Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler

Title: Afterparty
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

From Goodreads:
Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother -- whose name her dad won't even say out loud. That's why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her...and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she's everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It's more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop...

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler's spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.

“I made you and I could undo you in three minutes. Two online.”

Reading Afterparty is like watching a train wreck in front of my eyes. We know that things will go bad, like very bad , yet we can only watch it without doing anything.

Emma, the ultimate good girl, is the new girl in Latimer, school for the riches in California. She has trouble fitting in with the rest of the school, except with the other new girl, Siobhan. Siobhan is wild and borderline crazy, but she is the perfect best friend for the new Californian Emma. However, their friendship becomes more dangerous as Siobhan spins out of the control, and Emma can’t help but getting carried in. When lie becomes the second nature, sneaking out of night is a given, and her best friend becomes a stranger… Emma must confronts herself on the choices that she makes.

In the beginning of the book, we get a passage of fastforward Emma on the rooftop confessing to the readers that she just killed her best friend. I must give brownie point for Miss Stampler – what a brilliant way to open the book with a bang! Then we are introduced to Emma and Siobhan’s first meeting and the beginning of their toxic friendship. Peer pressure at its best.

Siobhan. You will wish that you’d never get into her bad list. Self-destructive and insane at times, it’s clear that Siobhan needs professional help. This girl is losing her grip and I can’t help but feel sorry for her sometimes. She tries to protect herself so bad by clinging onto promises with her friends, the ‘pacts’, and pretends that everything is a game. The queen of denial and self-destruct.

The characters are very well-thought, with their flaws, values, and imperfections. While I didn’t really connect with any of them, I did feel sympathy towards some of them. The main plot nicely progresses although the sub-plots didn’t really work for me. The whole drama with Emma’s extended family in Canada felt a bit pointless because there is no real resolution in the end. Personally, I feel that the story could do better with resolved subplots of the side characters, but I understand that the whole book intends to put spotlight on Emma and Siobhan’s friendship.

Fans of Go Ask Alice would love this book. Overall, what I enjoyed the most are the fun, strong voice of the main character and the original plots. If you go for Afterparty looking for excitement and crazy ride, I think you will have more luck with this book.

If things aren’t looking a whole lot better for both of us by the end of the year, we should jump off a tall building.”

“Sign me up.”

“You’re in,” she says. “Pact.”
 3 cups of tea!
 Love the crazy ride, but could be better.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Muse: {Looking For} Short Story Recommendation

Hello and happy Monday! :)

How is the beginning of your week so far, awesome people? I myself am being busy bee with enormous college assignments. My univ. department is having a theater production. We haven't yet decided between A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, Animal Farm by George Orwell, or some other type of brilliant scenario. Which brings me to my next point...

Do you have any short story recommendation?

It doesn't have to be tailored for theater. I'm also looking for short story to rewrite in my Creative Writing class. I'm currently setting my eyes on Jhumpa Lahiri's stories, but other stories will definitely help too.

Any short story that you're read in an anthology and you really loved? Maybe from a YA author?

I'd love to hear any recommendation. Thanks in advance! *HUGS* I promise that next week's Monday Muse will be fun again. I might review Divergent (SQUEAAAAL!) or talk about other fun trends in YA community. :) HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: December 2010
Publisher: Speak

From Goodreads:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

4.5 stars

Oh sweetness! Fluffy in a good way, Anna and the French Kiss is the ultimate book for anyone looking for light reading. It’s just the right amount of sweet, funny, and hot French-British guy in one book! Sprinkle it with the Parisian setting, and mmm! Simply delectable!

Set in the lovely setting of Paris, Anna and the French Kiss told the story of Anna, an American girl who is transferred to France in her senior year. Paris is a great city, but short visit and living for one year are obviously different matters. However, Anna’s homesickness quickly disappears as she meets some new friends in School of America, especially the French guy with British Accent and US nationality, Étienne St. Clair. Anna totally swoons over Étienne, but Étienne already has a gorgeous, older girlfriend. Surely Anna won’t be stupid as to fall for Étienne despite of knowing it’s impossible… right?

I’m not good at summarizing the story so let’s forget the kinda-summary above. I think Anna and the French Kiss lives up to its hype. It’s not just a simple story about a girl and a guy going in circle before they finally confess their undying love to each other. It’s MORE than that. It’s also about adapting in a new environment with new set of culture and language, a guy’s struggle with his oppressed father and his dying mother, and friendship above love. And those issues, tackled gently without any cliché at all.

You will love Anna when you meet her – she’s quirky, smart, and fun in the most possible way. Étienne, of course, is the guy you’re supposed to fall in love with (like it’s the hardest thing to do, duh!). Étienne. *le sigh* The gorgeous French guy with brilliant mind and polite British accent. Very good hair and kind personality as well. Oh Étienne please just be human already.

Reading this book made me wish I could get into the story and join Anna and her friends in School of America. I only worry that when I go to Paris, it wouldn’t be as lovely as it’s portrayed in the book. For one thing, Perkins seems to gloss everything in Paris – everything seems much lovelier. The cafeteria, the shops, the way people dresses, even the strangers’ attitude. I’m sure that Paris is a wonderful city, but it just seems unrealistic that everything is much better in that city. Another thing, I won’t have a gorgeous, kind, funny French-British-American guy like Étienne showing me Kilometer Zero Paris or Shakespearean bookshop. Obviously my experience later won’t match with Anna’s.

All in all, Anna and the French Kiss was a very entertaining book and I would recommend to it to anyone ready to get their heart strings tugged by this romantic story. I like how clever Perkins tackled issues like family and friendship, and even tough ones like cancer. I don’t want the book to end. We need more Anna, Étienne, and Paris! (Of course, there are cameo appearances of Anna and Étienne in the next book, Lola and the Boy Next Door, but no Paris! Boohoo.) I want so, so bad to book the next plane to Paris after I read this book. Anna and the French Kiss, with its great storyline, fun characters, and gorgeous setting, will definitely capture your heart.

Words are engraved around it: POINT ZÉRO DES ROUTES DE FRANCE.

“Mademoiselle Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France.’ In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in Frances are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “It’s the beginning of everything.”

I look back up. He’s smiling.

“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I’m glad you’ve come.”

4.5 cups of tea!
A feel-good book that will cheer you up.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Muse: {Movie Review} Catching Fire and A Question

Monday Muse is a weekly blog feature in which I talk about book-related things: review book-to-movie adapation, lists of my favorite heroines, etc. But really, it's just a feature to excuse my random rants so as not to clutter this blog.

Watch the movie trailer HERE. :)

Monday Muse is back, wohooo! <3 I got an announcement two days ago about the release of Catching Fire DVD, so this post is a gentle reminder for those of you haven't watched Catching Fire yet (*gasps* what planet you live in??). Prepare for the attack of fangirl wave! :P

Katniss, remember the true enemy is.

Catching Fire was so awesome that I cried few times in the cinema. And we haven't seen Mockingjay yet,
pffft. Get a grip of yourself, Hilda. Reminding myself that a few times, I shed my tears discreetly and continue ogling Sam Claflin a.k.a Finnick Odair in the big screen. Watching the movie, I was wholly prepared for the awesomeness and thank you, I was not disappointed at all.

This part gripped my heart.

Catching Fire is not my favorite book out of the Hunger Games trilogy. I think it lacks of action, it has unnecessary love triangle, and it has too many Katniss-Gale moments (excuse me, I'm clearly biased on this point). But the director, Francis Lawrence, proved me otherwise. In his hands, Catching Fire is intense, electrifying, and practically crackled with fire. It is simply awesome.
Finnick and his infamous sugar cube scene ;)

The new supporting casts are not disappointed at all. Sam Claflin's appearance may not be what I thought
Finnick would be, but I think he was doing a pretty good job portraying the playful and strong Finnick (his infamous sugarcube scene is one of my most anticipated parts ;) ). Jena Malone as Johanna Mason is wonderful too. I can't help grinning every time I remember how she takes off her clothes in the elevator in front of Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch. Imagine the discomfort of Katniss. xD

The dresses are as beautiful as ever. I took pleasure looking at the various dresses Effie wears. I guess what we all remember in the end of the movie is her butterfly dress, right? ;) Capitol Couture never cease to amaze me. Katniss' wedding dress and her Mockingjay transformation is really beautiful as well. I just wanted to hug Cinna at that time. *hugs*

On a totally unrelated note, I found out that the designer who design Katniss' gorgeous wedding dress is an Indonesian as well and he has a boutique in my city.  Now I know where I should go for my future wedding dress. ;)

Catching Fire makes me yearn for Mockingjay: Part 1. After a long one and a half year of waiting, it's practically a torture to make us wait for the third movie. I can't wait to see how they turn the book into a movie since the story is much darker and more focused on Katniss' turmoil inside. Spoiler for those who haven't read Mockingjay, highlight to read: I think they will end the movie with the brainwashed Peeta strangling Katniss. OMG THE FEELS. Just thinking about that part makes my heart aches.

Mockingjay: Part 1 is slated for theatrical release on November 21 this year and Mockingjay: Part 2 will be released on November 20, 2015. Oh the waiting!

You can read what to expect on Mockingjay movies in this article.

What do you think of Catching Fire? Are you excited for Mockingjay?

Plus, can you give me a short story recommendation? Do you know any good stories, preferably from a YA author?

Thank you for reading this week's Monday Muse and answering the question! I'll try my best to stay ahead of schedule and blog regularly. :) Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Review: Gone Girl by Gililian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publication Date: January 2013
Publisher: Phoenix

From Goodreads:
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer? 

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

So I am taking a creative writing class this semester, and the class is using Gotham Writers Workshop: Writing Fiction as the handbook. The handbook is pretty good; it talks about creating desire for your characters and giving them good and bad traits and showing readers that the characters have the ability to change. I was reading Gone Girlat that time, and I was like, “OH.” No wonder there are so many praises for this book.

Because Nick and Amy, the main characters for this book, possess all the quality for good characters in a book. They have desire, they have their own amazing and condemning traits, and we can see how they change throughout the story. They are two of the most intricate characters I’ve ever met, carefully woven and crafted with the most absolute care. There are so many twists in this story that I actually laughed out loud when I reached the second part of the book. I didn’t see it coming and I loved it.

This is the psychological thriller I don’t even know I’m yearning for. It’s too cynical for my taste, yes, but I have to admit that it’s so cleverly written it blew me away. I had hard time putting down this book. I even bring this book everywhere in my bag – thankfully I bought the pocket book edition – and read it between classes. I need to know what actually happen in the mystery. This slow-pacing mystery that almost drove me crazy in the first part of the book.

This book brought me on an emotional turmoil in which I want to hug/smack a character every few pages. Often wishing the actions at the same time. I sympathize Nick then I hate him then I love Amy then I found out everything is not what we were told to believe in. So, yeah. Nick and Amy play a very clever game with a bizarre result. I do think that in a way, they deserve each other. {spoiler, highlight to read} Let’s cross fingers and hope that they won’t slit each other’s throats anytime soon.

Gone Girl may start out seeming like your average story, but I assure you there’s nothing average about this story. It will mess up with your mind in a way, and just like the praise on the back cover of the book: you will feel the urge to beg others to read it, only so you can discuss this book with them. Brilliant and delightfully written, Gone Girl is a must read for anyone looking for great psychological thriller novel.

I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge?

 4 cups of tea!
Wrecked my mind in a way.


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