Recap Of My Time In Florida!

Finally! I get to reflect on how much fun I had in Florida! *happy dance* When my family and I were driving to Florida in that cramped, uncomfortable car, I constantly daydreamed about all the fun and amazing stuff I will be able to do there. And when we arrived at the hotel (after driving through a bad neighborhood, making the mistake of going into a gas station where dangerous-looking men were hanging out, and sleeping in a parking lot that I swear was haunted), I was so excited for the future days filled with rides and amusement park food.

And I definitely wasn’t disappointed with the parks! I had a blast and took plenty of pictures with my (crappy but useable) camera! So now I can share the pictures with you ūüôā Not that my pictures are anything to write home about, but still! Oh, and my hotel was really neat, too. There were a lot of birds walking around. I even saw some turkeys!

Disney World

Disney World was all I thought it would be and then some. There was excitement, happiness, and maybe even a little magic in the air. I am also pretty sure I witnessed a proposal as I walked by the buildings along Main Street in the morning. I wasn’t able to take any pictures since my camera literally died three seconds after I turned it on (grrr), but I have a very good memory so it’s okay!

We first went to Tomorrowland and rode Space Mountain (my favorite ride). We were going to ride it a second time, but apparently Space Mountain had broke down¬†right after we got off,¬†so we checked out Monster, Inc. Laugh Floor, which was actually pretty fun. The monsters really weren’t afraid to pick on the people in the audience. (The guy who was behind me with the really long beard was teased the most.) We also went to Stitch’s Great Escape. That one wasn’t very good, but it was still a little fun seeing Stitch spit on the audience.

Adventureland was the next on our list. My mom wanted to go to The Enchanted Tiki Room so we went there. And I loved the whole! Who knew that singing birds could be so darn entertaining? “Let’s all sing like the birdies sing, tweet, tweet tweet, tweet tweet.” That song is still stuck in my head. Oh, and we also rode the Jungle Cruise and The Pirates of the Caribbean rides. I have always loved boat rides so I really liked those two rides.

Adventureland also happened to have this Dole pineapple frozen yogurt stuff. AND IT WAS SOO DELICIOUS! After I pigged out on the tasty pineapple-y stuff, we went to Frontierland and rode Splash Mountain and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Right after Thunder Mountain, I dragged my parents back to Main Street and spent some more of my money on chocolate ice cream. By then, we had rode most of the rides we desired to ride at least ounce so we started to just visit them over and over again.

At some point, it started raining. Which would have been fine, but somehow my mom and I got separated from my Dad and my brother so we got a little soaked trying to look for each other. We did eventually find each other and after the rain stopped, I realized that we haven’t went to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square and proceeded to drag my family into the line. After going into the Haunted Mansion and dancing with the ghost, we resumed our activities of going to the same rides over and over (luckily, Space Mountain got up and running again). And also watched the Electrical Parade during that time.

Time flew by and it didn’t seem to take long for the park’s closing time to come near. So we hurried to The Hall of Presidents (robot presidents. Woot woot!) and watched that show. It was pretty interesting but I couldn’t help but inwardly laugh at the President Obama robot, because they accidentally made him look like a white guy. When the show was over, we ran to find a good place to stand and watched the fireworks.

When the fireworks stopped, my mom revealed to my brother and I that apparently we were able to stay two hours after closing time. We rode a couple more rides and then left at 1:00 am. The end!

Hollywood Studios

hollywood studios 1

Me when I first stepped foot into Hollywood Studios: THIS PLACE IS SO PRETTY! Guys, Hollywood Studios is an absolutely lovely place. The buildings, signs and billboards, and all the little touches here and there were so well placed and made. And since I remembered to bring my camera that day, I crazily took pictures until the camera ran out of charge. Everything was so fun to look at. And, uh, sorry to the people who might have gotten caught up in my photo-taking frenzy. But don’t worry, you all look dazzling.

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Admittedly, we didn’t get to do as much as we wanted to at Hollywood Studios, because my brother wanted to go back to the hotel early (darn you, brother), but we were able to go watch a couple of shows and ride a couple of rides! We first went to the Hollywood Tower of Terror. You know, this frightening thing:

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You can actually hear people’s screams from all the way across the park

It was an amazing ride. I had butterflies in my stomach and screamed plenty. Oh, and my mom also almost lost her sunglasses on it. They actually floated away from her awhile the elevator was crashing down a few stories ūüėõ We then went to The Great Big Movie Ride, which was fantastic. When the tour guide says that you will be a part of the action, they really mean it. Your ride vehicle will even be hijacked by some lady who is a thief (or gangster?) and wants to get out of her movie. It was amazing experience and the building itself it beautiful, too.

hollywood studios 3

We also got to see the¬†Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, a show where many scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark are re-enacted and the stunts that happened in those scenes are explained. The hosts were really good-humored, which made everything more entertaining than it already was. After that ride, we rode Star Tours. Star Tours was really fun. And sort of amusing since C-P30’s reactions to being mistakenly put in charge of a spaceship and being attacked by Darth Vader were hilarious.

Because of my little brother’s complaining, we went back to the hotel, relaxed, and the because of my mom’s insistence, we went back to the park (yay) and watched Fantasmic. I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the show, since I was so dazzled by the water and flashing lights, but trust me when I say it was beautiful. Oh, and before the Fantasmic show actually started, there were these two hosts who managed to get the crowd of people to sing “Call Me Maybe.” I was singing and laughing at the same time when that happened.

After the show, we went home. The end!

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is a really lively place, which is to be expected when there are lots of animals in one place. I fell in love with this park. I loved everything about it, really. The birds that were flying everywhere, the animals, and the rides… It was amazing. It was fun to just walk around and look at the scenery and animals. And I took lots of pictures ūüėÄ

animal kingdom 1

We rushed to the Kilimanjaro Safaris, where we were able to see some fascinating animals. There were lions, rhinos, hippos, zebras, and much more! I actually found the whole ride to be funny since the animals had a habit of turning around and showing their butts right when I tried to snap a picture. The rhinos were most guilty of this:

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Luckily, I was able to get some non-butt pictures, too:

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I also got to see my favorite animal, the giraffe:

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After that, we went to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Long story short, we got to see a few more animals!

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Favorite part of Pangini? The lounging gorilla:

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My parents wanted to go see It’s Tough to be a Bug so we checked that out and had a fun time at the show. When the show ended, we ran over to catch the Wildlife Express Train, which took us to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I didn’t take any pictures there, but I remember everything vividly. I first spent some time with a parrot named Red and learned about how messy parrots were (they don’t even eat all their food), then we went to a show that featured cute little animals like ferrets and pigs and porcupines, then I went to the petting zoo, which housed goats that would not react to you AT ALL. They were all like, “so you’re petting me? That doesn’t mean you exist.”

Anyways, after taking the train back to where we were, we hurried over to the Wonders of Flight show, a show that had lots of interesting birds flying about.

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I also checked out the Maharajah Jungle Trek. It was awesome. The fruit bats, tigers, and other animals were so fun to see! And because the pictures I snapped are full-size worthy (pffft) here they are:

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After that, we went to the Kali River Rapids (that ride disappointed me a little since we didn’t get soaked at all) and the Expedition Everest Ride (the first ride I have gone on that goes backwards and I loved it). We then watched a parade (that I didn’t get to take pictures of). Oh, and we also got to see Nemo: The Musical, which was absolutely adorable. And then we went home exhausted. The end!

Universal Studios

Universal Studios was my favorite park. And I only got to explore half of it! Really, the ¬†whole¬†half of the park is so fun and exciting. I might have only checked out a few things, but those few things were all very fantastic ūüėÄ

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First, we rode the Minion Mayhem ride, and it was so cute and hilarious. The ride practically turns you into a minion and lets you run among other minion ūüėõ I love minions so I adored this ride. We then rode the Rock It ride, which was a ride that I was sort of panicking about. I mean, just look at this:

Not my own picture. Just found it on Google.

Though, about halfway through, I fell in love with the ride. Shrek 4D was next on our list, and while I did enjoy it, I don’t think it was the best >_< But I got some Donkey and I love Donkey, sooo. After that, we went to Revenge of the Mummy, which was a pretty jerky ride, but still really, really fun. The ride also decided to fake us out: it made us tourist think the ride was over and then unexpectedly shoot us off into a room of (fake) fire.

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Everyone was a little hungry, so we went to eat at a Mel’s Drive In. The food was kind of tasteless, but the decor was really nice to look at. Plus, our table had this music player thingy that I enjoyed tinkering with. The place also had some really cool old cars parked in front of it (you can see one of them in the row of pictures above).

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After eating, we went to the Horror Make Up Show. AND IT WAS SOOO GOOD! The two hosts were hilarious right from the very beginning when one of the two ran into the room screaming with a (obviously fake) knife in her chest and then making a big show out of lying down and dying… and then telling the dude in the front row that he has permission to look at her butt. Anyways, the girls were hilarious to watch and I actually started crying from laughing to hard at them.

When the show ended, we walked a little bit and then had the idea that we should ride Transformers: The Ride. It was a real action-y simulation. I’ve never been a fan of Transformers but the fight scenes were so cool in this ride, and it really felt like you were a part of them. We went on another couple of rides (MIB: Alien Attack and Terminator 2 3D) that weren’t really anything to holler about, then found E.T. Adventure, which was really good. (E.T. still freaks me out, though.)

My dad spotted another cool-looking thing called Disaster, so we got in line and then found out that Disaster is apparently an experience that allows you to be in a disaster movie called Mutha Nature. We were stuck in the back and weren’t chosen, but the host was able to find a hot, hunky guy (her words not mind), a group of guys with glasses, a cute eight year-old, an old lady, and a pretty young woman. We then proceeded to watch these guys make a really, really terrible movie that was so bad it was hilarious.

We also went to Twister and got to see a set get destroyed by a “twister.” It was actually really interesting. After that, my family and I started to just go on the same rides over and over again, just having a blast. Some noteoworthy things that happened during that time: I found a dancing minion that wouldn’t stop dancing and being stupid so nobody could take pictures with it. Let’s just say I fell in love with it immediately. I also stumbled across a squirrel (I get so distracted by squirrels it’s not even funny).

At the end of the day, I bought a stuffed minion and named it Marty, and we went home. But not before seeing this beauty all lit up:

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The end!

Epcot

Sadly, we didn’t do very much at Epcot. BUT! We were able to go on Mission: SPACE, and it was quite possibly one of the greatest things ever. Uh… The end!

Additional Note:

I think it should be noted that while all this happened, my dad was determined to find the perfect Disney World hat. Seriously, he checked out every store. And after spending days looking for the perfect hat, he found it. Applaud him please.

As you can see, I had a very, very good time at Florida and I would go there again if I could ūüôā I miss it already! But I still have the good memories and will always happily look back on them. I will end this really long post with a thank you to my parents (hi mom and dad!) for giving me the chance to go to Florida. Love you!

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Over The Rainbow by Brian Rowe: review

17792829Over the Rainbow by Brian Rowe
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
3 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: LGBT, Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: August 6th 2013
Synopsis: A modern re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz!

Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious.

When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn‚Äôt know what‚Äôs happened, but she‚Äôs determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion, a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world’s population have mysteriously disappeared. But that’s only the beginning…

All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.

My Thoughts:

Looks like Dorothy is going to be walking down the yellow brick road with her well-loved companions again. Oh, wait, it’s actually Zippy who is going to be walking down the yellow brick road with her companions in a world that had just experienced the “rapture”. And, uh, the yellow brick road she’s walking down is cluttered with abandoned cars and… dinosaurs? DUN DUN DUN!

Over the Rainbow¬†has a heck of an oddball story. It’s weird, trippy, and really unbelievable. But hey,¬†Over the Rainbow¬†is a super-fun romp that I enjoyed reading. Oh, and Jurassic Park fans: you just might get a kick out of this book. All those dinosaurs stomping about were awesome and totally appealed me, a lover of the movie.¬†Over the Rainbow¬†actually brought back a lot of memories of when I was a little kid going to my grandparents’ house and watching that dino-tastic (I did just say that) movie over and over.

Besides the dinosaurs, I also liked Zippy, our tiny, fun-sized, protagonist too, and not just because she shares my love of ¬†Jurassic Park. She’s brave, strong-willed, comfortable in her own skin, and fit the role she played quite well. And to be honest, it’s really hard to not be impressed by the girl when she faced and killed a dinosaur with only an ax in hand. Her doing that was one of my favorite scenes in the book, actually.

Zippy’s companions, while they weren’t exactly memorable, were fun. Frankie, Mr. Balm, and Elle complimented each other and had good chemistry. I think that these characters could have had a little bit more work done on them, but they satisfied the roles they were meant to be in. Zippy’s father, however, was a pretty well-made character. In the beginning, he is only portrayed as a bigot who cares more about his job than Zippy, but over the course of the story, you learn that he does care for his daughter but his prejudiced opinions keep him from showing that.

What really gets in the way of¬†Over the Rainbow‘s being a great book is that it was published too soon. I think that some more editing could have been done. The characters seemed to underreact to their situation at times. Sometimes the dialogue was choppy. The emotional scenes could have been polished up some more. And the new, post-rapture world could have been painted more vividly. I honestly believe that¬†Over the Rainbow¬†could have been an amazing book, but the lack of editing got in the way of being that amazing book.

But even though this book has its fair share of flaws, I did enjoy reading it.¬†Over the Rainbow¬†is a weird, fun romp that I didn’t mind spending the evening reading at all. AND THE DINOSAURS! I LOVED THEM SO MUCH!

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick: review

13477676Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Stand Alone
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 13th 2013
Synopsis:¬†In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was‚ÄĒthat I couldn’t stick around‚ÄĒand that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made‚ÄĒand the light in us all that never goes out.

My Thoughts:

Forgive Me, Leonard is an emotional story that deals with some very, very tough issues (male rape, bullying, depression) with skill and will also cause your emotions to keep bubbling up inside you. This book  will hit you hard, make you feel, and keep you reading with the wish that everything will turn out okay. I might have just bought this book because of the snazzy-looking cover, but I got so much more than that.

On his birthday, Leonard Peacock plans to kill his former best friend and then himself with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol. But before that, Leonard wants to says good-bye to the four people who matter to him: His neighbor who is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart, Walt; Baback, a boy who is a master at the violin; the homeschooled girl who is a devoted Christian, Lauren; and his favorite teacher, Herr Silverman. And as Leonard goes through the day, trying to say his good-byes, his secrets and reasons for wanting to kill someone are revealed.

Leonard’s story is undeniably sad. His parents aren’t around, his classmates think of him as a freak, and nobody, except for a few people, seems to even care about the sad situation he’s in. Youth is something that is supposed to be sacred and enjoyed, but all Leonard can think about is how miserable the adults he watches at the train station look and that maybe life just isn’t worth getting through if it just means that it will lead to more unhappiness.

It’s all just very sad, but these kind of stories need to be told, and Quick writes Leonard’s story clearly and with honesty. The serious issues that appear in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock¬†are written about in a straight-forward way and were never downplayed. I really felt as if Quick did the best he could do with handling the issues that he wrote about. And boy, don’t even get me started on how emotional this book was.¬†Even the little things that Quick inserts into his story, like the letters from the future (which were done extremely well and in an interesting way), are well-placed and only makes things more emotional.

Leonard’s character and voice was brilliantly executed. Instead of just seeing a kid hiding a gun in his backpack, you see a poor boy who has been through so much with no help, that he was pushed over the edge. Murder is a terrible crime, a crime that has permanent effects and causes a lot of pain, and writing a character who is planning on sending a bullet through someone’s head requires a lot of thought, effort, and a whole lot of skill. And I think that Quick was able to meet all three of those requirements with Leonard’s character.

The prose was… It was very honest. Emotions, dialogue, thoughts. They never felt forced nor did they feel like they were just there without a purpose. There were also lots of footnotes that showed Leonard’s thoughts and I think that those notes really succeeded in showing more of Leonard’s personality. At first, I found it a little distracting to have to look away from the paragraph I was reading and read a footnote, but I quickly got used to it. I also really loved the letters from the future. They added so much to the story, those letters.

I only have one quibble: the ending. I don’t find much appeal in open endings. I have found some novels that have open endings that I like, but that is rare, and¬†Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock¬†had an open ending I was not a fan of. Yes, it gave me a feeling of hope, but it was way to abrupt. I wanted more out of the ending.

Quick has written a great book that has a lot of impact. It might be shorter than the average full-length novel, but it sure does have an intense, emotional, powerful, and gritty story. I could easily empathize with Leonard and I really cared for him. So, even if the ending was to abrupt for my taste, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is an amazing book.

 

The Sunday Post(15)

the sunday post

The first week of school happened, guys. And it was pretty awesome ūüôā I was able to meet a lot of new people and was also able to become friends with people who I was only acquaintances¬†with in the past. Also, my new teachers are extremely entertaining. One is absolutely obsessed with moustaches, another is very talkative and outgoing, and another seems to like teasing her students. Those teachers really do make the day go by fast ūüėõ The only thing that sucks is all the homework.

I haven’t been able to comment on my friends’ blogs very much, though. It makes me sad. But please now that I am definitely reading your post! I will be sure to dedicate more time to commenting next week.

Reviews:

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Lovely Links:

To Be Expected:

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark: review

FreakboyFreakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: October 22nd 2013
Synopsis:¬†From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He‚Äôs a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong‚ÄĒwhy he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

In razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

My Thoughts:

Freakboy¬†is the first Young Adult novel that I have read that properly addresses transexuality. And, while I am not going to pretend to know a lot about the subject, I do think that Clark did a great job at writing and portraying transexuality. Her characters are well-written and she obviously put a lot of thought into her story. This book also happens to be the first verse novel I have read in a long, long time, and even though verse novels aren’t really my thing, I have to admit that I thought the verse to be lovely and loved¬†Freakboy¬†even more for it.

Things I Loved:

* The reason why this story was written. In the first pages of¬†Freakboy, Clark writes, “to every Freakboy and Freakgirl out there. You are not a freak. And you are not alone.” My heart melted a little when I read this. By reading those three sentences, I was immediately able to tell that Clark wrote this book because she genuinely wants to help,¬†that she wrote this book for the people out there who feel like they aren’t in the right body. I know that the intention behind the story might not impact the story of it, but I just find it to be touching enough to not care.

*The emotion. Freakboy was a very emotional story that had some moments where I was on the receiving end on a powerful emotion-face-punch. Whether something sad or happy was happening in the story, Clark made me feel every emotion vividly.

* The characters. I thought Clark’s characters to be very well done. Their problems felt real enough that it actually hurt me a little when something bad happened to them (and, of course, my heart soared when something good happened to them). Brendan, Angel, and Vanessa are all archetypes but Clark was able to bring life to them. She was able to make Brendan, the person who felt miserable and freakish because of his sexual identity, Angel, the person who has already fully embraced who she is and going forward in life, and Vanessa, the girl who has devoted herself to Brendan so much so that he is basically her world and is struggling to accept what he wants to be, feel almost tangible.

* The multiple point of views were wonderfully done. Getting into each of the characters’ heads and seeing the world through each of their eyes really added to the story. I do wish that Angel and Vanessa (I know that Vanessa will probably get a lot of hate but I was very interested in her story) had more entries in the book, but that is only a small wish, as what¬†Freakboy¬†did with the multiple POVs is already great.

* The verse. It was lovely and exceptionally executed. I can’t even imagine¬†Freakboy¬†being told in any other form of writing. I didn’t expect to love the verse as much as I do.

Things that were so-so:

* The instances when Clark chose to shape her words into somewhat of a visual form. I do love the verse prose as a whole, but the shaping words into fireworks were a little distracting and could be annoying.

*Freakboy¬†is very open-ended. Which I didn’t exactly like. I wanted more resolution, wanted to see what the characters made of themselves. The story does end with a hopeful and uplifting note so I didn’t hate it, but I wanted¬†more.

Things that I disliked:

* Nothing, really.

Freakboy is a brave and powerful debut and is such of an important book. I can really see this book helping people accept themselves and also helping people learn to be more accepting. The book does have its flaws, but it is a gem and I highly recommend it!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: review

19063The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Stand Alone
My Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 14th 2006
Synopsis:¬†The extraordinary #1¬†New York Times¬†bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can‚Äôt resist‚Äďbooks. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

My Thoughts:

I’m writing this review in the middle of the night (I wonder what colors Death would be seeing right now…) and with tear-stained cheeks and with the last line of¬†The Book Thief¬†echoing in my mind:¬†“I am haunted by humans.”¬†A last line that is as ironic as it is powerful. I was struck speechless by that line, but now that I have recovered a bit, I can say with all the sureness in the world that I am haunted, and will probably keep being haunted for a very, very long time, by¬†The Book Thief.

Now, I assure you that being haunted by The Book Thief is a burden that is as heavy as it is to being haunted by the entire human race, but being haunted by the memory of this masterpiece of a book can be a little wrenching. (Though, it can also be a whole lot rewarding. In fact, I urge you to go read this book and get haunted by it!) The characters and their struggles and their triumphs will stay with you, the narrator and his melancholy and his exhaustion will stay with you, all the emotions that you experienced awhile reading the book will stay with you, and the story, which is brilliantly and intelligently told, will stay with you.

The perfect choice of narrator is the part of¬†The Book Thief¬†that immediately made my heart get tied up by the story. Death is an ironic being, haunted by humans and exhausted from watching them tear one another down, even when humans are the ones believing themselves to be haunted by Death. This ironic being is an incredible narrator who perfectly fits the story. Death’s narration had me engaged at the very first page and told a story that could only be told in a way that Death could tell it. And really, I couldn’t help but be lulled and comforted by his words.

eightbullets:The Book Thief, Mark Zusak.

Death’s story is about Liesel Meminger, a German girl with a love for words so strong that she is willing to steal the books where they reside, and her life during a time of war. Liesel is a strong child who observes and looks at the world with wonder. She is the one whose story is told in The Book Thief. But, since Liesel meets many people over the course of her childhood, other characters do get caught up in her story. Liesel’s cigarette-smoking and accordion player foster father named Hans, foul-mouthed and tough foster mother named Rosa, adventurous and daring best friend named Rudy, the fist-fighter Jew hiding in their basement named Max, the mayor’s quiet wife, and many of the other people living on Himmel Street.

Liesel’s relationships with these characters and the characters themselves are complex and intricately written. Every interaction is important and is tied into the story with skill. I especially loved Liesel’s strong friendships with Rudy and Max and her caring relationship with her foster father. Rudy and Liesel were an amazing pair and their eventual love story was pure, innocent, powerful, and painful. Chasing books down rivers and stealing food were never made so sweet. Max and Liesel’s friendship was beautiful and full of impact. The painting of images on the basement walls and exchanging of stories stories squeezed my heart. The daughter-father relationship between Liesel and Hans was lovely. The parts of the book in which the two rolled cigarettes and listened to the accordion were some of the greatest parts of the novel for me.

The prose in The Book Thief is experimental and unique, and I absolutely loved it. Death’s way of describing things, specifically the weather and colors, was gorgeous and really added to the already melancholy atmosphere of the book. Emotions were flawlessly sketches with words. Zusak’s writing in this book is superb.

“The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness.”

One last thing that I think should absolutely must be said: The Book Thief isn’t about the suffering the Jew’s had to endure during the time where Hitler ruled. The Book Thief focuses on the lives of the Germans, which I think was an excellent decision for Zusak to make. Readers get the opportunity to see how people couldn’t go against Hitler’s beliefs without being beaten to the ground and how morality was a complicated thing back then and that many people were just doing what they could to get by, without anything being preached to them. Zusak doesn’t tell you what to think, he merely shows you what happened.

The Book Thief¬†is an unforgettable piece of literature that, like I have said in the first paragraph of this review, will haunt me. Zusak said in an interview¬†(that I really recommend you watch) that he didn’t set out to write a Young Adult book, he set out to write someone’s favorite book. I reply to his saying that with this: Markus Zusak, you have written a favorite book of mine.

*Images were found on I Am Haunted By Humans, a Tumblr site dedicated to this book.

orange Vol.1-2 by Ichigo Takano: review

orangeorange Vol.1-2 by Ichigo Takano
Series: orange #1-2
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Shojo
Synopsis: In the Spring she was 16, Takamiya Naho receives a strange, but detailed letter from herself, ten years in the future. At first she thinks the letter is a prank, but then the things written in the letter actually happen, including the new transfer student that sits next to her in class, Naruse Kakeru.
The letter reads just like her diary entries, down to the same characters. It is not till two weeks later, when Kakeru shows back up at school, that Naho finishes the letter.

In the letter, her 27-year-old self tells her 16-year-old self that her biggest regret is that Kakeru is no longer with them in the future, and asks her to watch him closely.

My Thoughts:

The shojo genre is a great big ocean filled with manga. Some of those manga are like¬†Kimi ni Todoke¬†that breathes new life into the typical shojo love story and much of those manga are pretty unoriginal (but can still be fun). Orange¬†is one of the former. It has such of a wonderful story with just the right amount of sweetness and bitterness. Actually, now that I look at the title, I guess it could be said that the story contains the same sweet and bitterness that can be found in an orange ūüôā

Orange starts off with a girl named Naho receiving a letter from her future self, telling her that she has many regrets and that the one eating her the most is that Kakeru will not be with them in ten years. As Naho reads on, she finds predictions of events that will happen in the future and also some instructions to follow. Naho has a trouble believing that the letter is not part of some sort of prank, but slowly begins to believe in it after she finds out that the events that the letter said will happen actually do happen, including an event involving a boy named Kakeru transfering into her school.

Naho then starts trying her best to follow the letters instructions, though she is still a bit confused, and watches Kakeru closely. What follows is a memorable bittersweet story about a girl becoming more honest with her feelings, trying to stop a tragedy from happening, and maybe even falling in love a little on the way.

I think that one of the best aspects of this manga is that it so easily shifts from sweet with sad undertones to sweetness mixed with sadness. In the beginning the story has a sweet and delicate feel that made me just fall absolutely in love with it.

And then, only a few chapters in, orange hits you with some pretty sad stuff that made me tear up a little, even though I only knew the characters for only a short time. Really, the regrets that the future Naho holds inside her and the accident (that turns out to not be an accident: he committed suicide) that took Kakeru away is heatbreaking. But the story does still keep much of its sweetness and even adds in a heck of a lot of hope. Which means I was almost shaking because of all the emotions inside me.

The characters are also wonderful. Naho is a fine character that changes in subtle ways throughout the story. Her blunders are a little annoying but are understandable and I genuinely admire her for how kind she is. I can’t wait to see further development in her in the next chapters. Naho’s group of friends are very fun and have such differing personalities. I especially love Suwa. He is a great character and good friend.

Kakeru is, well, he’s a sweet boy. It really tugs on ones emotions when such a sweet kid has to go through such saddening things. I don’t think that I have got a¬†complete picture¬†of his character, though. But I think I can forgive this since only two complete volumes of¬†orange¬†are out. Also, I just really, really love reading about his relationship with Naho. Their friendship and blossoming love is so sweet.

The only complaint I have about the characters is the unnecessary mean girl character.

Run away, Sawako. RUN AWAY!

Ueda doesn’t have any purpose at all in the first two volumes (I say “in the first two volumes” only because she might have more of a role in future volumes) other than to bully Naho and cause drama. She doesn’t cause as much trouble as some of the typical mean girl characters in shojo manga, and she is normally caught before she does permanent damage, but it is still so irritating to see such of a refreshing manga use such of a boring trope.

Ichigo’s art is lovely and delicate. Her characters are drawn lovely and each expression on their faces clearly shows what they are feeling. If you want see some of her work just check out this tumblr site that is dedicated to the manga.

Orange¬†is a manga that I really do love, and I can’t wait to read more of it. There are so many ways that the story could go and so many ways the characters could grow and develop. Unfortunately, the series is on hiatus. Ichigo has said that she will come back to¬†orange¬†and I hope she comes back soon. She has thought up a truly wonderful story that I can’t wait to continue reading again.

Oh, and thank you, Sawako, for guest starring in this review. Now that it is over, please run back to your own manga and do some cute stuff with your boyfriend ūüėČ

Should I have not said that? Oh well.

Suicide Watch by Kelley York: review

16240541Suicide Watch by Kelley York
Stand Alone
Age Group: 
Mature Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, LGBT
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: December 20th 2012
Synopsis:¬†18-year-old Vincent Hazelwood has spent his entire life being shuffled from one foster home to the next. His grades sucked. Making friends? Out of the question thanks to his nervous breakdowns and unpredictable moods. Still, Vince thought when Maggie Atkins took him in, he might‚Äôve finally found a place to get his life‚ÄĒand his issues‚ÄĒin order.

But then Maggie keels over from a heart attack. Vince is homeless, alone, and the inheritance money isn’t going to last long. A year ago, Vince watched a girl leap to her death off a bridge, and now he’s starting to think she had the right idea.

Vince stumbles across a website forum geared toward people considering suicide. There, he meets others with the same debate regarding the pros and cons of death: Casper, battling cancer, would rather off herself than slowly waste away. And there‚Äôs quiet, withdrawn Adam, who suspects if he died, his mom wouldn’t even notice.

As they gravitate toward each other, Vince searches for a reason to live while coping without Maggie’s guidance, coming to terms with Casper’s imminent death, and falling in love with a boy who doesn’t plan on sticking around.

My Thoughts:

Warning: There is sort of a spoiler in this review. I say sort of since the synopsis makes it quite obvious it will happen.

When I finished reading Hushed by Kelley York, I knew that I absolutely needed to read another one of her works. Then came the day where I found Suicide Watch and bought it and eventually read it. And wow. This author has done it again. In just over two hundred pages, Kelley York made me love her characters, cry for them, and then feel hopeful for them and their futures.

Vincent Hazelwood’s life wasn’t exactly a nice one. Being sent to one foster home after the next, failing to make friends because of his break downs and changing moods. Until he was adopted by Maggie, a strong lady who was determined to help Vincent get his life together. She was his reason to try hard.

And then, on the day of Vincent’s graduation, Maggie dies of a heart attack, leaving Vincent completely alone. Vincent then starts to sink back into himself, reflecting on the day he witnessed a girl throw herself off a bridge and wondering if she was right to do that. During this time, Vincent comes across Suicide Watch, a pro-suicide forum and meets two people through it: Casper, a girl who wants to kill herself before the cancer inside her does, and Adam, a quiet boy who believes his mother wouldn’t notice if he died. These three people begin to bond with each other and also learn from each other.

The characters are the driving force of Suicide Watch. Vincent is a sad character that gave me the same vibes Archer from Hushed did: he gave off a feeling of loneliness. He’s introverted and has trouble creating relationships, though he wants to, and has times where his sadness consumes him, sometimes having to take pills when it becomes to much. I felt very sad for this character and cared greatly for him, constantly wishing for a good ending for him throughout the book.

Casper and Adam were also amazing characters. I loved Casper and her energy and determination to live what’s left of her life as best as she could. Her death made me cry buckets and really made me feel like there was something missing from my heart. The quiet, music-loving Adam felt very real and, while I didn’t find him to be as memorable as Casper, his character had impact.

York writes these characters with depth, and even with only just over two hundred pages, develops them as much as many longer YA novels do. Maybe even more. Their feelings never felt downplayed and were portrayed in a sensitive way. And the bond that the three were able to forge between each other was touching and well-written.

I appreciate that York makes it a point to show that a person’s situation doesn’t matter, that it’s the feelings that do. Sometimes a person feels very sad, though their situation isn’t the worst, and I liked that York addressed this fact.

‚ÄúIt doesn’t matter if it could be worse, because even those people living on the street could still say ‘it’s not as bad as it could be.’ You still feel the pain. It still matters. All this means nothing unless you have people around who understand you. People who get that, sometimes, you’re just…really, really fucking sad and it’s for no reason at all. Then you get pissed off ’cause you realize you’re upset without a good reason, and you feel even worse.‚Ä̬†

If there was anything that Suicide Watch lacked, I would say that it was a well-paced resolution. I loved the ray of hope that comes in the end, but the last couple of chapters felt rushed. Adding another fifty pages could have easily solve this problem.

Suicide Watch is a short emotional novel that I don’t think anyone should missed out on (it’s only 1.99$ on the Amazon Kindle store!). York really has a knack for write dark contemporary that pack an emotional punch. Fans of Hushed should also check this out. (I actually think that¬†Suicide Watch¬†is the better of the two great stories.)