Book

XXXVI: Angels Can't Swim: A Novel (Review)

Written by: Alexandra McCann
Published by: Kindle Direct Publishing


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What a book.

When I received the offer to review this book, I was apprehensive. Mainly because I am very picky about what I choose to leisure read since I rarely, if ever, get the opportunities to read for fun. But, once I got into it, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

This book follows the lives of the three main characters: Jenna, Maggie and Eden who are college swimmers ranging from not-too-shabby to absolutely amazing at the sport. But, apart from that aspect of their lives, they're tackling other monsters that threaten to change the lives that they've grown comfortable with.  

As Far As Length Is Concerned:

I actually read this book while flying from California to Colorado, so, for those of you that have made that flight, you know that that’s a short and sweet read on a short and sweet flight (thank you Southwest). 

The book is 100 pages total and 16 chapters long. It is definitely a short read, but it covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. 

My Initial Thoughts:

When I started the book, I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t stick. I thought that I just wasn’t going to get into it. Alexandra McCann has a style of writing that is different from anything else that I am used to, so it was very tough for me to see past that. 

I thought that the structuring throughout the chapters was oftentimes confusing (which is why I initially thought that I wouldn't make it through). What I mean here is that, a chapter would start from one character's perspective and then three dots would appear and the topics would drastically change, or all three characters would randomly be included in the new storyline altogether. It was initially off-putting but, once I made it to the end of the book, it seemed more worth the read than when I started. 

Another thing that threw me off originally was that fact that, in the chapters, the stories seemed to be from a weird perspective. One minute, it would be from the perspective of the lead character of the chapter and the next minute, it'd be the perspective of a removed narrator. It confused me a bit, but I could see the difficulty in writing from different perspectives (first person vs. third person vs. omniscient). It seems like a confusing process of writing and editing, but, once learned, it would definitely come in handy for future works. 

But, apart from that, my thoughts went straight to the themes introduced! 

The Standout Themes:

This book covered a number of themes. It definitely did not do in-depth discussions on the themes, but, it did enough to support each character’s storyline and give the reader the understanding that they required. 

Maggie was a Christian-raised character that struggled after finding what she thought was love, losing it, and ending up with an unexpected surprise that would forever change her life.

Jenna was an all-star with a tight-knit relationship with her swim coach, who internally struggled with a need to be loved, accepted and wanted which ended with her in more trouble than what she initially bargained for. 

And Eden was a young woman struggling with the ideas of what a woman should be and who a woman should love. Her life took a huge 180 spin when she discovered the one thing that would change her thoughts, attitude and perspective -- therapy.

Somehow, within 100 pages, Alexandra McCann managed to intertwine three different worlds all while discussing friendship, religion, love, unplanned pregnancy, family dynamics, sexuality, mental health, and inappropriate relationships that oftentimes occur behind the scenes on collegiate sports teams.

Tips, If Any, To The Author On Her Next Book:

Because I am not an author of this sort just yet, I don't really have any tips for Ms. McCann. I believe that publishing a work of art like a book, for instance, is an amazing and enormous task, and it's one that I haven't yet taken on (although I have been in the process of writing for years now).

I cannot relate on this level of artistry just yet, so I can only congratulate the author on, first, writing the book, and second seeking out publishing options, and then finally PUBLISHING HER BOOK. 

Overall, I think that this work is amazing. It will be another helpful work for the LGBT community, as well as the mental health advocates. 

Alexandra, congrats on this amazing feat! You did a great job.  

XXXV: Book Versus Movie - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

As you may already know, given my summer reading list post, I have had a couple of "good reads" just sitting and festering away in my GoodReads online bank. So, given the fact that I had a month off from law school, which never happens, I wanted to take this opportunity to read for pleasure and not in the name of all things Socratic. This will be, not so much a review, but my opinion on the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the movie Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone.

The Book

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I do have my complaints about it, but overall, I really enjoyed it. Of course I watched the movie before reading the book, but I watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone much less than I watch the newer Harry Potter movies, so I really didn't remember a lot of what I read in the book, nor did I remember much of what I re-watched after reading the book. 

My first impressions of the book were those of amazement. As a Creative, I always wonder how and where other Creatives find the inspiration for some of the flooring creations that they come up with. How J.K. Rowling thought up a story this intricate and insanely brilliant is beyond anything I'll probably ever be able to do!

Minds like these are the ones that I'm interested in most. She didn't get this school of thought because of her "difficult background", she got it because she had a gift and she honed in on it, trained it and perfected it. But, anyway, let me get to the actual reading:

So my overall thoughts on the layout of the book were that the chapters and chapter titles were the perfect roadmaps to what was to come. Ms. Rowling did an excellent job of keeping the book organized and sticking to each topic that she started in each chapter. Now, as a student and a blogger, this is amazing to me. I normally start a paragraph, and by the end of it, I forget the topic of my paragraph completely because I've gone off on so many tangents that the meaning was lost in the minutiae! This does not seem to be a problem for J.K. Rowling at all. Her chapters were so well focused that there's is no way the outline of this book wasn't the most solid part of her creation process. 

Another great thing about this book is that she was able to imagine up precise characters. In many of the books that I read, when we get a description of a character, we get a partially in-depth description. But, in this book, we get more than enough information to be able to read the book and all come up with the same mental picture of what characters like Hagrid and Malfoy would look and sound like. This was then translated to the characters that we saw in the movies. And, of course, I have been primed by the movies to see the characters as they are in the movies, but J.K. Rowling described Hagrid's character (for example) exactly as he was casted and I found that to be amazing. When we read the book, I am sure we all had a general idea of what each character would look like and I am sure that our general ideas are all pretty much the same based on her vivid descriptions. 

The descriptors for this book were on point, the plots were not rushed and the story is intricate through and through. Overall, the book was amazing! 

My only complaint, however, is that the book was very busy. It seemed exhaustive! It's like Harry Potter never sat down and chilled at all and so the reader was also stuck on this rollercoaster of ups and downs each page, chapter, and minute.

The Movie

I thought that the book jumped around a bunch (even though the chapters were well organized within themselves), but that the movie jumped around just the right amount. Even though the book and the movie follow each other very well, when reading, it just seems so spastic as opposed to how it feels while watching the actual movie. Now, don't get me wrong, it is clear that she outlined all of this, but while reading the book, it seems as though we are literally jumping hurdles from one chapter of action to the next. I was exhausted reading the book. I literally thought, 'So, Harry Potter, just doesn't ever sit down and chill?', and the answer is NO, he doesn't based on both the book and the movie. 

Either way, my favorite part about the movie was the soundtrack! John Williams has done it again and I am such a huge fan. The fact that a whole world to match the imagery of the book was introduced with music to match the magic really blows me away. Everything about all of the Harry Potter movies exudes excellence and honestly, it only got better with time. Each year that they released a new movie, there was something new and amazing about it. It's like the cast and crews of each movie were learning and applying nonstop up until the final movie. 

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The reveal of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was epic. The camera pans you over this mystical and beautiful landscape of the castle and the surrounding waters and it is a scene that you will not soon forget. The traveler in me says that this is a building that you wouldn't find unless you are visiting Germany, France or Denmark. Everything about it, inside and out, is displayed as beautiful, vast and phenomenal. 

Which Do I Prefer?

For this first book, I actually prefer the movie. Although the author of the book was very clear with the imaginary that she wanted the readers to envision, I saw the biggest art form with this series in how this book was brought to life on the big screen! 

Why? 

Something about the cast, the soundtrack, and the visuals still takes my breath away, and now I'm just at a point where I don't want to give that up and go back to just having the book. 

But Wait, There's More!

How on earth did John Williams create the infamous Harry Potter theme song and ever-so-memorable soundtrack? If the comparison for creativity started with John Williams, then I'd have not a creative bone in my little, sad body!

Think of a movie with an amazingly memorable soundtrack (that is not filled with pop music) and I can bet you a shiny penny that said soundtrack was composed by John Williams. Just to name a few, he's created magic in: 

Jaws

Jurassic Park

Harry Potter

Star Wars

Superman

Dracula

E.T. 

Indiana Jones

Home Alone

I could go on because the list of his accomplishments is literally never-ending, but I am sure you get the point. The man has created literally all of the themes that have been stuck in your head for decades. I'm such a fan! 

Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.
— Albus Dumbledore