Discussion Post: Insurgent (2015)

April 16, 2015 Alisa Discussion Post 3 Comments

insurgentTitle: Insurgent(2015)
Adapted From: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Blurb: Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side.





Things I liked:
  • Shailene Woodley did a great job with Tris once again, the character is going through a lot in this second installment and she does justice to her development.
  • The special effects were very cool in this film, especially when Tris is going through the simulation.
  • It was cool seeing all the different factions. I especially excited to see Erudite quarters was filmed a local art museum near where I live.
Things I disliked:
  •  I always have had a problem with the world building in this series but I can’t say that is a fault of adaptation as this film follows very closely to the book in terms of plot with some small alterations. That being said I think this film doesn’t do a great job of explaining what is already a convoluted and overly complicated concept. I can’t imagine anyone walking into this film who hadn’t already read the book understanding the plot.

smalliconalisaFinal Thoughts: Divergent is a series that I like, but I don’t necessarily love. I really enjoyed the first film and though I really had no intention of seeing this series in theater, it charmed me enough that I knew I wanted to see the sequel on the big screen. This film was visually spectacular and I felt the leads all had a huge amount of chemistry together, unfortunately though there was less character development in this film than there was in the book. I am still not thrilled with the casting of Caleb and one of the most dramatic scenes in the book really had very little impact in the film for me as a result.  The plot is very compacted in this film and I think it makes the pacing difficult. For those who are devoted Divergent fans I think it is worth seeing on the big screen, but  for those who like but don’t love this series my verdict is..

Rent It- It is worth a watch on a rainy afternoon.


Book Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

April 13, 2015 Alisa Book Reviews, Young Adult 4 Comments


DUFF The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Author: Kody Keplinger

Published: September 7th 2010 by Little Brown/Poppy (first published January 1st 2010

Genres:Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaI am not sure exactly why I picked this book up, to be honest it is not my usual fare.  Firstly I am not a huge fan of contemporary and secondly I usually hate the rich-jerk turns nice guy plot line (though there are exceptions, Pride and Prejudice being a great example). What really surprised me was this book was a lot more than that and I found myself having a hard time putting the book down. Though this book follows the usually path of these sorts of relationships, it reminded me what I like about stories like Pride and Prejudice, that the characters are not what they seem to be.

Bianca Piper is a pretty relatable teenage girl, she doesn’t quite fit in the High School setting but at the same time is desperate to fit in. When  rude Wesley comes into the picture she of course enters a hate/lust relationship with him. I knew the direction that the story was going to go in, but what surprised me was how the characters were developed. For example Bianca’s friends, we assume because they are beautiful they are just shallow divas but her friendship with them is more than skin deep and they end up being her greatest advocates. There is a great deal of humor in this story but there is also some thought provoking ideas. In spite of the cover and blurb this isn’t a story just about a romance, there is more to it. Bianca has to deal with serious issues, she has to examine her preconceived notions about herself and those around her. The story addresses issues of self-esteem in young girls, teen sexual relationships, alcoholism and divorce.

Her relationship with Wesley goes on an interesting arch, one that I was engaged in throughout the story. Wesley is intensely rude and in many ways unlikable, but the author manages to give him depth. Wesley is the quintessential bad boy who we love and love to hate.  I admit I was rooting for the relationship to succeed even though it seems at points that Bianca’s life is heading in a very different direction, one that should be really good for her. Sometimes relationships and people are not easily categorized as good or bad and I love when a book subverts your expectations on what you think you want for a character. The moral of the story is that we all have issues of self-esteem in terms of how we compare to others and that we need to find our inward self-worth especially in our relationships with men. It is a nice message but I am not sure if her ending up with the very person who put her down and disrespected her goes against the very spirit of the novel or not.  That being said Wesley does evolve and change as a result of his relationship with Bianca and in spite of myself I like Bianca found myself being charmed by the character. I think essentially in any book it’s whether or not you connect with the characters and for me I could see a lot of myself in Bianca and I believe a lot of readers will have the same experience.





Discussion Post: Cinderella 2015

April 10, 2015 Alisa Discussion Post 6 Comments

discussion-3 smalliconalisa


Hey everyone, I have REALLY missed blogging lately. I am looking forward to summer because I am going to have way more time to read and review books! I am on spring break so I had a chance to read some books, watch television and see some movies. I also did some spring cleaning and reorganized Mj’s clothing drawer, honestly she is getting so big already and is going through clothing sizes like water. MJ is doing well, we have finally gotten the hang of the sleeping schedule, with her going to bed around 8 and sleeping until 7 to 9’sh. It is so nice to finally get some sleep!! So far this is my favorite age 4-6 months as she is sleeping well, smiles all the time, loves to play and has a great sense of fun. I can tell you the one thing I am realizing is the moment you get the hang of one challenge a new one crops up. Right now we are trying to introduce her to solids and honestly she HATES them. I have tried everything and no luck so far.

So getting back on topic Aidan and I went to see Cinderella this week as we are Disney addicts and have to see anything that they produce. I wasn’t sure what my expectations were of this film as I was disappointed in some aspects of Maleficent, but I was curious to see what direction Kenneth Branagh would take this film.


Title: Cinderella(2015)
Adapted From:Cinderella (1950)

Blurb: When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.





Things I liked: 

  • The cast was amazing! I loved Lily James as Cinderella, I think she is my favorite actress to play the part ever. She manages to capture Ella’s innocence, kindness and strength. Richard Madden as Kit/The Prince was suitably swoon worthy, handsome and charming. I felt the two leads had a lot of chemistry together and I was genuinely rooting for their romance. Cate Blanchett was perfect as the evil stepmother, beautiful but also cold of heart.
  • The costumes! I admit the little girl inside of me was squeeing about all the gorgeous dresses in this film. I loved Cinderella’s ball dress/wedding dress and the Prince’s costume were dashing and suitably regal. My favorite costumes were everything Cate Blanchett wore, she is evil but she made being evil look fabulous.
  • The way the Prince is fleshed out and given more depth. In the original film the Prince is barely in the story and it makes the romance seem fairly shallow. I saw more of the connection between the two leads in this film.

Things I disliked:

  • It is too similar too the original. The only thing way this film adds is the addition of more scenes between the Prince and Cinderella to make the romance seem more fleshed out.

Final Thoughts:  Cinderella is a classic story that has been told and retold in many different ways over the years. The original disney animation in fact brought the Disney studio back to life when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Of course that begs the question of why this is necessary, why bother making a live action when the original is so perfect? I think the answer is no it is not necessary, but for me I enjoyed seeing the interactions of the cast and felt they brought a lot to the story, making the characters incredibly likable. I loved the sets, the costume designs and the special effects that truly brought this story to life. I really enjoyed this film and was glad I took the trouble to see it in the theaters. I am now very excited to see what they do with Beauty and The Beast!

p.s. It was also really fun to see the Frozen short!

Verdict: Movie Theater-go see it now!

On that note check out this fun rap battle between Cinderella and Belle! Cinderella is Sarah Michelle Gellar.




Book Review: Veronica Mars #2- Mr. Kiss And Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

March 15, 2015 Alisa Adult, Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller 6 Comments


mk Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell

Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Published: January 20th 2015 by Vintage

Genres:Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman’s story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaI am a huge Veronica Mars fan and so when I heard a series of novels based off the events of the movie were being made I knew I absolutely had to read them. The first in this series ‘The Thousand Dollar Tan Line’, I really thought was extremely well done and I was eager to see how the events in the first book would continue in the next. I wasn’t sure exactly what my expectations for this series were other than wanting lots of classic Veronica Mars sassy comebacks and a nice dose of schadenfreude directed at some very deserving bad guys, all the things that made the show so charming. I was however curious to see what direction Veronica’s new/old sleuthing life would take and whether the books would push the plot of the movie that much forward.

This story once again ties back into Veronica’s past in surprising ways. It involves a horrible crime against a young girl and as the the story progresses it becomes more and more personal for Veronica to solve it.  I think I was pretty sure who it was early on in the story and as a result perhaps the mystery was the less exciting aspect of this story. However I think it is more the way she resolves it that has the appeal rather than the mystery in of itself.  The more engaging aspects of the story for me were the ones on the outskirts of the main plot involving the fate of Weevil after the events of the movie and also the re-election of Sheriff Lamb. As well Logan is back for five months from service and we get lots of time with them together, which for Logan/Veronica shippers like me there can’t be enough of.

The thing I am loving the most about this series is just how perfectly it captures the voices and nuances of the characters from the show. I can easily imagine Veronica or Logan or Keith saying these lines, to the point where it really feels like an episode of Veronica Mars. I really hope they keep writing these books as I am just loving getting more time in the Veronica Mars universe and the ending of the book  really left me intrigued for how the series is going to. If you are a fan of Veronica Mars I think these books are a most read, check them out!



*Here are more Logan and Veronica gifs, why? Just cuz.





























Audiobook Review: Emerald Green by Kiersten Gier

March 7, 2015 Alisa Audiobook Reviews, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult 2 Comments


14759651 Emerald Green

Author: Kiersten Gier

Published: October 8th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. 

Genres: Young Adult, Time Travel, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is. She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along. Emerald Green is the stunning conclusion to Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red Trilogy, picking up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate..

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaI was very eager to finish off this book series as I had very much enjoyed the first two in the series Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue. For the conclusion of the series I was hoping for answers to the mysteries involving the disapperance of Lucy and Paul with the chronograph, to learn more about the secret time travel society and of course get a conclusion to the love story between Gwen and Gideon.

This book was very focused on the love story between Gwen and Gideon, like many conclusions to YA series a lot of people are mostly invested in the romantic aspects of the story and are eager to get definitive decisions by the author about the fate of the leads. This was not my favorite part of the first two books so I was a bit disappointed that so much of the first chapters of this book is Gwen and Gideon angst. About midway into the story that plot line concludes in the inevitable way it was always building up to throughout the series, which was more than fine with me.

I felt once I reached the second half I was much more engaged in the story line, especially as it got more towards the crescendo of the story in which the big confrontation with Count occurs. This had some really fun twists and turns, especially the one that really ties up the lose ends of the story and looking back there were hints laid throughout the series.  Some reviewers have pointed some plot holes gaps in terms of how it is all laid out, however for me it was not such a problem and such an enjoyable ride that I could overlook some of the inconsistencies.

Overall I enjoyed this story, it had the same sense of fun and mystery that made the first two so enjoyable. It is a very light hearted series with a lot of humor and very enjoyable leads, perhaps the ending was not quite as epic as I hoped but it still was worth the time I spent on the series.

*I listened to this in audiobook format and loved the narrator, lovely accent and great voice impressions that were truly varied.





Discussion Post: I Mustache You Some Questions

February 26, 2015 Alisa Discussion Post 12 Comments

mustache-questions-300x300 smalliconalisa


So things have been VERY busy lately with work, it is Black History Month and I have been doing all the decorations for the show that was supposed to be this week but probably will be delayed until March because of the snow storm. Secondly my entire family has a cold, including MJ who unfortunately is too little to take cold medicine.  So that means I am behind on just about everything at the moment including blogging. I have several audiobooks I want to talk about on my blog soon, so stay tuned. As well I need to post the prize for my giveaway, Angie from Angela’s Anxious Life was the winner! Otherwise things are going fine, MJ has gotten her first two front teeth which is very cute and is very close to crawling, mostly still rolling around and scooting on her tummy. It kind of amazes me how quickly she is growing up! It is both sad and happy, really liking 4-5 months it is a fun age. I was tagged awhile ago on this meme  by Char @Bookish Whimsy and was wanting to post it but never got a chance :)


Four Names People Call Me Other Than My Real Name

  1. Alisa- because it is not my name actually, it is my nom de plume..LOL Yes, I am very mysterious!

Four Jobs I’ve Had

  1. Art Teacher K-5- I have been teaching art for eight years now. o.O
  2. Art Lead Summer Camp- Same job essentially but I also was in charge of ordering supplies etc.
  3.  Library Assistant (Shelver)- I liked working in the library but shelving is very tedious.

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once

  1. Jane Eyre 2011, 1973, 1996, etc.- I have watched them all multiple times.
  2. Labyrinth- I was obsessed with this film when I was younger.
  3. Beauty and The Beast- my favorite Disney film.
  4. My Fair Lady- I used to drive my sister CRAZY with that, played it every afternoon for an entire summer.

Four Books I’d Recommend

  1. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
  2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place or Jackaby

Four Places I Have Lived

  1. Boston, Massachusetts- For my graduate degree.
  2. Chicago, Illinois- For my art degree.
  3. Memphis, Tennessee- I REALLY hated it there, worst year of my life.
  4. Atlanta, Georgia

Four Places I Have Been

  1. England(my husband is from there)
  2. Scotland
  3. Ireland
  4. Italy

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now

  1. Disneyland
  2. London
  3. Haworth, United Kingdom
  4. On vacation somewhere it is not wintery..

Four Things I Don’t Eat

  1. Pickles
  2. Raw Onions
  3. Olives
  4. Croutons

I hate sour food in general.

Four of My Favorite Foods

  1. Kimchi!!! Korean BBQ is yummm
  2. Sushi
  3. Cheesecake
  4. Chocolate in general..

TV Shows That I Watch(I couldn’t name just four)

  1. Game Of Thrones
  2. The Walking Dead
  3. Doctor Who
  4. Gotham
  5. Jane The Virgin ( Omg! I LOVE this show, so fun/funny)
  6. Once Upon A Time

Four Things I Am Looking Forward To This Year

  1. My daughter’s first birthday party! :) I will take lots of pictures of her smooshing the cake all over her face.
  2. Summer vacation- I am really tired this year, it’s been an adjustment being  a new mom + working.
  3. Spending more time with Aidan in the summer (honestly our schedules suck right now!)
  4.  Getting more time to do fun stuff, it is hard to find me time right now.

Four Things I’m Always Saying

  1. Jane Eyre ( LOL same here Char)
  2. Whatever, not my problem ( sometimes I have an attitude)
  3. I just want to take a hot bath and read my book.
  4. I need coffee (I didn’t know what sleep deprivation was until I had a child LOL)

Four People I Tag

  1. Jami Zehr@Absurdly Nerdly
  2. Aidan@Those Who Geek
  3. Lee @Rally The Readers
  4.  Angie@Angela’s Anxious Life.
I just tagged some people randomly – feel free to not do this if you don’t feel like it, no worries! :)  And of course if you would like to do it but have not been named, consider yourself tagged!



Audiobook: Fairest by Marissa Meyer/Cress Giveaway

February 9, 2015 Alisa Audiobook Reviews, Book Reviews, Young Adult 19 Comments



Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5

Author: Marissa Meyer

Published: Published January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fairy Tale, Romance

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Alisa’s Review:


I always think what makes a story memorable is often not the hero, rather it’s the quality of it’s villain. What makes a good villain? I always personally think the best villains are multi-layered, that aren’t merely evil for the sake of being but rather have motivations that are complex. So far in the Lunar Chronicles Levana has been rather cloaked in mystery, we know she doesn’t like mirrors and refuses to be filmed  yet at the same time she is known for being a great beauty. We also know she is very brutal and capable of doing just about anything in order to get what she wants. In Fairest the veil of mystery is finally lifted and we get a glimpse into Levana’s true nature.

Levana was never a character that stood out to me in the series before this book, as we see very little of her and rather like Sauron in LOTR she is a looming omen of doom rather than a flesh and blood character that has developed throughout the chronicles. So I was very curious what this book will do with the character and whether or not I would find it compelling as I have all the other book in this series.  Fairest is based on the fairytale Snow White and  like Cinder(Cinderella), Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel) it uses elements of the original while giving it a very distinct and original twist.

Levana is in a culture that is obsessed with physical beauty, using glamours and surgeries in order to obtain physical perfection. Levana doesn’t fit the standard, she is an outsider and as a result she struggles with her own self image. Levana doesn’t start out a villain but she becomes one because of her inability to accept that she can’t get what she wants by using manipulations, her privileged upbringing and also the unchecked cruelty of those around her. What Levana longs for is something that is very universal; love and acceptance. I found myself surprised at how much I felt for Levana in the story, her life in many ways is really tragic.

I am happy to say that while Meyer gives you context you never lose the sense that Levana is still evil.  I was very pleased with how Meyer handles her development of Levana, she maintains the fact that she is a selfish, vain and evil woman who is willing to do horrible things to get what she wants. A lot of times in these back stories or retellings you lose the sense that in spite of the sympathy you may feel for the character that they are still in fact a villain and need to be defeated in order for good to triumph. The next book is ‘Winter’ which focuses on Levana’s stepdaughter and will conclude this series. I was able to get a preview of ‘Winter’ as the audiobook has the first three chapters which made me VERY excited for the next volume in this series.

Overall I really enjoyed this and believe it is an essential read to understand the relationship between Winter and Levana in the next book. I definitely think it is a most read for all fans of the Lunar Chronicles.




rating5 Be sure and check out my giveaway:

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Audiobook Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

February 4, 2015 Alisa Book Reviews 5 Comments


Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3

Author: Marissa Meyer

Published: February 4th 2014 by Feiwel & Friends

Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fairy Tale, Romance

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaI have been wanting to read this book for SO long, this has been one of my all time favorite YA series and was the reason I decided I wanted to start book blogging, Cinder was my first review ever. I very much enjoyed Scarlet ,the second in the series and was eagerly awaiting the release of Cress, the third in the series, when I became pregnant with my first child. When I had my daughter on October 1st of this year my world turned upside down and I haven’t had time to read as much as I would like. I have never been a huge fan of audiobooks as I like imagining the voices any way I like and in general have a short attention span which doesn’t suit the format, but I am finding now they are the best way for me to read books because I can simultaneously watch Miranda while listening. That is how I finally had the chance to read this quite long volume in the Lunar Chronicles and I am happy to say I was not at all disappointed!

Each of these stories is based on a Fairy Tale, the first being Cinderella, the second Little Red Riding Hood and the third Rapunzel while at the same time being interwoven with a larger plot that is epic in it’s scope involving an impending war between Earthens and The Lunars. Cress like Cinder was a wonderfully drawn character, very innocent and naïve but strong like all of Marissa Meyer’s female protagonist. I loved the way she developed in this story and how her romance with Thorne starts out as adulation to genuine love/respect for each other.  Thorne is easily my favorite male character in the series, how can you not like him he is Flynn Rider, Hans Solo and Captain Jack (Dr. Who) all rolled into one awesome package! I loved that we got to see so much of him in this volume. It is very clever the way in each book how she connects them to original fairytale without being obvious and strictly flowing the plotline of the original, i.e. the surprising way Thorne becomes blind midway into the plot. I have to say ladies be prepared for the ‘smoulder’ because there is a lot of Thorne to love in this book!




As for the larger story it was woven together pretty brilliantly and it was fascinating how what seemed like unconnected threads all came together at the end. It was  very well plotted  because each character got there moment without taking the focus from Cress’s journey. I don’t want to spoil but I loved seeing more of IKO and  yet there is one moment where my heart nearly broke because of her.  The new character I am the most intrigued by is Winter and I am looking forward to getting to know her in the volumes to come. She reminds me a bit of Drusilla from Buffy, she feels dangerous and yet at the same time sad/broken. Yes, I have already downloaded Fairest and I can’t wait to get to listening to it soon!



So that being said, I loved this book! It had the perfect blend of action, adventure and romance. This author really knows how to keep a plot moving through several volumes and keep you engaged and fascinated for the next volume. If you haven’t started this series, pick up it up immediately!

Audiobook: As for the audiobook it was well done, wasn’t a huge fan of  Scarlet’s French accent and I also felt Cress/Cinder sounded too alike. However the narrator did a great job of varying the voices and tones throughout the story.

* I by accident picked up the paperback of this book forgetting that I had already purchased the hardback, what can I say I have new mommy brain. I am going to do a giveaway of the paperback in my next discussion post.





Discussion Post: YA Movies / Books I Haven’t Read

January 29, 2015 Alisa Discussion Post 14 Comments

discussion-3 smalliconalisaGoing to the movies is something I am really not able to do often lately as I have a 3.5 month year old, so I have gotten in the habit of renting a lot of movies on VUDU or Red Box or Netflix.  I keep thinking I want to write up my thoughts on the various YA adaptations I have seen recently. Honestly most of the books these adaptations are based on I haven’t read (except of course The Hunger Games) and some of these adaptations made me glad I hadn’t.





1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

mockingjayThis was one of my most eagerly anticipated films of the year, as I have loved all the adaptations so far and I love Jennifer Lawrence’s depiction of Katniss. I know it is the newest trend right now to split the finally film in a series into two parts, they did it for The Hobbit, Harry Potter and now every YA adaptation of a series is getting split in half. However I feel it always does some damage to the first half of the adaptation because like the books not much happens in the first chapters and it can give you the sense that the narrative is dragging. That being said I would be perfectly happy to sit for a longer film to have this not happen and to be able to see the entire story at once, but I realize we as a culture have short attention spans (plus the movie theaters and companies make way more off two rather than one film. Though I really can’t complain because like so many others I go dutifully to the theater to see each part.) That being said I thought that it was well done and hit all the emotional points of the book extremely well, especially Katniss’s horror at the actions of Peeta in this book and the emotionally gutting reunion between the two of them.  I missed some aspects of the story that were cut such as the back story of Finnick and Haymitch that are explained in greater detail in the novel.  I am glad I got to see it in the theater and I eagerly await the next volume of the story.

Verdict: Movie Theater-go see it now.


2. The Maze Runner

MAZEI have not read this series, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. I rented it on a whim from vudu and found myself surprisingly engaged in the story. It had the feel of many YA stories such as Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, in that the main character is destined for greatness. However the bit of the story I found the most intriguing was the Lord Of The Flies hierachy that had developed amongst the boys outside the maze and also the mystery of why they were chosen, who they are and what their purpose is in the Maze. The acting perhaps was not the movies strong suit and I think perhaps it could have benefited from stronger casting in some of its leads. However the story was intriguing enough that it made me want to watch the next film or perhaps pick up the book, as I felt some aspects were not fully or effectively explained in the film.

Verdict: Rent It- it is worth a watch on a rainy afternoon.


3. The Giver

THEGIVERAnother story where I have not read the original and therefore not able to fully compare the two. This was a very odd film, I wasn’t sure entirely how to feel at the end of it but overall I would say I found it disappointing. It has some very familiar dystopian elements in the idea of a regimented society with lack of freedom of personal choice, since this book was published many years before many of the current YA novels I think it probably has served as inspiration for many of them. In particular I saw a lot of similarities to YA series such as Divergent and Matched. However it is a very insular plot with some very high concepts which I think probably work beautifully on the page but were less evocative in the film. The casting as well left much to be desired as I felt the lead lacked charisma and that made it difficult to connect to his journey. I think perhaps if it had better direction and also if they weren’t trying so hard to make it like epic film series such as Divergent, The Hunger Games etc. it would have been much more effective.

Verdict: Skip It- read the book instead


4. The Fault In Our Stars

FAULTYet another book I have not had the chance to read, honestly going into it I didn’t know the twist at the end in spite of this books huge popularity. This is a very sad story that I found very touching while being very life affirming in it’s tragedy, which is not surprising as it is a story about young people with cancer. Perhaps I would be even more moved had I read the original story but the film was very effective in it’s goal in making me cry, which it tries to do often and sometimes very heavy handedly  (i.e. the rather sappy scene in Anne Franks house with the applause was too much for me.) I think what made the film for me was that the leads were extremely charming and well cast, especially Shailene Woodley. Honestly this is not my usual fare, I tend to veer away from tragedies and stories that are geared toward doomed romance. However I was surprised by how much I liked this adaptation and it makes me think I would definitely like to try the book at some point.

Verdict: Rent It- make sure you have tissues ready.



5. If I Stay

STAY This is another adaptation along the lines of books I veer away from because I know they are designed to make me cry, this as well is another book I have not had the chance to read though I hear very good things about it. However this story really didn’t effect me in the way I expected it too, the only characters I really felt sad about were the death of Mia’s parents/brother who were of the epically awesome, totally understanding and cool variety that most teenagers fantasize about having. However I really didn’t connect with the romance, especially with Adam who I know I am supposed to find dreamy as he is cool, in a band and completely unattainable in the hotness front. That being said I think he is a totally self-centered jerk often in the story and I have no idea what Mia sees in him, so I found it really hard to connect with or like him as a character (though I know he redeems himself at the end.) However I can’t help but think these two in 20 years will resent each other for giving up their dream and I can’t really buy into their romance being a long lasting one. This is essentially because I don’t buy into the idea that long distance relationships can’t last, if you don’t care enough to stick with someone even though they are far away I don’t think you really can call it love. My husband and I were long distance 3 years (England/America) and we are still together nine years later.

Verdict: Skip It.


Book Review: Doctor Who: Silhouette (Doctor Who: New Series Adventures #53)

January 28, 2015 Alisa Adult, Book Reviews 6 Comments


DRWHO Doctor Who: Silhouette (Doctor Who: New Series Adventures #53)

Author: Justin Richards

Published: September 9th 2014 by Broadway Book

Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery, Television Tie-In

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Vastra and Strax and Jenny? Oh no, we don’t need to bother them. Trust me.”

Marlowe Hapworth is found dead in his locked study, killed by an unknown assailant. This is a case for the Great Detective, Madame Vastra.

Rick Bellamy, bare-knuckle boxer, has the life drawn out of him by a figure dressed as an undertaker. This angers Strax the Sontaran.

The Carnival of Curiosities, a collection of bizarre and fascinating sideshows and performers. This is where Jenny Flint looks for answers.

How are these things connected? And what does Orestes Milton, rich industrialist, have to do with it all? This is where the Doctor and Clara come in. The Doctor and his friends find themselves thrust into a world where nothing and no one are what they seem. Can they unravel the truth before the most dangerous weapon ever developed is unleashed on London?

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaI haven’t had a chance really to talk about how I felt about the most recent season of Dr. Who and Capaldi’s depiction of the doctor in depth on this blog though I have discussed in on my husband’s Those Who Geek. I love Dr. Who, it is one of my all time favorite shows. It is a show I grew up watching with my Dad who was a fan, particularly of the Tom Baker era. It is something as well that connected me to my now husband of six years, when we first started dating we would regularly marathon episodes of classic Who as he is a HUGE fan of the show. So I was very excited when I heard they were casting Capaldi  and hoped very much to like this new doctor. However in the end I found it hard to connect with the newest doctor, mostly because he is so stern and often times harsh to those around him, especially Clara. It reminded me a bit too much of what I disliked about the Colin Baker era of Dr. Who, in that the doctor often puts down or belittles his companion in those episodes. So when my husband told me to read this tie-in, I was at first very skeptical that I could or would like it as I have not liked many of the episodes this season.

However in spite of my doubts I really loved this book and wished it had been an episode this season. The story features some familiar characters from Matt Smith’s era, such as Strax, Jenny and Vastra.  I really liked this because the author did a magnificent job of capturing to the personalities of the characters from the show, in particular Strax is really spot on. The mystery is a really intriguing one that is multi-layered and features some really striking visual imagery such as the origami birds coming to life or Silhouette herself who is described vividly.  I liked the the story really played off the strengths of all the various characters and that each gets their moment to shine. Capaldi’s Doctor is very well done in this book and one of the things I appreciated is it played off his grumpiness in a quirky, fun and humorous way. In particular there is one sequence that plays off classic Who so beautifully and I would love to see it played out in an actual episode.  The story often twisted upon itself and it made it hard for me to put this book down, this is easily my favorite Dr. Who tie-in that I have read so far. If you are a fan of Dr. Who, I definitely recommend giving this book a try.