and I feel the topics highlighted—love, sex, relationships—could generate interesting conversation with other readers. I liked how Kundera would briefly go through a time frame in a characters life in one section, and then expand on the same time in another section. Although some would say that made the book repetitive, it was more of a deeper look that brought more insight to the story and the characters. At the same time, I felt there were some parts of the plot that were left open. Once or twice, Kundera would reveal an event that would happen to the characters but then never come full circle with that specific plot.

While The Unbearable Lightness of Being was a little dense in some sections, it was not confusing. There are sections that focus more on the philosophy than on the story that I needed to re-read to understand, but those parts were evened out by the simplistic and refreshing story that accompanied it. It’s a book I’d recommend to those interested in philosophy, and definitely a book worth re-reading.

One Day by David Nicholls

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41qajvszg3l-_sx323_bo1204203200_On the day of graduation from Edinburgh University, Emma and Dexter hang out for the first time, although they’ve known of each other for a while. From this their friendship grows and for the next 20 years they celebrate each other’s victories and mourn their loses. But will their friendship ever be anything more? One day may make all of the difference.

I like the concept surrounding One Day: that a decision made one day can change the course of your life forever. So I really enjoyed that each chapter took place on the same day (but different years). David Nicholls did a great job at showing the growth in both characters even though readers only received a glimpse of their lives on one day in each year. The characters were also very lifelike, the dialogue like something you would overhear in a coffee shop. Readers will become invested in the characters almost from the very beginning and will not be able to put the book down once started (trust me, I almost read it in one day and probably would have if I had had more time).

One Day is probably one of the best books for readers who are in their mid- to late-20’s and early 30’s because not only does it follow Emma and Dexter through those years of their lives, it portrays two different lifestyles that are relatable to readers in those age ranges. You have Emma who feels stuck in dead end job after dead end job, just wanting to find her place in the world. Then you have Dexter, the guy who travels the world and can do whatever he wants—the guy who seems to have life figured out and has everything in place. The interesting thing is in the middle of the book they switch roles. This is what I find promising to readers: that although life may not seem that great or even if life is amazing right now, your luck can always change. You just have to know how to handle it when it does.

 

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

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51fuuyu0sll-_sy344_bo1204203200_On her 7th birthday, Princess Alice Heart receives the surprise of a lifetime: the return of her evil Aunt Red, who kills Alice’s mother in order to take back the throne of Wonderland. In a narrow escape, Alice and her mother’s bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, dive into the Pool of Tears and are separated. Alice finds herself alone in London where she is sent to an orphanage and eventually adopted by the Liddell’s who tell her that her stories of Wonderland are just that: stories that should be forgotten. Will Alice be able to find her way back to magical Wonderland, or will she live out the rest of her life in normal London?

I think the biggest issue I had with this book was that there were certain character aspects that I wish had been expanded on from the beginning. I know that there are two other books that follow this one and probably explain the parts that were briefly touched on—like the woman who Hatter Madigan loved, which I felt was randomly thrown in there toward the end of the book—but I think it would have brought more out in the characters if these aspects were elaborated on more in this book.

Despite this detail, I thoroughly enjoyed The Looking Glass Wars, admittedly probably more than I anticipated. I thought it was a great adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and although it was based off of the characters in those books, Frank Beddor made them feel fresh and new—something fans have not seen before. The story was fast paced and well written, and kept me entertained and wanting more throughout. The only other minor detail I wish was different is the ages of Alice and Dodge. I know Alice Heart is supposed to be the age that Alice is in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but I think the slight romance between Alice and Dodge would have made a little more sense if they were a bit older. Maybe 11 or 12 years old instead of 7 (Dodge would be a bit older since he was a few years older than Alice).

Regardless, not only would I highly recommend this book to fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, but it’s also a great book to introduce to young readers who also enjoy those stories.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

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10335308One of my best friends gave me a copy of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? as a present, which was fitting in two ways. First, it was fitting because Mindy Kaling discusses many topics that my friend and I have discussed over the years from friendships to fashion to dating and guys and much more. Second, because by time I was finished reading, I realized if I knew Mindy Kaling in real life, we would totally be best friends. So it was like my best friend was introducing me to another best friend without being jealous that I have more than one best friend.

And that is exactly how the book reads: as if Mindy Kaling is your best friend giving you advice. Before this book, I had only ever seen Kaling in the few episodes of The Office, so didn’t know anything more than that she was that girl from The Office. What I did find out from reading not only impressed me, but made me want to check out more of her work. I learned that not only did she have a character role in The Office, but that she was also one of the writers for the show. I found her journey as a writer to be fascinating and encouraging. It was amazing to me how a little skit put together by Kaling and Brenda Withers (Matt and Ben) took off and helped launch her into the writing world. While I think Kaling would have made it regardless, it’s one of those I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening stories where much more comes from something than expected (and as Kaling writes it, I think they were just as surprised when it happened). The story shows that anything can happen, which leads it to be inspiring.

This is another book that I would say there wasn’t anything about it I didn’t like. It’s a short book—around 220 pages—and also a page turner. I was able to read at least 50 pages in each sitting, and even Kaling mentions in the book that it should not take you months to read it. Kaling writes as she talks—but not in a bad way, since a lot of times people writing as they talk does not turn out well. Instead, it helps the book feel more personal and not preachy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Meis a witty book that made me chuckle on multiple occasions while also connecting with someone I’ve never met before in my life. From childhood experiences to learning to survive adulthood, the stories Kaling tells are relatable to readers ranging from the late teens to early 30’s.