The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Now, I’m having a harder time searching as I dig through my memory of books I’ve read. I wanted to weigh the good with the bad and make sure I had more good than bad, but it seems I’m beginning to run short on the books I’ve loved. That pile is dwindling, whilst my to read, half-read, and almost finished piles are mocking me.

Forgive me for such a long hiatus on posting. I’ve been ill and in this illness I have begun a most unfortunate, all-consuming habit of watching entire TV show seasons in very few sittings. But, today, I glanced up at my shelf, and saw this old friend sitting up there, completely coated with dust, and the story came rushing back to me.

I read this book when I was in high school, I couldn’t begin to remember which year, but it was later in my career after I had been dragging my feet about reading anything but Harry Potter. This was a daunting task, such a long book, but I had managed to read longer. (aka Harry Potter)

My french teacher who was a terrific, talented and fiery red-head, had chosen to show us the 2002 film, The Count of Monte Cristo. I loved it. It was fantastic, it even had Dumbledore in it! (Richard Harris, the original Dumbledore from the first two films, who unfortunately died before the rest were made. *Side note* Richard Harris was a terrific actor most notable films that I remember him from were Camelot, Gladiator, and the 3 aforementioned films)

After seeing the film I came across my mother’s copy of the book and thought “Why not!”

If you like revenge, treasure, and sword fights, I’d say yes to this one. Edmond Dantes is a sailor who was simply too-trusting, and at the wrong place, at the wrong time. He nobly attempts to save the life of his dying Captain and unwittingly becomes the accomplice to treason. He is ripped from his fiancè and family, and locked away in the deepest, darkest prison where they keep those people they want forgotten.

It is a winding complex tale that shows you how an innocent man vows to take back his life and destroy those who so wrongly imprisoned him. It takes a little patience, intellect, and a good friend with a very special secret.

When I think of this book, I remember the points where it deviated from the movie, which I had seen first. There were LOTS of cuts for time in the film, but I believe the spirit of the story remains the same, if in fact, better in the movie. Edmond’s revenge is so much sweeter and more complete in the movie than in the book, but it is worth it to decide for yourself. Perhaps I have been biased by seeing the movie first.

I would recommend this book to those revenge lovers out there, because sometimes Justice needs to be served to those claiming to dish it out.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This is the review that might get me in a little bit of trouble. I have danced around it for a while and I felt that it was time to just strap in and hold on and just DO IT!

The first book (The Hunger Games)  was fantastic! This book changed me. It really got inside my head and made me pay attention to the world I live in now. I stopped wearing make-up. I began wearing my hair in a braid to keep it off my face. I stopped shopping. I began appreciating all the things I had. This book really made me change my perspective. Katniss is stubborn, strong, willed, and humble. She’s happy enough to stay in the background. She doesn’t want power, she doesn’t crave attention, she merely wants to survive. But, what makes Katniss so great is the evil, the villian behind her. Panem is a great villain. And by Panem, I mean, all of it. The structure, the government, the people that make it up, the Capitol, President Snow, the games, the Gamemaker, all of the moving parts and pieces make a terrific background. They strike fear and frustration. They carefully confine and control by forcing the citizens to give up their children for a death match. Brilliant! (Though not an original idea of Collins’, but we won’t get into that)

The first book ended and I thought, ” This is great! I bet the next one is amazing!” And like every middle book, it was a bridge connecting the end and beginning. Like a middle child, it wasn’t the favorite, it was merely the book to get you to the next one. I instantly bought Mockingjay on my Kindle because it was 3 am and I couldn’t wait, I had to know what happened next.

At 4 am the following morning I had a Bradley Cooper, Silverlinings Playbook moment. ….

If it had not been on my Kindle I would have most definitely thrown the book across my room.

Here is my defense of why I despised Mockingjay.

  1. The last 50 or so pages of the book was a  lot like the last page in every single one of my college papers. I got tired, I didn’t want to explain myself anymore, I just wanted it to be over. For a writer this is possibly a true statement, as a reader you don’t want a story to end, not really.
  2. Katniss gave up. She quit caring, at least that’s how I felt, and as a result I quit caring too.
  3. My, at the time, 8 year old brother could write a better ending.
  4. I refuse to believe that we are doomed to repeat ourselves. I refuse to accept that things cannot change. I may be delusional, or idealistic, or whatever, but we prize history so as not to repeat it. If we forget our history, that is when we are sentenced to repeat it.
  5. Katniss is a static character. AFTER EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED! she doesn’t change. She remains petulant, stubborn, and trapped within the same thinking that we began the story with. I get that she’s tortured by everything that happened. Few people could or would be able to function and be happy after what she has been forced to do and see. She never HAS to make a decision, she just kind of lays down and accepts her fate. She quits fighting. I feel like this in conjunction with the previous reason is why she just kind of lays down at the end.
  6. There was no hope.

I am a romantic. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am a romantic. I romanticize everything. I realize I see things differently than others, but I require hope. I need it to breathe. Without hope there is nothing.

I feel that Suzanne Collins did a great disservice to her readers. Everyone may not feel this way, and that is okay. We have our own tastes, experiences, and opinions. Thank God for that! If we were all the same, we would be boring.

I have occasionally discouraged the reading of these books. When people ask me about them I give them caution. I will not discourage anyone from reading, but I do wish to prepare you as a reader. So proceed with caution and a guarded heart.

-Kelly

Divergent on the BIG SCREEN

I realize this is not wholly a book review, but seeing as it is book related I wanted to share my thoughts.

As you know, I reviewed the Divergent series as a whole not too long ago. I was so devastated by the last book, that I had given up on the series. I saw the trailers and clips from the movie and failed to be excited. After all, the book had tainted me, and the clips and trailers made the movie look so CHEESY. After the pitiful failure of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to live up to the epicness of the books and my expectations of a book-movie adaptation– {I can talk about that movie later, if desired. It was not a visual, or acting failure, but a writing failure and drive the be original with an UN-original idea [DON'T TRY TO REWRITE A CLARE] } –I was a little, okay, that’s a lie, I was A LOT distrustful of this movie adaptation.

I was SO PLEASANTLY SURPRISED!! If you have, or haven’t read this book, GO SEE THIS MOVIE! I asked my friends who had and hadn’t read it and, overall, it was a pleaser! Friends who hadn’t read the book were suddenly inspired to do so! <<<THIS I THINK IS THE SINGLE GREATEST EFFORT OF A MOVIE! Books will always be better. Nothing can really top your imagination, but we are drawn to see things in physical manifestation. We desire it almost as much as we desire to see it in our heads for ourselves. Books allow us to dive further into psyche and character of well, the characters. Movies give us proper visuals of how things happened, or a least they should.

This movie, in contrast to today’s movie-book adaptations as a whole, deviated very little from the book. Some very small things were omitted for time purposes and to preserve the understanding of the storyline. Movies tend to be a little less complicated in terms of plot so that it is easier to follow. The ending was shifted slightly, though I’m not sure it was the best move, it didn’t exactly ruin the movie. Small changes were made to make it, I suppose slightly more dramatic, or as I like to say, Hollywood-ified. They changed it to make the heroine a little more victorious. Take it as you will. [It didn't change the plot of the book or the next one *cough cough* Mortal Instruments movie]

Nonetheless, it was all around a very impressive book-movie adaptation. My faith was slightly restored in the movie industry. I loved Divergent, and to see it done well on the Big Screen made me so HAPPY! It will bring in more readers and that to me means success! As much as I disliked Allegiant, I do think Roth deserves to have her series do well. Perhaps it will inspire her to write again, to bring to us something new, and maybe this time she will give readers a book or series that has a proper, fitting, appropriate, well- thought-out ending.

-Kelly

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This is, perhaps, much different reading material than I have been reviewing. It’s honestly much different than what I normally read. It was after the first movie came out with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law that I became interested in reading this. The idea of a completely inseparable, crime-fighting dynamic duo made me want to know the “real” Sherlock Holmes.

I showed the movie to my grandfather, who is perhaps, one of the most intelligent people I know. It’s hard to find a movie that doesn’t have Clint Eastwood in it that he likes. He loved it! He told me that it was the best Sherlock Holmes interpretation he’s seen. He loved the way that Dr. Watson wasn’t just a bumbling idiot, or a overweight writing assitant, he was elevated to almost Sherlock’s equal, making up for Sherlock’s excentricities in his own mundaneness, but leveling him out and making Sherlock see the more normal sight of us mere mortals. Watson became as much a hero as Sherlock himself.

[This is where I spin off on a tangent of telling you how magnificently brilliant the BBC Sherlock television series is and how if you have yet to watch it you should drop EVERYTHING that you're doing and watch it! You won't be sorry at all]

Anyway, I was telling you about how I got interested in reading these stories.

The full collection is round abouts several THOUSAND pages. And I will claim to have yet to finish both volumes, but I can say this.

I have, according to my kindle (because I have this in hard copy and eBook so I can ALWAYS have it with me) finished 30% of the collection. This is less than half I realize, but I can tell you from the multitude of the stories I’ve read I am just simply amazed.

No case is the same.

I can NEVER guess the ending.

The technical aspect of this writing is phenomenal.

I struggled through the language used. I fumbled over the sentences. But I have noticed the improvements of my understanding. I enjoy being challenged by this book. It takes me twice as long to read it as my normal material, but it’s worth it. My understanding and problem solving has improved and I love to see the new things coming to light. I enjoy the mystery. I thrill over the might of Sherlock’s deductive skills, and wish and wish for his corporeal existence. What a man! What a character!

I would say there is really no age group inappropriate for these. It does take skill to read, but it is worth the hard-fought reading, the wait in mystery, and the overall charm, wit, and prowess of Sherlock and Dr. Watson.

A must read, indeed!

-Kelly

I DID IT! I promise I won’t do it again!

So, recently I was checking back over my reviews, and I realized something–a delayed sort of light bulb moment–I have not been properly citing the book titles!

EGAD! I honestly can’t believe it. Afterwards my English-o-mometer was going all crazy.

I have been doing these titles and authors a disservice. My most honest apologies. From here and forward I will try my best to remember my hard-fought English grammar. I will admit I’ve been out of the traditional paper-writing circle for a little while. My last years of college were spent toiling over how to cite particular works of art, (and books are works of art, but Art History focuses more on sculpted, painted, mix-media, well, let’s not open up those worms). They vary, just slightly, although really it isn’t a good excuse, you cite them much the same. I think it was mainly my freedom I now possess, seeing as I’m not turning these in for a grade anymore. School has molded me into expecting grades for everything.

Well, now that it has my attention. I promise I will try and right my wrongs.

That is all.

Have a lovely day!

-Kelly

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

With March now in the current, and the Divergent Movie just on the horizon, I can now fully review this series.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking of how best to approach this review.

I started reading these books after I was plagued by Book Hangover from The Mortal Instruments. I was struggling to find something to capture my attention, and I wanted desperately to lose myself inside another world.

I LOVED the first book! I instantly adored Tris. She’s a fighter, strong-willed and stubborn, but intelligent. Four was mysterious, rough, and surprising! The factions and the ideas evoked in me the constant nagging dislike for how the world “must be divided” that human nature leans and stays within the confines of these factions. I kept finding myself wanting to verbally shout, “NO ONE IS ONLY ONE THING!” And I think that is just how she wanted it.

The second book, Insurgent, was, I thought, equally good. The characters become bolder, more brazen, and begin finding themselves. They question the system, push the limits, and survive. you begin to see the range of deceit that cloaks the city, and you rally behind the characters search for truth.

Allegiant. I’m not entirely sure what happened. The whole time I read this book I kept thinking that I was reading some elaborate, long, fanfiction, and that the book was still yet to come out. I kept waiting for Roth to be like, “Just kidding, guys! Here’s the real conclusion!”

If anything, it was disappointing. The build of the action to the climax left much to be desired. I trudged through this book. I made myself sit and read it, the entire time wanting to claw out my eyes.

I won’t spoil it for you, but Roth broke a cardinal rule of novel-writing. I’m a firm believer in learning rules to break them, but you’re playing with fire. Chances of success are slim, less than 50% slim. If you pull it off, it can be amazing, incredible, and awe-inspiring. But, it can also blow up in your face.

Catastrophic novel- explosion.

As a reader, I am damaged from this book. And no, not it a horrific way,  and I’m NOT hating on Roth. I am not advocating for her demise, arrest, or anything like that. She is a fantastic writer. And she’s brave. She took a chance, and unfortunately it didn’t play out right. I do feel like the quality of the work suffered. I don’t know why or how, but writing a book isn’t exactly easy. Trust me. I’ve been trying.

With all that said. I did not like this book. If you want to read them, I suggest you stop at number 2 and use your imagination for the ending.

I now have trust issues with books. You know those cookies, that look like chocolate chip cookies, and then you bite down and expect pure perfection in your mouth but instead you get RAISINS!!

= Trust issues.

Thankfully after I finished this series I had the Shatter Me series to help with the rehab.

I can thankfully say I am doing very well. I even started a new book.

So, READERS, BEWARE! This book has tragedy for an ending, and not the good kind (like Romeo and Juliet, and if you think I’m crazy for that, it’s okay. I just enjoy a proper ending, one that feels right, and has a sense of conclusion. You’ll know it when you feel it.)

-Kelly

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I feel it appropriate to say that before I read this book I was a John Green virgin, which, after saying, I regret it. I had never read anything by John Green before. So, I started my journey with John Green with this book, which I must say out of the two I’ve read, this being one of them, I liked this one the best! (laugh, that was supposed to be funny, because obviously after reading two of his books, I’m a John Green expert [not])

I really did love this book. I picked it up after I had just walked across the stage in front an audience of about (and here I’m using the actual number for effect) 2,000, 1,000 of those being solely the graduates themselves in only the Arts and Sciences College (it was like purgatory for college students). I mention this because I had finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and that one hit a little too close to home for me, and just for clarification not me personally, but a family member of mine had a similar experience, we think, and it has never been resolved, but that’s for a later review.

Essentially my worldview was small at that moment. I longed to get away from the hurt and discomfort I had picked up from Chbosky, and I had heard such wonderful things about The Fault in Our Stars, and I had seen some videos from vlogbrothers (which if you haven’t checked out, you should, definitely!) so I knew of John Green. I knew he was a little wacky, crazy, childish, and just all around the most awesome human being/author to walk this side of the world, so I figured, you know, naturally, he has to be a pretty dang good writer.

I was so right.

First of all, I am used to crazy fantasy novels of dystopias and utopias, and dragons, and faeries, and ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc, the list goes on. By the title of this, I expected it to be fantastical and epic. (it was epic, but not in the way I thought)

It was so down to earth, hit you right in the feels (your heart, emotions, feelings, you get it) amazing. I’ve never had the misfortune, and I’ve been so lucky to not experience the true horrors of cancer. I’ve had two or so family members who were already at the very ends of their lives. I watched them suffer, I watched them waste, and I’ve seen the death and destruction and heartache it causes, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know how to feel it, or feel about it, especially within a subject young and vibrant, and meant to keep living.

My worldview was changed. I felt, after graduating, as if my life was just beginning. I was gonna be an actress. My lifelong dream. I was gonna learn to play guitar, and write a book, and I was on the cusp of my life, I didn’t have to rush, I had all the time in the world. These probably sound like aspirational goals, and I have yet to give up on them, but what this book made me realize was that, we’re always at the end of our lives. Right, there at the end of the string, it’s as far as we’ve gotten, and it’s not wrong to dream, it’s not wrong to aspire, but I’m at the end here, and I’ve got to do.

So I celebrate the little things, measure moments and try to make them last and memorable. I savor them. Because one day death, pain or suffering will all come knocking at our doors, and it doesn’t do, as the great Dumbledore said, “[to] dwell on dreams, and forget to live.”

So I’m living. I’m dreaming, and I’m doing. Thank you , John Green, J.K. Rowling, and all you authors out there who have shown me a perspective that has changed my life.

I highly recommend reading this book, perhaps beside a box of tissues, and maybe some anti-depressants.

-Kelly

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

So it’s been a while since I read this book, but I feel confident I remember enough to guide me through this review. I read this one over the summer after happening across a sale at a clothing store. I think I spent $5 or $6 on it. I read it whilst lounging by the pool enjoying some time off.

All my reviews up to this point have been of books I’ve loved. My goal here is not to book bash, but to provide people with my opinions of things I’ve read so that they may assess their own thoughts and tastes on a particular book.

So, now you’re prepared for me to tell you that I didn’t like this book.

Well, you are right, I didn’t.

We follow Ethan, whom, I didn’t expect, from everything I had heard and seen I definitely thought we were going to follow Lena. I was so sure this book would center on her, and in a way I guess it does, but we distinctly find ourselves inside the mind of Ethan.

I would try to give you a great summary of this book, but honestly, I can’t. There is so much that happens, and then doesn’t happen.

I can say that I think the connection between Lena and Ethan is really cool. They can communicate without talking, which I envy, I think that would be a super amazing to possess.

Next, both families of both kids are messed up and a complex web of lies and deceit. Then there’s all the history of Gatlin, the small southern town, that is very accurately southern and judgmental. I swear I liked and dealt with everything that happened up until the very end. And here’s where it went wrong.

1. TOO MUCH EXTRANEOUS DETAIL- there were quite a few scenes that could have been deleted to aide in the flow.

2. IT WAS SLOW. It was very slow, and thick, and drawn out, and didn’t FLOW smoothly.

3. I like surprise endings, I however, vehemently dislike the notion of history repeats itself. I don’t buy it, I don’t believe in it, I don’t like reading about it.

Does that make it wrong? No

I just didn’t like it, for much the same reason as I didn’t like Mockingjay and thought it was a huge disappointment, but that’s an issue for a later review of The Hunger Games.

The effort, time, and research that went into this novel, was incredible. I felt as if, though, they tried to do too much. This book is the first in a series of 4 books, there’s at least one novella that I know of as well, and I honestly couldn’t read the second. I started it, got all the way into Chapter 9 and stopped. I couldn’t read on.

I got so frustrated with Lena and Ethan that I no longer liked them, nor cared for what my happen to them. So, I stopped reading, and found something new to read.

I’m not saying this book was horrible, I’m not saying the characters are horrible, I’m not saying that the authors failed, which sometimes happens.

I only want to say that this book wasn’t for me. The things that made me want to care for Ethan and Lena were gone. Maybe it was too much time spent in frustration, maybe it was flow, maybe it was plot. Whatever it was, I chose to put this book down, and I have not since found the urge or desire to pick it back up.

I wouldn’t highly recommend this novel, but the greatest thing about humanity is free will, and you are welcome to test this one yourself!

-Kelly

Paper Towns by John Green

Okay, so book-wise Cassandra Clare and J.K. Rowling are my favorite authors. Their style and flow is incredible and I just adore the stories they have shared with us. But, as far as persona, sarcasm and just general weirdness goes I would have to say John Green is a favorite author of mine.

First, how he can get inside the head of these teenaged people so convincingly is just amazing. Boy and girl. (Applause) He really captures the thoughts and what it’s like to be a teenager without sugar coating it, without making it seem so glorious and ideal. He makes it real. In fact, I remember when I was in high school everything was LIFE or DEATH. It was all so serious, so dramatic, so…….dark. I wrote sad emo poetry, I carved shapes on my arm, mostly cause I wanted a cool-shaped scar. (I got it, by the way, a star on my wrist bone on the side of my arm, don’t ask. I really don’t get high school me anymore.)

So I just recently finished Paper Towns and I have to say I was honestly surprised.

1. At how totally not bored I was over the ordinary, mundane, day to day things a high schooler did.

2. At how cynical, sarcastic, and deep Green’s characters are.

You follow the mundane life of a Quentin Jacobson ( or maybe it’s Jacobsen) But he goes by Q which is why I can’t remember. Now of course Q has a crush on his next door neighbor Margo Roth Speigalman, (whose name you defintely won’t forget). Margo is pretty dang cool. She’s smart, mysterious, thoughtful (but not in the nice sense of that word), adventurous, wild and playing so many pretenses it’s killing her.

The story is dark and dramatic as you try to untangle the twisted web that Margo has left in her wake after fleeing her hometown to be on her own. Q is determined to find her and in the process realizes, well, maybe I shouldn’t spoil too much.

It’s a great book. The thoughts and emotions can apply to everyone at any point in their life, except I don’t think that I would read this too my little brother who is just in middle school, defintely a PG-13 rating.

John Green nevers just coasts on the surface of an issue he digs down deep and plays with it trying to figure it out and then he conquers it.

This book didn’t end how I thought it would, or really, even remotely the way I wanted it to, but I found peace with that. I respected the ending for what it was. I hoped and wished it was different, but I still respected how it resovled, or maybe didn’t resolve.

All the characters go through an intense metamorphasis. At least all the main ones. I love dynamic characters and in this Green gives you a whole handful!

I approve this BOOK! Go forth and READ!

And also check out vlogbrothers on youtube, you won’t be disappointed.

-Kelly

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

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Three books just really weren’t enough. These books require bits of your soul, so be prepared. Can you sacrifice for these books? I had a box of tissues at the ready for the last two books, Clockwork Princess left me in a mountain of used tissues and I had to set it down a few times because I could no longer read through all the tears, the words were blurry.

I jokingly call this series the Soul-crusher series because there was so much heartache and suffering and man was it all WORTH IT!

So, here are some things you need to know.

1.There’s a love triangle, BUT DO NOT FEAR Clare knew just how to do it, and do it right. I’ve read a lot of books, and there are a lot of love triangles out there, BUT

NONE CAN COMPARE (*insert booming Genie voice*)

It really is truly unique.

2. Clare is fantastic with weaving a complex web of secrets. I’m amazed how she can plan and keep it all straight.

3. This series will change your life.

At least it did for me. As per Clare style, there is mounds of action, plenty of deceit, loads of suffering, mistakes, rivialries, fires, vampires, werewolves,demons, AND Will Herondale. SWOON! He is perhaps my favorite character of all time, and if you ask anyone who has read these, they will likely say the same.

These books take place 200 prior to The Mortal Instruments, but we still catch some glimpses of some familiar faces! The crossovers are fabulous, and heartbreaking and heart mending. Be prepared for the full spectrum of human emotion.

We meet another great heroine, Tessa, who is smart, brave, honest, and terribly alone. Every character is dimensional! Supporting characters are amazing, and the villain is, again, super amazing! Clare has a knack for the scary, twisted types. This one might catch you by surprise.

In this series you dive deeper into the meanings of the parabatai and it just might break your heart. You’ve never read, or experienced a love like this! I still get raw just thinking about everything that happened. I can’t reread these books without crying, and trust me, you’ll want to reread them!

I recommend these as a must read!!

-Kelly