Books I Read & Reviewed This Week:
Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist -- I enjoyed this novel, by the author of Let the Right One In -- which was adapted into the movies Let the Right One In and Let Me In -- and Handling the Undead, though I was disappointed by the ending.
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk -- My daughter, MovieBuff25, recommended that I read this YA mystery, and I really liked it, particularly since I quickly connected with the main character. He was one of those characters I kind of miss when the novel is over.
New Book Trailer:
I really like this trailer for The Siren of Paris by David Leroy -- you can also read my review of The Siren of Paris and this article, by the author, on the emotional impact of researching a novel on World War II, which I found particularly interesting.
from a review by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness:
The book starts out with children’s book illustrator Irina McGovern, a middle-aged woman living in London with her boyfriend Lawrence. Each year Lawrence and Irina have a birthday dinner with an acquaintance, Ramsey Acton. One significant birthday Lawrence cannot go and Irina has dinner with Ramsey alone. At the end of the first chapter, after their dinner, Irina is presented with a choice: given into her strange desire to kiss Ramsey or leave and go back to her secure life with Lawrence.
The subsequent chapters alternate perspective — one showing what would happen with the kiss and one showing what would happen without. Each set of chapters covers the same period of time, so you can see how Irina’s life might have turned out in two different ways. That’s pretty cool by itself, but what makes it even better is that that Shriver continually makes parallels between the two lives.
I started this novel, by the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I'm not sure whether I want to continue. The premise interests me, especially with the parallel threads of the protagonist's life. I am also impressed by the author's skill and style. However, I'm just not connecting with the characters for some reason. So I may send this back to the library and choose something else.
Which is more important to you in a novel or movie? Are you more drawn to well crafted writing and lyrical prose? Polished scriptwriting, brilliant acting, and outstanding film-making? Or do you fall in love with a film or book because you connect with the characters?
With me it's definitely a combination of both factors, and it varies from one book or movie to another. But I definitely have a weakness for character driven stories, and I want to empathize with a character and -- in some way -- enjoy his company. For example, my daughter MovieBuff25 and I recently watched the critically acclaimed movie Shame.
A fellow blogger -- I think it was Alex -- talked about sharing this film with his father, who responded (loosely paraphrasing): "I didn't like it, but I appreciated the hell out of it." That sort of reflects how I felt. The acting was phenomenal, the directing and cinematography were terrific -- sometimes a single wordless frame spoke volumes. It was a tremendous movie. Yet neither my daughter or I really liked it. As movie buffs, I suppose we appreciated it. But we didn't really like it.
Why? Mainly because we didn't really connect with -- or like -- any of the characters. I pitied them, I empathized with them at times, and they were unquestionably real. Powerful, painfully real. But I couldn't really "root for" them. I'm not entirely sure why -- it may have been partly because I knew so little of their back story.
Maybe this is not a problem for really serious movie buffs, who are immersed in the film-making. ;-) Or maybe it is. No matter how seasoned a reader/film watcher/reviewer, in my opinion, one's reaction to a book or movie is always deeply personal.
What are your thoughts?