Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: Populazzi by Elise Allen

Description (from Goodreads):
Cara has never been one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.
Now, junior year could change everything. Cara’s moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, she’ll reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi.
The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

My thoughts:

Once again, book I only picked up because of its cover. And I thought that this would be a nice light read to add to the more demanding readings needed for my uni course. And I was right about that; Populazzi is definitely a nice, light read, but I promise that it will keep you interested.

I really liked Cara at the beginning of the novel. When she met Archer I started to hope that she would leave the whole ladder thing and just spend time with him. But since there were like 250 pages left of the novel, I knew that she would not leave the ladder. To be honest, I did not like Claudia at all as a character. She is basically living through Cara because she herself feels like she cannot get popular anymore at her school. This whole becoming popular thing seems so distant to me. The high school I went to, had like 40 students so the idea of someone climbing the ladder just sounds hilarious. And even though there were certain groupings of people, if needed, we were able to work together. I did a year in American high school, but I think it might have been different for me, because for some reason everyone thought that I was pretty cool, probably because of the fact that I was a foreigner. 

There were points at the novel in which Cara just wanted to give up. In those points I really hoped that she would. But Claudia was always there, and I did not like the fact that Cara always tended to do what Claudia said. Towards the end of the novel, when Cara's plans do not go as she wanted, I started to see the Cara again I liked at the beginning.

And okay, Archer, he sounds like the most awesome guy ever and I just kept waiting for the moment that Cara actually admits that she has feelings for him. Nate sounded like an interesting guy, but I think that as Cara lost her interest, I lost it too. 

If you do not have all of your holiday reads chosen yet, I recommend Populazzi. It is fun and even though you would not like all of Cara's decisions etc, you want to read more just to know what happens; at least that happened with me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In My Mailbox #26

Okay, it is like a year since I did In My Mailbox last time... so I think it is good time to do one RIGHT now! :)

These are some gems I've found in the past few weeks!

(The links take you to the Goodreads description of the novels.) 

Any thoughts on these books? What did you get/buy this week? 
Have a great week and remember to ReadReadRead!

Book Review: The Next Door Boys by Jolene B. Perry

Synopsis ( from Goodreads): 

With her body still recovering from last year's cancer treatments, Leigh Tressman is determined to be independent. Despite the interference from her overprotective brother, physical frustrations, and spiritual dilemmas— not to mention the ever expanding line of young men ready to fall in love with her— Leigh discovers what it actually means to stand on her own and learns that love can be found in unexpected but delightful places

My thoughts:

The Next Door Boys is one of those novels I picked from NetGalley just because I liked the cover design. I've had a Samsung Galaxy Tab for a while now, but I never had given the ebooks a try. Well, now I finally did, and with positive results.

I really didn't give the synopsis much attention before starting to read. So I was totally clueless to the religious aspect of the novel. Now that I look back, I think it was a good thing because I usually pass the stories with religion included. As I read through this, I actually started to enjoy the religious aspect of the story but at the same time it make me kind of sad because I myself don't have the kind of strong belief to anything (expect maybe myself) that the main character Leigh has.

All Leigh wants it some independence. But to her cancer, she had to miss a year from school, and now, even though she is recovered, she is still under the watchful eye of her parents and her big brother. Moving out and starting college isn't really what she expected; her brother is her neighbour and it seems like guys are giving her a lot more attention than she expected. And then there's Brian, her brother's roommate who first indimitates her, but who eventually becomes closer to Leigh that she never expected.

Cancer is always an issue which makes you think about your own life and what you can be grateful for. I lost my childhood friend to cancer this summer, and I have since then avoided anything related to cancer. I think reading this novel did some good to me because it made me believe that it always does not end the way it ended for my friend. It also made me feel grateful for the time and memories I was able to have with my friend.

I don't want anyone to be taken back by the religious aspect of this novel because I feel like if you pass this one, you lose a GREAT reading experience. The characters are so realistic and all of them fragile in their own ways. The love and friendship portrayed in this novel are so pure and something I myself desire. Through the glimpses to their religious faith these characters become even more real and throughout the novel I felt like these characters became people I would love to hang out with.
This novel definitely surprised me with a big bang! 

I want to thank NetGalley for providing me the review copy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book Review: A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

A Dolls House, a play by Henrik Ibsen remains still a classic of drama. It touches on issues of womanhood, but also on issues on parenting and money. Through its characters we learn a lot about the society of its time, giving us historical insights into the context of the play text.

Nora, the protagonist of Ibsen's play isn't really what the appearances give out. Treated like a child by her husband, she seems like the ideal wife of a man who's power in business is rising. But the truth is that Nora has a secret, a secret that would change everything.

Torvald, Nora's husband, is a man of strong principles. The loan, which Nora has taken behind Torvald's back fights against all of Torvald's principles and values. Torvald sees women belonging to their homes to take care of children and their husbands (probably a very common view during the time the play was written). He despises the independence of women and is strongly against borrowing money. 

The role of women is one of the main themes of Ibsen's play. Nora eventually breaks out from the mold designed from women by the society (and men). But this is not done without consequences; her self-sacrificing decision to leave her children to the hands of the nanny. Throughout the play the characters have talked about how children end up bad if their parents have been acting morally wrong. This is a thought that must be in Nora's head when she leaves her children.

Readers of Ibsen's play probably have very different types of reactions to Nora's actions, especially to her final decision. I myself cannot identify with Nora because I do not have children, but for a reader who is a mother (or father) the situation must seem quite different. Nora is stuck in a dolls house built up by her husband and the society and is tired of keeping up the appearances. 

But are her actions justified? Are we still, today, living in dolls houses we've built for ourselves and people around us?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: From Notting Hill with Love...Actually by Ali McNamara

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Scarlett O'Brien is in love . . . with the movies. Utterly hooked on Hugh Grant, crazy about Richard Curtis, dying with lust for Johnny Depp, Scarlett spends her days with her head in the clouds and her nights with her hand in a huge tub of popcorn. Which is not exactly what her sensible, DIY-obsessed fiancé David has in mind for their future. So when Scarlett has the chance to house-sit an impossibly grand mansion in Notting Hill ? the setting of one of her all-time favourite movies ? she jumps at the chance to live out her film fantasies one last time. It's just a shame that her new neighbour Sean is so irritating ? and so irritatingly handsome, too. As a chaotic comedy of her very own erupts around Scarlett, she begins to realise there's more to life than seating plans and putting up shelves. What sort of happy ending does she really want? Will it be a case of Runaway Bride or Happily Ever After? The big white wedding looms, and Scarlett is running out of time to decide.

My thoughts:

The first time I bumped into this books months ago in a bookstore at Finland I knew that it would be a perfect read for me. The synopsis sounds great; movies, London, handsome neighbor. Already from the cover you see that this is one of those books that you know what is going to happen in the end. But aren't you even a bit curious to see how it will happen?

Scarlett, the heroine is in many ways like me; she is completely obsessed with movies (I am reminded about my obsession daily by my friends and family). She also tends to relate everything to movies, which is something I do all the time. She is in love with Hugh Grant, she has seen Notting Hill way too many times, and she keeps hoping that a life would be a bit more like a movie. Her fiance David is a totally opposite to Scarlett and her personality. He seems uptight and annoying most of the time. It is still a bit unclear for me way Scarlett is with him in the first place.

When Scarlett's wedding is looming around, she realizes that she needs some time on her own to think. When she is offered a position as a house-sitter at Notting Hill, she cannot refuse. Her first moments at Notting Hill are (of course) like straight for a movie. She meets a gay guy, they become instants friends and she is invited to a dinner. She also meets her new temporary neighbor, who of course is steaming hot, but also a bit arrogant (Mr. Darcy, much?) And of course they meet at the dinner again... And that is just the beginning.

As the time goes by at Notting Hill, Scarlett sees that life truly is full of movie-like moments. She and Sean (the hot neighbor) also seem like polar opposites as you get to know more about them, but they at least have chemistry between them. It just takes a bit of time for Scarlett to fully realize it.

As I said before, this novel is totally obvious one. But I did not expect anything else from it. It is funny, full of nice movie mentions and the ending is SO romantic that it made me cry for good 10 minutes. I want my own Sean ASAP!

(From the end of the book you can find nice movie trivia and a guide to Notting Hill)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1) by Simone Elkeles

Description (from Goodreads):
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.  In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

My thoughts:
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is one of those books that has been on my reading list literally for years, but I just never managed to buy it and give it a read, probably mostly because of the fact that I never saw a copy of it in a Finnish book store. Now that I have moved to UK, it was one of the first books I bought from here. And I am so happy I did so, because it was AMAZING!

The description of the story sounds pretty familiar; a girl and a boy from totally different backgrounds are forced together. They fall in love and are the only ones who actually understand why they are together. But this novel so much more than just this quite stereotypical story pattern.

What made this story exceptional was the characterization of both Brittany and Alex. They are round characters; they have many sides to them. So Brittany isn't just a stereotypical popular girl. And Alex isn't just a bad guy from the hood. Brittany's family life sucks and she keeps up a role just to please her parents. Alex is intelligent and passionate, but he has been sucked into the gangs and thus sees that as his eventual end. But everything changes when they are paired up in a chemistry class. After actually getting to know each other, they notice they can be themselves around each other. 

I just loved everything about this novel. It manages to be funny, heartbreaking, passionate and intelligent all at the same time. It really catches the attention all the way from the beginning and you just have to keep reading. (I did the mistake of starting this a night before a morning class and kept reading it throughout the whole night.... I must say I was quite tired at my morning class).

Definitely one of the best books I have read in a long time!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Film Review: Trust

Production Year: 2010
Drama, Thriller
106 min
Directed by David Schwimmer
Starring Clive Owen, Catherine Keener and Liana Liberato

Trust, a movie directed by the funny guy David Schwimmer, who is best known for his role as Ross Geller from the hit show FRIENDS, truly hits to the spot and keeps the watcher on his heels throughout the whole movie. The issue the movie discusses and the way the actors portray feelings of ordinary people on a completely new and horrible situation is touching and realistic. 'Trust' is a movie you will keep thinking about for weeks after you have seen it.

Annie, a 14 year old girl of a normal suburban family, meets a guy of her dreams on a online chat. Everything about this guy Annie meets seems perfect. Annie is happy. She has found one with who she can share her worries, her problems and her successes. This new crush also provides Annie a way to search her own sexuality. 

The communication between Annie and her new friend gets more serious when they start to talk on a phone and eventually Annie learns that the guy she has fallen for isn't who he said he would be. The guy Annie has been talking to isn't 16, 19 or even 25. He is way older than that. He is a pedophile, but Annie, who has been lured into the world of that guy, does not see it. She thinks that age does not matter. She thinks that he loves her and thus trusts him fully.

When everything comes to the knowledge of the parents of Annie, the life of Annie and her family crashes. Annie's father wants revenge, Annie's mother wants Annie to be okay. Annie does not want problems for her new friend, the man that has hurt and lied to her. Annie's innocence has been lost, her world has changed completely and it seems that the only one that does not know it is Annie herself.

I have always associated David Schwimmer with FRIENDS. And because of that association it was so hard to believe that this guy who has always made me laugh could have directed something this serious and realistic. The reviews I read of 'Trust' promised a lot, and I must say that the movie was even more than I expected. The realism of the movie is amazing; nothing has been made same easier of more beautiful than it actually is. Clive Owen does great job as Annie's father and I bet we will hear a lot more from Liana Liberato, the young actor playing Annie. 

Trust is a movie we all should see! It is a movie that should be shown in every school when teaching about the hazards of Internet. It is a movie which parents with teenagers should watch. It is a movie that truly touches everyone. 

I promise, it will shock you!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review: Love Story by Erich Segal

Description (from Goodreads):
He is Oliver Barett IV, a rich jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law.
She is Jenny Cavilleri, a wisecracking working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe.
Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny immediately attract, sharing a love that defies everything... yet will end too soon. Here is a love that will linger in your heart now and forever.

My thoughts:

I while ago I watched 'Love Story' the movie and cried my eyes out. Probably everyone who has seen that movie has felt somewhat emotional while watching it. While skimming through the database of the local library I bumped into the novel from which the movie was made from. 

If you have seen the movie, you pretty much know what the book is about. The movie and the novel are extremely similar, so while reading the book I did not find any surprises from it. Usually when there is a book and a movie, I always like the book better, but I must say that this time I have to go with the movie. 

Oliver works as the narrator of the novel. The reader sees everything through his eyes and thoughts. I feel that the way the movie was told (also, in a way, through Oliver's perspective) brought more emotion to the situation. Especially the end of the novel lacks emotion which can be found from the movie. In no way I am saying that I did not like this novel. I did. But when comparing it to the movie, I felt that the emotion which made me cry wasn't there.

Love Story by Erich Segal is a nice and fast read. It is only about 130 pages, so you can skim through it in one sitting. It is a nice read for the fans of the movie. It is a beautiful and sad story with interesting characters. It is a must read (and the movie is a must watch) for the lovers of love stories.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Film Review: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed
Production Year: 2011
Comedy, Drama, Romance
112 min
Directed by Luke Greenfield
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson and Colin Egglesfield

Something Borrowed, a romcom directed by Luke Greenfield is a based on a novel by Emily Giffin. Since I read the novel a couple of years ago, and really liked it, I knew that this movie is a must see for me. 

Recently I have been watching movies of a more "serious" kind. Seeing a movie like this was a nice change to that. Kate Hudson plays Darcy, a New Yorker about to get married with Dex, a handsome lawyer. What Kate does not know is that her best friend Rachel, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, is also in love with Dex. A night after Rachel's birthday party Rachel and Dex end up having sex which works as a catalyst for the upcoming events. Dex realizes he has feelings for Rachel, feelings that he has actually had since they were together in law school. 

The relationship of Rachel and Darcy is a long one. They have been friends since they were kids and they share everything together. But when Rachel has sex with Darcy's future husband, things get complicated. Rachel cannot tell Darcy what has happened. She has to keep pretending everything is okay when in reality she is a wreck. 

You would think that the one you sympathize with is Darcy. But in reality the one you feel for is Rachel. She has always been in the shadow of Darcy. She has always been the one who has been notified as a "friend of Darcy". Pretty much throughout the whole movie Darcy acts like an asshole. And since I think Kate Hudson is pretty annoying, she was perfect pick for the role. 

'Something Borrowed' is one of those movies that you watch even though you already know what is going to happen in the end. I must say that there is a surprise in the end for the ones that haven't read the novel. If you are familiar with the novel, you pretty much know throughout the whole movie what is going to happen.

Something Borrowed isn't a masterpiece of movie making. It is one of those movies that you watch and then forget. But it is also a movie that makes you giddy with it's über-romantic scenes. And I have to say that watching Colin Egglesfield does not hurt either...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Description (from Goodreads):
Some people say Anna Karenina is the single greatest novel ever written, which makes about as much sense to me as trying to determine the world's greatest color. But there is no doubt that Anna Karenina, generally considered Tolstoy's best book, is definitely one ripping great read. Anna, miserable in her loveless marriage, does the barely thinkable and succumbs to her desires for the dashing Vronsky. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that 19th-century Russia doesn't take well to that sort of thing.

My thoughts:

When the summer break started I decided to read something that I had not read yet from my shelf. I was pending the decision for a long time until I decided on Anna Karenina after seeing the main character of 'The Last Song' movie reading it. 

I bought Anna Karenina a couple of years ago from the local bookstore. I just wanted to add it to my collection; I never actually thought of reading it. Now that I have read the novel, I am happy that I picked it up. 

The story Tolstoy tells in Anna Karenina is so amazingly complex. There are so many characters to follow and it is amazing to see how Tolstoy brings all these characters together in different ways; they are friends, lovers, enemies etc for each other. I must admit that at the beginning it was hard to follow all of the characters especially because of their Russian names. But as the story went on, following the characters got easier.

Even though the name of the novel is Anna Karenina, I must say I was surprised to see how little there actually was about Anna in this book. When I started the novel I thought it would be all about her, but while reading I realized that I had thought wrong. The novel touches so many areas of the lives of the people in Russia that through Anna all those aspects could not have been touched. Because of that the novel centers around characters like Levin from time to time.

Anna Karenina is one of those novels that many people are just scared to start to read. I was one of those people, but now I am happy and proud to say that I have read through it all. Anna Karenina definitely isn't a novel you read through in one night (you will need a very long night for it). I would rather call it a novel you really need to go into in order to stay focused in the story. 

Challenge yourself and pick up Anna Karenina! It truly feels rewarding after you are done with it. :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Review: Mere Anarchy by Woody Allen

Description (from Goodreads): Who cannot love a humorist who invokes William Butler Yeats and the Three Stooges in the same sentence? Woody Allen's first humor collection in a quarter century contains all the ingredients that madeGetting Even, Without Feathers, and Side Effects genre classics. The 18 pieces include favorites from The New Yorker, including "Above the Law, Below the Boxsprings" and "Sing, You Sacher Tortes" ("I could feel the wallet in my pocket instinctively clenching like an endangered abalone") and eight never-before-published stories.

My thoughts: For a long time, Woody Allen has been one of my favorite movie directors. His movies, which many times show the absurdism of the life of normal people, have fascinated me and they are one reason why I have decided to seek an education in film. 

Browsing the database of the local library I found this collection stories by Woody Allen and decided to give it a try. And I am so happy I did so, because these stories fascinated me so much with their absurdism. Allen truly is a creative genius who can make you laugh and continue to read/watch in awe.

Mere Anarchy introduces the reader to wide span of different characters from different ages and phases of life. Characters such as E.Coli Bigg, Pontius Perry and Flanders Mealworm enchant the reader and bring out the creativity of Allen. Mere Anarchy includes the following stories: 

-To Err is Human- To Float, Divine
-Tandoori Ransom
-Sam, you made the pants too fragrant
-This nib for hire
-Calisthenics, poison ivy, final cut
-Dearest Nanny
-How deadly your taste buds, my sweet
-Glory hallelujah, sold!
-Caution, falling moguls
-The Rejection
-Sing, you sacher tortes
-On a bad day you can see forever
-Attention geniuses: cash only
-Strung out
-Above the law, below the box springs
-Thus ate Zarathustra
-Suprise rocks Disney trial
-Pinchuck's Law

As you can see already from the names of the stories, the stories you find from this book are very unique. They are absurd, hilarious and so unreal that they eventually become real to the reader. They are so out of this world, but at the same time they discuss things that we all have thought about at some point. The way Allen has constructed these stories make you grave for more (I read this book in just a couple of hours and now I want more!). 

Already the first sentence of the story collection vacuums the reader into the stories; "Gasping for air, my life passing before my eyes in a series of wistful vignettes, I found myself suffocating some months ago under the tsunami on junk mail that cascades through the slot in my door each morning after kippers". Allen's language is so vivid and descriptive that at the beginning it might seem hard to read, but you soon get used to it and you start to want more of those complex sentence structures and wordplays. Sentences such as "All I knew was that I wanted to wrap my weak-gauge bosons around her gluons, slip through a wormhole, and do some quantum tunneling" (Strung Out) made me gasp in awe; Allen is not only a movie genius but with these stories he proves that he is a literary genius as well.

It is hard to recommend this book only to a certain group of people since I want to recommend it to everyone! Of course, if you like Allen's movies, you will probably want to check this out, because you can see some elements from Allen's movies from this collection of stories. This story collection put a smile to my face and made me want to read other stuff by Allen. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review: Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange

Description (from Goodreads): Amanda Grange continues her series of much-loved Jane Austen retellings with "Captain Wentworth's Diary". It is 1806, and the Napoleonic wars are ravaging Europe. Frederick Wentworth, a brilliant young man with a flourishing career in the navy, is spending his shore leave in Somerset, where he meets and falls in love with Anne Elliot. The two become engaged, but Anne's godmother persuades Anne to change her mind, leaving Wentworth to go back to sea a bitter and disappointed man. Eight years pass, and peace is declared. Wentworth is no longer a young man with his way to make in the world, but a seasoned captain with a fortune at his disposal. He is ready to marry anyone with a little beauty who pays a few compliments to the navy - or so he says - until he sees Anne. Anne's bloom has faded, yet she has the same sensibilities and superior mind she had eight years earlier, and before he knows it, he is falling in love with her all over again. Can there be a happy outcome for them this time around, or have they lost their chance of love forever?

My thoughts: Captain Wentworth’s diary is one of the diaries of Jane Austen heroes written by Amanda Grange. This is the fourth Amanda Grange novel for me, and I truly enjoyed it like I did with the previous novels as well. The reviews to the previous Amanda Grange titles I’ve read can be found from these links:

Captain Wentworth’s diary first gives us a glimpse to things that happened when Captain Wentworth and Anne first met and fell in love. The events of that summer are described with much of passion and the love Captain Wentworth feels for Anne is very visible. They get engaged, and Wentworth has many plans for their future. Suddenly Anne says that they cannot remain together. Wentworth’s word is crushed and he goes to the sea to get his mind away from Anne. He wants the sea to be his only mistress.

Eight years later, Wentworth is a wealthy man back in England. His sister and her husband have rented a house from the English country house. Subsequently the house is Kellynch Hall, the home of Anne, Wentworth’s previous love interest. When Wentworth and Anne meet again, Wentworth tries to hide his feelings and rather tries to show Anne that he is over her. But as we all know, in the end, Wentworth and Anne get each other. But by reading Captain Wentworth’s diary we get to see how things proceeded according to the hero of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

This novel was an interesting read because I have always liked Captain Wentworth but I feel that I have never learned that much about his character. Through this novel I was able to see a side of him which supports perfectly the description of him by Austen. As the other Austen hero diaries by Grange, also this one is very emotional and passionate; it is interesting to see how these men who are not able to manifest their passion because of the societal standards put their passion into the pages of their diaries. I think Grange succeeds well this aspect.

Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange is a must read for all fans of Austen and everything related to her.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Meaning for the word Lament - 1. A feeling or an expression of grief; a lamentation.
2. A song or poem expressing deep grief or mourning.

Description (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky—and equally dangerous—dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen's sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren't so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn't exactly what she had in mind . . .

Lament is a dark faerie fantasy that features authentic Celtic faerie lore, plus cover art and interior illustrations by acclaimed faerie artist Julia Jeffrey.

My thoughts:

Lament is the debut novel of acclaimed young adult author Maggie Stiefvater, the woman behind novels such as Shiver and Linger. Lament is the first book of the 'Books of Fairie' and it was published in 2008. When I noticed that this novel had been taken to the collection of novels in English language in my local library, I knew that I have to have a chance to read it since I loved both Shiver and Linger.

Deidre is a high school student who feels that she does not really fit it. She is not one of the girls who love gossiping and fashion. She has only one friend, James, with who she shares everything. She is highly talented with music, and she loves playing her instrument, but she feels that she is always categorized with her music, she thinks that people only see her music, not her. When she meets mysterious Luke Dillon, everything changes. Dee starts to feel things she never expected to feel and she cannot believe that a guy like Luke would be into her. But their relationship isn't as perfect as it sounds; Dee can see faeries and it seems that the faeries want something from her. And James is a killer who has been appointed to kill Dee. And in the madness that Dee is in, the fact that it seems that James wants to be more than friends, becomes one extra problem.

After reading Shiver and Linger, I had pretty high expectations towards this novel. Some of them were filled, some not. Even though I really liked this novel, I did not get the feeling I got while reading/finishing with either Shiver/Linger; the feeling that I want to read the novel again right away. I really liked Dee as a character and in a way I was able to identify with her since I have always felt that people only see a one side of me as well. Luke is a interesting character as well, but I did not feel like I fell in love with him which is pretty unusual because I always fall in love with the leading men of novels like this. I really would have liked to know more about James since he feels like such a hilarious guy. 

I felt that the beginning of the novel was more interesting than the ending. I kept waiting for something to happen, and then the novel just ended. Well, of course something happened, but not something "big" I kept expecting to happen. But I know that there is a second novel to this series, and since the ending of this novel was kept so open, maybe the second book gives some explanations to the things that were kept open in this one. 

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater is a faerie fantasy with a darker side. It is a must read for fans of Shiver and Linger; the reader is able to see from where Stiefvater started from. 

Is the second novel in this series any good?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: The Hours by Michael Cummingham

Description (from Goodreads): 
The Hours is both an homage to Virginia Woolf and very much its own creature. Even as Michael Cunningham brings his literary idol back to life, he intertwines her story with those of two more contemporary women. One gray suburban London morning in 1923, Woolf awakens from a dream that will soon lead to Mrs. Dalloway. In the present, on a beautiful June day in Greenwich Village, 52-year-old Clarissa Vaughan is planning a party for her oldest love, a poet dying of AIDS. And in Los Angeles in 1949, Laura Brown, pregnant and unsettled, does her best to prepare for her husband's birthday, but can't seem to stop reading Woolf. These women's lives are linked both by the 1925 novel and by the few precious moments of possibility each keeps returning to. Clarissa is to eventually realize:
There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined.... Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
As Cunningham moves between the three women, his transitions are seamless. One early chapter ends with Woolf picking up her pen and composing her first sentence, "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." The next begins with Laura rejoicing over that line and the fictional universe she is about to enter. Clarissa's day, on the other hand, is a mirror of Mrs. Dalloway's--with, however, an appropriate degree of modern beveling as Cunningham updates and elaborates his source of inspiration. Clarissa knows that her desire to give her friend the perfect party may seem trivial to many. Yet it seems better to her than shutting down in the face of disaster and despair. Like its literary inspiration, The Hours is a hymn to consciousness and the beauties and losses it perceives. It is also a reminder that, as Cunningham again and again makes us realize, art belongs to far more than just "the world of objects." --Kerry Fried

My thoughts:

I bought this book a couple of years ago when I found it from this sale basket from the local bookstore. I had heard about the movie made from this novel, but I had not seen it. When I had some time to read something other than school books (NOW I ONLY HAVE TIME FOR OTHER BOOKS, FINALLY) I picked this from the bookshelf and after the first pages I was totally hooked. The novel is so interestingly constructed and the way the stories of these three women intertwine is just excellent. 

The novel introduces the reader to three women; Virginia Woolf in 1923 in London, Laura Brown in 1949 in Los Angeles and Clarissa Vaughan in present time in New York City. In London, Virginia Woolf wakes up from a dream and gets an inspiration to Mrs Dalloway. In Los Angeles Laura Brown is reading Mrs Dalloway. She is pregnant and she tries to be the "domestic goddess" that can prepare a beautiful cake for her husband's birthday. Laura cannot stop reading Woolf, and that eventually has dramatic results. Clarissa lives in Greenwich Village with her female lover. She is planning a party for her old love, a poet called Richard who is sick with AIDS. I don't want to explain the plot with more detail because I think that would ruin the reading experience. At least I was surprised about the deep linkage between these women when I finally figured it out at the end of the novel.

What I really liked about 'The Hours' was how Cunningham has been able to intertwine the stories together. Even though there is gap of many years between these women, the way the stories are put together is so masterful that it makes a lover of good literature grin with pleasure. Now when I look back, I regret not taking this book before from my bookshelf, but on the other hand, it provided A GREAT passage way for me away from school work for a short while.

I watched the movie afterwards and I feel that it really was able to catch the feelings and emotions from the novel. I recommend this book to everyone who loves literature, this one is really worth reading!

I even ordered Mrs Dalloway so I can read it at some point... :D