2015 Reading Challenge – Book #18 – The Secret of Happy Ever After

Book #18 – A book with more than 500 pages – The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon
Genre: Chick Lit / Romance
Published: 2011
Country: UK

The Secret of Happy Ever After

Two women, Michelle and Anna are best friends in their early thirties and live in Longhampton, an idyllic town by the canal. While Michelle runs a successful home lifestyle store and is a self-confessed control-freak, Anna is more laid-back and wears her heart on her sleeve. She is also stepmom to three girls and an energetic dog.  When Michelle decides to take over the adjoining bookshop from the retired owner, she hires Anna as the manager because of Anna’s love and extensive knowledge of all things literary. Although everything seems fine for Michelle and Anna professionally, their individual personal lives are a huge mess. Michelle has been separated from her emotionally abusive husband since three years and Anna’s stepdaughters still won’t accept her completely even after four years. Moreover, Anna is desperate for a baby of her own which doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Will these two women ever find their happy ever afters?

A shrewd businesswoman, Michelle loved making to-do lists, accomplishing goals and looking for ways to expand her shops. She had a lot of baggage she was carrying around which made her understandably cautious but her decision to keep everyone at arm’s length was coming across as too vain and self-centered. Anna was regrettably a doormat and her husband Phil, was too soft with the girls. Stuck in a dysfunctional family dynamic through no fault of hers, she didn’t know how to untangle the mess that sometimes comes with a ready made family. She was trying so hard (a bit too hard in my opinion!) but couldn’t connect with her stepdaughters on any level. It didn’t help one bit that her mother in-law was a cantankerous old woman who hated everyone. Out of the three stepdaughters, Chloe, the fifteen year old middle child was the most superficial and selfish brat that you felt quite annoyed at. Lily, who was eight had a wild imagination and was quite insightful for her age whereas Becca, the studious eldest eighteen year old was very sensible, understanding and the most likeable character in the whole book. The two dogs Pongo and Travis sadly couldn’t add any humour and character to the plot.

The only bits I really loved were the bookshop conversations and book reviews where Anna would throw book references freely with her customers with nostalgic excitement and love. Her childhood favourites have been my childhood favourites and I was very happy to come across mentions of The Malory Towers, Famous Five, Miss Marple, Sweet Valley and Harry Potter among several others. It was only Anna’s own sunny nature and her love for books that kept her going. I also loved Michelle’s keen sense of business and how she and Anna played around with the bookshop and made it a homely, comforting place to entice serious bibliophiles.

Or Miss Marple? That would be nice if the weather was good. In the garden, with a plate of hot cross buns and a pot of tea, working her way round St Mary Mead’s homicidal vicars and parlourmaids. Miss Marple talking like Joan Hickson. Everyone being terribly English. Bliss.

Other than that huge positive, there was a serious lack of chemistry between the leads and I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Michelle’s squabbles with Rory, the handsome but messy solicitor failed to hit the ‘Oh-they’re-so-falling-for-each-other‘ note because there seemed to be no brewing attraction between them at all! In fact, I personally felt a much deeper connection between Rory and Anna because of their endless bookish conversations. Phil was mighty pissing off because he failed to see how selfish he was being by taking Anna for granted and seemed to have no backbone as far as anything was concerned. Becca’s shy, sweet nature against Owen’s Peter Pan syndrome was borderline cute but it was quite unbelievable how things went on so smoothly and normally for them even after a whopping life-changing news.

The plot seemed to tie up too quickly at the end with all differences, quarrels and relationships smoothened out a little too neatly after lots of rifts had driven everyone apart. I felt this was the sort of book that needed an epilogue because the ending was too abrupt but there was no such luck there.

To be honest, I didn’t have any feelings for this book. Not in the beginning, middle or even the end. Nada. Zilch. The story had no peaks and troughs and the characters were just too one-dimensional and predictable to appeal to any deeper emotion. I felt more sorry for Anna than Michelle but even then I couldn’t connect with either of them.

The plot went on for too long, dragging and stretching so much till I was groaning and screaming at the characters to move on with their lives and let something else happen.There was more mention of blankets, beds, linens, pillows and unfortunately also books than of anything substantial that could push the story forward. There just wasn’t enough material to keep the plot going for 500+ pages and the book should have stopped at 250 where it would have met a great end. Unfortunately, this chick lit had none of those feel-good zingers that could have made it a memorable one.

 Book Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #15 – The Man With Two Left Feet and other stories

Book #15 – A funny book – The Man With Two Left Feet and other stories by P.G.Wodehouse
Genre: Short Stories/Humour
Published: 1917
Country: UK

Better known as the man behind the comic antics of duo Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves, British author P.G.Wodehouse also had several of his short stories published in periodicals that were compiled together to produce this priceless classic.

Combining hilarity with wit and charm, these short stories contain a lot of cute and heartfelt moments. While the stories are a miscellaneous bunch, the majority of them focus on a sweet kind of romance, one that is simple, relatable yet a little extraordinary. From a husband who takes dancing lessons secretly after work to impress his wife to a vacationer who falls in love with a lady at the seaside resort that he is staying at, all the romances have special quirky elements. There are even tales written from the first perspective of a woman as well as that of a dog.

I owe the fullness and variety of my life to this restlessness of mine, for I have repeatedly left comfortable homes in order to follow some perfect stranger who looked as if he were on his way to somewhere interesting. Sometimes I think I must have cat blood in me.

Wodehouse has weaved a beautiful web of timelessness and painted a handsome picture of an Edwardian era that was fashionable and concerned with the performing arts. The women in these stories are career girls, many with dreams of being on the stage dancing and touring the country with theatre groups. They are strong, independent and secure in their own identities yet have a certain air of homeliness about them. The men have some interesting professions too – an undercover private investigator, a policeman and an athlete among others – all strong and manly career choices but when it comes to the matters of their hearts, these heroes become awkwardly vulnerable and insecure, unsure whether their lady loves will reciprocate their feelings or trample their hearts.

She made you think of fresh milk and new-laid eggs and birds singing. To see her was like getting away to the country in August. It’s funny about people who live in the city. They chuck out their chests, and talk about old New York being good enough for them, and there’s a street in heaven they call Broadway, and all the rest of it; but it seems to me that what they really live for is that three weeks in the summer when they get away into the country. I knew exactly why they were cheering so hard for Mrs. Charlie. She made them think of their holidays which were coming along, when they would go and board at the farm and drink out of the old oaken bucket, and call the cows by their first names.

These little gems are like a favourite candy treat that you let yourself have from time to time. You take a bite out and savour it slowly, letting the smooth taste calm your senses and leave you with a happy feeling. The first bite has appeased your senses thoroughly so you save the rest of the candy for another time. That’s how I finished this book. One bite at a time.

For Jeeves’ lovers, there’s even a short story on Wooster and Jeeves on a trip to America. I will definitely be enjoying more of these little bites of Wodehouse’s infamous brand of humour in the future.

Book Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #13 – Too Perfect

Book #13 – A trilogy – Too Perfect by Julie Ortolon (Perfect Trilogy #3)
Preceded by: Almost Perfect and Just Perfect
Genre: Romance/Chick Lit
Published: 2005
Country: USA

Too Perfect - Julie Ortolon
I was more interested in reading this last installment of the trilogy than the previous two. In fact, the first one was nothing great at all and I completely skipped the second book. Luckily, these can be read as stand alone books too so this was not a problem.

The premise of this trilogy is as such: Three best friends – Maddy, Christine and Amy – in their early thirties, get very miffed when they find out that their very successful old college flat mate has used them as examples in her best-selling book How to Have a Perfect Life of people who did not face their fears and settled for less. The three make a pact amongst themselves that they would prove their friend wrong by doing the very things that scare them and complete them in a year’s time.

This third installment tells the story of sensible and cautious Amy who has a fear of travelling and getting lost due to her complete lack of sense of direction. To overcome her fear, she takes a job as a travelling nanny on a cruise for two weeks, only she gets fired from her job and stranded on the island of St.Barts with practically no money and no spare clothes. Desperation drives her to take up a job as a housekeeper in an old fort on a hill for four weeks – two extra weeks than her original intended duration.

At the fort, she meets a drop-dead handsome, charming and flamboyant Frenchman Lance Beaufort, who introduces himself as the personal assistant of the recent owner of the fort Guy Gaspar. Lance tells Amy that Gaspar is a recluse who prefers not to mingle with anybody and is known as La Bête or The Beast by locals. The only rule that Amy has to follow is to stay away from Gaspar’s quarters on top of the tower.

While Lance’s sunny personality provides Amy with friendship and companionship, it is Gaspar’s mysterious presence, only in the form of a voice that piques Amy’s interest. She strikes up a friendship with Gaspar via email and an intercom system set up in Lance’s office where they discuss everything from movies to books to self-esteem issues. Amy finds in Gaspar a kindred spirit who she believes is hiding from the world due to his disfigured or less than perfect face.

However, unbeknownst to Amy and everyone else in the world, Lance and Gaspar are the alter egos of the same man – Hollywood billionaire Byron Parks who is hiding from his artificial life under a suitable disguise as Lance in order to step away from the limelight and figure out who he is and what he really stands for.

A modern retelling of The Beauty and the Beast, I found this book to be quite charming and well-written. The characterizations of both Byron and Amy were nicely sketched. Amy, who has grown up believing that she is a fat, frumpy woman, hides behind loose garments that don’t do her beauty any justice and Byron who has grown up in the superficial world of Hollywood his whole life, has been left emotionless because of his public image. Byron (or Gaspar) helps Amy with feeling good about her body image while Amy’s shy, sweet nature helps him feel something again. As much as Amy tries to convince Gaspar to reveal the face behind the voice, Byron fears he can never show himself to her without hurting her with his deception.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was different conceptually from the usual clichéd romance novels and I liked the author’s spin on the classic fairytale. It was fun to imagine three different characterizations of the same person and the role each character played in Amy’s life. Lance who was fun-loving and charismatic, Gaspar who was generous and kind, and Byron who couldn’t figure out which one of the two he really was or if he was someone completely different.

I did have a few “Seriously, are you kidding me?” moments in the book though. The part where Amy and Gaspar decide to act on their physical attraction for one another in complete darkness (at Gaspar’s request) apparently carries on for two or three weeks straight! Although she tries hard to get him to come out of his shell and reveal himself to her, I found this little scenario a very strange situation indeed. How was she not able to feel even the slightest bit suspicious the whole time?

Despite a couple of these oddities, it was all in all an enjoyable read. I will definitely give it a thumbs-up.

Book Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #11 – Almost Perfect

Book #11 – A trilogy – Almost Perfect by Julie Ortolon (Perfect Trilogy #1)
Succeeded by: Just Perfect and Too Perfect
Genre: Romance/Chick Lit
Published: 2005
Country: USA

Almost Perfect by Julie OrtolonI’ve fallen in a bit of a reading and blogging slump recently. I finished this e-book about two weeks ago but just got around to reviewing it (I blame it on the lazy spell that’s hit me). I also think it’s because I really had no thoughts about this book.

The reason I chose this series was because I felt it was necessary to have some light-hearted reads in between heavy ones. Hence, I chose not to read all three books in succession but reach out to them whenever I fell into a reading slump, much as one reaches out for some chocolate to get a bit of a ‘happy kick’. If you haven’t guessed already, chick lits are my candy.

The premise of this trilogy attracted me. Three best friends – Maddy, Christine and Amy – in their early thirties, get very miffed when they find out that their very successful old college flat mate has used them as examples in her best-selling book How to Have a Perfect Life of people who did not face their fears and settled for less. The three make a pact amongst themselves that they would prove their friend wrong by doing the very things that scare them and complete them in a year’s time.

The first installment of this trilogy, Almost Perfect is about Maddy, a widowed artist who tries to face her fear of rejection by setting out to sell her work to art galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As a first step to achieving this goal, she accepts a job offer to be an Arts and Craft Coordinator at a summer camp in New Mexico. The catch? The offer was sent by the matchmaking adoptive mother of her ex-childhood sweetheart who now owns the camp.

But what happens when two exes – a woman who doesn’t trust her own abilities and a man who doesn’t trust anyone else – come together? Fireworks, of course! Maddy doesn’t trust her own talent because her father belittled her as a child and made her lose her self-confidence. Joe doesn’t trust anyone because he had a hard time growing up in foster homes and trusts Maddy even less because she had broken his heart fifteen years ago. Things get very awkward when Joe finds out she is his new staff member and is going to work with him for two whole months. They agree to a truce for the sake of a working relationship and eventually give in to the attraction that never died down even after all these years.

Maddy is a cheerful, free-spirited, gypsy-like woman who wears impractical shoes and colourful clothing whereas Joe is a tough ex-army guy who strives for order and control in his life. The only thing they have in common is their love of art and their battered and bruised souls.

This book is a classic example of the ‘trust issues’ cliché in romance novels that has been done to death. The book was not a terrible read per se, however the theme was nothing new barring the ‘completing a challenge’ aspect of it. There were a few cheesy dialogues, some double entendres, lots of things-said-in the heat-of-the moment and explanations and justifications that had me rolling my eyes each time.

The main reason I was instantly hooked onto the premise of this trilogy was to read the writer’s take on how the three overcome their fears and complete their challenges while having fun and unexpectedly finding love. I didn’t expect it to be anything like a self-help book obviously (and it wasn’t!) but the almost-overnight success of Maddy in the art world was surreal and unbelievable. It all seemed so easy and effortless that the challenge part of it was completely non-existent. Yes, the story focused on the root of the cause – Maddy and Joe’s trust issues – but I just wasn’t convinced.

I also found it silly that Maddy and Joe were able to easily pick up their love life where they left off fifteen years ago only for Maddy to screw it up again towards the end. Those trust issues just kept getting more and more complicated.

However, the only part I sort of liked was that she was in touch with her best friends Christine and Amy via email whenever she needed any advice and the two would virtually dispel her self-doubts. From their brief conversations, I gathered that Amy was the cautious, sensible and staid one and Christine was the slightly more adventurous and reckless kind.

I was bored by this one but am more keen on reading the third installment, Too Perfect when I get to it and hope it lives up to its more exciting synopsis.

Book Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.

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My very first Top Ten Tuesday!



I’m very excited to be part of my very first weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today’s topic is “Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books.” which I am guessing is on account of Valentine’s Day, that’s just around the corner.

As I’ve so emphatically said before, I’ve been sadly left behind in the reading area. I have, though, not been left behind in the Romance genre as I’ve read years worth of these light reads.

Now, as per the instructions, I’ve done a list of 5 things I like and 5 I dislike about romances in books:

I like it:
1. When the hero and heroine are at sparring ends of each other, typically in a work environment. Comical conflict from the very beginning clears up the air in the latter part of the book when the two are forced to work together for a project.

2. When the heroine is a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself but secretly needs a little TLC too. (Anyone who says, “I can take care of myself, thank you very much.” is the one who needs a little bit of extra lovin’).

3. When a one-year contractual marriage (again between people who usually cannot stand each other) turns into a permanent one as the two start spending more time with one another and fall in love. Love is slowly getting to know each other’s quirks.

4. When the hero falls in love with the heroine before she does and relentlessly pursues her (but not in a creepy, stalkerish way!). There’s a man who is so obviously not afraid of commitment.

5. When two long-time best friends realise that they’ve been in love with each other all along and not known it. Friendship, as they say, is the foundation of love.

I vehemently dislike:
1. When the hero is sometimes portrayed as a horrible, arrogant prick of a boss picking on his employees, especially his new secretary/personal assistant who is usually the heroine. How rude!

2. When a passionate, one-night stand with a random stranger results in a baby leading to a forced marriage/living arrangement and eventually love. Disclaimer: Do not try this at home (or in a hotel). This has NO guarantee of a 100% success rate. Also, poor baby.

3. When a relationship/marriage between a ruthless Sicilian/Italian/Greek tycoon and a hard-up, vulnerable American/English woman is purely based on physical attraction and ends up culminating into love when the heroine runs away thinking she has been used and abused and the hero chases after her, realising he has loved her all along. Ti Amo! Amore Mio!

4. A jealous, possessive and insecure love resulting in a bad divorce/break up. Months or years of bad relationships later, fate decides to throw them together again which makes them realise they were so stupid in the first place to break up when they couldn’t obviously stop loving each other. They start over and live happily ever after.

5.  A luxurious lifestyle with a personal jet, big villas in Spain or humongous châteaux in the South of France where all the heroine does is eat exotic cuisine, swim in the Olympic-sized pool and basically get bored while the above mentioned Sicilian/Italian/Greek tycoon hero is off finalizing business deals or ruthlessly taking over small companies. He thinks nothing of casually throwing his cash around by buying the heroine diamond necklaces and properties on the side. Yawn, so typical.

What are your reasons for liking/disliking romances in books? What are your favorite classic or contemporary romance novels? Would love to hear from you.

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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #6 – One Night at the Call Center

Book #6 – A book you own but have never read before – One Night at the Call Center by Chetan Bhagat
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2005
Country: India

One Night At The Call Center by Chetan BhagatOne of my resolutions this year is to read more and more books by Indian authors which I am ashamed to say, I hardly read. Chetan Bhagat’s One Night at the Call Center, that had been lying unread in my bookcase for the longest time, was my first pick. Bhagat’s books have taken India by storm. But, let me just prick the Bhagatian bubble and say it. I don’t understand what the big hype surrounding his books is about. Admittedly, this is my first read by this author and might not have been the ideal choice to start off with but still.

Though, I must say, some of the movies based on his books have been better translated on screen. I enjoyed watching Three Idiots based on Five Point Someone, Bhagat’s first novel. The 3 Mistakes of my Life was converted visually into Kai Po Che which was a good film. Also, 2 States based on 2 States: The Story of my Marriage was kind of fun to watch, albeit dragging in some bits. The first two had good empowering story lines and I just might see myself reading these books to see if the movies were better or the books themselves.

However, Hello based on One Night at the Call Center was just an absolute disaster. The premise of this story goes through incidents that happen in one night at a call center. Six people who work in the night shift of a call center in India are all going through problems of their own. One particular night, they receive a very unusual phone call…..from none other than God Himself.

I don’t know where to really begin with reviewing this book. I really have mixed or rather, no feelings about this one. I liked how Bhagat started off before the beginning of this book by asking the reader to list one thing that a) you fear, b) makes you angry and c) you don’t like about yourself. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, I think this book is going to be interesting.”

The story highlights the problems that the youth of India working in call centers (or BPO’s) face – low wages, irate customers, greedy political bosses, no prospects of growth et cetera whilst also tackling issues that are predominantly increasing like arranged marriages with a “rich, well-settled NRI boy in America”, infidelity, casting-couch syndrome, ill-effects of globalization, the MTV pop-culture that has taken over the world, loss of nationalism and how Westernization has made everything about brands, elaborate lifestyles, eating unhealthy food, corruption of languages et cetera.

I wasn’t convinced entirely by this book. I didn’t like the way racism was tackled. Sure, it’s a fact that perfectly decent, hardworking people in call centers have a very tough time from their Western callers who often indulge in shameless name-calling but that just didn’t make it justifiable to retaliate and vent out in the same way.

This pity-party went on for 214 pages until God called and decided to intervene. This was a very interesting element but not cleverly written. It could have been a life-changing, moving experience causing you to rethink your own existence but it wasn’t. Sorry, just didn’t feel it.

I felt the rest of the book was a typical masala mix (a mixture of Indian spices). The sudden burst of courage that the six churned up to speak up against their evil boss and save their dying company from doom using some blackmail, some good ol’ fashioned Bollywood thappads and mukkas (slaps and punches) and then turning their own lives around for the better and proving themselves- all within a matter of a couple of hours aptly at the rise of dawn.

Again, this book didn’t do much for me. I wish the Indian empowerment element was handled in a better way. I would have loved to be inspired, to put down the book and think about it deeply afterwards but this was sadly lacking.

However, the good parts of the book were:

1. “You close your eyes for three minutes. Think about what you really want and what you need to change in your life to get it. Then, once you get out of here, act on those changes.”

2. “For once you taste failure, you have no fear.”

3. “The voice is easy to ignore – because you are distracted or busy or just too comfortable in life. Go on, ignore it – until you get tangled in your own web of comfort. And then you reach a point like today, where life brings you to a dead end, and there is nothing ahead but a dark hole.”

Book Rating: 2 stars out of 5.

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2015 Reading Challenge – Book #5 – Attachments

Book #5 – A book with a love triangle – Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Chicklit / Romance
Published: 2011
Country: USA

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I have never read anything by Rainbow Rowell before, not even Fangirl, the book that everyone is gushing about. But I sure wasn’t going to pass up any opportunity to read a light-hearted chicklit romance to remove the aftertaste of the previous book I’d read.

Attachments is set in Nebraska, in 1999, the year where every one was preparing themselves for the impending Y2K bug that was threatening to shut down the world. Our bashful, introverted hero Lincoln works the night shift at a daily newspaper in the IT department. His job is to read flagged down intra-office emails to check for offenders who might be sharing emails against company policy and issue them warnings. He really doesn’t like his work and the only bright side of his night is reading daily email exchanges between Beth and Jennifer, two daytime editorial staff, who share many details of their personal lives through emails.

Now Lincoln is not a creep taking advantage of his position. He is a genuinely decent human being who feels that he is a) getting paid to do nothing and b) invading people’s privacy through reading their mails. He thinks that reading bits and pieces about the girls’ lives is not only immoral but also not justified but he cannot seem to stop himself because he find two friends in Beth and Jennifer, two really funny, witty and yet kind and gentle souls, who he hasn’t met at all. Lincoln is also conflicted because he finds himself falling deeply in love with Beth who has been steady with her musician boyfriend for many years. He cannot see himself having an honest relationship with a girl he has never met before since he knows so many personal details about her already.

I loved this book. It had so much heart and dealt with a lot of emotional attachments (hence the title) – a mother-child relationship, a relationship between best friends, relationships between lovers and various other things as well.

You cannot help but but fall and feel for all the characters – every character seems real and flawed in so many ways. Lincoln is still bruised from a breakup that happened nine years ago and lives with his mother. He has trouble meeting new people due to the odd hours he works and lacks ambition and goals in his life, or even finding things that he is really good at.

Jennifer and Beth both have their fair share of problems too, which are cleverly mentioned in their humorously worded email exchanges. Jennifer’s husband wants to start a family but she wants nothing to do with kids and Beth doesn’t see any prospects of marriage and children in the future because of her emotionally unavailable boyfriend.

Now, I am a self proclaimed expert in the genre of chicklit/romance and would definitely recommend this book to anyone – lover of chicklit or not. This book is a great winter read, perfect for curling up with a hot chocolate and some soft music. I loved the use of clever metaphors and references of some of my favorite movies and actors. The book had me keeping up at night, wondering, “Will they? Won’t they?” and I couldn’t rest until I had read till the end. I was almost wishing that this gets made into a movie someday.

Some parts I loved from this book:

1. <<Jennifer to Beth>> At last? October is half over. And what’s in  October anyway?

<<Beth to Jennifer>> Not “what’s in,” what is. October. My favorite month. Which, by the way has only half begun.

Some find it melancholy. “October,” Bono sings, “and the trees are stripped bare….” Not I. There’s a chill in the air that lifts my heart and makes my hair stand on end. Every moment feels meant for me. In October,  I’m the star of my own movie – I hear the soundtrack in my head (right now, it’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”) – and I have faith in my own rising action.

I was born in February, but I come alive in October.

<<Jennifer to Beth>> You’re a nut.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> A hazelnut. A filbert. October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins.

O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

2. <<Beth to Jennifer>> I think he just gets like this sometimes. Like he needs to pull away. I think of it like winter. During winter, it isn’t that the sun is gone (or cheating on you with some other planet). You can still see it in the sky. It’s just farther away.

3. <<Jennifer to Beth>> Oh, I love period dramas, especially period dramas starring Colin Firth. I’m like Bridget Jones if she were actually fat.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> Oh….Colin Firth. He should only do period dramas. And period dramas should only star Colin Firth (One star upgrade for Colin Firth. Two stars for Colin Firth in a waistcoat.)

<<Jennifer to Beth>> Keep typing his name, even his name is handsome.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> I think we’ve discovered the only guy we’d ever fight over at an airport bar. 

4. “So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.”

 Book Rating: Definitely 5 stars out of 5.

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For the love of Films – I Capture the Castle

I watched several movies over the course of 3 months, however I was most struck by the title “I Capture the Castle”. The 2003 film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Dodie Smith in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the e-version of the book, hence I watched the film first. Not what I ideally like to do.

The film is set in the early 1920’s and is about a poor English family of 5 and one help hand, who live in a rundown old castle and are barely able to survive because the head of the house, an author, has had writer’s block for 12 whole years and cannot write a single word.

This highly dysfunctional family are paid a visit on a stormy night, by two rich American brothers, Simon and Neil Cotton whose family owns the castle. The eldest daughter Rose tries to woo the eldest brother Simon into marrying her even though she doesn’t fancy him so that she can get away from such a shabby existence and also help her family get back onto their feet again. Simon’s brother, Neil (played by one of my favorites Marc Blucas), is always at sparring ends with Rose.

The movie is narrated through the thoughts and journal entries of the middle child, Cassandra, a 17 year old girl who falls in love with Simon.

Cassandra and Simon in "I Capture The Castle"

Cassandra and Simon in “I Capture The Castle”

I found this film very entertaining. Not only does it have the right romantic and comical elements but it is very picturesque. The old charming castle set in the English countryside makes for a visual treat for fans of period films. Yes, it is not completely light-hearted particularly after Cassandra falls in love with her sister’s fiance and tries to keep her distance. Also the family’s frustration has its moments because the father is unable to support them and idles his time away in his study.

The help hand Stephen (played by Henry Cavill, whom I just discovered is playing the hottie Superman in the upcoming “Man of Steel”) is in love with Cassandra. Hence, there is more than a neat little triangle going on. Simon who fancies Rose, Cassandra who fancies Simon and Stephen who fancies Cassandra.

Henry Cavill as the shy help-hand, Stephen

Henry Cavill as the shy help-hand, Stephen

The hottie Henry Cavill now

The hottie Henry Cavill now

When you watch the film, you’ll easily predict what happens towards the end. However, the final scene remains open. All in all, a charming, satisfactory watch.

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