Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Stupid Fast

Title: Stupid Fast
Author: Geoff Herbach
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 320
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 11 due to language
My Opinion: 8/10

Hi, Readers!

       One of the most enjoyable aspects of reading a realistic fiction book in my opinion would have to be humor.  In a dystopian or fantasy novel, characters tend to be serious and working towards a mythical goal.  On the other hand, realistic fiction can be told in the voice of someone just like you and me, which makes it entertaining to read.  I loved hearing the refreshingly comical voice of Felton Reinstein narrating the novel Stupid Fast, by Geoff Herbach.

Felton finds an escape from life through running.
Felton finds an escape from
life through running.
       Felton Reinstein is a fifteen-year-old high schooler growing up in Rural Wisconsin.  About a year ago, Felton began to grow and grow and grow, and now he is over six feet tall and an extremely fast runner.  Although Felton enjoys spending his time watching television, the football coach convinces him to try out because of his speed.  Also, Felton meets a visiting girl named Aleah and the two instantly hit it off.  However, while Felton's social life is on the rise, his family life is becoming more complicated by the day.  Felton's single parent, his mother, begins to lose her mind over simple things such as Felton's eating habits.  She becomes mentally unstable and starts to ignore Felton and his younger brother completely.  Felton must decide whether to help fix his problematic family or to enjoy his social popularity over the course of a life changing summer.

Nothing Special, Book 2
Nothing Special, Book 2
       Felton's voice and personality ring loud and clear throughout the novel.  He claims that he is "Stupid Fast", not "Stupid Funny", but his descriptions and viewpoint of the world are very comical.  Felton is very relatable to any teenage boy or girl experiencing puberty and high school.  He cares about how others see him, but he also wants to stay true to himself.  On the other hand, Felton has had a traumatic past and is struggling to stay positive.  He often falls into a state of depression and uses running as an outlet.  Overall, he is a multifaceted character that readers come to know and love.
I'm With Stupid, Book 3
I'm With Stupid, Book 3

       I would have given Stupid Fast a 9/10 if not for Felton's mother.  Her behavior throughout the novel was astonishing.  Although it is possible that a mother could actually behave in the way that Felton's mother did, it was disturbing to read about how she went certifiably crazy over the course of a couple of months.  I could not imagine a mother completely ignoring her children for over two weeks, and it disheartened me to realize that this is the case in many families in real life.  

       The best part about Stupid Fast is that it appeals to all readers, regardless of gender or age.  Felton likes football, but he has never played it before, so no previous knowledge about terminology is necessary.  Also, Felton gives an insight to the perspective of a teenage boy, while his mother and Aleah bring in contrasting girls' perspectives.  This book is definitely worth reading because of its writing style - it seems like Felton is really there, talking to the reader.  I was surprised but happy to find out that Stupid Fast is the first book in a series, followed by Nothing Special and I'm With Stupid.

Happy reading,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Book Review: Mothership

Title: Mothership
Author: Martin Leicht and Isla Neal
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Science fiction
Pages: 308
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 13 due to teen pregnancy
My Opinion: 7/10

Hi, Readers!

       Are you tired of reading the endless list of Young Adult novels about vampires, werewolves, and wizards?  Well, I have found the perfect sci-fi book for you!  Mothership, by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal, is a refreshingly light and comical read that, despite a few flaws, made me laugh out loud.

Mothership's alternate cover
Mothership's alternate cover
        Elvie Nara is living a normal life, attending high school with her best friend, Ducky, and her arch nemesis, Britta.  However, all of this normality ends when the new boy at school, Cole, impregnates both Elvie and Britta.  The two are sent to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers, located on an old space station orbiting Earth.  Elvie doesn't completely hate the space school because she takes interesting pregnancy-related classes and gets free visits to the resident doctor.  Her peaceful pregnancy is put to a stop when, three weeks from her due date, alien-fighters board the aircraft.  They start attacking the Hanover teachers, claiming that the staff is comprised of extraterrestrials.  Most surprisingly of all, one of the alien-fighters is Cole!  The Hanover students decide to place their trust in the alien-fighters and begin an arduous journey to the Captain's Quarters, where an escape shuttle is located to take them back to Earth.  The teachers have implanted obstacles throughout their path, such as a zero-gravity chamber and workout robots.  Elvie has to help her classmates (including her enemy, Britta) to safety while deciding whether or not to put her trust in Cole, all while struggling with the information that she may have an irrevocable connection to the mysterious alien teachers.

       Leicht and Neal include a plethora of one-liners and funny statements throughout the novel.  For example, when Elvie hears about a childcare class requiring students to care for flour sacks, she claims that, "If anyone can ever find a way to explain to me how carrying around a sack of flour with a diaper on it is supposed to prepare you for motherhood, I will personally bake that person a chocolate cake with my practice baby's insides."  Elvie's sarcasm and unique point of view make reading about her adventures similar to reading a personal journal.

       My absolute favorite part of the novel would have to be the ending.  The authors throw in such a dramatic twist at the end of the book that I am desperately awaiting the sequel's publication this November.  The ending is so perfect that I never saw it coming, yet it makes sense and pertains to the original story line.

Book 2, A Stranger Thing
        One part of the story that I dislike is that certain characters lack depth.  For example, Elvie's enemy, Britta, seems shallow and one-dimensional.  The popular cheerleader either completely ignores Elvie or makes fun of her, both on Earth and in space.  Even after Elvie saves her life, she refuses to say "thank you" or acknowledge the kind deed with a smile.  Another one-sided character who has no apparent purpose in the novel is the AV club instructor, Desi.  Why is he even included in the story?  On the other hand, Elvie is certainly a multi-faceted character.    

       Overall, I enjoyed reading Mothership and will read its sequel, A Stranger Thing.  I liked Elvie's personality and wanted her to stay safe for her baby's sake.  Although the novel has some imperfections, it has a fresh and spunky attitude.  It is definitely unlike anything that I have ever read in the past.

Happy reading,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show

Hi, Readers!

Top Ten Tuesday
       It's Top Ten Tuesday Time!  This week, The Broke and the Bookish blog asked readers about the top ten books they would love to see as movies or TV shows.  I always love it when a book becomes adapted into a movie because I get to see how other readers imagined the characters and the scenery.  However, it does get quite annoying when actors are are cast for roles meant to portray characters that are ten years younger in the books.  For example, Four from Divergent is supposed to be 18, but actor Theo James is 28!  EW.

       Well, getting back to the subject at hand, here is my list of books that I would like to see as movies and television shows.  The first paragraph about each book is a quick summary (don't worry, there are no spoilers), and the second is why it would make a great movie.  Please note that all of my casting selections are according to how I would picture the character from the book, not because of an actor's talent or previous roles.  Click on a title for more information about it on Amazon Books.

1. Epic, by Conor Kostick

EpicMembers of the "utopian" society of New Earth determine their social status by playing a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) computer game called Epic, created by the tyrannous Committee.  When Erik and his friends suddenly leap up the social scale due to Erik's special new avatar, they have enough power to attempt to overthrow the Committee.  
Zachary Gordon
Zachary Gordon

One reason that this novel would be great for a movie is that it switches between real life and an animated computer game.  It would be interesting to see how animators would mix the real footage with special effects to create an entire virtual world inside of a dystopian society.  Plus, the plot line of this novel is so fun and fresh that a movie adaptation would be completely different than anything viewers have ever seen.  I would love to cast an up-and-coming actor, such as Zachary Gordon, for the role of Erik.

2. 13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue EnvelopesGinny's Aunt Peg passes away, and she leaves Ginny thirteen envelopes detailing an adventure that brings her all around Europe.  She can only open a new envelope once the previous one's instructions have been completed.  Ginny is brought completely out of her comfort zone in a foreign country, and she is forced to make new friends and discover more about her Aunt Peg's past.
Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway

What a great premise for a television show!  Each episode could show Ginny completing one envelope, for a total of thirteen episodes (or maybe fifteen, so that there would be intro and conclusion episodes).  She is only 17 years old, so the show would draw in an audience of teenagers as well as adults.  Plus, Americans love European accents, and almost every character in this book has one.  I would cast Anne Hathaway as Ginny.

3. Rot and Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and RuinBenny Imura lives in the remains of the post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested United States, with his zom-slaying brother, Tom.  Benny has to find a job, so he finally settles on working for Tom in his zom-silencing business.  However, as soon as Benny enters the wilderness and sees how zoms live for himself, he gets a new perspective on the undead creatures as well as humans.
Booboo Stewart
Booboo Stewart

Being that shows such as The Walking Dead and movies like Warm Bodies and World War Z are becoming instantly popular, it would be a smart move to make a movie out of Rot and Ruin.  We Americans seem to love being scared out of our minds (or should I say brains?) by the undead.  On the other hand, Rot and Ruin changes the way that readers feel about zombies by showing them in a more sympathetic light.  I would cast Booboo Stewart as Benny.

4. The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau (read my review here!)

The TestingCia Vale is selected to take part in the government-funded Testing, where future world leaders are chosen.  However, her father warns her of potential dangers, and she must watch her back at all time.  Cia makes some friends, but she is worried that some of them may turn on her.  She competes with 107 other teenagers in order to get a position at The University, but she is also competing for her life.
Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning

This book could possibly, maybe, sort of, kind of be the next Hunger Games due to its exciting dystopian setting of post-apocalyptic Chicago.  It would make a thrilling movie with relatable characters and a hair raising plot line.  It would require some set building, but if the producers get it right, the visuals would be stunning.  Also, the movie would appeal to both males and females.  I would consider casting Dakota Fanning as Cia.

5. Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld

When Tally Youngblood turns sixteen, she will get to turn Pretty, meaning intense plastic surgery to change her entire body.  The Pretties live in a separate part of town and always seem to be having a good time.  Until her sixteenth birthday, Tally's new Ugly friend, Shay, continues to bring her to The Smoke, a campsite in the wilderness where people go to avoid turning Pretty.  She begins to realize the implications of being Pretty.  Now, Tally starts fearing what she has hoped for her entire life.

Uglies really hits home with some modern issues - self confidence, bullying, and the definition of being pretty.  Although the Pretties are very shallow, the government is keeping them that way for a sinister plot that adds depth to the story line.  I would be interested to see how a producer would manage to mix perfect images with those of normal humans.  Uglies could be interesting either as a show (similar to Pretty Little Liars in the way that it is watched each week) or a blockbuster movie.  I would consider casting Abigail Breslin or Laura Marano for the role of Tally Youngblood.
Abigail Breslin
Abigail Breslin
Laura Marano
Laura Marano

6. Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull

FablehavenKendra and Seth Sorenson have to stay at their Grandparent's mansion while their parents are away.  They are not allowed to leave the yard to explore the large forest surrounding the house.  It seems like their grandfather is keeping secrets from them until they discover that he owns a preserve for magical creatures, and all of the creatures live in various parts of the forest.  An evil witch, Muriel, is trying to turn fairies evil, and Kendra and Seth must do all in their power to stop her and save the preserve.

The Fablehaven series, comprised of five books, is one of my favorite series of all time.  It is filled with adventure and excitement, and the main characters have flaws that make them relatable.  The books share an interconnected plot line filled with deceit and trickery, making readers pay attention to what is going on.  I would absolutely love to see this as a movie.  However, the magical creatures would require a LOT of intense animation, from a golumn to fairies to Muriel's spells.  I would cast Willow Shields as Kendra and Tom Holland as Seth.
Willow Shields
Willow Shields
Tom Holland
Tom Holland
7. Dark Life, by Kat Falls

Dark Life
Fifteeen-year-old Ty has lived underneath the ocean all his life.  He views the topsiders as strange because they live so tightly packed together.  When Ty meets a topsider named Gemma, his views begin to change.  A band of rebels begin to attack underwater settlements, threatening the lives of inhabitants.  Ty and Gemma must work together to stop the rebels before it is too late.
Dalton E. Gray
Dalton E. Gray

This book could go in a couple of directions as a movie.  It could either be animated and have a Disney-like audience, or it could be filmed with some added animations and be PG-13.  Either way, it would be a smashing hit.  It's premise reminds me of a weird rendition of The Little Mermaid.  Descriptions from the book are full of imagery, and they would come to life in a film.  I would cast Dalton E. Gray as Ty.

8. Gone, by Michael Grant

GoneLife is going on as normal, until *POOF* all the adults disappear.  Vanish into thin air.  All that is left are teenagers and younger.  These children must figure out how to survive on their own, without any adults around.  They ration the grocery stores and begin planting crops.  However, they come to the realization that there is a barrier surrounding their town.  Nobody goes out, nobody comes in.  Children begin to die and teens have to step up and take leadership if they want to survive in a world without adults.
Cainan Wiebe
Cainan Wiebe

This deep plot line would make for an epic dystopian thriller movie.  Sadly, the title is already taken by the 2012 Amanda Seyfried movie.  But how cool would a movie about teens ruling the world be?  Not as pleasant as you would think.  This movie would have some deep emotional angst.  It would be very, very intense to watch.  I would cast Cainan Wiebe as the prep school antagonist, Caine. 

9. The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Lost Prince
Four orphans are recruited by a mysterious man named Conner to pose as the Lost Prince, the King's long-lost son.  One of these orphans is Sage, and he realizes that his life is in danger as he learns how to pose as the prince.  He must adapt the Prince's looks, personality, and history and completely erase himself.  At the same time, three other boys are doing the same.  Only one will become the Lost Prince.
L.J. Benet
This novel would make an extremely exciting movie because it is set in the Medieval Ages but also includes modern references.  Sage has to learn how to be somebody that he is not.  The movie would appeal to boys in particular because there are a few battles and sword fights.  The entire time, viewers will question whether or not Sage will be able to convince people that he is the Lost Prince.  I would cast L.J. Benet as Sage.

10. The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson

The Angel Experiment
Fourteen-year-old Max has wings.  Her and her "flock", six young adults, areheld captive at the "School", where evil scientists performed extreme tests on them.  Luckily, Max and her friends manage to escape with their lives.  However, the youngest flock member, Angel, gets recaptured.  The flock must go on a quest to rescue Angel from the School while keeping their wings and identities hidden from everybody that they meet.  They also have to fight off mutant "Erasers", monsters who are trying to capture them.
AnnaSophia Robb
James Patterson is a widely acclaimed adult novelist, and he made his debut into young adult fiction with this series.  It already has a large group of followers.  The novel is based in the United States, so landmarks could be included in the movie to create realism.  As long as the flock could be portrayed flying in a way that doesn't look super-fake or super-lame, this book could be a major blockbuster movie.  I would cast AnnaSophia Robb as Max because of how she can portray a fierce female protagonist, but she would have to dye her hair to fit the part.

This was quite a fun Top Ten Tuesday list to make!  My favorite part was picking out which actors and actresses would play the lead roles.  Hopefully a movie producer will read this post and make movies out of every single one of my choices, because I would see them all in theaters.  What do you think about my movie and TV show suggestions and my casting selections?

Happy Top Ten Tuesday,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Release Book Review: The Testing

The Testing
Title: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 336
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 12 due to disturbing violence
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

       Are you a fan of futuristic series such as The Hunger Games trilogy and The Maze Runner, filled with action and excitement?  If so, The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau, is the perfect book for you.  This page turner has thrilling plot twists on every page.  By the end of the novel, I was practically begging for the sequel to come out.

       Cia Vale lives with her family in a small colony comprised of survivors from the world's Seven Stages War.  When she graduates from school, she is selected, along with three other classmates, to participate in The Testing, a governmental search for the nation's future leaders.  She is initially excited to continue her education until her father warns her of The Testing's potential dangers.  When she boards the skimmer to take her to The Testing, she is warned to trust no one.  As soon as she arrives, she is required to participate in four rounds of intense testing, facing brutal competition and sabotage from 107 other students.  Cia realizes that she is no longer competing only to become a future leader, but for her life and memories.  Will she make it through The Testing alive?

Cia has to complete four rounds of testing.
Cia has to complete four rounds of testing.
       Although The Testing has a slow beginning, it really picks up the pace as soon as Cia arrives in Tosu City in order to compete with the other students.  One of the most prominent themes in the novel is trust.  As soon as Cia leaves home, she tries her best to heed her father's advice: "Trust no one."  However, she makes friends with a group of misfits after carefully analyzing their behavior.  Cia discovers both the positive and the negative impacts that her trust has on her test results.

Independent Study, sequel to The Testing
Independent Study,
sequel to The Testing
       I love that Cia is such a strong female character.  Throughout the novel, she is the one who saves the boy, instead of the other way around.  Cia finds a great group of friends and fiercely strives to protect them at all costs by using intelligence and resourcefulness.  She is a solid role model for all teenagers and never stops in the face of adversity.

       Clearly, I am looking forward to the release of The Testing's sequel, Independent Study, coming out this fall.  *Spoiler Alert*, Cia survives, but is drastically changed and now attends The University.  This series could easily be made into a blockbuster movie franchise, and it attracts all audiences.  Make sure you pick up a copy of The Testing.

Enjoy a good book,