Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are."

~from I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak~
Photo Credit : Jennifer Couzin-Frankel

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Tuesday Confession

Even when the USA is in the World Cup, my loyalties lie not so secretly with Brasil.
Does this make me a total Benedict Arnold? 
I don't even care.

! VAI  VAI  VAI  BRASIL !
2006 FIFA World Cup

Monday, June 18, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : I Am the Messenger

I Am the Messenger was not even on my radar. But it caught my eye the other day at Barnes & Noble  when I saw that it was by Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief. I picked it up because I was so impressed with The Book Thief when I read it a couple years back, and the plot of I Am the Messenger sounded intriguing. 

In this 2002 novel by Australian author Markus Zusak, we meet Ed Kennedy, underage cabbie and hopeless loser. When he accidentally stops a bank robbery one day, he gets singled out to become the Messenger. Aces start arriving with nebulous assignments on them, and Ed has to start growing up.

Well as it turns out, the historical context of The Book Thief seems to be what set it up for success. I did not appreciate I Am the Messenger nearly as much. While Zusak did write with the same unconventional, slightly disturbing style that came off so well with Death being the narrator in The Book Thief, the plot of I Am the Messenger was not as gripping and the conclusion turned out to be just as nebulous as Ed's assignments throughout the story. Hardly satisfying for all the buildup. 

I liked the way the book was cleverly divided into five parts, the first four parts being the four aces with chapters from ace to king and the fifth part being the Joker. I liked Ed's coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. I liked how Ed's character developed while completing his mysterious assignments. I liked the general mystery throughout the story.

I didn't like the unnecessary profanity. I didn't like the casual attitude all the characters had about sex and the sometimes graphic way it was described in the novel.  I didn't like that the mystery was sort of weakly wrapped up in a way that was more disappointing than fulfilling. 

All in all it was a pretty fun and entertaining read though not one I'll be likely to revisit. The pros and cons ended up weighing in pretty even making it a somewhat mediocre book, in my opinion. If you ever read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts, particularly about the ending. I think if the ending had been stronger, I'd be able to forgive some of the other things I didn't care for throughout the story. 

Have you read any of Zusak's work? Apparently, he has written five books with a sixth set to be released later this year. What do you think of him?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"Just because God can doesn't mean He will.
But just because He hasn't doesn't mean He won't.
The bottom line is that He is able
And because He is able, and because He is love, 
our hearts are completely secure in every situation."

~Priscilla Shirer~

Monday, June 11, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : A Walk to Remember

I finally read A Walk to Remember. It's been a favorite movie of mine for years, but I had never read the novel until a few weeks ago after I picked it up in my new favorite little used bookstore. Like The Wizard of Oz, I just can't separate this book from its movie counterpart so I'm going to be talking about both in this recap. Here we go. 

A Walk to Remember was first published in October of 1999 and is the third of Nicholas Sparks' many novels. It received mixed reviews from critics but despite that, it was on the bestseller list for ten months. According to Sparks, A Walk to Remember was his favorite novel to write and the only one to actually make him cry while writing it. Probably because his own sister was the inspiration for this story.

In the novel, we get the sweet high school love story of Landon Carter and Jamie Sullivan which breaks all our hearts when we find out that 17 year old Jamie has terminal leukemia. 

Now, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect going into this read. Like I mentioned before, A Walk to Remember has been a favorite movie of mine for many years and I've seen it countless times. I had people tell me the book was so much better (not hard to believe, that's usually how it works), and that I would cry a lot while reading it (also realistic since I cry at the drop of a hat). 

Surprisingly, I remained pretty dry-eyed through the majority of the book....until the last chapter in which I sobbed my little heart out. To my relief, I found that the movie really did maintain the integrity of the book despite the modernization. In the book, the story is set in the late 50s while the movie updates the story to be set in the late 90s to appeal to a teenage audience. I wouldn't necessarily say the book is so much better: actually, I think they're pretty equal. This is probably due in large part to the fact that Sparks is a screenwriter as well as author, he had already sold the film rights to Warner Bros. before the book was even published, and the book is simple and easily adaptable to film in my opinion. There were a few things that were changed (like Landon's father's character) and some things that were omitted (like the collection of Jamie's donation jars around town), but I appreciate where they took the story on film as opposed to other famous film adaptions that break my heart (I'm looking at you 2005 Pride & Prejudice). 

All in all, I would recommend the book and the movie. I read the book in a day so it's not a huge investment of time to read it, and I'll love that movie forever so there's that. The messages that love changes you and love is sacrificial are right and worth remembering. I'm not ready to fall down the Nicholas Sparks hole and read all his novels after reading A Walk to Remember, but I'm glad I read this one. 

Have you read any of Nicholas Sparks' books? What's your favorite movie to watch for a good cry? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"One person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death.
As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true.
As long as one child is hungry, our life will be filled with anguish and shame.
What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone;
that we are not forgetting them,
that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours,
that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs."

~Elie Wiesel~

Monday, June 4, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : Sisterchicks Do the Hula!

Sisterchicks Do the Hula! was the last book I read in April (yes, I know we're so behind with the recaps), and it was just what I needed after reading Night and The Kite Runner. I chose this book because I needed to knock out another book from my 2018 list (I subjected myself to The Kite Runner without it even being on my list!), but I also needed something full of beauty and light and I knew Robin Jones Gunn wouldn't let me down. 

In Sisterchicks Do the Hula!, best friends Hope and Laurie are determined to celebrate their 40th birthdays together in Hawaii, even when one of them unexpectedly finds herself expecting a new addition to her family. 

This is the second of Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks books that I've read, and while Sisterchicks in Sombreros might have slightly edged this one out for my favorite so far, I still loved Sisterchicks Do the Hula!, and I especially loved it after the other dark reads I got mired in during April. 

For those of you who know me or have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that Robin Jones Gunn is one of my very favorite authors. For those of you who may be new around here, I've been reading her books since I was in middle school. She has a series about a girl named Christy Miller and from the very first book I ever read about Christy, I was hooked on Robin Jones Gunn. In the first Christy book, it's the summer of Christy's 15th birthday and Robin has continued to write about this character until she is grown up, married, and having babies. Her most recent book about Christy came out just last November. 

Since I've been an adult, I've branched out into Robin's non-Christy related work and I love all of it just as much. I was super-psyched to grab 4 of her 8 Sisterchicks novels on my church's free table a while back, and I've been doing my best to not just sit and read them all (which would inevitably lead to a blissful swan dive back into the world of Christy and all the rest of Robin's work). I think I've been doing a pretty good job with the self-control so far though I've been sorely tempted to re-read her Glenbrooke series lately. 

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, I love Robin Jones Gunn and I have zero qualms about recommending any of her work to all my girlfriends out there. (I just don't see men appreciating her books the same way we women do, but hey, if any of you fellas want to read them, I say go for it.) Her books never fail to encourage my heart and lift my focus upward, and I'll always be grateful to her for that.

Have you read anything by Robin Jones Gunn? What author do you find yourself turning to when life gets yucky? Which Sisterchicks book should I read next? The two I have are Sisterchicks Down Under! and Sisterchicks Go Brit!