Book Reviews

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram – Book Review

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“I was one tiny pulsar in a swirling, luminous galaxy of Iranians, held together by the gravity of thousands of years of culture and heritage.”

What a lovely book.

I read this book in one day, and I enjoyed every second. This book has stayed with me for days. Even now, a week later, I find myself thinking about these characters and everything they’ve left with me.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay follows Darius, a Persian boy who finds out his grandfather has a brain tumor, which leads to his entire family traveling to Iran to spend some time with him. Darius was an excellent narrator. Since his father is Caucasian, he spends a lot of time exploring his Persian culture through his mother’s side of the family. I liked that I got to see things through his perspective because I came to understand his culture with the same amount of curiosity he did. I loved learning about how important tea was for his culture. I love tea, but I clearly don’t love it as much.

Darius’s culture was so prominent in the story because he spent a lot of time with his family. I absolutely loved that. His grandparents were really great people. His grandmother was sweet and kind, and she reminded me so much of mine. His grandfather was a bit more complicated, but I liked that. Sometimes, you can’t really connect instantly with members of your family. I liked the way he talked about knowing his family in Iran through nothing more than video calls. That’s true for me as well, and for many other immigrants in America. I also loved the food he got to eat, and the way everything was described.

The complicated relationship Darius had with his father was so realistic. I liked the way he wanted to connect with him, spend quality time with him, but still disliked many things about him. I liked that his father wasn’t painted as a bad guy, but he wasn’t great either. These gray areas are so important, because that’s the reality of the world. Parents are human, and they make so many mistakes. It’s important to see them portrayed like this. My favorite thing was that both Darius and his father suffered from depression, and they were actually treating it with medication. How great is that? This is something I don’t think I’ve ever read about in a YA book. Mental illness can definitely be inherited through your parents (I speak from personal experience) and it’s good to see that they both took the time and care to find the right medication. The conversations this brought up were important as well, especially considering the stigma against mental illness in Iran, as well as many other countries. I know in Mexico, my family shies away from any conversation about mental illness. The portrayal of depression was necessary and well executed.

I left my precious Sohrab for the end because he is very special to me, and I still haven’t fully processed my thoughts on him. Sohrab is a young boy Darius befriends in Iran. A very sweet, charming boy that helps out Darius’s grandparents as much as possible, who’s basically another member of the family. They play a few games of soccer, which is my favorite sport, so I was ecstatic about this. I loved that Darius could confide in Sohrab about everything, and Sohrab genuinely cared for him. I loved their friendship so much. It was so sweet and so natural and so freeing. It broke my heart any time they had any argument because them not being friends just felt wrong to me. I loved everything about Darius and Sohrab. Their scenes were some of my favorites.

The only reason I’m not one-hundred percent in love with this book (more like ninety-five percent, which is still pretty high) is because I knew there was potential to explore Darius’s sexuality. It was there all along. It was right on the surface, ready to be seen, but it never was. Darius’s sexuality was never explored. It was maybe hinted at, but that’s it. I’m not entirely sure why they author decided not to go there, when all the signs were there, but alas, that’s not something we got to see. Even without the exploration of sexuality, I thought the book was incredible. I loved it all so much. I would read a sequel. So many sequels. I loved Darius, his family, and my dear Sohrab.

4,5 stars

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Book Reviews

The Time of the Singing by Louise Blaydon – Book Review

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There are two things to note about this book before I start my review. 1. This was originally Supernatural fanfiction. 2. Many of the details from the fanfiction remain in this version. The reason these things are important is because, had I read this as a fanfiction, I might have forgiven more things from it. However, this is supposed to be an original work of fiction, so I’m going to review it as such.

The story follow Israfel, a twenty-nine year old priest who fancies Nate, a seventeen year old boy from his church. The age gap is very clear in the text. I may have gone into this book a bit biased having seen the movie Spotlight all about the awful things priests have done to underage boys that have been covered up by the Catholic church. But I’ve been reading a lot of books with taboo subjects, so I decided to give this a try.

I have to say, I had my issues with the relationship between Israfel and Nate. It’s stated that the age of consent in the state it’s set is seventeen, but it never failed to be weird. Nate acted confidently, and everything that happened between them was consensual, but Israfel’s behavior often rubbed me the wrong way. Israfel was quick to blame Nate for everything they did, telling him he’d corrupted him. Israfel tried to argue that even if he’d wanted to, he couldn’t have stopped Nate from doing what he did with him. This bothered me so much because this is clear behavior you’d find in cases of molestation. I’m not saying that’s what was happening here, but that’s why it made me uncomfortable.

Putting that aside, I was really moved by Israfel’s revelation. Israfel started off hating himself for being gay, wanting nothing but to remove that part of him. Israfel gave himself over to the priesthood to rid himself of all temptation, until he realized he couldn’t stop being gay–obviously. I liked seeing his growth throughout as his thoughts changed on the matter. I was rooting for his growth, but I was still iffy about the relationship.

In the end, I was entertained with this book. I’m not sure I got anything out of it, though. I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for years and I never felt brave enough to read it, so I’m glad I finally did. I would like to mention trigger warnings for severe homophobia. It was giving me a headache. There were so many bigoted characters. It’s definitely not a perfect book. It actually could do with some editing. But I didn’t hate it, so there’s that.

3 stars

Book Reviews

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – Book Review

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I have a lot of love for this book.

“True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice on the matter.”

It’s been years since I’ve read a John Green book. Back in the day, I used to love his books. I read all of them one after the other, and An Abundance of Katherines became my favorite. But I think this is my second favorite.

Turtles All the Way Down follows Aza, a girl on her senior year of high school suffering from OCD and anxiety. Aza and her best friend, Daisy, gain interest in the sudden disappearance of a billionaire because there’s a hundred-thousand dollar reward for any tips leading to him. Aza knows Davis, the billionaire’s son, so they investigate starting with him.

This book gutted me for many different reasons. There were so many things going on, but it all made sense somehow. I want to start by talking about Aza’s OCD. She constantly went on spirals, moments where she obsessively worried about getting a disease that would kill her. I was hesitant about reading the book at first because of this, but now that I’m taking my own medication, I feel a little better about it. However, reading about Aza’s tremendous struggle was conflicting. Part of me, the weaker part, went on those spirals with her and wanted her to go to extreme lengths to feel better. But the saner part of me worried about her well-being, and wished that she could get the help that she needed. Either way, I liked the representation very much.

I know a lot of people didn’t like Daisy, but she was my absolute favorite. Daisy spent so much time writing Star Wars fanfiction, talking way too much, and dragging her best friend into all sorts of things. I saw myself in her. I really loved her. I wanted to know so many things about her. We only got glimpses through Aza, which was one of the problems in their friendship. I understand that Daisy made some mistakes, and she wasn’t always a great friend, but I think she truly loved Aza. Their friendship gave me life. It was so sweet at times. I believed it. It was so real and so true.

I thought Davis was awesome. I felt for him throughout the book. The guy didn’t deserve all the weight of the world on his shoulders at such a young age. He worried so much for his younger brother, Noah, and he just wanted to have some peace. I wanted him to be happy. I never really rooted for him and Aza to get together, but I wanted his happiness so badly. I was glad that Aza was there for him and supported him as much as she could. Davis was so soft. I loved that he cried anytime he felt like it. I loved that he wasn’t bothered by his emotions. My sweet boy.

The plot was good! I don’t usually like the plot in books, but I loved it in this one. It was subtle but totally engaging. It’s seriously such a great book.

4,5 stars

Lists, Uncategorized

Movie Adaptions We Want to See

With the recent amazing adaptions of Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, we thought it would be nice to think of other books that we would love to see. What other books that you don’t see here that you would like to see on screen?

Nicole:

The Clocktaur Wars duology by T. Kingfisher

With the right CGI for the Clockwork boys, the Rune, and the gnoles I think this would be a lovely movie. I would love to see Slate and Brenner and the whole gang on screen. It could be very fantastical but heartwarming and heartbreaking as the book is.

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

This ghost story with a Korean main character could be like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s not necessarily that original, but it’s a fresh perspective that is lovely to see.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan 

The movie of this was horrible, but I would love to see another chance taken on this series. I think a TV series would be ideal with spin offs like the books. It would be really great.

  Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

This is one of my favorite books and I would love to see these characters come to life on screen. The magic could be easily done I think, and the characters would be beautiful.

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

This story is similar to Jumanji and I think the board game could translate beautifully on screen. And the food! It would be great to see. I think it would look very beautiful.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

I think this is the only one on my list that isn’t fantasy in some way. But I think this could be a powerful movie if done right. I would love it if an actual disabled person was hired unlike with what happened to Wonder.

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

I think this one could have another chance. A TV show could really be better for it I think.

 

Isis:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I know there’s already a screenplay and they’re currently working to get the movie going, but nothing seems sure at the moment. I would love to see my favorite book of all time adapted. And I really want it to be an indie film. I don’t want extra drama added. I trust that Saenz will make sure the movie is done as artistically as possible. He said so himself during a panel I saw with him.  Anyway, I just want all the actors to be Mexican and not whitewashed.

We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
I loved this book so much. I’d love to see my sweet Diego on screen. I would also LOVE to see the aliens portrayed. And the abductions!! That would be awesome. This could be a kickass movie.

In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This is my second favorite book by Saenz. It’s very tragic, but so hopeful too. I think it would be a very sad movie, but it could be done so well. It should also be indie. Those are the best.

Angelfall by Susan Ee
This book felt like a movie, so it would be perfect on the big screen. And this one needs to be a big budget film. I want all the special effects. I want the amazing CGI angel wings. I want that creepy ending done well. I want all of the angel fights to blow my mind. I would see this movie a hundred times. It would be the first action film I’d watch willingly.

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
So I still have my issues with this book, but I think it would be an interesting movie. I’d love to see the costumes. And I’d loved to see a Damen on screen. He’d have to be real buff. Also, who could possibly play Laurent? And would his hair be long or short? The fandom believes his hair is long but the text says it’s short. What is the truth? Anyway, this movie would be good. I’d so watch it.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Listen, Shatter Me has the potential to be the next Hunger Games. We need to make these movies so everyone can know about Warner. I love these books so much. They’d make amazing movies. We can start Team Warner and Team Adam like we did with Twilight. Shatter Me has so much potential to blow up. We need a new young adult franchise!

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
This is my favorite Hutchinson book and it absolutely needs a movie. It’s very trippy. It could be done so well in a movie. The entire book messed with my head but I loved every moment of it. I’d like to see the universe shrinking on screen. How would they even show that? I’d love to see a world without the sun or the moon. That’d be the real challenge.

The Long Walk by Stephen King
I know this is already being turned into a movie but until I see a trailer I won’t believe it. I need this movie so baddd. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book. It’s my favorite book right now. I love it so much it hurts. The movie would need to show the boys before the long walk, of course. All of Ray’s childhood memories, all of McVries’s memories as well. It could be so beautiful. I need this movie.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
I didn’t like the adaptation of The Shining, but I think Doctor Sleep could be done much better. There’s no creepy redrum, but my sweet Dan is in it. I love Dan Torrance. This book is a wild ride and it would make such a cool movie. I’m not sure who sound play Dan. No one is good enough for that role.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
This is the least talked about John Green book. I get it. There’s math in it. People don’t find it interesting. But it’s my favorite John Green book. The MC was super smart and I loved him right away. It deserves a movie and it deserves to be loved. That book made me so happy. The movie would be great.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Listen, I gave this book 3 stars but I still need the movie. I feel like it would be much better as a movie than as a book. I really liked Simon and his friends and I wanna see a dragon. Also, if Baz is played by Ezra Miller I would be his #1 fan. So yeah, of all the Rainbow Rowell books, this is the one I’d like to see on the big screen.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
So I was obsessed with this book, and I would be obsessed with the movie. This could be such a great film. An indie film, that it. Again, I don’t need any special effects for this one. It can be quiet. It can be sweet. It can be powerful. I really think the world deserves this story in every version. It’s so so good.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
This would be the best summer rom com ever. I would love to see this as a movie. The coffee scene would be hilarious. I can already see it. Honestly, movie producers are missing out big time by not picking this one up. I would be at the theater for the midnight showing.

Book Reviews

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

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“Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.”

This was the only Rainbow Rowell book I had left to read, so far. I’m hoping she writes a lot more in the future. I’ve loved Rainbow Rowell for many years. Her books are charming, even when I don’t completely love them. This was one of those books where I wasn’t blown away, but I also enjoyed my time with it.

Landline follows Georgie McCool as she tries to balance her career as a TV writer and her married life with Neal. Due to her sudden workload during Christmastime, Georgie has to stay in California while Neal takes their children to Omaha. During the course of the book, Georgie reminisces on the days when she’d gotten to know Neal. This all happens when she discovers that the landline phone at her mother’s house is a direct line to the twenty-something version of her husband, before they were married. Somehow, Georgie gets to talk to him in the past.

I was really into the premise of the story. The characters felt solid and so real. I understood the message as well. Sometimes marriages are really hard. People drift apart even when they love each other. People in love can have unhappy marriages. And it took this bit of magic for Georgie to realize just how much she loved her husband, and how she wanted to drop everything to be with him. The flashbacks to the earlier years between them were nice, though this is where my problems with the story begin.

I knew I was supposed to be rooting for Neal, obviously. He’s Georgie’s husband, and he’s the only love interest in the book. I get that, I do. However, Seth was the most amazing character to me. Maybe it was the way he was described, but the man sounded incredible. First of all, he was a TV writer, he was very loyal, focused, trustworthy, hard-working, and he loved Georgie a lot. Yeah, I understood that he was just her friend, but between him and Neal, I would have chosen Seth. Also, the way the story set it up, it sounded like Georgie’s first choice had been Seth, but she’d settled for Neal. Maybe I misread that, but I could see why it would be that way. Seth was the whole package. And Seth didn’t growl.

One of my many problems with the book was Neal. I couldn’t find the charm in Neal–at all. He was very bland and dull. I usually love awkward artsy characters, but Neal bored me. So much. And his growls? Why the hell did he growl so much? It was so unnecessary. He scared me sometimes. Sue me, but if I’m having a normal conversation with someone and they growl at me? I will never want to talk to them again. I mean, was he secretly a dog? Ridiculous. Anyway, since I didn’t love Neal, I didn’t love the romance.

I thought that Georgie blamed herself for everything, when she really shouldn’t have. Prioritizing her career wasn’t a bad thing. Working during the holidays on her dream TV show wasn’t a bad thing. Neal threw a fuss about it, made her feel like she was doing something so wrong. Maybe I’m a selfish person, but being a TV writer is my dream job. I was so upset when Georgie slacked off on her show because she couldn’t stop thinking about Neal. I loved Seth even more for trying to talk some sense into her, but she treated Seth like crap.

I realize this is starting to sound like a rant rather than a review, but I have a lot of thoughts about this book. It’s a good thing. I love books that make me rant. Despite all of my issues, I really liked the book. It was worth reading. I loved the magic of it all. I loved that there was a phone that could connect you to the past. That was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to more Rainbow Rowell books!

3 stars

Book Reviews

Misery by Stephen King – Book Review

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“He didn’t need a psychiatrist to point out that writing had its autoerotic side — you beat a typewriter instead of your meat, but both acts depended largely on quick wits, fast hands and a heartfelt commitment to the art of the farfetched.”

Paul Sheldon is a best-selling author who, upon finishing his latest manuscript, gets into a car accident during a snow storm. He wakes up to his #1 fan, Annie Wilkes, who keeps him hostage in her house, which is easy since his legs are broken and he’s in a lot of pain. This is where Paul’s nightmare begins. And man, it’s quite a nightmare.

I wanted to give this book a try because I’ve seen the movie, and loved it. However, I found the book to be much different from the movie. I was completely horrified by everything that happened. I’ve read some gruesome things, and I know Stephen King’s style of writing, but this took it to another level. Annie was a devilish villain. I listened to the audiobook, and every time Annie spoke, I cringed. By the end, I was a little traumatized by that voice.

Although I appreciated how absolutely creepy and horrible Annie was, I didn’t like that she was described as this fat ugly woman. I feel like there’s this common trend to make all evil people fat. Also, I know Annie had mental illnesses, but the portrayal of them kind of bothered me. King would sometimes describe her symptoms as depression and mania, and I was wondering if he had made her bipolar. Was he saying that bipolar people kill because of those symptoms? It just made me a bit uncomfortable.

Overall, the book gave me chills. I had this sense of hopelessness throughout. I saw Annie the same way Paul saw her, as an unbreakable goddess. It was hard to remember sometimes that she was just another person. Evil, but still a person. I like it when Stephen King makes real people the monsters of his stories. That gives it a deeper layer. It adds to the horror of it all.

This wasn’t my favorite Stephen King book, but it was still a good one. I went into it hoping to freak myself out, and it delivered. So I’d say it’s worth reading.

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

The Long Walk by Stephen King – Book Review

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I will probably never forget this book. It became an instant favorite.

 

“They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn’t like to look at them. They were the walking dead.”


I’m really in my feelings right now. It’s been a couple of hours since I finished The Long Walk and I’m still processing this book. It was gut-wrenching, terrifying, and beautiful. I’m going to try to be as coherent as possible.

The basic premise of this book is that in a dystonian U.S. society, every year 100 teenage boys get to participate in The Long Walk. The rules are simple: everyone must walk at a speed of 4mph, they get three warnings if they slow down or stop walking, after the third warning, they get killed by one of the many soldiers walking beside them. They start in Maine, and walk for days, struggling with exhaustion, heat, rain, hail, and their deteriorating bodies. In the end, there can only be one survivor.

The narrator, Ray Garraty, was very hard to figure out at first. I was wary about him. I wasn’t sure I could trust him. But the more I got to know him, the more he grew on me. Sometimes he was cruel, but he immediately apologized and felt remorseful. I really liked him. Garraty quickly became friends with Peter McVries, the boy with a scar on his face. They had such a great friendship. I loved McVries from the beginning. As the story progressed, the two boys constantly saved each other’s lives. Not many other characters did this, which made them stand out.

The other boys were all intriguing. Stebbins was another one of my favorites. He was the quiet, reserved boy, always in the back of the group. I found him absolutely endearing, and I wanted to protect him somehow. I sympathized with most of the boys. I was rooting for each and every one of them, even as they continued to die. And the ways they died were very gruesome at times. There were times when I felt sick to my stomach at the detailed descriptions of their deaths. But I needed to keep going, just like the rest of the boys.

The prose was incredible. I was reminded why Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. I felt like I was walking right next to the boys. I was completely immersed in the story. I felt their pain. I felt the soreness of their feet and legs. I felt their anger and hopelessness. I felt their sadness. I felt it all, and I kept wanting to save them all. But then I was reminded that they had chosen to participate in this horrible walk. That was the greatest thing of all. Those boys put themselves in that situation, each of them thinking they would win. The winning prize? A lot of money, and whatever else they wanted.

The scariest thing about this book was witnessing how every one of those boys regretted their decision once they were already in the walk. They felt the reality of their situation, but it was too late to back out. They just had to keep walking, and walking, and walking.

I completely fell in love with this book. I heard it was being turned into a movie. I really hope they execute it well. I need it to do the book justice because this book is fantastic. I want to read it many times in the future. Until I’m as exhausted as the characters. Until I can’t read anymore.

5 stars