Serious Moonlight

Image result for serious moonlightFirst Lines: He’d probably forgotten me already.  It was a month ago.  Practically forever.  He definitely wasn’t here tonight.

I’ve only read one other book by Jenn Bennett, and I really enjoyed it.  I was looking forward to this one, which was billed as a mystery and a contemporary romance.

Birdie, a mystery aficionado with an active imagination, feels horribly sheltered.  Raised and homeschooled by overprotective grandparents, Birdie feels isolated from everyone else her age.  The summer before college, she gets a job working graveyard shift at a local hotel.  Through this job, Birdie hopes to bloom into an outgoing girl.  Daniel, the hotel’s nighttime van driver, volunteers to help her.  Daniel shares her sense of adventure and knows of a real mystery taking place at the hotel: a reclusive writer, never seen in public, seems to be having secret meetings there.  To solve the mystery, Birdie will need to come out of her shell…and confront her growing feelings for Daniel.

This was really cute, just as I was hoping it would be. Between the mystery and the romance, there was a lot to like.

Birdie is obsessed with mysteries. She basically wants to be the next Hercule Poirot or Columbo. She cannot resist a mystery, especially when her coworker, Daniel, drops one into her lap. She’s an interesting character in many ways, one of which I don’t want to go into detail about because of how it plays into the plot. But it gave her an interesting twist that I’d never read about before. And Daniel is his own kind of interesting, this enigmatic bubbly budding-magician who works as a van driver at the hotel. I found I had a soft spot for him pretty quickly.

The mystery is not the main focus of the story despite how it’s built up, but that’s ok. The mystery was fine and there’s a cool twist with it, but there were times when Birdie’s obsession got a little out of hand. And the romance wasn’t the main focus of the story either. Generally, there’s just a lot going on for Birdie and she needs the time to deal with each thing. So there’s some family drama going on for her as well.

The book is very light and easy to read. I found it enjoyable just to sit and read even just a few pages when I got the chance and not feel like I was missing anything or loosing the flow of the story. It deals with some heavy topics, but it didn’t make the book a downer at all. I liked that balance.

It’s a quirky little story and I liked how it was full of colorful characters, real issues, and good humor.

Last Year’s Mistake

Image result for last year's mistakeFirst Lines: The first day of senior year, he came back.  I should have known it wasn’t over.  Nothing ever is.

Hey guys!  So, as I’m sure most of you can relate, I have a super long to-read list where a bunch of books that I really wanted to read eventually sort of get forgotten about.  This was one of those.  But when I saw it at the library, I figured this was as good a time as any to knock another off that long list.

The summer before their freshman year of high school, Kelsey and David were best friends.  Inseparable.  Until the night a misunderstanding happened and Kelsey became the school joke, crumbling everything at school including her friendship with David.  When Kelsey’s parents mention moving, Kelsey can’t wait to start fresh somewhere new.  But David wasn’t ready to let her go.  Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends in a new state and a hot boyfriend she loves.  Everything’s going perfectly, until David’s family moves to the same town and starts at Kelsey’s school.  Soon, old feelings resurface and threaten Kelsey’s new happiness.  But the more time Kelsey spends with David, the more she realizes maybe she’s not over him either.

This was cute. It was a little heavier than I was expecting at times, but it was still cute.

I liked Kelsey and I definitely liked David. He was sweetness. Kelsey is a little bit of a hot mess, hidden underneath a glamour of makeup and nice clothes. When she last saw David, she was a completely different girl than she is now. She’s a bit broken inside without really knowing why. It was interesting to follow her journey.

As I mentioned above, this tended to be a little heavier than I thought it would be. There were mistakes all over the place, some with very serious consequences. There were also other heavy life topics that came up. Let’s just say Kelsey spends a lot of time crying in the book. But…it all worked. It didn’t feel overly melodramatic (it’s high school, so obviously there was some melodrama), and it had heart. Sometimes in unexpected places.

My one complaint though is that it didn’t have much of a conclusion. I felt like there were still some things that didn’t satisfactorily get wrapped up. And I personally don’t like when the falling action and resolution are basically simultaneous and only last about half a page. Call it a personal preference but I think it’s lazy.

Still, I’m interested to see more by this author.

Before I Fall (2017 Movie)

Image result for before i fallMaybe for you there’s a tomorrow.

So this is based on the Lauren Oliver book of the same name.  And I can assure you, I remember exactly how heart-wrenching the novel was.  I put off watching this for a long time because I just didn’t want to put myself through that.  But, I mean, you can only put it off so long.  I decided it was time.

Samantha “Sam” Kingston has everything: perfect friends, perfect boyfriend, perfect future.  Until everything changes.  After an accident, Sam finds herself trapped in the same day over and over and she begins to question just how perfect her life really was.  And as she begins to unravel why she’s stuck, she learns about the mysteries of those closest to her and the power of a single person, a single day, to change someone’s life.

You’re gonna need to keep a box of tissues next to you as you watch.  FYI.  I’m only looking out for you here.

The story in and of itself is just heartbreaking but also hopeful.  The story starts out tonally like Mean Girls but without the humor.  Sam and her friends are popular and aren’t exactly nice to those around them.  They’re very interested in retaining their image as popular and cooler than everyone else.  Those that are “beneath” them hardly warrant a second glance–but Sam and crew aren’t above yelling hurtful things at them.  And it’s this loop that Sam gets stuck in, slowly seeing the effect this has on others.

For as much as I dislike stories with parallel universes, I do like stories like this about reliving the same day over and over again.  Every little change changes something later down the road.  It’s almost scientific curiosity on my part.  If this variable changes, what happens next?  And because this is a movie rather than a book, there’s a very clear passage of time, of just how many days she’s seen doing the same thing over and over again.  Within a few seconds, you can tell she’s been there for weeks.  That’s some great editing.

Thematically, the themes are fantastic.  I mean, we’re kind of dealing with this idea of how you want to be remembered, what you would do with your last day, what it means to be a friend, etc.  That’s also where the heartbreak comes from.

The acting was pretty good.  I’m a fan of Zoey Deutch, who plays Sam.  I thought she did a great job of showing how Sam sometimes is conflicted when she doesn’t want to show that, how depressed Sam is during each “new” day, and how she can be really sweet.  Sam is really the only character who gets massive amounts of screen time, but I didn’t think any of the other characters were badly acted.  We just didn’t see a lot of them.

The one thing I will say that I noticed as a difference from book to movie is that it does feel rushed.  With Sam reliving the same day over and over, you wouldn’t think there’s anything really missing.  But there is.  Like, when Sam finally starts to figure everything out, I felt like we were rushing through what was the most poignant part of the movie.  I wanted more than I was getting.

But overall, it’s worth a watch, whether or not you’ve read the book.

Tweet Heart

First Lines: Welcome to Twitter, Bear!  Let the boy-stalking (ahem, following!) begin.

This was on my to-read list for a few years.  I always wanted to get around to it because it’s told entirely through tweets, emails, and blog posts.  I wanted to see how the story would translate.  So I bought it at a sale and read it.

Claire is a hopeless romantic.  She wants Mr. Right and she doesn’t want to settle for less.  Lottie, Claire’s BFF, is determined to set her up with the hottest guy in school.  Will wants his crush to finally notice him.  And Bennett has a plan.  Claire can’t believe it when her dream guy starts following her on Twitter.  He’s never shown interest in her before, until now.  But Twitter can be a harsh place when people act differently online than they do in person.

First of all, I want to say that the format was really cool.  I liked reading all the tweets, all the personal messages the characters had with each other.  It was like seeing the story from 3-4 different perspectives.  Plus, the tweet format was just different and interesting.  It did take a little time to get used to, but it helped make the story a very quick read.

But the plot didn’t really have a lot to it that was exciting.  It’s a pretty cliche story.  I can’t tell if it was done that way intentionally or not.  I mean, having a new format to the story could really throw some readers for a loop.  A simple story helps highlight the format and makes it easier to understand.  But the story was exactly like so many rom-coms, and not a good one at that.

I did like the characters, especially when they were being witty with each other.  Like how Bennett and Lottie seem to hate each other and it comes out in varying degrees of sarcasm.  That’s fun.  Claire has a kind of innocence to her that was charming, but it also seemed a little overplayed.  And Will…well, he may have been the best character of the bunch.

It was cute as a way to experiment with writing a story in a new way, but it wasn’t a terribly exciting story.

If I Stay (The Movie)

Hi, lovelies!  I am SO EXCITED to share with you what I thought of If I Stay!  I went with a couple of my best friends and let’s just say it was something none of us will forget for a while.

(Do I really need to do a blurb for what this is about?  Ok, I’ll make this quick.  Girl & her family are in a car crash, girl needs to decide if she wants to stay or if she wants to move on to the next world with her family.  DONE.)

Right.  So as you may recall, I reread this book a few weeks ago to prep for this.  If you’re looking for a 100% faithful adaptation, this isn’t quite it.  It does stay very faithful to the story, absolutely, but it does take some liberties.  And in a way, I almost think I liked this more than the book.  (*Gasp!*)  Let me explain.

First of all, as if we didn’t already know this, Chloe Grace Moretz is a genius and she plays Mia in a way that is honest and heartfelt.  You know what Mia’s feeling because you can see it on her face.  Her Mia is shy and self-conscious and still free-spirited when she wants to be.  

And Jamie Blackley (Adam)…he was a joy to watch and not just because he’s good looking, though that certainly didn’t hurt anything.  This Adam was full of raw emotions that he usually unleashed through his music, but he was also somewhat aloof.  And he’s such a charmer, almost always saying the perfect thing at the right time.

Right.  So casting was great, not just for these two.  The movie stays true to the book in that it flips between the present and the past.  As my friend put it, “It feels you up with joy [the past] and then it rips your heart out [the present] and then it does it again.”  It’s so true.  Whenever you start feeling emotional, it jumps to something a little happier.  For the first half of the movie, that keeps you away from the tissues.  After that, though…

One thing this movie does is it elaborates on the other perspectives in the story.  We learn more about Mia’s parents.  We learn more about Adam’s history (which may be in Where She Went and I just don’t remember it).  These things are small, but they add so much heart to the story.

I have to say it.  There’s one thing this movie does way better than the book, simply because of its medium: the music.  It’s one thing to read about Adam and Mia playing their respective instruments.  It’s entirely another to be blown away by Mia’s playing or Adam’s vocals.  As someone who has never been musically gifted beyond singing, it’s so cool to see and hear musicians at their best.

A requirement of this movie is that you must have tissues.  It hits everyone in the theatre.  Throughout the movie, there were sniffles coming from all directions.  And it seemed to hit people at different times too.  I know what affected me deeply wasn’t the same as what affected my friends.  For nearly the entire second half of the movie, you will be crying with brief reprieves along the way.  My friends and I left the movie feeling emotionally drained, but in a good way.  It’s a touching movie with so many tender moments that just rip your heart out.

I highly recommend this movie.  Just know that you’re gonna be a hot mess by the time you leave the theatre.

All I Need

First Lines: “Something’s going to happen tonight,” Adrienne says.  “I can feel it.”

It was so good that I saved this to read after reading Unhinged.  Seriously.  I needed something easy and normal after that.  This was perfect for that.

Skye figures this summer is going to be just as boring as the last summer, until she meets Seth.  Seth is perfect for her.  They feel an instant connection to each other.  But they don’t even know each other’s last name, and certainly don’t know any contact information.  Skye wonders if she was the only one who felt the connection, but she can’t get Seth out of her head.  And when they find each other again, can they make a long distance relationship work?

I’ll start by saying that I got out of this what I expected to get out of it.  It’s fluff, plain and simple.  And I knew that going in.  But just because it’s fluff doesn’t mean it can’t be good.  It was great for being a quick, easy summer read.

I liked that Skye and Seth were pretty much your average teenagers, and I really appreciated that Seth was college age so they could explore college in this book.  Not many YA books delve into college beside characters thinking about where they want to apply.

However, Skye and Seth have a Wesley-and-Buttercup level of belief in true love.  Which is fine.  I myself have some faith in the idea of true love, but certainly not to this level.  It was almost a little ridiculous.

I also really like that this tackled long distance relationships as well, because, again, I  don’t think too many YA books really look into that.  As someone who has spent more months than I care to mention in a long distance relationship (and subsequently watched it crash and burn from the separation), I absolutely understand the dark side of distance.  And this book showed some of that too.

I noticed it was hard for me to really pin down either of their personalities.  Being just over 200 pages, this book is a fast read.  And that means little character development.  It was just hard for me to figure out who the characters were as people.  I thought that was something that could have been improved.

Overall, I think it’s just a cute summer romance.  Great for a beach read, but don’t expect to get much more than that out of it.