Review: Water for Elephants

imagesTitle: Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen

Cover copy: “In Depression-era America, everyone’s running away from something. Some people join the circus to escape. Jacob Jankowski hitches a ride on a freight train and in that instant his life changes. By morning, he’s landed a job with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he’s in love.”

My thoughts: I had heard a lot about Water for Elephants before I picked it up, some people loved it while others were less enthusiastic so I was intrigued from the beginning. After finishing the book I can understand both sides of the argument, the story has a hint of drama for dramas sake and the animal cruelty can be disturbing to read but behind that there is a endearing love story filled with excitement.

Set in Depression-era America our hero Jacob Jankowski has his life turned upside down. Jacobs response to his emotional turmoil is to run away with the circus where he meets Marlena and thus the fairytale begins. Jacob is a very likeable character from the beginning, his willingness to help out those around him and his obvious concern for the animals endears him to the reader so we are left hoping for a happy ending to his story. Marlena is cast as the classic heroine, the damsel in distress some might say, and her relationship with Jacob provides her with a happy release from her turbulent marriage.

Gruen brings vivid detail to life as part of a travelling circus, her descriptions of the characters, living arrangements and atmosphere heighten the enjoyment of the reader. Overall Water for Elephants is an enjoyable well written novel that doesn’t demand too much thinking from the reader.

Favourite Quotes:

“Dear God. Not only am I unemployed and homeless, but I also have a pregnant woman, bereaved dog, elephant, and eleven horses to take care of.”

“Although there are times I’d give anything to have her back, I’m glad she went first. Losing her was like being cleft down the middle. It was the moment it all ended for me, and I wouldn’t have wanted her to go through that.”

“So what if I’m ninety-three? So what if I’m ancient and cranky and my body’s a wreck? If they’re willing to accept me and my guilty conscience, why the hell shouldn’t I run away with the circus?”

Final Thoughts:

A well written story about love overcoming obstacles. Gruen has created a non taxing novel that has the ability to appeal to a wide audience with its colourful characters and well thought out love story.

Friday Finds – Bookcase DIY

Last week in Friday Finds I posted about some dream bookcases that any bibliophile would love to have in their home so this week I decided that I should post some more affordable or realistic options. Below you will find some examples of how to spruce up your old bookcases and some more adventurous DIY projects for the crafty readers. Enjoy!

 

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Add a pop of colour to an old dresser for a unique bookcase

 

Adding a pop of colour to an old dresser can create a fun unique bookcase. This is a relatively easy DIY project that will update your old furniture just choose a colour to match your existing colour scheme and get painting.

 

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Another easy DIY project to add a little bit of character to an old bookcase.

 

This project is another easy way to update your bookcase, just use fabric or wallpaper in a design that catches your fancy to cover the back of the case and you have a one of a kind bookcase for your literary loves.

 

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If you prefer a more rustic feel for your bookcase this idea is a must, all you need are some wooden crates to stack and you have rough and ready storage. For a more polished look you can paint the crates, as seen in the second picture, to fit in with your room.

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For the more adventurous book lover this is a great way to combine your crafty talents and love of books. For this one you are going to need to get your hands on a wooden spool but it’s worth it for this crafty little addition.

Movie Magic – Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte's_Web_2006Director:

Gary Winick

Screenplay:

Susannah Grant

Karey Kirkpatrick

Starring:

Julia Roberts as Charlotte the Spider

Steve Buscemi as Templeton the Rat

Dominic Scott Kay as Wilbur

Dakota Fanning as Fern

 

 

Charlotte’s Web is a very successful novel written by E.B White aimed at children but beloved by adults alike so it is no surprise that the film adaptation was also a complete success. The screenplay is as charming and inspiring as the original novel and is largely kept true to the story, there is no sense that this has been modernised to capture the interest of the masses. It simply lets the integrity of the message and some quality storytelling take centre stage.

 

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This adaptation blends the live action with cgi elements seamlessly to create a genuinely enjoyable movie for both children and adults. The characters are very well cast, Julia Robert’s Charlotte is a forever calming influence to the excitable Dominic Scott Kay’s Wilbur and Dakota Fanning gives an admirable performance as the caring Fern. The loving message of friendship, trust, loyalty and adventure that is so clear in the novel translates so well on screen that this is quite simply a lovely feel good movie that everybody can enjoy with the odd tear jerking moment thrown in for good measure.

Movie Magic – Of Mice and Men

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Director:

Gary Sinise

Screenplay:

Horton Foote

Starring:

John Malkovich as Lennie Small

Gary Sinise as George Milton

Casey Siemaszko as Curley

Sherilyn Fenn as Curley’s wife

 

 

Some film adaptations of classic novels run into problems when they try to divert too far from the original story, in their desire to set themselves apart they can lose the very essence that endears them to the masses. Gary Sinise’s version of Of Mice and Men however steers clear of that pitfall, the plot sticks faithfully to Steinbeck’s original and the result is a triumphant homage to the novel.

John Malkovich gives an incredible performance as Lennie, the gentle giant with a penchant for soft things and getting himself and loyal friend George into trouble. It is a true testament to Malkovich’s talent as an actor that he can play Lennie’s simplicity with such a depth that it tugs at the audiences heart strings.

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If Malkovich is exquisite as Lennie then Gary Sinise is equally so in his portrayal of George, the eternally loyal best friend doing his best to keep Lennie safe. Sinise plays the character with a strength and dignity that allows the inner turmoil George faces shine through whilst still encouraging love and forgiveness from the audience. It should also be noted that in his role as director Sinise helped to craft the noble adaptation.

 

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One of the main themes throughout Of Mice and Men is the strong bond of friendship between men, this is brought to life in every aspect of the screenplay. The subtleties that Gary Sinise brings to his character when he is dealing with Lennie, and the clear turmoil when he has to make that final heart breaking decision, brings to life that sense of love between the two men. This adaptation is impeccably presented and the brilliant performances from Sinise and Malkovich make it well worth a watch whether you have read the novel or not.

Friday Finds: Beautiful Bookcases

The most common problem for literature lovers is not having enough space for all their books, we become experts in how to creatively stack novels in a bid to gain just a little more space to fit our new purchases because after all there is always room for just one more book! I have a bit of an obsession with the idea of one day having my own home library and can spend many happy, albeit extremely nerdy, hours trawling through pictures to find perfect examples of how I want my imaginary future home to look. So below are some of my finds for this week, they are what I think are practical book cases whilst still managing to showcase a bibliophile’s obsession. Enjoy!

Love the X motif on the glass doors

Love the X motif on the glass doors

I love the look of this for a large open space or living room but I think it’s the type of case that would look best with lots of light. The x motif on the glass doors gives an unusual unique twist on a traditional bookcase to make this more of a feature in the room.

Reading nooks for the win!

Reading nooks for the win!

Love reading nooks

Love reading nooks

I could write an entire post on reading nooks I just love the idea so much! The first image I chose because of the bookcase around the area I think it’s absolutely perfect but overall the look is a little cold and I think the purpose of a reading nook is to be warm and inviting so that you cant wait to just curl up there with your latest book. So that is why I chose the second image for this example it’s much more inviting, a combination of the case from the first image and the colours or comfort of the second and you have a perfect place to escape to!

Perfect under window storage

Perfect under window storage

I think this idea works really well for those who don’t want to go all out with larger book cases, personally I would use this under window type of bookcase in a child’s room or play room as I think it’s so important to encourage reading from a young age. In relation to a child’s room the under window case allows for a lot of light around the area and I would paint the case or even just the back wall of the shelves bright colours to make it more child friendly.

How adorable are these!

How adorable are these!

How absolutely adorable are these tea cups!? Carrying on from my children themed bookcases I just couldn’t bypass this when I stumbled across it, I think they are a fun alternative to a traditional bookcase that would suit any child’s room. They could be stacked in a corner of their bedroom so they aren’t a massive drain on space and serve as encouragement for any little book lover.

 

Love the outline

Love the outline

You need ridiculously high ceilings for this one to work but I love the how the outline contrasts so well against the wall. It is this contrast that really helps make the bookcase the main feature of the room because your eyes are automatically draw to it.

Book wall!!

Book wall!!

Be still my bibliophile heart!! This is a complete dream because I cant imagine anyone letting me turn an entire wall of our house into a book wall but I can always hope. I chose this particular book wall because instead of just being straight shelving it has some unusual quirks to keep the eyes interested such as the detailing on the glass doors which is just beautiful. The only thing I would change about this particular one is the colour of the wood, it is just a little dark for me I would prefer a more natural wood finish.

I want an Ireland one!

I want an Ireland one!

I am in two minds about this one but figured I would feature it anyway. What I love about this is how quirky and unusual it is, there is no doubt that this would be the main focal point of any room it is in but what I don’t like is how messy some sections can look. That is the only downfall of this piece but I think that says more about my obsessive need to have my books displayed properly than this bookcase! Of course I would have to scout an Irish version of this but it’s a great idea none the less.

Posts Update!

Hi everyone!

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted a Movie Magic post for Of Mice and Men yet and that is because it has been years since I watched it and to properly review it I want to re-watch the film. I will hopefully get the chance to do that this weekend so I will post two Movie Magic next week one for Of Mice and Men and one for Charlotte’s Web.

Tomorrow I will be posting my Friday Finds of some book cases that I would love to have in my home! I am going to focus on the more elaborate ones tomorrow and then in my next Friday Finds I will do a post on some really clever D.I.Y bookcases for the crafty book lover so I’m really looking forward to that one!

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Review: Charlotte’s Web

imagescwTitle: Charlotte’s Web

Author: E.B White

Cover Copy: “Help is coming from above! Charlotte’s Web is the magical tale of Fern, a little girl who saves her pig, Wilbur, with the help of a most unusual spider.”

My Thoughts: I read this book numerous times when I was a child and reading it as an adult is just as enjoyable. It is a heart warming tale of friendship and an education of life lessons as Fern, Wilbur and Charlotte navigate a series of obstacles in order to save Wilbur.

Charlotte’s Web is written in such vivid detail that it is perfect way to engage children’s imaginations whilst teaching them lessons on friendship, the passing of time, loneliness and loss. The characters are well rounded and cleverly developed so that there is never a sense that White is talking down to the reader as the lessons are explored. Charlotte’s Web draws the reader in with a warm, affectionate tale about trust and loyalty, adventure and miracle, life and the acceptance of death. It is a wonderful classic to read with your children or just to recapture your own youth!

Favourite Quotes:

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

“She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

“Trust me, Wilbur. People are very gullible. They’ll believe anything they see in print.”

Final Thoughts:

The clever prose and lovable characters make this book utterly enjoyable for any reader. E.B White’s Charlotte’s Web is a charming, heart warming tale of friendship that has the ability to delight both the young and the young at heart.