Tagged: book review

Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! Taught Me 16 New Things about Blogging

show your work

This is part of my Summer Reading 2.0 series.

I have a special place in my heart for the books that Urban Outfitters sells. I can buy ~4 books for the price of 1 skirt.

While I was there, I picked up Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work!, a bright yellow book that could fit into my tiny cross-body purse.

This book is intended for writers, artists, and anyone who has some sort of creative passion but feels trapped in an amateurish state. It’s a concise work that states simple truths in ways unconsidered.

For me, it eliminated many doubts and boundaries that my mind had constructed about getting myself out there.

It made me realize that a journal is not just a journal, but rather a sketchpad for portraying, or a drawing board for brainstorming. Continue reading

Never Just About A Boy: Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More


This is part of my Summer Reading 2.0 series

I’ve always been a fan of Sarah Dessen; she puts out a bunch of thick novels dubbed as teenage romance. In my early days of high school I saw them as just that, teenage romance novels. But ever since English teachers started pushing me to dissect literature and find deeper meanings, I’ve started to do that, the practice leaking into my leisure reading. Continue reading

What is Success? Alfred Lansing’s Endurance Helps Answer the Question


This is part of my Summer Reading 2.0 series.

—mild spoilers ahead—

Alfred Lansing’s account of the 28 men aboard the ship Endurance headed for Antarctica is captured vividly in his non-fiction book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.

It tells the story of the explorer Ernest Shackleton with an oddball crew of men who make their way south first by ship, by boat, by sledge, and even, by foot. Pushed to the brink of death by extreme nature, their survival can leave an impression on individuals whose lives are exactly the polar opposite (mine!)

This book was recommended to me, and an extremely difficult read at first. I slugged through the first portion, wanting to quit, but once I neared the middle, I found myself following along, page by page by page.

Fun fact: Lansing graduated from Northwestern. #purpleswag

Continue reading

John Green’s TFIOS: A Book FOR Everyone, ABOUT Everyone


This is part of my Summer Reading 2.0 series.

—spoiler alerts ahead—

So much hype has been aroused concerning John Green’s literary genius, and much has been said about his most explosive novel, The Fault in Our Stars. The excitement has finally bubbled up and spilled over into the film industry, as his book turns into a movie, which is already breaking records.

The question burning in my mind: is the hype worth it?

I sat with the hardcover  in my hand, looking at the title and cover as the question echoed through my head. I dove in, and finished the book in less than 24 hours. Continue reading

Fangirl, a novel that resonates strongly with my life


When I rediscovered my love for fiction, the second book that I picked up, after Why We Broke Upwas Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell.

My first impression of it was that OMG! Her name’s Cath! I can connect with her somehow, until towards the middle of the book it’s revealed that there’s a much deeper underlying meaning behind her name being Cath, as opposed to Catherine.

As I read, I was sucked in immediately. This story recounts the first year of Cath, a freshman in college. Her twin sister, Wren, is starting to grow apart, moving on from their favorite pasttime, writing fan-fiction for Simon Snow novels (basically a play on Harry Potter).  Continue reading

“Why We Broke Up,” the story of a heartbreak that may remind you of your own


It’s been a while since I’ve actually picked up a book and read it. While on Winter Break, I brought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with me on vacation, the only book I’ll read during the school year.

This week, however, my schoolwork was overwhelming me and I missed reading for fun so badly that I decided to stop by the library. In the midst of all of this college stuff, I pushed reading off to the side, which is just a real shame, because it has major therapeutic value for me.

The librarian there, my homeroom teacher from last year, recommended four books to me; I told her that I was in the mood for girly novels, and she did not disappoint.

The first book that I picked up was Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler.

y we broke up

First impression? I wasn’t very impressed. Maybe it was the writing or maybe it was the hustle-bustle pace of my life for the past few months, but I found myself skipping lines and not appreciating the writing in deep detail.

Eventually, however, Continue reading

Movie Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

You’ve heard me rave about this book more than once now, having written about it rather extensively on this blog. Well, just this past weekend I watched the 1945 film version that is an adaptation of the book. In comparing the two, I wholeheartedly pick the book over the film, for its depth and variety of detail, Francie’s vast thoughts, and for the background story of Francie’s family.

As is the case with most movies that are based off of books, the movie has been compacted into a 120 minute or so summary of the literary masterpiece, whereas Betty Smith has hundreds of pages for millions of words to perfectly convey Brooklyn through Francie’s eye. Inevitably, lots of events will have to be omitted; sometimes, depending on the book and the plot, a movie company can get away with this glossing-over of details. In this case, however, I found that there was very little depth to the movie, since so many key events were left out. Where is the background of the two families immigrating from Europe? Where is the love story in and of itself between Katie Rommely and Johnny Nolan? I find that element to be crucial in understanding the familial interaction after Francie and Neeley’s births. Additionally, the omitted rape attempt seemed to be an integral part in Francie’s development. If I had simply watched the movie instead of read the book, I don’t think I would have enjoyed half as much as I did the book.

The most important theme of the story was Francie’s potential of receiving a full education to lift the family out of the cycle of poverty, and this was completely ignored in the movie. Francie was never seen actively pursuing an education, and since the movie ended with McShane proposing to Katie, there was not even a focus on this, one of the most essential and gripping themes found dispersed through the story.

One of my favorite aspects of the book itself is the train of thought that Francie follows through her maturation. Betty Smith’s eloquent acknowledgement of the human tendencies to have conflicting and contradictory thoughts as one develops is demonstrated through Francie’s internal struggle to make important decisions. The movie does little through Peggy Ann Garner’s expressive emotions, but does not do justice to Betty Smith’s detailed descriptions.

The film also succeeds in finally putting a face to the intriguing personality of Johnny Nolan, although I was disappointed by his face not living up to the handsomeness that I had imagined. Moreover, I had considered his blond hair and smooth dance moves important characteristics, neither of which were depicted in the movie.

All in all, the movie was a pleasant depiction of the events that took place in Betty Smith’s novel. Because of its lack of coverage of all major events and focus on just one time period in Francie’s life, I do believe that the book itself is better. However, as a standalone movie produced in the 1940s, bravo!

Whatever plot there was proved to be cleverly enhanced with theatrical hints that were not found in the original novel, specifically the metaphor that Francie describes when she speaks about her dream of being a writer as something that shouldn’t be based in impossible imagination, but rather a realistic situation. The realization that is evident on Johnny Nolan’s face demonstrates his understanding of his fruitless claims about an optimistic future for the Nolan family. This realization, combined with Katie’s harsh words, push him to go look for a job at the Union, where he catches pneumonia and eventually dies.

I loved the book, and I enjoyed the movie, which was well-constructed, given the time period, and realistic restraints. I recommend both!

Posts about the book itself:
here and here.