March 2, 2016

Book Review | Hook’s Daughter

0

Hooks-Daughter-Heidi-Schulz-674x1024

Hook’s Daughter by Heidi Schulz is a middle grade novel that talks about, as the title suggests, Captain Hook’s daughter, Jocelyn. Jocelyn is an adventurer in a society where girls are expected to be prim and proper. Due to her wild antics, Jocelyn is sent to a finishing school, but after receiving a letter from her now deceased father, she runs away to avenge his death by the hand (or mouth, as the case may be) of the Neverland Crocodile. Along with Mr. Smee, Jocelyn gathers a crew and set sail on her ship, Hook’s Revenge, to find and kill the Crocodile.

I don’t read middle grade books very often, but this one was too good to pass up. I mean, t’s a Peter Pan retelling. I love Peter Pan so of course I wanted to read about the dear Captain’s daughter.

I thought the writing in this was great. It reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s writing style. The narrator of the story (possibly the deceased Captain Hook) will say very sarcastic things every now and again that remind me of passages from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Here’s an example from page 41:

“I have faced down some horrors in my day – ferocious animals, fangs gleaming and hungry for human flesh; fierce men with murder in their eyes; my own dear mother on wash day.”

This is the type of stuff you will find when reading this book.

As far as the characters go, Jocelyn is a great main character. Even though she is a little kid, she isn’t portrayed as being painfully immature. She is intelligent, caring, and has the makings of a phenomenal pirate captain. The secondary characters are also wonderful, especially Jocelyn’s crew on Hook’s Revenge. The crew is made up of these low-tier pirates who have fake injuries and battle stories, but she puts up with it/plays along with it.

If you look at the tagline on the cover it says that “Peter Pan has met his match.” However, Peter isn’t in the novel very much. He appears maybe twice, although his name does pop up a lot. However, other familiar characters appear in Neverland, such as the Lost Boys and Mr. Smee.

I believe this is the first in a series of middle grade books. I don’t know if I will be continuing this series right now as I have other TBR books that are more of a priority, but maybe a little ways down the line, I will continue with it as I did enjoy the characters.

If you like Peter Pan as much as I do, action and adventure, and/or writing styles similar to Lemony Snicket, I highly recommend you check this out.

Thanks for reading!

March 2, 2016

Book Review | Carry On

0

IMG_7442Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is a fan fiction story about Simon Snow, a character introduced in Rowell’s previous book, Fangirl. The main character in Fangirl, Cath, is an avid fan of the Simon Snow book series which follows a boy wizard in the UK (sound familiar?), and she is writing her own fan fiction called ‘Carry On’ as she waits for the final book in the series to be released. Rainbow Rowell herself said she wanted to write a Simon Snow story as she enjoyed coming up with the world for Fangirl. However, this version of ‘Carry On’ is not the same one Cath is writing in the book. So this book is a fan fiction of a fan fiction of a fictional character of a fictional series in another Rowell book that heavily references another fictional series. IT IS ALL TOO META TO HANDLE. Which is probably why it took me way longer to read this than I expected.

I honestly had to listen to the audiobook while reading this. The multiple perspectives kept throwing me off too much to actually hold my focus without the audio. One thing I noticed is that the narrator was reading a proof or an early draft because some of the words and sentences were not the same in the book as they were in the audio.

Once I started to get a little more into the book I started to enjoy it. The story focuses primarily on Simon, the Chosen One who kind of stinks at being the Chosen One, and his roommate, Baz. Simon is convinced that his roommate and nemesis is a vampire and obsesses over it the entire time. Baz, on the other hand, is wrestling with the knowledge that he doesn’t actually hate Simon. There is also a story surrounding a point of time when spirits can return to the mortal world to visit with their loved ones and a secret power that could potentially save or destroy the magical community.

I did enjoy the story for the most part. I found all of the characters, with the exception of Simon himself (he could be kind of annoying), to be very interesting, especially Baz and Agatha. There were a lot of references to previous years at Watford that sounded a bit more interesting than some of the scenes we did get, but as this is supposed to be a fan fiction to an existing series in the Fangirl universe, I suppose we will just have to imagine those other adventures on our own. The only thing to me that was a little wishy-washy was the romance. The Simon-Baz story had some cute moments, but most of the time it came across as obsessive infatuation (specifically on Simon’s end). I might read this again, or at least listen to the audiobook during a commute to work, but if you are interested in giving this a try, check out from your local library first.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars.

What did you think of Carry On? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

March 2, 2016

February Wrap-Up

0

Hey there Literature Lovers! I hope you are doing well! Sorry for the lack of posting. College graduation is creeping up, and, of course, with this being my final semester, there is a lot of work to get done.

Today I thought I would just quickly share what books I read during the month of February. I’m planning on doing some individual reviews of some of these books either on here or possibly on my YouTube channel (I’ve never filmed myself talking on there before and I’ve finally decided it’s high time I give it a shot!). Those reviews should be coming out soon.

Here’s what I’ve read last month:

Hook’s Daughter by Heidi Schulz (*renamed to Hook’s Revenge)

Review: http://laurenecox.com/hooks-daughter

A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

Review: http://laurenecox.com/a-little-in-love

Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Review: http://laurenecox.com/the-chaos-of-stars

Crush du Jour by Michel Ostow

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

Love by the Book by Melissa Pimentel

Remeberance (The Mediator #7) by Meg Cabot

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

 

What books did you read last month? What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

February 2, 2016

January Wrap-Up

0

Hey everyone! Here’s a quick list of all the books I read last month. Share yours in the comments below!

 

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

Unbelievable by Sara Shepard

Wicked by Sara Shepard

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss

Hiding out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino

My Name is Mina by David Almond

The Miracle Worker: A Play by William Gibson

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

The Proposal: A Mediator series novella by Meg Cabot

I also listened to one audiobook this month. Since Thanksgiving I have begun listening to books in the car and on my walks to class. The first one I listened to was the Princess Diaries Volume 11: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot. I have been reading about Princess Mia since I was eight years old and going through my phase of reading every book that a Disney movie was based off of. This was my second time listening to the book in the past two months.

So yeah, those are the books I read last month. Please share what you read in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

 

January 28, 2016

Book Review | Second Star

0

9781250062987

**Review also posted on GoodReads

Second Star is a reimagining of Peter Pan set in California. We experience the story as Wendy Darling, who has just graduated from high school and is looking to start at Stanford University in the fall. However Wendy’s mind is more focused on the disappearance of her younger brothers, twins John and Michael, who reportedly passed away during a surfing accident nine months prior to the start of the novel. Wendy doesn’t believe they are dead, however, and vows to spend her summer finding them. At her school’s graduation bonfire on the beach she meets a surfer named Pete. She later finds him again on a beach called Kensington, where he lives with a gang of homeless teenage surfers, including his ex-girlfriend Belle. There is another group on Kensington led by a drug dealer named Jas. Wendy spends pretty much the entire novel talking to Jas, Pete, and Belle trying to find out if they know her brothers, and learning how to surf in order to feel closer to her brothers.

Overall I really liked this book. It was an interesting take on one of my favorite stories. I loved the author’s descriptions of the beach and the waves. It made me wish it was summer.

There were only two things I didn’t really like.

First, the love triangle thing. I didn’t buy it for a second. I never get fully invested in that trope, and it didn’t seem really necessary for this particular story.

Second, the ending was…I don’t know. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t bad, but for the last 20 or 30 pages I was in a constant state of confusion.

Again, I really enjoyed this. Will it be the first book I reach for when recommending things to friends? Probably not, unless they are big Peter Pan fans themselves, but I definitely think this is a book people should check out.

December 18, 2015

Let it Snow

0

Hello everyone!

I’m here with another Christmas book recommendation: Let It Snow!

This is a collection of short stories written by YA authors Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle that are set in a small town in Virginia during a massive snowstorm.

I first discovered this in 2009. I was at Borders (back when Borders was still a thing) with my mom and I was browsing in the Teen/YA section. This looked really cute and fluffy, which some might not like, but I actually enjoy that.

I had not read anything by any of these authors before. Heck, I didn’t even know who John Green was back then! But I enjoyed each of the stories immensely.

I think my favorite is the first story by Maureen Johnson. “The Jubilee Express” is about a girl named Jubilee who is on a train to Florida to see her grandparents after her parents are arrested during a riot at a store that sells collectible toy villages. She’s annoyed because she is supposed to be at her boyfriend’s house with his family where they would be celebrating their one year anniversary. She gets caught in a snowstorm and winds up hanging out with a guy named Stuart and his family for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This can’t get any fluffier, but it is easily the best book in the story (my opinion of course). I didn’t really like Jubilee’s boyfriend. He reminds me a lot of Amanda Seyfried’s boyfriend in Letters to Juliet (which is an adorable movie that you should watch if you haven’t). This was the perfect story to start off the collection, and I felt it established the town in the stories as well as the tone of the book vey nicely.

My second favorite was John Green’s story “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle.” This story is about a group of friends trying to get to the local Waffle House where there is a cheerleading team who they think they’ll have a shot with. I think it’s a great introductory piece of his that can show his humor where some of his novels might not (since we all know he has the ability to wrench our hearts out and toss them across the room). Is it a little cheesy and ridiculous at times? Yes. But it’s definitely worth reading.

I like some parts of Lauren Myracle’s story “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” but the main character, Addie, could be a little irritating at times. She made everything about her and that’s supposed to be something she fixes by the end of her story. I thought she made a bit of a headway, but the TV in her head was still tuned to The Addie Show. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the strongest closer to the book.

Like I said before, it’s a light and fluffy read, which some people might not like, but if you think it’s up your alley, then definitely check it!

Thanks for reading!

December 15, 2015

Skipping Christmas

0

Merry almost Christmas everyone!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and one of my favorite times of the year, but if I’m honest, I’m not one hundred percent in a festive mood. I suppose it’s because I spent the first two weeks of the month worrying about finals and presentations for my second to last semester of college, which doesn’t leave much room for festivities. Then I can home and started watching Christmas movies, listening to music, staring at our family’s Christmas tree…and I still didn’t feel the way Christmas used to feel. I felt like Cindy Lou Who in the live action Grinch movie, wondering where the feeling of Christmas had gone.

That is until I picked up Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.


I’ve read Skipping Christmas every year since the fifth grade, so about eleven years now. It’s only 177 pages long, but the story is so captivating and told so well that it doesn’t really seem that short. I also adore the movie, Christmas with Kranks, which was based off of the book.

If you don’t already know, the story is about a married couple who decide to go on a cruise instead of dealing with the stress that Christmas tends to bring while their daughter is off in Peu with the Peace Corps. The book centers around them avoiding all the hullabaloo that comes with the commercialized expectations of Christmas.

The story itself is hilarious and that’s a big part of why I read it, but I think what I love most about this book is how many memories I have of the past Christmases where I read this, and through the pages of this I was able to relive all those moments.

If you have never read this novel, I highly recommend it. It’s just the thing to get you in the holiday spirit if you, like me, have been feeling less than festive.

December 15, 2015

Timing and Outlining

0

Hi everyone!

As I mentioned in my blog post, Revisiting Old Ideas, I have been working on the novel that I first started writing when I was sixteen. I am so glad to finally have the story the way I want it. The only trouble is getting it all on the page.

The story revolves around a marching band season, which can span from the end of July until the end of October, or in some cases, mid-November.

And that’s my problem.

My first novel that I wrote last year took place in the span of four days or a long weekend. There is obviously only so much you can do in one place for four days, and it wasn’t hard to figure out what was going on, probably because my main character felt very real and dragged me along with her to the various places she visited in that one city.

I’m having a bit more trouble now.

Four months is a long time. A lot more can happen, and I want to make sure it’s all clear without it seeming to be rushed or dragged out.

The big problem I’m facing is second-guessing myself. This story isn’t a memoir by any means, but it’s probably the closest I will ever get. Marching band was a big part of my high school years, so obviously I’m borrowing a lot of my experiences to put in this particular novel.

I find that making an outline has started to help me sort it all out. I only really do that when I have the whole book in my head and need a way to sort out where each new chapter begins.

It’s a lot of organizing, a lot of rewriting, but eventually it will get there. All there’s left to do is just keep writing.

A question to any fellow writers: Do you have similar problems with creating a realistic flow for stories that span a few months? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

November 10, 2015

Book Review | A Whole New World

0

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aladdin has always been one of my favorite Disney movies. There is even an old home movie of me at age 2 or 3 standing in front of the TV singing the entirety of “A Whole New World” (and nailing almost all the words). Something about the land of Agrabah has held a special place in my heart of the years, so I was beyond excited when I learned about this book.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell is the first book in the Twisted Tale trilogy, stories which are inspired by classic Disney movies. This particular novel poses the question: What would happen if Jafar got the lamp?

The novel starts off pretty close to how the animated film starts. The dialogue is pretty much all lifted from the film, but we get to learn a bit more about Agrabah  and what it is like for Aladdin to be growing up in this environment. We then meet Jasmine, Aladdin is arrested and “rescued” by Jafar who takes him to the Cave of Wonders. And this is where the Twisted Tale kicks off. As Aladdin tries to escape the collapsing Cave of Wonders he asks Jafar for help getting out. Jafar asks for him to give him the lamp, which Aladdin does, before Jafar kicks Aladdin and he falls and is trapped in the cave. We all know that in the movie Abu the monkey stole the lamp back from Jafar, but in this version, Jafar is victorious in getting his hands on it and is quick to take over the kingdom.

I thought this would kind of like that Twisted musical that Starkid has on YouTube (which is hilarious and I recommend checking it out, unless you don’t like swearing or things that might ruin your childhood, in which case you might not like it).  Unfortunately a lot of the humor and characters were flat.

The Genie is not funny. I know a huge part of his humor comes from his character being voiced by Robin Williams, but you would have thought that the author would have carried over some of his humor, especially in this darker situation with Jafar being in charge. That seems more in character for him. Sadly, he was just a sad blue guy who popped into Jasmine’s parts of the story on occasion.

Aladdin and Jasmine were relatively the same as their iconic movie counterparts, although it felt like they needed a little extra something. There were just a few scenes where they felt flat, but for the most part they were good.

One thing I will say about this book is that it offered a look into Aladdin’s life as a “street rat.” I found the different layers of the poor people in Agrabah to be interesting. There was like a whole class system of thieves, with Aladdin at the top of the system (stealing only what was necessary to get by) and those who kill and steal for sport/as a career at the very bottom. We have a lot moments where this system is explored and how Jasmine discovers this later on when they are trying to defeat Jafar.

Overall, I would give this book about a 2.5 out of 5 stars. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, it was just okay. There are two more books in this series for Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast, two of my other favorite Disney movies so I am holding out hope that those are good.

Have any of you read this book or the others in the Twisted Tale series? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

October 13, 2015

Quotes

0

I’ve always collected things. Chocolate Frog cards, coins with the states printed on the back, souvenir cups from the movie theater, and quotes.

It’s amazing how a single strand of words can speak to you on a visceral level.

I used to carry around a notebook in my purse that had my favorite quotes in it, adding on whenever I found a new one. Eventually the notebook filled up, and I wanted another place to display my collection of words. There was a space above my desk in my dorm room that seemed really bare so I decided to fill it with quotes that were funny, thoughtful, and inspirational.

There are so many of those sentences and paragraphs that I can relate to, but there is one I’ve found recently that seems to really encapsulate me and my passion for writing:

 

“I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.”

– Issac Asimov

 

I can relate to this so much. I feel like I was born to write, to share stories, to make something out of words. When I have writer’s block, or I don’t feel like I have time to write, I feel like I am drowning, and it’s the worst feeling ever.

Are there any other writers out there who feel that same way? Let me know.

Also, do you have a favorite quote? Feel free to share

Thanks for reading!