Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been going through this weird sort of dating thing with a guy for the last two years. It really doesn’t make any sense to my family and friends, and I know that it isn’t healthy for me anymore, so I’m working on ending it completely and letting go.

I’ve avoided love stories for this reason, but I actually think reading Dear John may have been what I needed.

John is in the army and has really struggled throughout life. He meets Savannah, they fall in love quickly, but then he has to go away. They write letters, but eventually the distance becomes too much and she ends it. She moves on, gets married, but it’s obvious that they both have a lot of love for each other.

I think reading this book made me really think about how you can have these intense feelings for someone, but that they might not be the right person for you, or that the timing may not be right and it just might not work out for that reason only.

I think it’s important to recognize this and use that as closure so that you can move on. John wanted the best for Savannah and was okay with letting go of his own desires so that she could move on and hopefully be happy. I really like that. I like that they didn’t have their happy ending together, but they both could be happy with how things ended up. It’s more realistic than the fairy tale stories about love.

The Shining by Stephen King

I have never read anything written by Stephen King before. It’s pretty crazy actually because I’m such a huge fan of horror movies. I’ve always heard that he wasn’t happy with the Stanley Kubrick film, so I was interested in seeing how it was different.

I really, really enjoyed the character development. You could really see that there were hidden issues inside of each of the characters and that the hotel really fed off of their problems. I absolutely loved Wendy and really found myself rooting for her the entire time.

Danny was such an intelligent little boy. I really loved his character as well and the insight into his thoughts while he was trying to understand the adult’s problems and thoughts.

In the movie, I feel like I never really but together that Danny’s “talent” was called shining. I vaguely remember Hallorann calling it the shine, but for some reason that just didn’t stand out to me, which I thought was interesting. I also never really felt like the hotel was after Danny in the movie, it just seemed like Jack was sort of stir crazy and needed a drink.

There were so many things in the movie that weren’t in the book and really surprised me. The creepy twins, the blood gushing from the elevator. I feel like both of these are very iconic and always what people think about when they think of The Shining, so it was interesting that they weren’t even part of the book.

The story was more creepy than scary, just gave me sort of an eerie feeling.

The ending was much better than in the movie, in my opinion. Instead of Jack freezing to death the hotel blew up and burned down completely. It’s more believable, I guess.

I also liked that it showed what happened to Danny, Wendy, and Hallorann at the end. I was glad that they all survived and sort of stayed a part of each other’s lives. I’m kind of interested in reading the sequel, but I don’t know if I’ll do that any time soon.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

After reading You, I absolutely had to know where the story would go.

I thought that it would be more about what happened to Joe after he killed Beck, how he was worried about the mug, the therapist, etc. There was a little about that and it was sort of interested, but for the most part it felt like this story wasn’t going anywhere.

After Beck, Joe dated Amy. Again there were obvious red flags with her, but he thought he was in love. She, of course, left him and stole from him. It made him feel like an idiot, so he decided to hunt her down.

I honestly would have preferred that the story just be about getting back at Amy. Instead he meets a woman named Love (completely ridiculous to literally name a character in this story love). I really have no idea why the author felt the need to distract him from everything else going on by having him fall in love with a character literally named Love. Then there’s a whole side story with her brother that I’m not even going to get into. It all just felt like a distraction.

The only purpose of Love is that Joe ends up confessing his crimes to her and she goes and gets the mug from the Salinger house. Honestly, I feel like there had to be a better way to get Joe in there to get that mug. It’s a bit of a stretch honestly.

It’s crazy too that she was just cool with his entire confession, all because she has a crazy brother. It was incredibly dumb and made me hate it honestly.

Eventually Joe runs into Amy, but it’s very anticlimactic. He just sees her and decides not to kill her because he’s in love with Love.

Joe finally gets caught at the end, but it doesn’t really come together well. There were just little things here and there, no real evidence was found against him. The part about Joe and Love having to figure out the answer to the police officer’s question was dumb.

Just overall, I wasn’t very happy with the storyline. It doesn’t feel like it was well thought out and it’s too complicated. There were also way too many celebrity name drops. It was almost like the author thought that the first season would get picked up as a tv show or movie so she wrote the second novel to see how many celebrities she could actually get into it.

I actually would not recommend this to anyone that liked the first book. I’m interested to see how true to the storyline the show will be in it’s second season. I hope they simplify it some.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Yet another Netflix inspired read! I promise I’ll start reading books that haven’t been made into movies or tv series eventually.

I’m so glad I read this one though. The book was 100% creepier than the show. Joe was so creepy and the worst kind of stalker. Watching Beck from outside her apartment, stealing her phone, reading her emails. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to find out someone was doing that to me.

As much as Joe creeped me out, Beck was honestly worse. She was a terrible person, so I didn’t care that Joe was so creepy toward her. I felt like she deserved it, or like it’s what she actually wanted.

I don’t want to victim blame, but Beck really didn’t care about anyone other than herself. She was miserable and wanted to make people around her miserable, and she expected these people to worship the ground she walks on.

I do really hate to say it, but I feel like she was just asking for something like this to happen to her and I think she actually enjoyed the drama of it all. She even mentions that she knew he had followed her, like she didn’t mind that he was stalking her from the beginning. It’s all pretty messed up honestly. As much as I didn’t like Joe I felt like he deserved better than Beck.

Beck definitely needed a better therapist because she clearly had a lot of issues that she needed to deal with.

The craziest thing is how relatable the story actually is. I thought to myself “how many times have I looked up someone I just met and stalked their social media accounts?”. We all do it.

You look at someone’s profile online and immediately make up your mind on if this is someone that you want to get to know better or not. I can definitely understand creating this image of someone in your head and what your future would look like together. I can understand the willingness to look past the bad stuff about them because you have this perfect future planned out.

It’s so crazy dating in a world with social media, especially with the jealousy and insecurity that it creates. I’ve been here. I spent two years trying to date someone who never gave me the attention that I craved from him. I would see him like other girls’ pictures when he never liked mine. It made me feel like shit about myself, but then also made me feel like it was a challenge. Like maybe if I did something differently it would get his attention. Why do we hold on to people who don’t want us?

This book definitely does a good job portraying how bad it can really get. I’m going to have to read the next book in the series now.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I remember being little and watching The Haunting when it first came out in 1999. I’ve seen the movie about a million times since then and honestly can’t believe that I never knew it was a book.

It wasn’t until Netflix adapted it into a series that I realized it was based on the novel of the same name and absolutely decided that I had to read it. (Side note: Netflix is becoming a bit of a theme here isn’t it?)

The movie is definitely a closer adaptation of the book than the show was, but I feel like all three were done really well and told the story of Hill House.

I actually don’t think I’ve ever read a “horror” novel before, so this was a first. It was really creepy and I really liked the little scenes here and there that showed the house was haunted.

All of the characters had very strange, very different personalities. It was interesting to see how their personalities meshed together. It was obvious from the beginning that Nell was being affected by the house the most. I honestly was absolutely positive she was going to jump off that tower (probably because of Nell’s fate in the series).

The crash at the end happened pretty quickly, so I wasn’t sure that Nell had actually died. I hoped that she didn’t, or that if she did there would be a little bit about her ghost.

It’s super creepy how the house seems to consume the people in it. The series did a really good job showing that too.

I’m interested in seeing what the next season will be about since they’ve stated that it’ll be an entirely different storyline. It’s kind of sad honestly because I really fell in love with those characters, but it did have a good ending.

I did really like how there were subtle nods to things in the book in the series like the cup of stars, throwing rocks at the glass greenhouse, and the poem that the flapper woman recites.

Highly recommend the book if you’re a fan of the show. It was definitely worth the read.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I definitely jumped on the Bird Box bandwagon when this movie first came out on Netflix. It was crazy how much it blew up on social media and how popular it became so quickly.

I really enjoyed the movie but there were a few things I had questions about, so I hoped that reading the book would explain everything better.

There were a lot of differences right off the bat. The story starts a lot slower, Malorie is living with her sister for awhile when it all starts happening around them and she saw an ad in the paper that mentioned a safe house. Definitely understand why they sped things up in the movie. I’m not sure it’s very believable that with all this panic going on someone took the time to go out and pay for an add in the newspaper.

The whole thing with Gary was really crazy, both in the movie and the book. I definitely liked how it was written better than how it was portrayed in the movie. It just didn’t make sense that he seemed normal and then was crazy out of nowhere. The book explains that he’s sort of immune to whatever is going on outside and believes that others can be immune too. That just makes more sense to me.

I can’t believe that after they kicked him out he was hiding in the attic and that Don was the one that pulled down all the curtains and blankets. I also can’t believe that everyone died and Malorie had the patience to wait that long by herself with babies before attempting to go down the river.

Ending at the school for the blind is definitely interesting. I’m curious why the author  chose to have people there who blinded themselves. It’s definitely understandable given the situation, and she understood because she almost blinded the babies. Maybe it makes her trust them because she could relate and they’re honest about it? Just felt like a weird detail to throw in at the end.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In high school I was assigned The Great Gatsby and absolutely fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s storytelling. My grandmother had a collection of his short stories and I read through them pretty quickly. I’ve always meant to read more of Fitzgerald’s work, but have definitely let other books take precedence over them.

I finally decided to sit down and read This Side of Paradise.

From the beginning, Amory is an odd child. He’s definitely privileged, thinks he’s smarter and better than everyone else. He doesn’t believe that the people around him, other than his mother, can hold intelligent conversations with him.

He believes that he thinks differently than other people. I’ve read that Fitzgerald based Amory on himself, which is actually kind of funny because I do think that creative people believe that they think differently from other people and that others won’t understand their ideas. I feel like I’ve felt that way about myself a few times, not to say that I’m necessarily the most creative person in the world, but I think my brain sometimes works differently than others.

The story continues and Amory moves to Chicago where he meets a girl that he sort of likes. Throughout the story, he basically will fall for every girl that’s beautiful and slightly different from how he expects a woman to think or act. I guess this relates back to him thinking that he’s different and he’s attracted to anything that also seems to stray from the norm.

He eventually goes away to school and again doesn’t fit in with anyone. He still has this mindset that he’s a free-thinker and that he’s above everyone and everything, doesn’t really try to fit in. It’s surprising honestly that he finishes college.

He then goes to war. I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t much to this part of the story. I guess maybe Fitzgerald didn’t think it was relevant enough?

Amory returns home and falls in love with Rosalind. Once again it’s a very quick and sort of shallow love. She was probably right that it wouldn’t have lasted, but he couldn’t accept it because he wasn’t the one to end their relationship.

It’s hard to feel sorry for him honestly. He’s so entitled and really makes poor decisions very spontaneously. After Rosalind breaks his heart he feels sorry for himself, becomes an alcoholic, loses his job, and spends the rest of his family money on alcohol.

By the end he’s still struggling to fit into society and there’s a long conversation he has about socialism in the back of a taxi.

I’m just not really sure what this book was about or if there was a point to it. I guess Fitzgerald was just sort of writing about his personal feelings and things that he’s experienced in his life. It was interesting, but it’s sort of shocking to me how much people seem to love this book. I’m not sure that I’d ever recommend it to someone or that I’d choose to read it again.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (Series) by Jenny Han

After hearing a lot about the movie, I finally sat down one day and watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. I absolutely loved it. It was so cute and relatable. It made me laugh and cry. I just really loved it.

Of course I had to read the books. They were so good, I could seriously read about Lara Jean and Peter all day long. I actually wish that was an option in life.

I read the three books in this series so quickly that it doesn’t make sense for me to make three separate posts about how great they were and how much I loved each one. Definitely light reading compared to some of the other books I’ve read, but they were all so so enjoyable to read.

I was actually pretty upset after reading them all that Jenny Han said she wouldn’t be writing any more books about Lara Jean. I want to know about Korea, college with Peter, the rest of their lives, etc.!

I’m so glad that Netflix announced they’d be making the second movie and the cast looks really great. Definitely looking forward to it’s release!

The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro

So this is actually pretty interesting because I believe Guillermo del Toro released the book after the movie came out. If I’m wrong about this, please let me know.

I was at Books A Million one day and they had a whole table full of books that had been adapted into movies and I saw The Shape of Water there. It wasn’t until later that I actually downloaded it onto my Kindle and realized that it was more of a movie adapted into a book. At first I was a little put off by it, to be honest. I really enjoyed the movie and just felt like maybe del Toro did this to explain things better and to me that meant that he felt he didn’t explain it well enough in the movie.

The beginning of the book was really slow for me and it actually took me a really long time to read it because of this. I just didn’t care about the tracking of the creature in the Amazon or Lainie’s move to Baltimore. The only parts I was interested in reading were from Elisa’s point of view because she was deaf and it was actually interesting to read her thoughts.

It’s actually funny that I had to drag myself through Lainie’s parts at the beginning because she ended up being one of my favorite characters. She didn’t have a large role in the movie from what I remember, so it was nice to get to see her story line evolve in the book.

The second half of the book was much more interesting to read. I usually don’t read science fiction-type stories, but I actually liked the love story between Elisa and the creature and how they went through awful things to end up together. I think that’s relatable enough for a reader, without hoping you’ll one day meet the fish man of your dreams.

Despite some parts being slow, this was incredibly well written from the different points of view. You really get a good sense of each character’s personality and that’s really important to telling a good story.

The fish/creature/man’s point of view was pretty weird though. It definitely added to the story, but it was an odd choice to make when the lack of communication between it and everyone else was such a strong focus. I also find it hard to believe that it’s thoughts would be in English.

Overall really interesting to read and definitely added something to the movie. Would 100% recommend to anyone who loved the film.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Man, Gillian Flynn really writes about the worst women. I mentioned in my last post that I watched this movie when it came out and wasn’t really impressed, but I must have totally forgotten the ending. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention or it was too hard to follow?

This story was much more graphic than Gone Girl and Sharp Objects. I actually read the majority of this book while I was waiting for/on my flight home from Scotland. I was worried that the guy next to me on the plane would read it over my shoulder and judge me because of it (lol!).

This book was really so good. I really enjoyed how it jumped back and forth between the past and the present to slowly tell the entire story. It helped build the suspense and really made me want to keep going to get to the next part of the story, if that makes sense.

I really felt bad for everyone involved in this one. At the beginning I felt like Libby was very unlikable and acted childish, but she’s actually very easy to relate to and I did really like her by the end. The only person I didn’t care much for is Diondra.

The entire thing with Ben and Diondra sucked. I wanted to scream at him for being so dumb and going along with her on everything. I really felt so bad for him, and it was all her fault.

This story really shows the chain reaction of how one thing could change your entire life and that you should be careful how you treat people and what you say about others. It’s really sad how so many people were affected by what happened.

I do wish there were more details about the other sisters. I feel like I didn’t really care about them so much because I didn’t know anything about them. It mentions that one liked to gossip and the other liked pretty things. I just feel like that’s not enough. I guess Libby wouldn’t really know much, so I’m not sure how they would have done that.

I really need to go back and watch the movie now because I completely forgot the ending.