A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

When I was around the age of Sara Crewe, I had seen the 1995 movie adaptation of this book and liked it. It was magical. I really adored the message about every girl being a princess and the sense of magic in the work. I didn’t know how true the movie was to the book until now.

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

I had somewhat high expectations for this novel given how much I liked Agnes Grey and the style of Anne Bronte’s writing overall. I found my expectations were not quite met. In general, this is a good novel and like Grey, it is a very interesting view about Victorian marriage. As a proto-Feminist novel, I can appreciate it as well.
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On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This is one of those novels that seemed almost like nonfiction. It is based on Kerouac’s actual journeys across America so a lot of it was probably real. The inconsistency and wildness seemed too strange to be fiction at times. I don’t know what is fact and what is fiction.

I liked Kerouac’s style early on. Sal the protagonist is observant, perceptive and largely optimistic about life. The novel is set in a time just right after the war and even with all the drug use, sex, and madness, there is a certain innocence of America in that time. It was before the Cold War became central, the 1960s, Vietnam and the turbulent decades for America’s loss of innocence.

It took me longer than read this book. I was a bit stuck one third and half way through the book because while many things do happen in the book, there isn’t a formal plot per se. It meanders with vignettes which did not make me likely to pick it up.

The use of stream of consciousness increased in the book as well. There were times when I felt things were getting worse as the book wore on. There were the same adventures over and over. Sometimes, it felt sadder by the chapter.

The end with Mexico was interesting though, and in general, I liked Kerouac’s writing. I would read his works again.

Read June 23-30 2013.

On the Road (2012)

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Monthly Movies – May 2013

For the last couple of months, I’ve been watching mostly TV and rewatching movies and shows. I don’t think I watched a new movie for almost two months until War Horse.

War Horse (18 05 2013) – Review Here.

Kinky Boots (25 05 13) – I remember seeing the trailer for this back in 2005 o 2006. I’ve liked Chiwetel Ejiofor since Dirty Pretty Things and the man should be more famous. He is wonderful in this film. It is fun and underrated. The romance aspect of the movie is a bit trite and boring though. It should have just focused mainly on Ejiofor’s character Simon/Lola and the friendship with Charlie Price. I would still recommend this film just for people to see Eliofor.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (26 05 13) – I could have watched something funnier, but I just wanted something to knit along to for a Sunday night. Since I’ve read the book and seen the original Swedish movie, I thought it would require less attention. I’ve had the movie for awhile too because I adore Daniel Craig. I would watch a whole movie of him and that cat. It was interesting and realistic to see people smoking for once in an American movie. In any case, great acting all around. While I loved Noomi Rapace’s acting, Rooney did a great job here too. She was physically very Lisebeth. I felt the Mickael/Lisbeth hookup was rushed in this film compared to the other one, but these two actors had more chemistry than the first film. I was not crazy about the music. They changed the ending and some of the details, but they elaborated on the ending a bit more. Then it ended rather abruptly just like in the book. I think overall, the Swedish version does edge out this one. I’ll watch the sequel, but I really only liked parts 1 and 3 of the series.

Notably Rewatched

Howl’s Moving Castle – Hayao Miyazaki is one of the few people I consider geniuses. His movies touch me and make me feel good without being too contrived or cliched. He really captures imagination and creativity. I’ve been rewatching a lot of his movies in the last year, and not sure which to pick next. Though none of them can do wrong. The movie reminds me that I should read the book one day.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

I was apprehensive of this children’s book mostly because I get very sad with animal stories. I remember watching Black Beauty (1994) as a kid, and being crying. I rarely cried during movies when I was younger, and even now, it’s not that common for me. But animals are a soft spot for me, especially when they are exploited.

I remember reading All Quiet on the Western Front and being appalled by the idea that horses were sent into battle in the First World War. It’s abhorrent to have animals fighting and dying for our wars and that war was costly in itself.

This novel is an antiwar novel and it also demonstrates the human kindness between man and animal. A lot of the characters interact with Joey the horse and through war, they receive what is now known as animal therapy. There is much love and respect between the men and horses in this film and rightly so.

The book is not very long and only took me 1.5 hours to read it (with breaks). The prose is simple but beautiful. The messages are clear and I really enjoyed it. Maybe all the positivity did go slightly to the cheesy side for some, but it worked for me. There is death, but this is a story of hope of course. Is it realistic? Not necessarily, but there is a lot of love in it which works for me.

I really think it’s a lovely book for children. I don’t believe children should be coddled and it’s a book that teaches history as much as animal rights. Recommended.

Read May 17th 2013

War Horse (2011)

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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

This was a clever and well written book. It was ambitious and unique.

It took me awhile to read this book. It was on my Kindle so I often forgot I had it and it didn’t give me incentive to read it in time like my library books. The other reason I would forget about this book is the different narratives from this book. It is very well written and I liked it more than other books that had this kind of style such as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. It does mean that once you get comfortable with one chapter’s story, it changes and you have to start all over again.

It took to reading the sixth and final narrative in the middle of the book that I realized what Mitchell was doing. At that point, I had to finish the book. It became gripping and I really liked the every changing structure and tone.

The best thing about reading on the Kindle besides the convenience of having dozens to hundreds of ebooks in a small vessel is the built in dictionary. I don’t have to pause and look up the word on separate dictionary. I am not really a wordsmith, but I do love words and language so it is always fun to read an author who clearly can employ a number of unusual words.

The diction and vocabulary was quite neat in the earlier stories since Mitchell used a number of archaic words. I really enjoyed that bit and enjoyed Mitchell’s ability to shift his structure and style with each story. He had suspense, character development, great writing style, and most of all, consistent themes which weren’t too cloying.

“What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief.”

All of the stories deal with the idea of how human nature does not change and that it never really will. The idea that greed, oppression and controlling civilization will always be present is quite true and very sad. There are moments of hope of course and a lot of the stories have good endings, but I am wary to reread this again. There was something melancholic about all the stories since death and oppression were in all of them. It was not the most depressing read, but it is not one that makes you feel good. It is a good reminder of the darkness of human nature in a well written novel form.

I recommend this book for those who are interested in speculative fiction and unique structure & styles. This book is literary and also thought provoking.

Incidentally, Mitchelle was apparently influenced by Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller which is a book I just took out from the library last week. It is one of those books I requested while browsing GoodReads so now I actually have even more incentive to read that as well.

Read on the Kindle October 31, 2012 to January 27, 2013.

The Movie

Cloud Atlas

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2013 Book to Movie Challenge

2013 Book to Movies Challenge

I am going to participating in the 2013 Book to Movie Challenge hosted by Doing Dewey.

Yes, another 2013 Challenge. I think I’ll take on one more and I’ll be done for the yearly challenges. I think three 2013 challenges will be enough alongside my other ongoing challenges such as Classics Club, Pulitzer, Bookers, etc.

This challenge is a breeze because I already do this naturally! I’m big on adaptations. Also, I’m a bit behind on the movies portion (still need to watch Little Women) and this will prompt me to watch movies and tv mini series much faster after I read the books

For the sake of this challenge, I am counting TV mini-series as movies as well. Often times, I find they are the best forms of adaptations and even longer so even more of a challenge and fun for me to review

The levels of this challenge as follows:

Movie Fan – read 3 books and watch their movies
Movie Devotee – read 6 books and watch their movies
Movie Lover – read 9 books and watch their movies
Movie Aficionado – read 12 books and watch their movies

I am going to aim for Movie Fan or Movie Devotee. I think the latter is more yearly average now.

I will put here the list of all the books to movie challenge entries:

  1. Cloud Atlas – Book and Movie review
  2. Game of Thrones – Book and Season 1 Review
  3. Brief Encounter
  4. War Horse – Book and Movie Review
  5. Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin and Season Two
  6. On the Road by Jack Kerouac and movie review
  7. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte and tv mini series review

If you’re so inclined, join me in this challenge!

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

This book was epic. Once again, I was conflicted about giving it a 4 or a 5 on Good Reads. As with before, the deciding factor was if I would reread it again. I wouldn’t be against reading it, but then again, I’m not planning on it. It was frustrating and very long at times, but there is no doubt that this is a well written book in many ways and a classic.

I started reading this book September 20th, but I really didn’t read much of it until the last weekend of September wherein I read 70% of the book from Saturday to Tuesday October 2nd.

The Beginning: Not that bad, easy going, lots of exposition, lots of idyllic life of the antebellum South.

The Middle: Gripping, dark, and compelling. This was when I started to really hit my next page button.

The End: Scarlett gets more and more cruel, ridiculous and unbearable. Book just ends a bit abruptly.

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Booking Through Thursday – Conversions

This week on Booking Through Thursday:

Do you find yourself thinking that the books you read would be good on film? Do you wish the things you watched on TV or in the movies were available as book?

Some really can’t be converted, of course, but some definitely can (and it’s not always the ones you think will work). There’s something to be said for different forms of media, but a good story is universal … or is it??

Sure, all the time. I watch and enjoy adaptations quite a bit since I like TV and film when I have time for it. As for the other way around, not that often. Some of my favourite TV shows in the past have been based on books or comic books. Things made for TV can be formulaic which is OK for that medium, but more boring in book form.

They finally made a Life of Pi movie and I didn’t think they would, but I’ll be seeing that. Even aside from the book, I’m a fan of director Ang Lee’s work. There are definitely many books that are hard to capture on screen. The Golden Compass movie did not work in the end which is a shame, but it really wouldn’t be able to capture wide audiences. There are some books such as The Eyre Affair Thursday Next series and magical realism (e.g. One Hundred Years of Soltitude) books which would be extremely difficult to transfer. Also, I do get disappointed more when you go from book to TV show such as the case with “True Blood”. The shows become vastly different than the books which sometimes works out and sometimes doesn’t.

I do agree a good story is a good story so I’ll keep reading and watching.