Victoria’s Top Three Halloween Movies

Happy Weekend – Halloween is just around the corner!  In the spirit of the upcoming All Hallows Eve celebrations, I thought I’d blog my top three Halloween movies.  In case you don’t have plans for this wet and chilly Atlanta weekend, these festive films will provide plenty of entertainment.  And since I prefer sweet to scary, my top three are all pretty family friendly.  So make some popcorn, break into that Halloween candy (if you haven’t already), fix a pitcher of margaritas, and get cozy with these three charmers.
 

Hocus Pocus

Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Thora Birch, and Sean Murray
Released: July 16, 1993
Rated: PG
Running Time: 96 minutes
Favourite Quote: “No, no!  He’s a good zombie!”

 

When I first saw Hocus Pocus I was 9 years old.  It had just come out in theatres and I was beyond pumped to go and see it.  Ever since we learned about Salem, Massachusetts and the history of the witch trials that took place there in the 1600s, I was fascinated with all things bewitching.  So, I dragged my Mom and cousin, Ashley, to go and see it.  It still stands as one of my Mom’s favourite movies.  Ashley, on the other hand, got so scared she ran out of the theatre.  Let me be clear, though.  Hocus Pocus is not a scary movie.  It is a Disney movie.  And Ashley is a chicken.  Eighteen years later she still hasn’t seen it all the way through and needless to say, it has become a bit of a family joke.  On All Hallows Eve in 1663 Salem, three local witches lure a young girl out of the village to their cottage in the woods.  Sisters Mary, Sarah, and Winifred Sanderson (played by Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Bette Milder), keep themselves eternally young by sucking the lives out of children.  (I’m making it sound scary again.  I swear it’s not.)  But on this Halloween night, their luck runs out and they are captured by the torch-wielding townspeople and sentenced to hang for their crimes.  As they stand at the gallows, Winifred places a curse on the city of Salem.  On Halloween night, the one night in which spirits can return from the grave.  A virgin will light the magical black flame candle, giving them until dawn to regain their powers.  Amazingly, it takes 300 years for such a virgin to do just that.  And for what reason you might ask?  Oh, you know, to look tough and impress a girl (cause that’s how we roll in 1993).  Max Dennison (Omri Katz), his sister Dani (Thora Birch), and Max’s high school crush Alison (Vinessa Shaw) must keep the children of Salem safe from the witches until dawn’s light can turn the three back into dust.  And since no Halloween movie is complete without a black cat, they are aided by the help of Thackery Binx (NCIS’s Sean Murray), a 17th century Salem boy cursed to live as an adorable talking feline for the rest of eternity.  Although I probably didn’t fully appreciate it at the time (what with being so busy checking out the cute boys), the true star of Hocus Pocus is undeniably Bette Midler.  She sings; she dances; she cracks the best one liners.  Is there anything the woman can’t do?  She is the leader of the terrible coven, the brains behind the operation, allowing Parker and Najimy, in their roles as truly idiotic sidekicks, to provide additional comic relief, which they do well.  Parker, as the boy-crazy youngest sister, also brings a little bit of much needed sex appeal to the group (possibly a good practice round for her role in Sex and the City).  However, as brilliantly funny as Hocus Pocus is, what sticks with me as an adult is the love Max has for his sister and how he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her.  The great balance seems to strike so well between heart and funny bone is rarely shown better than with Hocus Pocus.

 Casper

Starring: Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman
Released: May 26, 1995
Rated: PG
Running Time: 100 minutes
Favourite Quote: “Cinderella wasn’t 12 years old.”

 

Although I can’t claim to have been a fan of the Casper comic books, or even the cartoons, the 1995 film became an instant classic in my house.  I must have watched it every day for two months the summer before 8th grade – and not just because I had a massive crush on Devon Sawa, who makes a surprise appearance at the end of the movie.  After all these years, Casper is still one of those movies I can watch again and again.  The recently widowed Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his teenage daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) travel across the country, moving from city to city where Dr. Harvey works as a psychiatrist for the “living impaired,” hoping one day to discover the ghost of his deceased wife.  After their latest stint in Santé Fe, Dr. Harvey is called to Friendship, Maine where Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty), your typical Cruella de Vil style villain, is trying to rid the supremely cool and supremely creepy Whipstaff Manor of its ghostly inhabitants.  Crittenden and her ridiculous assistant Dibbs (played by Monty Python’s own Eric Idle, are desperate to gain entrance to the haunted mansion to search for the treasure supposedly hidden inside.  As resident troublemakers, ghosts Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso, make it just a little bit difficult for them.  Casper haunts Whipstaff along with his offensive ghostly uncles and, true to form, just wants to make some friends.  Christina Ricci, who performed most of her scenes alone on set, plays the part of Kat wonderfully.  In 1995, when Casper was released, she was undeniably the it-girl of the moment for young adult movies.  I’ve always loved her movies; from the coming of age Now and Then to the lesser known Gold Diggers (don’t worry, it’s not about what it sounds like).  What I think is most remarkable about this modern update is the level of depth the writers, directors, and producers gave to what could have been a mindlessly entertaining storyline.  Casper’s score, composed by James Horner, perfectly reflects the film’s light and dark moments, and we’re surprisingly drawn in by its hauntingly poignancy.  We get more out of the film than just “Casper the friendly ghost.”  We get a sense of what it feels like for him to exist as both a boy and a ghost, long after the death of his parents.  What in the cartoons was his comic search for friends is now a true yearning to be a real boy, able to play and dance and be young.  We also get a realistic view into the loss of a parent and an, albeit lighthearted, understanding of the complexities of death and loss. 

Practical Magic

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, and Dianne Wiest
Released: October 16, 1998
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 103 minutes
Favourite Quote:  “Since when is being a slut a crime in this family?”

 

Over ten years after its release, Practical Magic still holds its dear place as my favourite movie about witches.  Based on the acclaimed novel by Alice Hoffman, it portrays witches just as I believe they exist in real life – as beautiful and self-reliant women who find strength and power in their inherent femininity.  These witches work in their gardens, eat pancakes and brownies, nurture their loved ones, make homemade lotions, and aren’t afraid of laugh lines.  The intuitive magic they possess is the kind I believe can be found in all women.  Following the death of their parents, sisters Sally and Gillian Owens, played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, are sent to live a strange yet cozy life with their two eccentric Aunts.  In the Aunt’s small seaside Massachusetts town the four live as outcasts, rejected by the townspeople, who for generations have gossiped about the mysterious powers of the Owens women and the tendency of their husbands to meet untimely ends.  It seems that in the throes of heartbreak, Sally and Gilly’s ancestor made a vow never to love again.  Her vow soon turned into a curse that any man loved by an Owen’s woman would die.  The elder Sally (Bullock) lives her life in fear of the curse, afraid to love, and rejects her own powers in an attempt to somehow fit in as normal.  Gillian lusts deeply and passionate, but saves her men by never allowing herself to truly fall.  Although the movie is a romance, the real story is of the unbreakable bond between the sisters and, in a way, between all women.  Aunt Frances, played by the still-spicy Stockard Channing, and Aunt Bridget, played by the always sweet and charming Dianne Wiest, bring much needed humour and light to the story.  Where the Sisters make it complicated, the Aunts make it fun.  I always find myself wishing I could be invited to live with the Aunts, planting herbs and mixing potions (and having midnight margaritas!).  Many of the scenes for Practical Magic were filmed in a breathtaking 1850s style Victorian mansion.  Custom built for the movie’s use, it is a spectacular piece of movie architecture and claims a spot on my (large) list of dream homes (right behind every house ever shown in a Nancy Meyers movie).  Sprinkle in great music by the fittingly bewitching Stevie Nicks and Practical Magic absolutely transforms from special into magical.

Book Review: Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris

You can’t get much more topical than a novel whose first chapter begins:

Layoffs were upon us.

Joshua Ferris’s debut novel may have been published in 2007, but feels like present day. The story revolves around a group of office workers who are one-by-one being laid off due to economic woes. In this newly created office atmosphere of doom and gloom, everyone becomes very paranoid, introspective, and slightly crazy. They collectively reflect on the good times, where it all went wrong, and whose chair they actually stole. And then there’s a crazed clown with a gun…

To be blunt, I loved every word and not because it’s perfect. I loved it because I lived it. The life of a cubicle worker who has to track every second of every day to make sure they are billable. Social hours spent in co-workers cubes talking about the most random bits of gossip with an underlying fear of being caught. Having your co-workers replace your family as these are the people you see day-in day-out; these are the people you share your hopes and your fears with because they alone understand. And then you get called into the office and told to go home – forever. You aren’t the first, and you aren’t the last because there was never anything special about you to begin with.

Ferris manages dark comedy quite well. He writes in the second person plural – the narrator is ‘we’. So the reader is also complicit in the gossip, the ups and downs. We only get a brief, but beautiful, section where we alter voice and get inside the head of partner Lynn as she begins her journey through breast cancer – and really, Lynn’s story is worth the entire price of the book. If I have a complaint, it’s that Lynn’s section was written so well that the rest of the novel kind of paled in comparison.

Then We Came to the End can come off a bit pretentious at times. Ferris tries to do a bit too much with his Dickensian cast of characters. But even if you can’t keep Jim straight from Tom, their collective fear of being let go, of starting over is universal and in the end, hopeful. What I took away from this novel was more relief at the fact that I don’t have to go back to that terribly straining and stressful life of a cube worker – that I can escape the soul crushing monotony of doing things that don’t even matter, no matter how scary taking a new path might be. So that when the end of the story comes, you don’t worry about the characters that got out so much as the characters who didn’t.

Beautiful Books

I’m a sucker for a unique book cover especially when they are beyond gorgeous and the Penguin Threads collection meets both criteria!  Jillian Tamaki has designed three new hand-stitched covers for Emma, The Secret Garden, and Black Beauty.  If you like to collect pretty books, these are a must buy.  You can pre-order them on Amazon.com for less than $29 (for all three!) and they qualify for free shipping.  I’ve never clicked add-to-cart so fast!

Go check out Jillian’s blog and learn all the details!

Member Spotlight: Jenn!

What is your earliest (approx.) reading memory? 

My earliest reading memory was when I was little girl and I had a touch and feel book about a cat who lost its blanket. For some reason, I absolutely loved that book.

What are your favorite kinds of books to read?

I really enjoy historical books or historical fiction books that portray a certain era accurately. I could also curl up with the latest chick-drama-filled novel and enjoy it just as much :)

Other than your passion for books, what should members know about you?

I love adventures! I absolutely love to go camping, snorkeling, snowboarding, hiking, rafting, canoeing, you name it. I also love to travel, even though that’s kind of on hault while I finish my schooling. After I get my degree I plan on moving to Seattle, so if anyone has any experience with that area, any information is more than welcome!

Name your favorite restaurant in the Atlanta area (or two or three!).

I have SO many favorites since the boyfriend and I try to visit a new restaurant whenever we go out. I absolutely love Brick Store, Porter, Leon’s full service, Twains, and Saint Augustines for their beer menu. Just recently I discovered Entico, which is an authentic italian pizzeria and it was fantastic. Farmburger has outrageously delicious burgers and parmesan fries. El Myr has a really affordable menu and amazing pork tacos. Front Page News, Panchos, and Six Feet Under have some of my favorite outdoor seating options. Last but not least, my favorite brunch spots are Ria’s Bluebird, Homegrown, and the Highland Bakery. I told you, I LOVE going to new restaurants!

If you could get on a plane bound for anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?

I would go to Kenya! I’ve been itching to go on a true African safari and really seeing all the animals in their natural habitat. I am so enthralled with animals (I have 3 animal tattoos and have plans for many more) and it would be such a unique experience. Maybe I’ll go with Koraline when she’s old enough to appreciate it!

Free Books

When I checked the mail today I was delighted to see this beautiful specimen in my mailbox:

While books showing up in my mail is hardly a rare occurrence, FREE BOOKS almost never happen!  Do I have your attention yet?  Thought so.  I joined goodreads.com many months ago but have just recently discovered the First Reads giveaway section.  Basically, as long as you have a goodreads account (also free), you can enter book giveaways.  There’s no catch either – no dark, ugly side.  You just search through the hundreds of giveaways offered, click join giveaway, enter in your mailing address, and wait for the winners to be announced.  So simple!!  The books really run the literary gamut – and there are several bestselling fiction novels up for grabs.  For instance, I just entered to receive a free copy of Water for Elephants that comes with the movie on DVD (fingers are crossed!).

So what are the odds?  Well, it differs.  Depending on the popularity of the book there are generally a few hundred to a few thousand entries.  Each giveaway also differs in how many books are up for grabs – sometimes only 1 copy, other times 250 copies and everything in between.  Also, there are ways to improve your chances of winning – namely to review the books you do win quickly – pretty simple!

In the 40 or so giveaways I’ve joined, I’ve only won 1 book – but only 20 of my giveaways have chosen winners so far. Each day 10-20 new books are listed.  The entry period generally lasts for a month (give or take) and there really is no downside.  Sign up now!!!  How can you turn down the opportunity to win free books?

October Meetup: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Bianca hosted our meetup for Angela’s Ashes on Sunday – so a big THANK YOU to her for opening her home for the second time.  Also, lots of ladies brought food items which is always appreciated.  For those who couldn’t attend, Kelly made pumpkin cheesecake – be jealous!

The meeting actually started out with a brief discussion of The Mistress’s Revenge.  That book has garnered more conversation than pretty much any other book we’ve read and only a handful of members have read it!  Totally the novel equivalent of a train wreck.  I’m looking to host a mini-meetup/dinner outing to discuss the novel again in January.  You have plenty of time to get a copy and join us!  At next month’s Hedgehog meetup, I’ll let someone borrow my copy!

When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood; the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

We only spent a brief time on Angela’s Ashes as our conversation had a mind of its own.  Everyone loved the novel – many have read Frank McCourt’s other books.  We discussed how this novel is simultaneously desperately gritty and poignantly humorous.  McCourt’s genius lies in his ability to know just when to turn a light-hearted phrase to draw the reader out of tragic circumstances into a place of hope.  Everyone agreed that Frank’s youthful voice was charming, resilient, and honest.  I wonder how the story would have changed if not told through the eyes of a growing child?

For those who have never read the novel, it’s well worth your time.  Not a story to read quickly – make sure you give yourself the ability to slowly soak in the atmosphere, the language, and the brutal reality of abject poverty.

Our conversation briefly touched on another wonderful non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote which I, along with several other members, highly recommend.  Then we discussed world travel, culture, and the city of Atlanta’s identity over time.  We even got a little bit political with talk of districting, education, and race.

With so much socializing, I created a meetup for November 5th purely for socializing.  We’ll be spending a wonderful afternoon on the Front Page News patio so make sure and RSVP over at Meetup.com.  Our November meetup will be The Elegance of the Hedgehog and I look forward to seeing everyone soon!

The Givers and the Cold War Kids Put On a Show

“ATL! Can this venue run on batteries? Power out, damn. Damn!”

So read the Cold War Kid’s official site when I logged on the morning after their unorthodox, spontaneity filled October 13thconcert.  The power outage, which came promptly as the opening band stepped offstage, will probably be the first thing people mention when asked about how the concert was.  Don’t let that fool you, though.  It was a show filled with memorable moments.

To be truly honest, I have to admit that most of the time when I go to a concert I let my impatience get the best of me.  Especially now, dealing with the recent Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) diagnosis and never knowing how long my energy will last, I’m tempted to get straight to the good stuff when I’m out and about.  No dillydallying here, please.  So when we arrived thirty minutes late for the concert and the opening act had yet to start, I was less than pleased.  I (perhaps pessimistically) worried about being exhausted and ready to go before the main event even began.

It was then that I learned the wonder of the Buckhead Theatre and its staff.  After being stuck in a hospital bed for four days and at home for even longer than that, I really wanted to try and make the effort to make it to the show.  So, I called ahead and asked for information about how the newly renovated theatre accommodates people who aren’t able to stand for a full concert (the small balcony has seating, but the downstairs is an open floor plan – yay, dancing space; boo, Victoria might pass out).  The theatre’s manager called me back very promptly and told me they would do what it took to make sure I wouldn’t miss out.  The balcony and its glorious seating was closed for this particular show.  Images of being plopped down in a chair amidst a throbbing crowd of cheering fans may or may not have popped into my head.  But I ventured out anyway and the kindness of the theatre staff made going out for the first time post-diagnosis into the best experience I could have hoped for.  As soon as we got there, the manager herself led us upstairs to the balcony, which James and I ended up having all to ourselves.  We relaxed.  We got romantic (PG stuff).  It was wonderful.

The Givers, from right to left: Nick Stephan, Taylor Guarisco, Josh LeBlanc, Tiffany Lamson, and Kirby Campbell

Cut back to my annoyance with opening bands.  Onstage walked the Givers, a four guy and a girl quintet from Lafayette, Louisiana.  The band’s energy was instantaneous, fueled primarily by an incredibly complimentary set of girl on guy vocals that delivered pure magic.  The feminist in me was pumped.  Female solo musicians are plentiful and wonderful, but there’s just something exciting about a girl in a band, especially playing alongside a group of guys who give her the room to shine while holding their own as talented and passionate musicians.  The band was first formed by the musical bond between lead vocal stars Taylor Guarisco and Tiffany Lamson during their years at the University of Louisiana in New Orleans.  And damn can they put on a joyful and varied ride.  Lamson herself seems to play everything, from tambourine to ukulele to drums.  Her rich, raspy vocals are the perfect balance to Guarisco’s shout-out-loud bellowing.  The band clearly draws inspiration from its roots and invokes its homeland’s Cajun sound.  Behind a beat and sample heavy rush, the Givers’ music is at once light, airy, and tribal in quality, reminiscent of bands that came before.  Think Rusted Root meets Coldplay’s latest efforts brought to you by the label that handles Mumford and Sons.  There’s also a heaping pile of folksy, indie liveliness, an effervescence that makes it almost impossible to not get up and dance (or sit down and smile, in my case).  The kids of the Givers turn their youth into an asset.  Their childish (but not immature) enthusiasm shines through with an excited, all-over-the-place quality that is nothing short of just plain charming.  Having released their first full length album, “In Light,” in early June, we can only hope they maintain their innovation and joy for many albums to come.  If nothing else, they’ve transformed this girl into an opening band convert.  When the power went out after their set, I could have almost gone home a satisfied customer.  The Givers absolutely stole the show.

The Cold War Kids, in no particular order: Jonnie Russell, Nathan Willett, Matt Maust, and Matt Aveiro

Nevertheless, after a few minutes of darkness, CWK lead singer Nathan Willett himself came onstage and managed to subdue a very excited audience enough to explain that we were just going to have to take the sit tight and pray for light solution to the blackout.  Now, I know the Long Beach based foursome is still a relatively small-scale band.  But there was something very endearing about the fact that they didn’t send a lackey out to do the dirty work.  In the end, the band decided, with the help of back-up generators, to go ahead with a stripped-down version of their usually raucous show.  They played their first three songs by candlelight on plush chairs clustered around the front of the stage.  It was a uniquely cool thing to see.  When the power returned, they even opted to take the time to re-set the stage for their full bells-and-whistles show.  Along with well-known crowd favourites, the Kids played some new ones from their January album, “Mine Is Yours,” and did a particularly sweet and moving cover of the classic soul song “That’s How Strong My Love Is.”  Understandably, having the power return in the middle of the set did give the show a disjointed feeling, but you honestly have to appreciate the effort these boys went to in order to make sure their fans got exactly the experience they expected.  “A” for effort, guys.  Indeed, the hype that has built around the Cold War Kids since their humble inception in 2004 can largely be contributed to the web-buzz regaling the brilliance of their live shows.  Lately though, the band’s media attention has turned more controversial than helpful.  Several critics claim the band’s themes, lyrics, and religious backgrounds blatantly brand them much more Christian than indie.  The dreaded categorization seems to have lost them a little of their early appeal with some fans.  But to me, nothing about the Cold War Kids really screams Christian rock.  And even if it did, what could be more natural than artists exploring their own views on morality and spirituality through their work?  Some artists, such as the quirky and poignant Sufjan Stevens and even the wildly popular Kings of Leon, walk the line between Christian and secular flawlessly, with little judgment and even some acclaim for their exploration of religious concepts.   Not liking a band’s music is absolutely one thing; but discounting their work because of possibly religious ties seems unnecessarily limiting.  I dare you to go to Cold War Kids concert and try to take your eyes off Willett, their at once enigmatic and personable vocalist.  Plus any straight-guy band innovative enough to write a song called “Every Man I Fall For,” sung from the first-person perspective of a woman damaged by her relationships with hurtful men, is just plain down with me.  Catch the intensity of the next Cold War Kids live show and I promise the last thing you’ll be thinking about is whether they spend their Sunday mornings on a pew or a barstool.

Member Spotlight: Kelley!

Earliest reading memory:
It would have to be when I was in elementary school (not sure what age I was) when my mother would take me and my older brother to the public library and we would stock up on books for the summer. I would get, maybe 15 books! Or however much the library allowed me to take home at one time. It was a summer tradition. As soon as school let out, off to the library we went. I loved those trips. :)
Favorite kinds of books:
Hmm, this is a toughie. I love fantasy, supernatural, historical, chick-lit, mystery, horror, humor…that’s about it, I think.
Members should know:
That I love the TV show, Supernatural. Jared Padalecki, my future husband. I don’t care if he’s already married…I have faith that we will eventually meet one day and he will fall in love with me on first sight ;) Usually, if plans conflict with a new episode of Supernatural, I’ll cancel plans and settle in to watch my favorite show. Which…is actually kind of pathetic, but oh well.
Favorite restaurant in the Atlanta area:
Uhh…this is a hard one simply because I don’t really go out to eat (broke college grad) and I’m relatively new to the Atlanta area. Plus I’m a picky eater so yeah, that makes it difficult. BUT I will say that since I moved to Dunwoody, I have come across one restaurant in Sandy Springs that I absolutely love. It’s called Roasters and I’m sure y’all already know of it but I had never heard of it until I moved here haha.
Plane bound for anywhere:
I would go to Ireland. My brother went to Ireland for a few weeks during his senior year
of college and he fell in love with the place. And once he told me stories about it and showed me pictures, I also want to go there. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking! Plus, Irish accents, simply awesome according to my brother. I need to win the lottery now so I can go…sigh. Maybe one day!

Meetup: The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen

Our mini-meetup for The Mistress’s Revenge took place at Panera Bread this past Sunday afternoon.  Bianca, Holly, Angela, and I found a nice little spot and dived into the discussion.  And trust me, there was a lot to discuss.  The novel centers around Sally and Clive who have recently ended a five year affair.  Clive is married and Sally has been in a long-term relationship with the same man – both have children.  Clive ends the affair abruptly which sends Sally spiraling into utter madness.

Cohen’s novel is written from a unique perspective – the journal of Sally.  You are along for the journey with our crazy (very seriously crazy) ‘heroine’ as she stalks Clive and his family, deludes herself into believing so many pathetic things, completely abandons her children, and plots her final revenge.  You know she’s crazy which makes her a somewhat unreliable narrator – you never know how truthful she’s being – what details she’s leaving out of her stories – it can make you feel a bit mad yourself.  Or entirely sane!

Our discussion flowed easily – we talked of pity for Sally, for Clive, but mostly for their respective families; we asked whether the genders could be switched – could a man have played Sally’s role?  The twist ending that no one saw coming was perhaps the highlight of the novel for most.  Is Sally vindicated in her revenge – are we satisfied with the outcome?  How would Hollywood portray the story?  Who is to blame?

The novel is by no means high literature.  Revenge is Cohen’s first fiction novel – she’s a journalist, but we all said we’d love to read anything else she writes which is always a great compliment.  And despite the fact that we sometimes found the pacing a bit off, the characters hardly likeable, the cheating utterly despicable – we still LOVED talking about those things.  This novel gets an A+ in the book club discussion wars – so much so that we’ve decided to extend an invitation to the rest of the group to read the novel and join us for another discussion.  That’s a first for the Litwits!

Here’s what some of the other ladies had to say:

Holly says:  Tamar Cohen writes with a knowledge of this type of obsession that is almost scary. While I felt for Sally and at times Clive, it just goes to show that infidelity does not always end without consequences. Quick read and wanted to know more. When I first started this book I noticed that there were no chapters. This book is written as one long journal, with pauses between entries – there are no dates, so the reader really has no idea when the entries are written. The journal is actually more like a letter from Sally to Clive; however, Clive doesn’t know it. The pacing is slower than I would have liked, but the hook and Sally’s witty, insane observations kept me reading. The ending though understated and insidious, as was the suspense, proved interesting with a smart twist at the end that made the reading worth-while.

Allie says:  I can’t think of any scenario in which a person is supposed to feel sorry for a mistress. I don’t know if that was the intent of the book. I hope not. Reading it felt like watching a car accident. You look but you know you shouldn’t. I kept waiting for the “big moment” to happen as far as her revenge but how it ended felt like something that’s been done before in movies and TV. This mistress had no right to seek revenge. She was just as wrong as the man. Actually, she was worse because she showed no regard for her children after the affair ended.

Bianca says:  Reading Revenge was like sitting next to the main character on an insane roller coaster. You see what she sees, you know what’s going to happen and you hear her screaming the whole way. You also want to scream at her. Repeatedly. Yes, cheating is despicable. Yes, you hate her. Yes, you hate him too. But the writing of this novel drags you kicking and screaming into the mind of a completely insane woman and forces you to experience the dark, twisty tunnels of her mind. You want so badly for her to snap out of it, even though her character is so unlovable. The writer forces you to feel so much, both for the various characters (except Clive. He remains a jerk for everyone.) and your own emotions, which come out pretty intensely. The kicker is the twist ending. Completely unexpected and completely perfect.

Book Review: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I’m so behind on book blogging.  Too many episodes of Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and perhaps a couple of times through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1!  Alas, the books on my table that have been read and tossed aside with nary a review are beginning to add up.  So I’m going to wing it!

Seven Gables was written in 1851 – a classic! – by Mr. Hawthorne who also penned The Scarlet Letter (another fave!).  I’ve always loved Hawthorne and his Romances!  No, this book isn’t a love story – it’s a Romance (the capital R makes all the difference).  Romances are generally stories that transcend Realism – generally through fantastic or supernatural elements like ghosts, spirits, and other such fun frights.

The story is really quite simple – an old family builds a huge house in Salem, Mass. and commit some dastardly deeds that come back to haunt their family several generations into the future.  That pesky past is always trying to ruin the future, isn’t it?

Hawthorne’s prose is beautiful and complex, but the story filled with murder, secrets, hiding places, and other intrigue tend to make the reading a bit easier.  Plus, you can actually visit The House of the Seven Gables in Salem.  I did!!  The story is only fiction (don’t get too excited), but Hawthorne’s cousin really did live in the house once upon a time.  Hawthorne himself was born just down the street from Seven Gables, but they’ve since relocated his childhood home to live right next door to Seven Gables – you can visit that too!!  I love when literature comes alive.  We took some pictures, check them out:

That’s the House of the Seven Gables – a really fun house to tour because they have crazy hidden staircases that you are actually able to climb – and I do mean climb.

That’s Hawthorne’s birthplace.  A much more basic sort of house, but filled with literary genius.  I was hoping that something would rub off on me and I’d leave to write the world’s greatest literary marvel – not so much.

Go visit Salem!  In addition to the literary splendors above, they have witch museums and really cool old graveyards. The coast is beautiful and Boston is just a hop, skip, and jump away.