30 Day Book Challenge | Day 19 | Favourite Book Turned Into A Movie – Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (Movie Directed by James Mangold).

winona

I have chosen this particular cover despite it not being the original one as it ties into the film.

 

 

Quite often I feel like films don’t do the books justice. I found this to be the case with ‘Beautiful Creatures’ and ‘Divergent’. Usually I try to read the book first and then see the film and I would recommend that anyone do this so that their view of the book is not tainted by a less than fantastic film. I broke my own rule with ‘Girl Interrupted’ though, seeing the film before reading the book.

Despite the film being released in 1999, I only watched it for the first time in 2013. I had been intending to watch it for a few years but never got around to it as I’m not the greatest fan of Jolie’s acting. However, her portrayal of Lisa in this film is intense and fabulous. I was sad to hear that Susanna Kaysen wasn’t happy with the film and had accused James Mangold of adding “melodramatic drivel” by including scenes that had not happened in the book (like when Susanna and Lisa ran away together). I get why she felt that way and I would have preferred it had Mangold stuck to the book. As well as including things that didn’t happen, he excluded things that did happen. I really think that the film would have benefited from the inclusion of Lisa Cody as we would have gotten to see the coldness of Lisa Rowe when she claims to have really made Cody a drug addict. I love how the character of Daisy Randone transferred onto film. Brittany Murphy (RIP) did a fantastic job and came across exactly how Kaysen described in her book and Winona Ryder was just perfect as Susanna.

I know that I probably shouldn’t disagree with Kaysen about the film as it is her book, her story and her experience. However I think the film showed the struggle of someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder very well (speaking as a fellow ‘borderline’). I also enjoyed the camaraderie that Mangold created between the girls on the ward and can confirm that is actually how it usually is on a psychiatric unit (I’ve been in 4!) There may have been differences between the book and film but I think they are both equally wonderful. Sure, the film isn’t factually accurate but nothing stood out as being ‘wrong’ like it shouldn’t have been there. I’m not saying the film is better than the book – the book is amazing – but they compliment each other well.

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30 Day Book Challenge | Day 18 | A Book That Made You Laugh – Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern.

shit my dad says

 

 

I’ve followed Justin Halpern’s Twitter account and Facebook page for a while now and was so excited to read this book. A close childhood friend of mine has a hilarious Dad and this book reminds me of sleepovers at her house and car rides with her and her Dad.

My favourite gems from Mr Halpern senior are:

  • “I don’t give a shit how it happened, the window is broken… Wait, why is there syrup everywhere? Okay, you know what? Now I give a shit how it happened, Let’s hear it.”
  • “Why would you throw a ball in someone’s face?…Huh. That’s a pretty good reason. Well, I can’t do much about your teacher being pissed, but me and you are good.”
  • “That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.”
  • “If you work hard and study hard. And you fuck up. That’s okay. If you fuck up and you fuck up, then you’re a fuckup”
  • “If it’s not bourbon or sweatpants, it’s going in the garbage…. No, don’t get creative. Now is not a creative time. Now is a bourbon and sweatpants time.”
  • “Listen up, if someone is being nice to you, and you don’t know them, run away. No one is nice to you just to be nice to you, and if they are, well, they can go take their pleasant ass somewhere else.”

 

I love how blunt and to the point Justin’s Dad is. He does not mince his words and gives not one flying f*ck what anyone thinks of him. I wish my Dad had been like this. In fact, I think most people would love to have a Dad like this. One who doles out great advice but isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re being a douche. The relationship between Justin and his Dad is fantastic. They bicker and argue but his Dad genuinely loves him a huge amount and it’s obvious that Justin loves him. I mean, he’s dedicated the last few years to tweeting and facebooking  about him. They clearly have a huge amount of respect for each other too, which comes through very well in this book.

I hoped this book wasn’t just going to be a Twitter feed transferred onto paper and I wasn’t disappointed. We get lots of little anecdotes and stories along the way and whilst being hilariously funny, it also feels like you are sat on the sofa with Justin’s family, reminiscing with them.

If you’re not easily offended, give this book a read!

 

 

 

What Happens To Men When They Move To Manhattan? by Jill Knapp.

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Publisher

HarperCollins – Published August 28th 2013.

 

 

Blurb

The question that 23-year old Amalia Hastings wants the answer to is: What happens to men when they move to Manhattan?
Life in the big city gives Amalia a ride she is not expecting. As she tries to find her way on the little island that never sleeps, she discovers she has a harder time navigating through life then she does the streets of Greenwich Village and finds herself truly lost in the complex world of men, graduate school, money, family, and friendship.

She thought she had everything she wanted – a new apartment in Manhattan, a first-rate education at NYU, a group of trusted friends and Nicholas, a boyfriend who she once believed was her soul-mate. But somehow, it isn’t enough.

Stumbling through her relationships, Amalia encounters Michael. An attractive classmate who quickly moves from being one of her close friends, to an inconsistent friend-with-benefits. After all, the only thing consistent about New York is its beauty.

After getting terribly lost searching for love in all the wrong places, Amalia finds herself torn between the possibility of a relationship, and an adventure she’s been planning all along.

She eventually realizes that solely chasing love closes her off to all of the other good things life has to offer. Now she must decide – what is worth the chase?

 

My Review

I received a e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Jill Knapp and HarperCollins.

“What Happens…” is a contemporary coming of age story about Amalia Hastings,  a 20-something girl living in Manhattan and attending grad-school. I was so excited to read this as I love anything set in New York. I’m obsessed with the place (flight ticket donations accepted 😉 I will get there one day! ).

Now I have a confession. Chick-lit isn’t always my favourite genre to read. I get tired of the ‘damsel-in-distress’, weak and helpless women portrayed in some books. This novel, however, got me hooked straight away and I could hardly tear myself away from my Kindle. Amalia, Cassandra and Olivia are sassy, strong ladies who, despite having the odd man-related blip, really seem to have their shit together. The lifestyle these girls have made me really wish I was a friend of theirs. Going to expensive clothing stores, flashy clubs and stylish restaurants. Cassie’s high paying job – who wouldn’t want that? The only people I was kind of indifferent to, were Amalia’s housemates, Liz and Christina. There really wasn’t anything likable about them, or even anything to hugely dislike. They were rather bland.

In contrast to the young women in the book, most of the guys (with the exception of Amalia’s brother) act like complete asses. I guess that’s the whole point of the title though. Nicholas, who starts off as the textbook perfect boyfriend, is transformed into a stereotypical yuppie. Bryce just made me want to slap him and Michael was a selfish jerk who seemed to improve towards the end. I look forward to the next book in the series to see how he turns out. Alex, we didn’t really hear much about so I can’t really say if he was any better than the others.

As a main character, I really love Amalia. I got totally invested in her and really related to some of the situations she ended up in. Her break up was very real and raw and I could almost feel her hurting. The confusing situation with Michael is something I think most girls would would be able to empathise with. I even found myself rooting for her when she was sitting exams! I was heartbroken when her parents forgot she was coming home. I had huge amounts of empathy for her there, having useless parents myself (yay for grandparents! 😀 ). The plot flowed nicely and there really wasn’t a part of the book that struggled to keep my interest.The ending made me want to reach into the book and high-five Amalia! She matured so much throughout the year and I think the end was the cherry on top of the cake for her. I could almost hear her humming Destiny’s Child ‘Independent Women’!

I’m going to give ‘What Happens To Men When They Move To Manhattan?’ a strong 4 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the story and cannot wait for the next installment of the ‘What Happens…’ series.

 

Rating

starstarstarstar

 

30 Day Book Challenge | Day 17 | Favourite Quote From A Book.

I thought long and hard about this post and at first I thought about picking a few cheery, happy quotes and pretending like they were my favourites because it would save a lot of explaining.  Then I decided, screw it, I am who I am and so here they are. My favourite quotes. They are almost all about suicide and this is because it’s a subject I think of quite often due to being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and a few other things that I’d rather not mention. It not so much that I like these quotes. More that I can relate and I feel like the authors ‘get’ me.

  • “Actually, it was only part of myself I wanted to kill: the part that wanted to kill herself, that dragged me into the suicide debate and made every window, kitchen implement, and subway station a rehearsal for tragedy.” – Susanna Kaysen, Girl Interrupted.
  • “It is not seen as insane when a fighter, under an attack that will inevitable lead to his death, chooses to take his own life first. In fact, this act has been encouraged for centuries, and is accepted even now as an honorable reason to do the deed. How is it any different when you are under attack by your own mind?” – Emilie Autumn, The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls.
  • “Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.” – Sally Brampton, Shoot The Damn Dog: A Memoir Of Depression.
  • “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”  Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man.

This last quote is the one that strikes a chord most with me as just when you think you’re getting there…bam, your old friend, the black dog is there again.

I’m sorry that this is such a depressing post but I really felt that I had to be true to myself. This is how I feel a lot of the time. Thankfully, reading helps to take my mind off of things, stops me ruminating and allows me to escape, even if it is just for a little while.

 

 

30 Day Book Challenge | Day 16 | Your Favourite Genre – Dystopian Fantasy.

On the surface of it, dystopian novels are quite depressing. War. Environmental devastation. Oppression. Death. Yet, I cannot get enough of books like ‘The Testing’ and ‘Divergent’. The dystopian genre has become increasingly popular over recent years, beginning with the success of ‘The Hunger Games’. We can, however, trace this genre back to the likes of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘1984’, even going as far back as ‘The Last Man’ by Mary Shelley.

My favourite part of a dystopian novel is seeing how the protagonist deals with the challenges set out before them whether it be Cia Vale faced with political corruption or Katniss Everdeen being made to take part in a brutal and deadly ‘game’. I like a main character that I can relate to as it makes the whole situation seem more real. Some themes in dystopian novels such as corrupt politicians certainly seem like an honest and real depiction of the future, given today’s political issues.

It is also interesting to me to see how the side characters deal with the events of a dystopian future. Caleb from ‘Divergent’ had no back bone and was a complete traitor and a coward whereas Tobias and Christina showed true bravery, selflessly helping Tris any way they could. In ‘A Clockwork Orange’ it fascinated me that in the end some of  Alex’s ‘droogs’ became members of the police force (totally didn’t see that one coming).  Some of the students from Tosu City go against their friends and help Cia in ‘Graduation Day whereas in the first ‘Testing’ novel, people Cia thought she could trust, turned against her in stage four.

Hopefully (maybe I’m wrong but I hope not), the events in dystopian novels can serve as a warning to our society as a whole. Showing our leaders how things might turn out if things don’t change. I’m pretty sure that’s just wishful thinking on my part but I really hope they can give us even the smallest kick up the backside so that we can avoid these scenarios happening in real life. In the mean time, I will continue to enjoy dystopian fantasy novels and maybe pick up a few survival tips in case we are faced with trouble in the future 😉

30 Day Book Challenge | Day 15 | Your Favourite Character Of All Time- Patrick Bateman created by Brett Easton Ellis.

patrick bateman

 

 

I have only recently been introduced to Patrick Bateman. Never having seen the film, I downloaded American Psycho, the novel, to my Kindle and didn’t put it down until I’d finished.

To the outside world, Bateman has it all. He is young, handsome, well educated and successful. He shows an obsessive attention to detail and shows an OCD level of repetition in his morning routine, detailing brand names, exact products used and the reason for their use. He takes great pleasure in noticing every tiny detail of his friends and acquaintances outfits yet he often cannot tell the difference between the actual people, often confusing his friends names. Bateman defines himself only on the places he is seen, the music he listens to and the clothes he wears.

He is completely emotionless and cold about the murders he commits. On one page he can speak about his favourite music, then on the next he talks about feeding a rodent into a womens vaginal cavity so it would gnaw it’s way out. He is indiscriminate with his victims. Killing the homeless, his friends, a child and raping and murdering countless women.

Bateman is an unreliable narrator as he frequently experiences bouts of depersonalization and pychosis. At the end of the novel we are left in doubt of the reality of the events he describes throughout the story as his lawyer claims to have had dinner with a man  Patrick says he earlier killed.  Though he narrates his murders in exact detail, we are left with the impression that these acts of violence are in all probability, imaginary.

I have picked him as my favourite character of all time as I find him fascinatingly complex. He has many disturbances hidden behind the respectable facade he maintains. His idiosyncrasies such as his love of routine indicate a need for control which becomes more evident when he kills. His opinions of people can change in an instant if they commit even the most minor social faux pas and his delusions escalate as the novel progresses.

I found that Bateman left me with chills and the acts described in the novel are horrifying. Even though I enjoyed the book very much I will not be reading it again. It disturbed me far too much. But then again, that is why I like Patrick. No character has affected me as much and left me thinking about it for days. I would recommend American Psycho to anyone but make sure you have a strong stomach!

 

30 Day Book Challenge | Day 14 | Favourite Author(s) From Your Childhood – Enid Blyton, Francine Pascal & R.L. Stine.

Reading was my favourite pastime when I was younger. I was never the sporty child who was picked for the school teams (except in primary school because there was only 7 girls in our class so we were all forced to be on every team!). I was never the arty, outgoing child who was picked to star in the high school Christmas show. I had a lot of free time on my hands because I lacked confidence so I absorbed myself in books. My Grandparents encouraged this hobby and now as an adult (supposedly!) I still love reading. I’m going to write a little about each of my 3 favourite childhood authors.

Enid Blyton

I think Enid Blyton books were a big part of any avid readers around my ages (28) childhood. These days they are not exactly politically correct but what we need to remember is Blyton did all of her writing in the first half of the 20th century, when nothing was politically correct. I know modern editions of her works have removed some of the more controversial content which is probably for the best and I see no harm in encouraging our children to enjoy Blyton’s charming stories.

My favourite of all her stories is the ‘Faraway Tree’ series as I think it epitomizes all that Blyton is best at. She excels at creating a fantasy world that allows the readers to get lost in her creation. Probably her best known works are the ‘Famous Five’ books. I loved these too and would read them over and over again wishing that I was having an adventure with Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy. The ‘Wishing Chair’ books were another favourite of mine. They were about two little children and a pixie who had a magical chair that would grow wings and take you to wherever you wished to go. My neighbor had an old wooden rocking chair and I used to sit on it and pretend I was flying off on a wonderful adventure.

I still love to read Enid Blyton even now and I encourage my daughter to do the same. Her books stimulate your imagination and make you believe, just for a little while, that anything is possible.

Francine Pascal

It has come to my attention that Pascal used a team of ghost writers for her ‘Sweet Valley’ books. Obviously I didn’t know this as a child so for the purposes of this post, I’m going to credit Francine.

Looking back, I can see how the fictional town of Sweet Valley had the potential to set feminism back 50 years. What with the residents worshiping the blonde hair and aquamarine eyes ‘the colour of the ocean’ of Jessica and Elizabeth and anyone carrying a little weight or wearing glasses being labelled ugly or a nerd. As a child I longed to look like the Wakefield twins, have rich friends with pools and a boyfriend like Ken Matthews. I would never give these books to my daughter to read as I now believe it could contribute to a low self esteem and possibly even body dysmorphia. Maybe it even inflamed my own body issues, who knows.

I’ve added her to my favourite childhood authors because at the time, when I was between about 9 and 13, it was my idea of perfection to be a rich, beautiful, popular girl and I love reading her books. Now, thankfully, I see how damaging these stories are and  I know that the female body isn’t solely there to provide something pleasing to men’s eyes and my worth cannot be defined by the colour of my hair or my social status.

R.L. Stine

I have always loved scary stories. Even now my favourite genre is horror or psychological thrillers. Goosebumps was my introduction to horror, tame as it was, and fuelled my interest in all things paranormal, also inspiring me to read the ‘Point Horror’ books as I moved into my teenage years.

The first one I read was ‘The Ghost Next Door’ and quite honestly the idea of this one still gives me nightmares to this day. Obviously the story is written in quite a tame way for younger children but the plot would make a pretty chilling film for adults – a child who was in a fire at home makes friends with the kid next door but begins to suspect that kid may be a ghost. As time goes on the child realises it is actually they who are the ghost and they died that night in the fire at their house.

Another silly, but true, thing for me was the texture of the book covers. As I child, I was amazed that the books actually had goosebumps! (What is it they say about small things and small minds?) If I see a Goosebumps book in a charity shop I have to buy it even now.

 

These are the top 3 authors I loved as a child. Obviously there was many others. Judy Blume, Hans Christian Andersen ( The Little Match Girl made me cry every time), Rosemary Billam and Jane Hissey. I have so many cherished memories from my childhood and most of them involve me reading with my Nanna or my Granddad telling me a story before bedtime.  I’m a firm believer that if you can get a child interested in books, it will stick with them for life.