Monday 25 April 2011

Note-worthy: I'll Be Back!

In approximately 10 hours, I'll be boarding a plane headed to the U.S.A. Yippee! I'm off for a month of adventures, and I'm ridiculously excited (amidst the nightmare of packing), but also a bit anxious about abandoning blogging during that time. I had planned on scheduling some posts to go live while I was away, but unfortunately I didn't get around to it. So I apologise in advance for the complete lack of updates over the next month! But I'll be back and better than ever at the end of May, so please come back and visit then!

In the meantime, I'll be:
  • Visiting my holy land... that's right, Disneyland! So. Excited.
  • Stalking celebrities in Hollywood and placing my hands in those concrete hand prints, something I've wanted to do since watching My Girl 2. Maybe I'll even shave my legs and get my ears pierced while I'm there (shame they're already pierced).
  • NOT getting married in Vegas (despite the hopes of all my friends and family), but enjoying the sights and heading to the Grand Canyon.
  • Shopping, shopping and more shopping.
  • Eating, eating and more eating.
  • Heading to New Yoooooooooooooork and seeing some of the gazillion sights I've always wanted to see. 
  • Being dragged around escorted to a bunch of baseball games by my baseball-obsessed fiance. I've been told we're sitting in an all-you-can-eat section for one of the games, so that should keep me occupied, at least.
  • Reading Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I'm also taking along Wings by Aprilynne Pike. They both seem like nice, light holiday reads, and judging from the cover of Book of Dares, it's set in New York. I can, like, totally picture it WHILE I AM THERE. ZOMG!
Fun times! I think I'll still kinda miss blogging and interacting with the book blogging community, though. I haven't been around it for long, but I'm already loving it so much - so thanks to everyone who has welcomed and encouraged me! See you all in a month! xx

Friday 22 April 2011

Review: Not Meeting Mr Right by Anita Heiss

This book took waaaaaay too long to read.

It was second in my Aussie Author Month endeavours, and I started in on Thursday, April 7. Like I said, waaaay too long. An easy, light chick-lit read, I thought I'd be finished by the following Sunday and could launch into the rest of my Aussie author list with gusto. But here I am, two weeks later and nearly at the end of Aussie Author month (at least for me - I'm leaving the country on Monday and will be away from the blog), and I've only just finished book two. I'm a bit disappointed, but these things happen. For one, I've been ridonkulously busy in the leadup to my holiday. For another, I kinda struggled with this book.

It was an easy read, don't get me wrong - and quite well-written. Unfortunately, I just couldn't stand the main character. I tried, oh, I tried REALLY hard - she's a history buff, dammit, I should be able to relate! - but she just annoyed me more than anything. See, Alice is a Sydney-sider in her late 20s who loves the single life... until she goes to her high school reunion and is disgusted by all the married women who can't talk about anything but their husbands and babies. So disgusted is she, that she promptly decides she wants to be one of them. Oh, but she'll be better at it than them, of course, and she'll even manage it by her 30th birthday - two years away. What ensues is a looooooooong string of bad blind dates, failed singles events, relationship drama, flirtations with the classifieds and internet dating, attractions to the wrong guys and rudeness to the nice ones.

I think that was my main problem with Alice - to me, she came across as quite rude and judgemental. Sure, it was funny a few times, but it just got very, very grating after awhile. Even at the beginning, she's uber-judgemental of her former classmates; first, she ridicules stay-at-home mums for having no careers, then turns her nose up at a working mum for "abandoning" her kids. And after spending the evening looking down on everyone, she decides she wants what they have?! It's probably not a good thing when the whole premise on which a story is built annoys you. I wanted to like this book, but I guess, like the gazillion men Alice meets, it just wasn't the right one for me.

Rating: 2.5/5

Talking Points
  • I don't tend to read many Aussie books (certainly not enough), so it was a novelty to read something that was set in my hometown. I could not only picture the general city easily, but also specific bars, beaches, streets and everything! That was kinda cool.
  • It was good to see a heroine who was a strong, powerful, successful Indigenous woman. It's just a shame she was so unlikeable.
  • There's a sequel to this book called Avoiding Mr Right, apparently told from the perspective of Alice's friend Peta. I'm kinda curious to read it - I liked Peta as a character. Especially because she seemed to get just as annoyed at Alice sometimes.
Fine Print
Genre: Chick lit
Publisher: Bantam
Published: 2007
Get It: Fishpond

This post is part of Aussie Author Month, which supports the Indigenous Literacy Project.

The Movie Was AMAZEBALLS: Never Let Me Go

It's rare that a movie is better than the book it's based on - especially an amazing book like Never Let Me Go - but I think this one might just have done it. Well, it was at least as good as the book... beautifully shot, brilliantly acted and wonderfully told. It hit all the right marks, and was just as heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching and just generally wrenching as the novel. I'd normally do a detailed comparison of the changes from book to movie, but I don't think I can do it this time. It would be a shame to pick it a part, as it's such an emotional experience. Plus, it's incredibly faithful to the book - there were a few changes, but they were mostly pretty minor and worked well in the film. I seriously can't fault it.

Did I mention how brilliant the acting was? Andrew Garfield, holy moly. I loved him before, but wow. He perfectly captured Tommy's vulnerability, sensitivity, hope and heartbreak. Man, the heartbreak...And Carey Mulligan! She did such a wonderful job of bringing Kathy to life, conveying so much emotion in just one look that I felt for her even more than I had in the book. Keira was also great as the nasty Ruth, who I actually managed to feel sympathy for at one point. The child actors were also amazing - not only did they look a helluva lot like their adult counterparts (young Kathy especially looked freakishly like Carey), but they could also actually act. This was so important, as their story does take up a large part of the movie, and without this strong foundation it wouldn't be anywhere near as powerful later on. As it stands, it's probably the most powerful film I've seen in a long time.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday 21 April 2011

Note-worthy: Tell Me What To Read!

I'm going on holidays in FOUR sleeps! I'm super excited, but also freaking out just a bit about everything I have to do before then. I'm also slightly nervous about leaving my baby - this blog - for a whole month. I'm hoping to schedule some posts before I go, but it all depends on how much time I have. Eep!

On a more positive note (aside from, y'know, the whole MONTH LONG HOLIDAY in the US), I'll have a bit of downtime - in between busy days of sightseeing - to read some  books. I just need to decide a) how many to take; and b) which books to take. Seeing as I'm chronically indecisive, and also had at last count 112 books in my to-be-read pile (not including the dozen or so I've added since then), I thought I'd put it out there and see if anyone has any suggestions for awesome reads. All ideas are welcome, though considering I'll be in holiday mode (with my brain most definitely switched off), it's probably better if they're on the lighter side. Here are some that are in my pile:
  • Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series.
  • If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman (really keen to read these but worried they'd be a downer on holiday).
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis.
  • Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham.
  • Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin (kinda curious but also scared after the appalling experience that was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver.
  • Fallen by Lauren Kate.
  • Elixir by Hilary Duff (let's chalk this one up to morbid curiosty, 'kay?).
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.
  • Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy.
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.
  • Luxe by Anna Godbersen.
  • A Girl's Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister.
So tell me, what should I take with me (from this list or your own brain)? What are your fave holiday reads?

Wednesday 20 April 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Shura

My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme hosted by The Unread Reader, all about fictional boys who make us swoon. Boys like Alexander "Shura" Belov from The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.

About Shura
  • He's a Red Army officer in the Soviet Union during World War II. 
  • He has a mysterious past and a killer survival instinct.
  • He's fierce, brave, protective and makes the ultimate sacrifice for the love of his life, Tatiana.
  • I always picture him as Oliver Milburn, though friends who've also read the book think I'm wack. I can't help it, he's cute:

Swoon-worthy quotes
One word: Lazarevo. If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't? Let's just say there's one helluva honeymoon that I won't dare to quote here. But the following is also amazing... 
"Tatiana said, 'Go on with Dasha. She is right for you. She is a woman and I'm-'
'Blind!', Alexander exclaimed.
Tatiana stood, desolately failing in the battle of her heart. 'Oh, Alexander. What do you want from me...'
'Everything,' he whispered fiercely."
"Goodbye, my moonsong and my breath, my white night and golden days, my fresh water and my fire. Goodbye, and may you find a better life, find comfort again and your breathless smile, and when your beloved face lights up once more at the Western sunrise, be sure what I felt for you was not in vain. Good-bye and have faith, my Tatiana."

Bookish Fun: Awesome Ads!

I came across these ads - designed by Love Agency - on The Daily What. How awesome are they?! My fave is probably Frankenstein. It certainly make me want to go to the Mint Vinetu bookstore - too bad it's in Lithuania...

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Bookish Buys: Popular Penguins Love

I was so excited when Penguin brought out their vintage-style Popular Penguins collection - and even more so when I discovered the designs plastered all over homewares and stationery. I already have one of the mugs (Pride and Prejudice, of course), but I love the rest of the range, too - especially the flasks, notebooks and pencils. I've been tossing up whether to buy the board game for awhile, but have so far restrained myself because a) It's kinda exxy; and b) I don't know that I'd find anybody willing to play with me. Oh well, I'll just have to satisfy myself with the stationery for now. BTW, the entire range is available at Until.

Monday 18 April 2011

In My Mailbox: Oops, I Did It Again

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, in which bloggers share what books they've picked up in the past week.

Twice this week, I received books in the mail that I completely forgot I'd ordered - not a good sign. The first was Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham, which I know nothing about but appealed to me because; a) It has a pretty cover, and b) It has the word cake in the title. Sold.

The second was Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, which I bought coz again, I liked the cover, and I also feel that it's about time I read some Woolf. I'm a bit nervous because (embarrassingly) the only knowledge I really have of her/her work is from the movie The Hours, which I thought was awful. But I'll let the book speak for itself - when I get around to it!

I also received two books that I ordered for Aussie Author Month - Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey and My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. Sadly, I've been a bit slack with my reading lately and I'm going on holiday in exactly one week, so realistically I think I'll only have time to read and review one more book after my current one this month. But I'm still participating in the Aussie Author Challenge, so I'll definitely be reading the books I don't get to ASAP.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Bookish Fun: This Makes Me Anxious

Is that weird? Think of how long it would take to pick up all those books! But it still looks pretty cool.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Top Five: Movie Adaptations

In honour of the movie-focused week over at Holes in my Brain and, of course, my own obsession with adaptations, I've decided to do my top five this week on my favourite big screen versions of books...

1. The Princess Bride. It's my favourite movie of all time. And it's based on one of my favourite books. It's awesome as a movie in itself, but it's also a fantastic adaptation. It really captures the whimsicality and humour of the novel, as it should - author William Goldman wrote the screenplay! On top of that, the casting is perfect, the costumes are great and the sets - well, they're kinda crappy, but that only adds to the charm.

2. The Notebook. This is one of those rare movie adaptations that's actually better than the book. While Nicholas Sparks' novel focuses mainly on the reunion of Noah and Ally, and refers to their teen romance briefly in flashbacks, the movie takes the time to build up their relationship before finally tearing them apart. Which makes their reunion all the more powerful - and, of course, romantic! Oh, and Ryan Gosling + Rachel McAdams = Total perfection.

3. Adaptation. This is based on Susan Orleans' The Orchid Thief, a book which I had to read for uni and which I hated. It's totally nuts and kinda boring. The movie, too, is totally nuts, but it's most definitely not boring. It takes a non-fiction, non-linear ramble and turns it into a fictional, non-linear ramble - completely changing the story but staying true to the essence and themes of the book and making it 100 times more entertaining in the process. Plus, it gets bonus points for Meryl Streep.

4. The Secret Garden. The movie isn't the most faithful adaptation ever, but, like Adaptation, it stays true to the spirit of its source material (Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel). Mary's blossoming (garden puns FTW!) from a churlish, selfish loner into a caring, lively girl is as magical to watch as it is to read. And Andrew Knott's Dickon was, like, my third love (after Prince Eric and Westley. I was eight by this stage).

5. Jane Eyre. The latest version of Charlotte Bronte's classic romance is ah-mazing. Inevitably, big chunks of plot are left out, but it does a fantastic job of condensing hundreds of pages of story into a couple of hours of film. The important stuff is there, and then some. Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska are brilliant as Rochester and Jane, and their chemistry is crazy-hot. The passion which is so central to their story - and is sometimes missing in adaptations - sizzles and leaps off the screen. Swoon!

Coming soon: my top five mini-series/TV adaptations!

Wednesday 13 April 2011

My Book Boyfriend: Henry Lazar

Wednesday is fast becoming my fave day of the week, mostly thanks to My Book Boyfriend, a weekly meme hosted by The Unread Reader, all about fictional boys who make us swoon. This week my book boyfriend is Henry Lazar from Red Riding Hood - because he deserves so much better than lame Valerie who'd rather swoon over lame Peter.

About Henry
  • He's a blacksmith and works for the family business. This means he spends a lot of time dirty, sweaty, hot and shirtless. 
  • He's the only rich boy in town - ka-ching! Wait, I mean... money doesn't matter. Yes, yes, that's it. Ahem.
  • He's totally in love with Valerie, so his dad arranges for him to be betrothed to her. Too bad lame Valerie has other lame ideas. Luckily for her, Henry isn't lame and doesn't force her to stick with the betrothal. He's nice like that.
  • Henry is also super sweet and does everything he can to help, support and care for lame Valerie - even after she's really lame to him.
  • Valerie is lame PURELY because she prefers lame Peter over awesome, amazing, adorable Henry. Peter is lame coz he's not Henry.
  • When I read the book, I pictured Ben Barnes as Henry, but after watching the movie, I think Max Irons is great. In fact, I'm kinda totally obsessed with him now.
Swoon-worthy quotes

"For a long while, Henry, his body half-bare as he threw vicious sparks, did not realise she was there... One of the fiery specks spat out of the forge and landed on his arm, searing his flesh. Punishing himself, he did not stop to remove it until finally, with one quick motion, he gestured violently toward the door. 'Valerie, leave,' he snarled. 'I don't want you to see me like this.'"

"She jerked against her bonds in surprise when she heard a voice close behind her. 'I'm going to get you out of here.' Even in the chaos, she knew it was Henry. But he was different. The power of his intensity, the feverishness of his concentration, frightened her... As he leaned in close, all Valerie could see, filling the eyeholes of her mask, were his brown eyes, glimmering in the flames. Sharply intelligent. Burning.'"
"Valerie looked back - and screamed, seeing the silver bolt flying straight and true, the one that was meant for her, meant to end her life... Instead, she was jolted aside, and with a thwap, the bolt lodged itself in Henry's side. He'd taken it for her... 'Go, Valerie. Go.' He shoved her with his good arm."
Related fun
Max Irons is Attractive

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Bookish Buys: I'm a Stationery Nerd

Confession: I'm slightly addicted to stationery. But I use it every day, so I figure it's a relatively healthy habit.

Notebooks are a particular favourite of mine, and at the moment I'm in love with these vintage/French/Austen-inspired moleskin journals from Mulberry Muse. I nabbed myself the Emma notebook as well as "Keep Calm and Drink Tea". So sweet!


I also adore these upcycled Golden Book notebooks from This Handmade Life. I had a bajillion Golden Books when I was little (my book obsession started early!), so these get bonus points for nostalgia. My fave is The Saggy Baggy Elephant!

Bouncing Ball Creations has a cute range of pens and pencils, wrapped in assorted book pages. I'm tossing up between Peter Pan pens and pencils wrapped in definitions of my favourite words. I guess I could always use both...


Monday 11 April 2011

In My Mailbox: Ooh, Pretty!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, highlighting cool books that bloggers have gotten each week by buying, borrowing or, er, being sent (I had to keep the alliteration going, sorry). I haven't participated before, but this morning I received such a pretty book that I just had to share. Seriously, I just keep looking at it. It's so pretty. And SHINY.

But I'll take my eyes off it for a minute to tell you more about it: It's The Beautiful and The Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, as you can see by the dodgy picture above (that REALLY doesn't do justice to the prettiness). After loving The Great Gatsby, I wanted to read more of Fitzgerald's work, and when I saw this book from the Penguin Classics hardcover collection on AbeBooks, I knew I had to have it. Now I can look at it lovingly and stroke it as much as I want... oh, and read it too.

I also picked up The Woman in Black by Susan Hill from AbeBooks, because I've been interested in reading it since seeing the still of Daniel Radcliffe looking very periody and un-Pottery for the upcoming movie adaptation. Plus I received my copy of Caroline Overington's Ghost Child from Fishpond, which I'll be reading and reviewing in the next week or so as part of Aussie Author Month. Any other day, I would have been super excited to receive both of these books, but they had the misfortune of arriving on the same day as the shiniest book I've ever seen. I tend to get distracted by shiny things.

Now, excuse me while I go back to staring at my precious...

Saturday 9 April 2011

Top Five: Actors Who Should Do Audiobooks

I've never really been into audiobooks, but after hearing that Ed Westwick is recording Cassandra Clare's City of Fallen Angels, I decided to investigate further. And I struck gold - the first site I came across was Silksound Books, which features voice porn audiobooks from the likes of Jeremy Northam, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Rufus Sewell and Toby Stephens. Then I found the jackpot - a bunch of audiobooks by Richard Armitage, owner of the Sexiest Voice on Earth. Clearly, I have been missing out!

So I got to thinking about other swoon-worthy voices and decided that these guys should record audiobooks, like, now. Coz I would download the shizz out of them:

1. Alec Baldwin. His voice is a star in itself. Seriously - 30 Rock had a whole storyline about it.

2. Christopher Daniel Barnes. I've mentioned before that Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid was my first love (and yes, I know he's a cartoon. He's still hot). A big part of that love is his voice - borrowed from Christopher Daniel Barnes. Also known as, um, Greg Brady.

3. Gerard Butler. Whether it's singing or speaking, in an English, Irish, Scottish or American accent, I can't get enough of Gerard Butler's voice.

4. George Clooney. I know a lot of women love him, but George Clooney doesn't really do it for me. That is, except for his voice. Now that is worth a phwoar! (Note: the below clip is merely to demonstrate his voice - I may be attracted to animated princes, but even I draw the line at animated foxes. Except maybe Robin Hood).

5. Michael Fassbender. His portrayal of Mr. Rochester in the new Jane Eyre - and his booming voice in particular - was enough to make me doubt my devotion to Toby Stephens as the number one master of Thornfield. Amazingness.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Whose voice would you like to get lost in?

Thursday 7 April 2011

Bookish Fun: Slaughterhouse 90210

There are few things I'm obsessed with as much as books - but trashy TV comes close. Which is why I love Slaughterhouse 90210 - it combines two of my favourite things and it's GENIUS. Featuring screencaps of random shows captioned with quotes from literature, it's totally hilarious. Here are some of my faves:

“A real friendship ought to introduce each person to unexpected weirdness in the other.”  — Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
“A real friendship ought to introduce each person to unexpected weirdness in the other.”
— Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto

“She has many rare and charming qualities, but Sobriety is not one of them.” — Jane Austen, Juvenilia
“She has many rare and charming qualities, but Sobriety is not one of them.”
— Jane Austen, Juvenilia
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  — Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
— Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”  — Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
— Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Check out a lot more amazingness at Slaughterhouse 90210.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Review: The Nest by Paul Jennings

Reading this book was like catching up with a childhood friend.

Paul Jennings was one of my favourite authors when I was a kid, so it was wonderful to return to his writing with The Nest, his first book for older readers (it's aimed at the late teens). From page one I recognised his distinctive style, and it gave me a feeling of, "Oh, so there you are". Now I want to go dig up and reread my old Jennings collection, even though I'm waaay out of their target demographic.

But let's talk about The Nest. It tells the story of Robin, a troubled teen living in the Victorian Alps with his cruel father. His mother disappeared from his life when he was young, something that still profoundly affects him. He's plagued by worrying thoughts, and while he's trying to get a grip of them and deal with his dad, he's also navigating the tricky territory of first love (and first lust).

This book is a lot darker than most of Jennings' other work (hence the older audience), but it still bears his trademark humour, straightforward storytelling and, of course, an incredible twist. The snowy setting was unusual for an Australian story (definitely not the typical beach or outback environment), but the stormy weather added to the growing sense of turmoil in Robin's world. A writer himself, the plot is spliced with the stories Robin writes, which themselves reveal small hints of what's to come. I also enjoyed them because they reminded me even more of Jennings' own short stories (nostalgia points!).

I loved this book. Even without the nostalgia, it would be a great read. The story is simply told, but powerful. I read in an interview with Jennings that he wanted to write this story to let teens, who might be going through a similar experience to Robin, know that they're not alone. And he's done a brilliant job - I really connected with Robin and felt his pain. There were quite a few times that I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him that he wasn't alone, and that everything would be OK.

Rating: 4/5

Talking Points (Spoiler Alert!)
  • I loved the way everything was connected, especially the way Robin's stories were interwoven with the plot. The only one I didn't quite get the significance of was the champagne bottles - I saw the connection with Robin's images of champagne corks popping, but I was expecting that to play a more significant part in the end, and when it didn't, I wondered what the point was.
  • The final lines were amazing, and really summed up the whole book for me: "And he must walk in the night for a while, for without the dark there is no day, nor star to see, nor tale to tell... to show the way."
  • Jennings stated in an interview that Robin has OCD (exactly what his problem is is never mentioned in the book), but I didn't pick up on that at all. Maybe I just don't know enough about it, but I thought Robin was depressed, or perhaps even schizophrenic. But I guess that's a minor point, because either way, the portrayal of Robin's feelings of hopelessness and his inability to control his own thoughts was really powerful and effective.
Eye Candy
Probably because I've recently seen him in I Am Number Four, Callan McAuliffe was Robin for me. He's got the right dorky/cute look:

Robin repeatedly describes his friend/crush, the compassionate "greenie" Charlie, as beautiful. For some reason Ashleigh Brewer, a.k.a. Kate Ramsay on Neighbours, kept popping into my head. I don't know why - I don't even watch the show. But she is very pretty:

Sophie Lowe really pulled off the creepy/selfish/temptress vibe in Beautiful Kate, so I thought she was the perfect fit for Verushka:

Fine print
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
First published: 2009
Best deal: Book Depository

This post is part of Aussie Author Month, which supports the Indigenous Literacy Project.

My Book Boyfriend: Captain Wentworth

My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme hosted by The Unread Reader every Wednesday. It's all about fictional boys that make us swoon. This week, I'm swooning over Captain Frederick Wentworth from Jane Austen's Persuasion.

I was initially going to go with Mr Darcy (the obvious choice, I know), but when thinking about my fave fictional moments in response to The Perpetual Page-Turner's post on fictional men the other day, Captain Wentworth was the one who sprang to mind first, and stuck there...

About Wentworth
  • He falls in love with Anne Elliot at a young age. Austen describes him at that time as "a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit and brilliancy." Eight years on, when the novel is set, "he was not altered, or not for the worse... [the years] had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look."
  • He starts out poor, but his confidence and ambition - and, er, broken heart - motivate him to move up the ranks in the navy, and he soon makes a fortune.
  • He's one hell of a letter-writer.
  • I first read Persuasion not long after my Ever After phase, so, inevitably, my Wentworth looked a lot Dougray Scott (and, come to think of it, my Anne looked pretty much like Drew Barrymore).

  • In all the adaptations, only one Wentworth has made me waiver from my original picture: Rupert Penry-Jones from the 2007 BBC version. He looks totally different, but he's totally gorgeous:

Swoon-worthy quote
Two words: the letter. If nothing else, Persuasion would be worth reading for the letter alone (though as a bonus there's a lot of other awesomeness). Here are my favourite parts - warning, spoilers ahead... but they're kinda worth it.
"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own, than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago... I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan... I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature!"

Monday 4 April 2011

Review: The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries, Vol. 1: Origins

Whew. Is that a long title or what? I didn't even include the author in my post heading - mainly because I'm not quite sure who wrote it. The cover says "based on the novels by L. J. Smith and the TV series by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec", and  there's no other mention of who the author is. I'm not sure if this means L. J. Smith wrote it, but I'm assuming she didn't, because it's a total departure from her original Vampire Diaries books.

Stefan's Diaries is, as the name suggests, told from the perspective of Stefan Salvatore. It's a prequel to the TV show (which is based on L. J. Smith's books), telling more of the story that viewers have seen only glimpses of in flashback scenes. We see Stefan and his brother, Damon, meet the vampire Katherine; each fall in love with her; become vampires themselves; and end up hating each other (no spoiler alert is necessary because knowing that is kinda the whole motive for reading the book).

I picked this book up after experiencing major VD withdrawals (ahem, no pun intended) due to the show being on hiatus, and it definitely gave me the fix I needed (although I would have preferred a bit more Damon, but I'm biased). I loved the flashback episodes on TV, so it was a delight for me to be able to discover the whole back story in detail. The writing was adequate with only a few groan-worthy moments (actually less than I was expecting!), and even though I knew exactly where the story was going, I was excited to find out how everything would fall into place.

Being totally obsessed with the TV show, it's hard for me to say whether this would appeal to those who haven't seen it, because, to me, that was the whole appeal. It'd definitely be confusing if you've only read L. J. Smith's original Vampire Diaries books, because in those, the back story of the brothers is completely different (they're alive in the 1600s, not the 1800s, and are from Italy, not Mystic Falls, and, er, Damon is kinda evil from the start). If you are a fan of the TV show, however, I would say it's definitely worth a read. I totally want to rewatch the show from the beginning now, with all this knowledge of the characters' history and headspaces. Like I need an excuse.

Rating: 3/5.

Talking Points
  • Although the writer attempted to go all olde worlde with the language, it was really jarring for the characters to refer to everyone - including people they'd just met and their elders - by their first names. I might be wrong (but I don't think I am), but that's a MODERN thing.
  • While we're on the subject, I also thought Katherine's character was a tad modern. I get that she's supposed to be a free-spirited, strong-willed vampire chick, but all the flirting/touching/swimming/running/skin-baring she does in public would have been just a bit more scandalous than it's shown to be.
  • I'd like to know more about Katherine's interactions with Damon. We get the full picture of how she got Stefan to fall in love with her, and how he turned against her, but we still don't understand exactly what she said or, ahem, did with Damon. She told Stefan that she treated him like a brother, but given Damon's feelings for her, I somehow don't think that's true. Damon's Diaries, anyone? *Wishful thinking*
  • (Minor spoiler alert) It was interesting that the writer introduced the crow at the end, and its apparent connection to Damon. The crow appeared in L. J. Smith's original books, as well as in the pilot episode of the show, but has since disappeared from the series without a mention. I wonder if they'll explain more about the connection in the other two volumes of Stefan's Diaries.
  • Which brings me to the fact that, yes, this is part one of a trilogy. When I first started reading it I thought that, while this book really appealed to me, I didn't really see the point of turning it into a trilogy, because the back story/love triangle is pretty much totally explained in this one. However, after finishing it - and reading the preview of the next book - I'm kind of curious to read the rest. It might be interesting to see exactly how Stefan found his way back to his humanity, Damon lost his, and they totally lost each other. And, of course, how they discovered the rumours about Katherine's whereabouts and what drove their return to Mystic Falls (assuming all that is covered in the books, of course).
Eye Candy
What the characters looked like was a bit of a no-brainer for this one, seeing as, y'know, it's based on the TV show that I'm just slightly addicted to. I even had the flashback episodes as a visual references for the old timey clothes. Not gonna lie, though - I pictured Stefan and Damon's modern hair. Their old timey hair just sucks.

Damon knows the trick to covering bad hair days...
...he never leaves home without a hat.
Otherwise people laugh at him. Oh Damon, don't look so concerned - you only have to wait 250 years for the GHD.
In the meantime, be grateful that your hair still looks better than Stefan's.

Hoorah for GHDs and hair gel!

Wait a minute, I don't remember a reference to Damon shirtless. *rereading*
Did someone say Damon shirtless?
Why, yes, I believe I did.

I think we need that from another angle. You know, for accuracy purposes. Or something.

So THAT'S what he'd look like sleeping.
OK, I'm done now.