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A few things that I’ve been getting excited over book-wise ūüôā

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First of all, Buzz Feed’s list of books to read before they hit the big screen. The one I’m most excited about? The film version of Horns by Joe Hill, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple. I first picked up a copy of The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill from my local library. I had passed it over a couple of times, intrigued by the review blurbs and the fact that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, but a little turned off by the book title (a Nirvana song title but something about it seemed a bit too corny for me). Then finally one day I checked it out – and was so glad I did. Joe Hill is now fast taking his place as one of my favourite horror writers – after Heart-Shaped Box, I eagerly went on to his sophomore novel, Horns, and I’ve also just found out that his latest offering, NOS4A2, was released this April! (I think one of the cons of discovering a new favourite up-and-coming writer is having to wait for them to finish their next book, but very worth it!). Anyway, I wish they could have made a movie of Heart-Shaped Box, which I had enjoyed more than Horns, but I can kind of see how the story of Ig Perrish and Merrin Williams is a more film-adaptation friendly book.

Now it’s a little late in the day, but I’ve finally managed to head to the cinema to catch Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Great Gatsby. I have to admit, I’m glad I re-read the book just before I saw the film. IMO, it always helps to read the book before the movie because then you can catch on to the all the little subtleties and inside jokes that no one else gets. Plus, you follow the plot a little more easily!

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So my take on it? Yup, Great Gatsy is definitely one of those classics which you may not like as a kid, but upon re-reading the book as an adult, find there is a lot more depth to it. I find myself appreciating the poignancy and subtle beauty of F. Scott Fizgerald’s sentences in this re-reading, something I didn’t really notice as a kid. I also understand the characters, flawed as they may be – I guess it’s something most high school kids wouldn’t get because youth is brash and judges more harshly – whereas as adults, we’ve made our mistakes and we’re less likely to see things in black and white. With the adaptation – I must say, I’m always a sucker for Baz Luhrmann’s highly visual style and as usual, loving Catherine Martin’s costumes! I also love the fact that a lot of the lines in the book were used in the film, bringing them to life, in an almost similar manner to Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. One slight complaint though… I felt Toby Maguire’s character as Nick Carraway wasn’t too different from Sam Waterton’s version in 1974 adaptation – they both wear the same quizzical smile and have the same diffidence – but I can’t help wishing there was someone who could play Nick Carraway with a bit more depth, a bit more than just the onlooker pose that he assumes.

Speaking of Gatsby, has anyone else checked out Thug Notes yet? Touted as the YouTube gangster version of Spark Notes, it features Sparky Sweets, PhD giving his take on classic literature such as Crime and Punishment and, you guess it, The Great Gatsby. Literature has never been so bad ass.

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What has been on my reading list? Jacqueline Carey, Jacqueline Carey and more Jacqueline Carey. I’ve seen her books on the shelves but I’ve always shied away from it when I read the back and found out the heroine is a courtesan because I was tired of reading books which try to glorify prostitution, rape and men’s brutal use of women’s bodies.

However.

One of my favourite authors, Kristin Cashore, has always spoken on her blog about how much she enjoys Jacqueline Carey’s books so a few weeks back, I decided to try a sample of Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart on my Kindle. I got hooked right away and began to read more and more. And, yes, Carey’s heroine, Phedre, may have been sold as a child into indentured servitude to one of the Houses of Night-Blooming Flowers (read: high class prostitution) a la Memoirs of a Geisha and yes, sex, prostitution and rape does feature in the book… but Kushiel’s Dart is so much more than that.

First of all, Carey’s books are all beautifully written, all her characters are flawed yet incredibly lovable, even the bad ones (well, maybe not the Mahrkagir, though we can well pity him), her world-building draws her readers into an exciting, new albeit familiar version of medieval Europe, with charming, well-pleasing details, and watching Phedre mature from a rebellious, brash, sometimes-jealous child to an intelligent, courageous and compassionate woman who would do anything to save her beloved country and loved ones (and when I say anything, I mean¬†anything) ¬†is one of my favourite things about Kushiel’s Dart. It kind of reminds me of that wonderful character evolution of Wikus Van De Merwe in the movie District 9.

I’ve now steamrolled my way through all three books of the Phedre‘s Trilogy and am itching to get started on Imriel’s Trilogy,¬†though I’m holding myself back because I got so obsessed with Phedre‘s Trilogy¬†that I spent all my free time reading to the point where even my boyfriend has gotten annoyed with my ‘Kindle addiction.’ So I think I’m going to declare a little ‘time-out’ from my Kindle from today until, um, maybe the weekend?? ūüôā

Such was my Jacqueline Carey obsession that even when my pre-ordered copy of Neil Gaiman’s long-awaited The Ocean at the end of the Lane finally showed up, I put off reading the book until after I’d finished the last few chapters of Kushiel’s Avatar. Then it was time to get started!

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Thoughts? The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a pretty short book. In fact, it first started out as a novella, then, as Gaiman said, “…I did a word count at the end and realised I just wrote a novel by accident!” However, that doesn’t take away from the usual Neil Gaiman magic and the deliciously scary parts of his book, the shadowy monsters that linger at the edges of country fields and our own imagination, or the scary¬†Ursula Monkton who kind of reminds me of the librarian out of Stephen King’s The Library Policeman or Coraline’s fake mother in Gaiman’s Coraline.¬†¬†Meanwhile, the Hempstock women and the warm safety of their farmhouse kitchen evokes the same delicious sense captured in the faeries’ cottage of Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End, that sense of being in a warm, safe place while evil lurks outside in the dark night. Conclusion? The Ocean at the End of the Lane doesn’t rate as high on my list as¬†Anansi Boys, Neverwhere¬†and¬†American Gods,¬†but it’s still a poignant, lovely story to be treasured and a must-read for Gaiman fans.

Some enjoyable bits of The Ocean at the End of the Lane: the yummy meals served up by the Hempstocks and the children’s books which the protagonist seeks solace in from the big, bad world outside. Narnia! Secret Seven mysteries!¬†Alice in Wonderland!¬†¬†*thumbs up*

 

 

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