Recent Reads Review

Reading slumps suck. So far, since the year has started, I’ve only read three books—one of those I even half-assed and just practically skimmed through.

If you’re looking for more books to read, don’t look here. I’m actually just here to share what I think of these books and, hopefully, stumble upon someone who can recommend me books like the ones I’ve read. These reviews are very short and lazily written (I just copied them from my Goodreads account, actually). Really, they are just begging for more books to be with them. Oh, and tiny spoiler alert!

Eliza and Her Monsters

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

The writing, the story, and the story within the story (Monstrous Sea) were all captivating. It hooked me at once. I could relate with Eliza, with what she’s going through, though my social anxiety ain’t that bad (‘cuz I at least know how to fake knowing how to socialize and don’t let anyone else notice) but I know how it can be draining and overwhelming at times. Yes, the book opens up about social anxiety and what it’s like to have it. The writing is what really got me mesmerized because it flowed and transitioned so well. But the story of Eliza is what made me love the book so much.

What I just didn’t like was Wallace. He was so good in the first half of the book. The second half didn’t justify enough (or apologize enough) how Wallace could be so selfish as to force Eliza to finish the web comic while she’s having a mental breakdown. Like dude. Your life isn’t her responsibility so give the girl a break, please. Anyway, other than that I loved everything about the book. I wish there’s really a Monstrous Sea web comic. Is there? The on-page sketches look cool!

Geekerella

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Rating: 2/5 Stars

In between 2 and 3 stars. Maybe because I have read a book with a similar premise before this and did it much better? Reading this book felt like a chore; I had to skim through most of the characters’ thought process, and the dialogues were too sloppy and cheesy for my liking. Darien and Elle’s chemistry also felt forced, and they are being too dramatic. I also found some inconsistencies with Elle’s personality. Even the side characters seemed so stereotypical and that made them even more unrealistic. This actually reads more like a fanfic than an original YA stand-alone novel.

I usually enjoy feel-good stories with fairy tale-like themes like this one, you know, just for mindless fluffy reading. But Geekerella was just too plain. Kelly Oram’s Cinder and Ella is still the most enjoyable and believable modern Cinderella-meets-Hollywood YA novel I’ve read so far. I should probably read that again to make up for the disappointment that this book gave me. Anyway, nice try for taking on the kind of story concept that has been done over and over again. I am also aware that it’s hard to give this kind of recycled plot an original feel. Still, good try.

Burn Before Reading

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

I probably should’ve burned this book before reading because I fell a little bit in love with it! It’s the kind of book that you would want to read when you’re in need to swoon mindlessly and feel giddy all over. It was so much fun! But it also took on some serious issues, which is very commendable and genuinely well-executed. I admit though at first, I didn’t want to read it because the synopsis screams BOYS OVER FLOWERS. After having seen that a-group-of-rich-and-privileged-bad-boys-against-one-poor-but-stubborn-girl story in three live-action adaptations, I thought I’ve had enough. But Sara Wolf is an instant read to me. I’m so glad I gave this book a chance because, boy, it gave a new spin and depth to that classic plot! What an enjoyable read!

By the way, Bee reminds me so much of Isis (another character from the same author). They have the same wit, and I wonder if that reflects the author’s personality in real life, too. That’s the one thing consistent through-out her books, some more subtle than others. That’s not a bad thing; just a random observation. Hey, her female characters are funny and #relatable!

Wonder Woman (Spoiler?) Review

Yes! I went to see Wonder Woman yesterday with my Mom and sisters, and it was fantastic! I had to revive my blog just to rave about it (my blog has been on hiatus and in private mode so that I can focus on work and fully “adjust” to the adult world—it’s a personal thing). I’ve officially become obsessed with the movie and character.

I’m not a comic books nor a superhero fan. It’s one of the movie “genres” that I ignore. It’s just not my taste. I used to think that it can be pretty formulaic most of the times with the dude-gets-superpowers-and-decides-to-start-fighting-crimes-with-final-boss-battle-at-the-end. I’m aware though of how passionate comic book fans can be when it comes to this. I believe as of right now, the Marvel versus DC war is still ongoing out there in the comments section of YouTube movie trailers, debating on which cinematic universe makes more sense or which superhero movie adaptation is still the best. I usually avoid them, but it can be pretty amusing.

Besides, I don’t know my comic book stuff. I didn’t even know that there’s a whole different bunch of superheroes besides Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and that there’s in fact another team of meta-humans (or in this case, mutants?) called The Avengers. Spiderman is probably the only other superhero I knew. Even then he’s never been invited to avenge with them. Blame my parents for introducing me only to the DC superheroes as I grew up. It was only recently as the movies came out that I learned the existence of Thor, Captain America, and the others.

My Mom though is a big fan of Wonder Woman since Lynda Carter days. I watched some of the re-run episodes from childhood. I don’t remember much though. I would watch them with her sometimes but I never understood it nor enjoyed it. But I do know how Mom loves it so much. Wonder Woman is her all-time favorite superhero. So when I heard that the 2017 movie is coming out, I just knew I had to bring her and my sisters to the cinema.

At first, she was skeptical about the new Wonder Woman. She watched the series when she was still young. She had high expectations, set by her memories of the first adaptation. But she was still, of course, delighted and excited about finally having a live-action film about her beloved superhero after so many years. Spoiler Alert: She loved it! We all did. Now, here’s my honest thoughts about the movie, coming from a non-fan who fell in love all of a sudden with a superhero for the first time in her life. Just to be clear, I’m not an expert in comic books nor movies, but here’s just what I think.

Before you proceed, know that there might be spoilers, but I’ll try not to give away too much details. So if you’re planning to watch the movie and don’t want to ruin the story, best try not to continue reading.

The Good:

Story

It was well-written, very cohesive, and solid overall. As someone who doesn’t know about the origins of Wonder Woman or Diana, I didn’t know what to expect, but what I learned about her, I loved. The story started by introducing her mythical origins. I keep seeing parallels with the Christian theology–mostly the Fall of Lucifer–even though her story is very much based on the Greek mythology and features the Greek God of War, Ares. That made it easier for me to get into the story because I connected immediately (Catholic here).

The best thing about the story though is the seamless transition between the mythological exposition and the World War I setting. I love how the plot didn’t only show us how Wonder Woman came to be, but also how she grew as a person. It wasn’t just a story of someone finding out that she can be a superhero and fight the bad guys. Typical origin story. There were no “bad guys” here. Or at least, the real villains weren’t the expected bad guys. It was war itself. This is the story of a woman who learned that human morality isn’t as clear as black and white, and that the war will not stop by simply killing one boss villain. She learns that being a savior is more about fighting for what you believe in and less about defeating the bad guys and rid the world of all evil. ‘Cause no one really is purely evil nor good. It’s all a blur of in-between. But the movie was still hopeful about humanity.

Characters

Great casting, great chemistry! Gal Gadot was amazing, Chris Pine was perfect. I can’t imagine anyone else for the roles of Diana and Steve.

Two things this movie can boast are the character development, especially of the movie’s superhero, and the perfect balance between her and her love interest—who was just more than a love interest.

Diana started off as this naive girl who had absolute views of good and evil, war and justice. Coming from a hidden paradise of female warriors, of course she would be clueless about what’s happening in the real world. She soon realized the gray truths of humanity when Steve brought her to the war-torn areas.

Here’s where the balance comes in: Steve became her reality-check. But it wasn’t just Steve’s realist and almost cynical views that made him the perfect counterpart for Diana. Diana might be the “super,” but Steve was also just as strong-willed as her and it made him the perfect match. They were equals in character.

There was no power-play of the sexes. Yeah, most definitely this is a women-empowering film but it never forced feminist views nor dragged down any of the sexes to uplift another. Both the characters are learning from each other. Diana, the reality of human nature and the importance of holding on to your values from Steve, and Steve, the optimism to save the world and having hope for humanity from Diana. They were just two people, though with different views, fighting the same battle.

In the end, Diana matured as person and was able to determine what she really was fighting for. And Steve, well, you will always be in our hearts and your sacrifice will forever be remembered. *sobs*

Execution

The right mix of narrative and action. Before I could even get bored of the backstories (which would still be impossible for me because the backstories and the little down time moments were engaging, honest, and heartfelt at times), they give me stellar action sequences. There were three main action sequences in the movie–the beach battle, the Front battle, and the final boss battle–that were evenly distributed throughout the film. In between these parts, there was enough time for character development and story-telling. It was effective to give fans the hype and excitement of actions scenes that they expect from a superhero film, at the same time, show them the story without dragging on the plot. Slow-mo effects? I had no problem with that. Wonder Woman was still kickass!

There were also these funny and adorables little moments that added charm to the movie and the character of Wonder Woman, mostly. None of the humor felt forced or cheesy. When she saw a baby, when she tried to get out of the revolving door, when she ate ice cream, these little scenes showed how much Diana was out of place in the WWI London setting. These moments became opportunities for light breathers before the movie focused on the brutal effects of war, and I’m telling you. When the scenes of the soldiers from the war came on, showing their chopped leg and bloodied bandages, and Diana had to pass through them, mothers and children begging for help as explosions go off meters away from them, those really pierced me and stirred something in me. I’d say that the movie was successful to make us emotionally invest in the characters and the setting they were in. It was very timely.

The Bad:

The final boss. I just think that I was misled with the main villain. Just when you think she would have to fight either the general or the scientist, Spoiler Alert: Ares was real and he’s the old cabinet speaker. I read that Ares is an actual villain in the DC universe but I almost wanted him to be a misconception of Diana about the war, not an actual villain. At least not in this movie. I don’t know any other alternatives for Ares as the final villain but I thought it would have more impact if Ares was more of a representation of war, rather than a god to defeat. It’s just a little bit of a bait-and-switch for me with that plot twist. But it didn’t really ruin the movie for me, so it was still okay, and the overall movie is just too good that it didn’t matter at all. The rest of the story elements made up for it.

The Score: 9/10 Badass with a heart. (The deducted point is obviously for the villain.)

“You’re a weirdo, fine. Own it. Be the best weirdo you can be.”

That is a quote from the movie, The Duff, which is based on the novel of the same title by Kody Keplinger. I wanted to post something different but I had this urge, all of a sudden, to watch a movie. The DUFF specifically. I don’t know why.

Anyway, I read the book a couple of years ago so the details of the book aren’t as clear to me anymore but I’m so sure that the movie is very different from the book. Very, very different. There are a lot of major changes! Wesley’s character for one. I don’t remember him as the boy-next-door type of jock. But let’s not dwell on it anymore because I don’t want to turn this into a full review. I can tell you though that the book is way more mature (and serious in a way) than the movie (lots of sex scenes—I KNOW!—and a different plot altogether; you’ll get it if you’ve read the book and seen the movie). The movie, on the other hand, feels more like your typical high school comedy chick-flick cliche. But I really liked it. I don’t particularly like how it wasn’t faithful to the original novel but I like how they spun it around to be a completely different package that is still enjoyable, more relatable, and surprisingly empowering. You will like it if you forget about the novel and pretend that it’s a different story. Plus, read THAT quote. Totally suits me! *winks*

So, if you’re into high school teen movies that end with either homecoming or prom (seriously, as overly cliche they can be, they are my guilty pleasure), you’ll love the movie. It’s hilarious (sooo hilarious), honest, and heartfelt at the same time. I’d give it a 9.2 over 10 stars. I’m generous when it comes to ratings.

My First Bacon Experience

In my post here, I said that I’ve never tasted bacon ever. Today, I’m going to share with you my first bacon experience. Yay!

First of all, thank you so much to Tina for sending me these boxes of bacon to taste-test. I am so touched that you went all through that trouble just to make my first ever bacon experience possible. I really, really appreciate it. Thank you! <3

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Now, this is the Oscar Mayer brand. I don’t know what other bacon brands are out there but I’m sure that I’m going to try them out later. For now, even though I’m not a bacon expert nor a food critic, I’m going to “review” this one.

Since this is the first time that I’ve ever tasted bacon, I have nothing else to compare it but to its close relative which is ham…so I’m going to compare it to ham. I’m not sure though if they really belong under the same meat category. I’m just going to assume that they are since they’re both slices of deadly delicious meat. I think it isn’t really fair to compare them but they don’t have feelings so I’ll still do it anyway. They won’t know that.

So, the box says that it’s fully cooked but we don’t like eating anything straight from the box so without any cooking knowledge whatsoever, I tried frying it (yup, since this is my first bacon experience, might as well do everything from the cooking to the eating–but I didn’t eat all of it, of course, ’cause I shared) without bothering to check on Google how bacon should be fried. It ended up looking like this:

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It kinda looks burnt. I don’t know if that’s how bacon really looks like in real life. I did my best but this is my first time so no judging, please. It still has the oil bubbles or something and looks rather deadly because, you know, oil and fats and stuff. I’m sure I fried it wrong. Bacon images from Google don’t look like this. I knew I should’ve researched first! Or, maybe I should have just left the cooking part to someone who knows how. Don’t worry though because the next batches looked better and more bacon-y, no thanks to me.

Now, for the verdict, I’d give bacon an 8 out of 10.

It’s saltier than I expected but not in a bad way. That kind of flavor made it perfect for ketchup, and you know how much I like food that I can dip in ketchup. I also like how crispy it is whether it’s the original one or the thick cut, and that every bite makes a crunch sound. I guess that’s the best part of eating bacon. In terms of taste, I still prefer ham over bacon because it’s sweeter and juicier, but I’d definitely go try some more bacon in the future because that crispiness is too hard to resist! We all loved it here!

A New Blog to Follow

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A very close friend of mine just started his own blog and I’m inviting y’all to follow it! Quick, quick! If you’re into Marvel or DC or anything that has something to do with superheroes then you should definitely follow his blog! Check out his very first post, a film review on Avengers: Age of Ultron (may contain spoilers, though). I’m sure you’ll love it! He’ll be posting more film reviews and superhero related stuff soon so follow him now, okay? His blog is called Hero’s Corner. Just click on the image above to visit his blog. Alright! Thanks, guys! You’re all awesome as always! <3

This is me criticizing the critics.

So, I found this one article in Cosmopolitan wherein they listed all the meanest things “critics” said about Jamie Dornan’s performance in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Question: Are these “critics” really professional critics?

Because they didn’t sound like they are. I don’t want to sound like a crazy fangirl, right now, who just rants about anyone who dares give a negative review. I’m not like that. But some of the things these “critics” said are just so mean that I wonder if they really are professionals. What they’ve said are not criticisms. Those are insults! They sounded like they were just bashing. I don’t know if they were trying to make it sound like a simple joke, something to make readers laugh at, but they are not funny. How can they be so mean with the way they write their reviews? I’m trying so hard, REALLY HARD, not to be a monster fangirl right now. Please, if you claim to be a professional critic who writes for a well-known paper, magazine, or website, THEN WRITE LIKE ONE. There’s what we call constructive criticism. Look it up. It might help. “Hobbit-faced billionaire”? “Charisma of a hologram”? “Young Colin Firth on tranquilizers”? “Constant constipation face”? Okay, maybe they are a bit funny. BUT, GOSH! Are these the things you expect the so-called professional “critics” to say? Are these the only ways they could express it? Have they been like this with all the other films and actors they’ve criticized? THEY SOUND LIKE ME ON MY PERIOD! Not professional at all.

I’m not mad.

Okay. Maybe, I AM mad. Sort of.

But that’s because these people are supposed to be professionals and they failed at that part.

And, yes, I had the time to skim each of the articles. Most of them are well-written. They had pretty good reasons why they hated the film in general. And it’s okay if that’s what they think. They’re the experts. I get it. I was kinda disappointed, too. But some of what they’ve said were just downright offensive, and that’s what I can’t accept.

Oh, well. Time to move on to a new film…

A Spoiler-Free Review of Fifty Shades of Grey!

As promised, here is my film review (a serious one) of Fifty Shades of Grey.

But before I dive into my verdict, let me talk first about why I love the Fifty Shades series.

I read the (3) books around late 2012. It took me that long before I read them because of its reputation–the “mommy porn” reputation. But my friends told me that it’s not all about that and that there is a good storyline in it. So I read them.

Actually, there IS a good storyline in the series. Sure, it wasn’t Jane Austen romance but I enjoyed it. Though, I admit that the writing style was super lousy and that Ana’s thoughts are a bit simplistic and, at times, stupid, the story is very romantic and sad. Romantic because there is a whole lot more to Ana and Christian’s relationship than what most people believe. Christian, no matter how much of a dominant or sadist he is, has this hidden side that makes him willing to do anything for Ana–compromise, you know–and that’s just so sweet and thoughtful. Even though he has an unconventional way of showing, he’s clearly falling in love. In fact, he is more of under Ana’s spell rather than Ana being “under” him. Well, it’s all a matter of who fills whose gaps and in these books, they both do with each other, and that in itself is what I think has made it romantic. The story is also sad at the same time because think about it. What do you think must have happened to Christian for him to be like that: a control freak? I’m not gonna give you any clues. Just think about it. He had to wait for that one person (Ana) to come and snap him out of it. That, for me, is kind of sad. Tragic, even. Christian Grey is surprisingly a complex character.

Now, what could be the reasons why people hated it? I mean, besides the lousy writing.

1) It’s been dubbed as “mommy porn.” What would people think after hearing that? Duh. But I’m telling you, it’s not porn. It’s not for mommies only. It’s an erotica. A romantic book meant for more mature audience since it contains a lot of sex scenes–passionate sex scenes, okay? That doesn’t mean it’s “mommy porn” already. Gosh! The story and the romance are still its main focus. What’s love without the “love-making” part, right?

2) Ana is stupid. I think she’s stupid (sometimes). And the whole book is from her stupid point of view. But that’s her fault. Whatever stupidity she does is her fault. I mean, let her be. That’s who she is. She’s just so naive sometimes.

3) It misrepresents the BDSM community–if there’s such a thing. I don’t know that much about BDSM besides from what I’ve heard, read, and seen. But, I can tell you that those people who do BDSM are not “f*cked-up.” BDSM is a choice, a preference, a lifestyle. It’s not a sign that someone’s not right in the head. If it’s not what you are into, you don’t have to judge others for wanting it. They are not “f*cked-up.” (Ugh. I hate that term.) Now, if people are influenced to do BDSM now…no. I don’t think people will be influenced. I’d like to believe that no one is stupid enough to try something that they have no complete idea about. Are you stupid enough to do BDSM if you don’t even know what BDSM stands for? I don’t think so. Even though I’ve read the books for so many times already, it didn’t make me want to imitate it. I have my own “taste.” If people decide to follow this lifestyle, it’s their choice. Like, I said BDSM is a choice. It’s their preference. That’s predetermined.

4) It “violates” the rights of women, they said. Oh, please. Let me roll my eyes at that. Come on! No one was forced to do anything in the books. It was their choice. CONSENSUAL. It was Ana’s choice. If she got chained or whipped, that’s her doing. Christian didn’t trick her into doing anything. In fact, he warned her at first. But then Ana said, “Enlighten me then,” and you know what happened next. They agreed upon terms. They discussed it. If anything, the books, I’d say, showed how Ana has the more power to decide. Ana was in control here. Christian just complied to whatever terms she had. He isn’t going to do anything to Ana if she says no. BDSM, no matter how unconventional it may seem like to the mainstream audience, is built on trust, not abuse. Trust in a way that you surrender yourself to the other person because you know that he isn’t going to do anything that you won’t be able to handle. Everything’s CONSENSUAL. Is that still abuse if it’s consensual? No. And there are safe words. If enough is enough, just say “red” and he’ll stop immediately.

5) There are always haters and haters always gonna hate. That’s just the way it is.

I know that not everyone’s going to like it but don’t let these reasons affect what you think about the books. Read it yourselves if you haven’t. Then judge. It’s just fiction!

Now, let’s move on to the movie. What do I think about the film-adaptation of the first book?

Hmm, the movie wasn’t a disappointment, but I think it could have been better. The book is always better, I should’ve known. There should have been more development in the story. It was pretty fast-paced. It felt like the movie skipped a lot of details, nothing too important but would have been helpful to those who haven’t read the books. And, I think, there should’ve been a better ending, one that is not so abrupt. If I haven’t read the books, like, a lot of times already, I would be like, “Wait, that’s it?” I swear, a lot of people in the cinema went like that when the credits rolled. I’m guessing they didn’t read the books. Poor them.

As someone who read the books, though, I was quite relieved that the film stayed true to the book. No major changes. For me, the film looked quite sophisticated. However, I’m really disappointed that there were so many scenes that had to be deleted. Like, where are my favorite moments? Still, it was okay. If they deleted anything, it didn’t affect the story that much. I’d say that the movie tried to focus more on the major events and the main plot. Jamie and Dakota looked perfect together, too. Most of the time, they just looked so cute and I giggled a lot especially when Ana was being this awkward innocent girl and Christian was being his usual serious, mysterious self. The lines they throw at each other were so full of innuendos. It was awkwardly funny. Not necessarily a bad thing. They had chemistry, nothing was off, and they delivered well…surprisingly. That’s a plus. But I still want more. I need more. Christian, give us more!

Anyway, I will give the film a 6.5/10 over-all rating. Not bad, right?

Do I recommend it? Of course, but only if you read the books first. Trust me on this. It’ll be hard to relate to the film if you haven’t read the books.

P.S.

Don’t ask me about the sex scenes. I was only watching Christian Grey throughout the movie. He’s so freaking H-O-T all the time!