“This is What Happy Looks Like”—A Book Review

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This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is a cute coming-of-age book…sort of. Not quite as awesome as her first novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but still an enjoyable read.

Perchance, two teenagers start swapping emails due to a small typo in the “send to” email address. Knowing nothing about the other originally, other than the fact that they both have a pet and have read Charlotte’s Web, the witty banter flows much too easily.

After a smidge of investigating from context clues gathered, the original sender discovers where his Internet Pen Pal lives. And because he just so happens to be no other than Graham Larkin (teen celebrity heartthrob), he pulls some strings and gets the production of his newest movie moved to small town Main.

Upon discovering that her mystery guy friend is insanely famous, Ellie wasn’t quite sure how to handle the news. Not one drawn to spotlight and drama, Ellie pulls away. But she can’t help how Graham makes her feel…the real Graham (the boy she spent several hours a day writing to), not Graham Larkin the movie star.

Figuring out what we think is important in life and what is truly important can be a hard truth to wrap your head around. A lot of the time, overcoming our own fear and learning to lower our personal self-preserving safety net is a difficult feat, indeed.

A pretty cute coming-of-age novel, with some pretty deep self-examination thrown in (not to mention coming to the realization that the whole world doesn’t revolve around you, no matter who you are, and you have absolutely no way of knowing exactly what other people are thinking, unless you happen to be telepathic), I would say This is What Happy Looks Like was worth the read. Three out of five stars!

 

“All that was left was the boy with a smile that seemed intended only for her”

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“Beautiful Creatures” –A Book/Movie Rant

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“Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia is a paranormal teen book that has gotten RAVE reviews…and I just don’t get it. While I did actually somewhat enjoy reading this book, it was a bit tedious. This entire series has great potential to be a phenomenal supernatural story, but due to the over explaining of EVERYTHING, it misses the mark. Each book could be summed up in about 300 pages verses the 600+.

Ethan Wate lives in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. And he hates every minute of it. With his mother’s recent death, and his father’s evasion of life since the accident, Ethan’s only companions are his best friend Link, and his superstitious nanny, Amma—a “Seer” who can see the future and contact the spirits of her deceased family.

When Lena Duchannes arrives in Gatlin to live with her eccentric uncle, Macon Ravenwood (the notorious recluse), the town gets a little shaken up. Of course, the snooty debutant-type girls at school automatically hate this not-so-prissy-prim-and-proper new comer and label her a freak, doing everything in their power to make her life a living hell. Little do they know, they weren’t that far off the mark—Lena and her family are Castors (universally known as witches).

For months before Lena actually arrived in Gatlin, Ethan had been dreaming about her—literally. So naturally, he’s immediately obsessed with the girl and learns all about her not-so-normal life. In the Castor world of Kami Garcia’s books, Castors’ powers are claimed by the moon for either the light or the dark upon your Sixteenth birthday, and Lena is terrified of going dark, like her mother.

Of course there is an entire past legend/mystery that unfolds, linking Ethan’s life and ancestors to Lena’s. A new drama develops every few chapters or so, such as Lena’s “dark” cousin Ridley (who is a Siren) showing up and seducing Ethan’s best friend Link, persuading him to do her bidding with each suck of her lollipop. No, really…a lollipop. It’s not a dirty metaphor for anything.

Again, I didn’t entirely hate this series. It has serious cool potential and characters…this quote is one of my favorite descriptions of Lena Duchannes: (She’s sounds like a badass chic that I could totally get along with.)

“She was wearing a purple T-shirt, with a skinny black dress over it that made you remember how much of a girl she was, and trashed black boots that made you forget.”

There is also a touch of snark and wit here and there in the novels, which I appreciated:

“If a girl says not to get her a birthday present that means get me a birthday present and make sure it’s jewelry.”

Thus, to end my rant, I will say that if you have HOURS of your life to waste, go ahead and pick up “Beautiful Creatures” and give it a whirl…it’s not completely terrible. But if you are like me, and have the attention span of a ferret, skip this one and read something a little more stimulating. (If you need recommendations, just ask! I have them coming out the wazoo!)

Alas, the movie was the same as the book…it took WAY too long to end! I was intrigued for about the first 30 minutes or so, but then I found myself becoming bored and restless. There just doesn’t need to be that much extra “stuff” to get the point of the story across.

*The horrible southern accents were quite entertaining, though 😛