Chrono-Impairment Is Not For Me!

6 09 2010

I’ve known for a long time that I could never date or marry a man in the armed services.  I also couldn’t be with a police man, a fire man, or a truck driver.  Never knowing when he would come home, never knowing if he was safe, never knowing who else he was with.  I crossed all of those so-called ‘sexy jobs’ off of my datable list.  After reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger I also have to cross off the chrono-impared. 

Chrono-impared, according to the book (which I totally realize is a work of fiction), is a genetic condition or disease causing one to jump forward and backward in time.  Henry DeTamble spends his life hitting different parts of time.  He shows up naked and has to use his wits and skills to provide himself with clothing and food.  When he leaves he leaves his clothes behind.  Much of his life is spent running from various dangers and revisiting parts of his past and occsionally his future.  He is unable to change much, but does try to make the best of it. 

Clare, the other narrator in the book, is not chrono-impaired.  Like a normal human, she lives her life from beginning to end with no jumping about.  From the age of six she’s had a friend and angel in Henry.  Though she questions his naked appearance and improbability the first time she meets him they become secret friends.  As she grows up she in frequently frustrated with Henry’s refusal to answer any questions about her future or his past/future.  She grows to the age of 18 with only a few mishaps and then has to spend two years sans visit from Henry until they meet in real chronological time.  She will see him for the first time in two years and he will meet her for the first time in his entire life. 

Eventually they marry (hey, I’m not giving too much away since the title says she’s the time traveler’s wife) and Clare is left behind as Henry travels.  Sometimes he is gone for a few minutes, others for nearly a day.  She works as an artist and Henry as a librarian (when he’s not traveling) and they both work with a doctor to see if there is a possibility of a cure for Henry.  Later in their marriage they work with him and a fertility specialist to try to conceive a baby. 

Now I can’t tell you too much more about the storyline without really ruining the book.  Like normal life Clare and Henry have ups and downs.  Unlike normal life, Henry leaves in a blink to experience parts of his life out of order leaving Clare behind.  They have friends that know his secret as both a cover when Clare isn’t there, and as a support for Clare when Henry is away. 

The book is confusing at times since there is so much jumping back and forth in time.  A few times there are two Henrys in the same place in the same time at different ages.  Or two Henrys and a Clare and they are all different ages.  Also, with the jumping back and forth you occasionally don’t know why something happened until later and the puzzle piece clicks in. 

In all, it’s a very emotional book.  From the beginning my heart hurt for the love and the impossibility of the situation.  The end had me in tears.  I suggest reading this book with some kleenex.  It really reminded me of The Notebook, it was so emotionally wrenching.  Kleenex will be your friend if you pick up a copy to try. 

I’m working on a movie rental, though I’ve heard that the movie was really bad.  I’ll let you know if I ever get around to it. 

Next up is Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry.  It was in a lot of magazines as a summer reading choice.  We’ll see.





The Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter

4 08 2010

 

I have successfully completed the whole Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling since my last post.  I also re-read the Twilight series in preparation for Eclipse to hit theaters, finished the Anne of Green Gables series, read though most of the Philippa Gregory Tudor novels, and downloaded about 150 other books to the Kindle, most being part of a series.  I suppose I’m on a series kick. 

On to business:

I found the entire Harry Potter series to be fantastic.  I had no idea what I was missing from the books by simply watching the movies.  The characters are different and better.  Dumbledore is so much more funny in the book, Mr Weasely is a little more good-natured absent-minded-professor/spare fatherly figure, Mrs. Weasely is the same as the movies but at the same time MORE, and Snape is even more terrifying in print.  Overall the first three books and movies match up.  There are minor things changed and omitted.  Book four (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) is where things start to change more than I think they should have.  The Tri-Wizard Tournament (and the new characters that are introduced) are vastly changed not just in an obvious way but in the feel of them.  (I know, that’s a little abstract, but it is so hard to explain without giving away a BUNCH of stuff.) Going on from book four the changes and omissions completely change the feel for the rest of the series.  I have NO IDEA how they are going to make a movie (or two movies) to do the book justice, or even figure out where to split the movie. 

A few points of serious contention with me (without spoiling anything too much):

  • The Half-Blood Prince was a HUGE issue in the book and they barely touched on it in the movie.
  • Harry and Jenny’s relationship-enough said.
  • Why aren’t the house elves in any of the movies other than Chamber of Secrets?
  • Quiddich World Cup, Victor Crum, Alastair Moody.
  • Why didn’t they explain Master’s Mooney, Padfoot, Wormtail, and Prongs better?  I only knew what they were talking about after reading the books. 
  • What happened to Victor, Fleur, Bill Weasely, etc?  They just disappear in the movies!

So much more that I can’t get in to.  Read the books!  They’re so awesome.  I wish there were more.  I want to know what else happens!





All for the Best In the Best of All Possible Worlds

12 03 2010

Voltaire wrote Candide (or All For the Best or Optimism) in 1759.  The novella is a satire about Candide, a naive young man, and his many adventures and mishaps.  Candide has grown up not having to think about anything and being taught by Pangloss, who believes that everything that happens is for the best. 

Through the story Voltaire parodies many different situations and hardships for Candide to experience.  Through various mishaps, conscription into the army, and losing both money and his love, Candide keeps a positive outlook and keeps to Pangloss’s ideals. 

I found myself reading the book quickly, yet feeling like it would never end.  Naive Candide made me want to strangle him and beat some sense into his head.  Many of the other characters also lacked redeeming qualities.  The whole story could be summed up in: Naive whiner loves someone above his station and is run off.  Said whiner trusts others without question and is thus conscripted into the army.  Once getting out of the army he goes from mishap to mishap, finds and loses people from his past again and again, and makes bad choices.  In the end everything sucks, but he still thinks it’s the best that it can be. 

I don’t think I’ll bother re-reading it.  I know it had some great historical significance as  “Leibnizian optimism”, the Seven-Years War, and the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake all occurred in Voltaire’s time.  To me, it seemed a bit clichéd and without any contemporary purpose.





Austen Obsessed

16 01 2010

I just finished Emma last night. I dearly loved that book and I still can’t believe that I didn’t get into Jane Austen before now.  The main character is lovable if a bit naïve about the world around her.  She spends most of the story trying to match her friend Harriet with gentleman she has been associated with and ends up finding that most of those men prefer another woman.    The story has a happy ending of course, as do all the other Austen novels I have read. 

Next on my list is a copy of Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sandition that Penguin gave me for Christmas. 

In addition to reading a great deal of Austen recently I have procured copies of many movie versions of her novels.  I hope to do a little comparing and contrasting once I have viewed them.  There is also a movie called Lost in Austen , one called Becoming Jane, and another called The Jane Austen Book Club in my queue to watch.    I’m pretty excited to see what those are all about.

I have no idea what I’ll do here in a few more weeks once I’ve run out of Jane Austen novels to read.  It has really become a compulsion to find a new one to grab at the used book store or Borders.  I’ll have to move on to other great authors and find a new obsession.





A Year In Review

6 01 2010

So, I have been a terrible blogger this year. I started the blog with the best intentions and then life got in the way. I spent January though July taking classes in addition to my full-time job. Then I focused on work and a new relationship letting everything else take a back seat to love and money. I’ve read plenty of books. I’ve thought about blogging most of them. 2009 had me reading 30+ books and re-reading at least 4.

Quick list of 2009 reads:

Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson–Novel about Superman and Batman set during the 1950s. The two begrudgingly team up to stop the world from total destruction. 4 stars

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen–Classic chick lit. 5 stars

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith–The classic regency romance with added zombie mayhem. 4.5 stars

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters–More classic literary romance with some slimy, tentacled or clawed disaster. 4 stars

Persuasion by Jane Austen–Classic tale of a girl letting herself get talked out of love based on a mistaken emphasis on wealth and status. To my knowledge there are no plans to add vampires or ghosts. 5 stars

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen–More classic chick lit. Poor girl lives with rich relatives and finds herself between the two worlds trying to find love and happiness. Also no plans to add any strange apparitions as far as I know. 5 stars

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery–French-American girl goes off to Japan and become separated from her family through fire and choice. Passes herself off as a Japanese lady’s maid in a respectable teahouse. 3 stars

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte–More classic lit about two selfish people and their love for themselves and each other and their inability to function in their worlds apart. 2 stars

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown–Intrigue with a art history geek trying to solve the mystery, murder, and win the pretty girl. 3.5 stars

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown–Same hero as The DaVinci Code with a new mystery, murder, and pretty girl. 3.5 stars

White Oleander by Janet Fitch–Dysfunctional family at its finest. Plus a look into the foster care system through the eyes of a teen. 3 stars

Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George–Novel of the possible and probably life of Mary Magdalene. Rich with history and a little possible blasphemy. 3.5 stars

Death of a Darklord by Laurel K. Hamilton–Weird novel filled with magic, zombies, and a witch hunter. 4 stars

Why Mermaids Sing by C.S. Harris–Murder mystery set in England. Part of a series. 3.5 stars

Chocolat by Joanne Harris–French lady opens a chocolate shop in a rural village and turns the town upside down. I believe I actually reviewed this one. 4 stars

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson–Hilarious blasphemy. No way to really explain this. You just have to read it. 3 stars

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini–By the author of The Kite Runner. About 3 separate females and how their lives intersect in Afghanistan. 5 stars

A Widow for One Year by John Irving–Reviewed last January. About a family and how their actions impacted them and those around them. 4 stars

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd–Reviewed already. About a girl looking for her roots and finding them in unexpected ways. 4 stars

Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster–Snarktacular chick lit. 4.5 stars
Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster–More Snarktacular chick lit. 4.5 stars
Pretty In Plaid by Jen Lancaster –Less snarktacular but totally hilarious chick lit. 4.5 stars

The Host by Stephenie Meyer–Alien being inhabiting human bodies and a band of refugees trying to survive without detection. 3 stars

Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer (re-read)–Sparkly vampired and teen love. If you haven’t already heard about Twilight; you’re probably hiding under a rock. 4.5 stars

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison–Can’t even really describe it. 3.5 stars

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton–Mystery about a lost child with amnesia trying to find the truth and her granddaughter who finally figures it out. 4 stars

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson–Non-traditional Patterson safe for the whole family to read. Daniel is an alien hunter with a few advantages trying to get revenge for the death of his family by killing the most dangerous aliens in the U.S. 3.5 stars

Swimsuit by James Patterson–Killer on the loose ravaging models. Sort of standard for Patterson. 2.5 stars

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath–Whiny, depressed, suburban girl. 0 stars

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks–Love story spanning a few decades about reconnecting with first love. 4 stars

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner–Short stories about everyday women finding their Prince Charming. 2 stars

I also failed two books (Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift). I may try them again later but I have plenty to keep me busy right now.

All in all it really wasn’t a bad year for reading. Despite a lot of happenings I truly read 2-3 books each month with a full time job and classes.

Here’s hoping 2010 is even better!





Austen and Sea Monsters

16 11 2009

One might not think of sea monsters as having a place in regency England. Much like Quirk Classic‘s zombies enriched the story of Pride and Prejudice the sea monsters have livened up Sense and Sensibility.

Another Austen tale of English ladies and their suitors has been altered thanks to the wonderful writers that Quirk Classics has managed to dig up. The original Sense and Sensibility follows the lives of the Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away the estate goes to their older half brother and his cold and selfish wife. The older Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters seek another home at a distant relative’s estate and thus experience romance, love, and heartbreak.

Elinor is attached to Edward, the brother of her sister-in-law. She is also introduced to and courted by Colonel Brandon who is nearly twenty years older than she. Elinor thinks that loving and marrying a man so many years older is grotesque but does decide that being friendly with Colonel Brandon would be acceptable.

Marianne is swept off her feet by a wealthy adventurer after falling while out for a walk. John Willoughby is dashing and very similar to Marianne and many mutual friends believed them to be engaged.

Through the course of the story both girls have their hearts broken. One girl gets her happy ending after some turns of events take place, and another finds that what she thought she wanted was not correct anymore at all.

That’s all that should be said in hopes of not ruining the book.

Sense and Sensibility is a little dry, much like most other books written in and around the 1790s. The story often lags on talk of money and how so-and-so has so many pounds a month and how no one could possibly wish to marry into so little amount and so on much like the talk in Pride and Prejudice. However, the story was definitely worth reading with its themes on emotion vs. sense, money, propriety, love, and many more. The ladies Dashwood and the gentleman acquainted with them all learned something by the end of the book, and the outcomes were suprising and in some aspects a little disappointing.

Now, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters used the same story line with subtle and not so subtle additions of tentacled beasts, water dangers, and facial disfiguration. In Sea Monsters, all places in the story are either near water or under water and many hours each day are dedicated to keeping sea monsters at bay. Estates were fortressed, weapons skills were mandatory, and traveling too near or over water was usually met with death by at least one character of little consequence. Instead of the Dashwoods traveling to London at one point they travel to an underwater city called Sub-Marine Station Beta. In addition to romantic intrigue, family drama, and sisterly bickering and love is the giant tentacled monsters and oversized lobsters out for human blood.

Sea Monsters, no matter how entertaining, loses something of the story when all changes were said and done. Colonel Brandon with a tentacled face, Willoughby as a treasure seeker, a lady competing for a gentleman’s attention as a witch, and a sea creature large enough to disguise itself as land detract from the Dashwood daughters and their personalities and choices made.

In doing some research it can be found that though Pride and Prejudice and Zombies had 90% of the original novel’s content with only about 10% additional content added; Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters started with only 60% original content with 40% added (source for Sea Monsters numbers, but cannot re-find the Zombie’s numbers at this time).

In conclusion, whereas Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was worth reading because the integrity of the story did not change; the same cannot be said for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. In this case it is best to stick to the original.





A Revelation

2 08 2009

I arrived at a moment of revelation the other day. I may have a goal of reading the “1001 Books to Read Before You Die” plus personal additions. However, if I am doing this for enjoyment there is no reason to complete books that I abhor.

Recently I’ve been trying to read Madame Bovary. I detest this book. I have no sympathy for the main character. She’s a whiney brat that knew what she was getting in to. Rumors from friends who did read the book for some class or another lead me to believe that I will detest her more and more. I hate this book because I hate this character and I’m wondering where the point is.

I’ve decided not to finish Madame Bovary. I also may not finish Gulliver’s Travels. The story is good, but the language (or more the poor grammar and random capitalization and punctuation) is driving me batty.

So, from now on I allow myself to quit a book if I want to. It makes no sense to not have fun doing something that is supposed to be fun. I can make myself read the awful things later IF I ever take a class that requires them.