I’ve decided that at the end of each month, I will do a wrap-up post to go over the books I’ve read and the movies I’ve watched in that particular month. There will be mini reviews of books and movies. I will keep Tuesday reviews open for books and movies I want to go into more detail about.

During January, I didn’t read as much as I would have liked. I only managed to read 3 books in total. It’s disappointing, but I’m finally getting out of my reading slump, so that’s a plus. On the other hand, I watched quite a few movies, and I’ll give mini reviews on some of them.

*All descriptions for books taken from Goodreads and all descriptions for movies taken from IMDb.

Legend – Marie Lu
Genre – Young Adult/Dystopian
My Rating – 3/5

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Review: For me, Legend started out sort of slow. It took a few chapters before I was invested in the world. At times, the story was predictable. It was easy to figure out where the story was going and what was going to happen to the characters. However, I found the story and the world enjoyable. I liked both June and Day and found myself cheering for them the entire time. They were likable characters, and they each had their own personality. I’m glad it was easy to tell the difference between the two main character’s points of view (besides the font changes). There wasn’t a lot of character development, but I’m sure there will be plenty over the course of the next two books.

I enjoyed the ending of Legend. I believe it fit the plot well, and it wasn’t there to only get the reader to purchase the next book. The main plot was resolved, but there was enough mystery left to continue the story. I’m looking forward to the next book (Prodigy) in the trilogy.

The Chosen One – Carol Lynch Williams
Genre – Young Adult/Realistic Fiction
My Rating – 4/5

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

Review: During the beginning of The Chosen One, it can be a bit confusing with all the different names being presented, but after the first chapter, the names were much easier to follow. Williams brings up a tough subject to read about. The story ignites many emotions, depending on the situation. I found myself angry for what the community put Kyra through, but it made sense due to how Williams described everything. I felt sorry for Kyra and some of the other members, and I’m sure most readers will feel the same way.

In all honesty, The Chosen One was hard to stop reading because you want to know what becomes of Kyra and her family. The story was far from predictable, and I was surprised by what actually happened near the end of the book. I would definitely recommend this story, but be warned that it may not be for everyone, and it might be upsetting to some because of how the community treats the women and some of the men.

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
Genre – Young Adult/
My Rating – 3/5

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Review: Anna and the French Kiss was a bit of a disappointment for me. I have been hearing so much hype about this book, and I was really excited for a cute and funny romance. I didn’t rate the book any lower because for more than half the story, I didn’t really have a problem with anything. It wasn’t until near the end that all the negative things really piled up. First, I’ll explain what I liked. The story was quite cute and funny for a majority of the book. I really enjoyed Anna as a character, and I found that her love of movies was unique and relatable.

(Some SpoilersNow, on to what I did not enjoy. Étienne annoyed me. While I was delighted about him and Anna, it was not alright that he still had a girlfriend (Ellie) for a large portion of the story. I mean the story sets up Ellie as not the best girlfriend, and we as readers are not supposed to support Ellie and Étienne’s relationship, but I bet if the reader was able to see into Ellie’s point of view opinions might change. I would not want to be Ellie. Étienne should have manned up sooner and broke it off with Ellie when he started to develop feelings for Anna. That would have been the decent thing to do. I know why he didn’t, but to me it was just a cheap way to keep the two main characters apart. Okay, rant over.

There was way too much drama for my liking. It seemed that everything that could happen, did happen. The side characters didn’t really matter too much. They were merely there to make Anna feel better when she was questioning everything. Overall, I would not recommend this book, but plenty of others have liked it. I might still give Lola and the Boy Next Door a chance, but we shall see.

Rango
Rating – PG
My Rating – 5/5

Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writers: John Logan, Gore Verbinski

Stars: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Timothy Olyphant

Review: I never expected to like this movie very much, but there is just something about this story that I absolutely love. I have been watching this movie over and over. For one, I enjoy the humor and how it’s very subtle at times. It might be because I have a strange sense of humor, and I find odd things to be very humorous, but I think many people will like the comical aspect of Rango. The plot was unique, and honestly, I’m not sure if it’s the best movie for children because they might not understand the story; however, there is plenty for adults to appreciate.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Rating – PG
My Rating – 4/5

The most delicious event since macaroni met cheese. Inspired by the beloved children’s book, the film focuses on a town where food falls from the sky like rain.

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Stars: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Bruce Campbell

Review: This was quite an adorable movie, and it was another one I was not expecting to like as much as I did. The characters were personable and had great characterization. The jokes were funny without being too repetitive (Steve!), and I found myself thoroughly enjoying the quirks of each of the characters. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is definitely a movie for children, but it’s one that adults will be able to enjoy as well.

Epic
Rating – PG
My Rating – 4/5

A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group of characters in order to save their world — and ours.

Director: Chris Wedge

Writers: James V. Hart (screenplay), William Joyce (screenplay)

Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé  Knowles

Review: While Epic is not completely original, and this sort of tale has been told before, Epic was able to bring a new twist to the story. I’m really happy that a lot of cliches were tossed out while making this. One in particular that stood out the most to me was when the villain’s son was hurt, he immediately stopped to check on him. The character’s were likable, and it’s easy to root for the good guys. My favorite characters were, of course, Mub (Aziz Ansari) and Grub (Chris O’Dowd). To me, they were able to bring the right amount of humor to the movie.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole
Rating – PG
My Rating – 4/5

When a young owl is abducted by an evil Owl army, he must escape with new-found friends and seek the legendary Guardians to stop the menace.

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: John Orloff (screenplay), Emil Stern (screenplay)

Stars: Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham

Review: I have a new appreciation for owls. This was such a refreshing tale, and it was beautifully crafted. I’m glad there was some slow motion moments, so I could admire the amazing details in every scene. Even though it wasn’t perfect, the character development was enjoyable and realistic, especially with Soren and Kludd. The characterization was nice as well, even if it was a bit cliche at times with the overly good heroes and the overly evil villians. Although, it’s a nice story to show the difference between good and evil.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Rating – PG-13
My Rating – 4.5/5

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

Director: Francis Lawrence

Writers: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Michael Arndt (screenplay)

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Review: Catching Fire is one of the best book to movie adaptation I have seen in a while. The only reason the movie did not get a 5/5 from me is because I rated the book 4/5, so the movie can only be as good as the source material, but it received .5 more for being so entertaining and well-done. I was thoroughly impressed with how well the book was brought to life. More impressive was that Francis Lawrence made action scenes without shaky cam! Woo, no shaking camera bouncing around everywhere. I would highly recommend this, and I’m excited to see how Mockingjay will be done. 

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