Friday, May 25, 2012

So much to say about...

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Wow! I don't even know where to start. What an amazing book!

I started reading it on Wednesday night and finished it this morning. I seriously didn't get out of bed til after noon because I wanted to finish it so bad. I just couldn't put it down (in between my work shifts and sleep of course). I didn't want to put it down. I actually fell asleep reading last night. I don't even remember falling asleep or turning the light off apparently. But I just remember reading one minute and waking up the next.

It was such a good book. It far exceeded my expectations. I have seen (and absolutely love!) the movie based on Andrew Lloyd Webber's broadway musical. The one starring Gerard Butler. Yup. That one. And I love it. It was one of the first things that got me interested in opera at about the same time that I started taking voice lessons from a girl in my church who sings opera... legitimately. Her degree is in musical performance, focus in opera. She is amazing. ANYWAY. The book is amazing. I was worried that since I love the movie I would hate the book. But in all reality, I may love the book more than the movie now.

Gaston Leroux's characters may not have a lot of definition and come off as being very shallow in every way possible. The one character he did incredible with was the Opera Ghost. He put so much into creating the shady character of Erik (or Opera Ghost or Phantom... whichever you prefer) that it really defined and shaped the book itself. Along with the character of Erik, he put incredible detail in describing the opera house and it very much did become the main stage for everything that happened in the book. Every chapter left something hanging. Whether it was the voice. Or the music. Or just the descriptions of the surroundings which Erik was so familiar with and left others completely lost, scared or confused. There was always something left hanging until the next chapter (or sometimes even a few chapters). Erik was this mysterious person who seemed to be a ghost, yet flesh and blood. He obviously had some mental issues, but at the same time one's heart just aches for him, his humanity and his desire to be loved.

Christine, Raoul and the other characters were sadly very shallow. That is one thing that the movie did much better on. But at the same time if they had had more depth then the story would have changed and shifted drastically. It wouldn't have been about the Opera Ghost nearly as much I think. And since the book is titled The Phantom of the Opera it makes sense that Gaston Leroux wouldn't have put as much depth into the other characters.

I was so pleased with the book. Leroux's writing was definitely entertaining and was good enough to keep me hooked. And that's saying quite a lot since I tend to be very particular with the types of writing styles I like. But nonetheless... The Phantom of the Opera was a fantastic classic read. It wasn't super long. The copy I read was only 280 pages. And it was so worth the time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A new twist on Pemberley

I just finished reading Death Comes to Pemberley yesterday while driving home from Illinois. It was a nice easy read compared to Vanity Fair which seemed to kick my butt every time I tried to sit and read it. Death Comes to Pemberley was written by P.D. James and is a murder mystery surrounding the beloved characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It certainly was not what I was expecting. And I may have had my hopes up a little too high for it.

It was set at Pemberley 6 years after Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy married days before the glorious Lady Anne's Ball that is held every year at Pemberley. Jane and Mr. Bingley, Georgianna and Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lydia and Wickham all appear throughout the story.

The night before the ball a murder takes place in the woods of Pemberley and Wickham is accused. Turns out he has an illegitimate child and a scandalous plan for saving face. Lydia is constantly in hysterics (just like her mother I suppose). Georgianna is falling in love with a good friend of Mr. Bingley. And the love between Elizabeth and Darcy is growing more and more and takes a prominent place in setting the stage of their home and relationship.

The story is interesting to say the least. There are a lot of chapters or stories that don't seem to fit at all. And the flow of the story seems to be pretty choppy because of it. Her writing style is unique as she tries to be as much like Austen as possible (she has quite a few lines that are exactly what Jane Austen wrote... especially the line about the "shades or woods of Pemberley being thus polluted"), but in my opinion it comes nowhere near as good in style of writing as Jane Austen's. But it was a good attempt at trying to further the stories of such loved characters. 

I am now going to start reading The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux which is one of my Classics Club picks. I am excited to delve into a book from which one of my favorite musicals is based on. I just hope that I am not too disappointed. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Refuge

I know I have said this before. BUT... reading really is my refuge. I can't even begin to tell you how much of an escape it has been for me. Especially the last two weeks. I haven't read a lot. But I have read when I absolutely couldn't take the stress of life anymore or when I just needed a quick little break. With all of the craziness and stress of graduation, moving, weddings and work, I have been freaking out quite a bit. And my books have helped me to calm down just a bit.

I am currently reading Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. It is very interesting. Definitely not as good as I was hoping it to be. But not completely terrible at the same time. I don't think it is one that Jane Austen would be proud of. But then again, I could be wrong. I will write more about it when I finish it. I am about half way through it.

I am looking forward to my honeymoon when I have a whole week to read to my hearts content sitting on the couch or by the lake in the mountains. It's going to be glorious to say the least. :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I DID IT!

After a month of very slow reading, I finally finished Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray! I read a ton this week when I probably should have been doing work for the wedding or packing up my things for our big move. But oh well. I was able to get into the book around page 350 and was excited to finally finish it.

So here are my stats for April and the first week of May!!

The 2 books I read in the month of April/May:
Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

The number of pages I read in the month of April/May: 
1,145

The number of pages read year-to-date (middle of December 2011 - first week of May 2012): 
6,449

Next on the list: 
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

I am excited to take a break from the classics and read something fairly new by an author I have heard good things about. I am also excited to get back to reading on my Nook and not carrying one heavy book around in my purse!

Happy reading!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I just couldn't resist!

So, as I have said before I am getting married soon (as in 29 days soon) and have started the process of cleaning out my room and attempting to pack. Well, while I was working on cleaning up my desk and sorting through cards and old mail, I found a Barnes and Noble gift card that had 10 bucks on it. I have no idea when I got it or who gave it to me. But needless to say, I was pretty darn excited and stuck it in my purse. Then today while I was out running errands I had about 45 minutes to kill before going to my dress fitting. So, I made my way to my favorite store ever and spent my time browsing the tables and shelves of new releases and classics. I kept debating on whether or not to use that recently discovered gift card. I at first thought that I should just save it and use it some other time when I have a smaller pile of books waiting to be read. Well, that didn't work. Especially since I found The Secret Garden and Candide on sale. Totaling just under 10 bucks. Well, I couldn't resist. So, I bought them and have added them to my bookshelf.

I am such a sucker for good books and for gift cards just burning a hole in my pocket!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Books to Movies?

So it's time for another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks topic is what 10 movies would I like to see made into a movie. Well it took me a little while to think on it, but I think I finally got my list. So here it is! :)

1. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. This could only be done if Peter Jackson and his team who did The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit filmed it. No one else could do half so good a job in my mind. Mostly due to the fact that Jackson and his crew put years and years of work into understanding Tolkien's writing and stories. They did a great job with the others and would do a great job with The Silmarillion.

2. Carry on Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. This would probably be better off geared towards a younger audience since it is a book for younger readers. But it would still be a fun one in light of the storyline and the images of manning a ship and sailing the seas.

3. The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. I read these earlier this year and they are wonderful. They are books that readers of any age can enjoy and the adventures would be great brought to life on the screen. But it would take a good team to shoot it to make it good and engaging like the books.

4. Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, Whence Came a Prince and Grace in Thine Eyes by Liz Curtis Higgs. These could probably be shot as two movies. Maybe three. And it would be more along the historical romance genre. The imagery of the Biblical story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah are amazing and the setting of 18th century Scotland is one that can't be beat. It may not be a cinema blockbuster that breaks records money-wise. But it would still be a quality movie.

5. Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. Everyone loves Austen's Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. This book would be a fun twist on their story that has been made famous through various movie releases. It would have to be done well like any other movie. But would have plenty of potential for the huge crowd of Austen fans.

6. Fools Rush In, It Had to Be You, and Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson. For anyone who likes The Wedding Planner or My Big Fat Greek Wedding this would be a fun set of books to put onto the big screen. Good, clean, funny romance that centers around a big Italian family in Texas who happens to own a wedding business and pizza parlor. Definitely would have some guaranteed laughs.

7. Little Men and Jo's Boys by Louis May Alcott. I know there are a few tv versions of the books. But I think they both need a real good movie to be made. Little Women  has so many good ones out there already. The other two really should too.

8. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. This would be another children's movie. But could be really fun to bring to the life of the kids who lived in a boxcar and solved mysteries. It would definitely make a great family movie.

9. The Magicians Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. These are the last 4 of The Chronicles of Narnia. The first three have already been made into  movies (2 or 3 different times). But these 4 never have and it would be so great if they were. They definitely bring so much more to the stories of Narnia, but always get the short end of the stick when it comes to movie production deals.

10. Crime Scene Jerusalem by Alton Gansky. This one is about a detective who gets transported back in time to the days surrounding Jesus' crucifixion and he has to look at the story as a detective looking at a murder case. It's really intriguing and challenges one's view on the crucifixion and the reality that Jesus was murdered, but yet He willingly gave His life to save the world.

So there you have it! My Top Ten Tuesday - Books to Movies list. Enjoy!