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booksonthebay

Books on the Bay

My name is Lynn, I'm a 24 year old law student and book-lover, proud Nook color owner.  You can find me at {booksonthebay.blogspot.com} as well!

Exactly.
Exactly.

The book lover's dilemma.

BOOK vs. MOVIE review! {The Host by Stephenie Meyer}

The Host - Stephenie Meyer

What I liked: Let’s start with the positives first since there is actually very little I liked about the movie.

  • The plot stays true to the novel (considering the thing I liked the best about The Host, the novel was the story, as opposed to say… the writing, I’m glad this remained the same).
  • The plot remains the same pacing when it comes to major plot events. Remember how there are like three separate climaxes to the story? They’re all in the movie too.
  • Part of the movie are laugh out loud funny. Some of the lines are delivered tongue-in-cheek, as if even the actors can’t believe they have to say them, ala the shirtless Twilight comment.
  • Jeb is excellently cast. Just… fantastic. He almost makes up for all the other terrible actors.
  • The desert scenes look fantastic… until they get into the caves and you realize you’re staring at a plaster set reminiscent of bad displays at Disney’s Epcot.
  • The eyes of humans with a Host are awesome.

 

What I didn't like: Where to start… where to start. Oh right, the biggest problem: the actors are horrendous. I’m pretty sure Meyer and co. pick actors based on physical resemblance to characters alone and completely ignore acting capabilities. Also:

  • The entire beginning of the movie is overly clinical to the point where it just looks super fake
  • The super shiny silver modes of transportation that the Seekers use which look CGI’ed
  • The voiceovers where Mel is resisting her host. They alternatively made me want to shudder or laugh… they’re just so bad. Not enough sincerity.
  • Mel’s occasional southern accent… very occasional.
  • The movie had serious pacing issues. Because it doesn’t move as fast as the books read a lot of the franticness of the situation is completely lost on screen. Instead the entire plot becomes very slow and overly dramatic/sentimental
  • Have I mentioned how bad the actors are?

 

Overall: Redbox it if you want a good laugh. I went with two friends, one who had never read the book and another who had. The one who read the book has self-admitted “very low expectations” and liked it. The one who hadn’t read the book couldn’t fathom how that movie made it to the screen. So take it for what it’s worth, my recommendation is spend your $10 on buying the e-book rather than a movie ticket. It’s a fast read.

 

Hello there!

Oh hi, look at all these lovely new followers! Welcome, welcome. Booklikes is probably my absolute favorite combination of amazon/bookblogging/goodreads and tumblr.

 

Can't wait to see all your reviews and bookish thoughts!

Just found out you can give half-stars on Booklikes.
Just found out you can give half-stars on Booklikes.

{Book Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay}

Defending Jacob - William Landay

Publisher’s Description:

 

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

 

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

 

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

 

My Review:

 

I usually don’t have a problem reading legal thrillers. I usually really enjoy them. Give me a good John Grisham any day. But there were so many things I just could not get past in Defending Jacob. First and foremost, Landay spends a good chunk of the novel throwing around the idea of a crime “gene” or what recent studies have identified as the MAOA gene.

 

I have to admit that I’m more than a little biased in my review. To the extent that law students can have “specializations” the way that med students do, this book hits right on mine. I’ve spent my very, very short legal career studying the impact of genetics and the law, specifically in the context of criminal prosecution. I’ve taken a number of classes and working as a research assistant for a genetics law professor, spent a year working with a juvenile justice center that focuses on criminal psychology. These sound like “fluffy” topics, but they are incredibly complex subjects based in science, and just like any scientific endeavor, our knowledge is based on replicable, controlled scientific studies. Even with this experience, my working knowledge of genetics is VERY limited

 

But even I know how dangerous Landay’s presumptuous and incorrect use of the MAOA gene is, especially in a criminal justice setting.

 

Briefly, MAOA is an enzyme involved in the breaking down of neurotransmitters, such as naturally occurring serotonin and dopamine. It is a variation of this gene that the book refers to. Low MAOA levels, combined with significant levels of abuse have been correlated with an increased rate of aggression and violent crime in men. It is important to note that is a correlation not causation and an increased rate. The total percentage still hovers between 20-40%. Understand that this means even if you have low MAOA levels and significant childhood abuse, there is still less than a 50% chance that that person has increased levels of aggression.

 

In addition, there are virtually unnumbered other factors that affect this interaction: high testosterone levels, mothers smoking during pregnancy, low IQ, social exclusion

 

The latest case to use such genetic evidence as mitigating evidence resulted in the defendant receiving a death penalty sentence. These days it is widely regarded as a dangerous tactic and in fact, could be considered ineffective assistance of counsel and grounds for a mistrial.

 

The fact that Landay simply skips over this incredibly complex scientific idea, submits to fear-mongering and uses it to build suspense in his novel is beyond frustrating. The idea that a person could be convicted on the basis of having a family with a criminal past is revolting. Perhaps if the book was set in another day and age, another country or without purporting to be a legal thriller, I might be okay with the fabrication. Here it is fundamental to the story and fundamentally inappropriately used.

 

If you’ve read the novel you might dismiss this all because well, it doesn’t matter in the end (I won’t spoil it for you here). Which brings me to part two of my least favorite things.

 

Landay hands us the biggest cop out ending of all time.

 

Not once.

 

But twice.

 

Which leaves me where at least half of the readers of Defending Jacob are. Staring at the last page going Really!? Not okay. You can’t just take the easy way out of your own book!

 

Would I recommend this book to a fellow law student? Absolutely NOT because of the terrible law in the novel.

 

Would I recommend this book to a fellow thriller lover? Absolutely NOT because of the terrible ending to the novel.

 

Would I recommend this book to a general reader? Absolutely NOT because of the terrible and unbelievable characters. (Oh wait, did I not mention that before? Brief summary: prosecutor suddenly decides its okay to break all the laws, loving mother suddenly becomes a monster, etc. Every damn character did a 180 for no reason at all.)

 

Good riddance, Defending Jacob. I hope and pray this doesn’t start a wave of “crime gene” fiction books.

... agreed! And I like their sense of humor.

... things only readers can relate to.

{Book Review: Effortless by S.C. Stephens}

Effortless - S.C. Stephens

Publisher's Description:

 

After being caught in the middle of a love triangle which led to a devastating betrayal, Kiera pledged to learn from the mistakes she’d made. She was determined to never again inflict that kind of pain on anyone, especially the soulful, talented man who held her heart. But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it survive? Love is easy . . . trust is hard.

 

My Review:

 

I was mostly disappointed in this book because it seemed like an unnecessary extension of the first book. It's an almost 500 page epilogue, really.

 

As I mentioned in my previous review of Thoughtless, one of the things I like best about Stephens is her character development. Unfortunately I also thought it was what was most missing in the sequel. Some of the secondary characters make a few steps forward in their lives. Kiera's sister, for one, and Denny for the other. On the whole though, they stay relatively stagnant even thought their worlds are exploding and expanding around them. The guy's band takes off for a nationwide tour, and it brings all of the drama you'd expect, but without any of the growth.

 

I did like that that Denny made an appearance in this book as well. Not immediately and not without scars, but he was probably the character that developed the most through the second novel. It would have been very easy for Stephens just to send him back to Australia, throw him out as a character and we would never seen him again. I think she tackles a very difficult plot point by bringing him back into the fold. Admittedly, I'm not sure how realistic it is, but I respect her choice.

 

Unlike the first book, there were large portions of this book that just felt entirely unnecessary. Stephens jumped forward through months at a time, quickly covering the entire year that the band was on tour and jumping ahead to the dramatic plot points. The sex scenes also seemed more frequent and almost gratuitous. I enjoyed Kiera's trip back to Ohio and her family home, but it was short lived. I was disappointed that Stephens (so great at character development) didn't take the opportunity to let us get to know Kiera better through her parents.

 

I didn't like Effortless nearly as much as Thoughtless… but I'll probably finish the series just to see how Stephens brings the drama to an end.

 

{Book Review: Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens}

Thoughtless  - S.C. Stephens

Publisher's Description:

 

For almost two years now, Kiera's boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she's ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he's purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes...and none of them will ever be the same.

 


My Review:

 

I want to address a major point of the novel first. I don't usually take issue with love triangle stories per se, especially where the author has thoughtfully constructed delicate but powerful relationships. Unfortunately, love triangles are all too often a part of real life, and if art mimics life, love triangles are bound to appear in novels. (Especially YA because we all know what being a teenager can be like sometimes.) 

 

I do have a very hard time stomaching cheating or adultery however. It made me very uncomfortable through Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed. It was probably my least favorite part of Gone with the Wind (and I adored Gone with the Wind).

 

I had to dock Thoughtless a few stars for the way my stomach turned during pivotal plot points. The bottom line is this is a love triangle that takes place during a relationship. The main female character, Kiera cheats on her boyfriend, Denny with his best friend Kellan while she is still with Denny. She's with him both emotionally and physically and I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse. (She can't makeup her mind because she loves them both? Or she has so little respect for them both?)

 

Luckily I really liked Kiera as a character. I identified with her although we have little in common. I came to understand where she was coming from, even if I didn't agree with it and I appreciated the realistic guilt the author had her suffer. (Not over-dramatic, but deep and cutting.) If you are less bothered than I am by cheating then this might not be as much of an issue for you.

 

I also really appreciated the unique setting and the older age of the characters and Stephen's ability to write them as adults and not as teenagers who just happen to be in their mid-20s. They actually act their age. They have their own goals, ambitions and weaknesses. Character development is definitely one of Stephen's strengths and her secondary characters are as likable, if not more likable, than her main  characters. They have their own personalities and don't just mesh into one giant blob in the background.

 

Oh, and some of the scenes will leave you heart thuddingly breathless. If you read Thoughtless, you know I'm talking about the rain scene. Stephens writes tension - both good and bad - masterfully. She does a great job of balancing anticipation and gratification so the reader doesn't spend the entire book waiting for action and so there isn't too much of it that it gets old.

 

I only gave it three stars because of the adultery, the kind of cliched plot-idea (Hmm… a rockstar? Really?), and because the writing isn't going to change your life. The plot moves briskly but there are parts that drag when they shouldn't or breeze past when they should be slower and more developed.

 

All in all, 3 out of 5 stars ain't bad and I liked it enough to read it's sequel. (Okay, yeah, yeah, I couldn't get enough of Kellan… shhh!)

I know you know that feeling...

BOOK vs. MOVIE Review! {Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion}

Warm Bodies: A Novel - Isaac Marion
Warm Bodies, the Movie:
 
I finally got a chance to go see the Warm Bodies movie last night after I won a Fandango gift certificate!
 
What I liked: The tone of the movie and the style in which it was filmed really kept the feeling of the novel. R's monologues are almost word for word out of the book and the first two thirds of the movie stick almost exactly to the plot line of the novel. Nick Hoult makes an amazing R, he's kind of awkward and dead, but still loveable. He's not over the top either as a zombie or a human and really portrays "I'm just a kid that got stuck in this weird situation" really well. Teresa Palmer reminded me a lot of a much better Kristen Stewart (maybe just because she has similar facial features when she's acting) and I thought she made an excellent Julie. I wasn't too invested in either of the characters ahead of time though, so I wouldn't have been too picky about who played them anyway. The soundtrack, by the way, is fantastic.
 
What I didn't like: There are major changes to the end. Warm Bodies the novel is the first in a series and is left very open ended. The movie, naturally, goes further and ties up all of the open strings. I really loved the idea of this city within a stadium that didn't really come to life in the movie. They also took some creative liberties with the city (which is supposed to be post-apocolyptic impoverished, not mansion-y). Also can I say what the hell?? to the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene in the movie? Where did that come from? And whyyyy on earth was it put it? So terrible! It almost ruined the rest of the movie from me. Come on now, your viewers aren't so dumb that they don't realize that "R" and "Julie" and "M" aren't based loosely off of Romeo and Juliet! Yuck.
 
Overall: Would totally go see it again, would probably buy the movie on DVD. I just adored the feel of the movie. I know that's very ambiguous, but it was clever, funny, and beautiful with a kickin soundtrack.

{Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick}

Hush, Hush  - Becca Fitzpatrick

Publisher's Description:

 

Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

 

My Review:

 

Alright folks, you've heard this story before... 

 

Scene: high school science classroom

 

Cast: awkward teenage high school girl, interested mostly in her academics and not in guys; confident, handsome, quiet but snarky guy (who looks like a teenager but is really hundreds of years old)

 

Plot: Hot, smart, bad boy is strangely attracted to awkward young shy girl. Shy girl resists, then can't deny the attraction between them and isn't sure if she can trust him at first...

 

No, we're not talking about Twilight... this is Hush, Hush folks. Instead of vampires we have angels and "fallen angels" and instead of Bella we have... Nora. Really we just have Bella again with another name. The really unfortunate part of the novel is that the supporting characters aren't even as good as the ones in Twilight (and that's saying something because I didn't even like Twilight). 

 

Let's see, we have Vee - the extremely dense, hair twirling, lollypop sucking idiot of a best friend. Vee is shallow and self-centered. She's entirely expendable until the second she's used as collateral, and suddenly Nora can't live with the thought of anyone hurting them... what? Her mother is clueless and convienantly out of town all the time and the police never fill her in on what's going on. Twiddle-dee and twiddle-dum who are supposed to be the "villians" just seem like roid-rage meatheads, again, until the last second when -poof- one of them becomes pure evil. Hmm, okay, what?

 

The mythology is just so... off. It attempts (I think) to draw from the Bible, but is so inaccurate that I'm not entirely sure that the author isn't just making up her own crap. I know this series is popular online, but holy crap YA readers, get some standards. Expect your authors to make their own stories instead of stealing other's. (Not even good ones at that.)

 

Can we get over this whole guy-saving-the-girl-at-the-end-makes-up-for-him-sexually-harassing-her thing already? Sheesh.

{Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire}

Beautiful Disaster  - Jamie McGuire

Publisher's Description:

 

Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

 

My Review:

 

I had to give it 3 stars because (like so many other readers it seems) I was torn between 5 and 0. 

5 stars for the chemistry, and the heartbreak, and the muscles, and the cursing, and the sex appeal, and a lead female who has to be tutor-ed instead of being the one doing the tutoring, and for it not being fantasy, and for it not being set in high school.*

0 stars for the entire second half of the book, for the dramatic plot point after dramatic plot point that seem completely unnecessary and unrealistic, for dragging the book on way too long, for unnecessary fights, for allowing men and women to think it's okay to be batshit crazy when having sex and mostly to

PAIRING A MAN WHO SLEEPS WITH EVERY GIRL IN TOWN WITH A GIRL WHO IS A VIRGIN.

Because you know, OHEMGEE, women can't have sex or they're whores. Or "sorority bitches" as they're referred to in the book. (As a sorority bitch myself who would rather read than jump into bed with some muscle-y guy, why all the hate?)

The book kind of sucks from a literary perspective but major props to Jamie McGuire for writing a book where I hated most of the characters and yet I could not put it down. Not for a second. Not to walk from the elliptical to my car. Not to walk from my car to the house. I did nothing until I finished that book. So 5 stars for that.

Summary: not a bad trashy read, grab it on the beach, don't get too invested or offended by the characters and enjoy the sexual tension.

 

 

* Disclaimer: I wouldn't classify this either as young adult or erotica, despite what the really, really, really terrible cover might have you believe. Just your standard bad fiction wanna-be romance.

{Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia}

Beautiful Creatures  - Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia

Publisher's Description:

 

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

 

My Review:

 

Ethan is just a normal semi-popular high school student in Gatlin until Lena Duchannes both metaphorically and literally storms her way into town. Like any teenage girl about to turn 16, she comes with her own troubles, oh yeah, and there's that whole dormant-magical-powers-that-are-claimed-for-good-or-evil-on-the-sixteenth-birthday thing. I really enjoyed the different narrator, and while some of the story was cute, it wasn't the best YA novel I've read recently, most of it is fairly trite, but the main character makes it an enjoyable read.

 

I picked up Beautiful Creatures mostly because I saw the movie preview and I really love to have read a book before it's on the big screen.

The book is narrated by a high school guy - a big change from most of young adult books that are either told from the third person or a girl's point of view. Ethan's refreshing voice was probably my favorite thing about the entire novel. There were parts of the book I really liked. I thought the authors wove in the magical world and the ordinary world was particularly unique and I also really loved the Southern flare given to the small town setting and their history. (Much of the novel's backstory occurs during the Civil War actually.)

That said, the downsides almost outweighed the positives. I thought significant parts of it were trite. Same popular boy falls in love with unpopular girl plot line that I think most readers are weary of. There were certain parts of the "magic" involved that made me roll my eyes and I was less than satisfied by the ending. (I haven't read the sequel yet though!) I think I would probably give it about 3.5 stars if half-stars were a think in the book-rating world. To me it didn't come anywhere near Harry Potter or the Hunger Games, and I'm surprised it was picked to be made into a movie, but it was a pretty good escape from reality for a while.