Blog News

I am trying (for what feels like the millionth time) to work on the blog more often.

I recently chose a new template which gives it a nice, clean look. See? Sparkly!

Also check out my updated Introduction and Links tab!

One of the reasons I am also working on the blog is that I recently became unemployed. It has been a bitter sweet experience for me. The good thing is I have more time on my hands so I decided to devote some of my time to focus on my reading and writing.

I just joined NetGalley and I love the opportunity to review ARCs. The next few weeks will be all NetGalley reviews and I look forward to sharing them with you.

Book: Royal Wedding

princess diaries bookI vividly remember reading Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries the first time. I was an awkward freshman, avoiding a family reunion because I could not put the book down. Reading about Princess Mia was like reading my own journal. We had the same birthday, the same frizzy awful hair, and the same neurotic, awkward personality. We obsessed and worried about the same things (grades, boys liking me, complaining about lack of boobs). The only difference was I wasn’t a princess (unfortunately) and my mother never dated my math teacher. I continued to read the series well into college, because I had to know how my literary twin got through high school. In doing so, I felt like Mia and I had become good friends. I was sad when the series had to come to an end. And of course, I had to watch the movie.*

I continued to follow Meg Cabot’s work and basically read every book she had ever written. Meg Cabot quickly became one of my favorite authors. Mia still remained one of my favorite characters.

I fangirl squealed with delight in learning that Meg Cabot was writing another Princess Diaries book, with Mia as an adult. It was a great move on Meg Cabot’s part. Everyone who used to read Princess Diaries when it came out have grown up. What made it better was Mia was planning her wedding. At the same time as the book came out, I started planning my wedding. Princess Mia and I continue to be twinsies.

royal wedding coverRoyal Wedding starts with Mia and Michael getting engaged and wedding planning. Before you know it, the Genovia government is in disarray, the princess has an internet stalker on the loose, and Mia discovers she has a royal half sister. Hijinks and hilariousness ensue.

Royal Wedding can be read as a stand alone by itself. I think Meg did a great job of introducing the characters as if they were new. The plot had romance, comedy, political intrique, and some family drama. It was a fun and easy read. For those familiar with the series, the book was a love letter to the fans. It was great to see all the same cast of characters and find out how they were doing. Mia is still paranoid, but less insecure. Michael is still awesome. Lily is still bold but less bitchy. Tina is still a romantic. Grandmere is still…well…Grandmere. I honestly felt like I was catching up with old friends, only just a little bit older and wiser.

The book was delightful. I can easily rate it a 5 out of 5. I am sad I won’t get another opportunity to check in on my friends, but I am glad with how the book ended.

*I will never do a book/movie comparison of Princess Diaries. The book series and movie are complete separate entities for me. I enjoy both of them equally, for different reasons.

Fairy tales Retold- PART 1

Fairy tales are timeless for a reason. They lasted as an oral tradition hundreds of years before they were ever written down. Several cultures even have different variations of the same fairytale, such as Snow White and Cinderella. It is interesting to see how fairy tales have become more prevalent in the media.

Disney movies seemed to be the only one capitalizing on the the market of fairy tales for the longest time. Now, it seems to be everywhere. Movies like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Jack The Giant Slayer, and Red Riding Hood have been released within the last 3 years. TV shows such as Grimm and Once Upon a Time rake in ratings every week.

And I love it.

As a kid, I was a huge Disney fan. I love the princesses and princes falling in love. But there was not a whole lot of variations of fairy tales as I was growing up. You either had Disney or you could plop down with a huge book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales*.

In theme with their movie and television counterparts, more and more books are also doing their own twist on fairy tales. I wish there were as many books based on fairy tales now compared to when I was growing up. Luckily, there were a couple of key books in my young adult life that kept my love for fairy tales alive.

Ella_enchanted_(book_cover)Ella Enchanted – Words alone cannot describe my heartfelt sentiments for this book. Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy tales because of my love for this book.** It is one of my favorite books of all time. It is one of the only books I have read countless times over the years, from age 12 to now. (I even rescued it from my parent’s house because I was craving a read through).

Ella is about a girl who has the “gift” of obedience given to her at birth by a ridiculous fairy. If Ella is given any direct order, she has to obey, no matter how much she doesn’t want to or how ridiculous it may be. She lives in a rich world of ogres, giants, fairies, and gnomes. Despite her curse, Ella is funny, charming, compassionate, and clever. Through her mother’s death, father’s remarriage, and obedience school, Ella falls in love with Prince Char and seeks her own fate to break her curse. It has such a great twist on the Cinderella story, and the main characters are so well told.

There was a movie version done of Ella Enchanted starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy, but the book and movie are so different from each other that I don’t think it’s worth doing a comparison. I will say that I enjoyed the movie, but not in the same way that I enjoyed the book.

zelZel – This book is why my second favorite fairy tale is Rapunzel and why I was overjoyed when Disney finally made Tangled. The author Donna Jo Napoli has other great novels based on fairy tales, but Zel was my favorite. It is also one of the first books I ever read written in present tense.

Zel follows the story of a girl who is taken care of by a witch. As the girl grows more beautiful, the witch becomes more jealous and eventually hides her beauty in a tower. One of the great things about this book is that it changes perspective: Zel’s, the young man’s, and the witch’s. I really appreciated the witch perspective, because that is part of the fairy tale which doesn’t make sense to me. Why would a witch basically kidnap a child? In Zel, you learn the witch is so desperate for a child that she takes the opportunity to barter for one. When Zel starts to fall in love with a man, the witch is terrified Zel will leave her alone and builds the tower. The witch was an interesting character and you almost feel sorry for her.

Zel is a beautiful rendition of the Rapunzel fairy tale. Rapunzel is really a darker fairy tale (compared to Cinderella), but Zel balances it well.

 

Once Upon a Time seriesOnce Upon a Time series – Before it was a TV series, it was a set of independent books that retold fairy tales by different authors. I caught onto them in high school and I was obsessed with them, to the point where I looked them up online, bought them the day they came out, and continued to buy them into my early 20’s. Alas, they no longer make them. Oddly enough, they were not always that good. There were a few really good ones in a series of so-sos and sup-par. The reason I really liked them was to see what the author did to the retold fairy tale.

A couple of my favorites was Sunlight & Shadow and Snow. Sunlight and Shadow is actually based on the opera The Magic Flute (which I still haven’t seen). Snow is obviously based on Snow White and was the first one I read. Most likely, if I had not read Snow first, I might not have bothered with the rest of the series. It shows you how desperate I was for retold fairy tales.

I enjoy the new twists and spins that fairy tales are being given nowadays. It gives new life to the fairy tale that it was based on. The old stories get a new chance to live on.

*Don’t get me wrong! I love the classic fairy tales. I specifically took a class in college to study and discuss fairy tales. But no kid wants to sit down and read 209 tales, especially when half of them aren’t even that interesting.

**I wasn’t a huge fan of Disney’s Cinderella. I mean, I liked it when I was 5 but not so much when I was 12.

All Things Jane Eyre

One of my favorite books of all time is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I like to call it “the book that doomed me to become an English major.” It feels like I read it for the first time only yesterday. I remember vividly being 16 and spending my summer days at my grandmother’s house, enjoying the cool air conditioning to avoid the 100 degree heat outside and physically not being able to put the book down. I remember falling in love with that book and rereading parts of it over and over and over again all summer long.

I was ecstatic when it was assigned reading in college 5 years later. I was worried that maybe it wasn’t as good as I remembered and maybe I changed too much to be able to appreciate it the same way. Luckily, it wasn’t the case. I felt like I was 16, falling in love with the book all over again. I passionately defended the haters of Mr. Rochester in my English class, to the point where the teacher pulled me aside and told me to tone it down. The scene where Jane has to leave Mr. Rochester breaks my heart. Every. Single. Time.

There have been MANY movie versions of Jane Eyre over the years and I doubt I will be able to watch them all (some of them you might not even be able to get on DVD and others might not be worth watching). There have been two recent adaptations of Jane Eyre that I recently enjoyed and wanted to share, a modern retelling novel and the most recent movie adaptation.

Jane BookFor those who don’t know the story of Jane Eyre, it is about a character named Jane Eyre and basically her life story. She is an orphan who is raised by her horrible aunt and mean spirited cousins. Her aunt ships her away to a religious school which ends up being just as terrible as her aunt’s. Despite it all, Jane grows up to be a pious, kind, caring, intelligent woman although often described as plain. She goes to work as a governess for the mysterious Mr. Rochester and then things start to get really interesting. Jane Eyre is a classic gothic fiction novel but also a love story woven in.

The novel Jane by April Lindner is a young adult modern retelling of Jane Eyre. Jane Moore drops out of college after the death of her parents to be a nanny employed by the mysterious, brooding, rock star Nico Rathburn about to make his comeback. I was dubious by a modern retelling as Jane Eyre is really a piece of literature that exists in the time period it was written for. I was convinced by my friend’s book review and decided I had to check it out  myself.

To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed this book, I started it late at night planning to only read a couple pages and instead finally went to sleep at dawn. I thought a successful modern interpretation of Jane Eyre would be impossible, but I was wrong. I loved it. Mr. Rochester as a modern rock star was ingenious and modern Jane was smart, strong, and endearing. I spent most of the book waiting to see if it was going to let me down in someway, but it never did. It gave me my Jane Eyre fix in a condensed, easy read version. I would rate it 5 out of 5.

Jane Eyre MovieI was excited when I learned a new move interpretation of Jane Eyre was being released in theaters. I really enjoyed the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice and hoped it would be as good. I was devastated when I missed it in theaters, but added it first thing to my Netflix queue.

The movie starred Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester and Mia Wasikowska as Jane. I enjoyed the movie. I thought Mia embodied the awkwardness and plainness, but as well as the determination and strength of Jane. I wasn’t convinced with Michael’s portrayal of Mr. Rochester, but I thought he had good chemistry with Mia. Their interaction and banter were lines right out of the book which I enjoyed. The scenery for the movie was also beautifully done. The landscape and isolation of Thornfield was demonstrated well visually.

One of the really odd things about the movie was that it starts when she is leaving Mr. Rochester which is right in the middle of the novel. The timeline of the movie was very confusing in the beginning and shows a bunch of flashbacks. It picks up for awhile when Jane and Mr. Rochester meet and then becomes very confusing again when she leaves (which is where the movie initially started). For someone who might not be familiar with the story, they could get very confused. I have read the novel in it’s entirety at least twice and I was even confused at times.

The ending was very abrupt and unsatisfying, which I felt unnecessary as the novel has a complete ending. I also think the movie running time was a little short for the very lengthy novel to give it the depth that it needed. Despite those issues, I still enjoyed it and thought certain parts were done very well. I would rate it it 3.5 out of 5.

Movie: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Along with my new years resolutions to read more classic books and actually read the books I own instead of buying new ones (a feat easier said than done), I also resolved to watch more movies. There are so many that come and go in theaters that I end up missing. And my netflix queue is already novel length from trying to watch the movies I have missed in my lifetime. So I have been trying to get myself up in the morning (not an easy task) in an attempt to watch the cheaper, first theater showing of movies I want to see.

One of those movies ended up being The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring and directed by Ben Stiller. I remember watching the trailer and being intrigued. I had to see it to find out more. It was definitely a movie I was glad I didn’t miss.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty who works in the film department of LIFE Magazine and dreams of fantastical adventures only in the realm of his mind until he actually goes out and starts living his own adventure. Sean Penn and Kristen Wiig star.

I really enjoyed this movie. It was a great chance to see Ben Stiller play someone who was more real than the comical characters he normally plays. The movie still had funny moments though. It was also visually stunning. I don’t know where he filmed but some of the shots of the landscape were beautiful. It made me miss traveling and wish I had the means to explore more often. Sean Penn was perfectly cast as the brazen, adventurous photographer. Kristen Wiig* was actually enjoyable to watch interact with Ben’s character. Overall, I would rate the movie 5 out of 5.

I felt really inspired after watching this movie. It made me want to go out and do more. I am somewhat of a homebody (as you would expect from a book nerd and TV/movie enthusiast) but I felt I needed to go out and do more fun things. Studying abroad was a big adventure for me 7 years ago, but it didn’t mean that my adventures had to stop even if I was no longer in Europe.

I was also inspired by the LIFE magazine motto which I had never read before. “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” I liked the quote so much that I wrote it on my white board which hangs prominently on my wall over my desk.

I didn’t realize until after I had watched the movie that it was a remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Danny Kaye** which in turn was based on the short story by James Thurber The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I’m not sure how this movie compared to the original. It might be one I have to add to the netflix queue.

*I have to say I am not a big fan of Kristen Wiig. I think the SNL characters she played were obnoxious and annoying. It was nice to see her do something different and not rely so heavily on her comedian chops.

**I LOVE Danny Kaye. Probably based on the fact that he is in one of my favorite Christmas movies which I have probably seen 1000 times growing up (mostly because it is also my mother’s favorite movie). 100 awesome points to the person who knows which movie I am talking about.

Classic Book Challenge

It has been over 2 years since I made a resolution for myself.* I wanted to read more classic books. I had the wonderful opportunity to read several of them in school as I pursued my English major. But there are so many other good classics that I never got a chance to read. I was so determined on my new goal that I even bought a few.

Now it is 2 years later and I’m still plodding through my first selection, A Tale of Two Cities. (Why did I have to start with Dickens? I forgot how bloody wordy he is. Get to the point, Charles!)

But Dickens is really not the problem. I learned that the problem is me. I used to read classic books just fine when I was in college, and enjoyed a fair share of them. Although I was plenty busy in college, I was able to focus so much of my energy in my school work (and for the nerd that I am, enjoyed it). I looked forward to reading and being able to discuss it the next day. I will admit there was the off chance that I didn’t read but I ended up only hurting myself by missing out.**

My desire to read and learn has not changed. My focus simply has changed. I went back to school to study American Sign Language and Interpreting. I have a new job that keeps me vested in the Deaf community. After a long day, the last thing I want to do is plow through a classic. I want to enjoy my reading as a leisurely activity, not work.

Oddly, I feel both disappointed and relieved. I feel disappointed, because I’m not in college anymore. I don’t have the energy to devote myself to the written word as much as I used to. Although I had read a great deal of classics that I set out to read, I wish I had read even more. I also feel relieved, because my love for reading has not waned. It simply has adjusted to accommodate my current lifestyle.

I think that I will continue to try reading the classics. I don’t want to give it up. I think my new goal is to still read a classic a year. Between my everyday books, read a chapter or two. If the classic ends up grabbing my attention, then I might finish it faster. Who knows? I’m not going to set impossible goals for myself and fail. Taking it One. Step. At. A. Time.

But damn it, I’m going to finish you Dickens!

*A resolution I make every year is to work on this blog more. Every year I fail miserably.

**Those were also some boring class days. I tended to keep the conversation very lively.

Nicholas Sparks-Part I

How much do I love Nicholas Sparks? Let me count the ways.

I randomly picked up my first Nicolas Sparks novel while I was bored at a family friend’s house. It looked intriguing. It was called The Rescue and to this day it is still one of my favorite Nicolas Sparks novels. (Fact: I have read all of Sparks’ novels including his Autobiography ‘Three Weeks with my Brother’).

Many of his books have been turned into movies, because his novels translate extremely well into movies. They’re heartfelt, chick flick, tear jerkers that readers and viewers can appreciate. A lot of people accuse him for being too sad and always having his characters die, which can be the case. However, tragedy can strike at any time and dying is a part of life. I think that’s what Sparks’ illustrates in his books, love and loss.

I thought of reviewing his most popular book/movie releases such as The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, but I actually watched those movies before reading the books so I have very different opinions about them. I decided to go with the books I had read first before seeing their movie counterparts. The ones I will be reviewing are Nights in Rodanthe, The Last Song, and Dear John.

One of the things I like about Nicholas Sparks is that not all of his books are about young, summer love. He depicts romance across all ages, including those who might be past their prime and get a second chance at romance. Nights in Rodanthe is one of those. Adrienne has been abandoned by her husband and takes the opportunity to get away and tend to her friend’s bed and breakfast. Paul is a successful surgeon, also divorced, and the B&B’s only guest. In preparation of a storm about to hit, the two fall in love.

It’s really a story about two people who have broken down and find each other amidst a storm. When I read it, it wasn’t one of my favorites. Maybe I was too young to appreciate the older and divorced pain that the two have gone through. One of the big differences in the movie was Adrienne’s husband asking her if they can get back together, which becomes a theme through the movie as she ponders the question.

Richard Gere is getting old but I still think he’s super sexy in the movie. Diane Lane was brilliant as well. I liked their chemistry together. I would say that I enjoyed the movie more than the book. I would give the book a 3 out of 5 and the movie a 3.5 out of 5.

The Last Song is about Ronnie (Veronica) and her younger brother living with her estranged dad for the summer, finding first love, and saving the sea turtles. The book was well written, seamlessly plotted, and poignantly told. All the characters were fully developed and evolved throughout the novel. It’s one of my favorites by Nicholas Sparks. (Fact: Most of Nicholas Sparks’ books are my favorite).

I was really hesitant about the movie because Miley Cyrus was playing Ronnie. I didn’t think she could pull off the depth of Ronnie’s character and growth that she goes through in the novel. Much to my delight, the basic storyline was very similar to the book and I felt myself drawn into the story. Greg Kinnear, who played her dad, was fantastic. Although I still think Ronnie should have been recast, Miley Cyrus was not as terrible as I imagined. I enjoyed Liam Hemsworth as the leading man as well. They obviously have great chemistry together.

The movie was a very decent adaptation of the book, despite some minor plot changes. I think the book though was much more enjoyable and included less Miley Cyrus. I would give the book a 4 out of 5 and the movie a 3 out of 5.

Dear John

Dear John is another one of my favorites of Nicholas Sparks. It follows the story of John Tyree who falls in love with Savannah while he’s on leave from the Army. They continue their love through letters as John finishes his assignment. Until 9/11 happens and John has to decide to fight for his country or return to his true love. The book is heartfelt and well written. Nicholas Sparks wrote this as a tribute to the people enlisted in the US military, and I felt it was portrayed well (especially with the aftermath of 9/11).

I initially had not heard very good reviews of the movie, but I had to decide for myself. I actually thought the movie was a decent interpretation of the book. I like that it still involved John’s relationship with his father, as that is a large part of the book. It also of course touched on how 9/11 changed the military, which resulted in John’s relationship changing with Savannah. However, I had two issues with the movie. The biggest problem was the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried falls very flat. That factor alone affects the whole movie. The other problem is that the ending is different. I don’t mind a different ending if it works. In this case, it did not.

The book is extremely good and I cried through most of the last chapter. (Fact: I cry often when reading Nicholas Sparks). The adaptation of the book to the movie was decent, but the lack of chemistry between the actors made it unbelievable. I was a bit disappointed. I would give the book a 4 out of 5, but the movie gets a 2 out of 5.

Failure

That’s me. Utter and total failure.

I was determined to start this blog anew over a year ago and utterly failed. Not only that, but I couldn’t even finish “Tale of Two Cities”. I just don’t work well when left to my own devices. I need deadlines, discussions, and assignments to really put forth an effort.

I really want to try again though. Although I enjoy it, I don’t want to limit myself on only discussing book and movie comparisons.

I used to have such a passion for writing. When I was in college, I dreamed to write for pleasure again. Now I have all the time in the world and suddenly I have a reluctance to write. I don’t know where my passion went. It’s as if I dropped it somewhere along the way and have no idea where it has gone to.

I want to try again. At least try to do something monthly. I want to try NanoWriMo again. And I definitely want to write more in my personal journal again, simply for my own sanity.

So, let’s try again. Writing, onward!

For 2012

I cannot believe it is the year 2012. I know it seems cliche, but where has time gone?

I actually started this blog in 2010, and what a shoddy job I have done of it. I had this brilliant idea and simply haven’t followed through. Life got in the way.

I think the problem was that I was so focused on my movie/book comparison, that I didn’t leave room for anything else. Do you know how many books are made into movies? TONS. LOADS. I became overwhelmed by the idea that when I realized a book had been made into a movie, I was compelled to see and read both. Even if the idea or plot did not appeal to me. And then when it got to writing it, I felt uninspired. I’ve decided that I want to change that. I want this blog to be not just reviews, but even thoughts, ideas, and opinions on all books, movies, or anything that simply speaks to me.

I’ve also decided that I am going to read more classic books that I missed in school, and reread some classics that I’ve neglected. I even started “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. Granted, I’m on page 2 but I’m working on it.

I also want to get back to what I miss, which is writing. I’m going to stop re-editing myself a billion times (you should see the number of saved entries that have never been posted). Simply write, and post what I have without critiquing myself.

So welcome to 2012, and hopefully a new chapter for this blog.

Blogger Fail

I have been very neglectful of my blog lately. And for that I apologize. There are many reasons that have been causing my lack of recent posts:

1.) I became insanely busy the month of September with my cousin’s wedding, traveling to visit a few of my best friends, and picking up a 2nd part time job for about 3 weeks.

2.) It’s also probably because my latest book/movie pick was so uninspiring that I have yet to see the movie counterpart (something I hope to remedy very soon).

3.) Not initially realizing that I had more of a buffer than I thought.

Or perhaps it was a combination of all 3.

In any case, I hope to make a reappearance and try to make a committed effort into giving this a second shot.

Wish me luck.