Saturday, December 31, 2011

TBR Intervention (3)

I have been a little lax on my TBR Intervention.  I am blaming the holidays (that seems so much better than a blaming me, right?).

But the new year is coming and I am dedicated to starting over with my TBR Intervention.

And my first book of the year, thanks to my friend Jen's contest, is:
Magician, heal thyself.

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself.  But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted.  Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture.  Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince--leader of a campaign against her people.  As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for.  Because the price of peace may be her life...

Here is my second book for the year (I figure I should set my goals high, right?):

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.  But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place.  Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina--she's fearless.

Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank.  And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul--her life.

And finally because I love audiobooks when I am walking or on the train, I plan to read (or more appropriately I guess I should say listen to): 

Macy's summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development.

But Macy's plans don't anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or . . . Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn't fit Macy's life at all; so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So . . . happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before?

So as we start the new year, what do you plan to be your first books to read?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Follow Friday (9)

Question of the Week: The New Year is here -- and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

Since I had my unplanned hiatus not too long ago--I had set some new goals/resolutions for myself then that I intend to continue with through the new year:
1) Review at least one book a week (and so far this goal has been going well so I think I have gotten into a groove that I can keep up with--I am however taking two college classes next semester so I will have to see what that does to my reading-for-fun time!)
2) Bring back my To The Movie posts which focuses on the movies based on books that I have already read.  I have been having a lot of fun going to the movies or renting movies I have been meaning to watch based on books that I loved (or at least liked as the case may be). 
3) Review more short stories and/or novellas.  This has been a genre that I have enjoyed exploring more and more but I have found that it is harder and harder to find stand-alone options that fit into these categories.  I have found quite a few anthologies--but I would love recommendations on short stories or novellas that you loved.
4) The TBR Intervention.  My TBR pile is ridiculous!  I have to get a handle on it in the new year.  So I am making a pledge to get focused on my TBR pile in the new year by participating in this challenge/intervention all year long.  Hopefully, I can get through some of the really great books that people recommended for me! of right now I think the TBR Intervention is going to be my only reading "challenge" for 2012, but I am interested to see what you all have set for your blogging resolutions and/or challenges.  I may find one that I cannot resist.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Book Addict Reviews: A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Women Sleuths, Contemporary Fiction
Order Online:
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars
Borrowed this book from the library.

In A Nutshell:
Why did I wait so long to read this series?  In some ways I worried about getting into a series that had so many books--and still had more planned.  But after reading A is for Alibi I am only sorry that I waited so long.  I have so much to catch up on before I can read the newest book that recently came out: V is for Vengeance.

I am so far behind on this series--and after reading A is for Alibi I am kicking myself for not jumping in sooner.  Kinsey Milhone is not your run-of-the-mill character.  She is tough and determined.  She is realistically fallible which makes her endearing.  She feels like someone you could meet on the street, someone you could be friends with.  Well--maybe not friends since she prides herself on being sort of a loner.  I say sort-of because I can see so many options for growth and I cannot wait to get the next book in the series, B is for Burglar, so I can see how Kinsey develops and changes across the course of the series!

The prose is very direct.  Initially, it was hard for me to get into it.  I wanted more details or more flow or more something--I could not put my finger on.  But as I got further into the story, I realized that the prose part of Kinsey--part of understanding her character.  I came to love the prose as I grew to love Kinsey.  However, many of the details and descriptions leave a lot to the imagination.  As much as I felt like I was getting inside the head of Kinsey, I did not feel like I was getting inside settings.  I felt like the story could have taken place anywhere--maybe that was intentional?

It has been a while since I read a book written in the nineties--and one of the things that really tickled my funny bone was that many of the references to technology.  What seemed advanced in A is for Alibi seems so horribly out of date today.  It really made me smile. 

I already have the next one on reserve!

Monday, December 26, 2011

To The Movies: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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, Thriller
Actors: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Christopher Plummer
Director: David Fincher
Scriptwriter: Steven Zaillian
Release Date: December 20, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Movie Info: IMDB | Website
Review of The Millennium Trilogy: Here
Rating: 3 Stars
Purchased ticket.

In A Nutshell:
I loved the books!  I loved the Swedish versions of the movies!  I went to see this movie with some apprehension--how will it compare.  In the end, I am glad I watched it but I have a few concerns about what I saw.


After seeing this movie poster--I did not have high hopes for this movie.  The image did not necessarily offend me, but I could not see a woman like Lisbeth, who had been so thoroughly victimized by society, actually posing like that.   I have also watched the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and I loved it.  Why did we need another version?  I mention these two issues because I feel that they may have affected my feelings about this movie.

There were things I really liked about this movie.  I loved that it was longer--and that with the added length we got to see more of the details from the book.  We got to see more of the process that lead Mikael and Lisbeth to uncover the truth.  It was those details that drew me into the book--and I loved seeing them come to life on the screen.

But there were a few more things that I did not like about the move.  First (and I am warning you now that this one is a spoiler), they changed the ending.  Rather than having Anita Vanger and Harriet Vanger living separate lives in separate countries--they had Harriet taking over Anita's life after her untimely death 20 years earlier.  Why?  I also question how realistic this modification is.  What are the chances that someone in the Vanger family would not have travelled to London in 20 years and in traveling to London would not have looked up their family member who lived there?  I understand that this family was dysfunctional--but the risk seemed a little too high for me considering how easily Mikael found Anita/Harriet in London.

Second (I really don't feel this is a spoiler), the opening sequence with the leading cast members' name listed.  The sequence is very fast and graphically interesting, but it is too fast.  It is hard to determine what the pictures actually depict--and consequently the meaning they are trying to convey.  And without understanding the meaning it felt like a awful lot of time to waste in the course of the story.  This sequence is also situated between the opening clip and the rest of the movie--so the lack of meaning stood out to me quite substantially.  The imagery also did not come up later--so it seemed out of place.

Third (could be considered by some to be a spoiler), I missed having the end tied to the beginning.  In the book--it was such an important moment when Harriet, Henrik and Mikael are looking at the flowers and she explains that she sent them hoping that Henrik would know that she was safe somewhere.  In the movie--their story ends at Harriet and Henrik hugging at the front door.  I missed that imagery and that moment that tied back to the opening sequence--the moment when Henrik decided that he was going to find out what happened to Harriet no matter what.  

I do not regret watching the movie--in fact I will say that I am glad I went to see the movie.  But I liked the Swedish version more and will probably buy that version rather than waiting for this version to come out on DVD.

It comes in an extended version!! I want it!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

To The Movies: Eat, Pray, Love

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: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, and Richard Jenkins
Director: Ryan Murphy
Scriptwriter: Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt
Date DVD Released: November 23, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Movie Info: IMDB
Order Online:
Rating:2 Stars
Borrowed movie from library.s.

In A Nutshell:
I was really disappointed in this movie. I struggled with the book, but throughout the entire book I saw Elizabeth Gilbert as a strong woman on a quest to reclaim her own life who in the end found a man who loved her for being strong. Watching the movie however, I thought that Elizabeth Gilbert was a woman on a quest to find love and through love she would have a life. How is that better or different from the life she left behind in New York?

Review: (spoilers below)
I held out hope that the movie would address some of the issues I had with the book, namely the unfocused ramblings. In some ways it did, but instead of being an improvement I felt it was a travesty. Instead of keeping with the idea of Elizabeth Gilbert as a strong woman on a search to find herself and love herself--the movie made it look like her entire search was for the guy that would complete her.

I did read the book--I knew that she was going to find Felipe in the end. But over the course of the book I never felt like the search for him was her main purpose. It was a happy accident--and one I was glad happened because I was happy for her. By comparison, the movie focused so much on her loneliness in Italy in comparison to her friends who are in love. Then at the Guru's retreat the movie focuses on her loneliness in comparison to her friend who is getting married (even though it was an arranged marriage and her friend is unsure of whether she will be happy or not). So of course in Bali she has to find love, right?

And I thought it was ironic that her friend at the beginning of the movie commented that when she was in a relationship she took on the look of her partner (in the same way some people start to look like their dogs). You can see a still from that part of the movie here. Then at the end, don't you think she looks like her partner here or here?  Did anything really change?

I must confess that I am one of the few people in the world who have not seen Coyote Ugly so I think that I am going to go watch that and forget about Eat Pray Love:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Book Addict Reviews: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Genre: Travel, Memoir
Order Online:
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 2 stars
Bought this book after a friend told me about it.

In A Nutshell:
A good friend of mine raved about this book, so I finally sat down and read it.  Maybe my expectations were high because of all that my friend had told me, but overall I was rather underwhelmed with the book. 

I am currently in the middle of a divorce. I only share this fact because I believe my review of this book will be affected by where I am in my life right now. And as I have talked to a few of my friends who have read this book, our reveiws seemed to be tied to what is going on in our lives. If we are in transition (like me) than we found parts that really hit us. But my friends who are content with where they are in their lives right now found the book impossible.

There were quite a few stories/ideas/beads that really resonated with me. In particular, as she talks about her relationship with her ex-husband and David and really getting over those two relationships. I found a lot of food for thought in those beads.

But I only gave this book a 2 because there were other aspects of this book that really annoyed me. First, there was a lot of rambling, and so there was a few times I almost gave up because I kept thinking why am I reading this? Why do I care? It kind of reminded me of listening to that annoying person who insists on telling you his/her life story after you asked "how are you doing today?"

Second, I felt a little bit of contradiction. On one hand she wants to protect the people in her story by not telling the readers who her guru is or how to find the locations. But on the other hand she seems to be trying to help the reader start his/her own journey to enlightenment. How? Where can we start? Can we do it without taking off for a year? I was hoping the end would have some guidance, but no.

While I was not overly impressed with Eat, Pray, Love, I started looking at Elizabeth Gilbert's website and found out about some of the other books/stories she had written.  I found out that she wrote an article for GQ that became the inspiration for Coyote Ugly.  I want to find that article.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Book Addict Reviews: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Social Issue, Music
Order Online:
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars
Borrowed from library.

In A Nutshell:
So many of the books I have read recently have drawn on the importance of music to teens--how it is a way to express themselves, to cope with the events going on in their lives, a passion that brings them back from dark and depressing places.  In some ways, I worried that Just Listen would not have anything new to bring to my experience.  But Just Listen is not like any of the other books related to music that I have read.  My only regret is that I put it off so long.

Annabel's life looks perfect from the outside.  She models and has become an inspiration to younger girls.  She lives in a glass house where people passing by have the opportunity to see a picturesque view a modern family eating dinner or seating together in the living room.  With so much of her life open to the world, its easy to think that she does not have any secrets.  That her life is everything that can be seen from the outside.

But Annabel has secrets that she keeps in an effort to keep the peace in her house.  She cannot bear to tell her mother for fear that her mother will have another breakdown.  She cannot bear to tell her sisters because they are both dealing with their own serious problems.  She cannot tell her friends because many of them abandoned her after an episode at a party.

She is alone in her struggles until she meets Owen.  Owen is not the typical YA hero.  He is big and a little clumsy.  He has been arrested and had to undergo an anger management course.  At first Annabel is a little intimidated by Owen, then Annabel was awed by Owen's complete honesty, then Annabel was a little scared of Owen because he saw through her more than anyone.

As much as I loved the story and the characters, I was a little underwhelmed with the audiobook.  The narrator did try really hard to use different voices for different characters but some of the voices came out sounding slower and not at all the way I thought the characters would have sounded if I had been reading the book.  I do not recommend this narrator, but the story itself was wonderful.      

Sarah Dessen is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, which you could probably tell from the reviews I have done already This Lullaby and What Happened to Goodbye.  I want to read all of her books and I think my next one will be:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Book Addict Reviews: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Genre:Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Order Online:
Author Info: Goodreads | Website
Rating: 4 stars
Picked book up in a Paperbacksawp game.

In A Nutshell:
Since the popularity of The Hunger Games Trilogy, I have seen so many dystopian books coming out that I have started getting a little hesitant to jump into another one.  I kept putting off reading Divergent and now I wholeheartedly regret that decision.  Divergent is one of the best books I read in 2011.

Beatrice Prior has a big decision to make--a decision that will shape the course of her life.  In the society she lives in, at the age of sixteen each person has to choose a faction that best suits their nature.  And it is a choice they must take very seriously because if they do not choose correctly and do not make it through the initiation into their faction they will be factionless--poor, friendless, uncared for, and considered by many to be the worst drain on society. 

Veronica Roth creates an interesting cast of characters in Divergent.  They feel authentic because they are struggling with some of same issues that all teens go through (finding a place to fit, identifying love) but the world Veronica Roth created makes some of those decisions so striking.  Finding a place to fit in may mean leaving their family forever.  Finding a place to fit may mean doing things that they do not believe in to prove their loyalty.

The reader learns and explores the society that Veronica Roth created, but it never feels boring.  The story is full of twists, turns, and expected revelations.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time--and now I will not wait so long to read the next installment.

The next installment is available for pre-order here, but they do not have the cover up yet.  If you want to see a picture of the cover you can see it here.