Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

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Rating: 5 Stars
Date Started: 30 October 2017
Date Finished: 31 October 2017
Pages: 513  |   Duration: 10:45:48
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure, Romance, M/M

That moment when you enjoy a m/m romance about 1000 times more than you ever thought you would…

This book will definitely be going on my favorites of the year list! I listened to the audio version and I think that was the absolute best decision I could have made. The narrator was brilliant and of course I’m putty in your hands if you have a British accent. Naturally I had to find out more (stalk) him, and it turns out he’s the actor who played Tom Riddle in Harry Potter 2… also he’s gorgeous!

Other than the narrator though, I loved the writing and the flow of the book. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be FUN! I lost count of the times I had to pause because I was giggling too much… I got a fair amount of weird looks for laughing at nothing too!

I realize that at least 60% of the things happening in this book is unrealistic and would have played out a whole different way if it had happened in real life, but I don’t think the point of this book was to be historically accurate or taken too seriously. I’d even say the whole plot was only slightly better than “meh”… I took it as a fun adventure that touched on some touchy subjects, but was mainly focused on the characters and the relationships in the book.

Talking about characters, I loved them all. Monty was a selfish and pompous ass, but OMG he was funny and witty and… vibrant. Percy was caring and sweet and you can completely understand why Monty falls in love with him, even though they’re polar opposites and besides the fact that he thinks he’s gorgeous. Felicity is a badass bitch that refuses to let society put out her flame. I mean I’m pretty sure [book:The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy|35430702] is going to be her adventure, that’s how awesome she is. She’s flawless and Monty would be completely dead without her. Honestly he really is a bit useless… but maybe just because he’s been told that so much that he started believing it? He’s fabulous though.

The other characters were also different degrees of lovable and interesting, with the pirates and Captain Scipio being my favorites… I’ve always had a fascination with pirates (even before Pirates of the Caribbean) and I really hope they feature prominently in the next book! Considering the title I think it’s a safe bet 😁

 

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Movie Review

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (Live Action)

This movie has such a dear place in my heart. I have a vivid memory of watching it the first time and begging my mom to rewind the part where Lumière gives Belle’s dad a fright over and over again and cracking up like a crazy person for at least half an hour!

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Another memory is of my mom blackmailing me that she would get me Beauty and the Beast from the video store if I let her pull my loose tooth. I was too scared to let her do it, but I remember being so desperate to watch it again that I climbed on top of the bathroom sink and watched myself in the mirror as I gradually wiggled my tooth out. Even though it wasn’t quite our terms, my mom got me the movie again.

I was basically your original Beauty and the Beast fangirl. I was determined to change my name to Belle and move to France to find my own castle with an amazing library. Somehow the Beast/prince was more a cherry on the cake than the main attraction… even back then I loved books more than just about anything else…

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A couple of years after the first Harry Potter movie came out, after she had grown into her role and into herself, and even before it became a fact that B&B would be made into a live action, I remember thinking that Emma Watson would be the perfect Belle. Not only did she play my favorite bookworm ever, but she was an activist for women with her very own bookclub. So when I heard that she was actually going to play the part, I wasn’t even surprised… just unimaginably happy that it was actually going to happen!

And then I stalled. When it came out on cinema I kept on meaning to go and see it, but I just couldn’t. My friends kept on coming back and telling me how great it was, but still I was scared.

Scared? you may be asking. Yes. I was scared that I was expecting too much and that it couldn’t possibly hold up to my expectations and fond memories. Irrational maybe, but how often have I been excited for something only to be disappointed? All 8 Harry Potter movies comes to mind just off the top of my head.

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But then eventually my mother cornered me into it and I bit the bullet. I would watch it and try to keep my expectations to a manageable minimum.

I don’t know if I lowered them too much or if I needn’t have bothered! This movie was absolute perfection! Yes, even the parts that they added and changed! Even the singing, which wasn’t as great as the original (although the songs were better in some places), was still enjoyable and also fit with the personalities of the characters and the actors who played them.

The casting was honestly so on point that I can’t decide who was better: Luke Evans as Gaston stomping around all self important and good looking or Ewan McGregor as Lumière singing “Be our Guest” or Emma Watson in the iconic yellow dress! I don’t know how much of the Beast was CGI and how much was Dan Stevens, but I loved him just as much as Ian McKellen as a grumpy old Gogsworth fighting off his wife’s advances! But if I go on and list all the characters I like, I might as well list the whole cast. Ultimately though, I think Josh Gad as LeFou is my favorite thing ever! He really brought so much more to an originally one-dimensional character and I absolutely loved it!

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There was obviously nothing new plot-wise, though some of the characters were fleshed out and given more backstory. I think the directors tried to answer a lot of the plot holes and unanswered questions the original movie raised, which I thought was great and added more to the story. One of my friends mentioned that they thought the scene where Belle asks them why they don’t escape or leave the castle was worthy of a facepalm, because obviously they can’t leave the castle because they’re furniture and knick-knacks, but I disagree. I always wondered the same thing. They weren’t cursed, the castle and the prince was. What if they changed back if they left the castle? Did they even try? And if they were cursed along with the prince, then that enchantress was a bigger villain than everyone thought!

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One thing I think I should mention is one of the biggest reasons I stalled at watching this movie. Emma Watson. Yes yes, I know I said I always thought she would be the perfect Belle, but let me be honest… I never thought that much of her acting skills. She’s a perfect Hermoine as well, but I was always left knowing that she was acting. She never felt natural in any of the roles I saw her in. I’m not going to say she was absolutely natural as Belle, and her singing wasn’t anything compared to the original Belle, but she impressed me. Maybe Belle is her natural!

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The biggest disappointment to me, and no lying it was a big one, was the library scene. They kept it in (obviously they couldn’t leave it out!!!), but it was changed and the original intent was completely lost! They changed a couple of scenes and even juiced up the songs a bit, but this… this was MY scene! My little bookworm heart thought it was the ultimate romantic gesture, and now it’s been reduced to a happy accident. I thought that was the biggest reason she fell for him in the first place! I just can’t deal right now…

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Ok, I’m back and I feel a little better. So in conclusion, coming from an original Beauty and the Beast fangirl… this live action remake was totally worth watching and I’ll recommend it to infinity and back.

P.S. I loved the Beasts’ song when he set Belle free!

Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

In sum, I totally loved this book! It’s definitely one of my favorite reads this year, and I would gladly recommend it to everyone I come across… which I actually have been doing.

I’ve never really read much about China or it’s history, so most of the stories in here was completely new information for me. It did make me curious though, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more books about Asia and it’s history… though it sounds unbearably brutal 😦

The themes of family and tradition and culture really touched my heart, and the sci-fi elements just brought everything together in such a way that this was such an amazing experience.

I’ve reviewed each story separately below:

1.
The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species
: I liked this. It was written like a “history” of bookmaking of different alien species. Very imaginative and interesting worldbuilding. As the first story in an anthology, it was a fun listen and a tantalizing taste to what’s to come.

2.
State Change
: I really enjoyed this one! It imagines a world where your soul is manifested in a physical object, and your life is tied to this object, so if it’s damaged or if you’re too far away from it, you’ll die. It definitely made me think about what we think we know about life and how people live their lives differently and take more risks. Even though it’s a short story, Liu manages to create a world that I would love to read more about!

3.
Perfect Match
: This futuristic story imagines a world where sharing has been taken to the next level. What’s so unnerving about it is that it’s extremely possible… and that I actually thought “Hey, that sounds pretty neat…”. I listened to it on my morning commute to work and I could not stop thinking about it the whole day! I even completely blanked on the previous two stories because I just felt so wowed by it. It’s one of those that literally make you sit back and go “huh”.

4.
Good Hunting
: A mix between magical fantasy and steampunk. The lives of a Demon hunter and a hulijing intertwine, and as the magic is sucked out of their world they need to learn to survive without it. Lot’s of metal and fantastic ideas in this one. It kind of makes you nostalgic though, which I think is the point. Magic being replaced by technology… rings a bell?

5.
The Literomancer
: Well that was a bummer… I mean the story was great and coming from South Africa where racism is still an issue, it hit close to home. I felt so sorry for Lucy as an outsider both with the natives as well as with the other American girls because she didn’t look down on the Chinese like they did. I was hoping for a happy ending to the story when she met Teddy and his grandpa, but damn, of course that wasn’t going to happen. War is so stupid… politics is so stupid! All it results in is death and heartbreak! Great story though…

6.
Simulacrum
: This wasn’t a great story imo… I didn’t get why Anna was so angry at everything her dad did. She obviously didn’t have her own kids, but even so it’s like she expected him to be perfect. It’s also such a stupid thing to hold a lifelong grudge for!

7.
The Regular
: Sci-Fi Noir = Awesome! This was a really good crime fiction with a dash of the bionic woman! The plot was riveting and believable and the characters were extremely well developed for a short story… although I think this might count more as a novella?

8.
The Paper Menagerie
: Holy crap this made me cry! I was listening to the audio while driving to work and had to pull over. I completely understand every single perspective of each character, and as a mother myself my biggest fear is that my son will abandon me one day. Seriously, this story hit me in the heart!

Side note: I WISH I had a paper menagerie when I was little! Screw barbies (and your stupid Star Wars Figure)!

9.
An Advance Readers’ Picture Book of Comparative Cognition
: Didn’t feel this one… was meh.

10.
The Waves
: Initially I loved the idea here, but then it kinda just went too far? It kind of reminded me of Interstellar, which I also loved up until 3/4 of the way through, and then it went past the stopping point and got too big/went too far. I mean I get what the author was trying to relay, but I think this would have been much better as a novel… even a series!

11.
Mono No Aware
: Ok another favorite! Made me cry while listening in traffic! This had a similar idea to “The Waves”, but I think this was much better in scope and follow through! At this point I’m pretty sure I’m not just in love with the stories, but also with the author…

12.
All the Flavors
: I enjoyed this story, but I couldn’t quite keep up with the different names, and listening to the audio where I couldn’t go back and refresh my memory meant I got confused a lot… also because it jumped between stories without warning… This would probably have been much better read on paper.
I really liked Logan and Lily, and I thought that her mother was just ignorant and hateful… which is true of most people back then I guess… even still now if you think about what’s currently happening in politics (building a wall??? Really???). I think this was the only non sci-fi story, and it was also the longest. But definitely interesting and worth reading.

13.
A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel
: I’ll be honest… I fell asleep about 3/4 of the way through this one. It had a really interesting premise, but I guess it’s just not one of my favorite.

14.
The Litigation Master and the Monkey King
: Another huge bummer. I get that history is full of violence and small people on power trips, but damn…

15.
The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary
: I had no idea that there was even such a thing as Chinese concentration camps. I didn’t even know that the Japanese hated the Chinese that much. This story was a huge learning experience for me. I loved the premise of time travel, and the element of human error and sentimentality brought into it. I hated the politics of why things like this are kept quiet and even denied that it ever happened…

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