Book Review: This Is My Brain On Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer

This Is My Brain On Boys
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: May 10 2016
Review Source: Balzer + Bray

Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. Not for herself, anyway. With one year left of high school, she’s more interested in snagging a full scholarship to Harvard than a full-time boyfriend.

That doesn’t mean she’s oblivious to the ways of the heart. Or, rather, the head. Because after months of research, Addie has discovered how to make anyone fall in love. All you need is the secret formula.

But will her discovery be enough to win the coveted Athenian Award and all its perks? (See above, full scholarship to Harvard.) Or will she be undone by Dexter, her backstabbing lab partner, who is determined to deep-six her experiments at their exclusive private school?

Those are the least of her problems now that she’s survived a death-defying flight with a mysterious, dark-haired boy, who has delicious chocolate-brown eyes and a few secrets of his own.

With an experiment to mastermind, an infatuated exchange student on her hands, and at least one great white shark (more on that later), can Addie’s prefrontal cortex outwit her heart? Or will she have to give in to her amygdala and find out, once and for all, if this thing called love is more than just her brain on drugs?

Addie is a no-nonsense kind of girl who takes things very literally. Kris is an all out there kind of guy, who tries to live life moment by moment. When their paths cross it seems that fate would have it they're meant to be, or to Addie's thought process - her PEA levels were just right during their first turbulent encounter together.

I swear. This book was like Bones meets Big Bang Theory meets an adorable romance novel.
I am a true believer of love, of souls, of all the things that Addie believes to be nonsense. Love is the result of our brain's chemicals shooting through it. To an extent I agree - but I believe that there's something stronger than just chemicals here. But even being a believer of all the stuff that Addie doesn't believe in I enjoyed this book. I just took it as Kris and her best friend Tess take Addie's thoughts on things. She doesn't believe in luck - luck is my best friend. So to me, it's lucky that Kris sat next to her on her plane trip back to the Academy. But to her it was not luck, it was mere science.

Addie was actually a very hilarious character. She was so straight forward - it's why I love the show Bones. Because when the character Bones is trying to converse with people and just does not get social norms, it makes you laugh. And this is exactly what Addie goes through. There are times when she realizes what she is doing, and that she shouldn't do it. Which makes it even better.

The book even includes a little twist - although I saw it coming from the moment they got to the academy - but it's a twist that makes the story pleasant. It adds character to the story - you know the twist but if you're like me you're not completely sure until the point when it's revealed. And it makes you feel like a great detective having figured it out.

It's A Muggle Monday Recommendation!

We are not wizards or witches, but muggles. We don't live in a magical world... Hogwarts is not home. But don't let this put you down. We don't need magic to transform our world. We have thousands lives to explore and dystopian worlds to travels. From the words of JK Rowling, "The stories we love the best live in us forever".

It's a Muggle Monday Recommendation is a new weekly meme hosted by Once Upon a Twilight in hope that this story will cast a spell over you and live with you forever.

This week is dedicated to a book I read in Middle School. And it might have been my first glimpse into adult books if I think about it. I absolutely was intrigued by the story that was being told.

A book that I need to revisit because it's been too long. And there's a movie version of it, that from what I remember of the book, did a good job at sticking to the story. It sparked a series, and I sadly haven't been able to read all of the books. But this first one hooked me at a young age and still hasn't let go.

Jazz Jennings Named Latest Read Proud Listen Proud Author Ambassador

Jazz Jennings Named Latest Read Proud Listen Proud Author Ambassador

Her new book, BEING JAZZ: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen, goes on sale June 7

NEW YORK, NY (May 25, 2016)—Teen transgender rights advocate Jazz Jennings has been named the second Read Proud Listen Proud Author Ambassador. Jennings follows Stonewall author Ann Bausum and narrator Tim Federle, who kicked off the LGBTQ literature awareness campaign last year.

Jennings is a role model for fellow LGBTQ teens, speaking out for equality and acceptance via her groundbreaking TV series, I Am Jazz (the second season premieres on TLC June 8), TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, picture book I Am Jazz, and memoir Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) TeenTime named Jennings one of the most influential teens of 2014 and 2015, and I Am Jazz was recently recognized alongside I Am Cait as Outstanding Reality Program at the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards.

Read Proud Listen Proud, a joint effort by Listening Library, Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books, is an online resource designed to spark discussion in the classroom and at home and to encourage understanding through storytelling, celebrating everyone for who they are.

The website recommends LGBTQ books for young adults and provides kids and teens, parents, educators and librarians thought-provoking discussion guides, inspiring author interviews, and audio clips, all hosted at

Read Proud Listen Proud represents the LGBTQ community by celebrating the power of literature and can help people better understand how to accept LGBTQ individuals for who they are,” says Jennings. “When I was younger and transitioning, I would have loved to have a book like Being Jazz to let me know that I wasn’t alone in the process.”

Read Proud Listen Proud was inspired by the work of the We Need Diverse Books movement. Since its launch in June 2015, Read Proud Listen Proud has received an enthusiastic response from the publishing community, educators, and librarians and was nominated for an Excellence in Marketing Award by the Audio Publishers Association.

About Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings is a trans girl, YouTube celebrity, spokesmodel, activist, and co-author of the picture book I Am Jazz. She has a docu-series about her life also called I Am Jazz on TLC, which started airing in July 2015. She was named to Time’s “Most Influential Teens” list two years in a row, was one of Huffington Post’s “14 Most Fearless Teens,” and was the youngest person ever featured on Out’s “Out100,” as well as on Advocate’s “40 Under 40” list. In 2014, she was named a Human Rights Campaign Youth Ambassador and received LogoTV’s Youth Trailblazer Award. Jazz also hosts a series of videos about her life on YouTube and is one of the faces of Clean & Clear. You can follow her on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jazzjennings__, or subscribe to her YouTube channel.

Teen transgender rights advocate Jazz Jennings, author of the forthcoming BEING JAZZ: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen (on sale June 7, 2016), has been named the latest author ambassador for the newly relaunched Read Proud Listen Proud. Read Proud Listen Proud was introduced in June 2015 as an online resource for kids and teens, as well as their parents, teachers and librarians, to find LGBTQ literature that encourages understanding and acceptance, celebrating everyone for who they are through the power of storytelling.

The site now features fresh content, including an interview with Jennings filmed while she was in the recording studio narrating BEING JAZZ and additional title recommendations. 

LGBTQ reading and listening recommendations, in addition to BEING JAZZ:

·         LILY AND DUNKIN by Donna Gephardt; narrated by Ryan Gesell, Michael Crouch & the author
·         SAVING MONTGOMERY SOLE by Mariko Tamaki; narrated by Rebecca Lowman
·         THE BEST MAN by Richard Peck; narrator to be announced
·         SHE’S NOT THERE: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan; narrated by the author

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition San Francisco - An Evening With Ve Neill!

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition San Francisco is hosting an evening with Award Winning makeup artist, Ve Neill on Thursday, June 7.

Tickets can be reserved at

Move Review: A24's The Lobster

The Lobster
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Lea Seydoux and Ben Whishaw
Rated R
Runtime: 119 minutes
In this highly imaginative, delightfully absurdist comedy from visionary director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who has just been dumped by his wife. To make matters worse, David lives in a society where single people have 45 days to find true love, or else they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into the woods. David is kept at the mysterious HOTEL while he searches for a new partner, and after several romantic misadventures decides to make a daring escape to abandon this world. He ultimately joins up with a rebel faction known as The Loners, a group founded on a complete rejection of romance. But once there David meets an enigmatic stranger (Rachel Weisz) who stirs up unexpected and strong feelings within him…
At once a full immersion into a strange and surreal world, and a witty and clever reflection of our own society, The Lobster is a thrillingly audacious vision fully brought to life by Lanthimos and his terrific cast. The filmmaker displays a completely singular style and mastery of tone, finding the perfect balance between sharp-edged satire and romantic fable that entertains its audience while also leaving them with lots to reflect on long after the credits have rolled. 

This week, I took-in The Lobster on my regular quest to see as many new theatrical releases as possible.  If you read the synopsis above, you know The Lobster sounds a little trippy.  Well, it is a little trippy.  And it is super judgmental.  But it’s the kind of judgment that the audience is supposed to accept as constructive criticism and, really, who can’t stand a little constructive criticism?  Here is mine, criticism of the movie, I mean.

This isn’t the type of film that is going to appeal to everyone.  I know this because I couldn’t find anyone who would go with me to see it.  You call a film The Lobster and you may as well call it This Film Isn’t For Everyone because the reaction is the same.  It is really biting satire.  Dark, dark comedy.  It’s guilty funny.  People should not laugh at someone the shocking scenes offered, those things aren’t funny, they’re horrible.  I laughed out loud for much of the first half of the movie, and, immediately, felt guilty that I had done that.  Typing this, I replayed one of the scenes in my head and laughed again.  Terrible.  Terribly funny.  Twistedly funny.

However, it's only partially funny because of all of the judgment I mentioned earlier.  The satire pokes fun at the emptiness of “romantic conventions.”  It highlights the vanity and shallowness in achieving coupledom.  Then, it pits those who would attempt to achieve coupledom at all costs with those who forsake all elements of love.  Well, who hasn’t fallen into this spectrum at one point or another? Basically, I was laughing until some scene or another hit too close to home, and, then, I wasn’t laughing anymore.  Of course, that is the point of The Lobster.   The best movies are the ones which leave an impression, make the audience think.  The Lobster accomplished that well.    

I do think that some of the message was diluted in the second half of the movie. The laughs came farther between and the plot felt a little disjointed.  The satire went from biting to outlandish.  I felt like the movie had a point to make, it achieved that and, then, it had some filler.  Don’t get me wrong, the second half of the film highlights the acting of the two stars, Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, and it has some good bits, but I more enjoyed the first half of the film. 

All things considered, I’m glad that I ventured into the art-house theater to watch The Lobster.  Look for it. It is a worthy endeavor.  The Lobster is playing in limited release now, and opens nationally on Friday.        

First Look at Gina Rodriguez in #DeepwaterHorizonMovie

This September, get ready to see a pretty stellar cast in Lionsgate's Deepwater Horizon, that's inspired by a true story. You have Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez starring alongside Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O'Brien, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russel, John Malkovich and many more.

Check out the just released character posters (they are pretty spectacular) and the new movie trailer below.

Gina Rodriguez is Andrea Fleytas!!!

Deepwater Horizon hits theaters September 30th! 

Official Deepwater Horizon links below:
Official Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Hashtag: #DeepwaterHorizonMovie

Book Review: The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle

The Sound of Us
Author: Julie Hammerle
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: June 7, 2016
Review Source: Entangled Teen

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.

She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.

Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung.

But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.

So 2016 is turning out to be the year of contemporaries because so far there has not been a book I haven’t loved and The Sound of Us is no exception. The Sound of Us is the story of Kiki Nichols, a girl off to opera camp for six weeks the summer before senior year. However, it isn’t any other summer camp. At the end, the seven best voices will receive a full ride to Krause University to continue their development and education in opera and Kiki is determined to be one of the chosen seven.

Despite having a heavy musical theme throughout, much like If I Stay by Gayle Forman, this book has a lot of aspects that as a reader, even one not immersed in music like myself, you can relate to. By the end of the book, I realized that writing to me, is what music, especially writing music, is to Kiki. She’s this kind of homebody who is addicted to twitter and connects more to the people online than the people in her real life because the people in real life kind of suck. She’s obsessed with movies and tv shows and much of her time online is spent discussing the things she loves and hates about them. Another totally relate able aspect is the fact that her parents don’t really believe her to be capable of doing anything significant with a music career and that in large part is because her older sister never made anything out of the same opportunity years before. Kiki also has the sting of betrayal embedded inside her, straight from her now ex-best friend. The dynamic with Beth, the ex-best friend, affected Kiki so much that she’s hiding her love for those tv shows and movies she’s crazy about in an effort to make new friends who won’t judge her. And thankfully they all realize what an awesome person she is because of her love for those things.

The romance factor throughout the novel is so good it had me craving more and I’ll leave it at that so you can really absorb it firsthand. Kiki is a completely new person from the time the book starts to the time it ends but she still keeps a lot of that charisma and lovability she had before she started camp. She grows and really comes into her own, realizing the true path she wants to take in life, standing up to those who want to put her down, and realizing that real life friendships are available to her because she’s a great person. The Sound of Us is a great, insightful, and fun read that will have you begging the author for a sequel just so that we can get more of this quirky girl and her journey to life.

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