Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Earth Song by Catherine Coulter

Life has been pretty stressful lately so I thought it was high time for some escapism reading. I picked up this novel that Ben's Mom loaned me on my nightstand and read it rather quickly this week.

Earth Song is part of a "Song" series of books by Coulter, but I haven't read any of the other novels in the series. This novel is a pretty typical romance, headstrong heroine, manly hero, misunderstandings, raw passion, etc. There is also a bit of humor in it, which is nice. The novel is set in 13th century England. Phillipa de Beauchamp accidently is so beautiful that her sister's suitors inevitably fall for her instead of her poor sister. One day Phillipa accidently hears her father tell one of these wayward suitors that she is intended for a "fat old man with no teeth." She decides to run away from home by hiding in a wool wagon. The wool wagon is captured by a a poor nobleman that considers himself a rogue, Dienwald de Fortenberry. Phillipa becomes his prisoner, but is able to use her skills as her father's steward and in weaving to help Dienwald manage his manor better. The fiery pair have many misunderstandings, but find love.

It was a good, quick, and fun romance. Not heavy reading, but it was something fun to read.

I Did (But I Wouldn't Now) by Cara Lockwood

I read this light-hearted sequel to I Do (But I Don't) last week and enjoyed it. While not as good as it's predecessor, I Did (But I Wouldn't Now) was still an enjoyable light hearted read.

I Did (But I Wouldn't Now) tells the story of Lily, the younger sister from I Do (But I Don't). It's now a few years down the road and Lily has found herself just separated from her rock star husband. It's bad enough to find out that your husband cheated on you with a movie star, but even more humilating when the entire world knows about it! Lily flies off to London to visit her friend (and ex-boyfriend) Carter and escape from her ex-husband. My hilarity and romance ensues.

I didn't think this book was as good as the first as it is hard to relate to being a rock star's wife! Also the new romance between Carter and Lily was strange with Carter sleeping with his psycho ex-girlfriend at the budding of Carter and Lily's rediscovering their feelings for each other. It seemed awkward and not as romantic as it could be.

If you liked I Do (But I Don't), this book is a good follow-up, but don't expect it to be as strong of a novel.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

I read a great review of this book a few months ago and have been anxiously awaiting it from the library system. The Luxe is a teen novel set in 1899 New York City high society and seeks to parallel Edith Wharton's world. While definitely not as good as an Edith Wharton book, it was still an enjoyable read. It was rather a light read and not something I would consider great literature, but it was good.

The Luxe is the story of Elizabeth Holland and her friends and family. The novel starts at young Elizabeth's funeral after her tragic drowning death only days before her wedding and then flashes back to what led up to her engagement, wedding planning, and death. It turns out that instead of being the perfect society miss, Elizabeth has led a tangled life of deceit that involves her friends and family. Her sister Diana, is in love with Elizabeth's fiancee, Henry. Her best friend, Penelope, is also in love with Henry and wants to win him back. Elizabeth herself may be the only one that does not fall under Henry's charms.

The only negatives with this book were that you are supposed to wonder at the mystery of Elizabeth's death, but I had it figured out right away. Also I would have liked better character development and more development of the main romances - why did Elizabeth love her one true love? There will be a sequal to this book in a few months and I'm looking forward to it.

I loved the COVER of this novel. It shows a young society miss in a beautiful pink ball gown. I want to wear it! The descriptions in this novel of the parties and the gowns were very good.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a fun read about high society teens behaving badly a hundred years ago.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I'm continuing on my quest to reread all of Jane Austen's classics this spring to celebrate the "Season of Jane Austen" on Masterpiece Theatre (although I'm behind the broadcast schedule!). I finished rereading Northanger Abbey last week. It's been probably a decade or more since I read it the first time. I enjoyed it much more this time then I did when I was a teenager. As a teen I was looking for Pride and Prejudice - Part 2 and was disappointed. This time around I enjoyed the novel for its own sake.

Northanger Abbey is different than Austen's other novels as it is a comic parady of gothic fiction as well as a comedy of manners. Catherine Morland is a young 17-year old girl that goes away on her first exciting adventure to Bath with family friends, the Allens. While there, Catherine meets and befriends both the Thorpes and the Tilneys. She is interested in Henry Tilney and is very excited when his father, General Tilney, invites Catherine to their estate, Northanger Abbey. She is sure it will be dark and haunted like her favorite gothic novels, only to find that real life is much different than a novel. Catherine grows up in the novel through bad experiences with both the Thorpes and the Tilneys and discovers everything is not always as it seems.

I really liked the hero, Henry Tilney, in this novel. He has such witty and fun dialogue. He is rather the opposite of the tacterin Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Catherine is rather a silly heroine, but it is interesting watching her character growth throughtout the novel.

Overall this is an enjoyable novel and I highly recommend!

Mansfield Park (2008)

I've gotten a bit behind on my blog again and on my TV viewing. The DVR is getting loaded up with shows again! I've been a bit busy with work and travels lately.

I watched the new Mansfield Park from Masterpiece last week and in general, liked it. Mansfield Park is not one of my favorite Jane Austen novels and it has proved difficult to transfer to the big screen in the past and there were still many problems with this version.

Mansfield Park tells the story of Fanny Price, a poor young girl that goes to live with her rich relatives at you guessed it, Mansfield Park. She is a good and faithtful young woman that falls in love with her cousin Edmund. Her goodness is tried upon the arrival of Mary and Henry Crawford. Edmund falls for Mary while Henry tries to woe Fanny. Will true love prevail?

I guess my first problem with the new production was Fanny herself. I love Billie Piper from the Doctor Who series, but she seemed sadly miscast in this production. I especially hated how she kept her "Billie Piper" hairdo instead of having hairstyles that would have been worn in that time period. She spent the entire movie standing around and looking sad and not really doing much. She was rather dull - and Mary Crawford was much more exciting. This new production was much too short to do such a long novel justice. Key plot points were cut from the movie making it as a whole lack the substance and character development it needed. For me, Henry Crawford redeems himself when he woes Fanny as she visits her poor parents and still wants to marry Fanny. That made me like him and makes it all the more shocking when he *PLOT SPOILER* runs off with Maria. This entire episode was not in this movie.

While this version of Mansfield Park is much better than the long, dull 1980's version, I liked it less than the 1999 version - although the 1999 version is far from perfect and annoyed me in other ways. Maybe some day they'll get this movie right. Until then, I'll enjoy watching the different versions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lost is Back!

I have been loving Lost the past couple of weeks!! I thought the premiere was outstanding and the follow up second episode last week was also fantastic. It is so nice to have an excellent show back on the air. I feel like I have been living in a good TV vacuum since last spring!!

I am especially intrigued with the introduction of the "rescuers" that have landed on the island with an intact heliocopter. Why do they want Ben and what exactly did their flashbacks mean (Ben and I discount that they are "flashforwards" as we have read on some boards)? Is there time travel involved with the island? That would make a lot of things make sense and would be intriguing. Who rigged the fake flight 815 in the ocean with dead bodies? I think Penelope's dad is in on it somehow. I wonder if the rescuers have something to do with the original Dharma intiative and are back to get Ben in revenge for the "purge."

My burning question is - who are the other three that make it off the island alive. I'm sure we'll be finding out with the flash forwards. I loved Hurley's flash forward. It answered questions, yet lead to so many more. Excellent.

What are your thoughts on Lost - love it, hate it? I still think this is the best show on network TV (although I reserve best show on cable TV or actually all of TV to Battlestar).

Ocean's Thirteen

Ben and I watched Ocean's Thirteen over the weekend and enjoyed it. Ben especially enjoyed the 1960's inspired soundtrack as did Kile. Kile was happily playing, but whenever he heard the music, his head would start bopping!

Ocean's Thirteen finds George Clooney (Danny), Brad Pitt (Rusty), Matt Damon (Linus), and the rest of the crew thankfully back in Las Vegas. Eccentric and wealthy former casino owner (and one of the original 11) Reuban is strong-armed into giving up his share of a new casino to Willy Bank (Al Pacino). This causes Reuban to have a heart attack. Determined to give Reuban a reason to live again, Danny Ocean gathers the gang together to ruin Willy Bank's new casino by not allowing him to get a five diamond rating and by rigging it so that so many people win that the casino is financially ruined.

I thought the movie was enjoyable and liked how they gave it a 60's vibe with the music and coloring. It was much better than Ocean's 12, but I think that Ocean's 11 is still the best of the three. I missed Julia Roberts in this one!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Oprah's New Pick

I'm behind on my news, but last week Oprah picked A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. More information is located here. I usually read Oprah's books, but self-help books are not my forte. I don't think I'll read this book . . . unless someone can post a comment on why this is a good book to read. Convince me!

The Bourne Ultimatum

Ben and I watched the Bourne Ultimatum over the weekend. I must admit though that I wasn't feeling so well when I watched it so my review might be fuzzy! This time Jason Bourne is finally closing in the answers of who he really is and what happened to him. It's nice to see this solved after the close of three movies. There is a lot of really exciting chase scenes and action. I enjoyed the movie, but probably would have a longer review and would have liked it better if I wasn't sick while watching it! The plot is detailed and hard to explain anyway. I enjoyed it and if you liked the previous Bourne movies, you'll be sure to love this one!

The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson

The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson is a young adult science fiction novel that is the February pick for my Mom's Club book club. It was a very quick read as it is a young adult novel.

The Girl Who Owned a City is the children's version of I Am Legend. In this story, all adults over the age of 12 have been klled by a deadly virus. The children left have to learn to survive on their own. Some children form roaming gangs that hurt other children for their food, but Lisa decides to get the children she knows together to take over the high school and form her own city. She uses her wits to find food and to form defenses against the roaming gangs of children. One day Lisa makes a tragic mistake and her dream of the perfect city of the future in imperiled.

This book was an interesting read. As a child, I'm sure I would have loved it - a world without adults! As an adult I'm disturbed about the possibilities of what would happen to my son (and future son) in a world with no adults. For small children - it would be a death sentence if they didn't have older siblings. I liked the book overall, but I'm sure that it would be an awesome book for tweens that like science fiction.

I Do (But I Don't) by Cara Lockwood

I Do (But I Don't) by Cara Lockwood is the March book club pick for my Kewaunee Mom's Club Book Club and was actually picked by my best friend Jenn. I read it over the weekend and thought it was great!

I Do (But I Don't) is the story of Lauren Crandell, a wedding planner. Lauren is very organized in life and at work, but not when it comes to her love life. She had a terrible marriage and has been divorced for a year. She hasn't been able to move on until she bumps into a handsome fireman that helps at one of her weddings. She is instantly attracted, but then horrified when she realizes that he is the groom at a new difficult wedding she is the planner for. Much hilarity ensues.

I really liked this book. The writing was engaging and really brought you into the story. It was engaging enough that it was a book I didn't want to put down. It was a fun book and I highly recommend for anyone who is looking for a good chick lit book.

Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

I'm a bit behind with my reviews. I actually finished this book about a week ago. It is the February book club pick for my Kewaunee book club.

Interred With Their Bones is a Shakespeare thriller trying to ride the Da Vinci Code wave. It tells the story of Katherine Stanley, a young PhD Shakespeare student who gave up the life of academia to direct Shakespeare plays at the Globe in London. One day her old advisor shows up, gives her a gift of a brooch and is found murdered later in the day. Katherine's adventures begin at that point and she starts her travels to the U.S. and back to Europe to try to find where the gift leads - to Shakespeare's lost play and also to the true identity of Shakespeare.

I thought this book was much better than The Book of Air and Shadows, another Shakespeare thriller I read a few months ago. Although it was better, it was still only a mediocre read and not nearly as thrilling as The DaVinci Code. I thought the plot was too convoluted. I became confused on whether Katherine was searching for the lost play or Shakespeare's identify. And the questions surrounding Shakespeare's identity were never truly answered. It was an interesting book to read, but not the best.