A Pinch of Ooh La La by Renee Swindle

29 Sep

 

A Pinch of Ooh La La

Author : renee swindle

pages : [paperback] 336

favorite character : bendrix &

summary :

To get to happily ever after, sometimes you need to start from scratch….

Abbey Ross, who runs her own bakery in Oakland, California, is known for her visually stunning wedding cakes. But lately, Abbey’s own love life has become stale. According to her best friend, Bendrix, Abbey’s not the spontaneous young woman she was when they were teenagers listening to the Cure and creating attention-grabbing graffiti. Of course, her failed relationship with a womanizing art forger might have something to do with that. Nevertheless, it’s time for Abbey to step out of the kitchen—and her comfort zone—and Bendrix has even handpicked a man for her to date.

Samuel Howard is everything Abbey’s dreamed of: handsome, successful, and looking to raise a family. But a creamy icing might be needed to hide a problem or two. When Samuel complains about disrespect for the institution of marriage, Abbey’s reminded of her nontraditional family, with thirteen children from various mothers. And when Samuel rails about kids having kids, Abbey thinks of her twenty-year-old sister who’s recently revealed her pregnancy.

Soon Abbey is facing one disaster after another and struggling to make sense of it all. Her search for love has led her down a bitter path, but with the help of her unique family and unwavering friends, she just might find the ooh la la that makes life sweet.

review :

A Pinch of Ooh La La has good ideas, yet doesn’t execute them well. I went into the book thinking it’d be a cutesy story about Abbey’s search for love as well as finding herself. Unfortunately I was disappointed with how this book played out.

Abbey is nearing forty and sees her chance to be a mother ticking away as time goes on. There’s no harm in her worry because I think that she’d be a wonderful mother; seeing the way she interacted with her younger siblings as well as nieces and nephews only confirmed that. But she’s much too eager to find a man to ‘complete’ her life, especially when she’s doing very well on her own and has had terrible experiences with men in the past. Enter online dating (as it always happens in novels, she’s forced into it by her friends; I’ve never seen a story where online dating is the woman’s idea) and finally Samuel. He’s gorgeous, successful, and is quite nice to her. Unfortunately, as soon as Abbey meets him in the book, that’s when the plot begins to get awkward. She goes on a few dates with him and all of a sudden the novel skips ahead nine months. Then it starts skipping years. When I picked up this book I never imagined that the plot was going to cover such an enormous time span! It felt too forced and I couldn’t grasp how characters were developing when we weren’t given a chance to see them.

I also didn’t enjoy how predictable this novel was. While I really did like Abbey’s character, I didn’t understand some of the things that she put up with. She had such a strong family preaching great values to her, even if they were an unconventional family, that I can’t fathom some of her decisions. I’m not going to spoil anything, but during the novel I knew that I’d be extremely mad if it didn’t end the way that I was thinking it should. Some of the relationships in this book just aren’t healthy and it’s frustrating when characters, through no explanation, deal with insulting circumstances without a fight.

While I do think that so much could have been done with this book, I’m not sure that others will like it more than I did. Perhaps people who are older, closer to Abbey’s age, might enjoy reading such a novel because it does end with a good message. I particularly appreciated that. Yet for now, I think I’d say to skip this book.

2/5 stars

Book to Movie: The Maze Runner

28 Sep

I’ve been so excited for this movie! When I first read the book, it was back when young adult movie adaptations were just getting started (think Twilight) and I was so sure that The Maze Runner was going to see the spotlight one day. I’m so excited that I got to see the movie on the day that it came out, after years of waiting!

I’d definitely recommend checking out the trailers for this movie because I think they did a fantastic job capturing some of the suspense and intrigue that really make this trilogy special. I’m no expert on film but really loved the angles used and how those few minutes really captured the emotion of the book as well as the movie.

Our leading man, Thomas,  is played by Dylan O’Brien. I’ve only seen a few episodes of Teen Wolf and he has a small appearance in The Internship but I always had it in my mind that he was a great actor so I was excited when I heard that he was Thomas. I think he did a fantastic job creating Thomas’ character even through the confusion and memory loss Thomas experiences. Because I haven’t seen O’Brien much on screen, I think that also made it easier for me to imagine him as that character.

The same was true for most of the boys. Some of them began to get mixed up with one another (because in a pack of all boys, things can get confusing) but overall I was happy with the group. Chuck was appropriately adorable. Alby was a great leader. I wish that we’d gotten to see a little more of Minho and Newt. Also, it’d been a while since I read the book, so I completely forgot Frypan’s name and they never directly introduced him in the movie. I was sitting there in the theater thinking, What are they calling him? Fred? Frank? until it clicked.

As with all book to movie adaptations, I was terrified that The Maze Runner was going to tear apart one of my favorite books. Instead, it showed off some scenes that looked absolutely amazing done in film. I think that the Grievers were awesome and terrifying, even though they were nothing like what I’d pictured in my head (think Robosnail from Rugrats, except smaller and more terrifying). The maze scenes were awesome, with all of those moving parts and great effects. The Glade was less impressive but I think that’s because it can do nothing but pale in comparison to the awe of the maze.

There were some parts of the book that were completely left out. I won’t point out anything very specific because I think you could watch the film, like it, and then go to the book to get another great story that’s slightly different. There was so much between Thomas and Teresa that just wasn’t included, so I don’t know how they’ll skirt around that when it comes to the next movie. I think that overall I wasn’t too annoyed by anything that was taken out of the film because it’s been so long since I’ve read the book. I’ve learned my lesson not to reread the book right before the movie or I’m almost guaranteed to dislike the film!

The great thing about reading the book before the movie? You get to enjoy the theater’s reaction to a plot twist you know is coming. Yeah, maybe I was a little too smug, looking to see how my friends who hadn’t read the book were reacting to what was happening. There was a particularly funny part for me when everyone thought the movie was over, but I knew that the action was just getting started. I feel like with The Maze Runner, which absolutely thrives on plot twists, there’s never any way of knowing where the story’s going to go next.

The ending disappointed me a little. I hate enjoying an adaptation and then leaving the theater unsatisfied because they just needed to change up the ending. It happened with The Giver. Divergent. Now The Maze Runner. The end is important because it’s the last thing I get before I leave so of course I want it to be on a great note. Not that I’m saying they completely changed the end of this; they just left it off at a different part and didn’t go quite as far with the plot as the book does, which is annoying.

Overall, I was so impressed with The Maze Runner that I need the sequel immediately. I’ve heard that they’re planning to make one, but it isn’t coming until 2016. How can I wait that long? If this movie does well in the box office, I’m hoping that means The Scorch Trials will have an even better budget for a greater movie–not that I’m saying the visual effects in this first installment didn’t impress. Far from it. The maze was terrifying realistic and the Grievers . . yep, part of my nightmares now.

I’d recommend this movie to fans of the book, those unsure of whether they want to read the series, and people looking for a movie filled with suspense and action. This is a book that I read and thought would be even cooler as a movie. I’m glad that the film proved me right.

Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Promise Part 2

27 Sep

 

The Promise Part 2

Part 1 Review

by : Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, Gurihiru, Bryan Konietzko

pages : [paperback] 76

favorite characters : zuko & sokka

summary :

The Avatar’s greatest adventure continues!

Aang and Katara work tirelessly to prevent a dispute between Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei that could plunge the world back into war! Meanwhile, Sokka helps Toph prepare her hapless first class of metalbending students to defend their school against a rival class of firebenders!

review :

The Gaang is back in this second installment to a trilogy of graphic novels. The art and characters are as beautiful and captivating as ever! It’s wonderful to see how Aang and his crew are doing after the conclusion of the television series. If you’re a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, you should get your hands on this second installment of The Promise. If you’ve yet to see the TV show, you’re missing out on so much fun, adventure, and excitement!

What I really liked about this book was getting to know how Aang will deal with conflicts in the future, as he really comes into his own as the Avatar. He’s supposed to be the peacekeeper, yet that’s kind of an impossible task when two sides of the conflict assure him that it would end if he’d do completely different things. While Aang is still young in this book, he’s wiser and usually has Katara around to either guide him or help him find a safe space for him to think. Then he’ll be able to make decisions that will be best for all involved.

I also really liked seeing Zuko interact with his father. It’s only a small part of this book but I could sense so much emotion and tension boiling down to those moments when he speaks to Ozai in his cell. Zuko is a great character; I love that he’s flawed and is still trying to find a way to the light, though he isn’t entirely ready or equipped to abandon his family yet.

I’m excited for the last book in this trilogy and am looking forward to picking up more of these graphic novels. It’s exciting to see the characters again and they’re so well done. I love how they fit in so well with the show and capture the characters wonderfully!

5/5 stars

Have you read these books? Do you want to read them? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

25 Sep

Something Real

author : heather demetrios

pages : [hardcover] 403

favorite characters : benny & chloe

memorable quote You can’t screw up your own suicide and then expect the universe to give you presents wrapped in the skin of a wonderful boy. That’s just not the way it works.

summary :

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

review :

I typically wouldn’t pick up a book like this. I selectively watch reality TV but reading a book about it just didn’t sound very fun. Then I saw how high a rating this book had on Goodreads and I also know that Heather Demetrios is going to be in the area soon as I wanted to read some of her work. I’m really glad that I gave this book a chance. Something Real proves that you should sometimes reach for books outside of your reading comfort zone!

Bonnie™ has a trademarked name, a stepfather who seems a little too eager to get on camera, and twelve siblings, most of which have been adopted. Her life would be crazy enough if it weren’t constantly filmed to make the reality show Baker’s Dozen. Her life has been on screen so much that she refers to her memories as being in season thirteen or season seven instead of simply saying she was thirteen or seven when something happened. Before the scandal that cancelled the show, Bonnie hadn’t known a normal life. Even her birth had been filmed! Now that the show’s been off for four years, she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to handle it when her family takes over television again.

I really felt for Bonnie–or Chloe, as she preferred to be called when the show was off the air–because her descriptions of life on a reality show were giving me anxiety and I didn’t even need to live through them! Her most embarrassing moments have been captured in film, seen by millions, and are preserved forever. She constantly has cameras in her face and the paparazzi won’t even let her have a normal life outside of the house. Something Real also shows how reality shows aren’t so real after all. Producer Chuck is one of our villains in this story, micromanaging every scene and changing conversations and events so that the show can have product placements or create more drama that wouldn’t have genuinely happened.

I also really enjoyed the romance in this novel. Patrick is very swoon-worthy, simply from the way he looks after Bonnie and wants her happiness and safety above all else. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, something that added to the drama of the plot but also an aspect that made this contemporary romance more realistic. No relationship is perfect, especially one in high school where the two partners are plagued by paparazzi. There were scenes between Bonnie and Patrick that were just so incredibly cute, it added to their charm.

While I realize that it would have been impossible to feature all of Bonnie’s twelve siblings in the novel, I wish we’d gotten to know some of them better. Bonnie heavily converses with the two closest to her in age, twins Lexie and Benny. The others were young but I feel like they could have had individual character, not lumped into a generic crowd of kids doing childlike things.

I’d really recommend this book to anyone looking for a cute, fun read. This went by very quickly and had me fall in love with Heather Demetrios’ writing style. I’m definitely going to pick up more by this author!

5/5 stars

Review : Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1

20 Sep

Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Promise – Part One

by : Gene Luen Yang, Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino, Gurihiru (Artist)

pages : [paperback] 76

favorite characters : sokka & zuko

favorite art :

summary :

The war is over…but the adventure has just begun!

Picking up exactly where Avatar: The Last Airbender left off. The Promisetakes Aang to a Fire Nation colony in the heart of the Earth Nation, where tensions between neighbors threaten to shatter the world’s newfound peace–putting the Avatar on a collision course with one of his closest friends, Fire Lord Zuko!

review :

I absolutely love Avatar: The Last Airbender. I remember begging to be able to watch TV a little later just so I could catch episodes. Those were the dreaded days when I wasn’t able to record everything on a DVR, so sometimes my episode watching was a little sporadic. Luckily, a lot of them don’t need to be watched in order, and they’re so much fun that you don’t even realize they’re mostly filler episodes. It’s amazing. They’re amazing. I continue to be impressed and captivated by this series. If you’ve never had the chance to wait it, just do it. You’ll never regret it. Then please discuss Avatar with me.

I’ve known for a long while that comics/graphic novels were coming out detailing events after the series but never picked them up. I recently had the chance to check out a few of them and read through the three portions of The Promise very quickly. I can’t wait to get to the next set of graphic novels!

The Promise takes place after the conclusion of the series. If you don’t want to be spoiled on the TV show, don’t pick up these books just yet!

Aang is still trying to bring balance to the world. Zuko is trying to be a better person and is anxious to prevent himself from following in the footsteps of his father. I loved how I could easily imagine and feel the emotions these two were going through, while they interacted as well as when they were apart. They’re the two most prominent in The Promise – Part One because tension is rising between citizens of different nations and the duo are now in positions of power. Of course, they’re still both young and are going to make mistake along the way.

This first part does a great job of building up suspense so that I immediately wanted to know what was going to happen next in this trilogy. Familiar faces from the TV show keep popping up. The longer you read, the more characters you’ll know! It was perfect, how all of these futures are beginning to intertwine and I don’t feel like any of it was forced at all.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of Avatar. It’s beautiful art, great writing, and best of all immerses us in that world all over again. I really don’t understand why I waited so long to read this for myself.

4/5 stars

Favorite Book Friday: Emily from Emily’s Life Lessons!

19 Sep
favorite book friday
Hey everyone! It’s Friday again, which not only means the weekend but a lovely post by a wonderful blogger! Today Emily is on the blog to talk about a few of her top books. Let’s all give her a warm welcome!
~  ~  ~
About Emily :
I am a college senior learning to be a elementary school teacher. I began my blog in the hopes that other people would be able to learn from some of the same life experiences other college students have. I have two sayings that motivate me in my life: If It’s Meant to Be and Just Breathe.
Guest Post :

Starting from when we were traveling throughout the summer, I went through at least three books and stayed strong. I love to read for fun and I rarely have time for it during the year. It is something I wish I continued doing. Instead of watching TV before bed I am not reading books. The summer was a odd and somewhat convoluted combination of books. They ranged from funny and entertaining to books about teaching experiences and theories of education. These were my top four books I read this summer:

1) “Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? [and Other Concerns]” by Mindy Kaling

This book was beyond hysterical. I have yet to see The Mindy Project but now I really want to. Her voice is so funny and everything she talks about is spot on. I know I am not the first one to write about how amazing this book is, in fact most of my friends read it months ago. This is one book I loved having with me while we were traveling and I almost missed having it over summer for the main reason being I couldn’t re-read it.

2) “Lucky Us” by Amy Bloom

When I got back from my trip I unpacked the box that Her Campus Nationals had sent me. As a campus correspondent, I was fortunate enough to get the shipment of the rewards for reaching a platinum level chapter. There was a ton of cool stuff in there but this book was the best one in my opinion. It was an early release copy and I think I’ll save the full book review for our chapter’s page come in a few weeks but I wanted to rave about it. The premise behind the book isn’t exactly new and the struggles the sisters go through sounds kind of like a movie but you fall in love with the characters. In my opinion a good book is a book that makes you feel bad for the hero and want the villain to get their just desserts. In this sense, the book was a success. I did enjoy the book and it’s a great, easy pool-side or beach read.

3) “I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had” by Tony Danza

I LOVED this book. Even for those non-teachers this book is extremely engaging. We all definitely had those teachers we felt bad for when we found out it was their first year and teachers who made a difference in our lives. His recollection of his experience as a first year teacher is amazing. As a future teacher I got so much insight into how to make your first year easier and laughed as some of the stories he tells. After reading I wish I had him as a teacher!

4) “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality” by Charles Murray

This book was very philosophical and technical so I don’t know if I would suggest it as an easy summer read for someone who isn’t so in the know about education. However, if you are interested in learning briefly about what is wrong with the school’s nowadays, this is a great book to read. Murray is very clear about how he feels and explains potentially confusing terminology. I have taken an interest into reading books on this subject. As a future teacher I feel the need to be in the know of what other people say is wrong with the school systems and how they believe teachers should help fix these problems. I have many more books along these lines but this read was a great introduction for me!

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~  ~  ~

Thanks Emily! I’ve yet to read any of these books but they sound so interesting and very different from each other. I’ll really have to check them out.

Interested in writing a post about your favorite books? Email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail dot com!

Want to read about more books to add to your to be read pile? Check out the other bloggers who’ve participated in FBF:

~Tiffany from Commoner Couture

~Alaska from Alaska Renee

~Leah from Leah of the Pack

~ Vanessa from A City Girl’s Guide to Life

~Erika from Bearika Rose

~Frances from Wanderlust Notes

~Chloe from Wanderlust in the Midwest

~Sophie from A Series of Tomfooleries

~Maddie from Caramel and Salt

~Sarah from A Rose in the City

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

17 Sep

 

Wonderstruck

author : brian selznick [also wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret]

pages : [hardcover] 640

memorable quote : Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for.”

favorite character : rose

summary :

Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for his unknown father. Rose scrapbooks a famous silent actress. When Ben finds clues and Rose reads enticing news, the children independently run to New York for what they are missing. Ben’s story in words, Rose’s in pictures, come together in deafness.

review :

I was absolutely fascinated by the idea that this story was told half in words, half pictures. I read and loved Hugo Cabret before, written by the same author, and loved how what was told in the text was visually represented. Wonderstruck is different because Ben’s story is told completely in words while Rose’s is only in pictures, so her tale is a little more difficult to piece together. The two narratives also take place in different times so it was awesome to see little historical bits about the 1970s and 1920s. It was also very fun to guess at why the two of them were chosen to tell the story and to try to figure out how they may be connected. While I kind of guessed the answer by the end, it still had a little surprise!

This book is very large but it’s such a quick read! If you have a few hours one afternoon you could easily get through this massive novel. I think younger readers might be daunted, at least until they see that most of the pages are taken up by pictures or large text. I breezed through this and though I needed to stop a few times to read my actual homework, this was much more fun to page through.

What I really liked about this novel, and think that there should be more of, was the fact that prominent characters are deaf. I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a novel with a deaf person in it. While I don’t know much about Deaf culture, I would love to learn sign language, so it was also very cool to see sign language in a few of the pictures throughout the novel.

Even though I was captivated by the concept of the story, loved that there was such a fascination with museums in the novel, and really enjoyed some pieces of the plot, this isn’t one of my favorite books. I’m not sure if I’ll read it again, now that the fun of it has worn off. I definitely think it’s the kind of story that some people might like better than I could. Ben and Rose seemed hard for me to relate to and so I wasn’t as drawn into their story as I should have been. While I wanted a happy ending, there was no real excitement in the story that had me craving more. It was simply a nice story.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, interesting read. It isn’t a favorite but I’m still very glad that I read it.

3.5/5 stars

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