Sunday, August 16, 2009

Book Review: If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

This is my first review for The Random Reading Challenge. :)

I liked the whole fairytale concept of this book. This book was really different than I expected it to be but I really enjoyed it and I will definitely look for other books by Cecelia Ahern.

The main characters of this book are Elizabeth and Ivan and the story is told by them both. Elizabeth is successful business woman, she has her own interior desing type of firm. Elizabeth has had a difficult childhood. Her mother never stayed at home for a long time and her father was unhappy by the fact that his wife was never at home. When Elizabeth was about 12 years old her mother got another baby, a girl named Saorse. When Saorse was only about 1 month old Elizabeth's mother left and never came back. When Elizabeth's father, Brandon, was not able to take care of the baby Elizabeth was the one who had to take all the responsibilty. When Elizabeth was old enough she left home, went to University and started to travel around the world. She lived in New York and she had relationship at there. When her sister, Saorse, was 16 she got pregnant and when she was not able to take care of the baby (Saorse turned out like her mother, she was not able to stay at home and she used a lot of alcohol) Elizabeth had to adopt Saorse's son Luke.

When the story of the book starts Luke is 6 years old. Suddenly Luke starts to see this guy called Ivan and Elizabeth starts to fear that Luke is going to turn out exactly like his mother. Elizabeth is worried about Luke's imagenery friend but when she reads from Internet that it is totally normal she does not worry about it anymore. Elizabeth starts to hear voices in her home and one day she meets Ivan who she thinks is Luke's friend's father. Elizabeth does not know that this Ivan is the same Ivan Luke sees and that herself and Luke are the only ones who can see him.

Ivan is invisible for most of the people. He is normally visible to children. He works as a best friend. He becomes visible to someone who needs a friend. When he understands that Elizabeth, an adult, can see him he is suprised but at the same time happy, because he notices that he feels something towards Elizabeth. By the time he understands that he is there for Elizabeth, not for Luke.

Ivan and Elizabeth become friends and Ivan makes Elizabeth talk about things she has never talked about before. Ivan changes Elizabeth a lot. He makes her happy and relaxed and her relationship with Luke becomes easier because Ivan makes Elizabeth understand what a child in the age of Luke needs. Elizabeth and Ivan fell in love. Ivan understands that their relationship would be impossible, because Ivan does not get old and anyone else but Elizabeth does not see him. The ending of the book is happy, but not the type of happy I wanted it to be. The ending of this book was only minor dissapointment for me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

For a long time Jane Austen has been my ultimate favorite author and Pride and Prejudice has been my favorite book. Pride and Prejudice is a book I almost always carry with me. It is a book I read when I am sad or desperate. It is a book I read when I am so happy that I feel like it is not even true how happy I am. Pride and Prejudice is the book I always recommend to my friends. It is the book I can read over and over again without getting tired of it. So you probably can imagine my thoughts when I heard that there is going to be a version of Pride and Prejudice with "scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem." I thought that this is not even true anymore, but at the same time, I was interested about this book. So when I found this book from the local bookstore I did not have second thoughts. I bought it just to see what Seth Grahame-Smith has done to my dearest book.

In the end of the book there are discussion questions and I thought that the best way to do the review is to use them, because I hope that everyone knows the story in Pride and Prejudice. So basicly this book is just the same story with some extras; Bennet sisters are very talented Zombie killers and they have been trained in China. Mr Bennet has been a very talented Zombie killer when he was younger but now he just wants to teach her girls to be good killers. Mr Darcy is also known for being a very talented Zombie Slayer.

The first discussion question is about Elizabeth's personality. The biggest thing I did not like in this book was Elizabeth's personality. Sometimes she was a total savage, killing ninjas and then eating their hearts etc. On one point she wanted to kill Mr Darcy and take his head as a reward. That is not the witty but still friendly and sweet Elizabeth I know from Pride and Prejudice. There was another side of Elizabeth's personality, the side of tenderness and love especially towards Jane and Charlotte (Charlotte becomes a Zombie). In the beginning of the book I can say that Elizabeth was only the killer. She wanted to fight and kill more zombies. She did not know what love is. When Mr Darcy becomes into picture and Elizabeth starts to fell in love with him she starts to get more human-like. Towards the end of the book she starts to be the Elizabeth we all know from Pride and Prejudice.
One thing I really disliked about this book was Mr Collins's description and the way of writing about him. The second discussion question says: Is Mr Collins merely too fat and stupid to notice his wife's gradual transformation into a zombie, or could there be another explanation for this failure to acknowledge the problem? How being fat is related to being stupid? That is something I don't understand. Many fat people are very smart. I think the reason why Mr Collins did not notice Charlotte's transformation was that he was too in love with Charlotte and he just noticed the good things about her or that he spend more time with Lady Catherine that with his wife. I think considering the fact that we are talking about Mr Collins, the second option is probably the right one. But when Charlotte dies Mr Collins makes a decision people only make when they are really miserable and do not know what to do. So maybe Collins really loved Charlotte.

The strange plague which transformers people into Zombies has been in England for 55 years, but still the Englishman remain in England fighting. Even though the people in England would have had a change to retreat to the safety of other countries they remained at England. I think the author wanted to show that at that time English people were really proud of their country and they wanted to serve their king by serving the country. I think that the last thing they would have done would have been to leave their home country and leave it for Zombies.

In the end Mr Wickham and Lydia both face a sorry fate. Mr Wickham is left paralyzed into a seminary for the lame and Lydia is removed from her family, married to a invalid and childless, forever changing Mr Wickham's diapers. The book asks that who receives the sorrier fate. In my opinion, it is Lydia. Lydia really thought that Wickham loves her, so she eloped with him. Mr Wickham married Lydia only for Mr Darcy's money so it was right for him to get something bad into his life, because he had treated other people badly.

When I started this book I wanted it to be funny and scary. It wasn't either. In the end, it was just a ruined version of my favorite book. There were some things I liked about it for example the illustrations but in the end there were way more things I disliked. This is one of those books I just read because it is related to Jane Austen and I can say that I am pretty dissapointed. I probably never read this book again and I think I will pass the Sea Monster book.

Some time ago I read from somewhere that there is going to be a movie about this book? Does anyone know about it? I really hope it is not true!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Film discussion: The Proposal

I saw this movie yesterday with my best friend Ida. Her mother got the tickets from somewhere and because she was not able to go, she gave the tickets for us. I did not really have any expectations towards this movie. I like Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds is a eye candy, so I did not hesitate at all when my friend invited me to movies. :)

The pattern of the movie is the one that we see many times in romantic comedies: a man and a women who hate each other, but eventually, they start to fall in love. Margaret (Bullock) is a successful Canadian book publisher who works in NYC. Andrew (Reynolds) is her assistant. At the place where Margaret works all the other workers hate her, they call her a witch etc. Also Andrew cannot stand her because she basicly threats him like he is her servant. :D When Margaret hears that she is going to be deported from United States because of some mess with her visa, she gets an idea. If she would be married to a American guy, she would not be deported. So she tells to her bosses that she is engaged to Andrew.

Andrew's grandmother is celebrating her 90th birthday and Andrew has to take Margaret to his home so he can introduce her as his fiance. The problem is that Andrew's home is in a place Margaret has never been and has never planned to be... in Alaska. While in Alaska Margaret's and Andrew's feelings start to warm up when they see each other in different environment than work. Margaret starts to understand the importance of the family and the love and support you get from the family and friends. Andrew starts to understand that Margaret also has feelings and it is just hard for her to show them...

The ending of course is happy, like always in romantic comedies. :)

BTW, Ryan Reynolds is seriously an eye candy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Princess Diaries movies

I have loved the Princess Diaries since I read the first book for the first time years ago. I love Mia Thermopolis, that unsure and invisible girl who gets to know that she is a princess of a little country in Europe. I think I would react the same way than Mia does if I would hear I am a princess; I would totally freak out. But this post is not about the books, this post is about the movies made using the books as a inspiration.

Today I went to the supermarket and I FINALLY found the Princess Diaries DVD. I've had the 2nd movie as a DVD for years, but I have missed the 1st DVD, but now, my collection is complete. I think Anne Hathaway was a perfect choice to play Princess Mia. She is really beautiful, but at the same time really ordinary.
At the beginning of the movie Mia's grandmother, Clarisse, the Queen of Genovia, arrives to San Francisco (why did they make Mia live in San Francisco, not in New York like in the books?) to tell Mia that she is the Princess of Genovia. In the movies Mia's dad has passed away, so she is the heir of the crown. In the books Mia's dad is not able to get kids anymore but he is still alive. In the books Clarisse is described to be this scary, chain smoker who drinks cocktails in the middle of the day. In the movie Clarisse is maybe a little strict but still very nice and supportive towards Mia. I think Julie Andrews was a great casting call to play Clarisse and I think that it was good that they 'softened' her character a little for the movie. :)
Mia's best friend Lilly Moscovitz is super annoying character, I do not like her at all. Especially in the pages of the books she is really annoying. I think that in the movie they softened her a little as well as they softened Clarisse. Michael Moscovitz is one of my favorite fictional guys, he is just amazing, I wish I could find a guy like that. In the books, Mia keeps dating Michael, but in the second movie Mia is just friends with Michael (Michael is not even in the movie) and she meets Nicholas (played by gorgeous Chris Pine) in Genovia and falls in love with him.
At the end of the 1st movie Mia is almost 16 years old and at the beginning of the second movie she is 21, just graduaded from Princeton, and moving to Genovia. I am little dissapointed that she did not keep going out with Michael in the second movie even though I really like Nicholas. But yeah, I think it would not have been that interesting for the movie watchers to see another movie about Mia in NYC/San Francisco with all the same characters that were in the first movie. There is always separation between the movies and the books and I understand that.

As a Princess Diaries fanatic I must say that I would be really happy if there would a movie about every 1o books Meg Cabot has written. I've not yet read the last,1oth book, but I will be starting it when I have time. Luckily I already have it in my bookshelf. :) I hope the 10th book has lot of Michael Moscovitz, because I still hope that in the end he is the love of Mia's life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Book Review: Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita

This was one of those books I just picked from the shelf of the book shop and went straight through to pay it without even reading the back cover. I can say, that the only reason I bought this book was the beautiful, interesting looking cover. I was happily suprised about the book. Even though the book may be intented to a little younger readers, I think it was really good.

The main character of the book, Kaitlin Burke, is 16-year-old girl from Hollywood. She is actress in a popular soap opera and she lives fabulous celebrity life. She loves her job but more that anything she just wishes that she could be ordinary teenager at least for a while. When she talks with her friend Liz about high school she gets an idea. She decides she wants to go to high school, but not as Kaitlin Burke, but as Rachel Rogers. When she goes to Clark Hall for the firts time she meets Austin, a gorgeous, funny and friendly Lacrosse player and things get complicated. And the fact that her co-actress Sky is trying to ruin her career does not help her a bit.

This book remainded me a lot of the Princess Diaries books by Meg Cabot. There are 3 follow up books to this book and I have already ordered the second one, I hope I get it soon. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book Review: The Man who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O'Rourke

I did not held very high expectations towards this book. I don't know why. Maybe it was the cover, or the name of the book, or just the fact that I knew that this book is one of those time travelling books. I was happily suprised after I finished with this book.

The heroine of the book, Eliza, is an artist from New York who collects antique furniture. One day she buys this old dressing table thingy from antique market. When she starts to look for the table more closely at her home she finds two letters tucked behind the mirror. One of the letter is sealed and the other, dated on May 1810, is addressed to 'dearest Jane' from 'F.Darcy', which of course means Fitzwilliam Darcy, the man millions of women love even though he is a fictional character. Or is he? Eliza takes the letters to scientific testings and the testing proves that the sealed letter was written by Jane Austen herself.

Eliza travels to Virginia and meets a man who may hold the answer to this puzzle Eliza is trying to prove. The man, Fitzwilliam Darcy, owns an estate called Pemberley Farms ad Shenandoah Valley, VA. When Eliza gets to know Fitz better she notices, that he and the hero of P&P, Fitzwilliam Darcy, are very similar. Or are they even the same person?

I think all Austen fans should definitely read this book. It was fast and light to read and I really enjoyed it a lot.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Book Review: Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe

I've never liked Lydia. I think she is really annoying, stupid and reckless character. Reading this book by Jane Odiwe opened my eyes and I started to like Lydia a little more.

The book is divided into two parts; part 1 telling about the happenings in Meryton and Brigton and part 2 telling about what happened after the end of Pride and Prejudice.

In the part 1 reader gets to know how Lydia fell in love with Mr Wickham and how their relationship developed. In the part 1 Lydia is that silly young girl who just wants to get married before her sisters does. She runs away with Wickham and even though Mr Darcy and the Gardiners try to stop her she gets married with Wickham because she honestly believes that Wickham loves her.

In part 2 Lydia gets to know that Wickham is having relationships outside the marriage and she gets really upset. While reading the part 2 I really started to feel bad for Lydia. She grows as a person and realizes that Wickham does not really love her and understands that he was forced to marry her. Jane and Bingley have a ball at Netherfield when Wickham comes there looking like a begger. A great scandal from Wickham's past is revealed and Lydia notices that Wickham is totally different man that she fell in love with. Luckily, a brother of Lydia's friend helps her to recover and to fall in love again...

I really enjoyed this book. Almost every chapter includes a diary entry from Lydia. I liked the part 2 better because it includes new characters and because in part 2 Lydia grows as a person and she is not that annoying anymore. I was really happy that she also got her happy ending!

Book Review: Edmund Bertram's Diary by Amanda Grange

I could say that Edmund Bertram is my favorite Austen hero after Darcy. When I heard about this book I knew right away that I would love it. And I did, it is the best Jane Austen related Diary sequel I've even read.

The book begins when Fanny arrives to Mansfield Park and she and Edmund become friends. From the book you can totally feel the strong bond between Fanny and Edmund. When Mary Crawford comes into the picture you can really feel the struggle Edmund goes through. My favorite part of the book is when Edmund finally notices that it is Fanny who he really loves, not Mary.

I really don't find words to describe this book, it was just so amazing!