Tag Archives: reviews

Books that saved me in 2013

By no means was this year easy. Change is hard. I am not good with change. This summer I was unemployed, broke and depressed. I spent a lot of my time at my local library. Gone were the days I could afford to buy any book I wanted. I realized how important libraries are. I loved being able to pick up books I would never buy and discovering new writers. Reading got me through the hard times. Here were some books I read this summer and this year that kept me going:

Americanah – I tracked this book down in a library half an hour away from my house, I wanted to read it so bad. I spent a week blissfully immersed in this book. I would sit outside for hours until the sun went down, not wanting to stop reading.  Americanah tells the story of a Nigerian couple who fall in love in high school and both immigrate to the U.S. It’s part love story, part immigrant story, part critical look at race in America. The writing was amazing. Amazing. It’s the kind of writing that made me feel like I should give up and try even harder at the same time. I cried at the end because it was over. I love a good love story.

Eleanor and Park – Speaking of love stories. I love a good teen love story as well. I bought this book hoping I’d love it. I wept through the last twenty pages. These characters leapt off the page and seemed so real. I have never been in love but this book showed me what it would be like to be sixteen and feel these emotions you never experienced before. I loved that Park was Asian. I loved that Eleanor was fat. I loved the ending (though some people hated it). I loved the writing. This is a book I will pick up again and again.

The Awesome Girls Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men – Ernessa T. Carter is my favourite writer. She writes the kind of novels I wish I could write. 32 Candles, her first novel, is one of my favourite books of all time. Awesome Girls is her second novel that includes some characters from 32 Candles. This book consumed my whole life. I laughed, I cried, I was forced to look at my own life critically. I have passed it around my house. It’s a perfect book club book. You can sit with girlfriends and discuss the themes in this book for hours.

Calling Me Home – This is a book I would never buy. I saw it in the library, read the synopsis and borrowed it. It’s about an old white lady and her young black hairdresser taking a road trip to a funeral. On the way the old lady tells the story about her first love, a black man in the segregated south. It took a while for me to get in to it, at first it reminded me of The Help too much but by the end, of course, I was bawling. It was a devastatingly beautiful love story. I will never forget this story.

Maya’s Notebook – Again, I saw this book at the library, picked it up on a whim. It’s about a young American girl who runs away from home and is sent to her grandmother’s village in Chile. It’s a mystery, suspense and also a novel about the importance of family. Maya’s relationship with her grandparents reminded me so much of my own. I loved it so much.

Judging from this list, every book made me cry, but I think that’s the sign of a good book. I love a book that draws me in, makes me feel connected to the characters and care what happens to them. But most importantly, I didn’t have to think about my own life and I could get lost in another world. That’s why books are important.

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Childish Gambino Concert Review

I almost didn’t go see Childish Gambino last night.

I’ve been feeling down lately. I had two tickets to the show and could not find anyone who wanted to come with me. This is always a problem I have. I buy two tickets for shows, thinking I can find someone to come with and I never do. Since I was feeling so low, I thought why am I going to go to this show, that’s in an outdoor venue on a beach, alone? I could curl up on the couch and write my book.

Literally at the last minute, I decided what the hell? If I didn’t go, not only would I be throwing $100 bucks down the drain, I’d probably regret it later because I’m a huge Gambino fan.

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Step Up 4 – Revolution

No one wanted to go see Step Up Revolution with me. I blame Step Up 3D. In my review last year, I called it the weakest of all the Step Up films. It was a major disappointment. Sitting in the theatre to watch Step Up Revolution I just prayed it didn’t suck so my sister, who I dragged along with me, wouldn’t complain.

It didn’t suck.

Besides Step Up 2: The Streets (one of my favourite dance movies of all time) this was the next best one in the franchise. Strong dancing, a storyline that made sense and good music. That’s all I need to enjoy a dance movie.

Set in Miami, it follows Sean, played by Ryan Guzman, and his friends who are part of a dance flash mob. He meets Emily, played by So You Think You Can Dance season 6 finalist Kathryn McCormick, who is a contemporary dancer who dreams of becoming a professional. Together, they use the dance flash mob to protest the demolition of Sean’s neighbourhood by an evil land developer – who happens to be Emily’s father.

There were elements of the story that I could see coming from a mile away. The acting was very weak. There was one point in the movie that Emily calls Sean “John” and no one caught it. There wasn’t any chemistry between the two main characters, but they’re both nice to look at and Kathryn is an incredible dancer.

Did it have to be in 3D? No.

Dancing is always what saves these movies. I really enjoyed all the dance scenes. I liked the idea of the flash mobs. Some of them were cool and inventive and others were a little far-fetched. The best flash mob scene was the one in the office building. However, the song choice was a little controversial to me being a Les Twins fan. They danced to a song called Ants by the group Edit. It’s a great dance song because Les Twins danced to it first. It’s the kind of song you hear and think of Les Twins. It would have been great to bring them out at that point in the movie and watch them dance to a song that is pretty much their own.

There were a lot of familiar faces in the movie, like Twitch, Philip Chbeeb, Celestina and Mia Michaels. I liked that they brought back the contemporary aspect of dance. Travis Wall killed the choreography for those sections. And that final dance? Almost as good as the one in Step Up 2. Bringing out familiar faces always makes me lose it.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. As with every dance movie, no matter how bad the storyline or the acting is, inspires me and makes me admire dancers. Especially watching Twitch. I’m so proud of him for living the dream. Being in a movie like this is every dancers dream.

If the Step Up franchise ends here, I’ll be okay with it. They ended on a high note.

 

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BET Awards 2012 Review

Another BET Awards has passed. It was fun to live tweet, but the show didn’t blow me away this year. It had its moments that will be remembered, but besides that it was pretty forgettable. Here are some highs and lows.

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Bring It On: The Musical – Review

I’m the kind of person who isn’t afraid to do things on my own. Especially when it comes to going to musicals. I’ve seen “In The Heights” twice alone, “Fela” alone and last night I went to see “Bring It On: The Musical” solo dolo. I didn’t really have a huge interest in this show. I got an email with a code for discounted tickets, I had heard good things and decided to give it a shot. I went to the show with absolutely no expectations. It was one of the best musicals I’ve seen in a long time.

Hearing the title “Bring It On: The Musical”, you’d think it wouldn’t be that great. I had a friend who burst out laughing when I told her that was the show I was going to see. What drew me to this show (besides the cheap ticket price) was the involvement of Lin-Manuel Miranda. He’s the genius behind one of my favourite musicals of all time, “In The Heights.” He worked on the music to the show and since I know every single word to every song on the “In The Heights” soundtrack, I figured the music would be pretty good.

The first thing to point out is it’s not the same story from the movie. At intermission I heard some guys beside me say, “Where’s Torrance?” There were brand new characters and a new story line. Campbell Brown, the captain of her cheerleading squad, is transferred to an inner city school and creates a new squad to take down her old one.

The show was full of singing and dancing. There were real cheerleaders in the show, doing tricks, flinging girls so high in the air it seemed like they were going to hit the lights. At lot of times it reminded me of “In The Heights”, the way the characters would rap and even some of the choreography and formations because the same choreographer who worked on that show worked on this one as well. The show was funny too. It was modern with references to Twitter, Facebook, texting and video chats and it was a little racy with a few swear words thrown in.

I was laughing, nodding my head to the music and loving the dancing. It was a show that reminded me of how much I love musicals. There are theatre moments I’ve had in my life that I’ll always remember. Watching “In The Heights” for the first time in New York City, seeing “The Lion King” in the front row, seeing Fantasia in “The Color Purple” on Broadway and I’m adding last night to the list. There’s nothing better than going to a show with an open mind and being pleasantly surprised.

Bring It On: The Musical runs until June 3 in Toronto and will be on Broadway this summer.

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America’s Best Dance Crew Episode 2 Review

Season 7 of ABDC continued this week, introducing us to the remaining 5 crews in the competition. Continuing with the “Season of the Superstars” theme, it was Flo Rida week and the man himself sat at the judges table. Here’s the rundown of the second episode of season 7.

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Fifty Shades of Grey – My Review

I only picked up Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James because of the hype. Usually erotica isn’t my thing, Twilight fan fiction is definitely not my thing. But I like to know what the hype is about when it comes to books, and I do enjoy reading erotica once in a while to get a good laugh.

But I’ve never, ever, read a book like this before.

People warned me that it was bad, but I had to see for myself. And it was pretty bad.

I don’t usually read erotica, but I consider myself an expert in romance novels. What I love about romance novels is being able to relate to the female lead character and fall in love with the male love interest. When they  have sex for the first time it’s emotional and beautiful because they love each other and are expressing their feelings. Fifty Shades of Grey had none of that.

First of all, the writing is horrible. That’s one of the main criticism of the book. The main character Anastasia is supposed to be 21, graduating university, but the way she speaks it sounds like she’s sixteen. It makes sense, since the book started off as Twilight fan fiction. So when she and Christian are having this hardcore sex, it seems like this is a really young girl and that makes it so not sexy. The author is British, these characters are supposed to be American, but everything they say sounds British. I kept forgetting that they were supposed to be in Seattle and not London. And if I ever see the words “Jeez”, “Holy shit” and “Crap” ever again, I’ll scream. At least one of those phrases were on every page. Every. Single. Page.

Christian, the love interest, was so not sexy. I was more interested to find out what happened is his life to make him not want anyone to touch him or for him to enjoy torturing women. You know you’re reading a failed erotica novel when the sex scenes do absolutely nothing to you. Nothing at all. I read the sex scenes either laughing at how stupid they were or cringing at how gross it was.

It was disturbing that Ana didn’t even want to do all the things that Christian wanted her to do, but decided to do it because she didn’t want to lose him. She was weak and needy and I couldn’t relate to her at all. The characters were so one-dimensional (and a little stereotypical when it came to best buddy Jose Rodriguez) I didn’t care what they were doing. I didn’t want to read endless pages of emails between Ana and Christian. Is this what’s considered good writing now? If so, it’s a little bit scary.

At the bookstores, this novel isn’t even shelved under erotica. They put it in general fiction, which is crazy. I’ve heard women have read it three times and seen women spot it in the store and sprint towards it. I don’t understand the appeal.

If you wanna read it, borrow it from the library or a friend. It’s so not worth the money.

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