Movie: Atonement (2006)

Posted 28 June, 2008 by Li in Entertainment / 0 Comments

And now the following is my review of the 2007 adaptation starring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave and directed by Joe Wright. Seeing the trailer for this movie was actually what got me to check out the book in the first place but I didn’t get to watch it until I got my hands on the DVD back in March. So the following review will be tied in with the book review I made in the previous post. Spoilers ahead!

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Review: Atonement

Posted 13 June, 2008 by Li in Books / 1 Comment

I’ve been meaning to do this entry for a very long time now but I wanted everything out of the way in order to do it because I’ve had a lot of thought about it and there’s just so much to say about the book. I’ve just finished re-reading the book so a lot of what I have to say about this novel is also relatively fresh in my mind. I originally thought I could merge the book and movie reviews here but it appears that my book review/analysis/discussion is on the long side so it’ll be split. So, this should be fun, lol. Massive spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book!

By: Ian McEwan

What can be said about Atonement? Well, just a brief rundown on the premise: the book spans from three different time periods starting from 1935. On one hot summer day, the lives of three different individuals will drastically change thanks to (ultimately) the power of perspective and the action of one child. That last sentence sounds very vague, but the plot is a fairly complicated once you start getting your head wrapped around it but essentially the course of the book fundamentally follows the course of their lives as a result of one action, one lie, and the struggle to deal with the reprecussions of that event.

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Ian McEwan and I have to say, I was very impressed. What drew me in to the book right away was his prose; I know some people find his prose very boring, but I found it to be quite refreshing. The first time around, I was just drawn in by the way he described the events, the thoughts and actions of these characters, the words he used to describe these aspects of the story. The way he phrased things and the way his sentences were structured came to be as very different, as though it was written by someone in the early 20th century, maybe even earlier, like it was written in a way that you don’t see books written now. Reading it a second time around, I appreciated how he always seemed to find the right word to describe a particular event or a particular scene. It worked for the novel, and I think it really added to the story.

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Review: A Year in the Merde

Posted 29 May, 2008 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

A Year in the Merde
By: Stephen Clarke

I’ve always seen his books in the bookstores, was always amused by their covers, but I never got around to reading his book until recently. I always thought his book was more nonfictional than fictional (then again, I noticed his book close to the travel section in Indigo’s, which didn’t mean much). But anyways, the book follows the story of Paul West, a English businessman who was invited by a French business owner to open a series of British tea room franchise in Paris. Paul figures why not and goes for it, figuring it’d be a piece of cake. Little does he know what he’s really in for: constant strikes, fellow employees whose work ethics are completely different from what he’s used to, a series of women he just can’t really understand and a boss who isn’t all that he appears to be. The book follows his adventures from Septembre to Mai, chronicling his encounters and the contrasts in French culture. It’s an amusing read, perfect if you’re taking a break from a string of hefty reads. My favourite aspect of this novel was the narrative; it’s written in Paul’s point of view, so the way in which he describes his surroundings and his experiences and his use of analogies to aid him in this are what I think makes this book as hilarious as it is.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Visit Stephen Clarke’s official website || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: Far From the Madding Crowd

Posted 20 April, 2008 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

I won’t be doing a review on Steve Berry’s The Venetian Betrayal because quite frankly I don’t have much to say about the novel that could be placed in a separate post. It’s a good book, though it does have a bit of a slow start. Was very amused that the former central republics of the USSR were the centre of the sub-plot (as you can see, I’ve developed an eye for giving kudos to any piece of literature that gives reference to Russia in any shape or form; the results of my studies, lol).

And now back to my regular book review updates…which, by the way, I am closing in now. Hurray!

Far From the Madding Crowd
By: Thomas Hardy

I picked this book up on a whim, really; the title caught my attention and figured this would be a good time to get into Hardy. As you might’ve guessed from the title, this book is set outside of any of the town centres and set in the countryside (and away from the industrial centres). The story itself is about a young lady by the name of Bathsheba Everdene and the three men who loved her: a poor shepherd named Gabriel Oak, a rich farmowner by the name of Mr. William Boldwood and an army sergeant by the name of Frank Troy. A series of misfortunes, crazy instances and rash decisions carry on throughout the novel as Bathsheba struggles with her own decisions and the drive for independence. Many people told me what a wonderful book it was, but I did find it rather slow to get through at first. The back of the book wasn’t kidding when it said that it was in an agrarian setting—down to the everyday chores and farmer gossip (and boy do these farmers gossip!). I was glad that the novel picked up pace once the three suitors have been fully introduced and the story was underway. By no means is this an entirely light-hearted novel, there are some very dark moments running through the plot (although there were two moments that had me laughing out loud—perhaps inappropriately). I think I may need to re-visit this book sometime again to pick up the smaller details. Overall, it was a good book to get into Hardy.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Learn more about the author from Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: The Witch of Portobello

Posted 20 April, 2008 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

The Witch of Portobello
By: Paulo Coelho

I had been waiting for this book to come out on paperback for some quite time. The story basically follows the question of who Athena was, according to interviews from many of the people who knew her. The narrative is interesting that way, presented as a series of interview monologues about Athena. The theme for this novel has to do with being true to oneself even if a) one is not sure who he or she is and b) the world is telling you you cannot be this person or that. It’s an interesting premise and there are some good points that are raised throughout the novel. However, I didn’t connect to this novel as well as his previous novels. My sympathy for Athena dwindled down with each interview and despite the symbolism and her concerns, I couldn’t entirely grasp why Athena impulsively did the things that she did. For example, she impulsively decided to have a child but then at times it seemed like she didn’t care for the child. And then rising to the level of a spiritual icon…it wasn’t inspiring or thought-provoking but just downright weird. The really interesting bit about this book was at the end and the discovery of who made the compilation of interviews to begin with. Overall, I think this was not the greatest I’ve read from Paulo Coelho; it was an okay read, but his previous work are far more interesting and far more inspiring.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Visit Paulo Coelho’s official website || Order this book from the Book Depository