Monday, 31 August 2015

SIW BOOK CLUB: August Wrap-Up


Have you signed up for Square In Wonderland Book Club? You can join HERE

This book club was started by Dana and Steph, and I am the third moderator in the group! Yay! :)

THIS MONTH'S PICKS




In August, we read The Distance Between Us and Vampire Academy. We discussed these books as a group throughout the month and it was great to see everyone's reaction. My reviews of TDBU and VA went up a few days ago; I liked both and will continue to read Kasie West's books and go on with the VA series! I also watched and reviewed the VA movie in my post. We also had a cover color challenge for the month. The colour was purple . I didn't take part myself because I'm on holiday in Ireland with my family and don't have access to my physical books!

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SEPTEMBER?

We had two polls for August to decide what we're going to read next month. They were both themed for the month and we can't wait to read these two books.

1. Historical Poll Winner 

2. LGBT Poll Winner

I'm in charge of the questions for the Historical pick for this month, which I'm looking forward to! I've never done anything like this before, so it'll be fun! :)

THE COVER COLOUR CHALLENGE FOR SEPTEMBER

The challenge for September will be to read a book with an yellow cover! Not sure what I'm going to choose for this one...possibly Eleanor and Park but when I am reunited with my books I'll see!

OCTOBER POLLS

We have two books again for the month. Book club members aren't obligated to read both, but options are always good. That way if you're having a busy month, you can just pick whichever one takes your fancy! The themes for October are Space and Paranormal/Horror.

October Poll #2 (Paranormal/Horror)

Asylum (Asylum, #1) by Madeleine Roux
  2 votes 22.2%

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1) by Kendare Blake
  2 votes 22.2%

 Shutter by Courtney Alameda
  2 votes 22.2%

Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy, #1) by Wendy Higgins
  2 votes 22.2%

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1) by Cynthia Hand
  1 vote 11.1%

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1) by Ransom Riggs
  0 votes 0.0%

Amity by Micol Ostow
  0 votes 0.0%

Ten  by Gretchen McNeil
  0 votes 0.0%

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
  0 votes 0.0%

The Archived (The Archived, #1) by Victoria Schwab
  0 votes 0.0%


October Poll #1 (Space)

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1) by Amie Kaufman
  4 votes 40.0%

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) by Beth Revis
  4 votes 40.0%

 Zodiac (Zodiac, #1) by Romina Russell
  1 vote 10.0%

Polaris Awakening (Polaris Anthology #1) by Kellie Sheridan
  1 vote 10.0%

Alienated (Alienated, #1) by Melissa Landers
  0 votes 0.0%

Dove Arising (Dove Chronicles, #1) by Karen Bao
  0 votes 0.0%

Starglass (Starglass, #1) by Phoebe North
  0 votes 0.0%

Avalon (Avalon, #1) by Mindee Arnett
  0 votes 0.0%

Tin Star (Tin Star, #1) by Cecil Castellucci
  0 votes 0.0%

Scan (Scan, #1) by Sarah Fine
  0 votes 0.0%


We will be having themed blog posts on all of our blogs and we will also be posting our reviews for the books that we read! Link up any Square In Wonderland posts here (TBRs, reviews, discussions etc.)





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Sunday, 30 August 2015

eARC Review: VENGEANCE ROAD by Erin Bowman


Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Publisher: HMH for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 1st 2015
Format: eARC
Genre: YA, Western, some romance
Read if you like: I honestly can't think of a title that compares with this, but if you're a fan of the old gritty Westerns (think Clint Eastwood) and Django Unchained, you'll love this
Rating: 4.5/5


Summary:

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.      

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.   

ORDER ON AMAZON

I received an ARC copy of this book from HMH via Edelweiss (thank you!) but this no way affected my opinion of the novel. Being a member of Erin's street team also did not alter my opinion of Vengeance Road.

I've tried to write this review several times since finishing yesterday evening. When I read the first few chapters and reviewed them a few weeks back on this blog, I knew I was going to enjoy Vengeance Road. However, I underestimated just how raw this book would leave me feeling. As I tried to explain to my mum (after I cried in the hairdressers while reading it), it's been a long time since a book made me feel this deeply. Trying to put that into words has been difficult.

I'll start with the facts: Bowman has done her research. This isn't just a wishy-washy venture into the world of of the Wild West. From the history and inspiration of the 'Lost Dutchman' gold mine, right down to Kate's unrefined Western drawl, this novel feels beautifully authentic to the genre and fits in nicely to a line up with the likes of Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales, John Wayne's True Grit, and even more recent outings such as Tarantino's Django Unchained. One thing I love is that Bowman doesn't shy away from the cliches of the genre; there's this great scene in a bar where, at the mention of the bandit's name, the piano guy hits a dud note and they all whip out their guns. Later, in a shoot out, Kate's Stetson gets shot off her head. It's the little details like that which give the novel that Western flavour. 

Speaking of authentic, if you're thinking that this being a Young Adult novel means that the typical grit and violence of Westerns will be watered down, think again. Vengeance Road not only matches its ilk in authenticity but in bloodshed. For me, the hard violence of this novel is great, but there's definitely a light, comedic side too, in the banter between the characters and in a few of the scenes. One of the biggest problems I face when reading is that I tend to see twists coming a mile off but Vengeance Road managed to totally throw me off balance with its shocking twists, not once but twice. Obviously, since this is a spoiler free review, I won't say what they were, but I didn't see them coming at all and I became as twitchy as a novice in my first gun fight. 

It was really great to see the female characters of this novel presented as capable (but flawed) humans.  Kate, Liluye, Evelyn and co are some of the strongest heroines I've seen in YA in a while and I don't just mean in their ability to kick arse and take care of themselves. I'm a great believer in the fact that there are different kinds of strength and these girls show that. I don't know if Erin set out with a feminist commentary in mind but there's certainly argument for one! Liluye was a breath of fresh air; her stoic nature and convictions made her a really interesting contrast to all the other characters. I felt sad when we had to say goodbye to her, even though it was the right thing to do for the story. I'm glad Bowman explored the Apache history and culture as well as the Western frontier life. The Coltons...these boys have a special place in my heart. Jesse's being added to the Book Boyfriends list. He's not perfect, not by a long shot, but he's real. The contrast between him and Kate as characters, especially in how they handled certain situations within in the novel was beautiful. They're well matched and I loved that she didn't need him to save her. They worked best as a unit, rather than a damsel/hero dynamic. As an added note, anyone who is wary of this book because of a love triangle between Kate and the brothers, have no fear. This book is triangle free. 

As our heroine, Kate obviously gets a special mention. Her voice takes some getting used to and generally speaking, I've always struggled with accented narratives. That being said, Kate's is done so well, and fits so perfectly with the Western genre that I was only a few chapters in when it started to read really naturally. It's nice to see such a distinctive voice; it's as abrupt and rough around the edges as Kate herself. And I loved Kate's progression as a character and where her quest for revenge took her. I went into the novel thinking that her thirst for blood would die out as the novel went on and she'd see a different path. While that is true to a certain extent, I was so glad to see her continue on, unapologetically vengeful. Again, it seemed truer to the genre for her to see the job through.

The only thing I can say as criticism is that the pace drops in the middle of the novel and that's the only reason, I didn't give the novel a full five stars. It seems petty when I write it now but the opening third of this book is like a bullet from a pistol and the last third is just as quick paced, so the long trek through barren Arizona feels like a bit of a drag. There's enough character development and playful banter to keep a reader interested but the contrast is very noticeable. 

Other than that, this was damn near close to a perfect book for me and one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I've tried not to gush but this book was such a breath of fresh air that I really just want to tell everyone to give it a chance. I really hope that we see more Westerns creep into the YA and NA market because it would be a shame not to see more novels like Vengeance Road. 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Know Thyself Tag

I have no idea if this is a pre-existing tag/meme for blogs - more than likely I imagine - but if there is one, please help me out by commenting below. I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due.


I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and how we, as people, enjoy ascribing ourselves to groups like this and fandoms and groups within those fandoms. Maybe it gives us a sense of belonging, maybe we understand a bit more of ourselves out of it. Maybe it's just fun! But I want to examine where I would stand in several major fandom groupings in order to understand myself better. If you want to have a go at this too, go ahead! I think it's important to know yourself!

HARRY POTTER


THIS ONE WAS EASY. I knew really early on when reading that books that, if I were at Hogwarts, I would be sorted into Slytherin. Growing up with the books, it was difficult to articulate why that wasn't a bad thing to a playground of eleven year olds who all wanted to be Gryffindors. The Slytherin house have the worst reputation (Dark Lord, Death Eaters, Pureblood mania...yada yada) and I'm always arguing with people about how Slytherins actually have an abundance of positive traits such as:
  • resourceful
  • ambitious
  • leadership qualities
  • determination
  • cleverness
  • a sense of fraternity and loyalty
  • powerful
They're the doers. The ones who get jobs done and work hard. The ones that pick their friendships and are select with their loyalty, but when they're with you, they're with you. I feel like in a lot of ways they can be just as forthright as Gryffindors, just as clever as Ravenclaws, and just as loyal as Hufflepuffs. We just apply it differently.

DIVERGENT


This is a weird one for me because I feel like I had to come to terms with where I would actually belong. I knew where I felt like I had lived for the longest time (Abnegation), I knew where most people would expect me to sort myself (Erudite), I knew where I could never hope to find myself (Amity...way too peaceful for me) and I knew where all the hot guys ended up (Dauntless obviously). I literally never considered Candor until a friend in my writing circle said that I was obviously part of that faction. Obviously? Not to me. So I asked other people, and then I finally asked my mum who of course knows me better than anyone. "You're straightforward," she said, "and you always tell people what needs to be said, whether they're going to like it or not." And the more I thought about it, the more I realised she was right. My role in my friendship groups has often been the listener and the counselor, and counsel isn't necessarily always what you want to hear. People had been coming to me for that very quality all my life. 

GAMES OF THRONES



I'll admit I only read the first book in this series so the only ones I could remember were the Lannisters, the Starks and the Dragon people (not going to attempt to spell that). So, I did a bit more digging a research and tried to pick a house or group that I felt, at their core, represented what I wanted and believed in, especially if I found myself in Westeros. I was really torn between two, so I cheated and put both.

House Tully is a big one for me.  'Family, Duty, Honour' is definitely a motto I try to uphold in my own life. Family comes first in all things. But I really admire the strength of House Martell, and the motto 'Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken' spoke to me. No matter what gets thrown at you, you stay strong. Whether that's by yourself, or with the help and love of your family, I think that's a quality I have and endeavour to have. 


HUNGER GAMES


Since there isn't a District 14 (exceptional makers of cakes and cookies), I'd probably be somewhere that didn't require too much physical labour. I'm a little weak in the upper body...and lower body...okay generally, just quite weak. District 4? Finnick, sure, but I'm a terrible swimmer. District 7? Beautiful trees, but I'm not so good with the axe swinging. And don't get me started on Distrcit 12. I am a very hungry person. Since no one wants to admit that they would love doing absolutely nothing in the Capitol while everyone dies in abject poverty, I would have to place myself in District 1. I know, I know. They're kind of Capitol groupies and a bit douchey at times, but they specialise in luxury items, so gems and crystals. Which are so interesting and definitely a hobby of mine. Plus, I'm definitely a leader and being at the top of the pile, where the ambitious careers are born...well, as loathed as I am to admit it, that definitely makes sense. I initially thought District 3 for their (sort of) academic qualities, but let's face it, engineering? Totally have to have some science and maths skills there and I have nada. Except Pythagoras. That I can do like a boss.

PERCY JACKSON


I've taken so many 'which god is your parent?' or 'which Greek/Roman god or goddess are you?' quizzes and I have come out with different answers nearly every time. I like that there are lesser known gods and goddesses, but out of the Big 12, I would definitely be bunking up with Annabeth as a child of Athena. Not so keen on the de-warfared Minerva of Roman mythology (for those of you who don't know, the Romans took Athena and 'separated' her into Minerva and gave her war traits to Bellona, goddess of war). However, I am definitely more of  a Roman character. As much as I'd love to be all about parties and frolicking, I'm more disciplined than that. So maybe a mix between the two? :S 

DELIRIUM SERIES


This is a smaller choice but an easy one. Although I agree that love can be messy and damaging (when abused or twisted and sometimes when not), I cannot imagine a life without it and I believe it has the power to redeem and better. So no cure for me! *runs off into the sunset*

STAR WARS


I'm not going to lie; I always thought the Jedi were kind of righteous a-holes at times, especially when they wouldn't let you marry anyone. The Sith Lords...waaaaay cooler. You know, aside from all the killing and evil and stuff. The Republic are awesome and I'm definitely a Han Solo kind of gal, BUT, no Jedi mind powers. I couldn't pick. In the end, I consulted a higher power (my Star Wars obsessed brother). "Can't see you running about with a gun," he said. Which was kind of upsetting, and sparked a brother-sister row. I could wield a gun, no problem. POW POW. Afterwards he said, "I can picture you in the Senate. You know, being all diplomatic and whatever." In the end, I conceded. I would be a Senate member - hopefully uncorrupted by Palpatine - using words and diplomacy to solve problems. As my #RoyalWriters friend Tim put it the other day after a back and forth, 'we should put you on a peace negotiation team, you'd have the other side handing over their freaking tanks!'

LORD OF THE RINGS/THE HOBBIT UNIVERSE


It's easier to answer this question by saying what I am not. I am not a dwarf. I am not man. I am not a goblin. As Dana pointed out, I'm not short enough to be a hobbit, and certainly not as terrified of adventures, even if I am a family girl. That leaves Wizard or Elf. I actually love the way the elves live. Rivendell? Hello! I like their nobility and their gracefulness, and although I am probably as awkward as a hobbit, I am definitely as aloof as an elf at times. Plus, immortality? Yes please, and I wouldn't be giving that up for no one, not even Viggo Mortensen. But, ultimately, we come back to the learned, counselor type figure that most of the wizards seem to have in Tolkein's universe. I am the Gandalf of most of my friendship groups - leading, guiding, grandfatherly. Maybe I'll grow a beard.



These are all the fandoms I'm going to cover now, but maybe in the future I'll do a second part. Are there any fandoms you feel I should have covered? Comment below and I'll try to do them if I have enough!

If you want to do this, feel free! I tag:



Friday, 28 August 2015

Book Club Review: THIS DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Kasie West



Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 2nd 2013
Genre: YA, contemporary, romance
Pages: 312
Read if you like: Fangirl, The Duff, Anna and the French Kiss series
Rating: 4/5


Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.


So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about. 





As I've said in other posts and reviews, I am hard on YA contemporary romance novels. The day someone explains this to me I'll be super happy but in the meantime it boils down to this: I'm waiting for The One. There's a lot of bad YA contemporary romance out there and maybe being a little older, I know that a novel like this needs to be founded on a little more than hormonal angst. It feels unfair maybe to approach books of this genre this way, because I start of with unrealistic expectations, but The Distance Between Us actually made some headway in making me fall in love.

The premise is a little misleading because I was kind of expecting Caymen to somehow analyse rich people scientifically, maybe like The Rosie Project or similar. This was the impression I got from the blurb. I also thought there would be a lot more resistance between the Xander and Caymen - more antagonism in their flirting. But it wasn't like that at all. I saw some of the twists coming, particularly with her mother. The story itself plods along quite nicely without any major drama and I really liked the way it all resolved. One of the big themes throughout it about her 'organ donor' - the moniker she gives her absentee father who abandoned her and her mother. I was really glad that he wasn't brought back as plot device because that would have seemed hammy. Caymen and her mother have never needed him, so it wouldn't have been true to bring him into it now.

Caymen is a good heroine. She's really sarcastic and her responses had me laughing out loud at times. As a narrator, I found her voice easy to read and connect with. As someone who puts family first, I really felt connected to her, even if I'm not science orientated AT ALL. What I liked best about her was how flawed she was. She used comedy to avoid serious conversations, when it was probably a good idea to, and jumped to terrible conclusions all the way through the book but that was what made her real. I know everyone is hankering after 'strong' females in YA and I think Caymen is a good candidate. There are lots of different kinds of strength and I think sacrificing the things you want for others - the way Caymen does with her mother - is a great example of strength!

I loved Xander. I liked that West didn't do the classic cliche of having a rich guy who hated being rich and wanted to not be a stereotype. I got the impression that he liked his lifestyle and West did a good job of making it clear that there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I was glad that there was a good display of class prejudice from both sides and that the poorer characters were prideful and unkind at times too. As a romantic lead, I thought Xander was really sweet, showing up with once-sipped hot chocolate. It was little quirks like that, that made their relationship so cute. My favourite part of the story was their career days. I thought this was a really unique idea to have them spend time with one another and not only that, each one really did feed into Caymen's ultimate choice about what she was going to do with her life.

The pace of this book is really good. I read it right through in a few hours! One thing I hate about books is when the author sometimes becomes conscious that they're putting the romantic leads together too much so they toss in a bunch of filler chapters that slow the pace down and kill the mood. West has a good balance. There are scenes where Xander and Caymen aren't together but it all feeds into the overall plot. The only chapter I wasn't keen on was the first chapter; I tried to explain this to the book club and didn't really do a good job. I think, despite the fact we see the first interaction between the two characters and it is great, Caymen's voice as a narrative took a couple of chapters to get used to...or to settle...I don't know. But no complaints other than that.

Overall, it was a really cute romance and I liked it a lot. It didn't blow me away but I thought it was different, and I can see myself reading it again some day because it was such a light, quick read. It definitely convinced me to give Kasie West's other books a try (and I've heard lots of good things about them too!). Maybe The One is one of her other titles...







Thursday, 27 August 2015

Book Club Review: VAMPIRE ACADEMY by Richelle Mead



Title: Vampire Academy
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 16th 2007
Genre: YA, paranormal
Pages: 332
Read this if you like: Twilight, Hex Hall, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: 4/5


Synopsis:


Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires - the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them. 

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger... and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever... 


It's always difficult starting a series that has a lot of hype surrounding it and is a well established fandom. For years I've had people recommend that i give the Vampire Academy and its spinoff series a go, and I've always meant to but never really got around to it. When it came up as a book club read I was excited, but still apprehensive. I was concerned my expectations would be too high and also, I'm super critical when it comes to vampire fiction. Luckily, I like this book and am excited to continue the series!

I can't start anywhere other than with Rose. ROSE. What a main character. It was nice to read about a heroine who had confidence in herself and her abilities (for the most part), instead of a heroine who was riddled with insecurity. I hear so many people say that Rose is a role model for them and I can see why; she's got gumption, wit, and most importantly, respect for herself. Even when she starts to crush on Dimitri (and who can blame her MEOW), she confronts the situation openly.

Dimitri, Dimitri, Dimitri. I like the strong silent type in novels and he's pretty much ticking all the boxes. Any student/mentor type romances can be overly cliched and there is a fair amount of 'No we can't be together despite our insanely obvious and potent attraction towards one another' going on between them. If you accept the cliche for what it is (which I often do, because I like reading those types of relationships), then it won't bother you. I thought what made it different was that Rose wasn't a simpering mess about it. Like I said, she confronted her feelings head on, and confronted Dimitri head on and dealt with it maturely.

I liked Lissa (book Lissa, as I'll come to later) but I liked her in conjunction with other characters. For example, I loved her friendship with Rose, and I loved her romance with Christian (loved especially that this redeemed him!) but I feel like without those things I wouldn't have enjoyed her as much. I think she gets better as the series progresses, or so I'm told, but it was interesting to read about a supernatural character that wasn't gung ho or strong. She relied on Rose and I enjoyed that dynamic.

As far as the novel progressed, I was happy. The mystery of Lissa's power was well played out, although I suspected who was behind the animal attacks etc. really early on, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the story any less. I wasn't massively surprised by any of the twists either, but it was still good fun. I love boarding school stories! The writing is smooth, easy to understand. Rose's voice is strong and that's great.

Overall, I was expecting to actually have a lower opinion of this but I ended up really enjoying it. It's kind of a binge read, kick back, don't worry about it kind of read (though I get the impression my feels will be called on quite heavily as the series progresses....eek!). I will definitely pick up Frostbite in the near future.

MOVIE ADAPTATION

Title: Vampire Academy
Tagline: They Suck At School
Director: Mark Waters (Mean Girls)
Screenwriter: Daniel Waters (Heathers)
Release date: February 7th, 2014
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Danila Kozlovsky, Lucy Fry, Gabriel Byrne, Dominic Sherwood, Olga Kurylenko, Sarah Hyland, Joely Richardson
Rotten Tomatoes: 9%
Metacritic: 30/100
Sequel: Script written but never put into production
My rating: 3.5/5









Since this YA novel has an adaptation, it seems only fair to review the movie too. I was actually really excited about watching the movie when we talked about this being the book club read; they're disappointing more often than not, but I still enjoy book adaptations anyway. And I think that Hollywood and filmmakers are starting to see the benefit and worth in doing movies based on YA well. The Hunger Games is the biggest example I can think of, but in recent years there have been many more.

In watching this, you kind of have to watch it in two minds - as someone who has read the novel and just as a standalone. As a standalone, it's not a particularly avant garde feature; it's silly, fun, light hearted. It kind of pokes fun at the YA movie genre and adopting a satirical approach is probably the best way of saving face. If it had taken itself too seriously, this movie adaptation could have been really bad, but the fact that it knows it's never going to be Hunger Games seems to make the whole thing better.

Casting wise, it was mostly on point. Cannot fault Zoey Deutch although I know critics did. She's a great Rose. A lot of people in book club thought Danila was too old to play Dimitri but generally, I actually liked him (even if he did seem closer to 30 than 24). He had that serious, strong thing going on and I thought the chemistry between him and Zoey was actually really genuine. Lucy Fry as Lissa was an okay casting but I feel like she exaggerated the worst qualities of Lissa - her whininess especially and listening to her voice got really irritating. The only casting I really hated was Olga Kurylenko. She's not a bad actress, but she really hams it up in this - and not in a good way. It felt like she'd kind of stumbled onto set by accident.

In terms of adaptation, it's actually largely faithful to the novel, which is a novelty. My issue was that considering it was from the director of Mean Girls and the writer of Heathers, the dialogue and pace of the movie should have been smoother, less cheesy and edgy. I mean, Heathers! Mean Girls! Two iconic high school movies with female teenagers at the helm...I think I expected a bit more sass and grit, but Zoey couldn't carry it all by herself.

Overall, I liked it a lot more than I thought I would (considering that it got a measly 9% on Rotten Tomatoes) and I can see myself vegging out and watching it again, if only to enjoy the Dimitri scenes. It's by no means perfect, or even a great movie, but it's fun and light hearted, like the novel.