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review 2015-02-14 02:32
Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes

I watched this movie when it came out almost two decades ago (gah!) and liked it, but thought it was sort of awkward - especially the whole romance part.  Now I know why.  There is no romance part in the book: she in already in a relationship when the book begins and they buy the house together.  I always wondered why that part of the movie felt so clunky.

 

The movie (and the book) drew me in because I've always wondered who I'd be if I lived somewhere else.  I lived the first two decades in the same house, and the next 1.5 more or less in an 80-mile radius of it, so the idea of pulling up stakes and moving to another country held a strong fascination for me.  Of course, now I live on the other side of the planet, so now I know the answer.  Still, the book had it's appeal.

 

I'm not sure I ever adjusted to the writing style - it reads very much like she's writing in her journal; stopping and starting as thoughts or experiences come.  Like the movie, I loved the parts of the book about the home restoration, and the gardens - especially the discoveries they make while clearing their land to restore it.  I loved hearing about Cortona and the markets.  But about half-way through the book, the author veers off into a very detailed, street-by-street walking tour of a town (Cortona, I think) that completely bored me; I started skipping whole paragraphs to just get through it already.  The second half of the book got better, but then veered off into this very weird philosophy/theology/stream-of-consciousness thing that just lost me again.  

 

I enjoyed more of the book than I didn't, and I'd definitely re-read - but I'd skip all the sections I didn't care for and stick to the good stuff.  

 

 

[PopSugar Challenge: A Book that became a movie.]

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-16 15:32
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - James Thurber

I read (or rather listened to) this having already seen the Ben Stiller movie, so a comparison was unavoidable. And – what can I say – the story is much better. The movie took the story and made it into a clichéd pseudo-philosophic Hollywood fest. And even though I did enjoy the scenery and the way the movie dealt with the main character’s fantasy episodes, I thought the movie was shallow and rather naïve.

The original short story gets along without the obligatory and unrealistic love interest, but depicts Walter as a very sad and unsatisfied person, who comes to life and achieves meaning and happiness only in his varied daydreams.

What I hated most about the movie was the saccharine and naïve ending, where Walter leaves all his fears – and pretty much his personality – behind and becomes this brave and life-affirming person who can literally climb every mountain, find the man that no one can find and – of course – get the girl.

The rather bleak ending of the short story where Walter can only escape his seemingly meaningless life and his constantly nagging wife by imagining himself being executed by a firing squad definitely sends a different message and I can understand that that would not have resonated well with the average movie audience.
But to me it made a lot more sense and it kept the tone of the story as a whole.

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review 2013-10-09 11:09
"Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett
Going Postal - Terry Pratchett

Suddenly, condemned arch-swindler Moist von Lipwig found himself with a noose around his neck and dropping through a trapdoor into ... a government job? By all rights, Moist should be meeting his maker rather than being offered a position as Postmaster by Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork...

 

***

 

I read the book in Estonian, which is my mother tongue, and the picture I added is from Estonian edition, too.

I'm so happy I discovered this series. It's brilliantly crazy and so humorous. I was reading it while on a bus and I couldn't help myself - I was laughing my head off. And of course, some of the fellow passengers were giving me weird looks.

Great book. 5 stars

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-09-27 00:40
A Rare Instance Where I'm Enjoying the Movie More Than the Book
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

I'll admit I picked this one up after seeing the first movie; primarily because I wanted to read the book in order to properly brace myself for any impending character deaths. Going into this, I did not expect the ending to be a freakin bloodbath of main characters. I had thought that out of the group at least one of the survivors would be either Thorin, Fili, or Kili. Nope. All dead. Ugh, the last Hobbit movie is going to be painful to sit through.

Anyway, while I enjoyed the world and characters, Tolkien has created in this novel. I have a few complaints. One is that this story moves extremely slow. It took me quite a while to get into what was going on, but once it sucked me in, I loved it.

 

Another complaint is that the final confrontation with Smaug was a huge let down after all that build-up surrounding it. I wish there had actually been a confrontation between Smaug, Bilbo, and the dwarves. Instead, the freakin Dragon gets taken down by some random guy that I'm fairly certain we never actually saw until he randomly popped-up in one of Tolkien's cut-away scenes. Lame.

I also had a problem with Tolkien constantly knocking Bilbo out during action scenes. It kind of killed the suspense to have this huge battle getting started only to have Bilbo smashed upside the head and a "and then he knew no more" thing happen. When he wakes up its pages and pages of summary about what happened in the battle that Bilbo was unconscious for. What really bothered me about this is that Thorin, Fili, and Kili's deaths didn't have any real impact since it was pretty much a character saying, "Oh by the way, Thorin is dying and he wants to say peace-out to Bilbo. Also, Fili and Kili are dead. I'm not actually sure on what happened but I'm positive their deaths were honorable."

Other than that, I enjoyed the story. But, and I hate to admit this, so far I'm enjoying the movie adaptation more.

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review 2013-09-22 16:07
A Deep & Meaningful Reflection of Us?
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Although this book was definitely well written and the idea is certainly original (as far as I know anyway), I have to admit that I started reading this book out of curiosity just because I was so disturbed by the idea of children harming children.

As I read though, this book really opened my eyes to a bigger picture. I'll first admit that I'm the type of person that enjoys looking deeper into things and understanding the story behind the story.

I felt like this story has a bigger meaning of just how much our country has become obsessed with watching human emotion as a sport. We are desensitized to pain, sadness, frustration and find violence and scheming funny or entertaining.
While we continue to watch these things, people are truly suffering-for entertainment and we are ok with it.
Another notion I thought of was all of the countries who are in pain right now, fighting for common things like food, water, and shelter or safety while most of us live our lives using our extra money to buy new phones, cars, bigger houses, etc. I'm guilty of this too so I am certainly not pointing the finger. It just made me realize, wow-what am I doing?

As I finished this book, my eyes were certainly open and I felt more reflective about my actions. Sometimes drastic measures (such as using the idea of children killing children) are taken in order to get us to see what we as humans are doing....and I think I certainly got the message.
I enjoyed this book and I think that many people, if they think about it, will come away from this book rethinking some things...if they want to see it for a deeper meaning.

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