May 14, 2013


Matched by Ally Condie
I recently read (and forgot to add it to the Current Reads blogpost) Matched by Allyson Condie. It's yet another dystopian novel, of which I've read literally ten in the last few months (i.e. Uglies, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Divergent and Insurgent, The Selection and The Elite), and yet another in which the government is completely tyrannical over those underneath them. This government goes so far as to say whom you may and may not love. At a ceremony, upon the eve of your sixteenth birthday, you are Matched, or basically told with whom you are to foster a relationship with the future goal of marrying and producing children. Typically all goes well, and the two comply to the matching and procreate and live on in complete ignorance of the fact that they are being controlled at every turn in their lives. Such is not the case with Cassia Reyes. When she's matched to her best friend it appears that she's going to live out every girl's greatest wish - not only getting matched to someone she knows, but having it be the smart, attractive and sweet Xander? Unthinkable.

When she goes to look at the chip with Xander's information on it, there's a glich... and the face on the screen isn't Xander's.  For a brief second she questions whether or not she was supposed to be with Xander - whether the government is right - and this question grows into general unease about the way things are. She begins to foster a relationship with the boy behind the face - Ky, a boy who is, unbeknownst to the general population, an aberration, someone who cannot be matched. Her act is seen as rebellion to government officials and is treated as such, the consequences being drastic. Cassia finds out that the government can give great joy, and can take it all away if she displeases them. Subtle acts of rebellion don't go unnoticed, and Cassia intends (in the later installments of the series) to do something much more than subtle.

All Will Be Sorted
I enjoyed the novel, though I'm getting to be a bit jaded about the whole formula behind the teen dystopian novel. The inner dialogue of Cassia's character was interesting in it's honesty, and Ky Markham is a bit of a puzzle to figure out. Towards the end of the book I felt rather sorry for Xander, and proud of his loyalty to Cassia as a friend. He's far more than he seems, which may end up being beneficial to Cassia throughout the rest of the novels. The idea of the government dictating who, when, and what I did with my love life was upsetting... admittedly, I'm not a hopeless romantic, but I still am far too rebellious and cannot stomach the idea of another allocating what I do with my life. I'd give the book 6 out of 10, but largely because this was like... the tenth book of its type that I'd read. As always, read on!

May 4, 2013

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series is comprised of four books: Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras. I just finished reading the first book, and will move onto the second shortly (after finals end). Uglies is set in a time quite a ways from now when modern day technology is known as the "Rustys" (I don't know about you, but my Kindle is quite schnazzy, thank you very much!) and the government controls everything... literally everything. What you wear, what your job is, even what you look like! Upon your sixteenth birthday you are turned into a Pretty - being that complete body makeovers using plastic surgery is what makes someone pretty. The thing is that turning Pretty changes an Ugly's personality... and when a select few rebel against this social norm Special Circumstances gets involved.

Tally Youngblood
Enter Tally Youngblood. She's a bit younger than her best friend, Paris, and when he left she began to feel a bit lost. She meets up with this girl named Shay and they start pulling pranks together. Then Shay suggests a bigger prank than any Tally's ever done - Shay is going to leave before she turns Pretty. Tally is shocked at the suggestion that she'd go with Shay and declines, fully intent on becoming a Pretty, but when Special Circumstances says she has to follow Shay and lead them to the town of the rebels, named Smoke for the fact that it's nearly impossible to find, she has no choice but to find Smoke or forever be an Ugly. When Tally gets to Smoke, after a harrowing journey and nearly getting burned (...the irony), she discovers that being Pretty may not be all it's cut out to be, and that the government may be more sinister than she thought it was.

The book had an intriguing message, to say the least. It seemed to me as if it was tossing off the social norms of being pretty and aligning itself with not only being a good person, but with being intelligent and knowledgable about the threats that may be around you. Tally learned that not all Pretties are pretty inside, and that some Uglies may be wiser than she could ever know. The fact that the government was controlling it's people via making them placid and apathetically-minded is reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984, though a much more modern (and teenage-friendly) version of an omniscient government. The ending was... confusing, though I bet it'll be cleared up with the next few in the series. I'll definitely get to reading them shortly! I just gotta catch up on this Biology, take the final, and then I'll be back for more!

May 2, 2013

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers
Carolina jasmine for separation.
Indian jasmine for attachment.
Dahlias for dignity.
Marigold for grief.
Dried basil for hate.
Common thistle for misanthropy.
Misanthropy is distrust of humankind. 
Misanthropy is all she has.

Victoria Jones is an eighteen year old who has just gotten out of the United States foster care system. Gotten out meaning that she's run away. Run away with no other place to go. She lives in a park while she attempts to get her life together, and grows her flowers - the only things that keep her company these days. She knows about the flowers because of Elizabeth, the woman that was so similar to her - dealing with demons of her own past - the only person who has been able to handle the tempestuous Victoria. She taught Victoria about her flowers, about how to care for them, what seasons they grow in, but most importantly their meaning. When Victoria begins working with a florist, the meanings of the flowers take on a whole new light. Victoria learns that she can change others lives through the flowers she gives them - periwinkle for tender recollections, mums for truth, rosemary for commitment

Each one has meaning
Her attitude towards life begins to change when the florist, Renata, takes her under her wing, and changes further when she sees a face from the past - Grant - Elizabeth's nephew. Grant understands Victoria, or at least he seems to, and an odd sort of romance blossoms between them, though she doesn't want to trust him. She's had way too much hurt in her life to let him into her heart. The novel takes you through Victoria's daily life as she faces obstacles and heartache that everyone faces, though it's more acute because of her background. You begin to wonder if Victoria will overcome the obstacles of her past that she's let cling to her, or if she'll crumble under the weight of the things she remembers.Victoria needs a large dose of peony, healing.

There were times in the book that I really just wanted someone to knock some sense into this girl's head. I found Victoria to be not exactly likable  though she had a certain allure, but it was more her background and story that drew sympathy. Grant, on the other hand, was charming because of his willingness to deal with all of Victoria's heaviness. I can't say that the plot was entirely surprising, as I could see that something (not telling what) was going to happen to shift things dramatically at some point. It was a good read, though I originally bought it just because the cover was pretty. The Language of Flowers surprised me with its content, and the information concerning flowers was definitely intriguing. I'll have to consider it next time I buy a bouquet...

May 1, 2013

The Hunger Games: Trilogy

May the odds be ever in your favor.
I read The Hunger Games series in 2010, right after the last in the series, Mockingjay, came out. The books in order are: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. I read the entire trilogy in three days, and then saw the movie within the first weekend of it coming out. I guess you could say I blurred through the series. Susanne Collins, author of the popular kid's book Little Bear (which I basically grew up on), conceived the idea for The Hunger Games after watching reality TV shows and footage of wars of the past back to back. The two blurred together and created the idea of a world where teaching children to murder others for entertainment was totally acceptable. The books gradually gained in fame, and resulted in not only the making of an extremely popular movie, but the honor of being at the top of Amazon's most popular book series, stealing that title away from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series in mid-2012, just 4 years after the start of the series.

The United States has turned into the kingdom of Panem (named for "Panem et Circences" or "Bread and Circuses" which was a motto of the Roman Empire), and has been divided into twelve districts (first thirteen, but then later twelve). The wealthy of the nation live in the Capitol, and oversee the goings-on in the rest of the districts. After the thirteenth district rioted against the Capitol and was obliterated, the Hunger Games were instituted. Each year two contestants, one of each gender, is taken and thrown into a survivalist arena where they have to fight to the death, leaving only one conqueror. The games are watched and presided over by the leaders of the Capitol, and merely serve as a reminder for the districts and entertainment for the people of the capitol.

Peeta, Katniss and Gale
Katniss, a young girl living in District 12, shocks everyone by volunteering for the games after her sister is selected in the drawing. She and Peeta, the boy that was selected, leave and go to the Capitol where they are pretty-fied and trained for a brief period of time. They earn the approval and respect of those in the Capitol and those in the Districts, and shock everyone when, through an outrageous turn of events and pissing off the leaders at the Capitol, both of them emerge as victor from the games. They return to District 12, unsure of their seemingly loving relationship due to Katniss' prior involvement with her friend, Gale. Both Katniss and Peeta are thinking that they'll be able to put the memories behind them, but the Capitol has other tricks up their sleeve.

After traveling the country for the next year, while publicly planning their wedding, Katniss and Peeta return to District 12 to await word of the next Hunger Games. Then comes the horrible announcement that the contestants will come from the previous victors of each district, which means that Haymitch, Katniss, and Peeta are the only ones up to bat. Katniss and Peeta are drawn yet again, and, at the urging of Haymitch, escape the arena after breaking out of it. Katniss is rescued by people from District 13, and taken to join them in rioting against the Capitol, but receives the awful news that the Capitol has captured Peeta. Katniss is supposed to join forces with District 13 in their riots against the Capitol and save Peeta, but various things go awry, leaving Katniss to wonder if either side is right. The end of the last book was so freaking sad... well, at least one specific detail of it. I'm not telling! That'd spoil too much!

I'd give the books about a 7.5 out of 10. They were an easy and fun read... not overly pithy stuff, other than the horrendous state of their society, but a relatively decent plot line (no matter how much you say it ripped off Battle Royale). The Hunger Games movie came out towards the beginning of 2012, and was much anticipated. It launched the adorable Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) to becoming a household name, and also starred the two heartthrobs, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale). The movie was pretty good, and nothing strayed from the plot line too terribly, and I'll definitely be seeing the other two when they come out! 

Apr 23, 2013

Vamps and Shape-shifters and Telepaths,oh my!

True Blood
When Charlaine Harris crafted the tale about a telepathic waitress and her vampire beau, I doubt she knew that she was starting a craze. HBO soon caught on, and began turning the series into a television series called True Blood starring Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse, Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton, Sam Trammell as Sam Merlotte, and (the super attractive) Alexander Skarsgård as Eric. The show is about to start it's sixth season on June 16th, and has an avid fan base (who doesn't like attractive men... oh, and blood). I've just finished the first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, and hope to work my way through the rest of them, possibly watching the HBO series as I go.

Sookie as Rogue
The series begins with the introduction of a vampire, one of the undead - who have recently been legally recognized as existing, though excuses were made for their existence - a Bill Compton. Bill has recently moved to a small town in Louisiana with the intention of "mainstreaming," or basically not eating humans. Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress that just so happens to be telepathic (meaning that she can hear people's thoughts... basically an X-Men character... oh... wait...), develops a fascination with Bill because she can't hear his thoughts. You would too if you were barraged by the darkest secrets of your creepy neighbors all the time. His "silence" is welcome (and by that she means his heart isn't beating. But it's not... see what I did there?... I give up.) 

Eric, Sookie and Bill
Bill complicates things for Sookie in a town where already she is not entirely accepted, though she may have lived there from birth. His existence, and her budding love affair with him, is looked down upon, by the residents of Bon Temps. As their love grows into something very unusual - an unselfish bond between a vampire and a human (Bill sounds like a parasite.) - a series of seemingly vampire-related attacks rack the town of Bon Temps. Murders of people close to Sookie, and the suspicion cast on her brother, forces her to use her gift to attempt to track down the killer. This gift also brings her into contact with a powerful vampire named Eric who'd like to use her for himself. Sookie seems to instantly become the most desirable thing in southern Louisiana, because her boss, Sam, also craves Sookie's attention, and makes her aware of it through his hazy thoughts. When Bill leaves town, Sam reveals to Sookie that he has supernatural gifts as well. He's a shapeshifter, and he wants to protect her. Unfortunately, his protection doesn't seem adequate, nor is the security vamp Bill left to watch over Sookie. She is attacked, but makes it out alive, and the identity of the killer shocks everyone. After all is said and done, Bon Temps, Louisiana seems like it will go back to normal again. Bill has gained a position of power, and Sookie is healing from her bruises and broken bones. I guess I'll just have to see what happens in the next book in the series, Living Dead in Dallas!

Apr 22, 2013

The Twenties: Money, Parties, Flappers, and Gatsby

Fitzgerald and wife, Zelda
"Well, three months before I was born, my mother lost her other two children ... I think I started then to be a writer."
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Named for his three-times removed cousin, Francis Scott Key, and his (deceased) sister, F. Scott Fitzgerald has, himself, admitted that he was born to be a writer. He and his wife, the legendary Zelda Fitzgerald, well-known for her lifestyle during the twenties, were married shortly after his first novel, This Side of Paradise, became one of the most read novels of 1920. After living out the Roaring Twenties in Europe, along with his friend, Ernest Hemingway, and his wife, Fitzgerald made any of his books about his wife and their life together. Fitzgerald died early, at the age of 44, from a heart attack .. probably from partying too hard. See, Fergie, a little party CAN hurt somebody!

The Great Gatsby (original cover)
The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's most popular work, was released in 1925, and set in 1922, at the start of the Roaring Twenties, the time of affluence directly after World War I. The novel's historical context is taken from Fitzgerald's own life - the setting, Long Island, and the new-money, old-money discrepancies were found in the area that Fitzgerald lived.

Nick Carraway, a Yale grad, rents out a small house next to a mansion owned by the mysterious and filthy rich character of Jay Gatsby. Gatsby likes to hold parties... crazy ones. And this was before noise complaints, guys, so remember that next time you complain about your neighbors rap music being too loud. ( If ya havin' noise problems, I feel bad fo' ya son. I got 99 problems, but Jay Gatsby ain't one.) Carraway's cousin, Daisy, and her husband, Tom, live in the old money area across the waterfront, and they introduce him to Jordan Baker, a (girl) (cheating) golfer, whom Nick gets involved with. Tom has a mistress on the side - Myrtle, the voluptuous wife of a garage owner.

Nick eventually gets invited to one of Gatsby's parties, and they recognize each other, having served in World War I together (yet another element of Fitzgerald's life being input into the novel). Nick finds out, through Jordan, that Daisy and Gatsby had been interested in each other before the war, and that Gatsby throws these elaborate parties and owns this HUGE mansion in order for her to take notice of him. Nick invites the two to tea, and their love is rekindled. Meanwhile, Tom has become abusive and broken the nose of his mistress. (Affairs and intrigue abound.) Due to this, George, Myrtle's husband, has deduced that Myrtle is having an affair and locked her in their home. He tells Tom this when Tom stops for gas at his garage, and then Tom continues on his trek into New York City where Tom, Nick, Daisy, Jordan and Gatsby all dine at the Plaza.

The Wilson's Garage
Tom confronts Gatsby about his affair after lunch and over drinks, which leads to a huge fight, which Tom thinks he won. Daisy and Gatsby leave in Gatsby's yellow car, returning home together because Tom thinks Daisy won't be involved with Gatsby any longer. Tom, Jordan and Nick return together in Tom's car. On the way home Daisy and Gatsby hit and kill Myrtle, who ran out in the middle of the road (apparently she doesn't have as much brains as she does boobs), and there is an extremely gruesome detailing of Myrtle's right breasts being torn off and hanging onto her body as if by a few threads.

Tom and Nick come upon Myrtle's body after Daisy and Gatsby speed away, in shock. After returning home, Daisy shows herself to be self-serving and selfish by packing her and Tom's possessions and leaving town with Tom. Tom tells George before he leaves that Gatsby was the driver on the night of Myrtle's accident, which makes George think that Gatsby was the love affair that Myrtle had been seeing. Meanwhile, Gatsby tells Nick that Daisy was the driver that killed Myrtle, but that he's willing to take the blame for her sake, and refuses to flee to escape the hand of the law (or the anger of Myrtle's husband).

Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby
George, in a fit of rage, goes to Gatsby's house and finds him lounging in his prodigiously sized pool. George shoots Gatsby multiple times, killing him, then turns the gun on himself, committing suicide. Nick, Gatsby's father and his servants are the only people that attend Gatsby's funeral. Nick is disgusted by the fact that Gatsby doesn't seem to have any true friends, and turns this disgust on Tom and Jordan when he next sees them. He resolves at the end to return to the Midwest, and decides that both he and Gatsby hadn't fully acclimated to life in the East.

Each of the characters in the novel have some inclusion to a person that was involved in the life of Fitzgerald, the author, outside of the Wilsons (Myrtle & George) and Nick Carraway, which very well could've been Fitzgerald himself. Gatsby, originally James Gatz, was inspired by the life of WWI veteran Max Gerlach, an acquaintance of Fitzgerald's who also dabbled in bootlegging (an illegal activity) like Gatsby. Daisy was inspired by the memory of the first girl Fitzgerald ever fell for, Ginevra King, while her friend, Jordan, was inspired by a golfer friend of Ginevra's.

The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckelburg
Colors also play a key role in the novel, with Daisy and Jordan often being shown in white - ironically symbolizing innocence and virtue, since Daisy is playing two men for fools and Jordan is well-known for her 'fast' lifestyle and her tendency to cheat in golf matches. Gatsby's car and Jordan's hair, both alarming shades of yellow, are symbols for the fast life of the East, and eventually stand for things that Nick and Gatsby cannot live up to as Westerners. Nick has to leave Jordan, as he eventually develops distate for her and her lifestyle, and Gatsby's car is the cause of Myrtle's, and in turn, Gatsby's, deaths. The green light on the end of Gatsby's dock is mentioned throughout the book as a symbol of Gatsby's ever-present love for Daisy as well as his hope that she will return to him. The blue eyes, immortalized on the cover, of the optometrist that watches over the valley of ashes, symbolize the judgement of the moral situations that each of the characters face. The optometrist is a sort of all-seeing, but never interfering, judge - seeing each movement that the characters make, but doing nothing to stop them from heading to their own demises.

Cast of Baz Luhrmann's Gatsby (2013)
This book has been made into countless movies, analyzed in countless books, and critically acclaimed as perhaps the second greatest fiction work in the history of American novels. Among my favorite movie versions is the 1974 version starring Mia Farrow as Daisy and Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby. The final scene in this one is stunning, though a bit graphic - Gatsby's death scene is among one of the more dramatic I've seen, and Robert Redford never fails to deliver. A more recent version will be coming out shortly on May 10th, 2013 by Baz Luhrmann. This one features Carey Mulligan as Daisy, Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. I, for one, cannot wait to see it, and am already avidly listening to the soundtrack. All of Baz Luhrmann's movies have fantastic soundtracks, do they not? This one features Lana del Rey and Fergie in two of the best songs on the album (Young and Beautiful & A Little Party Never Hurt Nobody, respectively). Make sure to look it up, and go read the book and watch the movie for some drama, some intrigue, some death, and a lot of twenties flapper fashion.

Apr 21, 2013

Current Books

Meaning of flowers
Hey! Okay, so, I'm going to list the books I'm currently reading, and I'll attempt to work through blogs concerning all of them.

  1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
    • This one chronicles the life of an eighteen year old girl who had issues inside the foster care system while growing up. She discovers, through various means, that she can touch other people's lives through the meanings of the flowers she gives to them.
  2. Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare
    • This chronicles the tales of Henry IV and his son, also named Henry. The younger Henry doesn't quite live up to what his father, or basically all of England, thinks he should act like in order to inherit the throne in the future. Both go through a series of actions, following two different plot lines  culminating in one epic battle.
  3. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
    • True Blood
    • Harris' book is the premise of HBO's popular TV show True Blood, which follows the life of telepathic barmaid, Sookie Stackhouse, and her beau, Bill Compton, in a very southern, small town in Louisiana  Interesting twist - Bill's a vampire, and there are a series of vampire-related murders going through their small town. Both Bill and Sookie's brother are suspects, and Sookie is set out to prove their innocence through any means possible.
  4. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
    • The Game of Thrones
    • Another HBO television show, Game of Thrones, covers this series of books, set in the Medieval era, following the battle over the Iron Throne which was usurped after a huge country-wide war by one Robert Baratheon. After years of ruling the kingdom, he dies and  his wife, a member of the wealthy and powerful Lannister family, is discovered to be guilty of sleeping with her brother leading to the conception of Geoffrey, the bastard king. Whenever a member of the Stark family, Ned (also the Hand of the King), confronts the queen, she has him killed, leading to his family and their allies aligning against the Lannister king. Other factions claim their right to the throne, and full-on war ensues.
  5. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  6. Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
    • Yet another dystopian teen novel, Uglies is set in a time where, upon your sixteenth birthday, you are made over, through total remodeling surgery, to be a Pretty. Tally isn't sure she wants to be a Pretty, who seem to be empty headed thrill seekers, and when she meets another Ugly, named Shay, she discovers that there may be more to her city than she thought. Bad things can happen, even in a place filled with Pretties.
  7. Glamour by Penelope Fletcher
  8. Forest Fae
    • In another dystopian novel (God! There are a lot!), Rae Wilder thought she was human... but do humans run as fast as the speed of light? Do they sprout wings and shimmer? No, Rae discovers that she just might be Fae - she might be a demon girl - what she's been taught to hate. She enters the world outside the Wall, and walks straight into a civil war - not just between the humans and demons, but within the factions of demons. Dealing with blood bonds, love and friendship is bad enough for a young girl, but being called upon to support an entire race? Rough stuff. 
  9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • Gatsby is fantastic, sexy and mysterious. He throws huge parties in classic twenties flapper style, but there may be more to him than meets the eye. Nick is sucked into his world, along with a few of their mutual friends. Gatsby's way of life could lead to great connections, money, power, and everything Nick doesn't have. Or it could lead down a path that Nick would rather not even think about. Death, drama, love, mystery... The Great Gatsby pretty much has it all.
The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann
That last is in honor of the upcoming movie premier, and it's more of a refresher, as I've read it already once. I'm attempting to finish books 1 through 4 of A Game of Thrones by the end of this summer, as well as the entirety of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. I may also work my way through The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, though I've already finished The Hobbit by that same author. If there are any suggestions on books or movie/book duos that you'd like me to review, comment in the below section! Thank you, and see you soon!

Apr 15, 2013

The Taming of the Shrew

Just call me Shakespeare... because that seems to be all of been reading recently. Here's a list of the Shakespearean plays I've completed:
Shakesbear gets me.

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Hamlet
  • Macbeth
  • Twelfth Night (or What You Will)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Much Ado about Nothing
  • Othello
  • The Tempest
  • King Lear
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Julius Caesar
  • Richard III
  • The Winter's Tale
  • Measure for Measure
  • All's Well that Ends Well
  • The Taming of the Shrew
And that doesn't even mention any of the sonnets. "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me." I wasted time all right! Reading when I should've been studying biology! I've done blogs thus far on a few (click to view them), but if you'd like me to do a synopsis of others, don't be afraid to comment! 

Such a cute little shrew...
Most recently I've finished The Taming of the Shrew, and shrewish she was! The book is basically the definition of a volatile sibling rivalry. Bianca is a lovely girl - classic beauty, domesticated, known for her quiet and gentle mannerisms. Katherine is the exact opposite. She's known through Italy for being unbearable. Her actions are so out of hand, for the time period, that even her insanely wealth Mr. Moneybags daddy can't marry her off; no one will take her! (Would you wanna get stuck with a beautiful, rich hag for the rest of your life!? Some things are simply deal breakers.) Her dad won't give Bianca away to any of her slightly-less-wealthy-than-him-and-equally-old suitors until Katherine gets married.

Seriously, Petruccio? Seriously?
Enter Lucentio. Lucentio sees Bianca, falls in love, and applies for the position of her tutor with the introduction of one of her suitors (he'd promised the suitor to tell Bianca of the suitor's love for her, but in fact intended to begin vying for her hand under the guise of a tutor). Meanwhile, a man named Petruccio comes to town and hears that Katherine is available, rich and that her dad is looking for someone take her. He basically wants to get rid of her... which is kind of terrible. When he hears this, he's like "I can tame her." TAME her!? Like she's a pet!? Exccuuusse me!? Petruccio goes and "woos" Katherine. Meaning that he's like "Hey. You? Me? We're gettin' hitched." Real killer lines there, bud. At least buy her dinner first! Isn't there a three-date minimum on proposals?

Why did they get married?
Petruccio shows up to their wedding looking totally ratchet. Like... #notacceptable. Katherine is irate, and it seems like their marriage is off to a great start (similar to Kim Kardashian's... 72 days will be longer than Kathruccio will last.)  The beginning of their life as a married couple goes roughly, to say the least, and continues to be awful, with Petruccio seeming to be nearly abusive, up until Katherine finds out that if she does as Petruccio says, he will treat her to what she wants. If she relinquishes her power, he will give her the "desires of her heart.

Katherine and Petruccio go back to her family's town to visit, Lucentio and Biance get married (after a whole lot of not-very-important-to-te-plot drama), and Katherine proves herself to be submissive to her husband in front of the whole town... big turn around for the previous shrew! The play ends with a long monologue from Katherine addressing both her sister and one of her previous suitor's wife, telling them that they should submit to their husbands. Literally saying to place their hands under his feet, and basically wait for him to smash them. Then they sing a lovely song together and all is well.

Elizabeth Taylor in The Taming of the Shrew
Aside from the insanely misogynistic tones of this play... well... I can't even properly describe everything that is wrong with all of the plot line and urges that each of the character's have. Despite it's slight twistedness, Shakespeare is still a genius, and this has been acknowledged through several different renditions of the play. The lovely Elizabeth Taylor plays Katherine in a 1967 version of The Taming of the Shrew, alongside Richard Burton. There have also been several interpretations, including Kiss Me Kate (1953, Dorothy Kingsley), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999, Julia Styles and Heath Ledger), and Shakespeare Re-told's The Taming of the Shrew (2005) featuring Shirley Henderson (think Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter) and Simon Chandler. Each of the movies is different, unique, and amazing in it's own way, so I'd suggest checking out all of them!

Hope you enjoy it, and I will be back shortly!

Apr 14, 2013

Shameless Plugging

Hey, guys!

Okay, so this is a break away from my previously all-around bookishness, but I'm about to shamelessly plug for my family's business! Get ready for it... 3...2...1.

Luminati Lighted Bracket
Please please please please go vote (click on vote to actually vote) for Federal Brace's Luminati Lighted Bracket. Ten reasons why:

1.) Made in America, so you're basically helping the economy. Go 'murica.

2.) Made with gorgeous stainless steel and artisan glass inserts. We're all 'bout that streamlined technique...  Oh, AND making your kitchen counters look marvelous.

Beautiful Federal Brace Countertop
3.) Small family businesses (specifically mine) will be helped by your vote... and aid in my college tuition. Yay eduction! And economy (again)!!!

4.) It's backlit, so that your lovely granite countertops will actually get the attention they deserve!

5.) According to the makers themselves "This is more than a conspiracy - it is a revolution in countertop support decor!" (See Shakespeare for rebellion and revolution - he's basically the originator of the Luminati Lighted Bracket.)

Cats on Cats on Racks
6.) With a name like Luminati Lighted, you're bound to be both mysterious (in the best way possible) and enlightened (like Buddha... but less fat).

7.) See Wikipedia for further proof of the above.

8.) If you do this, I get a pizza party... SO DO IT.

9.) I said ten, but I'm running out of reasons. Here's a picture of a cat. Cute kitty!

10.) More cats. Cats on cats on cats. Leggho...

The link is here. Please! Also, comment if you voted, just so I can see who loves me the mostest.

Apr 13, 2013

Twelfth Night

We're going classic again... with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (alternatively known as What you Will... like one of those books where you pick the plot line and ending? Nope, this is not one of those.), which has been turned and twisted into countless movie renditions, but we'll get to those later. What happens when you're shipwrecked in some place, your entire family may or may not be dead, and all of your possessions are waterlogged and thus taken away to be stored? According to Viola, obviously the most logical  solution is to dress up like your drowned and dead brother. (Everyone, say hello to Viola the transvestite.) Because that's the only viable option.... right....? Well, it is if this is a Shakespearean comedy!

Still a better love story than Twilight.
Viola, the protagonist, dresses up like a boy, names herself Cesario, and goes wand'ring about the fair kingdom of Illyria. Unsurprisingly, she ends up in love... with a man... while she's dressed as a man. That man, the Duke of Orsino, hires her/him has his lackey and she/he goes off to woo and bend to the whims of love one Olivia, the most wanted woman in Illyria. Olivia, through careful consideration, falls in love all right... but to CESARIO/VIOLA!!! WHAT!? That's not the way that was supposed to turn out! Okay, now consider that this is compounded by the fact that, in Shakespeare's time, a young boy would've played the role of Viola... so it's a boy, as a woman, as a man, in love with a man, who loves another woman, who loves the man that's a woman that's a boy... Good Lord! Did I even get that right?

This love triangle confusion...
So we've got ourselves this twisted little love triangle, which is simply aggravated by the fact that no one knows that Cesario's actually a woman. Meanwhile, Cesario's doing the Duke's bidding and runs into this dude named Antonio... who has been hanging out with Sebastian  Viola's supposedly dead brother... who looks exactly like the male form of Viola.. geez, Shakespeare had some internal conflict going on when he wrote this thing! They (Cesario and Antonio) get into a fight and Antonio's all like "What? Sebastian, dude, we're bros!" and Cesario is all like "Sebastian!? But he's dead? What?" Except for that Shakespeare made that longer and more poetic. 

There's plot twist upon plot twist and at the end everyone finds out the Cesario is Viola, Sebastian ain't dead, and the Duke gives up his love for Olivia. Olivia's like "oh... there's a guy that looks exactly like Cesario, so he must BE exactly like him. Eh, I'll marry him even though I've only known him for TWO FREAKING MINUTES!" (Lesson #1: Don't marry strangers.) Then the Duke of Orsino is like "Well, if Cesario and I are friends, obviously Viola (female form) and I can't be friends... she's a girl. Ew, cooties." And so he decides to marry her... (Lesson #2: Don't settle for the female form of your male counterpart... *Cue music* Listen to your heaaarrttt *Stop*)

Helena Bonham Carter in Twelfth Night
Because this irritated me, I'm going to talk about it... you can skip this paragraph if you don't want to read a rant about transvestite-ism not having to be permanent, if you don't want it to be permanent. Orsino (Duke) then decides that while Viola is dressed like Cesario, she's going to be called by Cesario, and when she gets back her clothes, she will be his mistress... one small issue. Her clothes are in ITALY. A bajillion miles away... by boat. Do you think she wants to get on another boat? (Lesson #3: Don't piss off your future wife.) Also, why the heck can't Olivia just be like "You can borrow mine. Yay, twinsies!" And is there not a seamstress in the whole freaking kingdom of Illyria!? Your economy... it's failing. (In later news Illyria is actually Greece... lols, jk, it's Albania.)

Amanda Bynes in She's the Man
Rant done. So, the play has been done in several movies, both interpretations of the play and the play itself. One of the most commonly watched versions of the play, released in 1996, stars Helena Bonham Carter, as Olivia, with Imogen Stubbs in the role of Viola/Cesario. A commonly known adaptation of the play, She's the Man, stars Amanda Bynes in the role of Viola and Channing Tatum as Duke. This spin-off shows Viola going to an all-boys school, Illyria, to play soccer while her brother goes off to follow his dreams of stardom. Though the movie may stretch the lines in the interpretation, it is a hilariously modern and comical approach to the whole idea.

Overall, the book gets a 8 for hilarity and a 6 for absurdity. Shakespeare really stretched the boundaries on what was socially acceptable at the time with this play, and I applaud him for that. Rebel on, William!

Apr 9, 2013

The Elite

The Elite
Guys! Guys! GUYS!

I've gotten my hands on a ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy for all you noobs) of The Elite by Kiera Cass. This is the second book in The Selection Trilogy, which will be completed with the final book coming out in... no one knows yet! The Elite will be on sale to the public on April 23rd, so definitely run out and get it the second it does! OR pre-order it! Hardcopy, ebook, whatever!

So... America is still at the palace awaiting the decision of the lovely Maxon, and still meeting occassionally illicitly with Aspen, her once-love. She's having a really hard time deciding bet
ween the two... I mean... seriously? Can you go wrong with two attractive, upper-echelon, white collar men? And both of them are good kissers... I feel
your pain in choosing, America, I really do.

Willy Wonka agrees
Meanwhile, the palace is under intermittent attacks from the rebels. America, named for her feistiness in the womb - her mom had the creativity of 2 Chainz, "she gotta big booty, so I call her big booty...." (Birthday Song, 2 Chainz) (Does anyone else think that is the most obvious rap lyric in history?!) - I'm getting sidetracked. America, because of her rebellious nature and her previous status as a Five, chooses to basically reform the country after getting her hands on some choice banned literature. (Spoiler: it's George Illea's diary of how he overthrew the presidency and made Illea.) 

America is nearly certain, at the beginning of the book, that she is the one who hold Maxon's heart, but as stuff goes down in the castle, and more girls are eliminated, she becomes less certain that his heart belongs to only her. Does Celeste, the pompous and self-important Two who seems to flaunt herself to Maxon, have import in Maxon's life? Does Kriss, the sweet and pretty Three? Do any of the others matter to him? Is Maxon just playing the Selection through politics like a game of chess? Are all the girls simply pawns in his mind? I'm dying to find out who will win in the next book, but until then pick up The Elite in stores on April 23rd!

Apr 2, 2013


William Shakespeare
Ghost: "Yo, Hamlet, dawg, that man dat married yo ma? Yeah, ya know, bro. Ya uncle? Yeah, dude. He killed me. He put dat poison stuff in my ear."
Hamlet: "Sup, brah? Yeah, dude. I always thought him marrying my ma was wacked-up, chea. I must shoot him up. Foshizzle."

Therein the story of Hamlet is told... except in like... weird Shakespearean speech, not weirder ghetto slang. Sorry, guys... I'm bad at that. So, William Shakespeare, infamous playwright, author, poet, actor, architect, and basically all around literary badass, wrote Hamlet. You've probably heard of this if you're over the age of 10 and have read any book... ever. Even children know a version of it! Disney's The Lion King was a spin off of the play (think about it... Uncle Scar kills epic dad Mufasa in a awful way, son Simba leaves, takes over throne with the help of two friends Pumba & Timon... yeah...). It's literally one of the most legendary plays in the English language, so, read it! If you don't get "to be or not to be" references (there was one on How I Met Your Mother) then that's sad.

Educate yoself, dawg... I'm stopping. I swear. No more ghetto.

So Hamlet and his little family live in an older version of Denmark. There's a whole dealio with this conqueror dude named Fortinbras whose going around taking over countries and doing crazy stuff. Meanwhile, Hamlet's dad has been killed by god knows whom and his uncle (probably Hamlet's dad's twin), seemingly innocent of all wrongdoing, has taken over the throne and married Hamlet's mom... hello, twincest. Creepy, right?

It gets better... there's been a ghost lurking around the castle, and Hamlet checks it out only to find out that it is purportedly the ghost of his dead father who is seeking a hero to revenge his murder... the murderer? His own BROTHER. In the wise and all-knowing words of Lil Wayne -  "what a f***ed up family picture."  (6 Foot 7 Foot) Pardon my French, but seriously? You killed your own brother, usurped his throne, and took his wife? Not cool, bro, not cool. Bros before hoes... bro code... Claudius forgot it all and committed the sin that would lead to his death.

Lil Wayne speaking to a skull... much like Hamlet
In a twist of fate, Hamlet decides to avenge his father's death and goes mad with the obsession with revenge, delivering the famed "To be or not to be" speech where he talks to a skull and considers suicide... Dat  s**t cray. He ends up killing Polonius, some ridiculous character that is his betrothed, Ophelia's, father. Ophelia goes crazy, kills herself or drowns in the river... it's not really clear what happened to her. Suicide or not, she's dead and gone. Laertes, Ophelia's bro, comes back and wants Hamlet's head. 

I'll spare you the gory details of all the action, but the book essentially ends with the castle flowing rivers of blood... for real. Hamlet's dead, Claudius is dead, Laertes, Polonius and Ophelia are dead, both of Hamlet's parents are dead, and Hamlet essentially sent two of his friends unto death, though it's unsure whether or not they actually died.... everyone that was important in the government of Denmark died. Tragedy this is... comical in it's unnecessary brutality? You begin to laugh a bit after reading the play three times, as I have.

Laurence Olivier as Hamlet
Hamlet has been turned into countless movies, screened by numerous famous actors, and been performed in more playhouses than you can imagine. One ofHamlet done through Laurence Olivier, married for a time to Vivien Leigh (see A Streetcar Named Desire), one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century, in my humble opinion. His portrayal of Hamlet's death scene is worth to behold... the way he leaps to stab that guy? Epic. Another fantastic version is done by Mel Gibson. The scene between Hamlet and Gertrude, his mom, played by Glenn Close, is extremely interesting and fraught with family tension.

I'm giving the play a 9 on the ADDICTING SCALE. What more could you ask for? It's got more blood and gore than an Roman era action film, more drama and intrigue than Gossip Girl, and more incestuous sex than a soap opera. Subscribe, comment and all! Be back later with The Elite!

Mar 25, 2013

Divergent and Insurgent

Veronica Roth
I seem to be reading a lot of dystopian novels recently, what with reading The Selection (see my previous post to view that review) and most recently Divergent and Insurgent, two popular teen novels by Veronica Roth. She has only written these two books thus far, and has the third in the trilogy coming out this October (2013)! Definitely check them out in time to read the third one! (Come on, it's not that hard! If I can do it, you can too!) Divergent, the first of the two novels, tells the story of a young girl named Beatrice Prior, growing up in a different Chicago from the one we know now. In this Chicago, people are arranged into 5 groups based upon their roles in society, their general dispositions, and what they value most. These are the Abnegation (self-denial), Erudite (knowledgeable), Candor (truth), Amity (peace) and Dauntless (bravery). Beatrice belongs to Abnegation by birth, but after taking a test to see which faction she is most amiable with, she discovers she is one of the Divergent, a despised and feared group, which often leads either to death or becoming one of the Factionless. 

Beatrice chooses to become on of the Dauntless (her twin, Caleb, chooses Erudite), finding their fearless way of life to be alluring, and undergoes a series of challenges to be chosen to be initiated into Dauntless. During this she meets a trainer named Four, named for the fact that there are only four fears he faces in his challenge course, an unusually low number for even a member of Dauntless. She also renames herself Tris, retaining a piece of herself while still changing to absorb the new courage she's found. I finished this book rather quickly, taking about two or three days to read it in between classes. It was pretty good, though a comparisons could be made between it and The Hunger Games, it had enough of it's own plot line to warrant individuality. I'd give it an 8 on the ADDICTING SCALE, for those of you who enjoy this type of novel. For those of you who aren't particularly addicted to teen novels, it'd probably be a bit too low level of reading. 

The second book in the series, Insurgent, focuses on the changes and trials that Tris faces as she goes up against those in control of the factions of Dauntless and Erudite. Full scale war erupts as the Erudite attempt to gain control over the other factions, killing many and using fear serum to control the Dauntless warriors. Only Tris' Divergency aids her in disrupting and going against those who would seek to control her. Her family is disrupted by all that occurs and Tris questions Caleb's family loyalties.  Four is taken captive, and they seek to free him as well as take down the Erudite operations, but the only way this is possible is through the rest of the factions uniting. Will they unite and save lives, or submit to the will of the Erudite leader Jeanine? I'm not gonna tell! Read it for yourself! I'd give this likely the same rank as it's predecessor, though it is full of a lot more action.

Subscribe, read the books, and look out for (currently unnamed novel) Divergent Series 3 coming out October 22, 2013!

The Selection

The Selection
The Selection is the first novel in a trilogy by Kiera Cass an up-and-coming author. This was only her second work, and may I just say it turned out wonderfully! I finished the book in under 3 hours... and I may not have a life, but I am not one whit ashamed! It's a dystopian novel about a kingdom called Ilea, which resides where the United States is currently. In this new country, there are castes based upon your occupation. The royal family members are all ones, celebrities are twos, soldiers are threes, manual laborers are fours, artists are fives, and servants are sixes. America Singer, a girl that sings (okay, so maybe the name isn't all that inventive), is a five along with her family. She is in love with a six, Aspen, which is unusual because girls typically marry up, much like America's sister, who marries a four.

The Elite
She has relegated herself to living life as a five, or even as a six, as long as she gets to marry Aspen, but when the Selection, or the kingdom's process of choosing a queen, comes around, and she is chosen to join the competition at the palace, all of her plans are upset. She's one of the people lowest on the caste system there and quickly discovers that the palace lifestyle is not her favorite, but remains in the competition for the good of her family. Will she win the hand of the dashing Prince Maxon? I'm not gonna tell you the entire plot for the good of... ya know, making you read it and all! You guys definitely should. I got it from my friend, and gave it to another girl who finished it in a day... not a single one of us had any complaints about the writing style or plot line or anything. Judging by this I'd say it rates a 9 on the ADDICTING SCALE, so check it out!

Also, the new book, Elite, is coming out on April 23, 2013! I'll review it as soon as I can get my hands on it!

Mar 21, 2013

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote
Truman Capote, famed author of Breakfast at Tiffanys, also wrote a less popular, but equally acclaimed novel based upon the brutal murder of the Clutter family in 1959 in Holcomb, Kansas. In Cold Blood, catchily named after the maddeningly shocking quality of the preemptive murders, chronicles the movements of the family and their robber-turned-killers before, during, and after the awful occurrence. Herbert Clutter, a family man and devout Christian, lived with his wife, Bonnie, suffering under prolonged postpartum depression, and two younger children, Kenyon (male, 15) and Nancy (female, 16). One of their previous farmhands, Floyd Wells, was in the county jail when he met two men named Perry and Dick. He told Dick that Clutter kept loads of cash in a safe on his farm, sparking an interest in Dick. After Dick gets out of jail, he formulates a plan to take this cash and escape to Mexico, and recruits his old jail buddy, Perry, to aide in his plot. The plan goes on without a hitch, the robbers entered the house while the family slept and roused the family to discover where this money-laden safe is, but when they discover that there is no money to be found, and they'd been lied to, Perry erupts in a fit of rage, slicing Clutter's throat and killing him with a shot to the head.

In Cold Blood
The robbers engage in a shooting spree; each of the children were murdered, then Clutter's wife, leaving the house a bloody and gruesome mess. The robber-turned-murders flee the scene, heading to Mexico, and are eventually arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada after an extensive investigation by the police who got a tip-off from Floyd Wells. Both Dick and Perry confessed to their crimes, then pleaded temporary insanity to their crimes, which was denied by the doctors in charge of them. Perry, in his confession, stated that he though that Clutter was a nice guy "up to the moment I cut his throat" (Perry, 244). He also, when questioned, said "Am I sorry? If that's what you mean - I'm not. I don't feel anything about it. I wish I did. But nothing about it bothers me a bit. Half an hour after it happened, Dick was making jokes and I was laughing at them. Maybe we're not human. I'm human enough to feel sorry for myself." (Perry, 282) The murderers felt no real sorrow for the brutal murders, showing their  loss of human emotion, and hardening to the brutality of what they'd done.

Throughout the book, readers are offered a glimpse into the past and present thoughts of the two murders, which serves as a sort of connection between the actions of the murders and the understanding of the reader. Despite this connection, I did not feel any form of sympathy for them, which surprised me since I'm typically very empathetic toward people with as rough of a background as Perry or Dick. The book concludes with the hanging of the two men, committed after 5 years of them sitting in a jail cell on death row. The gallows are still held in the Kansas Historical Society, and various movies have bee created based upon the murders and Truman Capote's fascination with them, the most recent being Infamous with Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig and Toby Jones, with two other movies being nominated for multiple awards for their portrayal of the murders. The 1967 movie, bearing the name of the book,  was nominated for multiple Academy Awards.  I wouldn't say that the book is particularly entertaining, though it is gripping in the suspenseful sense of knowing that something awful will happen at the end and wanting the killers to get caught and punished for their crimes against humanity. I'd rate it at a 8 on the ADDICTING SCALE, for you blood-thirsty crime-lovers out there. While I didn't particularly enjoy the book to it's fullest, I feel that it was a worthy academic pursuit and also that it displayed the entirety of humankind's occasional lack of discretion and ability to be truly evil to one another.