Monday, November 28, 2011

To The Movies: Breaking Dawn Part 1

When a storyline from a book is turned into a movie, the movie becomes its own text. The basic storyline may be the same, but when changes are made in order to fit the movie within a time limit or to highlight an element or theme that the people involved in the movie feels is important—they make the story their own. I will focus these features on movies made based on books I have read—I want to look beyond whether I think the movie is better or worse than the book. I want to appreciate and review the movie as a companion to the book.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama, Adventure
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner
Director: Bill Condon
Scriptwriter: Melissa Rosenberg
Date Released: November 18, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Movie Info: IMDB | Website
Rating: 2 Stars
Purchased ticket.

In A Nutshell:
There is action.  There is romance.  And there are answers to the biggest question I had--how exactly did Edward break the headboard on the honeymoon.  But overall, I felt the movie was lacking in something.  I was not drawn into the story nearly as much as in previous movies.

I cannot define what exactly was missing, but something was.  Maybe part of the trouble for me was that this part of the story was not the part of the book I liked the most--I personally preferred the book after Bella's transformation so I expect I will like Breaking Dawn Part 2 better.

The wedding scene was beautiful and as over the top as I expected after reading the books.  Alice missed her calling as a wedding planner.  The wedding toasts seemed so cheesy and obnoxious--I just kept thinking would people really say that.  And would Alice have just sit by and let it continue?  I just felt awkward while watching it.  

Breaking Dawn Part 1 is not an easy movie to watch--the changes in Bella's body as the baby grows are startling and a little mortifying--and I gagged a little when Bella started drinking the human blood and said that it tasted good.  The blood on her dried cracked lips--ick!  

I also think that people who have not read the books and have only been watching the movies will have lost a lot because the backstory on the immortal children is not really discussed in the movie.  What they are?  How they were created?  Why they were banned?  How Bella and Edward's daughter is different from them?  I think understanding that will be important to understanding Breaking Dawn Part 2 and the justification for the battle at the end. 

The scene that really struck me though was when Jacob imprinted on the baby.  The look, the pictures that flooded his mind through her eyes, that really stuck with me. 

And then the red eyes that open just before the credits start--I loved those eyes.  But I was also a little heartbroken because it was just getting to the part of the book I really enjoyed and now I know I have to wait to see it. 

Have you seen the movie?  What did you think?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Series in Review: Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Series are a tricky thing. I have series that I love as a whole, but an individual book within the series did not impress me.  So I am not always sure that reviewing the individual books is fair to the author's vision. However, I do not want to postpone all of my reviews of the books within a series until the end. With those thoughts in mind I decided to start Series In Review. In these postings, I will be looking at more than one book in the series or if possible the entire series at one time.
**This review may contain spoilers for some of the books in the series**

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Love & Romance, Vampires, Werewolves
Books Released in Series: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn

Supplemental Books: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars
Borrowed books from the library.

In A Nutshell:
This series left me torn.  Stephenie Meyer has an exceptional ability to put emotions into words.  I have known love and loss of love, so Bella's emotions throughout the series resonated with me--and the way that Stephenie Meyer put them into words was better than anything I could have done myself.  But there were definite elements of the relationship between Bella and Edward that I struggle with.  I do not think it is a healthy model of relationships particularly for the YA audience that the books were written for. 

I had been very resistant to read The Twilight Saga, but after listening to my niece talk about it almost non-stop during one of my visits to see my sister's family I decided to take the leap.  I tried reading the novels, but I had to stop because the grammar issues really got under my skin (if you want a good explanation of what I mean look at Reasoning with Vampires).  The best solution for me so I could still finish the story was to switch to audiobooks.  These books were the ones that got me hooked on audiobooks--I love that I can put them on my iPod and take them with me everywhere.

Stephenie Meyer's ability to put Bella's emotions into words is riveting.  I really felt like I was in the head and the heart of a teenage girl.  This ability to escape from my every-day life to remember what first love feels like is one of the things I love about reading YA literature.  But one of the things that bothers me is that Bella is making decisions as a teen in love that will affect the rest of her life.  Maybe that is fairly realistic since I know I had friends who made choices in high school for love that affected the rest of their lives, but that is not always fun to read about because I just find myself saying over and over again that this decision is permanent.  It cannot be taken back.

The fact that Bella is making so many permanent decisions is a big part of why I do not like the relationship between Edward and Bella.  He is controlling.  He does a lot of things that seem to be stalker-ish to me.  He can only be with her if she gives up everything in her life, including her family, friends, and very humanity.  No one should feel they have to give up everything about themselves to be with another person.  And I do not like to see that being set up as the model relationship to aspire to.

In the end, I was glad I had read it and glad to be able to talk to my niece about it.  It was great to have that connection with her.  And when she got Scene It? Twilight Deluxe Edition for Christmas--I actually held my own and almost won one round. 

If you have read these books and watched the movies, you should definitely get this game.  My family played for hours on end!

And I will be reviewing it separately later, but I really liked the novella.  I hope there are more to come because there were so many characters in Breaking Dawn that I want to learn more about:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

TBR Intervention (1)

I found a meme that is perfect for my goal to read some of the books I have on hand so I can move some of the books off of my rather large TBR pile.  But I have so many books to pick that I cannot narrow it down!

Okay--I put my hand on the pile and came up with one.  I have been wanting to read it for a while so I am really kind of happy that it was the one I found.   So over the next week, my goal is to read:

And if you would like to join in the fun--here you go. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Follow Friday (7)

I want to thank Parajunkee and Alison Can Read for the opportunity to be one of the feature blogs for Follow Friday. And I wish everyone a slightly belated Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Q: It's Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for - blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

I am thankful for my friend, clb.  She was the person who most supported my idea of having a book blog.  And when I got overwhelmed and started neglecting the blog, she was the one that reminded me how much I loved blogging.  She brought me back.  

I am thankful for my daughter, although I am not sure that I would say she has helped with the blog.  Currently as I am writing (or more accurately trying to write) this post she is demanding my attention to help pack her backpack to go to our cousin's house for Thanksgiving.  But she is a huge source of joy in my life--and reading with her before bed reminds me everyday of the importance of reading and how much fun it can be.

Books that I am thankful for that is a tough question.  
Pride and Prejudice is one of the books that I can read over and over and over again.  And every time I fall back in love with Darcy and Elizabeth!
I read Gone with the Wind in middle school--it was my first taste of an "adult" book (or at least what I thought of as an adult book at the time).  I was hooked--who could not love Rhett Butler. 
Revolution is one of the books that I read this year that really stuck with me.  I could not get it out of my mind the way that Jennifer Donnelly brought the music alive in words and the way that she intertwined the French Revolution-era story with the modern-day story.  I cannot wait to read it again!
And last but certainly not least--I have to list Outlander because I have been talking about it non-stop since I started it.  It took me a while to get through, but it was worth every second!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Book Addict Reviews: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Time Travel, Science Fiction, Historical
Order Online:
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars
Borrowed this book from the library.

In A Nutshell:
I was not sure what to expect when I started it.  The size of the book and the amount of CDs in the case worried me--would I be able to keep it all straight?  Yes because Diana Gabaldon does a masterful job of creating the story and keeping it compelling and easy to follow.  I loved this book! 

I admit it--I judged Outlander by the cover; or more accurately I judged it by the size of its cover.  The book looked so huge and unwielding that I was afraid to start it.  But so many people kept recommending the book to me that I gave in.  And I am so glad that I did.

Diana Gabaldon has mastered the details.  Outlander is packed full of details about what people in 1743 Scotland ate, wore, practiced religion, traveled, interacted within the clan organization, practiced religion and even decorated their homes.  At every turn of the story, I felt like I was there in the story.

Diana Gabaldon has mastered characters.  My friends are starting to make fun of me because I have been talking about Jamie Fraser incessantly.  He was the kind of character that stuck with me.  I wanted to meet him--and I most definitely wanted to see him in his kilt!

But even more than that, I wanted to meet Gellie.  Since we hear Claire's story, we know a lot about her 1945 life and her 1743 life.  But Gellie is an intriguing mystery to me.  What did she leave behind in 1967?  Why didn't she try to return?  I wholeheartedly wish that Claire had seen the small pox vaccination scar earlier; early enough to have some long conversations with her.

I already have the next book in the series and I cannot wait to start it and find out what happens to Claire, Jamie, and all the other characters that Diana Gabaldon created that I love:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Short and Sweet: Lana Halliday by LuLu Sullivan

And to the point! Sometimes it is nice to read a short story or a novella, but it is not aways fair to compare them to longer stories with more time for plot and character development.

Genre: Short Story
Order Online:
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars
Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

In A Nutshell:
While I am in the middle of a very long book (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon), reading Lana Halliday was a wonderful and fun escape.  There are not a lot of pages to the story--but it accomplishes a lot in those pages with a lively plot and memorable characters. 

Short stories can be difficult to write.  Within the confines of a few pages, the author must bring out their characters, their action, and a complete story.  LuLu Sullivan does all of these things very well in Lana Halliday

Lana Halliday is the type of character who sticks with you.  She is part cleverness and ingenuity, part unabashed and unashamed honesty, and a part kindness who would do anything for a friend.  It is an unusual combination and an interesting combination to bring to light in so few pages.  And although I am not sure I would want to be her friend, she is definitely a character I would like to see again in more stories.

Even the more minor characters are well developed.  We may not see as many facets of their personality as we saw of Lana's personality, but they are not simple or undeveloped.  We see a mix of their positive and negative attributes as they relate to the story.  We see them as complete people, maybe even people we would like to see again in more stories.  

In some ways the plot was a little fantastical, but as I was reading it I was totally drawn in.  I had no doubt that Peter would believe Lana completely--I believed her completely.  And I appreciated that the story felt complete.  There is opportunity for more fun adventures and stories with Lana, but this story did not leave an unsatisfying cliff-hanger.  It definitely met my need to read something short and sweet--and a lot of fun!

I am still on the lookout for more short stories and/or novellas to review (recommendations are graciously welcome!), but I highly recommend another book by this author (my review):

Monday, November 14, 2011

To The Movies: Never Let Me Go

When a storyline from a book is turned into a movie, the movie becomes its own text. The basic storyline may be the same, but when changes are made in order to fit the movie within a time limit or to highlight an element or theme that the people involved in the movie feels is important—they make the story their own. I will focus these features on movies made based on books I have read—I want to look beyond whether I think the movie is better or worse than the book. I want to appreciate and review the movie as a companion to the book

Genre: Drama, Romance
Actors: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Izzy Meikle-Small, Charlie Rowe
Director: Mark Romanek
Scriptwriter: Alex Garland
Date DVD Released: February 1, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Movie Info: IMDB
Order Online:
Rating: 2 Stars
Borrowed from the library.

In A Nutshell:
I do not know what I expected from this movie.  I am glad I watched it after reading the book, but I do not think I would watch it again.  I did not find it compelling or gripping--just okay and a fairly accurate telling of the story in the book.

I am not sure what I hoped to gain from watching the movie since I was not overly impressed with the book.  But when I saw it at the library--I decided to take the leap.

In some ways, I felt the movie explained the program better and more quickly than in the book.  Miss Lucy explained what the Hailsham students could expect out of their life fairly clearly near the beginning of the movie.  It was heartbreaking as the camera panned across the faces of the students as Miss Lucy talked--the look on their faces as they absorbed what she said mixed with the innocence of not quite understanding the full impact of what they are being told. 

However, it did have an impact on the later scene when Tommy and Kathy go to see Miss Emily to ask for a deferment because they are in love.  In the book, this scene was so powerful because it was the first time the program is really explained in the book.  Since the movie explained the program in more detail earlier--this scene in the movie lacked some of the power of the book. 

After watching this movie, I felt the need for a good laugh--and thought of another Keira Knightley movie: