Top Tearjerkers

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I don’t mind a good cry every once in a while. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, if I’m not out with my girlfriends at a club, I’m in bed with a movie that makes me feel like my heart may burst out of my chest (see my prior PSAs). But you know, there are a lot of excellent emotional films that don’t revolve entirely around love. So I threw together a few of my top tearjerkers, because I like to torture myself by watching gut-wrenching YouTube clips during the day. My list is pretty short, so add your own in the comments!

Toy Story 3 | 2010

SOB

Disney/Pixar comes into your childhood adulthood like a wrecking ball (minus the naked Miley Cyrus on top AKA Disney gone wrong). It’s bad enough Andy’s going off to college (are we really that old already?) but then the toys get accidentally dropped at a daycare made of nightmares and boogers, their lives are turned upside-down by a homicidal teddy bear, and they wind up in an incinerator and they’re trying to get out and they realize it’s useless and they all commit to the fact that they’re about to die and they hold hands to face it together andWHAT THE HELL, DISNEY. Pretend you don’t already have tears in your eyes over toy deaths (can they even feel pain?), because they get rescued (whew), but you don’t realize the conclusion of this film is a one-two-punch until Andy brings his pals over to Bonnie’s house and finds Woody at the bottom of the box. He never meant to give away his best bud, but he gives a heart-wrenching speech about what makes Woody special: “He’ll never give up on you, ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.” Kids will take the speech at face value, but adultsespecially those who graduated college a month before this film’s release and have been thrust into the real world and are quickly realizing that it’s time to leave childhood behindwill take it for the lovely metaphor it is and may or may not find themselves ugly crying in a room full of strangers. So long, partner. ❤  Continue reading

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Five Favorite Authors

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US

This is insane. Why did I do this to myself? Asking a book lover to pick a favorite book is like Sophie’s Choice, but with way more children. Although I must admit, Queen Jo made that choice a bit easier over the course of the years. Same scenario exists with authors. While picking five (or 15) just a few years ago would’ve been a piece of cake, today it feels difficult. A cursory glance at my bookcase at home reveals how varied my tastes have become over the years: The magic of Harry Potter is nestled beside the garbage of Fifty Shades of Grey (which I bought based purely on buzz and couldn’t bring myself to read beyond the line “…and my very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba.”) Dan Brown’s mind-bending literary labyrinths join the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Frodo and Bella Swan share a shelf, for crying out loud. I suppose that’s how I was as a kid too. I could read Sweet Valley fluff one day and turn to the creep-tastic Goosebumps books the next. I’ll admit my tastes aren’t high culture, nor do they have very deep roots in classic fiction. I read Pride & Prejudice in college because, well, I felt like I should at least once and I wanted to cry every time I started a new chapter. I would throw my mass market paperback across the room and complain loudly to my roommates, “You can’t tell me people ever really talked like this! I need a dictionary just to get through a paragraph!” I felt like an uncultured swine—but I did finish it. I would watch Rory Gilmore tear through novel after novel and think, hmm, I’ve never read that. Or that. Nope. No again. Damn. I had to drop out of a Faulkner class because The Sound and the Fury made me want to rip my eyes straight from their sockets so I wouldn’t have to finish it. Anyway … Continue reading

Best Beach Books

I’m still over a month away from my St. Lucia vacation, but I’ve been compiling my reading list for months. Every time I go away, I have a suitcase for clothes and a carry-on for books. (“But Danielle, that’s why they created e-Readers!” NO.) My absolute favorite place to read is on the beach. Everything else melts away and you’re just left with the feel of the pages between your fingers and sand between your toes, the smell of salty sea air and fresh paper, and the sound of the waves crashing. It’s my happy place; nothing beats it—clearly, I mean, just listen to how dreamily I talk about it. I know I’m not the only one with this particular love in my life, otherwise authors wouldn’t launch new summertime novels so easily. (Many of these books are considered chick lit for obvious reasons, but that’s what makes them the best for nibbling on during a sunny afternoon.) When I take a glance at the bookcase in my bedroom, I can pinpoint specific vacations just based on the book spines. Below are a handful of favorites and my recommendations to anyone in need of a good beach read this season.

A Trip to the Beach by Melinda & Robert Blanchard
Read on a Carnival cruise, 2007

jpeg-4I don’t read many nonfiction books, but this one intrigued me. It’s the true story of a husband and wife team who decide to abandon mainland living to open the restaurant of their dreams on Anguilla and spend their days living on “island time.” It’s all steel drums and palm trees until a hurricane turns their lives upside down. Don’t read on an empty stomach; the Blanchards write with recipe descriptions so vivid, you can almost taste the words. Continue reading

FACE-OFF: YA Books VS. Movies

Screen shot 2014-04-22 at 11.20.58 AMAs an avid book lover, it’s quite hard for me to admit that sometimes—sometimes—movies can be better than their literary counterparts. Especially since I grew up insisting the opposite was true. While I do believe that books can bring more depth, detail, and development, there’s just something magical about sitting in a movie theater with ants in your pants, anticipation nearly killing you, as you wait to see a world that has thus far only lived inside your head come to life in loud and vivid color. When done correctly, it intensifies your adoration for those worlds, even the ones that will only ever exist in fantasy. When done badly, you’re forced to defend the essence of the story, because despite sitting through a cringe-inducing train wreck of a film, it’s still one of your favorites. It was incredibly hard to choose only five (which is why my honorable mentions are a mile long), but here are the page-to-screen transitions that I loved, hated, loved to hate, and hated to love. Continue reading

Book VS. Film: Divergent

Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 2.08.13 PMIt’s official; I have been sucked into the world of Divergent. I always do this. I ignore something as the buzz builds and builds, and when it finally reaches a deafening roar, I break down. I did it with Harry Potter, believe it or not. When my mom first brought the Sorcerer’s Stone home for me, I thought it looked silly. Flash forward 14 years and I’m sitting in a movie theater sobbing my heart out as a gigantic chunk of my childhood finally comes to an end. The Hunger Games: Not quite as dramatic, but still the same result. I resisted until maybe a month or so before the movie, then finally read the book, nay, the entire trilogy, in one weekend. And now I love it. So when everyone started talking about Divergent, I knew I would eventually have to grab the book, since I’m the type of person who simply has to read the book before seeing the movie.

I read it in 8 hours. I sat down the Saturday evening of the film’s opening weekend (March 22) and didn’t move until 3 a.m. Sunday afternoon, I was sitting in the theater. I saw it again this past weekend and subsequently read the entire second book, Insurgent. My plans for this coming weekend? Allegiant. Continue reading

5 Books That Influenced Me To Become A Writer

I loved books before I even know how to read them. My mother tirelessly read to me when I was little and instilled in me such a love of made-up stories that I was already excited to learn when I reached first grade. Naturally, writing followed. My teachers told me I had a gift and I enjoyed it so much, I just assumed they were right. I was eight when I wrote my first poem … nine when I attempted a short story … and ten when I decided that I wanted to see my name on a Barnes & Noble shelf someday. I had every intention of majoring in English when I got to college to pursue my dream of writing and publishing a novel. A high school intro to journalism class totally threw my life plans off-track, but in a good way. I hope my ten-year-old self wouldn’t be too mad at me. I’m still sharing stories, just differently, and I love it more than I could have hoped to when it came time to decide “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” Then again, I ain’t dead yet and publishing a book, either for kids, teens, or adults is still a dream. Here are five books (out of countless others) that inspired my love of the written word from childhood to adulthood. Continue reading

WATCH: The Fault In Our Stars Trailer

the-fault-in-our-stars-book-cover1fault-our-stars-movie-posterIf you know me, you know I love buzz. When I was living with my grandparents last year, I came home one day to find my aunt and cousins hanging out in the kitchen (not uncommon). My cousin had a book with her; she said they were reading it in school. “They’re making you read that in school? Isn’t it sad?” said my aunt. So naturally, I picked it up and skimmed the jacket as I do with most books I find in people’s possession. It definitely sounded sad. But when she was done with it, my cousin said it was amazing, so I vowed to give it a shot eventually. Months passed. Then I started seeing news floating around that it was going to be a movie, which instantly moved it to the top of my list. I rarely ever see a movie based on a book without reading the book first. Then it went head-to-head with Harry Potter in EW’s Best YA Novel of All Time bracket in November. It lost, obviously, but second place meant it must be pretty damn good. It even beat the girl on fire! Continue reading