Staff Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Tell me if you’ve heard this story before:

An adorably quirky teenage girl who struggles to fit in at school encounters a mysterious (and handsome) transfer student who seems to know more about her than he should. As strange things begin to happen all around her, the boy reveals the truth: dark forces are threatening humanity, and she is the only one with the power to stop them.

Sounds familiar, right? Popular media is overflowing with stories that focus on seemingly ordinary teenagers suddenly discovering their Great Destinies, and the havoc this causes in the world around them. But what about the kids in the backgrounds of those stories, who don’t have hidden powers, or prophecies to fulfill? In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, author Patrick Ness explores what it might be like to be an ordinary teenager in a world where Chosen Ones and Apocalypses pop up on a regular basis, the student body is sometimes infiltrated by vampires, and the gods interfere with mortal affairs.

Continue reading “Staff Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here”

Staff Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Book cover for Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Have you ever felt invisible? Sydney Stanford has. The story starts with Peyton, her exciting, charismatic older brother being sentenced to prison for driving while under the influence and causing serious injury to a young man. Instead of returning to her posh, private school Sydney decides to go to Jackson High, the local public school. Feeling adrift her first day at a noisier, bigger and unfamiliar school Sydney looks for something familiar and finds herself at Seaside Pizza. There she meets the Chatham family and her life begins to change.

First, there is Layla who welcomes Sydney as a friend and welcomes her into her circle. Then there is Mac who is quiet and shy and plays drums in a band (possible romantic interest?). Mrs. Chatham is the matriarch of the family and suffers from MS. However, as Sydney begins to build her life away from the influence of her brother and her family, things at home get more complicated. Her mother is trying to pretend that life is normal and plans cookouts and get-togethers at the prison where Peyton is. Meanwhile, Ames Bentley, Peyton’s best friend and sponsor, continually makes Sydney uncomfortable with his continual presence and unwanted attention. In the end, however, Sydney steps out of the shadows and finds herself, her voice and shows her parents that she is her own person and is through living in the shadow of her brother.

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. Her main audience is teens and this is her twelfth book. I loved this book. Sydney, the main character, is well developed and as in any other well written book becomes someone you care about and are rooting for. The struggles she has are ones that anyone who felt like an awkward teen just looking for a place to belong can relate to. The new relationships she starts with the Chatham family are healthy and good and give her the self confidence she needs to recognize the relationships at home that are not. As with any other book by Sarah Dessen, it ends with the characters in a place where they begin understanding each other and want to heal and move on. It’s a book I wanted to take my time with and I was sad when it was over.

Pick up a copy of Saint Anything today.

Staff Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

me and earl

Ever read a book that made you laugh at loud on nearly every page, and you feel like an idiot reading it in public because people might think you’re a little insane? Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of those books. As the title suggests, this is a book about a teenager, his sort-of friend Earl, and a dying girl.

Greg Gaines is a senior in high school, and he’s managed to get through the past few years by blending in with all the cliques and never getting too close to anyone. This is no easy feat; it takes hard work and constant vigilance to melt with ease through the various social groups. On his first day of senior year, he realizes that maybe all that hard work will pay off and his final year will be awesome. That is, until he gets home from school and his mom drops the bomb: a girl he went to Hebrew school with has leukemia and Greg should really spend some time with her. Thus begins the story of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Continue reading “Staff Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”

Saved by the Bell Syndrome

How many of you have ever attended your high school reunion? Was it a ten year reunion? A twenty year reunion? A fifty year reunion?!? Did it live up to your expectations? I guess my point is that I did NOT go to my ten year high school reunion a couple (more like seven) years ago. Some of you may be asking yourself, “What is he talking about, I thought this was a MOVIE blog?” and you are completely right. Trust me, I am getting there.

cricket animated GIF

So, I didn’t go to my reunion and the reason is simply because it was going to be nothing like movies have made them out to be. Mine was not even being held at my high school, instead it was at a bar in town. That is certainly not what Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (1997) or Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) had told me a reunion would be like. I think I would have totally gone if it had been in my old high school’s gym and we were going to be dancing the night away to the spectacular sounds of the 90s. This all leads me to my main point, how many times have we been led astray by the fictions of film on our expectations? I like to call it Saved by the Bell syndrome. Continue reading “Saved by the Bell Syndrome”

1954: The Kaiju and the Samurai (Part II)

A couple weeks ago we discussed Gojira (1954), and as promised this week, we will cover the other masterpiece that came out of Japan that same year, Seven Samurai (1954). Seven Samurai is the quintessential Japanese samurai film from the quintessential Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa. The global impact this film had is sometimes overlooked but its status as a defining work of cinema is not. Perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves, though. Get ready to turn up some ska and jive music as we travel back to the spring of 1998… Continue reading “1954: The Kaiju and the Samurai (Part II)”