Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Popcorn Reviews: guitars, pajamas, and clockworks

Mini reviews! They're like 'fun-sized' candy. It's more fun when there are more than one.

I have no idea who this guy is, but he has popcorn.

Guitar Notes

 Tripp uses the guitar in the music practice room on odd days while Lila practices her cello in the same room on even days. When Tripp leaves his trash on the first day, Lyla writes him a note addressing the school's rules about throwing trash. And so commences a long exchange of notes and snarky comments from Mr. Odd and Ms. Even.

 I spied this at a Half Price Books and thought I'd give it a go. "It could either be cute or meh." It's a quick easy read, barely over 200 pages. It's kinda cute in an MG manner, despite being a little cheesy.

I always pick up books about musicians and guitarists hoping I'll find a good one. They always end up on the DNF list. I guess I'm just not looking at the right ones? But I was determined to finish Guitar Notes and I'm glad I did. Like I said, it was a cute read.

I relate to Lyla's problem of letting people walk on her. She had difficulty telling people what she wanted and speaking her mind. I had difficulty with that for a while and occasionally still do. (Irl life people don't like it when I start speaking my mind XD) I also love Tripp. His personality was sarcastic, funny, and nervous. Although he does get angsty. . . Seriously though, his mom took his guitar away. Who wouldn't get angsty? She wanted him to make more friends, but why doesn't she try to find some other guitarists his age to befriend?

Overall, though if you can overlook stiff narration and a touch of cheesy (but funny) dialogue and you want something quick, this is a good choice. I really liked the concept best, note exchanging between two musicians from different musical spheres.

The Boy in Striped Pajamas

Bruno has to move because his father has gotten a big important job. He doesn't want to leave his friends and his grandparents and their perfect house behind. Besides their new house is so small and there are no people nearby. Well, except for the people on the other side of the fence. Who are they? He might just go adventuring to answer his questions.

Wow. This book. I looked it up at the library a long, long time ago, and they didn't have it. But recently I was wandering the shelves, as I'm apt to do, and stumbled upon it. Of course I snatched it up. It's about a boy in Germany and his father is in charge of a prison camp for Jews. Bruno eventually befriends one of the boys from the camp.

"If you ask me, we're all in the same boat. And it's leaking." -- Bruno

But this book is told completely from the story of a nine year old boy. He has no idea what is truly going on around him. He can't even pronounce half the places and names properly. He is innocence in the cruel world of society and boxes.

Again, this is another quick read. You could probably read it in one sitting, which I would suggest if possible. I highly recommend this one. Just wow. Go read it! Goodreads

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Hugo runs the train station clocks alone. Ever since his father died, his uncle took him in. But now his uncle's disappeared too, and unless Hugo wants to be taken away to an orphanage, he must keep the clocks running as if his uncle was still here. He finds the machine he and his father had committed to fixing and perhaps if he studies his father's notebook he can fix on his own. When the toymaker Hugo's been stealing parts from takes his father's notebook, Hugo is sure he'll never be able to fix the machine. But what is wrong with the toymaker? And the girl who stops by the toy shop with her books?

This book was a delightful surprise. I loved the movie. When I found out it was based on a book, I've always wanted to read it. Again, this was another serendipity find. It is so thick though! I had borrowed it from the library with a huge stack of other books and procrastinated reading Hugo. Eventually, I made myself look through it to see if it was worth renewing. I didn't even realize it was illustrated. It was thick for a reason. The book weaves a story with a blend of both words and illustrations. And I loved the illustrations. It was like a silent film. The format of the text is a little odd. Sometimes there'll be a short paragraph on one page, or a single sentence with a lot of white space. Other times a few pages will be filled at a time without an illustration to break it apart.

The story is that of a filmmaker and magician. It's about a boy who fixes things with nimble fingers. It's about a girl who runs fast and loves books. It's about secrets and mysteries. It's about words and images. It's about a train station in Paris, France and the ghost who kept the clocks running.

I would definitely recommend this book. It's not a heavy read like The Boy in the Pajamas, but it is very sweet and the ingenuity of it is fun and intriguing. Goodreads

Have you read any of these? What have you been reading lately? And do you have any good recs with musicians?


  1. Oh, I love The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Automatons are SO cool.
    I'm currently re-reading The Hobbit... again.

    1. It is such a good book!

      Oo, The Hobbit! Always a good reread. :)

  2. Omg I loved The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. And by "loved" I mean I was ABSOLUTELY EMOTIONALLY TRAUMATISED FOR WEEKS AFTERWARDS. It really really affected me and omg I haven't even seen the movie because I think I'd be a wreck. (Fun fact: it also influenced a lot of my earlier writing hahha. Omg. That book. <3 </3)
    OH and did you know the same actor who plays Bruno in The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas plays Hugo Cabret in the movie?!
    And I hear ya about trying to find good music books. :( Why are they so hard to find omg?!? I did like If I Stay (cellist and guitarist) but I honestly can't think of many good other music-y books. WAIT. This Savage Song has a violin in it. And monsters. So much win.

    1. I know! It's just. . . Wow. Oh! The movie is soooo good though! Except there is zero resolution. It just ends and you're left sitting there wishing you had a shock blanket.

      I DIDN'T NOT! That is so cool! I was thinking there were similarities between the actors but my brain never thought to inquire further.

      Yes, Hugo Cabret movie is a favorite of mine. I wish I could find it to rewatch.

      Gah! Yes. What is with this? I DNF-ed If I Stay, but I might have to give it another try. Is it mildly suspicious that both If I Stay and Guitar Notes features a cellist and guitarist couple (as does the movie August Rush. . .). OH YES! I've heard of This Savage Song and I cannot wait to read it! Music and monsters!

  3. Those first two look really good! The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one I've been meaning to read for a while :)

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. Oh, yes! Read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It super good and you could probably read it in one sitting. Thank you!

  4. I loved Guitar Notes! I read it a few years back on a whim, just like you did, and it was just the cute contemporary I needed. It reminded me a lot like If I Stay, although I think Guitar Notes is for younger audiences unlike If I Stay.
    I haven't read The Invention of Huge Cabret, but I did love the movie and the author's other books. I love that he incorporates beautiful full page illustrations to tell the story on top of the text.

    1. PS: I don't know if you remember, but you posted this amazing Fictional Bucket List post in January and I was wondering if I could do my own version on my blog! It just seems like a lot of fun and I wanted to check if it was okay with you first!

    2. Yeah. It's definitely more MG geared. I read it on a vacation so it was just the kind of book I needed for a weekend road trip. :) It was cute, but I guess I was hoping for more? I don't know. I might try If I Stay.

      The movie is so good! My family thought it was weird, but I adore it. I haven't read any of the author's other works yet. I'm glad they're good though! His illustrations are beautiful!

      PS: YES! Go for it! I definitely don't own any rights to a fictional bucket list. I look forward to reading your post!

  5. I'm so glad to hear that you loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It's one of my favorites - both the movie and the book. Have you read any of the author's other books? Also have you seen any of Georges Méliès films? :)

    1. Yes! I love them both too! I've wanted to read some more from the author, but I haven't gotten to yet. After reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I went to the college to see if I could find some of Georges Melies films or a documentary or ANYTHING and I was sadly unsuccessful. I'll have to keep a look out.

    2. I first stumbled upon the silent movies at the college library, too. But, you can find some pretty decent playlists for his films on youtube:

    3. Oh! Cool! I'll definitely check those out. Thanks! :)

  6. Guitar Notes does sound like it would be kinda cute. It's not my type of book since I don't normally read YA contemporary, but it sounds like something I'd have enjoyed in the past.

    I didn't actually know what The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was about, but that sounds so interesting! Especially the way it's told from the boy's perspective and he doesn't even realize what's going on, but I'm sure it's written in a way that the reader obviously does.

    I had never even heard of Hugo Cabret, the movie nor the book. It sounds unique though and kind of quirky. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!

    1. It is, in an MG way. You kind of have to be in the right sort of mood to read it. XD I don't normally read contemporary either, but MUSICIAN BOOKS!


      Oh, do read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It's so good! And it's a quick read too. It's just impacting.

      You haven't?! The movie is really good! As is the book, which is even better. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I ADORED The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The movie made me cry, though. Like quite a bit. And it was such a short book, too, which was weird because it had such a huge impact.

    Funny story about Hugo. I bought it because it was so thick, and I hoped that it would take me more than a few days to finish it because I was quite a quick reader a few years ago. Imagine my horror as I opened it to find that half of it wasn't even words, but pictures. PICTURES. THE BOOK LIED. I finished it in like an hour. I'd like to read it again, and probably watch the movie. I've seen it once and enjoyed it, but that was like forever ago.

    1. Yes! It is so good! I love how it's so short and pithy. The impact is HUGE! *nods*

      Oh, that's funny! XD I wasn't expecting it to have picture either. The illustrations are awesome! I'm glad you liked it though. Oh, yes! Watch the movie again!

  8. Love Striped Pyjamas -- that book! my heart! It is so powerful and important. And the film's great too. I quite liked Hugo Cabret, though for me it was a lot more about the pictures than the words. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the story but it was the beautiful illustrations I loved, more than the story.


    "I have no idea who this guy is, but he has popcorn." That's frigging One Direction! Come on, my friend. XD

    1. It is an amazing book!

      I loved the illustrations of Hugo Cabret also! The story was kind of slow and there wasn't a lot of tension. But it was an enjoyable, low key read. The pictures though!

      Ooooh. I have NO IDEA what they look like. But that could be why he seemed a bit familiar? I might seen one of their album covers, once? I don't know. Aw, well.

  9. I need to read Hugo, it's huge but I saw a beautiful hardback of it, and had such a hard time not buying it.

    1. It is really beautiful, yes! You should read it. It's an easy, quick read. Most of it is illustrations. :D


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