If I Stay (2014) | Movie vs. Book Review

Release date: August 22, 2014
Runtime: 1 hr. 46 min. 
MPAA Rating: PG-13

I was originally going to do a separate book review of If I Stay, but since I'm burning through the sequel I thought I would do a double review once I'm done. Instead, today I'm going to tell you about the movie version I saw last week and how it compares to the book. If you've never heard anything about If I Stay, it's a story about a girl named Mia, who is in a coma after a car accident. She's having an out-of-body experience and must decide whether she wants to live or die. Both the book and the movie take place in two timelines: the current situation at the hospital and flashbacks to Mia's fairly recent past. The novel is a cryfest, and for those who have read it the movie will be a cryfest as well. The film is getting mixed reviews at this point, and I think its biggest issue is that it's made primarily for book fans. This isn't to say that it wouldn't resonate with non-readers, but I definitely think it makes more sense as an adaptation versus a standalone film.

Here is why I enjoyed the movie:

  • The casting is excellent: Chloë Grace Moretz does a stunning job as Mia and so do all of the other actors. The relationships and chemistry are very believable.
  • Most of the dialogue is taken straight from the pages of the book and it was great to hear the actors say the familiar lines.
  • The mood of the movie matches the mood of the book.
  • While there are some changes to the story, it's nothing major. If anything, those small unexpected details made it more interesting while the main plot points remained the same.

Do you notice a trend here? All of the things I liked are related to my book-reading experience. Now, if that was taken away, I'm not entirely sure what would I have picked up on. The solid acting and relationships? Definitely. But would the script have worked for me if I didn't know the detailed story? I don't know. One of the biggest issues I had with it was the fact that the film took a much more romantic approach, as if in the end all that mattered was Mia's relationship with Adam (her boyfriend). In film flashbacks their relationship is much more detailed than it is in the book and most of the story changes and additions have to do with the romance. What's cut from the story are Mia's non-Adam interactions and a lot of hospital time.

Here are the changes I wasn't a fan of:

  • In the book the ratio of hospital to flashbacks is pretty even—about 50:50. In the movie flashbacks are definitely the majority of what you see.
  • The film takes a less graphic approach to the whole thing. Starting with the initial accident and pretty much throughout the entire thing, this aspect is downplayed. Not that I need a lot of violence or anything, but part of why the book is so heartbreaking is the striking contrast between Mia's past life and the harsh reality of her present. 
  • Mia seems a lot more desperate for her relationship in the film than she is in the book. This has a lot to do with added details and scene changes, but even in general the two do not come off as equals (which they do in the book). Here it's a classic case of the guy being selfish and possessive, and the girl kind of just taking it.

So here is the thing: this isn't a bad movie. I actually thought it was pretty good as an adaptation and I definitely did my fair share of crying in the theatre. But it could have been so much stronger and it could have held its own as a film. It's a real shame it didn't.

Have you seen this movie and/or read the book? What did you think?

August 2014 Favorites: Hair, Makeup, Books and More!

Well, guys, this is it: August is almost over, which means it's time for autumn! Who's excited? I AM! But I'm getting ahead of myself here, let's talk about my August favorites. Since I skipped July favorites, I feel like I had a lot of new stuff to talk about, be that beauty or entertainment. I've stayed true to my love for bright lipsticks, switched shampoos, found a new foundation, and read some really good books. To hear m thoughts about all of these and more check out the video below! Have you discovered any exciting new things recently?

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Beauty Products Mentioned:

Other Stuff:

Five Things Friday: Five Product Face

Five Product Face

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We all have those days when we spent a little too much time enjoying our morning coffee, and before we know it there is barely enough time to do our makeup. Now, I know some people will put on some mascara and go, but that's just not how I roll: this is where I employ the skill I like to call "Look Like You Tried (when you actually didn't)", a.k.a. the Five Product Face. I think this look comes down to having a solid base that I know will hold up throughout the day and distracting people with bright lipstick. Here's what I do:

  • The Base: Cover FX CC Cream. I know, many of you are so over the whole "alphabet makeup" trend, and trust me, so am I. But this one is an exception: it's my perfect one step base. It leaves me with a finish that doesn't need to be powdered, gives me enough coverage to skip the concealer, and stays put the entire day (full review here). This CC cream has a pretty thick consistency, so what I like to do is roughly apply it with my fingers and then blend it with a dense brush. If something needs concealing, I just dab a little extra product on the spot and boom! All done with the base.
  • The Brows: Benefit Gimme Brow. Another one step product, because I'm really not about to start filling in my brows when I'm in a hurry. This is a tinted brow fiber gel, so it doesn't just keep my brows in place and adds a bit of color to lighter brow hairs—it also does some filling in along the way because the tiny fibers will stick to the skin as well. Now, this shade is a tiny bit dark for me (I use it in Medium/Deep), but I like that—it gives me that "statement brows" look (*cringe* I do not like that phrase) without it being drawn-on or wildly unnatural. Brow game strong!
  • The Eyes: L'Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black mascara. Forget eyeshadows—it's all about the lashes. The reason I like L'Oreal Telescopic as my only eye makeup is because I think really defined separated lashes are extra important when you're going liner-free: there is no winged liner or smokiness to hide any mascara imperfections. This one never gets clumpy on me, gives me lots of length and lets me build up some volume. 
  • The Cheeks: Physician's Formula Happy Booster Blush in Warm. This is something I change up depending on the lip color I'm wearing, but here are some guidelines: it must have a bit of shimmer and it must be a pink or a red (because nobody blushes in perfect coral or mauve). When I say "shimmer" what I mean is a bit of a glow—no glitter, please. The whole point here is for the blush to multitask by looking natural in both color and finish, but also give me a bit of dimension. The shimmer will make my cheekbones stand out and create a bit of a visual gradient effect.
  • The Lips: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Morocco. Standout lip color—the star of the show. This is what makes this look like a makeup for me and successfully fools people into thinking I have my life together at that point in time. Of course, if bright lipstick is not your cup of tea, you can apply a milder shade and still achieve the same effect. For example: a delicate pink will still make you look put together and give the illusion of a complete makeup without standing out too much. I do like going for a rich shade though because I think it gives this quick look a focal point, and what can be better than a bright red?

What does your makeup look like when you need to get ready in a hurry?

Nails of the Day: Julep Mia

Today's NOTD post is a bit of a surprise rediscovery. Remember when I posted about that Julep Maven Box I forgot to skip last December? Well, I was so excited about that purple-burgundy polish that I have completely ignored Mia—the green-tinted silver one. Then with the move to Chicago, it definitely got lost in in the depths of my nail polish collection until a couple of weeks ago, I was organizing my drawer and found it. I was definitely in the mood for metallic nails that day, so I though I should give it a try and I instantly fell in love—I have been wearing it non-stop ever since.

What I love about this nail polish is that it's actually metallic and almost has a foil effect to it. At the same time it's not glitter, so it's very easy to take off. This isn't one of those thin shimmery polishes either—I'm wearing two regular coats in the photo above and you can see it's fully opaque. Mia goes on smoothly, though the formula is little on the light and liquid side, and there really aren't any obvious brush strokes even if you're not very careful with it. Because of how shimmery the shade itself is, this polish also shows very little wear—any tip wear just blends in. Speaking of which, it last pretty well, since there is no chunky glitter or need for thick coats. I'm so glad I found this—Mia is a beautiful, quality shade!

Are you a fan of metallic nail polishes?

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You can check out Mia on the Julep Website. If you're interested in receiving the monthly Julep Maven box, you can register on their website and use the code FREEBOX to get your intro box for free. Take the Style Quiz to get started!

Products I've Used Up | Summer 2014

I can't believe it's been three months since I've done one of these! The summer is almost over, my empties container is overflowing, and that means it's time for me to tell you all about the products I've used up recently. This post is kind of dominated by LUSH, but if you saw my shower caddy you would not be surprised. Do you have a brand that overwhelms your bathroom when it comes to skin and body care?

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Products Mentioned:

Bath & Body Works candles in Black SandsCitron Cedarwood, and Limoncello
Batiste Dry Shampoo in Blush and Wild
Ahava Mineral Botanic Rich Body Butter in Hibiscus & Fig
LUSH Mask of Magnaminty
LUSH Let the Good Times Roll cleanser
LUSH Ocean Salt face and body scrub (my review and photos are here)
LUSH The Sacred Truth fresh face mask
LUSH Whoosh shower jelly (read my review here)
LUSH Sweet Lips lip scrub (discontinued)
LUSH American Cream hair conditioner
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream
Sabon Ocean Secrets Eye Cream
Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Toner
Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse
L'Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara
Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation
Blendercleanser Solid (check out full review here)

The Scents of Seasons Changing

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I know, I know, most of you are still trying to hang on to summer, but I am SO READY for fall. I can always tell when I'm sick of summer because suddenly I'm craving Pumpkin Spice... everything, looking for any sign of leaves changing, and eyeing my scarf collection. Autumn is very much a sensory journey for me and I notice a dramatic change in my scent preferences as my favorite season gets closer. Lately I've been swapping out my earthy and floral perfumes for spicier and sweeter scents, so I thought I would share what's currently getting me in the fall mood. 

First of all, I am welcoming last autumn's favorite: Midnight Fleur by NEST Fragrances (I have talked about it in more detail here). I think if someone made me pick one perfume favorite to wear for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. It's such a dark and sensual scent—I can never get enough of it. Amber, wood, vanilla, jasmine... I dare you to find a more perfect scent for fall!

Speaking of vanilla, it's definitely a major theme for me during the colder months and my poor beat up Vanillary Solid Perfume from LUSH has been my loyal companion for a few years now. If you are ever in need of pure warm vanilla goodness, look no further. What I love about this perfume is that it's not an artificial scent at all. Funny story, I actually thought I didn't like vanilla scents until I smelled this one—apparently I was just looking for the real deal.

Lastly, I have also been craving sharper berry scents, and in this department Victoria's Secret has my back. First of all, I'm loving their Pure Seduction Fragrance Mist for a body spray: the combination of red plum and freesia creates this a sharp, yet sexy scent. My other love is their Seduction Dark Orchid Eau de Parfum. The best way I can describe it is as a more complicated version of Pure Seduction. Out of everything that I've mentioned, this one is most definitely an evening fragrance: while it starts off as a fresh citrus and floral scent, it quickly transforms on my skin into something rich, spicy and warm. It's quite strong, so I definitely suggest walking around for a bit after spraying it in the store to make sure it's a fragrance that will work for you. Personally, I think it's pretty great.

So how about you guys? Are you ready for fall?
Do you have any favorite scents that you break out as the seasons start changing?

Ready Player One | Book Review

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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And now for something completely different... OK, not completely, but it has been almost two months since my last book review so maybe you guys have forgotten that I do these from time to time. I've actually finished Ready Player One at the end of July, but somehow never got around to doing a review until now. I have almost considered not doing one at all at this point, but this book is just too good to keep quiet about it. It's a sci-fi slightly dystopian adventure filled with nerdy references, sarcasm, unexpected drama and even some romance. Sounds like fun? That's because it is!

The story happens in the not-so-distant future, year 2044, in the time of quickly dwindling natural resources, poverty, violence—you know, our usual bright prospects. Within the first pages we find out about the death of James Halliday, an 80s-obsessed billionaire video game designer who created OASIS—an MMO virtual reality game that has pretty much taken over the world: from escapism to school and work this game is where the majority of people spend their time. James Halliday has hidden an easter egg somewhere within the huge world inside the game and whoever can find it first will inherit his entire fortune. At this point it has been 5 years since his death and nobody has been able to make any kind of progress, until our protagonist Wade Watts (known in the OASIS as Parzival) stumbles upon the first part of the puzzle and things start getting a bit crazy.

Now, I was a bit intimidated at first because I knew this book was going to be full of pop culture references, particularly from the 80s. As someone who grew up in the 90s (the best decade that ever was or will be) I was worried I wouldn't get the references and therefore not enjoy or understand the book, but I was wrong. First of all, I was surprised how much of them made sense to me simply because I've played video games, watched movies and heard some 80s music. But more importantly, not knowing the exact reference doesn't take away from the story in any way. Yes, knowing exactly what the author is talking about will make the book even more fun, but not knowing doesn't take away from the plot or the world—it just reads as a virtual fantasy world because Ernest Cline does an outstanding job setting the scene time after time.

I loved the characters because I felt like they were real people with distinct voices. Even though the story is told from first person POV, it was still easy to sense almost everyone's personality. I also really enjoyed the subtle messages this book managed to get through. I found it interesting that my attitude towards the OASIS changed throughout the book—my point of view grew along with the characters as I went from thinking "this is awesome" to "I would probably be addicted" to "it's probably a good thing we don't have this" and so on. The only thing I wished there was more of is the world outside the OASIS: most of the story takes place within the virtual reality and I was getting curious about how bad was it in the real world. But that's really a minor complaint and I'm still giving this book a 5 out of 5.

OK, I have a confession: I didn't actually read Ready Player One. Yes, I bought the hardcover to add to my collection, but I listened to it on Audible, narrated by Wil Wheaton, and guys: you MUST listen to it! Wil Wheaton is the most intense and engaging reader I have ever heard. EVER. He is brilliant and I sure hope he will narrate more books. I'm all for physical books and I like turning pages as much as any other bookworm, but why would you read something when you can listen to Wil Wheaton act it out for you?

This is a book I recommend to everyone, and I will keep recommending it until everyone I know reads (listens to) it. I have written this review, which I don't think is a short one, and yet I feel like I've barely even started to explain why Ready Player One is so great. You're just going to have to find out for yourself.

And for those who have read it: can we PLEASE make Flicksyncs a real thing?!