Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

Overall Review:
Before I get into the book, I just wanted to say that Sarah Ockler is easily one of my favorite contemporary YA authors. The Book of Broken Hearts and Twenty Boy Summer were both amazing books with amazing characters. Despite this fact, however, I was skeptical when I read the synopsis of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids. I wasn’t sure how Ockler was going to handle the main character’s inability to speak, and the whole bad-boy-turned-good thing with Christian Kane is kind of a cliché. But since I loved Sarah Ockler’s other books (and also because I love The Little Mermaid, upon which this story was partially based), I decided to take a chance with this novel.
Surprisingly, I loved the book. I loved the characters--even Christian--and I loved the story. Elyse is a completely relatable character, and the memories of how things were before the accident made me mourn for her old self almost as much as she did. I felt frustrated right along with her as she struggled to communicate with the people around her without the use of her voice.
She meets some amazing people throughout the course of the story, like Vanessa and Christian. Vanessa and Elyse’s cousin Kirby are amazing friends, supportive and understanding. And Christian is pretty interesting to read about, cliché or not. He’s really sweet to Elyse, and he’s really patient and encouraging when it comes to Elyse’s inability to speak. He helps Elyse learn how to really live again.
Sarah Ockler’s writing style was as amazing as ever in this book. It was poetic and flowing and just really nice to read.
I tried desperately to grab on to the moment, to the feeling, to hold it in my heart. But beauty is by its very nature elusive, slippery.
A fragment, a flash.
Here and gone again.
The trees shuddered with my heart, and the clouds shifted, returning the forest to its misty gray.
The butterflies took flight.
Then the other.
See? I mean, I’m not totally sure what all that meant, but it sounds pretty, doesn’t it?
So, my rating for this book is about a 9 out of 10. Overall, I would definitely recommend reading it. It’s a sweet, light read that’s perfect for the summer, and if you’re a fan of contemporary YA, you should totally read this book and check out some of Sarah Ockler’s other books, as well.
Thanks for reading,

JC <3

Monday, July 6, 2015

Seraph of the End

Before I start, I would like to apologize to JC for making her do all of the work even though I had a month without school. Please note I haven't read the manga.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Great for the environment, but not so great for our anime. If you're a fan of Attack on Titan, then you have probably heard of Seraph of the End. The set ups are very similar, very similar. And let me just say this, the pacing is bad as the female titan arc. In other words, it was really slow. This is not a spoiler free review and I recommend watching at least the first episode before reading this review. I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum though. Please note that I did enjoy this anime, but there's too many similarities between Seraph of the End than I could ignore. I know this is not entirely the fault of the animators/ Wit Studio, but the writer of the source material. It could have been presented in a different way.

As before, Wit Studio did a great job at animating and painting the backgrounds. The way the characters move and the fight scenes are nicely done. It's easy to get caught up in the action. Hiyori Sawano should get about a million rewards for the amazing sound track. The opening was great, too and will give some people the feels.

The characters feel very cookie cutter like though.  I'm using their nicknames, because it is faster to type. There is the main character Yuu. After (episode 1 and other spoilers from here) his family is killed, he swear vengeance on the vampires. He has a hard time making friends and doesn't like listening to the rules. Then there's the wimpy side character, Yoichi who is the main characters friend. And there's also Mika, who is the protector sort of character who is not on the same side as everyone else. I'm most interested in learning about Mika. Shinoa is the female lead and love interest. Her I like. Usually I don't like female characters, because they are usually over sexualized, useless blobs of fan service. She has personality and can hold her own. Oh, and there's Guren, who is the captain, military leader person. He has a mysterious side that I want to learn more about, too.

Let's talk about the first episode. It felt ineffective. Yuu's family is killed by a vampire named, Ferid when trying to escape. You can kind of tell where the episode is leading up to. You know they are not going to all escape. Mika is killed as well, sort of, but you know he's not really dead even if you didn't read the manga. He is on the poster and clearly very much alive. It seems like they were trying to use the same shock method that Attack on Titan used. It doesn't really work though and seems kind of lazy especially since it's the same company that made Attack on Titan. The pacing is bad, too. There's one more comparison I would like to make but I won't because spoilers.

A lot of episodes felt extra long and unnecessary. It felt like the characters took the long way to solve their problems. Was the source material too short maybe? I can't even remember the plots of most of the episodes and the only episode I really really remember is the 11th episode. Watch it and you will understand why. I thought the episode where they were getting their cursed gear was good, too.  It's feel very long and not worth the week wait, but still worth it at the same time. The anime is still good though. There is character development, which is just awesome.

It's action packed and still is better than other animes. The fight scenes were well placed. Just when you were getting bored of all of the explanation, there was a fight scene. Overall I would give the anime an 8.5 out of 10 and you should definitely check it out.