Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

One of the best mysteries ever written. I thought I read this book but then I checked GoodReads for the date and this blog. I have read a lot less of Christie than I thought. It feels as if I’ve read more because I’ve watched several adaptations to her books including this one. I watched at least one version.

As a result, I was spoiled to the big twist. I had forgotten the finer details which includes all the character development Christie imbued. It’s a very well written and fun mystery. It took me a few days due to the holidays. It was fun and interesting. I was engrossed when I picked it up and I loved the setting.

My novel was a vintage one from the 1970s which used the North American title “Murder in the Calais Coach”.

Read December 23-27, 2019

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

This is the recent adaptation from Kenneth Branagh. The novel was fresh from my mind so I was critically aware of the changes.

I did not mind Branagh’s Poirot. The cast had some gems but it feels like a lot of them were under-utilized. I liked Daisy Ridley and Michelle Pfeffier but I am biased towards them. The train was gorgeous and I loved the set design. The movie was good to look at and the screenplay kept most of the structure of the novel.

Now for the negatives. There were a number of changes to the characters’ backstories. The plot added more action and violence. These changes were sensationalist. There is a theme of racism in the movie which is not as heavily featured in the novel. The movie includes a non-white character which does not exist and a very racist Professor. I do not know if this was to add more diversity for movie audiences. It felt unnecessary just like the fact they made two of the characters substance abusers. Some of the changes felt strange and melodramatic. I was not a fan of but I guess this is what Hollywood wants.

It’s been many years since I’ve seen it but the David Suichet Poirot version was a better adaptation to the novel.

I will watch the next one after it comes out and after I read Death on the Nile. I like whodunit movies on the whole so I welcome the trend for movies.

Watched August 28, 2019.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I wanted to read this book because of the buzz the Netflix movie. I wanted to wait until after I’ve read the book to see the movie.

It took me a few chapters to get comfortable because the book is actually a bit longer than some young adult books. There’s a lot of character moments. The more that I read about Lara Jean, the more I could relate to her or rather how I was when I was her age.

This book did give me the good feelings of being a teenager again. It helps that Lara Jean and I are both East Asian. Like Crazy Rich Asians and The Hate U Give, I wish I had more diverse novels like this growing up. I didn’t have books the reflected my experiences. I like that Lara Jean was quiet and dutiful, but also dreamy and into fashion and food.

The novel was sweet. It made me laugh. There was a lot of nice moments with the characters. There was even a love triangle that I did not mind. The character beats were just right.

About two thirds of the way into the book, I knew I had to read the sequel. The ending is a cliffhanger. However, I am not going to wait to watch the film.

Read Sept 20-21, 2018

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

With the book so fresh in my mind, I compared them a lot. I didn’t think Peter was dreamy enough at the beginning, but he won me over. The movie was sweet. It worked because I think the casting did well especially for the Coveys. I appreciated John Corbett as the good (and hot) dad and they even added more character moments between

This movie would have been a mini obsession for me in high school. I liked what they added. Very cute movie and I hope they do make a sequel.

Watched Sept 21, 2018.

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!