July | Coffee Table Thursday

9:23 AM

If I had to describe this month's Coffee Table Thursday in one word, I'd use eclectic. A mixture of teen mystery/romance, science fiction, and some Real Housewife kind of drama. 

1. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

As promised, I finished China Rich Girlfriend pretty early in July - the long awaited sequel to Crazy Rich Asians. Kevin Kwan writes you into this affluent world right beside his erratic characters. 

In the sequel, Rachel Chu and Nick Young are finally away from his insane family, and are definitely planning on getting married despite Nick's mother and Ah Ma's wishes that he'd just make her his mistress if he must. 

But Eleanor Young hasn't given up hope that she's lost her son completely, and decides to weasel her way back into his life, and his new bride's. Eleanor somehow stumbles into Rachel's real father, a wealthy, well known politician with a wife and son. 

In true crazy fashion, Eleanor arrives at her son's wedding unannounced and brings Rachel's father. After all, they've got a lot of catching up to do. With a new father, Rachel also gets a new brother, Carlton. And Carlton's socialite girlfriend Colette, who makes the Kardashians and the Hiltons look dirt poor in comparison. 

Oh yeah, and we finally get to find out what's happening with Bernard Tai and Kitty Pong, like why he's been completely MIA. 

Not only is Rachel and Nick's world turned upside down with the arrival of her father, but Astrid's marriage troubles aren't completely over yet. Ever since her husband's company mysteriously made a fortune and he became rich enough to be acceptable in her family's eyes, the money has definitely gone to Michael's head. Astrid finds more comfort in Charlie Wu's emails and phone calls, oblivious to the fact that her first love is still in love with her. 

Verdict: A whirlwind of drama, gossip, and love, the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians did not disappoint.  Just as entertaining and enthralling as the first one. 

2. Paper Towns by John Green

After seeing the first teaser trailer for John Green's newest book-turned-movie, I was really intrigued and decided to give the book a shot. I tried reading The Fault in Our Stars, but I got really bored with it and couldn't even bring myself to finish it. 

The first half of the book reminds me of this modern generation's The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Meet Quentin Jacobsen, a slightly awkward, not-the-most-popular kid in high school. Also meet Margo Roth Spiegalman, Q's neighbor and the girl he's "been in love with" since they were little kids.  Margo Roth Spiegalman is definitely someone you don't want to cross unless you want your relationship with her sleeping with the fishes. 

As children, Q and Margo are in a nearby park where they discover a body of a man who shot himself. While Q was unnerved by the situation, Margo seemed more calm and handled it better than most nine-year-olds. This seems to be Q's last memory of Margo before they drift apart and later move on to high school. 

But Margo Roth Spiegalman comes back into Q's life just before graduation. She wants him to be her getaway driver, because's she on a revenge mission to teach her boyfriend and "friends" a lesson. 

They spend the entire night and early morning running around Florida, throwing catfish into people's cars, shaving off people's eyebrows, and breaking into Sea World. 

It's a couple of days later that Margo's reported missing, and it does not go unnoticed by anyone in school. Q becomes obsessed with finding where she's off to, because this isn't unusual behavior for Margo. She likes to leave clues and make a game out of people finding her, or at least figuring it out after she comes home.

But this time is different. 

Q is lead on a hunt to analyze Walt Whitman poems and learning all about paper towns, subdivisions.   Scared, he believes that Margo is leaving suicide notes and that the only way he'll find her is if she is already dead. 

This assumption leads to a spontaneous 24 hour road trip to New York on the day of his and his friend's high school graduation, where they hope to finally find Margo. 

Some of my favorite quotes/passages: 

Margo managed to speak in her usual manic soliloquy without answering my question. "Did you know that for pretty much the entire history of the human species, the average life span was less than thirty years? You could count on ten years or so of real adulthood, right? There was no planning for retirement. There was no planning for a career. There was no planning. No time for planning. No time for a future. But then the life spans started getting longer, and people started having more and more future and so they spent more time thinking about it. About the future. And now life has become the future." 
- Pg. 33

It is so hard to leave - until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world. 
- Pg. 229

Verdict: I had conflicted emotions about this book. While I loved Q and his friends and how easily they were to relate to, the more I thought that Q wasn't really in love with Margo but obsessed with the idea of her and finding where she was. I was really disappointed in the ending, I felt that it was left hanging in the air for the reader to guess about. But, I thought it was worth the read. Skip TFIOS, and make this your first John Green book. 

3. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 

I have been in love with dinosaurs since I was a little girl. I don't even think I was in school yet. I just remember telling everyone I wanted to be a paleontologist and I still wish I could be one. 

Of course when I was little I never knew that Jurassic Park was first a novel, and when I found out I certainly wasn't old enough to read it and fully comprehend it. I remember getting this book in the sixth grade, and being so stunned at the curse words and scientific information that poured form this book. Since then, almost ten years ago, I've read this book a million times. Every time I read it, I learn something new. This is a book I will never get tired of. 

And so, unless you live under a rock with no human contact whatsoever, you know the general idea of the novel if you have seen the movie. 

I like to separate the two from each other. Sure, the movie is based off of the novel, but in this case the book is so much more than dinosaurs on a remote island! If you like the bold information, you need to read the book. It explains why Dodgson wants the embryos, why Nedry is fed up with Hammond and InGen. 

The movie translation was definitely a little more radical than a literal interpretation. A lot of characters were condensed, and Grant and the kids had a little more of a tough time in the park compared to the little that was shown in the movie. Lex is actually younger, and Tim is the older one and who helps put the security systems back on. 

Romance wasn't needed, because all Dr. Sattler was to Dr. Grant was a graduate student. Hammond was more of an evil Walt Disney than the charming dreamer, and Muldoon was somewhat of a Burt Gummer meets dinosaurs. 

Not to mention the ending of this novel leaves you hanging and overthinking everything, which is why I'm so glad Crichton wrote a sequel. 

Verdict: Of course you should read this. If you truly love the movie, go pick up a copy of the book. I loved mine so much that it's basically falling apart, and I've had to tape it back together millions of times in between each read. B&N has a 25th anniversary edition in their paperbacks section for $10.

4. The Lost World by Michael Crichton

I used to have a battered copy like the first book that you see, but that one was actually so much more worse that it had to thrown away because it was starting to lose some pages. 

I find that a lot of people aren't a huge fan of the movie adaption, but I have this weird thing about sequels and sometimes love them more than the first. 

While I absolutely love the second book (definitely more than the movie, but I always love the books more), the movie is what I would call a radical transition. The plots differ from each other, and this book plays more around with extinction and evolution rather than moving animals off the island to make a theme park in San Diego.

Dodgson plays a bigger role, which I thought was entirely missed even with Ludlow as the new villain for the movie. Dodgson has a team of two other men to help him collect eggs to patent the dinosaurs from Isla Sorna, where InGen used it as a kind of manufacture plant before they moved the animals to Isla Nublar. 

On Isla Sorna, the dinosaurs have flourished into a true Mesozoic era ecosystem. Malcolm returns with his colleagues, Dr. Richard Levine, Dr. Sarah Harding, and Doc Throne, as well as Thorne's researcher and assistant Eddie. Dr. Levine's middle school students, Kelly and Arby, stow away on the research trailers when the adults go looking for Levine when he leaves early for the expedition. 

I was highly upset that Dr. Levine's character was morphed with Sarah Harding, because Levine is one of my favorite Jurassic Park characters. He's a spoiled rich kid, but he's a smart spoiled rich kid. And he's immersed in learning and studying these creatures. He's really what Grant would have called a teacup dinosaur hunter. 

Eddie Carr's character is also morphed with Doc Thorne, an engineer who makes the field equipment for Levine and Malcolm. You can't help but really love Doc Thorne and his ability to stay cool under pressure. 

While I love Sarah Harding in the movie, Sarah Harding is even more of a feminist bad ass in the novel. She also let's Kelly know she can do whatever she wangs, and if she doesn't know right now, that's okay. 

Arby and Kelly were morphed into the same person for the movie, making Kelly Malcolm's daughter. Both highly intelligent seventh graders, they want to help find Levine and go against the other adults permission to sneak on the trailers's. Arby hacks into InGen's old security network, and the two become more helpful than the adults ever thought they would be. 

What I think both movies failed to produce was an accurate depiction of Malcolm on morphine. While he wasn't a paleontologist, he was the mathematician to predict everything would go horribly wrong. In both novels, Ian Malcolm gets highly philosophical and profound when he's on morphine. He comes to these giant, much needed conclusions that really make you think about life. 

Verdict: I have a special place in my heart for this book. I can never seem to put it down. Thank you, Mr. Crichton, for creating my two favorite books and opening my imagination to an entirely new world. 

I of course had to show you guys my disappearing dinosaur mug that Charlie got for me! I drink tea in it every night, especially when I'm reading about dinosaurs.

What have you guys been reading this past month? 

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