If I Stay

If-I-Stay-2014-Movie-Poster-Wallpaper-2048x1536Where to even begin… I read If I Stay, a young adult novel by the incredibly talented Gayle Forman, around three years ago while I was still in middle school. Immediately after finishing it, I read the sequel, Where She Went, because it had just released and I needed more. More Mia, more Adam, more Mia and Adam, and most of all, closure on everything following the ending of the first novel (I’ll try to keep this post spoiler-free).

I absolutely love this duology. I love the realness, the rawness that Forman manages to evoke in the flow of her story and in her characters in a seemingly effortless manner. When I found out (a bit belatedly) that If I Stay was being turned into a movie and would release this year, I was beyond excited. But I was also nervous- I worried that the storyline would be over-romanticized and changed to make teenage girls who don’t read swoon. And when I first looked up the cast, I was ambivalent about Chloë Grace Moretz playing Mia, because she just isn’t the way I pictured the protagonist in my head. Jamie Blackley looked much more the part of Adam immediately to me. However, as more and more previews played (and I couldn’t avoid them any longer, as much as I wanted to retain my mental image of Adam and Mia), I grew used to the idea of Chloë-as-Mia and made my peace with this minor issue. It also helped to discover that Gayle Forman was an executive producer of the film, and she helped write the script.

Well, I saw the movie last night with my fellow blogger friend, Grace. We both read the book for the first time years ago (and have obviously reread it multiple times since it’s so great). I can only speak for myself, but I thought the film was a hit. I loved it, all of it, and I am normally very critical of book to movie adaptations. The movie stayed true to the book it’s based on, but was easy to follow for those who have not read the novel (shame on them!). I thought the acting and character representations were spot on, and the wardrobe, sets, and film locations were perfect. It was such a pleasure seeing the characters come to life. The Hall family was is so cool, Mia is so wonderfully awkward at times, and Adam should be a role model for all boyfriends.

The movie also gave me all the feelings that the book gave me. I laughed because it was funny, I shed tears because it was devastating, and I got chills because it was heart-wrenching. There were so many “aw” moments because Mia and Adam’s relationship was so lovely, and realistic to the extent that true love and soul mates exist. They are perfect for each other, they love each other so much, and they have common interests, yet they still have to battle through rough patches and rocky decisions. Their love story is perfectly imperfect (as further proved in Where She Went). For me though, the movie was not just about the romance. Yes, that is a huge aspect of the book, and therefore the film. But I think that love in general is what ties everything together- love of music, love of family, love of friends, and love of life. If I Stay– both the novel and the movie- champions life. There is so much to live for, and love is what makes a good life.

I would not change this movie. I do wish that Mia’s relationship with and deep love for Teddy was shown more. But with the switches back and forth between the present (comatose Mia in the hospital) and the past (Mia’s budding career as a concert cellist and Mia’s relationship with Adam, including bits and pieces of her family and friends), it might have been overwhelming to explore another relationship in-depth. There were parts of the movie when I would begin to tear up, and then a happy flashback would occur and I wouldn’t have time to cry. Sometimes the switches back and forth were a little quick or choppy, but I thought the timing was pretty good overall. The movie also omits Mia’s struggle to make Kim and Adam friends, but I didn’t feel it needed to be included. And on a side note, Adam’s band was renamed from Shooting Star to Willamette Stone (some of their songs are on the movie soundtrack). Minor, minor changes, guys.

If I Stay is a fantastic novel and a fantastic film. I highly recommend seeing it, even if you’ve read the book. Especially if you’ve read the book. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Lovers of the book will love it, and hopefully those who have not yet read the novel will after seeing the movie. The movie stays very true to the book, doing it the justice it deserves. It has received positive reviews by critics (an A- from Entertainment Weekly and a 7.1/10 rating from IMDB) and is number one in the box-office since it’s release Friday. I rarely see movies and I’m always wary of page to screen adaptions, but in my book (no pun intended), If I Stay was a huge success. Well done.

If I Stay: the book | If I Stay: the movie | Grace’s Blog

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Frostbite Film

I am a huge fan of Richelle Mead. She has written two of my favorite series: Vampire Academy and its spinoff, Bloodlines. The wit and charm of the characters, action-driven plot, and fantastic settings of these series, particularly Vampire Academy, make them stand out to me in young adult literature. They are addicting. Rose Hathaway is one of my favorite female protagonists: she’s loyal, impulsive, and extremely strong-willed. And while I love Dimitri to death, I really do, Adrian has my heart in Richelle Mead’s world of Moroi, dhampirs, and Strigoi.

Vampire Academy was adapted to the big screen and premiered earlier this year. To be blunt, the movie was a failure in the box office. For many fans, it failed to tell the story smoothly and accurately. And for me, it was laughable. However, VA fans have made their opinions heard, and the producers lined up for the sequel, Frostbite, have made the necessary changes. We have been assured that the script of Frostbite reads like the book (yes!). We can also expect that Frostbite will capture the same humor and irony that its predecessor did, only in a more effective way that doesn’t disappoint/enrage fans- in other words, the movie won’t be a silly, drama-and-action-packed movie that flows disjointedly and doesn’t deliver. Hopefully, the cast, directors, producers, screenwriters, etc. will make a smooth transition from the book to the movie, keeping elements of drama, humor, and action, but not overblowing the audience with too much of everything. That is what, for me, made the Vampire Academy movie hysterically bad- I couldn’t take any of it seriously.

But not all of the Vampire Academy film was unsatisfactory. The cast, for example, well-represented the characters they portrayed. The sets and filming locations realistically depicted St. Vladimir’s. The book has drama, humor, action, and wit, and the movie had these elements, too (although, as previously stated, perhaps too much of them). I saw huge potential in the first film, and I think with the adjustments that have been promised, Frostbite could be a wild success for the box office and the book lovers.

Now, I’d like to point out the most important part of Frostbite: Adrian Ivashkov. Yes, yes, the other half of my OTP (with the first half being Sydney Sage) makes his debut in the second installment of the series. Swoon. The biggest reason Frostbite needs to become a movie, other than correcting all the mistakes made in the Vampire Academy film, is that Adrian needs to come to life! Even if you haven’t read the series, trust me: you want to see this.

But when will Frostbite be released? Well, that is up to us as fans. Most of the budget for the film has been raised. The script has been written, the producers have been picked. However, in order to get the green light to start production, the film’s financiers have asked that the fans raise $1.5 million to show that there is enough interest in a Vampire Academy sequel. This is an effort called crowdfunding. We have been given less than a month- August 6th to September 5th- to meet this goal. And there are incentives. Fans can choose from the packages on IndieGoGo how much they would like to contribute, and in return they will receive some pretty awesome prizes.

Currently, with two weeks to go, only 14% of the goal has been met. We need some help. Anyone who would like to see a film adaption of Frostbite can help by donating, spreading the word, or both. Together, the VA Family can do this! (If, by chance, we in fact cannot do this, all funds raised will be returned to the donators.)

Final Thoughts

  • Anyone who wants to see Adrian on the big screen should take this cause very seriously- this might be our last chance to bring Adrian to life.
  • Frostbite is an even more exciting story than Vampire Academy, in my opinion.
  • I’d also like to point out that a Frostbite film will bring us closer to a Shadow Kiss film. Think on that.

If you are able and willing to help in any way, please do so. It would mean the world to VA fans to make Frostbite a reality. Thank you for your time.

Donate here.

Video Post | Crowdfunding Post | Another Frostbite Post | VA Movie | Richelle Mead

Torn Over a Rocco

I believe in love at first sight. Many a bag has caught my eye from up close or a distance, and I am gone, fallen in love with one look. With bags and me, there seems to be an instant click. That being said, I never “clicked” with the Alexander Wang Rocco bag. When it started getting hype a few years back, I just didn’t understand it. The bag looked slouchy, the leather dull and faded, and the studs too edgy for me to ever imagine carrying. 

Well, all that changed on Saturday while I was watching the lovely Zoella on YouTube. I watched her “What’s in My Bag?” video from January, and in it, she lifted up her black Rocco bag with rose gold hardware. And I was gone. I fell in love in less than ten seconds. So naturally, my new obsession led me to do bag research into the wee hours of the morning, and half of the following day. I found different color combinations, types of leather, reviews, and prices. I imagined all the outfits I would wear the bag with, what I would put in it, where I would take it. I had to actually shut my laptop on several occasions to prevent myself from ordering it then and there. 

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This bag is slightly under $1k. For a designer bag, that’s on the lower end of the price range. But it did raise to mind some concerns. For one, the bag is made in China. Another is that the studs could get scratched when the bag is set down. I don’t know if I should get the rose gold hardware because I don’t even own any rose gold jewelry. There have also been some reviews that say the quality of the leather and stitching is hit or miss.

So do I take a leap of faith and order one, seeing for myself if these issues come to light? Or do I wait it out until a sale comes along or my obsession dies down? There are other bags I want, certainly. But none so affordable as this. And the laid-back nature of the Rocco draws me in, more fitting to my relaxed style now than a few years ago.

Thus, I find myself torn over what to do. To buy, or not to buy, that is the question. 

More Information
Zoella’s video | Rocco Bag | Alexander Wang

 

Shake It Off

Well world. Today I was going to write a post about my first day of school. But somehow it’s become quarter past eleven at night, and I truly do not have the mental competence to do all that pondering nonsense right now. So instead, I want to fangirl talk about Taylor Swift’s new single. “Shake It Off” debuted worldwide yesterday evening at five o’clock EST. And of course I was sitting in the driveway in my car listening to it. I came up with some pretty serious seated dance moves, if I do say so myself. 

This song is the rare type that makes me want to simultaneously dance while cleaning my room. It’s got an addicting beat and chorus that wedges itself right into my head, looping on repeat for hours while I swim and do math homework. 

I think “Shake It Off” has some inspiring messages for everyone, but particularly for Taylor’s huge audience of young girls. She sings about shaking off what others say, and that her own truth is all she needs. She sings about not being afraid to dance alone and make her own moves. And the whole song comes across as a Taylor having a positive attitude: everyone will do what they do, she’ll do what she does, and in the end, everything will be alright. These concepts translate into valuable lessons for adolescents and young adults, most of whom face judgement, gossip, and the challenge of fitting versus staying true to themselves on a daily basis. I think “Shake It Off”, while younger-sounding and very different from Taylor’s normal aesthetic (she talks, almost raps, through part of it), is a good, fun song with positive messages and a retort from Taylor to her critics. I appreciate how Taylor addresses some of her biggest criticisms in this song, like dating and breaking up too much. 

I go on too many dates
But I can’t make them stay
At least that’s what people say
That’s what people say

The music video is a bit silly, but it’s entertaining. After only one day, it has garnered almost ten million views on YouTube. Do I think it could have been better? Absolutely. It’s not a stand-out music video, but does it matter really? I’m not one who believes that everything an artist produces needs to be innovative and meaningful. I think that as long as they provide people with pleasure, there’s no harm done and no need to chip away at their work. (This is sort of turning into a rant, isn’t it?)

Taylor Swift’s fifth studio album, 1989, releases October 27th and is available now for preorder. I’m torn over whether to order it on iTunes so that I receive each single as it’s released, or to wait until the release date and buy the deluxe edition from Target, which comes with three bonus songs. Either way, I am so excited and can’t wait to hear more new music from my girl, Tay Swifty. 

Hear and see it for yourself
Music Video | Buy “Shake It Off” | Preorder 1989

 

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

When I was nominated on Instagram (by someone I haven’t spoken to in three years) to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I groaned. It was a Sunday morning, the second to last day of summer break, and the last thing I wanted to do was pour a bucket of ice water over my head and post the video on social media. I spent the morning worrying about when I would do the challenge, who would film it, what I would wear, blah blah blah. Then I went to a friend’s pool party where, coincidentally, a few others had also been nominated. We were already in bathing suits, so we used a cooler of ice to fill buckets of warm water and filmed each other completing the challenge. It ended up being a lot of fun, with everyone gathering around to watch and laugh when each person squealed from the cold. 

I realized afterwards that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is not something to dread or worry over. It is a silly task that takes about five minutes total to prep, film, and upload. When I did it on a whim at the party, I couldn’t take myself too seriously- in fact I was laughing in the video. I didn’t worry about what I wore or said or looked like. I ended up really glad that I had been nominated, because I had a lot of fun doing the challenge and I made some funny memories. Plus, I helped raise awareness about ALS, and how could I regret that? This challenged helped me let loose and learn a little bit about “don’t sweat the small stuff”. For that, I am grateful.

The rules as I understand them are simple: if nominated, you must complete the challenge and post it within 24 hours. If you refuse the challenge, it is requested that you donate money to an ALS foundation of your choice. The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness about ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons  die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.  (Source: alsa.org)

I think the Ice Bucket Challenge is a great idea, and many people I know have done it. According to the ALS Association, this challenge has been wildly successful in the U.S. so far, raising over 10 million dollars. Well over 300,000 videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge have been uploaded to Instagram. Many prominent people have done this challenge, including Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, and Ethel Kennedy. Even Justin Bieber completed the challenge… twice! President Obama declined the challenge, instead pledging a donation. Either way, awareness about ALS is being made and donations will provide massive funding for ALS research. To this, I say bravo. 

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge 

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