Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Dancing Through It

Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet
Jenifer Ringer
Autobiography, Dance

Raised in South Carolina, Ringer led a typical kid’s life until she sat in on a friend’s ballet class, an experience that would change her life forever. By the age of twelve she was enrolled at the elite Washington School of Ballet and soon moved to the School of American Ballet. At sixteen she was a professional dancer at the New York City Ballet in Manhattan, home of the legendary George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.

Ringer takes us inside the dancer’s world, detailing a typical day, performance preparation, and the extraordinary pressures that these athletes face. Ringer shares exhilarating stories of starring in Balanchine productions, working with the famous Peter Martins, and of meeting her husband and falling in love at the New York City Ballet. Ringer also talks candidly of Alistair Macauley’s stinging critique of her weight in his 2010 New York Times review of The Nutcracker that ignited a public dialogue about ballet and weight. She unflinchingly describes her personal struggles with eating disorders and body image, and shares how her faith helped her to heal and triumph over these challenges. 

Wow. What a book.

As you'll see in my little about me, I've been a dancer for longer than I haven't been in my short teenage life. So besides the incredible story and writing, this book really struck a chord with me.

Jenifer walks you through the humble beginnings of every little girl who puts on pink tights, through the moving around, progressing in the dance school, apprenticing in the company and climbing the ranks. You go through the amazing times and the rough ones, and she never once glorifies herself. Honestly, you have to keep reminding yourself that no matter how humbly she says it, she must be amazing to have been chosen time and time again over the others.

I can tell you that on a much smaller scale, I related to her SO MUCH. I'm telling you this not only because it is a must read for every dancer, but to tell you how REAL and unexaggerated this was. The insanity and excitement that goes on behind stage, how dance can potentially and probably will consume your life when you're not on guard. How you develop perfectionism, and how your view of yourself physically and self-esteem change as you dance more.

Truly, read this book! It is a coming of age story, as well as the story of a courageous and talented young woman overcomes the obstacles society and then eventually herself have put in her way. There were themes of health and happiness that I think anyone can relate to. I was hooked. I will warn you though- Jenifer is a Christian and it is her religion she credits her success to. Her faith is a thing of importance and a running theme in her book, but as a religious non-Christian I can assure you it was not messianic in any way or a bother at all.


Happy return to school, everybody! See you on the Hogwarts Express(:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Ignite Me

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)
Tahareh Mafi
Fantasy, dystopia

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

You can read my reviews of Shatter Me and Unravel Me here.

Shatter Me - a promising debut series off to a really strong start, and like most promising debut series, falls to a disappointing end.

If Unravel me was annoying, Ignite Me was pretty pathetic a lot of the time. 250 pages in, and we're still dealing with Juliette/Adam drama. The war? The big, epic battle we've been building up to for 3 books? Only started at page 369. Out of 408 pages total. Which is to say, nothing actually happens for most of the novel. 

Spoiler + Rant: The character of Adam is completely destroyed in this installment. And despite the fact that I was team Warner, this royally ticked me off. I HATE IT when authors do this- making a totally lovable character become a jerk just to solve a love triangle. It's cheap and crowd-pleasing, not to mention unrealistic. If Adam was a sweetheart for two books straight, he would not become a total ass at 20 something years of age out of nowhere.

It would seem that the whole focus of the story was Juliette's love life drama - the book didn't even pretend to care about defeating the Reestablishment. It was done at the end as an afterthought, and not even properly. Yup, the job wasn't even finished. In Unravel Me, the only reason they didn't kill Anderson was because of the other Supremes, and now they just kill him in 5 seconds flat without a care in the world. Ooooooook.

Oh, and Juliette decided she is qualified to run the world. She makes this decision all on her own, with no plan or something resembling a justified reason to do so. AND EVERYONE JUST ACCEPTS THIS. The entire sector just follow her unquestioningly when she says, let's just kill the ruler and I'll lead instead. WHATEVER. 

Warner explains himself a lot, which is nice, as I always thought he was better than Juliette thought him to be. However, he never DOES answer Adam's totally legitimate accusation of WHY (if he is not evil) did he torture Adam. And no one tells James the truth, nor is the Warner's mother's death addressed by Anderson. In fact, NOTHING is addressed by Anderson. Juliette walks in, shoots, book over. Why does JULIETTE get to kill him? I felt that both Warner and Adam had better claims, and usually in books this kinda thing is symbolic. 'Cuz honestly, Anderson had nothing to do with Juliette's tough life. He never hurt her directly at all...

I did like Warner a lot in Ignite Me (which reminds me- the tattoo was never explained either!!), and Kenji, of course, was the love of my life. The book overally was stupid, but I guess I had a good time reading it. Rating:

Happy weekend!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: The Atlantis Complex

The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, #7)The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7)
Eoin Colfer
Middle grade, adventure, fantasy

When Artemis commits his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy, it seems that goodness has taken hold of the world's greatest teenage criminal mastermind. But the truth is much worse: Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common among guilt-ridden fairies and most likely triggered in Artemis by his dabbling with fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing professions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.

Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind-and the grips of a giant squid-in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?

You can read my reviews of The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl #8) and The Artemis Fowl Files here.

Ya, about that. I had accidentaly skipped book 7 of the series. *cringe* 

So in this installment, Artemis has a crazy disorder causing him to be.... well, crazy. At first I thought this would ruin the book for me, because Artemis being Artemis is what makes this series, you know? In the beginning, it was like that a bit. But as the story and Artemis's condition progresses, we get Orion, Artemis's alter ego. Need I say hilarious? All the things Artemis supresses in himself come out into full play, including his affections for Holly. As a huge Holly+Artemis shipper, you can bet I was WOOT WOOT-ing the whole time. 
(Either way, I needn't have worried. Every once in a while our favorite snooty criminal mastermind emerges from the depths have his own mind just in time to save everybody and be mortified by his alter ego's confessions)

Mulch was absolutely wonderful. I was giggling like a 5 year old being tickled after his every line. And it was nice to have Foaly on the field for a change. 

The beginning with the Butlers was a little slow, but push past that and you'll have a blast with the rest of the book. Rating:

What are you reading this week! I would love for you to let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: The Night Circus

The Night CircusThe Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Fantasy? Historical Fiction? A work of art. 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Ahhhhhh. I just. WOW.

I actually am in a sort of minor reading slump, and The Night Circus was exactly what I needed. If you're the type reader who connects to places - their secrets, treasures, people, histories and so on, (think Hogwarts, Gallagher Academy) then this is your book. 

Right from the beginning, the story had me hooked. You're presented with different pieces, and as you keep reading it begins to become clearer how everything fits together. The mystique, the magic of the place has you completely and utterly enchanted- this of course thanks to Erin Morgenstern's flawless and unique writing. I THOUGHT the present tense would bother me, and boy was I wrong. The scenes, the sights and the smells- it all felt like it was happening right in front of me.

There isn't too much background information on the challenge - this was another element I thought I wouldn't like, and again I was wrong. Understanding only part of the story kept me going, and I was provided with enough to feel satisfied. Very realistically, you feel like some things you'll never know, and maybe it's best that way.

The characters were complex. The idea of the reveurs is so funny and so heartwarming and relatable and utterly RIGHT and perfect for the story that I just smiled at the very mention of them. As a reader, I had no doubt that I'd be one of them- traveling the world chasing magical nights, making friends with other enthusiasts like me, dressing to match the circus with a splash of red. 

This is the kind of book you'll want to pick apart and discuss, have a beautiful copy on your shelf, and revisit in the future. If you love magic, at its most pure and abstract, get your hands on The Night Circus. Rating:

Happy weekend!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book to Movie Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns Movie Poster Go On an Exhilarating Adventure with Paper Towns Official PosterPaper Towns
Book by John Green 
Directed by Jake Schreier

  1. Young and shy Quentin (Nat Wolff) is in for the night of his life when Margo (Cara Delevingne), the most popular student in high school, recruits him to help her play mischievous pranks on the friends who betrayed her. The next day, however, the mysterious Margo is nowhere to be found. With help from a few buddies and some cryptic clues that she left behind, Quentin embarks on an obsessive mission to find the girl who stole his heart and made him feel truly alive.
Hey all! Back from camp finally with plenty of time to read and review! I had watched Paper Towns on release night, but it was hectic after that and I only now can share my thoughts:

I tried soooooo hard not to come to Paper Towns with expectations, but the whole production of the thing made it nearly impossible. I mean, all the creators of TFioS, the beautiful trailer, Nat Wolff, John Green being executive, John sharing videos with the cast and talking about it for months now... I couldn't help it. I was excited.

Luckily, the film didn't disappoint too much. What I didn't like:

The screenplay was disjointed... the tone of the first half (Margo's revenge night) was nothing like the middle bit (Margo missing), which felt nothing like the road trip that was the second half. For some reason, the movie just didn't flow smoothly at all!

What I did like: 

The girls! It was so refreshing to see Angela, Margo, and Lacy all so totally different but each so strong and smart and amazing in her own way. The loyalty and sisterhood awed me too and struck a chord with me, reminding me of my own friends.

The true and oh-so-relatable dread of graduation- I am going into 12th this year with my best friends. I know that feeling. I couldn't stop the tears when this topic came up.

The point- if there is only one thing you need to be true to when adapting a book for the big screen, it's the point. The message. Whatever you want to call it. I will never forgive the creators of My Sister's Keeper and If I Stay for screwing up those respective endings and therefore canceling out the meaning of the original stories. So of course, I loved loved loved how Paper Towns ended - the idea that Margo is not a legend, but a girl. Loving her not because she is a mystery, but for who she is. Q realizing that if Margo doesn't know who she is, he certainly doesn't (know who she is). 

Best scene: The timed gas station sequence and the surprise guest in the middle of it. Even if I had hated the movie, the price of the ticket would have been worth it for all my laughing when that person from that other JG movie shows up in the middle of Paper Towns and offers you a bag. Nope, still not over that. Literally typing in giggles. 

Overall: Music and shots were gorgeous, touching and relatable, a tad cheesy at times but forgivable. Rating: 4.5 stars - half gone for the weird disjointed feeling. 

Will be around for the rest of the month and hopefully blogging a lot! Let me hear your thoughts!