Monday, 5 November 2012

Film Adaptations of Books

It's always a double-edged sword when your favorite book becomes a movie. You want to see it on the big screen, but you fear how much of the original story has been altered. Here are a few of my favorite and least favorite film adaptations of books I've read.

The Good

1. Sense & Sensibility- Ang Lee's version of this classic Jane Austen novel is one of my favorite film adaptations. The scenery is beautiful and exactly how I imagined it. The script didn't stray far from the original and the casting was perfect. Even Hugh Grant was well cast as Edward. The costumes were my favorite part of the film. They managed to capture the whimsy of that time and you felt like the novel had burst to life.

2. Charlotte Gray- While they altered aspects of the original book, I really liked the actors they hired and the cinematography was beautiful.

3. The English Patient- The film version is so starkly different that it works better than the novel ever did. They changed all the right aspects and the acting was spot-on. It's one of those oscar-nominated films I felt was worth all the hype.

The bad

1984- The acting was camping, the story had been cut to shreds that it lost any real sort of meaning and the directing was choppy at best. They should have just left it alone.

A hand-maiden's Tale- The movie was so bad that not even Robert Duvall could save it. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

So many books to read.

Books that I am currently reading:

City of Fallen Angels
Game of Thrones-Book 1
Harry Potter Book 4
What about goodbye--Sarah Dessen

Books I want to read once I'm done with those:

Harry Potter Books 5-7

The rest of the Fever series (assuming book 1 is readable

I think my read-box will be so much longer this year primarily due to this blog. 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

NaBloPomo entry 3

My literary pet peeve: Abusive relationships that are glorified.

It didn't even register to me when I was younger, but as I've grown older this has become more and more troublesome to me. Who are the worst offenders imo:

1. Tolstoy- Anna Karenina is just rife with the dysfunction. It's hard for me to take the love story seriously because it just made me cringe the majority of the time.

2. Emily Bronte. Wuthering heights is a great example of a bad love story that is glorified to insane proportions. Kathy and Heathcliff are not a great love, they are not even a tortured love. They just don't belong together. They bring out he worst in each other. She's insufferable and He's a brooding asshole that needs to stay away from the female gender. His obsessive personality is also very off-putting.

3. The chick who wrote the Bronze Horsman. As I put in an earlier review, the relationship between Tania and pretty much everyone in her life is toxic and abusive to some extent. The physical violence that Alexander inflicts on her is not romantic. The parental abuse she suffers is not compelling. It's just a horrible message laced in OTT writing.

Friday, 2 November 2012

NaBloPoMo post 2

I wouldn't be a book nerd if I didn't have an entire pile of books in every corner. There are titles that I want to get to and haven't. Titles haven't reread in ages. So, what is my most treasured book or books?

I can't really pick a favorite, but these are well-worn titles that hold a special place in my heart.

1. Charlotte's Web. I have had it for years and kept it so I could read to maya and soon they will be passed on to the boys

2. Mansfield Park- Ahh Fanny Price, how I love thee. I can never seem to get enough of this girl.

3. Jane Eyre- My favorite gothic novel. I've read it more than 10 times and when I'm feeling in the mood I pick it up and re-read. It's especially good on a rainy spring day.

4. Three Cups of Tea-this is pretty much who I want to be. This man learnt so much about being a teacher, being an outsider and learning to respect other cultures

5. No Logo- I have the original copy signed by Naomi Klein whom I met at her at a Book Signing. She's kind of my hipster-activist spirit animal. A girl who believed you can never be too young or too old to fight the Man. The only female journalist allowed into Fallujah and one of a few Jewish journalists respected by Palestinian and other Muslim activists. I can drown on about why I love these titles.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

NaBloPoMo Entry 1

On the suggestion of I am going to participate in NaBloPoMo which is basically posting everyday on your blog. I know I'm kind of slack, but the literary nature of my blog sorta limits me, I'll try my best.

So, today I want to talk about my favorite childhood series: The Hardy Boys.

1. I think I read book 5--the original 1950s-- when I was 8 or 9. I loved the adventure that the boys would have. I am seriously thinking of trying to find the original series for a good reread.

2. Nancy Drew. How can one really be a fan of the Hardy Boys and not like the intrepid Nancy Drew. She was funny and awkward and so fucking annoying. I am convinced Veronica Mars is based on her

3. Sweet Valley High--Ahh Jessica and Elizabeth. Who hasn't read this series? It was so cheesy and full of soapy drama that kids shouldn't be reading this drama. Although, I found Jessica fun, I always felt for Elizabeth. She was my spirit animal for so long.

4. The Encyclopedia Brown Books. Although this wasn't really a series per se, just individual cases starring the same kid, I think it still counts. I just loved it. I blame my addiction to spoilers on these books because I loved the interactive nature of the books and how you got to make choices alongside him.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Gone Girl Done Gone Cray Cray

Gone Girl-Gillian Flynn

This novel was a difficult read because the characters challenge you to like them. I am the type of reader that likes to be able to relate to at least one character in a book. Gone Girl makes this difficult because Amy and Nick are innately unlikable people. The are moments when you feel for the missing girl and other times where you are totally on Nick's side. Flynn's dialogue and writing style manages to make you want to keep reading even if you just want to throw the book in the trash. It's like watching a movie about people you really don't like, but you still can't keep your eyes off the screen. Flynn definitely takes you on a twisted journey into a very disturbed marriage. This novel gives one insight on a relationship between two people who have been putting on faces for each other. Flynn embarks on a discussion of relationships, sexuality and modern gender relations. Are all women merely pretending to be what men desire in order to win over the man they love. What happens when they stop pretending? Can we still be worthy of love. Amy has an extreme reaction to a heart-breaking reality. I'm not going to tell you what that is, but it would give away too much. This novel is like reaching inside the mind of a psychopath and sociopath. Can too crazy people build a life together or should they be together simply to save others from their insanity.

The Amy you are presented with at the beginning of the novel while flawed is still somewhat relatable, but 
as the author peels away her layers and you are introduced to the real Amy  you'll be shocked at who she really is. Nick has moments where you just want to hug him until you realize that he's been lying to the audience much like he lies to everyone in his life. The truth of who he is makes you wonder how anyone is capable of loving this man or if he is even capable of loving himself. Some of the more interesting themes in this novel include the construction of media images. The media plays such a key role in how Nick's image is framed and even makes the reader start to doubt his innocence. The author even pokes fun of Nancy Grace and her rabid desire to go after anyone who looks even remotely guilty. The representation of midnight vigils and the public desire to intrude on the lives of people they cannot truly understand. The author makes you wonder who is really crazy: the potential victim or the potential murderer.
The book is worth reading because it definitely challenges the reader to question how we see the world, 
marriage, the media and crime.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Talk of the town

A part of me is a little embarrassed to admit my love of romance novels, but they have been a part of my reading habits since I was a teen. While I enjoy the classics and YA, there is that part of me that still loves reading a good romance novel. Talk of the Town was an enjoyable read. It didn't deal with anything to heavy, but it's well written enough and covers all the typical cliches without running them through the ground. Roxie Tremayne decides to drastically change her looks after discovering that her divorce. She happened to catch her ex in bed with a man (the man was wearing her negligee). Her brother shows up and lets her know that their mother, the controlling Lilah Tremayne is ill, so they go back to their hometown of Glory, North Carolina. They bring along, Roxie's outspoken maid who may be the only one that can truly handle the ailing Lilah. On their way into town, they are stopped by Nick Sheppard (who also happens to be Roxie's ex). Nick is a former bad boy turned town sheriff. What makes this story interesting isn't the obvious romance between Nick and Roxie, but the group of oddballs that surround them. Nick's aunt clara and her murder mystery club which is really a gathering of elderly potheads. The group stumble upon what might be a legit murder. The dialogue will leave you in stitches and the murder mystery club is hilarious. There is nothing funnier than a group of elderly potheads addicted to CSI. They mystery subplot is nothing short of hilarious. The budding (or should I say continuing) romance is cute and is paralleled quite nicely by the one with the former Sheriff and Roxie's mother. Tundy is an excellent addition and the only person truly capable of handling the prickly Lilah. This is not a harlequin, but a well-written and smart romance. I definitely recommend it, if you're looking for something light to read. It's a great beach read.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

I wanted to pimp a fellow blog run by two of my friends Susan and Shauna.

The Sister's Tale

They both are very witty and charming and avid readers of YA.

Friday, 14 September 2012

BBAW Day 4: Pimp That Book

I seem to be so behind my reading that it's really hard for me to pinpoint one book that hasn't already been recommended by others. I'm currently in the middle of reading Harry Potter while juggling my ever expanding list of books I want to read. So, the book I'm go to pimp is a little unusual because it's not fiction.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.

 It's basically about this man who goes to Afghanistan to help build schools, but the prose is so rich it almost feels like he's weaving a fictional tale. But, its an insight into a country and world that is so easily judged. I read this a few years ago and when I'm feeling philosophical, I pick it up and reread my favorite passages. It really is a wonder and it's the book I've chosen to pimp. The really cool thing about this book is that the there is a website devoted to this book. It's really inspiring and I'll stop now.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

BBAW Day 3

Book Blogging Awareness Week Day 3: What book blogging means to me

This is a little difficult for me to explain because it's really a new experience for me. In the past, I've always talked about books with family and friends or would jot down thoughts in my personal journal. When I first got an lj I would often do quick reviews on there, but I've never had a blog or journal devoted soley to books and the act of reading until recently. It's quite a refreshing experience. I feel like I don't have to necessarily hold my tongue and can be honest about my own personal reaction to the novel/book. I've been doing this now for less than a year and honestly I love it. It's introduced me to a whole new world. The mere act of writing down my thoughts to share with other book lovers is cathartic. I've also begun to meet other bloggers or discovered that some of my friends have blogs or want to start one. It's been fun and I am hoping to keep at it.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Interview Swap

I interviewed Gina from

How long have you been blogging?

Four years. Wait. What? OMG! My fifth anniversary is coming up in January! 

What is it about YA that appeals to you most?

Most of the YA I read is thick and clean with well developed worlds and characters. They're also fun and quick.

You have a really interesting url, where is it from?

A book. ;-)  A Book Dragon by Donn Dushner. A dragon shrinks when he stops eating and survives to modern time in a box with a Book of Prayers, protecting it from bugs and ends up in a modern bookstore that he protects. Fun, quick read, fighting for what is right against bullies of all kinds.

What benefits have you received from being a book blogger?

Friends! Free books! My reading tastes have been expanded because of all the challenges and reviews out there. I've picked up, and enjoyed, books I wouldn't have looked at before blogging.

What genres would you like to tackle that you haven't before?

Classics. Truly, I have several classics on my shelf but I never seem to pick them up. 

What do you like to do when you're not blogging?

Read. I'm a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of adult children who enjoys reading and crochet. I also play volleyball, am active in my church and am trying to love the gym. I am a runner, not very fast or far yet but I move faster than a walk and both feet leave the ground at the same time.

What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Do it for you. Don't give up but take breaks when you need to. Add personality to your posts. Ask for help when you need it. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Next Best Thing

Next Best Thing
by Jennifer Weiner

Summary: At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials. 

Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true

The Next Best Thing was one of those novels that you just don't want to end. I loved every word of it. Weiner has a way of drawing her readers in and making them feel like they are a part of the story. Her characters are very real and you feel the highs and lows that each one of them goes through. Instead of being totally woeful, Ruth Saunders stands out as an incredibly likable and real heroine. She is not perfect, she has flaws and insecurities, but  she doesn't use them as an excuse to lash out at people. This novel is incredibly witty and heartfelt. I enjoyed her scathing depiction of Hollywood and it's obsession with beauty. Weiner seems to hate Josh Schwartz and as someone has watched one of his show her scathing attack on Gossip Girl, Chuck and the OC is hilarious. But, she is not just singling him out, but rather using those shows an example of what is wrong with Hollywood. You real feel for Ruth and her naive desire to deliver a product that has heart. You feel for her when she has to make compromises that she does not agree with and you want to jump at joy when she finally finds love. This is by no means high art, but it's a satisfying read and you feel  like you are hearing a friend tell you the trials and tribulations of their life. The secondary characters are just as well constructed as Ruth is. Her grandmother is nothing short of a joy. She's a complex woman who sacrificed for those she loved and only wants the best for her grand-daughter. The two Dave's have such a ying-yang approach to working together you can't help, but wish they were real. This book is missing that feeling that you are in a world that's been constructed. Instead it's like you're prying into the life of someone who could have been your classmate, your roommate, your neighbor or friend.

It's a definite must-read.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Harry Potter books have been a phenom that has swept the publishing industry, reigniting a passion for reading in young people. The current book craze among young adults can in my opinion be credited to this series. Rowling has created an engaging world that isn't simply fantasy. It is heavily grounded in our everyday realities. Who hasn't felt a little out of place at the age of 10? It depicts the typical or in this case not so typical experience of going away to school. I particularly love the way she draws parallels between the wizard world and the "real" or muggle world. She has created characters that are truly engaging and rootable. I feel like she has drawn on the tradition of the British classics like Jane Eyre by having it center on a young orphan who is poorly treated by his relatives. While not nearly as dark, it makes Harry just as rootable. You want him to succeed, to live and to prosper. This first book is a lot of fun because it establishes the parameters for the story. You know who your good guys are and who your bad ones are. This story has a strong plot that really emphasizes the concept of less is more. It's not riddled with a bunch of crazy twists in turns, but rather how the ordinary becomes extraordinary. She also has an engaging style that draws in readers of all ages. It's not simply a children's book, it's a book for all ages.

Unlike the last two books I've reviewed, I highly recommend you read this series. I can't wait to finish myself.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

50 Shades of Crap

I like to give every book the benefit of the doubt. All the hoopla about this book made me want to read it. 50 shades is a problematic book that makes any proud bookworm feel sort of dirty for reading it. It's basically the literary version of being caught with a copy of Hustler.This book made me blush and cringe on the inside. It's not just that it has sexual descriptions. Nearly 80% of this novel is about sex and not just your average run of the mill sex, but some seriously twisted situations. We've all heard of BDSM, but after reading this you get an insiders view of what that really entails. Christian's red room of pain is frankly gross. Reading this makes me wonder what kind of sick twisted human being wrote this novel.

The premise of the novel is understandable: how a young women can let sexual desire get the best of her. If only this novel was the only one. The ending is appropriate, but I fear with 2 other books they are trying to sell the story of Christian and Anastasia as romantic. The story borders on abusive with Christian's random bouts of jealous rage and threats to beat her. Instead of delving into what exactly happened to Christian to make him this messed up or why he refuses to see his relationship with Mrs. Robinson as what it was (child abuse), the author just bombards us with kinky sex. The only person in the novel who seems to have any common sense is Kate who hates him from the get-go. This book would be an interesting case study in how young women get sucked into abusive relationships if it had been left as one book.

Another problem with this novel is the dialogue. Anastasia speaks quite normally, but Christian seems like he's been plucked straight out of a Victorian romance novel. His instance on calling her Miss Steal, his manservant who is always lurking around  and of course the vocabulary he uses. I feel like the author just sat there with a tattered copy of a Victorian romance and the thesaurus.

It's really unfortunate that this literary drivel is going to be turned into movie. It's twilight all over again.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Bronze Horseman

I try to pride myself on my ability to finish any book no matter how bad it is and for the second time in my life I have failed. Ironically both books were set in Russia. The first was Tolstoy's  War and Peace. I just couldn't get myself to finish a 1000 pages on Russian imperialism and what amounted to really bad characters. I will give tolstoy this, the writing has some literary merit, unfortunately the same cannot be said of the Bronze Horseman.

I started off reading the book and thinking wow this has potential. I actually couldn't put it down for the first 160 pages then I just started to get mad. Tania, who I felt for at first, started to severely grate on my nerves. The mysterious Alexander turned out to be nothing, but a douchebag. He wouldn't know chivalry if it smacked him in the face. There is so much abuse going on in this novel that I just couldn't bring myself to continue.

I didn't even finish the book. I got to page 275 and quit. I no longer care what happens to Alexandra, Tania, her sister Dasha and those poor excuse for parents. If this is romance than no one should ever fall in love. Tania takes self-sacrifice to another level. Alexander is emotionally manipulative. He doesn't have to string either Dasha or Tania along. He could be honest and merely takes Tania's rejection as an excuse to punish her by forcing her to endure the knowledge that he has sex with her sister. The very sister with whom she shares a bed.
The writing style does suck you in, but the characters are so awful that it takes away from whatever else the book has to offer which isn't very much.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Alchemist

I have been meaning to read this book for awhile now, but only recently got around to it. It's not a very long read, but it's rich with language, symbolism and enough metaphors to make your literature profs foam at the mouth. The story follows a young shepard Santiago who has a dream about going to Egypt. He basically decides to follow the signs that are telling him to go there and comes across a number of different figures. The story is at best confusing, but it doesn't really matter. The language is fluid and almost magical in and of itself. The author takes you on a lyrical journey that harkens back to a different time. In this age of consumption for the masses, it's difficult to find such a beautifully written novel. It's not that long, so one does not get bored, but it does require more than one read to fully understand the story. It's basically a coming of age and focuses on following one's dreams no matter the cost. It's a bit optimistic considering our time and the setting is almost other-wordly. It's hard to picture a Shepard boy who willingly visits a fortune teller and then decides to put everything at risk based on a dream. I do like that Santiago always yearned for travel and the dreams serve more as a catalyst rather than the reason for his journey.

It's definitely a book I would recommend.