Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Boleyn Inheritance

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So here is my promised review of the last installment of Philippa Gregory's King Henry VIII novels.  I think that I enjoyed The Boleyn Inheritance better than any of the other two books on King Henry's wives.  I thought that this book was just clever in how it depicted the repercussions of Anne Boleyn and how it effected all of the English Court, through the eyes of three women.  After Anne visited the chopping block, the King's life changed forever and there were few people in the country that weren't effected by the aftermath.  The King has now divorced his first wife, killed his second wife, and lost is third wife in childbirth.  He is lonely, ill, loosing his good looks, at odds with the Catholic Church, and at odds with his people, all these things make this part of his history very entertaining.

This book is written in the point of view of Anne of Cleves (Henry's 4th wife), Katherine Howard (Henry's 5th wife), and Jane Boleyn (George Boleyn's horrible crazy wife).  So when we open this book the king is mourning over the death of his beloved wife Jane Seymour.  He needs to find a new wife and Queen of England so he sends out his royal match makers to find him the perfect spouse.  He settles on Anne of Cleves, and when he meets her (and marries her) he realizes that this woman will just not do (surprise surprise) and he divorces her.  During this quick marriage he is occupying his time with a young somewhat slutty immature girl named Katherine Howard, cousin to the King's infamous wife Anne (and you know with that combo, this can't end well).  In the end there are accusations, treason, and heads rolling once again.

Like I said before, I really enjoyed this book.  I didn't want to go into too much detail about the plot because it would sound like a history lesson, but don't let that turn you off from reading this book.  Because out of all the families in history the Tudor's story most resembles a steamy soap opera.  King Henry and his wives invented the word drama I am sure.

Book vs. Movie: I don't know if I would watch a movie just based off this book.  And I don't think that a 2 hour movie could quite catch a glimpse of the entire reign of King Henry VIII; but, the Showtime series The Tudors is doing a VERY VERY good job.  And if you don't want to watch the show for the history then at least watch it for Jonathan Rhys Meyers... Yum...

The Boleyn Inheritance
by Philippa Gregory

If you liked this book read: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Catching Fire

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Oh.  My.  Gosh.  If Suzanne Collins was sitting next to me right now I would give her a big ol' kiss on the lips!!!  Not only did she hit it out of the park with Hunger Games but then she out did her self with this little gem.  I was so excited to see what was going on with Katniss and Peeta that I feel like I flew through this book and really didn't have time to digest it.  I even had to go back and skim back through chapters to pick up some details that I flew past the first time on my anxious pursuit to see what was going to happen next!

In this second installment of Suzanne Collins Hunger Game trilogy we start out back in District 12 after Katniss and Peeta have survived the Hunger Games.  After they come back home and readjust to life in District 12 they have to head out on their mandatory winners tour of the districts, unfortunately President Snow is oh-so-angry about their little rebellious move in the Hunger Games arena and he is out to make an example out of Katniss and Peeta.  With rebellion rumors bubbling up in the some of the districts and the "Quarter Quell" just around the corner, we are right back in the thick of things with Katniss and Peeta.  You don't really know what is going on until about page 175 but when you get there you are like OH MY GOSH, HOLY MOLY, I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED, WHAT THE HECK!!!!!

I think that this book may even top the Hunger Games if you can believe it!  I LOVED the ride that Suzanne Collins took me on with this one.  The only 2 things I can complain about is that I can't wait a whole year for the final story to be told and I still don't know if I am Team Peeta or Team Gale!!

Book vs. Movie:  Yes please!  Hurry!!

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
ISBN-13: 9780439023498

If you liked this book please read: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wicked {The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West}

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There is oh-so-much I can say about Wicked.  But the very first thing I have to say is that Gregory Maguire is a genius with words.  A genius I tell you!  The writing in this book is probably the most beautiful and clever writing I have ever experienced.  In the past I had tried to read the book and for whatever reasons would get distracted with something else so I decided to try the audio book and to actually hear the reader tell this story in Maguire's words is something I hope to experience again and again with more of Maguires masterpieces.  The story is so unique in the way he took a character (The Wicked Witch of the West) of a well known story (The Wizard of Oz) and expounded on her life.  You get reacquainted with some old characters and get to see them in a new light.  And the most interesting thing of it all is you get to see the political and religious life in Oz.

Throughout the story you learn who the dreaded Wicked Witch of the West really was, a good friend to Glinda, sister to Nessarose (The Wicked Witch of the East), lover to Fiyero, Mother to Liir, a strong willed woman who sympathized with the mistreatment and segregation of the Animals (groups of animals with human spirits..think the Cowardly Lion), and a rebel that wants to over through the Wizard of Oz.  I loved the fun play on words and the great names of towns and people in this book.

All in all it was a magical journey and I am looking forward to reading Son of a Witch (about Elphaba's son Liir), and Lion Among Men (about the Cowardly Lion).  I also think it would be great fun the read the tales Maguire spins on stories such as Cinderella and Snow White.  Look for more reviews to come as my To Be Read list just grew a mile or so longer!!! :)

Book vs. Movie:  OK so I know this is a HUGE HUGE Broadway hit and I haven't seen it yet!!!!  But I have to say that I would absolutely have to see this if it came in movie format!  I wasn't a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz when I was growing up (I mean the flying monkeys scared the hell out of me quite frankly) but this has such adult story lines that I think I would find if very amusing if in fact was done well.

by Gregory Maguire

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Club {review of The Handmaid's Tale}

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So yesterday was our first official meeting as a Book Club!  It was so much fun!!!  It looks like we will have about 14 lovely ladies in all and the dynamics seem very good.  We read and discussed The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood and everyone had a lot to say about the themes, plot lines, and characters.  This book has a lot to talk about so the meeting started at 7pm and after about 30min. of chatting, snacking, and a little wine we started our discussion.  We wrapped up around 9:45 and I am sure we could have chatted for another hour at least!

The main topic of conversation stemmed on the fact that we decided this could actually happen and how easily.  At first there were some in the group that didn't think it would be possible but then one girl mentioned the Holocaust and how millions of Jewish people throughout an entire continent were rounded up and forced to live a certain way, families torn apart, millions killed.  I mentioned that it would be easy for every debit and credit card belonging to a female to be "turned off" of be considered invalid (just like the compucards in The Handmaid's Tale) and seeing as we only carry little bits of cash (if any) in our purses what would be able to do then?  At by the end of the discussion I think everyone decided that these things happening in The Handmaid's Tale could infact become a reality today.

Another thing we talked about for quite a while is whether we would want to be Marthas, Wives, or Handmaids.  We decided that NONE of us wanted to be Wives and most of us wanted to be Marthas.  We also decided that we might be more rebellious than Offred had been.

Over all I think the discussion was very interesting and I think we will do well as a group.  I can hardly wait until next month!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Email from Author Garth Stein

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So exciting!!  Today, I got an email form Garth Stein (author of The Art of Racing in the Rain).  He read my review on the book and wrote me an email back saying that he was glad that Enzo's story had touched me and to keep spreading the word!  The email just made my day!  How exciting this new world of blogging is!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Constant Princess

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So a few weeks ago I posted my review for The Other Boleyn Girl, and I promised in that review that I would post a review for the other King Henry books by Philippa Gregory.  I am here to partially fulfill that promise by reviewing The Constant Princess.  Whenever I read a novel by Philippa Gregory I really become lost in the history, I become much more educated by the time I am finished with one of her stories because I am always on Wikipedia looking up some diplomat or lady at Court, or prince, or princess I had never heard of before.  I feel like each of her books become a personal history lesson for me.  My husband (being a history major) is amused and maybe slightly irritated by my conversations beginning with "did you know..." about some person or event I am reading about in Gregory's books.  When I started reading The Constant Princess the only thing I really knew about Katherine of Aragon was that she was King Henry VIII first wife (and that she didn't have her head chopped off), but from there I couldn't tell you  much of anything else.

A lot of what I know (pre reading) about the life of King Henry VIII and his wives, I had learned from the Showtime Series The Tudors (you must tune into this show if you would like to see a very sexy version of the reign of King Henry VIII, though I would imagine that his reign was even spicier than the TV show depicts).  In this TV show they show Kathrine of Aragon as an older lady with a VERY strong Catholic faith that never stopped loving Henry until the day she died.  In The Constant Princess you get to know Katherine as a strong willed little girl that grew up on the battlefields of Spain, as a young woman married to Aurthur prince of Wales, and finally as a cunning woman who becomes the Queen of England and tries to hold onto her position.

Out of all the books by Gregory I think that The Constant Princess has been my least favorite.  Her writing style drew me in as always but it took me A L-O-N-G time to read this book.  The characters didn't really capture my attention.  I loved to hate Henry in the other books but in this one he was so young he just annoyed me.  And I really enjoyed the love story between Katherine and Aurthur but after he died I wasn't too into the rest of the book.  I would say absolutely read this book if you want to get the real story of the whole King Henry mess   reign, it will only educate you or inspire you to learn more about this great time in history.

The Constant Princess 
by Philippa Gregory

If you liked this book then read: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Handmaid's Tale - Book Club Read

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So this evening I finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I have read this book before but I suppose I had forgotten the details because I felt like I was reading it for the first time.  I could only sort of remember what was going to happen next so when the story unfolded it was like reading it anew!  I had to read this one for my book club and I am sure that it will encourage a lot of discussion because of the controversial nature of this story (I will post the outcome of the discussion next week after our meeting).  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Margaret Atwood.  I feel that she is a very important writer in literary history and I went through a time when I owned all her novels (even her collections of short stories) but I started to really dislike her writing style after reading about 6 or so of her novels.  Sometimes she would capture my attention and her writing (The Blind Assassin)was organized and easy to read and other times I felt she rambled and there was no point to the story she was trying to tell (The Robber Bride).  The Handmaid's Tale was one of the stories that I could fallow without boredom and while the ending isn't really satisfying, the story as a whole does make sense.

In The Handmaid's Tale we are introduced to a society that has taken hold after the fall of The United States.  A new government takes power and they are totally and staunchly biblically based.  Women loose all their rights including the right to read the written word, and they are kept as possessions of the men either as Wives, Handmaids (birthing machines), or Marthas (servants).  This book is the story of one Handmaid named Offred (a name given to her meaning possession Of Fred), it is told from her point of view, and it is the story of her life as a first generation Handmaid in the new land of Gilead.  Because she is a first generation Handmaid she remembers life as it was before the fall of the U.S. so it makes it much harder for her to adjust to her new life as a Handmaid her "Commanders" house.

I remember enjoying this book a lot when I read it the first time and I feel the same about it now.  It really is interesting to see a glimpse into society once life as we know it is over. Could these things really happen?  Would we as a society let them?  Maybe stories like The Hunger Games, The Handmaids Tale, and The Giver are a warning to us all.

Book vs. Movie:  There is a movie version of The Handmaid's Tale but judging by the pictures I have seen online it looks like a movie I am going to miss.  It was made in the early 90s and it doesn't look too promising.  If someone were to make a newer version of this movie I would absolutely go see it, just for a more visual idea of what Gilead and the Handmaid's looked like.  There is also an Opera about The Handmaid's Tale and I think that would be very interesting!

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 978-0-385-49081-8

If you liked this book than read:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins