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Kara E.
Review for Hobby Lobby - 3 months, 3 weeks ago
It's such a fantastic store to walk into! Everytime I walk in I always come out with more than I'm expecting. Whatever you're looking for this store always has it and more. It's my favorite place to shop for decorations and it always has fantastic sales going on to save you money.
Review for Barnes & Noble - 3 months, 3 weeks ago
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Bookworm Expert Level 1
Love this store and it's prices. Lately at my local store the prices for books have been cheaper and the atmosphere more homey. I love how you're greeted right as you enter the store and that if you need any help someone is only a step away.
Review for If I Stay (Reprint) (Paperback) - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Bookworm Expert Level 1
I’ve heard many good things about this novel: how heart-wrenching and deep and beautiful it is, how palpable and *real* Mia’s grief is. So perhaps my expectations of it were a little unrealistic when I first picked it up.

It’s not a bad book, by any means. In fact, I think it’s a great concept, and I think Foreman handles the subject well. Sometimes, all it takes is one unexpected, tragic event is all it takes for us to completely reevaluate our priorities and purpose in life.

I loved how she showed Mia’s friends and family members coming together to support each other. Believe it or not, a strong, supportive community is kind of a rarity in YA literature (but maybe I read too much fantasy and sci-fi to make a statement like this). These bits where we see Mia’s family and friends trying to cope were definitely the strong point of this novel. The relationships between Mia and her parents, Mia and her brother, Mia and her extended family all felt realistic and genuine. It made my heart hurt for them as they dealt with the pain of losing family members.

However, with some exceptions, besides those aforementioned scenes, I found myself surprisingly unemotional while reading the rest of this book. Maybe it’s a me thing, but I expected this book to make me cry right along with Mia’s friends and family. But instead of feeling a mixture of intense emotions like I expected to, I felt nothing.

I might sound a little callous by saying this, but I never really felt as connected to Mia as I wanted to be. She seemed kind of like a ghost the entire book (maybe that’s because she kind of was), merely a window through which to glimpse her family and friends’ reactions. In the span of only several days (hours?), she loses both her parents ((SPOILER)) as well as her brother ((END SPOILERS)) and that’s not an easy thing to deal with at all. And, while I sympathized with her in the moments she discovered these things, I didn’t really feel very sorry for her throughout the rest of the book. (I know how terrible that sounds, believe me.) I understood why she felt the way she did, but I wanted to feel that way WITH her, to connect with her. Instead, I felt the way she did: My reading experience was like being present to the plot and the situation, but being unable to interact with any of the characters. And that was disappointing for me.

Also, I felt Mia’s relationship with Adam moved way too quickly for me to feel like I could get behind it, and I would have liked more build-up there so the relationship could have seemed more authentic. Their relationship is one of the major stakes in Mia’s decision, and, because the relationship didn’t really register with me emotionally, I didn’t feel as invested in her decision and its consequences as I could or should have been.

However, I did like how Foreman explored the idea of how people can grow apart, and, even if Mia’s death might not separate them, maybe their own lives might; that was a really interesting, realistic take that I wish we saw more in YA fiction. Also, Adam’s little speech to her was enough for me to add an extra half-star all by itself, because that scene made me feel the way I’d been hoping the entire book would make me feel. That scene was beautiful.

So, the final verdict is that this one was underwhelming for me, unfortunately. I might check out more of Gayle Forman’s other works in the future; many of my reviewer friends highly recommend them. In my opinion, Amy Zhang’s FALLING INTO PLACE took a similar subject, but turned it into a much more impactful a novel. If you’re looking for a YA contemporary dealing with how tragedy unites, binds, and strengthens, I’d recommend that instead.
Review for Divergent - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Bookworm Expert Level 1
I enjoyed Divergent. I really did. But I had some problems with it.

When it comes to books I am more character driven than plot driven. Well, this book was more of the latter than the former.

I felt that Tris had pretty much no narrative voice, which is the danger when writing a first person, present tense novel. (And, in hindsight, I’ve realized that, while I enjoy the writing style very much, I never felt Tris’s presence through her narration. Most of the time, she seemed too stiff and stoic to be flesh and blood.) As far as characters go, I think I’d say Four was my favorite, because I felt he had both a developed backstory and a developed personality.

In regards to plot, most of the novel occurs in the training headquarters. Not only are we subject to a lot of training scenes–this also means that, halfway through the book, Tris has still not yet been accepted into her chosen faction. For a book almost 500 pages long, that’s a lot of time focused on training. As a result, everything kicks off around the last fifth of the book, and, while the ending was incredibly exhilarating and very satisfying, I wish certain plot developments would have started appearing earlier in the book.

But this book did keep me reading late into the night, and the memories I have while reading Divergent are timeless. This is a total guilty-pleasure read, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. I just wish Tris had been more developed as a character; this book would have been a solid four stars if I could have connected with her better.
Review for The Fault in Our Stars - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Bookworm Expert Level 1
Better than the film adaptation for sure-- This work of fiction describes what is otherwise unimaginable or fathomable to those of us who are fortunately healthy in modern society while still holding true to a teenager's narrative voice throughout the entire journey. The best part is, it was neither too heart-wrenching and not too idealistic-- It was real life, or what could possibly be for some rare few and others.
Review for The Princess Diaries - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Pop Culture Expert Level 1
Amazing movie with wonderful bonus features. Although it is "based" on Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries books, they are two completely different stories and stand on their own. For example, in this movie the grandmother Claire (portrayed by the wonderful Julie Andrews) is sweet and caring while in the books she is a nightmare. However, they did keep Mia's charm, awkwardness, clumsiness, and her good heart. Anne Hathaway played her role amazingly.
Review for Harper Teen The Selection 4-Book Box Set - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Bookworm Expert Level 1
I'm a bit embarrassed by how much I love this book, based on the actual storyline and content. If I were to summarize, it would sound like this is a book about a medieval version of The Bachelor. There isn't even much distopia or "extra" storyline to balance out the 90% of the book that is 35 girls fighting over one Prince. Yet somehow, I was hooked.
I love distopian books, but it's been a while since I read one that didn't feel far too juvenile. This book really felt like the character was a smart, capable person dealing with decisions most teenagers would not have to. But at the same time, it stayed relatable to teens and there were definitely moments she made mistakes or acted in ways that only an impulsive teen would. She was not infallible, and she wasn't a lovesick puppy who couldn't live without a man either.
There also weren't too many truly heartbreaking, depressing parts of this book. I like a nice upbeat read to distract me from reality sometimes, and this did the trick.
All in all, it's clear that this author is just an expert storyteller who could make any mundane story sparkle.
Review for The Harry Potter Series - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Bookworm Expert Level 1
I read this book over a period of two weeks. I have done this many times before with other books but never have they wanted me to keep going and going and not stop.
Just why this book has become such a phenomenon is not hard to see. The story appeals to all of us, no matter what our age. The suspenseful parts have just the right amount to keep us on the edge of our seats; the humor is perfectly-timed; the emotional portions are exquisite. All of the technical aspects of a fiction novel for older children are here.
But that is not why it is so wonderful. The character of Harry Potter, I believe, triumphs over a situation in which we can all see ourselves. His background is one we can relate to, even if it exaggerates our own predicaments (just as our own memories are). His progress through the story just makes us want to cheer. All of the characters are multi-dimensional and impossible to predict, constantly suprising us, and yet the whole ensemble merges together like a world class symphony.
If you haven't read this book yet, don't wait any longer. It is not often that we get to witness the birth of a classic.
Review for The Vampire Diaries - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Pop Culture Expert Level 1
I've never seen/read Twilight nor did I know that the Vampire Diaries was based on a series of tween books.

Vampire Diaries is a guilty pleasure. Despite the fact that the series is set-up with the high school crowd, it definitely has a more adult feel to it with the complex issues that come up and the dark, edgy violence. The first couple of eps played a bit too 90210(ish) but then the series really took off.

The main characters are well rounded and believable even in unbelievable situations. The series has managed to weave a set of relationships that breath life into each of the characters. Elena is the high school girl who must not only face personal tragedy but a new boyfriend (Stephan) that may or may not be what he seems. And Stephan has his own family issues with his bad boy brother, Damon. And while Damon is definitely bad (body count anyone?)he has reasons he believes are valid for the pain he inflicts.(mostly)

Elena as played by Nina Dobrev is a smart girl with a compassionate heart who definitely doesn't put up with any BS. In this vampire tale she doesn't just automatically tell Stephan it's all right when she finds out his secret. It's not cool that he's a vampire. People die around him and that's not ok. They fall in love despite his being a vampire rather than because of it.

Stephan Salvatore, Mystic Falls resident brooding vampire, started out (to me) a little too much like an Angel wannabe but Paul Wesley has done a competent job in opening the character up. What he does to Damon in the basement was truly chilling. I was like, HEY!, aren't you supposed to be the good guy!

And last but not least of the lead characters, Damon. What can I say. Damon is just delightfully bad. Ian Somerhalder plays him with relish. In the wrong hands, his character could have easily become a cliche but the actor has turned him into someone you just can't help but feel for (equal parts sympathy and revulsion)as he struts his way around, doling out cruelty with a smile, all the while hiding a secret of his own.

The supporting cast is also just wonderful in their roles. Kudos especially to Candice Accola for her portrayal of Caroline Forbes. The whole cast was well chosen and that they're all beautiful and sexy doesn't hurt either.

Anyway, before this review becomes a novel... just watch a few eps. I dare you not to get hooked on it.
Review for Stranger Things - 4 months, 2 weeks ago
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Pop Culture Expert Level 1
Personally I have mixed feelings about the show. While I was drawn into the show, I was constantly confused. I am a huge fan of the genre and was left disappointed with the shows take on it. That being said the script and production of the entire show is flawless and I would watch it again just to watch the talented cast.
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