Tag Archives: books

Quick Chick Flick: “Confessions Of A Shopaholic”

21 May

I recently read Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella and really, really liked it. I had seen the movie years ago not knowing it was a series of books. But when my best friend suggested I add it to my to-read list on Goodreads, naturally I took her advice. After finishing the book obviously I wanted to watch the movie again to compare. This won’t be a “Book Vs. Movie” post since the two were SO different, but rather just a review of the movie (definitely read the book, though!).

Confessions of a Shopaholic Poster

Isla Fisher stars as Rebecca Bloomwood, a girl with a serious problem. And I mean serious. She has a shopping addiction so severe that she comes up with the most outrageous (and hilarious) stories in her head to justify her spending problem. She’ll do anything to make it to a designer sale, and her problem has gotten her over $9,000 in debt. Living with her rich best friend, Suze, (played by the adorably quirky Krysten Ritter) Becky finds herself out of work as a journalist and constantly dodging pesky debt collector Derek Smeath.

Rebecca Bloomwood at a designer sale

Rebecca Bloomwood at a designer sale

Rebecca Bloomwood: Shopaholic

Desperate for money, she creates a very elaborate if not completely false resume and goes for an interview at her dream job – a top fashion magazine – only to find that the position has been filled. However, she finds out there is an opening at another magazine within the publication family – a financial advice digest. Thinking she can work her way to an “in” with the fashion mag, she goes on the interview at the financial digest and meets handsome editor Luke Brandon, played by charmer Hugh Dancy.

Hugh Dancy as Luke Brandon

Hugh Dancy as Luke Brandon

Following a very entertaining interview, Becky lands the job after Luke reads an article she writes for the fashion magazine that accidentally ended up in his hands instead. Seeing journalistic potential in Becky, he takes her to press conference where she shines with her tough, relevant questions about corporate raises after customer fund cuts. She writes a piece on it and becomes an overnight sensation in the financial advice world. The public love her. But what they don’t know is that Becky Bloomwood is the last person anyone should be taking financial advice from. Several hilarious plot twists later – including Becky telling Luke the debt collector is her ex-boyfriend turned stalker; getting into a pickle by being forced to speak Finnish (which she said she was fluent in on her resume); and her misadventures at a Shopaholic’s Anonymous group – Becky and Luke find themselves attracted to each other after spending more time together.

Becky and Luke Confessions of a Shopaholic

That is where things start to get interesting. Can Becky continue lying to Luke about her financial troubles and shopping addiction? Will her problem come between her and her best friend? The truth comes out in the end in a very shocking and embarrassing way for Becky, and she must finally confront her problem head on instead of running away from it. I won’t ruin the ending for you if you haven’t seen it, but I will say that everything works out in a way that none of the characters could have ever imagined.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is such a fun, absurdly amusing chick flick that I think anyone would enjoy. Be sure to check out the books, too! Sophie Kinsella created a character with Becky Bloomwood that girls everywhere will adore. She makes us laugh out loud, gasp at her ridiculousness, and find ourselves routing fiercely for her in the end, so proud to see her succeed that we may even shed a few tears (sniff). I’m currently reading Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, the second book in the series, and so far Becky still has a knack for getting herself into hilarious sticky situations.

What did you think of the movie and/or book? 

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Book vs. Movie – “Beautiful Creatures”

1 May

Beautiful Creatures Book Cover

Since I love to both read and watch movies, I’m going to do another book vs. movie review! This time I chose a Young Adult novel that my best friend and I recently read, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Let’s begin with the book…

Our narrator is 16-year-old Ethan Wate, who lives in the small Southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina. Ethan is haunted by a recurring dream where he is desperately trying to save a girl, whose face he can not see. He doesn’t know who she is or why he’s dreaming this but he is so drawn to her and feels he would do anything for this beautiful stranger. Ethan’s mother died last year and his father has been cooped up in his study “writing” ever since, leaving Ethan to be looked after by their superstitious, grandmotherly housemaid, Amma.

The people of Gatlin’s favorite pastimes include attending church and participating in the annual re-enactment of the town’s historic Civil War battle, complete with Confederate soldier costumes and big antebellum dresses. (The authors goes on to paint the perfect picture of small-minded, Bible beating hypocrites for us.) At Jackson High School, where Ethan attends as a Junior, you are either on the inside or the outside with the popular group, and Ethan has recently broken up with his cheerleader girlfriend, thus leaving him dangerously close to being on the outside. But he doesn’t mind much as he longs for something more than a close-minded life in Gatlin. Ethan immerses himself in books that take him far away and applies to colleges anywhere and everywhere outside of Gatlin, which he sees as his ticket out of there.

But the peace in Gatlin is disturbed when Macon Ravenwood’s (the town’s alleged “Boo Radley”) niece, Lena, comes to live with him. As all of the town’s people consider Macon and his kin to be Satanists (told you these people are small-minded), when Lena Duchannes shows up at Jackson High…it ain’t pretty, y’all. She is quickly outcast and everyone’s fears are fueled by a strange incident that occurs at school – suddenly all of the windows are blown out in the classroom while Lena is being publicly ridiculed by the other students – causing mass chaos in their quiet little town.

On his way home from school that day in a severe thunderstorm, Ethan almost runs someone over in the road only to find out it is Lena Duchannes. He offers her a ride home and quickly learns she isn’t as bad as everyone thinks. The two begin to spend more and more time together and Ethan soon finds out that Lena and her family are more different than he could have ever imagined. They are “Casters” and all have special powers – kind of like witches. Ethan and Lena fall in love and he realizes Lena is the girl from his strange, recurring dream. This is when it starts to get real good.

Her 16 th birthday is rapidly approaching, and we find out Lena is in grave danger as she nears her “claiming”, where every Caster female is claimed as either a Light or a Dark Caster on her 16 th birthday, regardless of what they wish to choose. (Obvs a Light Caster is good and a Dark one is evil.) Since all of the females in Lena’s family have been claimed Dark, she fears she will follow in their footsteps and become a monster who will no longer recognize or care for Ethan, and could possibly even hurt him.

There are so many other little interesting elements to this story that I will briefly summarize: there is an underground Caster Library where Ethan finds out his mother worked as a “Keeper” of Caster records; Ethan’s maid and grandmotherly figure Amma turns out to have supernatural powers of her own and can communicate with spirits; Ethan and Lena find a locket that when they touch transports them to the Civil War where they observe Lena’s ancestor bring her dead lover back to life (whose name also happens to be Ethan Wate…mmm hmmm) with a powerful Dark cast, thus cursing all future females in her family to be claimed as Dark Casters. And then there’s Lena’s evil, estranged mother, Sarafine, who is so desperate to have Lena join her on the Dark side that she is willing to harm Ethan in the process.

All in all the book was very intriguing and had a climactic, exciting ending that left me eager to read the second book, which I am currently reading. There are four books in the “Caster Chronicles” and I am looking forward to reading each one.

Beautiful Creatures book review – 7/10

Beautiful-Creatures

When I heard there was a movie based on the book I was excited to see it as I obviously love reading a book and then watching it’s characters come to life before me on the big screen. As we all know though, not every movie adaptation turns out as well as fans of the book would hope. Unfortunately, this was the case for me with the movie Beautiful Creatures. Here’s my review of the movie…

The movie starts out with Ethan’s dream so I’m thinking, “ok this is good, they’re following the book already!” but I soon realized that was one of the few things that would be exactly like the book in this film. Ethan, played by Alden Ehrenreich, definitely lets the audience know the film is set in the South with an overwhelmingly Southern accent. (Side-note –  It makes me absolutely sick how the media portrays ALL Southerners as having this insanely twangy country accent in any movie set in the Southeast. Hello! We’re not all rednecks! Ok I’m done now.) Amma is introduced, played by Viola Davis, a much younger version of the grandmotherly figure we get from the book, and Lena is played by Alice Englert, who perfectly captures what I imagined Lena would be like in my mind while reading Beautiful Creatures (I love it when that happens). Uncle Macon is also spot on and played by the great Jeremy Irons, and I honestly can’t picture anyone else in the role.

Ethan & Lena

Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert as Ethan & Lena

Things in the movie get tricky as we jump around from scene to scene, and plot twists from the book are revealed to us in a somewhat distorted way. I found myself confused and saying “that’s not what happens in the book!” a lot throughout the film. For example, Lena’s family in the movie are not at all what we have come to know in the book. In the film they are almost comical and do not come across at all as they do in the book – like supernatural beings who you do not want to mess with. Take the character of Ridley (Lena’s cousin who is a Dark Caster) for example. She is supposed to have a hot pink streak in her hair, wear extremely short school-girl skirts and is constantly sucking on a lollipop (which drives all of the men wild) but she’s quite the opposite in the movie. Yes she is seductive, but played by Emmy Rossum, Ridley in the movie is dark, regal and sophisticated – nowhere near Valley-Girl-evil enough! And then there’s Larkin, Lena’s other cousin, who plays a very big role in the book with a huge twist at the ending. In the movie he is just an afterthought with only two scenes and plays no significant role to the plot.

Beautiful Creatures Ridley

Emmy Rossum as Ridley. Where is your lollipop, Rid?!

There were other disappointments as far as plot changes including a character being completely left out of the movie, the lack of Kelting – a special and very rare ability Lena and Ethan share that enables them to communicate with each other without speaking (I felt that leaving this out made it harder for the audience to understand just how close their relationship is), and the ending was totally different than the book ending.

beautiful-creatures-still-amma-ethan

Alden Ehrenreich and Viola Davis as Ethan & Amma

beautiful-creatures-stills-macon-lena-ethan

Jeremy Irons as Macon Ravenwood

beautiful-creatures-stills-lena-larkin

Alice Englert and Kyle Gallner as Lena & Larkin

Overall, the movie was entertaining and did feature some pretty cool special effects, but if they hadn’t read the book I don’t think the viewer would fully appreciate this bewitching and intriguing Caster world. I do not think they will be making a sequel or carrying on with four movies to match the books, as the estimated overall budget of the movie was $60 million and it only brought in $19 million in theaters (source). It will be released on DVD May 21, and may have more success as a rental.

Beautiful Creatures movie review – 5/10

If you have read Beautiful Creatures and/or seen the movie, leave me a comment with your thoughts! I would love to hear how others thought the movie compared to the book, or just what you thought of either one in general!

Countdown to “The Hunger Games”

12 Mar

Like most of the American population, I have become obsessed with The Hunger Games. And who am I kidding? It’s not just America, it’s a world-wide obsession at this point. All of my close friends had already read the books, as well as my husband (yes, my husband read The Hunger Games before I did) and they kept telling me how much they loved the series and thought I would, too. I finally buckled under the pressure and read all three books, and I absolutely loved them.

It was so nice for once to see a female protagonist who was so strong and assertive; someone who didn’t need others constantly coming to her rescue. In fact, Katniss Everdeen did most of the rescuing herself in The Hunger Games. When facing situations where every fiber in her being told her she should run screaming, she instead reminded herself what was at stake and ran head-first into them. And of course I got caught up in the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale (there’s always a love triangle, isn’t there?)! The first movie comes out on March 23 and I am literally counting down the days! I think I really like the actors they’ve chosen. It looks promising, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for more upcoming Hunger Games posts! Are you as addicted as I am?

Book vs. Movie – “The Help”

2 Mar

These days, it seems like every good book is turned into a movie. I really enjoy watching movies adapted from novels that I have read – it’s so exciting to see the characters come to life on the big screen! However, most of the time I feel that the movie is just never as good as the book. There is always something lacking in the actor’s portrayal of the character that has been crafted from my imagination while reading the book.  And then there’s all of the parts that were left out of the movie that they just couldn’t fit in. This is why I have a personal rule of always reading a book first, before seeing the movie.

I finally got around to reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, a few weeks ago (I know, I know – I’m a little behind with this one). After seeing the previews for the movie, watching it’s stars win award after award this season, and hearing rave reviews, I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about. So, following my rule, I first read the book then saw the movie, and I honestly was not expecting to love them both as much as I did.

You have most likely read The Help (I think I was one of the last people in the country to read it) so you know that it is set in Mississippi and tells the story of African-American maids working for white families during the early 1960s. Let me start by saying I am from the South. My family is from Mississippi, and although I grew up in Tennessee and now live in Alabama, I spent many summers and holidays in a small Mississippi town, as well as four years when I attended college. I am familiar with the state and its history, and based on the stories my parents and grandmothers told me of their childhood, I had an image of how things were in the past in Mississippi. After reading The Help, however, I realize that the image I had was a glossy, happy, sepia-toned one that existed only for my small family and others like it, far from the truth of how things really were for most people in Mississippi during that time.

The Help reveals the harsh reality of segregation and discrimination against African-Americans in Jackson during the early 1960s.  I love how it is told from first-person perspectives of three women: two maids working for white families (Aibileen and Minny), and also from a young white woman who has never known life without an African-American maid working for her family (Skeeter). I thought it was such a good idea for Stockett to present the story this way – from completely different perspectives. I found myself relating to Skeeter and her shock at finding out how things really were for the maids and their families, as if I were finding all these things out for the first time, too. But I also felt the pain and humiliation as Minny and Aibileen told their stories of how they were told they were too “dirty” to use the same toilets as the families for whom they work. The same families whose meals they prepare, clothes they clean and iron, and children they raise from the time they are brought home from the hospital. What’s worse is the how they develop a relationship with these children, some of them even looking at the maids as their “real” mamas, only for it to be severed and never spoken of again once the child is old enough to be taught that their maid is black and they are white, and those two do not go together.

Stockett created characters that will not soon be forgotten. I fell in love with them (well, most of them), particularly Minny and Celia Foote, and found myself loathing the vile Hilly and her robotic Junior League followers. I can honestly say I laughed out loud, cried, and felt a tremendous sense of pride as the women’s risky, hard work paid off. That’s when a book is a really good one to me – when I feel like I know the characters and experience the feeling of being a part of their world as I’m reading the story.

After finishing the book I was desperate to see the movie and, naturally, I was a little hesitant. But I found that overall the film did not disappoint me. I thought the actresses chosen or Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny, Celia, and even Hilly were spot on. As I mentioned above, I especially loved the Minny and Celia characters and thought that Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain did a fantastic job portraying them; from Minny’s sassy attitude to Celia’s bat-brained yet endearing personality.

The setting was truly Southern and 60s, and the costumes looked authentic. I have to admit, I was let down by all of the changes the film makers had to make when converting the book to a screenplay (Stuart’s break up with Skeeter, Minny’s initial uncertainty and the mystery of Miss Celia, and especially the story of Constantine and her daughter – that was totally different from the book) but found that it didn’t make me dislike the film altogether.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film adaptation and found myself again laughing out loud, crying, and feeling pride and joy for the characters. But I have to say, I liked the book better. I will be recommending The Help for a very long time, and not just to women. A lot of people saw the book and movie as something geared towards women but that is not true. I think The Help tells an extremely relevant story that everyone should know, not just us girls.

Oh, and I’ll be steering clear of the chocolate pie for a while now, thanks to Minny.

What did you think about The Help? Did you love it as much as I did?

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