Me vs. The Gunslinger

It all happened kind of fast. I was in the movie theater with my boyfriend, watching commercials and waiting for the movie to begin. And so appeared the trailer for “The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger.” Oh. My. Lord. Matthew McConaughey. Idris Elba. Fantasy. Dark magic. Oh yes. Please, yes.

Then it took about 17 hours before I had the book in my hands. Because I just couldn’t watch what would appear as a great fantasy movie without reading the book before. Because I heart reading fantasy. But I’ve always had this idea of Stephen King’s’ books. I’ve always thought they’re all about sci-fi and horror, blood and creepy stuff. But as far as I could tell, the Dark Gunslinger was nothing like that. So then it was only natural for me to pick up the book and read away.

But something bothered me straight away. I couldn’t tell quite what it was, however. First off, I’ve only read nice, cute little books for the past couple of months. (Except for David Eddings perhaps, but there’s still a warm, familiar feel to his books.) So when I dived into The Gunslinger, the language threw me off straight away. Talks about tingling in loins and blood spatter shouldn’t bother me as an avid gamer, but for some reason it did. Then, there was the language over all. I’m not an English native (as you might notice) but I’ve never had an issue reading in English before. Until now. The sentences seemed confusing, almost off. And some of the words was like nothing I’ve even heard before, which made me confused whether it was names of places, people or even something that King had completely made up.

But it wasn’t only this I had issues with. There’s things that occurs that makes me loudly go “…what?” with a confused look on my face, my mouth gaping and my palms facing up. “What in the actual…” Then there’s scenes that, even though I’m not conservative in any way, makes me feel slightly uncomfortable.

Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of this story, I can understand its success. Stephen King writes likes nobody else. He follows no rules, but makes it in a way that makes his writing its own fantasy. At times I had to stop to read a sentence a few more times, just because it was so exceptionally written. The way he describes things, are sometimes so beautiful in its way that I got completely lost.

“Roland is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey towards the mysterious Dark Tower, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own. On his quest, Roland begins a friendship with a kid from New York named Jake, encounters an alluring woman and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.”

This is how the back reads, if you want an explanation of the story. All in all, it’s a clever, iconic story. But it’s not made for everyone. I still cannot wait to see the movie, and how they have adapted the book onto the big screen.

“All I Ever Wanted” is almost what I wanted

I’ve never been so mad while reading a book by Lucy Dillon, nor have I ever cried so little. But “All I Ever Wanted” is still magical.

When I ventured into the bookstore I already knew what I wanted: Lucy Dillon. She’s my ultimate go-to when it comes to cute and calm books. If you don’t know Dillon since before, she’s a british romance writer. (Wikipedia says romance, I’d go more towards “cosy chick-lit”. Romance sounds too shallow to describe Dillon’s ever so deep novels.) Dillon’s books usually includes the same things: Dogs, the city of Longhampton, relationships and some life-turning event.

In “All I Ever Wanted,” this event is a divorce which leads to the divorcees young daughter not speaking anymore. The daughter, along with her older brother, then starts spending time with their recently widowed aunt, Eva. This gives the mother, Caitlin, some spare time to think about her life so far. What does she really want from life? And Eva, suddenly having two rowdy kids in her otherwise quiet and lonely life, also starts wondering about that same thing. This very big question fills the women’s lives, along with the constant worry for the young girl and her damaged heart.

“Lucy Dillon’s books make the world a better place.” – HEAT

Both Caitlin and Eva are loveable characters. They’re strong minded, warm women with big hearts and specific personalities. Eva lives a calm life in Longhampton with her two pugs, in a house that are big and quiet. Caitlin was a single mother for the first years of her first born’s life, before her future husband came into the picture. She used to be slightly kooky and free-spirited, loving live music and dancing. But after many years of marriage and caring for her children, she feels like she’s lost herself. My heart was fully invested in following these women and their stories throughout the book. What I wasn’t very invested in however, was Caitlin’s husband.

Patrick, as he’s called, reminds me way too much about my ex and my dad. (Don’t get me started on that connection, please.) Patrick is a workaholic, and seems to miss out on a lot of things regarding the kids, or the family as a whole. Then, he starts blaming Caitlin for things that goes wrong, even though he is the one who’s actually never around. He seems stiff, angry and selfish, with the wrong priorities and the wrong role models. I’ve never been so pissed off at a book character before. At one point, he seems to start guilt tripping Caitlin into thinking something’s her fault, and when she starts agreeing, I was close to tossing my book out the window. Manipulative guys is my ultimate trigger.

But the character of Patrick is a small flaw in an otherwise great novel. You get easily invested in the story and the characters lives, and like any good book you can’t stop reading. As any Lucy Dillon-novel, the story is new and interesting, and leaves you in a thoughtful, emotional bubble for days afterwards. Even though this isn’t my favorite of Lucy Dillon’s novels, it’s still great. It’s the perfect book for a lazy, rainy weekend in the sofa or for a quiet day in the sun in your backyard.

“My Not So Perfect Life” is almost perfect

I love Sophie Kinsella. But after the highly disappointing read of “Shopaholic to the Stars,” I was scared out of my mind about opening her latest book. But after only a chapter or two, I had completely forgotten about the Shopaholic Who Should Be Retired.

Me and Sophie Kinsella go way back, so to speak. My copy of “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is so worn out by the many times I’ve read it, and all of the miles it has traveled with me as a comfort read. But as time has gone by, I’ve looked less and less forward to the Shopaholic series, and instead craved the always amazing stand-alone books Kinsella writes.

And here’s the deal: After reading “Shopaholic to the Stars” I felt… Well, sad, to be honest. Kinsella has always blown me away with her amazingly witty and warm stories that seems to stick to your heart for weeks or months after reading them. But “Shopaholic to the Stars” left me thinking this was an unfortunate continuation of an otherwise good series of books. So when I picked up “My Not So Perfect Life” just a few days ago, I was slightly worried that the bad Shopaholic-vibes would have rubbed off onto Kinsella writing this. But I was worried for nothing. This latest stand-alone book of Kinsellas is straight up wonderful. It’s different, it’s smart and it’s as warm as a hot cup of cocoa on a January night.

I usually don’t like comparison, it’s an awful habit we humans have. But when I read “My Not So Perfect Life” I couldn’t help but think of another book I read not too long ago: Mad About the Boy. In this every so digitalized world, Helen Fielding dragged Bridget Jones into the digital world, and now so did Kinsella with her main character. The problem is, and here comes the worst part of the comparison, While Fielding had Bridget Jones use Twitter as a steam outlet, Kinsella dug way deeper into social media usage. She had her main characters tackle the issue with internet facades on for example Instagram. And, she did it brilliantly.

If you’re still not sold on what to read next, I can tell you what the book’s about. Katie is just below the 30 mark, and is loving her London life. She got a successful job and a nice flat, and she eats at fancy new restaurants and drinks hot chocolate at hip cafées. Or well… Not really. Her Instagram feed tells one story, but her real life is a whole other. The flat she rents is shared with two other people who aren’t really that fun or friendly. And her job isn’t paying well, and it has a horrible boss and tedious assignments. So while Katie is trying really hard to make her life in London work, and hoping one day her dreams will come true, reality hits her right in the… Stomach. She get’s laid off, and then the way to her dreams are even longer than before. So while she tries to get her life back together, she accidentally crosses path with her old boss, the person who shattered her dreams and ruined her life.

So If you are an old Kinsellaholic looking for that old, gooey-good feeling you got from “Remember Me” or “I’ve Got Your Number” then this book is for you. Or, if you’re new to the whole chick-lit deal, this is also for you. It’s easy to read, hard to put down. It’s cute and clever. It’s everything people love about Sophie Kinsella’s books.

Where have Sheila O’Flanagan been my entire life?

When I finished the book, I gently shut it close and laid it down in my lap. My hands were still holding onto it. How had I not read anything by Sheila O’Flanagan before?

Well, I have my excuses. There’s a lot of heartwarming novels out there, and I simply can’t read them all. (Or wait, can I? I need to do some calculations later…) Irish Sheila O’Flanagan has written a lot of books, and is one of the big ones within her genre. So even though I have my excuses, I still feel bad for missing out. Her books, with titles as “Caroline’s Sister” and “Dreaming of a Stranger,” gives off a certain vibe; Cosy chick-lit.

The book that I read is called “My Mother’s Secret.” It’s about three siblings that holds a anniversary party for their parents, inviting all of their friends and family. But at the party the siblings get to know something that kind of turns their lives upside down. Then we get to follow the people involved at the party, but mainly the siblings and the parents. Even though the book is about a big secret, it never gets too dark or sad.

At first glance, the book looked a bit thick. It’s sort of scary, diving into a big book not knowing if you’re gonna plow, or stutter your way through. I didn’t even buy the book, it was a leftover from my mother’s reading adventures. But as I was scouring the bookcases in my parents house, looking for books to adopt, the pink cover of “My Mother’s Secret” peaked my interest and it got to follow me home. And I’m not disappointed. The book always finds a way to keep you interested, whether it is the plot, the interactions or something completely different. Sheila O’Flanagan also managed to keep the characters interesting. Even the side characters who barely makes an appearance has a well thought out personality.

My only issue was trying to keep up with all the different people in the story. There’s the main characters and basically all of their relatives. Then there’s their respective families and exes and their families and pets… Well, there’s a bunch of people with names that all kind of blurred together into a mess à lá my hair in the morning. It might just be me and my messy brain, but I had a hard time keeping track of everyone in the beginning. Towards the middle/end I had a heap of family trees mapped out in my head for every reading session.

So thanks to my mother and her enormous book-collection, I now know where to steer the next time I enter a bookstore. Sheila O’Flanagan has a lot more to show me, and I am so looking forward to it.

A brick wall à la Bridget Jones

I’m a sucker for chick lit. I love the dramatic characters, the gooey romantic gestures and the simple yet charming stories. If it contains some humor as well, I easily finish the book in a day. (Two, if I need to pretend to have a life that particular day.) But earlier this year I found what turned out to be my brick wall in my otherwise so smooth book-ride.

I dragged my finger along the rows of pocket books. I was looking for a familiar name, a fancy looking side or an interesting title. I found some that caught my eye, and I calmly tilted the book forward and read the back. But nothing really got me hooked. Suddenly I found a name which instantly spoke to me: Fielding. The incredible Helen Fielding of the Bridget Jones series. I mean, who hasn’t heard about the charming, british anti-heroine of Bridget Jones? What I had in my hand was latest book in the series: Mad about the boy. The back sounded promising enough, with a Bridget who was now much older and as hopelessly lost as usual, but this time in the new, digital era. I was sold.

But for some reason, I never really got hooked when I read. It was still the same diary style, with awkward life situations and worrying about love, weight and alcohol consumption. But the story seemed empty, almost bland, and there was nothing that really kept me wanting to read more. I don’t mind having a book that isn’t WHAM BAM intriguing from the very start, but I expect something to have gotten me interested after a few chapters. So when I feel myself needing to force myself to read, it’s not a good book.

I loved the early stories of Bridget Jones. She was so awkward, helpless and confused. She was me. And she was so many other young women. She worried about weight loss, cute guys, her career and other things which seems so important at that age. (Or at any age, really…) I bawled my eyes out re-watching the first Bridget Jones movie not long ago. WAAAH I JUST WANT TO BE LOVED TOO! I sniffled and drank the last of my bottle of wine. But this Bridget that we see in Mad about the boy, is not me. Suddenly, the age difference caught up with me. I cannot relate to Bridget’s kids problems, or her dating a guy who’s 30 years younger. (That’s more years than I’ve lived.) So what once sold me into the whole Bridget Jones thing, the relatable part, was now gone. And without that, I struggled immensely to find something to cling onto.

Today I finally managed to finish the book, after multiple pauses to read other things or to just feel annoyed by how disappointed I actually was. The book felt overall too flat, too long and not interesting enough. For any Bridget Jones fan, it’s still a book that should be read. But not without a strong (and possibly drunk) mind and a bunch of friends willing to listen to you whine.