Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks (review)

I decided to take a break from reading Pride and Prejudice. It turned out to be a quick break because I devoured Dear John in less than a day. I haven't read a book from start to finish like that since I read the final Harry Potter book.

This book is told from John's perspective. I must say it is both refreshing and really cool to read a romance told from a guy's point of view. John is a bad boy who doesn't know what to do with himself so he decides to join the army. While on leave and visiting his father, he meets Savannah. She's a good girl who knows that the tough looking, tattooed soldier isn't what he appears to be when he rescues her purse from sinking into the ocean.

The two fall head over heels during a few weeks in the summer. There's only one problem. John has to go back overseas and finish out the time he's enlisted to the army. John and Savannah manage to keep thier relationship together (barely) and John is about to end his commitment and go home and marry Savannah. True, they really barely know each other and have entirely different lives but Savannah is the one good thing in John's life and he's determined not to let her go.

But then America is changed forever on Sept 11. John must decide whether or not to go home to Savannah or re-enlist when his country needs him most. His relationship with Savannah is irrevocably altered. I won't say anymore because I don't want to give any serious spoilers.

Savannah isn't the most likeable character, but I think that's what Sparks intended. This story is about John and how he sacrifices over and over again but ends up getting his heart broken by her. In the end, he has the chance to be with Savannah if he truly wanted. I'm dying to tell you more but I don't want to ruin the ending.

This book felt almost like a reverse of The Notebook. I think I may have fallen in love with John myself. One thing I liked about this book was that it was so real. It felt like I was reading about someone's actual lives where nothing ever turns out as planned.

Another cool thing about this book was the story of John and his dad. Savannah suspects that John's father has Asperger's syndrome. The story of John and his father's relationship was worth reading this book in itself.

I would highly recoomend this book to everyone, especially guys who are curious about the romance genre but want to read a male's story. If you are looking to introduce a guy to the world of romance, this is the book you need to have him read.

My rating is an enthusiastic Photobucket!

I plan on reviewing the movie in the near future. All I know so far is that Savannah is a blonde not a brunette and John does not have the sexy tattoos that he has in the book. My daughter's best friend was very disappointed about the tattoos. I also saw the last 30 seconds of the movie and know it doesn't end like the book. Instead, the movie has one of those endings that are actually a non-ending and you get to imagine what happens. Meaning, unlike the book, John can have a happier ending.

Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast (review)

Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast was recommended to me by a friend who suggested this series for those that are fans of The Twilight Saga.

I loved this book! My favorite part about each and every series of vampire books that I read is how the author, and in this case authors, create their own vampire universe.

This story is about sixteen year old Zoey Redbird, who has been marked by a tracker as a fledgling vampyre. Now that Zoey has been marked and is going through The Change, she must attend a finishing school called House of Night. There she will learn everything she needs to know about being a vampyre.

However, something unique happens to Zoey before she gets to House of Night. She is marked by Nyx, the Goddess of Vampyres and is different from any fledgling, and for that matter any Priestess that has gone before her. I won't tell you anymore because I don't want to give away any spoilers.

This book was really good. The action in it is a lot like the Harry Potter series. I don't mean to compare especially because they are also at a school, but I think It's just that style of adventure book .

I do have a two small complaints. My first criticism is that the book takes place over less than a week, and that time frame seems just a little bit unrealistic for the changes that Zoey goes through. Second, it's a series so the story is set up in a way that you have to read the next book to find out what's going on regarding one of the storylines. Granted this is a great hook to get you to read the next book, but it also happens to be a pet peeve of mine. I like my books to have all the loose ends tied up nicely in a pretty bow.

Overall the book is really, really good. I will definately be reading the entire series. There's four books in all. There's also rumored to be a House of Night movie in the works. My rating is an enthusiastic Photobucket.

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell (review)

I managed to spend the first three weeks of January without reading an entire book, yet somehow I read all of Julie & Julia in the past two days. I've had the book for awhile now but since the movie recently came out on DVD, I decided to read it. I can keep the movie rental as long as I want so the reason I read the book so fast is actually because it was so good,

I normally hate books on cooking. Memoirs, cookbooks, diet books filled with recipes...all because I really suck at cooking. This memoir gave me hope that with a lot of practice I just might be able to overcome my lack of skills in the kitchen.

But this book was about so much more than just Julie's project of cooking through Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about it. (Her blog is called The Julie/Julia Project.) The book is also about her biological clock and her desire to have a child, her job working for the government that was in charge of creating the 9/11 memorial, her life in New York, and her marriage.

What I found most fascinating was not Julie's cooking project, but her life in New York City. She talks about her experience of September 11 and dealing with the aftermath. You learn about all the different kinds of supermarkets and neighborhoods where Julie must go to get her ingredients. She lives the cliche New York City life that people like me in Indiana only fantasize about. I adored Julie. She is a foul-mouthed, sexual being who finds cooking erotic and explains it graphically at times. She loves the excitement of stormy weather and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She has no idea what she wants to do with her life. (We have these things in common along with sharing the same name.)

Some of the book was hard to swallow, pun intended. I'm a carnivore. I love eating meat but even some of the recipes that Julie makes had me squirming. She cuts into a live lobster, cooks cow brains, calf spleen, and debones a duck. I'm no poster child for PETA, but I felt very sad for these animals. I was curious to see if PETA ws outraged by the book and sure enough they are pretty ticked off. I found this quote, "Upon closer inspection I found a woman who had taken the Julie and Julia challenge, vegan style. (You know that movie about Julia Child’s cookbook that all the vegans I know, including myself, refuse to see because of the scenes with cruelty to animals.)."

I must say that there was something very primal about doing all that stuff to the animals. In fact, Julie apparently enjoyed it so much that she went on to do butchery. No joke. She even has a second memoir out titled Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obcession.

The ending wasn't entirely satisfying. I had expected Julie to have some kind of revelation after finishing The Julie/Julia Project but instead her life just continued as before. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. My rating Photobucket

I am doing the 30 Books To Movies Challenge so I will also review the movie and compare it to the book.

The movie was so different, but in a good way. Basically, the book was Julie's story and the movie was Julia's story. As far as cruelty to animals, the only scene where anything was done to a live animal was when Julie puts three live lobsters in a pot. All the other scenes involved animals that were already dead.

Julia's story starts out with her being unsatisfied with her life and looking for something to do with herself. She wants to cook but can't find any French cookbooks written in English. She finds herself in a beginning cooking class and is quite bored with it. The only more advance class consists of all men. Julia is "fearless" and despite being looked down on by the other men and the woman who runs the school, she becomes the best chef in her class. Who knew Julia Child was such a feminist?

Because of a chance meeting, Julia forges a business partnership with the writers of a French cookbook in English. The rest of Julia's story is about getting the cookbook published and Julia starting her television show. It was really quite boring.

Julie's character is boring as well. She's not the sassy, potty mouthed blogger like in the book, Instead, she comes off as a self-absorbed, whiny, childish woman. The scenes where she is at work dealing with 9/11 were depressing. Only the lobster scene is funny and that's if you aren't horrified by the idea of boiling lobsters alive. Well there is also the scene where Julia Child reaches into a pot of boiling water to take out some pasta and says "It's as hot a a stiff cock" which would have been hilarious but the botched editing totally ruins it.

The ending of the movie, like the book, is a complete letdown. Julie wasn't really any different than the beginning of the story. Julia Child, however, was completely a new woman who turned herself into a household name.

The book was definitely better.