“For You A Thousand Times Over…”

Every once in a while there is a novel that comes along and redefines everything you thought you knew about life.The truth is that when a book of this nature is birthed into the world, nothing will ever be the same and the people who choose to read the story woven within the pages are changed forever. A compelling story can make a statement about the physical landscape of the life we all as human beings live out on earth. However, few books in the world are able to make a strong enough statement that it is ready to indeed become larger than itself. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a novel that will leave a handprint on both your heart and your head long after the last page has been read. The book tells the story of the unlikely friendship between two young boys named Amir and Hassan from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul.

The novel is able to communicate and demonstrate how one relationship can intertwine two remarkably different people for the rest of their lives. Although the book itself is historical fiction, the story offers an incredibly moving and potent commentary about life; As well as what it means to live beautifully in the midst of the world full of uncertainty and hardship. In all honesty, I do not believe that I personally have ever experienced anything like  The Kite Runner before in all my years as a reading addict. There were times where I found myself equally disturbed, moved to tears or lost for words due to the truth and beauty depicted within the story.

Hosseini wrote with so much honesty and compassion behind every word and is one of the most exquisite and humbling novels I have ever read in my life. There is a reason this story has had the opportunity to sit on the New York Times Bestsellers List, and it definitely is deserving of the honor.The novel is not afraid of asking the hard questions about life, and the reader is left with no choice but to respond. Nothing about this story is sugarcoated in any way shape or form. All of the evidence of what happens within the pages is right there for the reader to read and imagine.

The Kite Runner was a novel that caught me off guard in every way that possibly could have. I did not expect this particular book to influence my life in the way that it has, and I definitely did not anticipate falling in love with the story as much as I have. This story was able to simultaneously rip my heart out only to thrust it back into my body a few paragraphs later having caused a sensation of excavating pain at times. Therefore It is due to the simultaneously beautiful and at times horrific truth found within the story that I give the Kite Runner five stars.

Now, as far as the film adaptation is concerned that is a different story.  The film that carries the same title as the source material has some differences in comparison to the novel itself. However, the film still manages to capture the overall spirit of Hosseini’s thought-provoking narrative. Personally,  I will never be watching this movie again merely because I do not believe that the adaptation does the novel as much justice as it should. The Kite Runner, as a story aims to communicate a particular message about the complexity that exists when it comes to human relationships among other things. This is something that the novel does beautifully. However, I believe that the film adaptation aims to communicate a different message than the novel. While this does not necessarily discredit the film as worthy of a viewing, it does present a slight problem if a reader is looking for an accurate visual representation of their reading experience projected onto the individualized viewing screens. With all of this to consider I would give the film adaptation of The Kite Runner two and a half stars.

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Nothing Hates you….

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a beautiful story about life and the demons that come to meet us at the front door every day of our lives and ultimately what is done in the hopes of overcoming them. An adaptation of the 1999 epistolary novel of the same name written and directed by the novel’s author, Stephen Chbosky makes the movie all the more worth watching.

In a film that is in a number of ways reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s The Breakfast Club, Logan Lerman (Noah) goes above and beyond as the film’s protagonist Charlie. A troubled high school freshman hunted by death while also being an extreme Introvert. However, challenged by his parents he embarks on a journey to participate in life rather than sit back and simply observe and with the loving support of his older siblings (Nina Dobrev and Zane Holts) Charlie is able to do just that. After befriending his English teacher played by Paul Rudd, Charlie courageously decides to attend the high school football game which he finds to be rather stupid until he meets two seniors with unique opinions about the world. Together Sam and Patrick (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) along with their friends help Charlie to experience the world how it was always meant to be experienced. The world complete with high school parties, college applications and a much-needed weekly reenactment of Rocky Horror Picture Show the film is a true triumphed.

The film offers a fresh take on the all too familiar coming of age story line while still keeping to the traditional outline. The creative talents of Lerman, Watson, and Miller are able to breathe new life into a film adaptation that is as raw and as captivating as the original work. It is a story that if allowed by its audience members will change their perception of life forever and will have them singing Simple Minds’ Don’t Forget About Me for a whole new reason.

As far as my personal thoughts on the novel itself, they are extremely similar to my thoughts expressed about the film adaptation. If anything I believe that the film added to my overall love of the story and its characters. I remember immediately connecting with Charlie on all different levels one being that I personally am an introvert. I connected with Sam and her all around thirst she has for life and to be more than people see her be. I concreted with Patrick and his overall feeling of wanted to be accepted and not having to hide who you truly are or how you feel. Although, the story is one with some very hard subject matter it is absolutely beautiful. It is a young Adult novel that refuses to sacrifice truth in favor of sugar-coating. It is a story that needs to be shared with the world and that needs to remember forever. And, in that moment, I swear we were infinite…

A Tale as Old as Time

Hello, readers, I am truly sorry for the little break I took from writing over the past three weeks. However, now I have returned and am ready to explore the many lessons of film and novel. I have decided that it is only right to reward you for your patience and so I am going to write three separate blogs. Therefore, I invite you to pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea or coffee, sit down and enjoy.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words once upon a time I wonder? When I hear those iconic words I personally think of two distinct things. The first thing I think of is the tv show that airs every Sunday night at eight on ABC by the same name. The second,  thing that comes to mind is fairy tales. Every classic fairy tale that I can think of begins with these words or at least some variation of them. With this in mind, I would like love to express some thoughts about my favorite fairytale Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.

The tale is as follows:

A wealthy widowed merchant lives in a mansion with his three daughters. All are equal in beauty, but the youngest, Beauty, is kind and pure of heart; while the two elders, in contrast, are wicked, selfish, vain and secretly taunt and treat Beauty more like a servant than a sister. The merchant eventually loses all of his wealth in a tempest at sea. He and his daughters are consequently forced to live in a small farmhouse and work for their living. After some years of this, the merchant hears that one of the trade ships he had sent off has arrived back in port, having escaped the destruction of its compatriots. He returns to the city to discover whether it contains anything valuable. Before leaving, he asks his daughters if they wish for him to bring any gifts back for them. The oldest two ask for clothing, jewels, and the finest dresses possible, thinking his wealth has returned. Beauty is satisfied with the promise of a rose, as none grow in their part of the country. The merchant, to his dismay, finds that his ship’s cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him without money to buy his daughters their presents.

During his return, the merchant becomes lost in a forest. Seeking shelter, he enters a dazzling palace. A hidden figure opens the giant doors and silently invites him in. The merchant finds tables inside laden with food and drink, which seem to have been left for him by the palace’s invisible owner. The merchant accepts this gift and spends the night there. The next morning as the merchant is about to leave, he sees a rose garden and recalls that Beauty had desired a rose. Upon picking the loveliest rose he can find, the merchant is confronted by a hideous “Beast” which tells him that for taking his most precious possession after accepting his hospitality, the merchant must die. The merchant begs to be set free, arguing that he had only picked the rose as a gift for his youngest daughter. The Beast agrees to let him give the rose to Beauty, but only if the merchant will return.
However, Beauty agrees to go in place of her father and live with the beast for the rest of her days…

Although there are many different versions of Beauty and the Beast, it is my purest belief that Walt Disney does it the best. Yes, it true that it is a movie full of fun musical numbers and in a lot of ways it’s geared toward the younger generation but, it still captures the true lesson of the story. Beauty and the Beast preach that people should not love for what is seen from the outside, but what is seen in the heart. God tells us that He looks at a person’s heart, not their outward appearance. This is why Beauty and the Beast remain to be my favorite fairytale. At its core, the story is about two people who are able to look beyond what they see with their eyes and look inward at each other’s heart. This is what love is truly about loving someone because of what is in their heart and not just their washboard abs or because they have nice hair. This is why in my most humble opinion it is the most beautiful fairytale of all.

Disney was able to stay true to the fairytale itself while adding their signature fun and entertaining elements. It is able to not only teach its important lesson to children while keeping it relevant for even the adults in the room. It is a beautiful story that needs to be told especially in a society like this one. A society where so much of our value is dependent on our looks and who we hang out with. Therefore, readers, I challenge you to take time out of your life and revisit a tale as old as time

 

I Like Good Strong Words That Mean Something

The first time I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott I was eleven and it wasn’t planned. When my fifth-grade self walked out of library time one day I had not planned on leaving with classics in my hands by choice. The way I came to read this book is a matter I now consider to have been an act of God because it completely changed how I viewed the literary world. It also changed the way I viewed myself as a person. I say that finding Little Women was an act of God because I strongly believe I may not have decided to become an English Major if I hadn’t found this book.  Before picking up Little Women I had always been a reader but when I open this classic something inside me shifted. It was like the entire world was being shown to me in a new but familiar way.

The Story is so simple but complex and the character development is one of the best that I ever have seen or read.  The basic plot line follows the four March sisters during and after the Civil War, as they each journey from childhood into adulthood each with different goals. Meg the eldest longs to marry for love while Jo longs to do more with her life. Beth is simply happy with where she is and Amy wants a different nose and to be an artist.

I felt something with each and every character in the novel for various reasons but Jo was the one that physically changed me for the better. When I read from Jo’s perspective I felt for the first time in my life I was looking at myself. Which, is why I know that the character  Jo March didn’t just show me the world in a new way. She was able to touch my soul and I  don’t know if she has ever left me. I heard this message at church a couple of weeks back about how God speaks to each of us by using different love languages. Well, I know that one of my love languages is books. And, I am one hundred percent sure that He spoke to me through Jo March.

Here’s the thing about Jo, she is a Writer and she reads books like they are a drug. Words are her medicine and her addiction. I’m  pretty sure that if she could have gone to college she would have been an English Major. She is possibly the most stubborn character In the world of books that I have ever known. I fell in love with her passion for life and the way that she thought outside what was considered to be normal for the eighteen hundred. She was daring enough to go where no women had ever gone before and that was exciting. Jo was the first character that showed me what it really meant to ask the important questions and live life with no regrets. She embodied everything I wanted to do and be in my own life. I have since eleven read Little Women at least five times and I can tell you that Jo has had every thought that I have had at least once in all my nineteen years of living. She loved everything  I loved and felt everything I felt, which is something that I can rarely say about a single book character. I can honestly say that she was one of the things God used to plant the English Major seeds in my heart. To be completely honest I think He used her to bring the Jo March out of me that previously was hiding away somewhere. So I  would like to take a minute to thank her. Thanks, Jo, because Without God or you I don’t know who or where I would be today. I can honestly say I love you.

The book was the first book that ever made me cry and I won’t say why, because, doing so would be a major spoiler and I don’t  want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it.I will just say that it had an effect on me. It changed everything about how what, and when I read. It was the first classic novel I had ever read.I can now say it’s why I own as many classics as I do and why classic literature is my favorite genre to read. It then makes sense to tell you that Little Women Is one of my favorite books of all time but that is me.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has been turned into every format of entrainment imaginable. It has been everything from a movie to an opera and I have seen a good amount of them.They are all wonderful in their own ways and for the most part faithful to the original.  I would recommend any of them. Although, the films are most likely the easiest to come into contact with. I have seen all of the film adaptations and have no complaints, but some are longer than other. Therefore if you don’t wish to sit for more than two hours I would choose a shorter one. My personal favorite is the  1994 version with Winona Ryder.

Little Women Is a beautiful book which I venture is why the book is a Classic. I will promise you that if you give it a chance and read it; the story will be worth it. I know it was and if you’ve read it before I challenge you to read it again and discover what new things there are to discover from an old friend.

This Review is Brought to You by Request of My Sister….

Have you ever found out that one of your favorite book series is getting a film adaptation, but when it came out you ended up being extremely disappointed with the finished product? This sadly happened to my sister when it came to the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. The series was and still is a favorite of her’s and truth be told it is also one of mine as well. I first read the series back in middle school and I remember loving it and Riordan still remains one of my favorite children’s authors.This a large part why I passed it on to my sister after my brother had passed it on to me. The series follows Percy Jackson a sixth grader with ADHD and dyslexia who through rather random circumstances finds out that he is the child of the Greek god Poseidon. As a result, he is sent to live at Camp-Halfblood where he and his friends learn all there is to know about their godly parents and are sent on various quest to fight monsters from Greek mythology.  The series was in my opinion well researched as far a the geek mythology element goes which is important because the series is based heavily on it and around it.The story is extremely well written as well, which is a testament to the longevity to the series considering that it follows Percy until he is roughly seventeen years old.

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is split into five books all of which are entertaining reads are well-respected in the world of children’s literature.

  1. The Lightning Thief
  2. The Sea of Monsters
  3. The Titian’s Curse
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
  5. The Last Olympian

However, the story is also continued in the Heroes of Olympus series as well and it consists of another five books as well with equally enjoyable plot lines and new characters.

  1. The Lost Hero
  2. The Son of Neptune
  3. The Mark of Athena
  4. The House of Hades
  5. The Blood of Olympus

Both series serve as a companion to one another and I will tell you that I was to some degree surprised how well the two series were able to tie together as one. Although, I suppose they could be read separately even though I think they are meant to be read together and I suggest starting with the Lightning Thief and moving on from there. Neither of these series is ones to be read out-of-order because each book builds on the previous one.  Overall Both are highly recommended by me personally but the films are a different story.

There were only two films produced for the Percy Jackson series.The Lighting Thief and the Sea of Monsters which when looked at by themselves without taking into consideration the accuracy of both films to the books are decent. However, when taking the actual books into account the movies are pretty unfaithful. While I believe the essence of the story was captured in many ways the film completely missed the mark.This is rather sad because the series had such great potential for being on the big screen and it failed to live up to that potential, which probably was a big reason that there were only two films made. The one thing they managed to do right in theses films was the casting. Now, I understand people’s arguments about if they would have cast younger actors like in Harry Potter things may have turned out a little better for the films, however,  I don’t  care. I thought the cast was great when I saw the movies and my sister didn’t  have an issue with it either. In the end, the films are not the best book to movie adaptations I have ever seen.

In The words of my younger sister, Percy Jackson is a wonderfully entertaining read and worth the time of any reader. The movies are nothing compared to the book even though when taken alone can be enjoyable.

Stay Don’t Go. I’ll Eat You Up I Love You So 

Hi everyone this week I am feeling a bit nostalgic. As I was sitting in my living room this week in beautiful California my eyes were drawn to the little section of picture books that still remain on our bookcase. I began to remember all of those stories that first captivated me as a reader like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. And, so with a childlike love, I have done something this week that I haven’t done in a very long time. I read a picture book.

While sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor of my living room, I read Where the Wild Things Are. As I read I was struck by two things, one that it is an incredibly simple story and second that, when thought about in a deeper sense it is profound in many ways. On the surface, it is simply a story about a boy named Max, who is sent to bed without supper. In order to pass the time in his room, he dreams up an island where the wild things live. Which he travels to rule over them for a while because he’s mad at his mom.

However, on a much deeper level, I believe it is a story about the power of imagination and how our imaginations help us deal with situations in life. Max creates an island of wild things because he has to deal with not having dinner And he’s mad at his mom.

The film Where the Wild Things Are might be one of the most adorable things I have ever seen. I had never seen this movie before deciding to do this review, so I have didn’t know what to expect at all. I pleased to tell you all however that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. The story is fleshed out more so it is approximately an hour and forty minutes instead of just fifteen. The additional amount of story that is created around the original fits right in and I feel in no way hinders it. The film also gives the ”Wild Things” names and personalities all their own and some of them are pretty funny. The one thing about this movie that my disinterest people is that Jim Henson’s Creature Shop provides the magic behind the Monsters themselves. Therefore if you’re not a fan of The Muppets I’d advise you to proceed with caution. Overall though it is a welcome company to the written story.

Where the Wild Things Are is a truly wonderful picture book to enjoy with your children. It is a book that will remain a classic and be remembered by all who read or watch choose to enjoy.

Sisterly Love

I have a confession to make about the book The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I cried after only reading the first thirteen pages of the book. The story was so moving that at times I had to set the book down just so I could digest it all. The story follows two sisters down their extremely different paths through life. While the older sister Celie is forced to live a life married to a man chosen by her father and is at times abusive, her sister Nettie spends her life as a missionary to Africa surrounded by the love and care of a Christian couple. The sisters chronologically recount their lives to each other through the form of a letter all with the hope of being reconnected someday.

I was incredibly and profoundly moved by this story for many reasons.One of those reasons is that at its core The Color Purple is a story of the Sisterhood. The fact that I have a little sister of my own strongly influences my love of this book. But honestly, all things considered, the book changed my life. The thing is I love my sister and I won’t trade our weekend movie marathons for anything. In fact, I wanted a little sister so bad that when my parents told my younger brother and I that she was a girl I cried right there in the local Chick-fil-a. I love my sister and that is exactly what The Color Purple is about.

The family is another important aspect of the book. This book is able to beautifully demonstrate the great joy of family and, it is also able to demonstrate the trials and tribulations as well. A family is not limited to blood relations either, the length this book goes to in order to convey this message is amazing. Although Celie ‘s family is a more than a little broken, the journey that each member of the family takes to get to the end of the novel is lovely.

The Color Purple also is an amazing story of finding Christ.In the beginning of the story, Celie writes letters addressed to God because she is unaware of where Nettie is or if she is even alive. The problem is she doesn’t really understand who God is. Celie has had so many horrible events transpire in her life that She is unable to believe that God loves her and has a greater plan for her life. It is only after a rather profound confrontation with her husband and some help from a family friend does she truly understand the awesomeness of God’s love and power within her and her sister’s life. The Movie is without a second thought a must see for anyone who is a fan of the book or simply a lover of Oprah, Whoopi Goldberg or Stephen Spielberg. The written words of Alice Walker wonderfully translate onto the movie screen in a way that is so perfect and equally as moving that the two pieces work together seamlessly and it is a thing of beauty.

Be a Leaf that knows…

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree

– Michael Crichton

This past weekend my family and I took a trip to the Redwood National Park here in California, and as I think back on the trip I can recall feeling incredibly small. As my family and I walked along the Lady Bird Johnson trail that lasted for about two miles surrounded nature’s beauty I felt this amazing feeling of peace wash over me. The Thing about being among the Redwoods is it is so quiet that I swear you could hear a pin drop. When I looked up at these trees I couldn’t help but wonder what it looked like before the many trails were created and some of the trees were cut down, although there are still thousands. I wanted to know each story behind every tree there, I wanted to know its history.

This week’s blog post is on Timeline by Michael Crichton. The story begins when a doctor is found in the desert with unexplainable injuries that lead to his death. A company Known as ITC tries to hide the truth of what happen in whatever way they can to protect their reputation and Edward Johnston finds that his sponsors know a great deal more about his archeological dig than he does. However, after Johnston goes missing following a visit to the project’s sponsors three of his researchers travel back in time six hundred years to 1357 France to rescue him. While the fourth researcher stays behind to wait for their return from the past.

The book was ok, but not great in my opinion. In certain areas, it seemed to drag on where it didn’t need to and I personally found the character of Chris Hughes a little annoying at times but other than that the book was overall a good read. In the book, the characters stress that without the past, there is no future which is true. Our entire life is based upon the actions someone else in the past. For instants, if your parents hadn’t met at the Starbucks around the corner on a such and such day you may not even be here right now. Or if the Wright brothers had never tried to fly, airplanes may not be what they are today. Basically, the idea is that everything that is happening now is based on a previous event.

Then why do we claim we can change history? The truth is that we can’t we can only move forward. we can, however, look at past events in life, learn from them and make new history, all while using the past as a reference point to look back on. Rafiki from the Lion King says it this way “the past can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.” The world doesn’t take the time to learn about history simply to know random facts, it takes the time to study in order to learn from it even if there is a lot of pain and suffering involved. The history of our world is not cookie cutter clean there is a lot of hardship and heartbreak found as well within our timeline along with times of happiness and peace. The question then arises what happens when three fictional archaeologists are sent back to 1357 on a rescue mission in a time of war. Well, a lot not so great road blocks happen which takes them on a roundabout adventure throughout France and all of it is happening with a time limit attached.

The timeline does a nice job of creating a separation, but also a likeness between 1357 and the modern world.While the book is able to show the differences in lifestyle within the two different time periods, it also is able to point out that both were making technological advances in their own way. There is a moment in the book where all the characters have just arrived in 1357 in the middle of the forest. Chris believes there is something odd about his surroundings, but he can’t put his finger on it. Then he figures it out the forest is almost completely silent except for the chirping of the birds and just like that, he feels a measure of peace come over him. In this moment the book presents an important question about our current world we live in and the past. Are we as a population so accustom to technical advancements that we forget to unplug and live without them? I would dare to say we are…

The movie by the same name is a great representation of Michael Crichton ‘s work if not better. The movie cuts down on what I believe in some of the more unnecessary content like the lengthy explanation of the science behind time travel. While it adds to the almost absent, but sill present love story in the book, this it does successfully without taking away from the actual story.

In the end, the lesson is simply to make your own history, don’t let the actions of someone else define the future. Instead, let the actions of the past be a guide to help you through.

A Miraculous Horse

In Proverbs 21:31 it says that the horse is made ready for the day of battle but victory rests with the Lord. I personally feel that there is no better way to start off this week’s review of War Horse by Michael Murpurgo. The children’s book recounts the experience of World War I through the eyes of a farm horse from Devon England named Joey. Who is purchased against his will by the army to become an asset to the soldiers of the war in many ways. Joey’s main goal, however, is simply to return home to his previous owner Albert who enters the war only to find his horse.

The book itself though it is fairly small in size carries an important lesson about the friendship between all animals and humans alike. It also is able to provide a surprising and somehow very emotional look at World War I on the battlefield all the while using the mind of the horse. This is impressive considering that at times I felt I was reading the thoughts and feeling of a human being not a four-legged animal. Joey as he goes through his adventure eventually spends time on both sides of the war with both armies and in the process becomes a celebrity among the men.

As I mentioned before the book carries a lesson about the friendship between all creatures including but not limited to humans and horses. Joey, within the book, befriends  another horse named Topthorn at the beginning of the war and it’s this friendship that shapes most of his experiences during the time he spends on the front lines. The way in which their friendship unfolds and is described by Joey is touching and at times beautiful. There is also a second message of antiwar in the novel which is best illustrated I believe when two soldiers flip a coin in order to decide which side gets to keep Joey after he is cut free from the barbed wire between the two trenches….

The film version directed by Steven Spielberg is lovely.The film not only able to show Joey’s journey in its entirety but it is able to do so without a single word from the horse’s mouth no voice over required. The film also does a nice job of showing Albert’s Journey through war to find Joey, which is something the book almost gives no detail on at all. The Film doesn’t have a bad cast of actors either and it was an oscar nominee in 2012 as well for Best Picture among others. The book was also turned into a stage play complete with giant horse puppets that did rather well earning a few Tony Award nominations along the way.

War Horse, although it is fictional, tells the story of how one horse can change an entire war and how it affects all who come in contact with his kind spirit. So I leave you with this question what do animals really teach us humans and likewise what do we as human beings teach them?

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