Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares Review

image from Goodreads

image from Goodreads

I had wanted to read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan for a while, but I waited until Christmas break because I had heard it was a good wintertime read. Turns out it takes place in New York City at Christmas time, so my timing was perfect. The story centers around Dash, a moody teenage boy, and Lily, a high-spirited, eclectic girl, and their communications through a mysterious red notebook. Some people on Goodreads thought the book felt pretentious, and the plot was certainly not based on the most realistic version of reality, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the plot was adorable. It had just enough substance to make it more than simply a fluffy romance novel, all of the heart-warming joy of a YA romance novel with some extra plot sprinkled on. The characters were fun. I liked Dash, even if he was a bit pretentious. He sounded a lot like a real teenage boy, so he wasn’t perfect. Neither was Lily, who made a few frustrating decisions, but they were the kind of decisions I would probably make. Which is what made them frustrating. I was rooting for both characters the whole time though. They never made me hate them.

Overall, I enjoyed the plot. While there were plenty of clichés, the ending was not too cheesy. The ending is where most romance novels lose me. Because this book is about teenagers they get quite a bit of love advice, some of which felt almost too preachy, like the supporting characters where trying to point you towards a moral for the story. Like Dash and Lily, I mostly ignored them. But mostly, this book was a fun read. The characters are loveable and I didn’t take it too seriously, so I enjoyed it.

If you would like to friend me on Goodreads, my username is MyNameRhymes. I’d love to see what you are reading.

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Contra Dancing Out of My Comfort Zone

One of my every-year resolutions is to get out of my comfort zone. I can’t let myself get too settled into a routine, or I will never try anything new. So last week, when I saw the signs advertising contra dancing, I thought that sounded like a great adventure. Except none of the people I asked were planning on going. Just as it looked like my plans were ruined, a friend asked if I would like to go with her and her friends. Although I hadn’t really met her friends before, I decided to give it a try anyway. It turned out to be a good time. Contra dance, according to Wikipedia, is a patterned folk dance style with two lines of couples. These couples form squares or “hands four” and progress up or down the line. The dances are “called”, meaning a “caller” stands at the front of the room and announces the steps in time to the music. Before each dance the caller would go through and explain each step. This was a relief to everyone who had never tried contra dancing before, like myself. When I asked others what Contra dancing was going to be like, the standard response was “like square dancing, but more fun”. I found this to generally be true (no offense to square dancing). Many of the calls were the same as square dancing, which helped me not feel so lost. To describe what it looked like, however, I would reference movies like Pride and Prejudice, when they have the country-dances. This made more sense after I did a little research. Turns out contra dances developed directly from English country-dances that came to the United States with the English settlers. How cool is that? Mostly what contra was was a lot of fun. It was a very low-stress dance environment, and everyone was just there to let loose and enjoy themselves. I was so glad that I didn’t let fear keep me at home. Normally not knowing exactly what I am going to do or whom I am going with would make me really uncomfortable, but I ended up having a great time and making some new friends. Next week there is another dance being held in the area, and I am going to try to go.

image from Wikipedia Commons

When was the last time you did something out of your comfort zone? What was it?

Frozen Review (Spoiler Free)

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(image credit: hitzoneonline.com)

          I recently saw Disney’s new animated princess movie, Frozen, and loved it. Frozen had all of the elements of a good Disney movie: fun songs, a cute story, and plenty of magic. There were also the typical “sidekick” characters of Olaf, the snowman, and Sven, the reindeer. Olaf was especially fantastic. I thought he was hilarious and totally sincere. It was really nice to see a character that adults could laugh at, but who wasn’t just grumpy or cynical. And he wasn’t portrayed as stupid. I loved him. Sven could have been really annoying and talkative, but he wasn’t. He was cute without saying a word. The two sisters, Anna and Elsa, were amazing. I loved watching their relationship and thought they both felt very human.

            Anna, even though she was a princess in a magical far away land, she was still written very much like a typical teenage girl, albeit confronted with extraordinary circumstances. She was awkward and naïve and adventurous, but her heart was in the right place. While I didn’t feel as much of a personal, I am you, I know how you feel, connection with Elsa, she was still an interesting, dynamic character with great depth. Idina Menzel was phenomenal and gave a powerful performance both acting and singing. My only criticism was more of a personal thing. Her voice is so distinctive that when Elsa was singing I was still picturing Idina in my head.  It is just something I had to get over, that was all.

            One thing I couldn’t get over was how stunning all of the visuals were. I saw it in 2D, because I don’t like paying for 3D. I did not feel like I was missing out on anything. There were very few “this is in 3D” moments.  The snow and ice graphics were breathtaking. My favorite thing, however, was probably the costumes. I have always been and always will be a sucker for princess dresses and, boy, was this movie full of them. Inspired by traditional Norwegian dress and full of intricate patterns and details, I thought every outfit was spectacular. My personal favorites were Anna’s coronation dress, which I wanted to steal and put in my own closet, and Elsa’s icy dress, which was sparkly and completely fabulous. Everything about the costumes in this movie were right out of my personal fashion fairytale. I even loved the costumes of the background characters.

             I’m sure by now you’ve heard someone say how much he or she liked the music, and that is because the music is incredible. All of the songs make you want to sing along. Song writing team Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez did a fantastic job capturing what makes Disney songs so loveable. I only wish there would have been a few more songs. The movie was only an hour and 25 minutes, so there was room for another song or two. Plus, Jonathan Groff, a Tony-nominated Broadway singer, only got one piddly little song. Seems like a waste. The existing songs, however, have been playing on repeat on my Spotify account. Wait until you see the movie, or the songs will give away the plot.

            I want to try to keep this review free of spoilers, but the less you know going into this movie the better. With that disclaimer, I thought the plot was really interesting. I would have loved some more backstory on some of the characters, though. I was not sure how the trolls fit in or where exactly Kristoff came from, even though they were introduced at the very beginning. I did love the interesting dynamics between the introverted and extroverted characters.  Overall it was the kind of story both kids and adults could like, and kept me highly entertained, so that is what mattered to me.

          Really, I could go on and on about how much I liked the music or characters or costumes, but you should just go see it for yourself.