Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope you have a good one.

*Note: I'm changing my blogging schedule. The new schedule will be up January 1, 2015.

Double List Post: My 6 Favorite Books/Movies of 2014 and 6 Books/Movies I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

Okay, the title was a bit of a mouthful. Or a lot of a mouthful. But it stills covers this lists in this post. The lists are arranged with the books, then the movies. So, the first item of the list was my favorite book I read this year (which doesn't necessarily mean it came out this year), the fourth item of my list (the first movie) was my favorite movie, and so forth. The second list, however, is arranged books, then movies. The order doesn't really matter because it's rather hard to gauge how much I like something if it hasn't been released yet.

My 6 Favorite Books/Movies of 2014

 

#1: The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Yes, this book came out in 1993, and is the only item on this list that didn't come out in 2014. But I read it this year, and must say that it, as well as the movie inspired by it, are spectacular. I will be reviewing both in January.

 

#2: Becoming the Chateran, by S. J. Aisling

Becoming the Chateran is an epic fantasy novel, with some pictures of the characters and the map, all of which were drawn by the author, I believe. My review of Becoming the Chateran will come out some time in January.

 

#3 Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City is the second book in Ransom Riggs' series. The book is full of pictures that supplement the story, and is a very, very good read if you've read the first, and it has one of the best plot twists I've read at the end.

 

#4 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

This movie is absolutely amazing. It's full of action, and it has a surprising amount of comedy considering it's about a battle between five armies and a dragon who burns down most of a town. This movie is also the final journey to Middle-Earth ever, and a spectacular end.

 

#5 The Giver

The Giver, based off of the novel at the top of this list, was, as I said before, spectacular. In, fact it was even better than the book, which is a highly unusual occurrence.

 

#6 Guardians of the Galaxy

You've almost certainly heard of Marvel's lastest movie hit (and if you haven't, you've probably been living under a rock). As action-packed as this movie is, it's just as funny; this movie could be sorted into the comedy genre as easily as sci-fi, superhero, or action-adventure. It is definitely worth watching.

Well, that wraps up the first list. Now, on to the second!

  6 Books/Movies I'm looking forward to in 2015

 

#1 Carried Home, by Heather Manning

Carried Home is the sequel to Manning's debut novel, Swept to Sea. Swept to Sea is an inspirational historical-romance novel that follows a young lady named Eden who escapes from her abusive fiance and finds herself aboard a pirate ship. I don't know when the release date, only that the book will likely come out after the first half of 2015.

 

#2 Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Here's the blurb:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Sounds cool, right? It's going to come out around February 10.

 

#3 Saint Anything, by Sarah Dessen

Again, the blurb:
Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. The book comes out around May 5.

 

#4 Avengers: Age of Ultron

This is the highly-anticipated superhero movie of 2015, where the Avengers battle Ultron, a powerful robot with an evil A.I. that creates an army of clones in an effort to wipe out humanity.

 

#5 Insurgent

The sequel the the movie Divergent, Insurgent is based off of the trilogy of books written by Veronica Roth. It has a release date of March 20, 2015.

 

 #6 Paper Towns

This movie is based of the John Green novel of the same name, the cover of which is above. It has the same director as The Fault In Our Stars, and the same scriptwriter, so it'll probably be a very close representation of the book.

And that's it! Thanks for reading!

What about you? What movies and books have you enjoyed this year, and what are you looking forward to in 2015?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book blurb:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.


Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication date: January 1, 2011
Genre: YA Dystopian

The plot:
The plot of Divergent was fairly decent. It did have several twists. Some of these twists were foreseeable, some of them weren't, which I found to be a pleasant mix. Divergent is a very straightforward, action-packed novel. There is romance, of course. Divergent really won in this regard; the romance is slow-building and tense, and, unlike many other YA novels, there is no love triangle whatsoever. Just Tris and Four. There were a few holes, however. The one I found the most annoying is the wall that surrounds the city. It's mentioned that, despite the fact that the only thing beyond the wall are Amity farms, the Dauntless guard the wall. The initiates
go on a field trip to the farms, but after that, it's pretty much ignored until the end of the second book in the trilogy.

The characters:
The characters in Divergent are really quite good. My favorite character was probably Christina, the Candor girl who became friends with Tris during initiation. Christina was clever, witty, and sarcastic, which is a character type that Veronica Roth has a very good handle on. But Roth does an even better job with slimy, despicable characters like Peter, another one of the initiates who Tris and her friends despise. I did, however, find one character and his arc who stood out beyond the rest: Al, another Candor transfer who had a crush on Tris that ended in tragedy. Out of every other character, Al was written the best and stood out the most.

The setting:
The dystopian Chicago of Divergent is semi-interesting. Many people have said that Veronica Roth ripped of the Hunger Games trilogy with the setting of Divergent, especially with the Dauntless compound being underground. I think that the setting was heavily inspired by the world of the Hunger Games. It does make some sense for the society to group people with similar skills and talents together. Even the 'faction before blood' motto makes sense. Groups of each of the citizens of the factions into separate parts of the city, however, doesn't make quite as much sense.

Overall:
I liked Divergent, I really did. Maybe not as much as I liked any of The Hunger Games books, but more than, say, Matched by Allie Condie. I've seen several reviews which have said that this book is just another one trying to copy the success of the Hunger Games with lots and lots of action. Well, I wouldn't say that; yes, there is a lot of action and it does have several elements in common with the Hunger Games, but Divergent also stands on its own as a novel. Roth does an excellent job with high-adrenaline fighting scenes, and she uses that skill to the max, while still keeping her novel human.

The Movie:
The Divergent movie, which came out earlier this year, was at least as good as the book, which is more than can be said for most novel-based movies. The plot and characters were very similar to the book, with a few, mostly unnecessary changes. For instance, when the initiates went to play capture the flag, they used darts with a drug that simulated the pain of a real gunshot wound for a few minutes rather than paintballs like they used in the book. The actors chosen to portray the characters, especially Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as Four were pretty perfect. Altogether, Divergent is a good, action-packed movie that really does the book justice.

Click here if you would like to purchase the Divergent book and here to purchase the Divergent DVD.

About the author:
 Veronica Roth is the author of the Divergent trilogy. She blogs at http://theartofnotwriting.tumblr.com/ and is on Twitter @VeronicaRoth.