Witness Novelization Review

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I absolutely adore Harrison Ford—he seems like a good person, and he’s a really underrated actor. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an awesome action star—but he’s an incredible dramatic actor, as you can see in his Oscar-nominate role in Witness.

A few months ago, I decided to buy all the novelizations from Harrison Ford’s movies that I could on ThriftBooks (if you haven’t heard of ThriftBooks, get thee to the website immediately!). When I saw there was a novelization for Witness, my heart went a-flutter. It’s one of my favourite movies—not just of his, but of all time.

And reader, I was not disappointed.

Witness is an absolutely beautiful film. If Peter Weir himself gave me the opportunity to change anything, I would turn him down. Everything about it is perfectly executed, and I could watch it again and again.

That being said, the book enhanced the film so much. You learn so much about John Book’s and Rachel Lapp’s backstories, which really explains their motivations and actions throughout the film. Also, the book has only further convinced me of my firm belief that Rachel should have left to be with John (don’t @ me).

The book was a compelling read—it’s become one of my favourite books and I can’t wait to read it again. It’s taken me a while to get through it, mainly because a bunch of library books I borrowed were automatically checked out to me at once. The next time I read it, I want to consume it without being interrupted by other books to get the full effect.

However, if you don’t like the movie or haven’t seen it, you won’t really like it as much. This book is really more of a “special features” edition of the movie—if you’re a fan, you’ll appreciate every last detail.

My Dad Wrote a Porno Review

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This is the second book I’ve finished in a two day period—something I’m pretty sure I’ve never done before. However, I should probably mention that the main reason I read this book so fast was because I had to sit in Chapters for hours post-tornado to charge my devices and briefly connect with the outside world. Also, I had literally nothing else to do.

Regardless, I have never laughed so hard while reading a book.

I’m a huge fan of the podcast version of “My Dad Wrote a Porno.” (If you haven’t listened to it yet, get thee to iTunes immediately!) I always listen to it whenever I’m commuting and I have a very hard (pun very much intended) time keeping my laughter to myself. Belinda Blumenthal’s world is simply unlike any other—I dare you to not bust up laughing while listening to the podcast or reading the book.

This book is a fully annotated version of Rocky Flintstone’s original masterpiece Belinda Blinked 1. It comes complete with liner notes that say what we’re all thinking, and it even has insights from Rocky Flintstone himself—I never knew how much I needed his insight on the art of writing “good” erotica).

Plus, it’s structured like a novel study guide—the podcast hosts/authors include hilarious context notes, talking points, and activity suggestions (“try having a conversation where your partner is not allowed to respond for 30 seconds”). Also, this book does the world a public service by including a diagram of the female reproductive system—there is absolutely no circumstance where someone’s penis needs to touch the cervix, let alone travel all the way around to the ovaries.

Overall, this was the funniest book I’ve ever read, and I highly suggest it for your next book of the month pick—and all the activities included after each chapter should be mandatory.

P.S. I Still Love You Review (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Book #2)

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I read this book in less than two days. I haven’t read a book that fast since I was 10 and had no responsibilities. Granted, my power was knocked out thanks to a killer tornado and I had literally nothing else to do—but I still call it an accomplishment.

I’ve been pretty pumped to read the second book in this series since I finished the first one not too long ago. I remember being so excited to read about a relatable female protagonist who happened to look like me—biracial teen coming of age stories are hard to find, y’all.

That being said, I was worried I’d be disappointed with the second book. Could lightening really strike twice?

Well, dear reader—in a word, yes.

When I read the first book, I was merely taken along for the ride. Jenny Han weaved so many twists and turns throughout the story—I felt like I was hanging out in Lara Jean’s head. I mean, I was, but still. It had been a long time since I was so removed from my own life and so involved with a book protagonist’s life.

With book two, I felt pretty much the exact same way. All I knew going in was that John Ambrose McClaren was going to show up and complicate things. And even then, the story was never about him.

The beautiful think about these books, and this one in particular, is that it’s never about a boy—whether that boy is Peter or John or Josh. It’s all about Lara Jean developing and growing up. In this book, the main conflict wasn’t really with John and Peter—it was about Lara Jean and Genevieve.

It’s so refreshing to read about a female lead who loves love and loves romance, yet the book’s main focus is almost entirely on herself as a person. And that’s something more girls should be reading in their YA fiction.

Bachelor Nation Book Review

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Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a single episode of The Bachelor or any of the other shows in the franchise. But I’ve always been fascinated by the show and how obsessed everyone is with it.

So when I saw Bachelor Nation was available to borrow from my local library, I knew I had to pick it up and give it a read. And much like the devoted “Bachelor Nation,” I tore through this book like I was running out of time.

*insert Hamilton reference here*

The book’s written by Amy Kaufman, a reporter for the Washington Post who recaps episodes of The Bachelor and the various spin offs. She inserts herself in the narrative of the story, but not in a way that’s self-serving or intrusive. Rather, she explores the world of The Bachelor through the lens of a fan learning about how the sausage is made.

It’s an incredibly fun read that goes through the show’s history and process, and as someone who had never watched the show, I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

The lengths the producers will go in order to get what they need for good TV are both horrifying and brilliant—Kaufman even includes a section comparing law enforcement interrogation techniques to what the producers do in their interviews (spoiler alert: they’re scarily similar). We all know reality TV is manufactured to some degree but based on what happens behind the scenes on The Bachelor, I feel like you might as well be watching regular scripted programming.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the exploration of why we even watch the show—especially in 2018. Each chapter is spaced out with a little anecdote from celebrity fans about why they watch the show. To me, it seems like a combination of cynicism and romanticism—we love to hate watch the ridiculous antics on the show, but deep down we want to believe in true love. We just don’t think The Bachelor is the way it’s gonna happen.

Overall, this book is a frothy, interesting character study on America’s favourite reality show and the people who watch it. If you love the show—or even if you don’t—I highly suggest picking it up and giving it a read—the book is just as addicting as the show.

Star Wars #9 (Princess Without a Planet) Review

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I thought this review would just be an Instagram post, but it turns out I have a lot more to say than I thought I did.

Let’s start with the cover for Star Wars #9—I think both the cover artwork and the pull quote are a little misleading. I understand this is an issue that’s part of a larger series and I am reading it out of order, but I purchased the ebook under the assumption that the main focus of this issue would be Leia in Alderaan’s ruins.

This was not the case.

Leia was only in the first five or so pages of the story, and while her storyline was very interesting, there wasn’t nearly enough for my satisfaction. Leia, Han, Luke, and the rest of the characters were very much in-character for their storylines (thank you, Legends universe!), but the cover and pull quote weren’t reflective even of Leia’s storyline.

On another note, the artwork is incredibly well done but didn’t feel true to how the characters actually look, in my view. It felt too comic-book style for my liking—it felt too slick and stylish. It didn’t have the heart seen in other Star Wars graphic novels and comics. While the actions were in character, the art didn’t seem to match—I barely recognized the main characters.

All that being said, I still really enjoyed the overall storylines and I’d like to read the whole long-term story. But just reading this issue fell a little short for me.

Uncommon Type: Some Stories Review

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If there’s one word to describe how I felt reading this book, it would be surprise.

When I borrowed the ebook from the library, I thought it would be a memoir of sorts—I adore Tom Hanks, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Little did I know that it was a book of short stories.

“Tom Hanks? Writing short stories?” I thought. “Okay, America’s Sweetheart—I’m in.”

It took me a little while to get into the first story, mainly because I went in completely blind. But soon I was sucked in to each individual story, frantically flipping pages on my iPad, ready for the next page. There were a few recurring characters who I adored, but most of the stories weren’t connected—again, not what I was expecting. However, I really enjoyed reading about such vastly different walks of life.

When I was in high school, I took a class called Writer’s Craft. We basically wrote a little bit of everything, fiction and nonfiction. When we got to the short story section, my teacher drilled into me that the short story needs to have a point, a meaning.

Initially I was looking for a meaning for each of these stories, but when I got to the second or third story, I realized that not everything has to have this big, deep, significant meaning. A slice of life, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes—that can be just as significant as any deep personal meaning. And that’s exactly what Tom Hanks accomplishes here.

He has surprisingly beautiful prose—I immediately understood what he wanted to convey with each passage, and I understood the characters quickly. This is a necessary skill when it comes to short stories—you don’t have as much time to get to a character’s motivation.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of short stories. Tom Hanks drew me in, but the good writing and the characters made me stay. I hope he decides to come out with more short stories—or maybe even a novel—in the future.

Star Wars: A New Hope Cinestory Comic Review

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I don’t care how many times I read it or watch it—I’ll never get tired of the first Star Wars story. So when my friend told me about this Cinestory comic, I knew I had to get it.

This adaptation took stills from A New Hope and put them into comic book form, complete with speech text bubbles. It was a fun way to read one of my favourite stories—the editors made some interesting choices in what stills they used.

I flew through this book. When I flipped through the pages, I could hear the characters’ voices—it was like watching the movie all over again. It was like a fun escape from my life, wherever I was.

However, I have a hard time writing this review because there’s nothing really to say. It was a fun experience, but this adaptation didn’t really add anything to the overall story. With graphic novel and comic book adaptations, there’s usually extra nuances in the artwork that bring out another layer to the Star Wars story we all know and love. Reading this almost felt like a lower-quality version of the movie, as much as I enjoyed it.

Overall, it was a fun ride but nothing special. I don’t regret reading it, but I’m ready to move on to the next Star Wars adventure.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Film Review

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When I heard To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was going to be made into a Netflix movie, my first thought was something along the lines of, “I need to get my act together and read this damn book.

Well, I did that—and now it’s time to watch the movie.

Oh, and this won’t be a spoiler-free review—if you haven’t seen the movie yet, leave now.

I think the movie was pretty faithful to the spirit of the book, if not the overall storyline. They changed a few details out of necessity—the plot was more streamlined to focus more on Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship. One of the downsides of film is there isn’t enough time to explore all the relationships between the characters and nuances behind their actions.

The casting choices were completely spot-on. Lana Condor is a perfect Lara Jean, and Margot and Kitty are just as I pictured them in my head. John Corbett was a surprising choice for me—when I first saw him on the screen, I thought he would be too much of a laid-back surfer dude for Dr. Covey. But he brought a sweetness and earnestness to him that I wasn’t expecting, and he ended up being the perfect choice.

As for Lara Jean’s love interests, I really liked Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky. I must say, I developed a bit of a crush on him as I watched—he reminded me of Mark Ruffalo. (Comment down below if you thought that too!)

Josh Sanderson was a bit of a disappointment for me. Israel Broussard did a fine job playing him, but he had a much smaller role in the film. I really wished there was more opportunity to explore Lara Jean’s growth through her relationship with Josh, but I understand there’s only so much plot you can shove into a movie before it becomes too much.

I think I would have enjoyed the first viewing more if I wasn’t constantly comparing it to the book. Of course Jenny Han’s novel is much better than the film really could be, but it’s still one of the best teen coming-of-age stories to come out in the last few years. I’m so happy it wasn’t white-washed—the film tells a truly realistic story of growing up and finding love.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and I’d like to see it again—but only if I haven’t read the book first.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Review

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What a ride.

I’m a biracial woman—my mom is Chinese Jamaican, and my dad is about as white as they come. When I was younger, there weren’t a lot of biracial kids in school or in daycare. For the longest time (as far as I know), I was the only mixed-race child. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen more and more mixed-race kids out and about and with that comes more representation in the media.

However, I can count on a single hand the number of half-white, half-Asian actors that are decently high-profile—I can’t even recall seeing a half-Asian character in a movie until Emma Stone played one in the disastrous Aloha.

So seeing a young half-white, half-Asian female lead in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was groundbreaking for me.

As soon as I realized Lara Jean Song-Covey was half-white and half-Korean, I immediately texted my mom. She’d been bugging me to read this book for the past three years, but I never bothered with it because other books interested me. With the Netflix movie coming out soon, I decided to take the plunge and start reading.

After Mom finished her “I told you so” dance (I assume), I told her how this was the first YA book I’ve ever read with a half-Asian female lead—until that moment, I’d never read about a character who looked like me and shared some of my experiences. I could relate to Lara Jean on a level I couldn’t relate to my other favourite female characters, and I related to my mother on a level I hadn’t been able to before.

I don’t want this review to be entirely about Lara Jean’s race, but I wanted to mention it to highlight how important representation is in the media, especially in YA fiction. These are the books tweens and teens are reading right when they start to become their own person—showing different backgrounds can only help young people as they grow and develop. Exposing readers to diverse main characters broadens their horizons and expands the way they view the world.

Anyways, back to our regularly scheduled book review.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the first YA book I’ve read in a long time, and it made me remember why I love reading books in this genre. The characters were relatable and realistic (especially Jamie Fox-Pickle, who’s a Wheaten Terrier—just like my Shelby and Charlotte!), yet the situation was not something I’d ever experienced before. I’ve never been in love, and until I find that person, books like this are as close as I’m gonna get.

The thing I loved the most about this book is how unpredictable it was. I was sucked into the story right from page one—I wasn’t comparing it to other YA books as I read through Lara Jean’s coming-of-age tale. It was only as I started thinking about what I would write for this review when I realized I couldn’t have anticipated anything that happened. It was such a refreshing experience—I only cared about the story, not about when Lara Jean overcame the odds to date her crush.

It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of major points got resolved in the last 30 pages, and none of it felt rushed. As a reader I didn’t feel cheated, and that takes major skill—mad props, Jenny Han.

All the relationships between the main characters were painfully accurate—complex, but never over the top or unrealistic. Margot and Lara Jean’s relationship was beautifully developed, even though Margot was away for most of the book. Plus, I have a soft spot for Lara Jean’s sweet father.

Overall, this is easily one of my favourite books of all time. It’s fast-paced, beautifully written, and so relatable. Jenny Han has become a top author in my books—I’ll definitely have to check out her other books soon.

Now, Mom and I can watch the movie when it drops on Aug. 17!

Unsinkable: A Memoir Review (Audiobook Version)

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God, I love Debbie Reynolds.

Initially, I was only vaguely aware of Debbie as an actress. I knew she did Singin’ in the Rain, and I knew she was a respected actress from the golden age of Hollywood. I liked her but other than that, I had no real frame of reference for who she was as a person.

I started becoming more familiar with her in early 2016 when I became a big Star Wars and Carrie Fisher fan. As I read through Carrie’s books and watched her interviews, I saw Debbie through Carrie’s eyes: a kind yet eccentric woman she loved very much.

After Carrie’s death and her death, I began to read more about Debbie—a remarkable woman in her own right. I read her first memoir, Debbie: My Life, and I was amazed by her life and how she carried herself. But that book barely scratched the surface of her story.

The beginning of Unsinkable picks up where Debbie: My Life left off: she and Richard Hamlett were, she thought, happily married. Unsinkable does a deep dive into the entire saga of her marriage and how the man she called “the devil” brought her into financial ruin again. But this book isn’t a sad story—it’s about resilience and survival.

Aside from her third marriage and her Las Vegas hotel, Debbie also talks about her efforts to create a Hollywood memorabilia museum. As she recounts each step in the road, you can hear the hope she had in her dream. She never gave up on building a museum until it was close to leaving her destitute. With every high and low, you wanted Debbie to succeed. When you realize it ultimately wasn’t meant to be, you feel Debbie’s heartbreak.

The second half of the book features Debbie going through each of her movies and talking about her experiences making some of Hollywood’s classic films. Listening to her tell stories about Bette Davis, Tony Curtis, Tony Randall, and Shelley Winters (among others) made you feel like you were sitting with her for lunch or coffee. Debbie’s delivery was that of a close friend who’s always happy to see you—her stories were funny and clever, making you feel like you were right there with her.

Overall, Debbie’s second memoir is a home run. Hopefully I can listen to or read her final memoir, Make ‘Em Laugh, soon—her stories and her personality are simply delightful.