Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Truth About Melody Browne

Title: The Truth About Melody Browne

Author: Lisa Jewell

Genre: Chick-Lit

First Published: 2009

Pages: 372

From the Cover:

When she was nine years old, Melody Browne's house burned down, taking every toy, every old Christmas card with it. But is also took all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a small flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She’s made a good life for them both and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years, she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then she begins to piece together the story of her her childhood. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past…

My first reaction to this book was I’m afraid, a little lukewarm. I mean, the blurb on the back sounded a bit cliché (although I insisted on reading it because I’d heard so many great things about Jewell), the sentences were long and windy, and the writing style was a little confusing. For the first 70 pages of the book, I found myself trying to decipher some of the lines and figuring out whether I was reading a flashback derived from Melody’s current state of mind or whether I was just reading about her past in narrative form.

Despite my scepticism, I’m not one to put down a book so soon, and I’m glad I soldiered on with this one because it turned out to be a pretty groovy read after all. Once I got the hang of the flits in between the past and present, the storyline proved to be quite captivating. Melody is a character that one could immediately connect with and the revelation over the lost pieces of her life is heart-rending.

There were a few scenes that took place during Melody’s forgotten childhood that are very true and relevant to the real world today, and these issues were tackled beautifully by Jewell.

In one of the scenes where Melody was only 5, her stepmom Jacqui tries to explain to her about her parents’ divorce...“You see, children are the most precious thing in all the world, more precious and important than anything, and even though your mommy and daddy aren’t friends anymore, they’ll always be glad they used to be, because it meant that they made you”… In today’s world and age, divorce is such a common thing and I find myself constantly wondering about the effects of it on young children. I think Jewell did a wonderful job of explaining it in a manner that was both acceptable and easy on the mind of a 5 year old.

In another scene, little Melody is having ice-cream in Broadstairs with her mom’s landlord. She’s feeling sad and forlorn because she misses her baby stepsister (who lives all the way in London with her stepmom). She starts to cry because she’s worried that her baby stepsister will forget all about her. In an attempt to cheer her up, her mom’s landlord says…”Babies are very clever. She’ll remember your smell, and then, when she gets older, she’ll remember your face and, you know, she’ll save all her best smiles for you, because when she sees you it’ll be like a special treat”…. This was sort of a tear-jerking moment for me. Coming from a broken family, Melody formed a bond so strong with her step-sister, it was very hard not to get emotional at her reaction when she learns about their inevitable separation.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful read that people can relate to. Jewell has managed to highlight the severity of family issues on a child and at the same time, come up with a heart-warming story that does not disappoint.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

“I could not have what I wanted most: Mr. Harvey dead and me living. Heaven wasn’t perfect. But I came to believe that if I watched closely, and desired, I might change the lives of those I loved on Earth”.

From the cover: “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighbourhood.” Watching from her place in heaven, Susie Salmon sees her suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet…
My thoughts on the Book:
I absolutely LOVED this book. I finished it in 2 days (a record considering my hectic schedule) and I think Sebold is a genius. Her writing style is completely engaging and it was so beautifully written that it had somewhat of an emotional impact on me. This is without doubt one of those stories that would stay with me for a long, long time. In The Lovely Bones, Sebold managed to play-down the dreadful notion that most people have of the afterlife, and made it sound both surreal and plausible at the same time. The character development was fascinating and believable, and her account of Mr Harvey, the murderer, was chilling to the bone. This is not a suspense/thriller though, despite the premise being set on murder. It’s more of a beautiful account of how a dead girl deals with her death, how her family deals with her death and how her death has affected the other people in her life.

If there was one teeny-weeny thing that I would pick on, it would be the part where Susie’s little sister attended the Gifted Symposium, in which that year’s annual challenge was titled “How to Commit the Perfect Murder”. Although I could understand the relevance/importance of having this part fitted in to the storyline, I really didn’t like the subject matter and I don’t think that any rational school principal would have picked such an inappropriate topic (assuming the intention was to inspire creativity amongst children).

Despite the little aversion I had on the above, I really think this is an amazing novel and I would highly recommend this to just about anyone.

Book Rating:

My thoughts on the Movie:
Overall, I’m finding it really hard to review the movie without spoiling it for those who haven’t read the book. There were quite a few aspects of the movie that didn’t really thrill me, mainly because it lacked the depth and intensity that I experienced from reading the book. I guess in most cases, it is quite difficult to put together a solid 2.5 hour show based on a 328 page novel, but I seriously believe that the script could have been improved by showing less of Susie’s heaven and more of the on-goings on earth following her death, and how she had been observing it. Basically, there really wasn’t enough content on the murderer and it lacked the drama required to show the audience the extent of the heartache that the family went through. As a result of this, I found the movie slow and boring, plus my hubby said that I fell asleep half-way through for a good 20 minutes (I eventually replayed the missed parts the following day just so that I could give a thorough review).

On the positive side, there were some features of the movie that are worth mentioning. The role of Susie’s grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon was definitely top-notch. Also, Reece Ritchie, the guy who played Ray Singh (Susie’s secret admirer), is just to die for – watching him is as good as devouring a delicious hershey’s cookies and creme chocolate bar. I also thought that Peter Jackson did an amazing job in portraying Susie’s heaven, especially the in-between, which was breathtaking. I also liked it that he didn’t change Susie’s monologue, and stayed true to the exact words being used in the book, which were once again, beautifully written by Sebold.

Movie Rating:


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

30 Books To Movies Challenge

I'm signing up for yet another challenge, one I probably won't be able to complete on time (considering the number of challenges I've already committed to - and still have NOT finished!). I really couldn't resist this one when I saw it on The Bibliophiles Lounge. Since most of the books I've enjoyed have been adapted into some sort of box office movie or other, joining this challenge was just the perfect thing to do.

The goal is to read 30 books that have been adapted into movies and also watch them. Rules are as follows:

  1. You don't have to select your books ahead of time. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.
  2. If you decide to join this challenge be sure to create a post telling others. Also, please make sure you add a link back to this post so others can join in. You can join at any time!
  3. Non-bloggers may enter as well. If you have a blog, please post the review of BOTH the book and movie on your blog, detailing:
  • Your honest opinions of the book and movie
  • Which one did you enjoy more (book or movie?)
  • What do you think is so good about the book for it to have been made into a movie
For more details and to join the Challenge, please go here.
1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Random by Craig Robertson

Author: Craig Robertson

First Published: N/A (ARC)

Pages: 329 pgs 

From the Jacket: A serial killer known as The Cutter has Glasgow in his grip. His modus operandi changes with every victim and the police are utterly baffled. But when he attacks a member of the criminal underworld, The Cutter suddenly finds himself on the run from a group hellbent on bloody retribution. With his carefully laid plans falling apart, he decides to take action – with terrifying consequences…

I remember being pretty excited to be reading this book. For one thing, it was my first complimentary book that came in my mailbox (courtesy of Book Chick City and Simon & Schuster UK for signing up for the Thriller & Suspense Challenge), and for another thing, the first 100 pages were so riveting (see Teaser Tuesday # 1), it practically had me gripping the edge of my seat with my free hand.

The story starts off with the killer having dinner in a restaurant with an unidentified lady. Upon making payment for the dinner at the desk, he reaches his hand into the bowl full of business cards and pulls out a name… Jonathan Carr. Salter, Fyfe and Bryce Solicitors. 1042 Bath Street….the killer’s first victim, maimed with a carjack swung to the back of his neck and died from suffocation with his mouth sealed shut by a duct tape and his nostrils squeezed tight with a few drops of super glue. The killer later cuts off the victim’s finger as a souvenir - an absolutely gruesome and heartless murderer. After another carefully planned murder, the killer strikes again, only to discover that he had killed a person connected to the Glasgow Mafia. It was from this point onwards that I started to lose the plot. I thought that the introduction of the underground criminals into the storyline was boring and unnecessary. Although from the jacket it sounded like the killing of one of the Mafia’s men was a major hindrance to the murderer’s killing spree, it really didn’t do much to enhance the action, and was to the contrary quite dull and idealistic in parts.

What’s interesting about this book though is that the entire story is written from the killer’s perspective which gives the reader an insight into the dark and twisted mind of a psychotic serial killer. I also appreciated the research done into ensuring that the murders were believable – some of them were truly ingenious. I could also relate to one of the potential victims (scarily enough), who was selected by the murderer from Facebook! Yup, it’s definitely possible, especially made so when you read about it in Random.


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