Top 3 Books I Want To Read

Hi friends! So this week I’m in a funky mood. I’ve been wanting to buy more books but I don’t have enough money and I already have a ton of books that I haven’t read yet that I need to read. It pains me to want to buy books so badly and not do it, but it’s for the best, I’m sure.

I have a pretty big collection of books. Most of them I’ve read but some of them I haven’t. Recently I’ve been trying to read all the books I own instead of going out and buying new books. This is great for my bank account, and it’s super difficult for me. So rather than pine and think of all the books I want to buy, I’m going to get myself excited about the books that I already own.

So without further ado, let’s begin:

  1. The Revenant – Michael PunkeTheRevenant_Poster

I actually just saw the movie based on the book and it was fantastic! I had no idea that this movie was a book first (published in 2015) and the second I saw the cover at Barnes & Noble I had to buy it. This is my most recent purchase and I’m just itching to read it. For those who haven’t heard of the book or the movie, the premise is about a trapper in the 1800s who is mauled by a bear and left for dead, but not before his son is killed before his eyes with no way to stop it. This book/movie is the ultimate book of revenge and vindication, and I can’t wait to read it.

Side note: The movie was incredible (yes, I will eventually do a Book vs Movie on this one). And I love Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s easily one of my favorite male actors. Everything he touches turns to gold (except his Oscar…. poor Leo.)

2. The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City – Jennifer Toth

This is a book I’ve wanted to read since the mid-2000s but was a little too scared to. As someone who lives relatively close to New York City, I’ve walked those streets many-a-time and don’t really like thinking that there could potentially be an entire race of people who live beneath your feet in total squalor, but with a somewhat advanced society. I don’t know, it just always scared the living daylights out of me.

molepeopleBut recently I’ve wanted to learn more. I’ve been told that this book is fiction, but nearly everything I’ve read has said that this book is categorized under “non-fiction” and “history” and that fascinates me even more. This book and the stories told within it could be fiction or they could be facts.

It’s one of those things where when I think of it, my brain logically goes into “oh please, this is totally fiction” but slowly changes to, “hold up. Of course it’s true!” I mean let’s just discuss the possibility here for a second: New York City is completely overpopulated. Years and years ago it was so crowded that they couldn’t build outward anymore, only upward. Who’s to say that they couldn’t built downward as well?

Looking at an entire city filled with more than 8 million people spanned over 305 square miles, where are they all going to live? Let’s assume that each person has an apartment – that’s 400 square feet that they need to live in. At a certain point you can’t build flat anymore – you have to start building up. There’s unlimited space in the sky. Maybe having the world’s tallest apartment building isn’t the greatest idea, but hell! It gets people to be off the streets and in their own space!

So if you agree with the fact that you can’t build on the ground anymore, and can only go up, what makes you think you can’t go down? What in the world would stop people who don’t have the money to afford a NYC apartment from inhabiting the tunnels hundreds of feet below the surface? Nothing! They’ve already been excavated, you can continue to excavate the area, and you’re free of the windy air pummeling down on the other NYC homeless. And that’s why I absolutely can’t wait to read it. It’s just so interesting!

    3. The Lost Symbol and Inferno – Dan Brown

I know I’ve already discussed reading the first of the Robert Langdon series Angels & Demons but I’m just so so so excited to finish this series. I’m halfway through the second book, The DaVinci Code, and I’m absolutely loving it. My boyfriend was sweet enough to surprise me with the last two RobertLangdonbooks of the series so that I wouldn’t have to go out and buy them. (He’s a good man who knows the way to my heart!) And since then, they’ve been sitting on our coffee table just whispering, “read me! we love you! you know you’re curious! read me!” and damn is it hard to resist!

I’m not even halfway through the entire series and I’m already thinking this is one of the best mystery/adventure/historical fiction-ish series I’ve read. It has everything: history, murder, bad guys, guns, an awesome symbologist, super smart women, and conspiracy theories (that honestly make a hell of a lot of sense)! It’s amazing!

I highly recommend reading these books if you haven’t already (I know, I’m late to the Dan Brown game).

So those are the top three books that I have in my possession right now that I absolutely can not wait to read!!!!!!

If you have any books that you think I should read, or any books that you think I should add to my collection please feel free to let me know!

Until next time!

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

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Angels & Demons – Dan Brown Review

Hi friends! I’ve been meaning to write this post for the last week, so I’m really excited that I get to write it now. “Rachel, why are you so excited to write this blog?” Because, friends, I have finished the very first book in my quest to read all of the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown. angelsanddemons

I know, I know. I’m super late to this party. Here’s how it happened:

On New Years Day I watched The DaVinci Code on Netflix. My boyfriend and I hadn’t watched this movie since it came out in theatres (2006, holy shit!), so I was really excited to watch it. I’m a huge fan of history, a huge fan of secret societies (hay, Masons, haaaay!) and a huge fan of adventure movies, particularly when there’s a mystery involved.

What I remembered about the movie was minimal, so I really had an open mind going in… I was enthralled the entire time. My boyfriend not so much, but I loved it. So I immediately decided I needed to read the series and we took a late night trip to Barnes & Noble and picked up Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

I think I’ve mentioned that recently – maybe in the last year or so – I’ve been reading at a much slower pace than usual. Well, when I started reading Angels & Demons on New Years Day night, I read 75 pages which is basically a full 50 more pages than I’ve been reading per night (A fact that I’m incredibly ashamed about – I’m sorry! I just get sleepy!)

To say that I was excited about these first 75 pages is an understatement. I wasn’t just excited, I was involved. I was in Rome with Robert Langdon and I was seeing a dead scientists on the floor with a brand on his chest. In fact, I was so involved that for the next four weeks I read A&D almost every night and finished the more than 700 page book and was so incredibly proud of myself. Again, I hadn’t been reading more than TWENTY-FIVE PAGES PER NIGHT. I don’t know if you know how long it takes to finish a book by reading twenty pages per night, but the answer is: a long time. A lot longer than I want. It really is almost a shameful amount because I had been reading 100 pages per night easily for a very, very long time.

Anyway, finishing the book was awesome and sad. It was an amazing book and I got to start the next one in the series, but it was also a great book that I didn’t want to end.

So let’s get into the review. 5 stars. 100%. A+. Seventeen thumbs ups.

Seriously, I have not read a book that I have enjoyed this much since The Martian back in July 2015. That’s a long ass time, man.

This book, for starters IS the first book in the series. Why The DaVinci Code movie came out first, I have no idea. My only guess is that it was more popular than the first book and could easily be an independent story, separated from the rest. But nonetheless, it is, in fact, the first book of the series. It goes:

  1. Angels & Demons
  2. The DaVinci Code
  3. The Lost Symbol
  4. Inferno

Now, A&D was incredible. Again, I know I’m way too late jumping on the bandwagon, but honestly I’m really glad that’s happened because now I know that there’s a solid movie series to go along with the books when I’ve completed them.

I remember when the movie Angels and Demons came out and I remember loving it. But I don’t remember anything else. There were little snippets of memory that I thought might be from the movies but I wasn’t sure (like some guy being branded by a fire) but I didn’t remember who was good and who was bad. That made reading this book even better.

I know that I’ve discussed this, but I actually don’t mind seeing the movie version before the book version because then I get an idea of how someone looks, I can really imagine their features and facial expressions. I’m not saying it’s great for every movie, but I’m never really upset that I saw the movie first. That’s only happened a handful of times.

That’s why when I was reading A&D I had so much fun following around Robert Langdon. Not only is the character strong, funny, intelligent and fun to follow, he also looks exactly like Tom Hanks in my brain and I’m A-OK with that. Who doesn’t want to think about Tom Hanks before bed? He has such a soothing presence.

This book was witty, funny, sad, emotional, thrilling, and every other adjective under the stars. It was an absolute joy to read and it made me really look into the historical side of the societies Brown brings up. He’s a phenomenal writer and a brilliant man when it comes to intertwining historical and factual references into completely fictional situations. Not to be confused with historical fiction. He is not a historical fiction writer. He is simply wonderful at using facts about history to support his own crazy fictional adventure.

I would liken this book to something a little more for young adults: the movie National Treasure with Nicolas Cage. I don’t care what anyone says, I really like Nic Cage. Rage Cage is awesome, and he might not be the best actor but he sure is fun to watch. My boyfriend and I have been saying we’re going to watch Pay The Ghost for a while now, and maybe we just will this weekend! (Note: my boyfriend and I are people who really enjoy B movies and not great movies/movies with maybe not so great actors. We also like to be entertained. If you are like my sister and her husband, this movie, or anything with Rage Cage in it may not be suitable for you. You’ve been warned.)

Anywho, I really highly recommend this book to people who love history and who love to be challenged when reading a book. This book will keep you on your toes the entire time and I guarantee that if you don’t mind a reading a huge fucking book (700+ pages) with a lot of plot twists before you get the truth, you will LOVE this book. Go get it!

I’ve also just begun The DaVinci Code and I can’t wait to finish it. It’s about 500 pages, and I’m about a third of the way through, but it’s already amazing. I even remember the plot from the movie and it’s still good. I’ll keep you all posted on my thoughts of that book and the next books.

I’m instituting The DaVinci Code as the February book for the Books and Cleverness book club, but you can read whatever you want. Just get those books under your belt!

Well, that was a long one.

Until next time!

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Book vs Movie: Gone Girl

It’s time for another Book vs Movie. Psycho murder conspiracy edition. I just finished Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl after weeks of only being able to read a little bit at a time. I have a confession though: I watched the movie first. I’ve mentioned before that I actually don’t find it horrible to watch the movie before reading the book. There are some cases when reading the book first is better (and that’s most of the time) but there are some books (like The Maze Runner) where you need that little bit of extra assistance to really get into the book. This book and movie combo is the former.

When I watched the movie Gone Girl it was because I really wanted to see it, and didn’t want to wait until I had read the book. I was too antsy. So I made the executive decision to go ahead and watch it… Holy crap. That movie is one plot twist after another. I won’t say anything to ruin the movie (or book) for anyone because honestly it just has to be seen to be believed. But I watched the movie and thought it was one of the craziest movies I’ve ever seen — so I had to read the book.

I borrowed the book from my sister and started reading right away. For me, the story was kind of slow in the beginning simply because it was almost exactly like the beginning of the movie. It was like reading a screenplay rather than a novel. My issue here was that when I was watching the movie, I was completely enthralled within five minutes. And because the first part of the book (it’s written in three parts) was exactly like the movie, I felt like I was just watching the movie. No extra juicy details they had left out, no different plot twists – just a blow-by-blow of the movie (or rather the movie was a blow-by-blow of the book…hmm…) But nonetheless, the story was great to start out with, I just already knew what to expect.

I was starting to really wish I hadn’t seen the movie first only because the writing was so amazing. Flynn is one of those authors that can make even the most unlikable characters likable, but can also take away any shred of decency in that character in an instant. In Flynn’s case it’s really more of liking the character, unliking the character, liking the character, hating both characters, etc. So, because of all this, I was really starting to get down about it. I thought I had ruined the whole book by seeing the movie. Why did I ruin such a good thing?? But then I hit the last few chapters before Part Two, and oh my god was it amazing! I got to a point where I just refused to go to bed. I was like, “Nope. I know it’s 11:30pm and I know I have to get up early tomorrow, but nope. I’m just gonna keep reading. Que sera sera.”

And thus began my absolute love for this novel. I refuse to tell you anything about the actual story of the book, but I will summarize to you what the back cover/back of the dvd allows its audience to know: On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne reports his wife, Amy, missing. He acts very strangely, and even lies to the police, which causes everyone in their small town, including the police, to wonder if he had anything to with her disappearance.

Sounds like a simple whodunnit, right? Nope. Just…no.

This is one of the most interesting and edge-of-your-seat movies I have seen in a really long time. But this is one of those cases where I just wish I had read the book first. The book had so much more detail, and so many more plot twists. And even the characters were slightly different after the first part! Reading the second half of the book was like someone telling you ahead of time, “Dumbledore dies!” But then reading Harry Potter and finding out *SPOILERS* Snape killed him. It’s knowing one thing and reading another.

This book was excellently written, and wonderfully executed. It was a really great book. But don’t get me wrong! The movie was spectacular!! They chose all of the actors perfectly, and they truly did a better job turning a book into a movie than a LOT of other movies based off of books I’ve seen. I would say the movie was 90% accurate to the book, and that’s a big amount of correctness.

So yes, the movie was great. But hands down the book was better. Book: 3 Movie:2.

My sister argued, however, “The book didn’t have Ben Affleck’s penis in it, so the movie automatically wins.”

Valid point.

Until next time!

Rachel

The Mime Order Review!

Hooray!!! I’ve finished The Mime Order!!! It was absolutely incredible. Samantha Shannon’s first book was wonderful – a powerful depiction of human survival instincts. Her second book is honestly even better – a powerful depiction of human manipulation and deception.

It’s always a little weird after you finish a book. It’s almost like the world around you is exactly the same – going on as usual as if you haven’t just had deep emotional trauma the past week you’ve been reading the book. No one quite understands that feeling of absolute shock, of having to tell everyone you know that right now you’ve just experienced something that only a book can do: get you involved into an entirely new world, only to have that world shatter beneath you. It’s both a horrible feeling, and, in a weird way, a wonderful one.

It took me a total of 10 days to read the 500 page book. I was reading maybe two or three chapters almost every night, so it took a lot longer than it did for me to read The Bone Season, which had about the same amount of pages, but only took me 3 days to read. Looking back on it, I’m glad it took me ten days because that’s 7 less days that I’ll be wishing I had another one of her books! I mean, holy cliffhanger…!

Shannon has an estimated five more books until she completes the series. I, for one, can’t wait. After reading The Bone Season last January, I claimed it as one of my all-time favorite books. The second I started reading The Mime Order I started to lean more towards the excellence of the sequel. By the end of the book I was in love. The last hundred pages or so are just mind boggling. It’s so intense that I was literally sitting in bed biting the inside of my lip so hard that it bled. It was so fantastic, such an awesome novel. This has easily become one of my top favorite books of all time, and that includes the first novel of the series, giving Samantha Shannon some pretty decent reign over my favorite books.

In my studies, (*pushes glasses up my nose*) I’ve learned that a good author knows how to captivate you, to get you interested in the story, and to be excited reading it. But a great author brings you into the novel as if you could be any one of the characters, so that even the goings on in the story start to seem real! For example, as I was reading last night I felt this dread in my mind and actually thought to myself “oh my god. I have to compete in a scrimmage in a few hours!” before snapping myself out of it and realizing that I was certainly not competing in a scrimmage, but that Paige was. So a great author gets you to feel those exact emotions that a character is feeling. It’s not just you following a character around and hearing their story, but rather being a part of their story. This writing technique is something that Shannon excels at beyond anything else.

I have to say, though, now that I’m done with the book I’m almost at a loss for what to read! I have a ton of books that I own that I really want to read, but when I think about which one to choose I just say to myself, “It’s no Mime Order… It’s no Paige and Warden.” So touchè, Samantha Shannon, touché. You’ve managed to keep me hooked for another year. The next book can’t come soon enough! Hurry it up, lady!

Until next time (with a new book!),

Rachel

To See or Not To See? That Is The Question

At my sister’s house this morning I noticed a book in her bookshelf: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’d like to preface this story by saying that my sister is not someone who likes to read. She likes the idea of reading, but can never finish a book – I love her anyway, but I give her endless crap for it. That said, she had Flynn’s book in her bookshelf, facing the room. Not with the spine showing, with the cover showing. So of course my first instinct was to say, “hey! Put that book in with the other books properly! It misses its friends!”

But then I looked at the cover, which had been altered from it’s original state so it could be recognizable for the movie’s audiences, and instead started thinking about just how much I want to see that movie. It looks amazing! It’s like a well-written Lifetime movie! The book-lover in me tells me to read the book first and then see the movie, which I had originally decided. But is it always better to read the book first?

Here’s the thing: if you’re not planning on reading the book, then you should by all means see the movie. But what if you want to read the book and see the movie? It’s a toss up! We’re all guilty of seeing a film first and then being so excited about the movie that you want to read the book. Usually, you read the book afterward and realize just how much more amazing the book was and you wish you had read it first. Especially because now you picture the actors as the characters!

However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m generally an advocate of reading the book first, don’t get me wrong. But picturing actors is natural, and I find it really helpful a lot of the time. For example, I read The Hunger Games series before the movies came out and I loved the books. After seeing the first two movies I re-read the series and pictured the amazing Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Let me tell you… she is an AMAZING Katniss!!!! When I picture J-Law as the main character, I’m thrilled! I see the features perfectly, I can picture her facial expressions, and it’s wonderful! When I try to think of the character I used to picture before seeing Lawrence as Katniss, I actually remember a different actress that I mistakenly thought looked exactly like the character – Lawrence wins as Katniss. So what’s the difference? If I’m going to end up picturing celebrities as my protagonists anyway, why not see the movie and picture their flawlessness??

I mean, Ben Affleck is in the new Gone Girl movie. Is it really that bad to have to picture Ben Affleck when you’re reading? NO! (I’d like to mention this now, because I won’t get the opportunity again – hate me if you will: I prefer Matt Damon.)

So what’s the big deal in seeing the movie first? Other than the bragging rights you get to have (“I already read the book so I know what happens at the end so if you don’t buy me the large popcorn/drink combo I’ll tell you the end of the story before we watch”) I don’t really think there’s a huge problem with it! I’m a big re-reader. Some of my favorite books I’ve read maybe 10-15 times. A lot of those books have been turned into movies, and honestly I really don’t mind picturing an actor as the main character, or the villain, or even just the butler. I like having a more vivid idea of what the character looks like, talks like, and what their expressions are. I like thinking of the characters as real life people, and sometimes seeing the movie first helps with that!

So my deliberation: if you like a bit of risk, see the movie first! It’s not always bad, and then when you read the book after you see it, you get the same story but in so much more vivid detail! So next time a book turned movie comes out, try seeing the movie first. Maybe you’ll like it!

Until next time!

Rachel