4.15.2014

Fangirl | The If I Stay Trailer


Dear Blue,

As usual, I never go looking for book to movie trailers, they always just find me, and Blue, I want to cry. As much as the novel didn't affect me as much as I wanted it too, I was excited at the possibility of a film, and judging from this trailer, I wasn't wrong. This trailer is so beautiful, emotional, lovely, and I really want to bawl now. I loved Adam pasting the ceiling of Julliard to her bedroom ceiling...how wonderful is that? The surgeon whispering in Mia's ear, flashes of her life...perfect.

They seem to have captured the bits I loved about the novel, with all the heart I wish I felt whilst reading. Also, very awesome placement of the song Say Something.

It's the perfect August movie.

Loads of love,

Britta


"There's still lots of good in the world." Book Review | The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

 photo The-Outsiders-Cover_zps599ca5dd.jpg
Ponyboy can count on his brothers and his friends, but not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids who get away with everything, including beating up greasers like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect--until the night someone takes things too far. Written forty-five years ago, S. E. Hinton's classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was written.


Dear Blue,

I've just finished reading The Outsiders and I'm pretty speechless. This is one of those novels where everything I'll say has probably been said before, but it's universal resonance makes me feel more connected with you. With that in mind...

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is about two groups of boys, The Greasers, from the working class, and The Socs, from the upper class. It's about Ponyboy, his two brothers, Dally and Sodapop, and their entire crew--how they deal with vicious ridicule from the Socs. Ponyboy is a fourteen year old dreamer, fitting himself into the mold of the Greaser because he was born into it, but he has a mind un-tethered by the chains that often keep other Greasers running the streets. In a conversational style, S.E. Hinton showcases bullying and what it means to rise above, through Ponyboy's point of view, and I loved every second of it. Each word stuck to me, each joy, and unfortunate growing pain. 

Firstly, The Outsiders surprised me for a novel birthed in the sixties. S.E. Hinton showcases bullying in such a tremendously raw way that I was totally not expecting. I think there are novels of present that lack this kind of naked exploration, and I really appreciated it. The way Hinton explores what it means to be in a brotherhood through Pony, his brothers and their friends is priceless. It was one of the best parts of this novel. It reminded me that sometimes I don't appreciate my own friends and family the way that they should be. Their relationships were so emotional, and I loved that Hinton is unafraid of depicting masculinity so vulnerably. 

Secondly, I loved that each character seemed fully fleshed, and adequate personifications of conflict, courage, youth, strength, and innocence. There isn't a single character that I couldn't sympathize with, and the end is well...too much to handle. 

I remember being ridiculed in middle school and high school. How hopeless you feel when you can't change the thing that they've chosen to highlight because it's a part of you. But the beauty hidden in the shadows of high school, is if you're paying attention, there's always a kid who's forced to fit their small feet into the loafers of an adult. A kid who almost seems immune to the childishness of bullying because the world, the real world, is above it all. The best parts of the novel are the bits where kids from each side of the fence start to question their reasoning for hating the other, and open up about the catch 22's of each sides. How each side can eventually add up to the same sum= a person void of wonder and humanity. If you lose your childlike wonder for life and people, what else is there? This novel holds the best parts of what it means to be young, to be passionate, and to stick close by your family (which has nothing to do with blood).

Bare in Mind: The Outsiders contains violence and bullying.

I can't tell you how ecstatic I am not to have been forced to read this in school. I think that sometimes there's a nugget of awesomeness that we miss when something profound is forced on us. The Outsiders is a beautiful novel, and it deserves all of the praise it's received over the years. I haven't seen the film yet, but I already hope they make a remake. I'd love to see how our generation would spin this story.


 photo 21e09db426e46a2a4dc114ea13d61785.jpg
Let's head to Johnny Rockets and talk this over over Oreo Milkshakes.

P.S.- Oh My Gosh, Johnny. *Wails and sits in a dark corner for a while*

P.S.S.- The fact that Ponyboy and Sodapop's real names are Ponyboy and Sodapop makes me seriously want to name my own sons (God Willing) these epic names. Maybe I'll just start with my Tumblr moniker.

3.29.2014

"It gave her a feeling of her own power, to make something practical and beautiful just by using her own skills and creativity. It inspired her." Book Review | The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

 photo 4865f79748262a9e93c7d78c673628fd_zps3c6428e8.jpg
Once a week, an eclectic group of women comes together at a New York City yarn shop to work on their latest projects—and share the stories of their lives… At the center of Walker and Daughter is the shop’s owner, Georgia, who is overwhelmed with juggling the store and single-handedly raising her teenage daughter. Happy to escape the demands of her life, she looks forward to her Friday Night Knitting Club, where she and her friends—Anita, Peri, Darwin, Lucie, and KC—exchange knitting tips, jokes, and their deepest secrets. But when the man who once broke Georgia’s heart suddenly shows up, demanding a role in their daughter’s life, her world is shattered. Luckily, Georgia’s friends are there for encouragement, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle-making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they’ve created isn’t just a knitting club: it’s a sisterhood.




Dear Blue,

In a sea of deadpans and sarcasm, sometimes we need a potent dose of heart, one of those stories that hits you like cupid's arrow. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs is your very own prescription to laugh and crumble under your fair share of tears. Maybe even start a knitting club of your own!

The Friday Night Knitting Club tells the story of Georgia Walker, a single mother and owner of Walker and Daughter, a small knitting shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Through the store's weekly knitting club, we meet Georgia's ambitious preteen daughter, Dakota, sophisticated mentor and mother figure, Anita, up and coming fashion designer, Peri, producer, Lucie, and Darwin, a graduate student currently writing her dissertation on the reemergence of knitting in women's lives. We also meet a plethora of other intriguing characters like Cat, Georgia's high school best friend, and James, the man who broke her heart years before.

To sum it up, I think that this novel is like an ABC Family/Hallmark Channel movie that you shrug off, but once you end up giving in, you feel lighthearted and overly emotional. At times, Kate Jacobs' writing can become a bit formulaic, the plot lines a little obvious, however she is a master of crafting characters who shine so fully that nothing else matters. I loved 'meeting' these characters, learning their stories, and journeying with them through their struggles. I especially loved Georgia's strength, and her ability to persevere when she could have run crawling back to her parents. How cool would it be to own a knitting shop right in the heart of the city? As much as I love the way I can meet people online and fangirl over our favorite things, it would be awesome to have a place to chat over these things in real time.

What I loved most was the use of knitting as a conduit for friendship, for self discovery, and for accomplishment. Whether each character succeeds at their own personal knitting projects or not, it's amazing that something like knitting can create an atmosphere of healing. In the midst of such pivotal moments, Kate Jacobs sprinkles knitting nuggets of wisdom throughout, including a pattern and recipe at the end of the novel.

Bare in mind: The Friday Night Knitting Club contains slight profanity and adult content.

Sometimes we don't need a literary treatise. Sometimes we need a good story with great characters to lift our spirits. This novel may just be the hug, and warm cup of tea that you need. It sure was for me.

           photo d1c5b85af5372cddba1ed5a24a147f45.jpg
Lets take a trip to Lion Brand Studio and rave about this over a couple of Scottish Morn's.

P.S. Remember my letter where I raved about Katniss' fashions in Catching Fire, and posted a passing thought that I might learn to knit her cowl? Well, I'm ecstatic to tell you that I totally succeeded in that goal. And in less time than I thought was possible. The story of my knitting journey's coming soon, Blue!

Hugs and love,

Britta


3.27.2014

The Giver Trailer


Dear Blue,

I've a very off the cuff letter for you today. I learned from PolandBananasBooks that The Giver trailer came out, and I got really excited for a second. And then I saw the trailer. *Blinks*
...
*Sighs*

First of all, it's filmed in color. And while this is most likely the least of our worries, that's one of the major facets of the novel. That's a pet peeve of mine. Seeing Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges excited me, but yeah, I just don't see it delivering the impact of the novel. It's just very obvious and a little strange. It screams "Hark! DYSTOPIAN SOCIETY COMING YOUR WAY!!!."As Christine pointed out, it kind of looks like The Host. What's with the spaceship at the end of it? That shot irritates me the most.

This gives me that uncomfortable feeling I always get when books I love are adapted, and become something the world sees as ridiculous because of a bad adaptation. Granted, I will probably still go see it. I just really hate that it seems like the film industry feels the need to add "unnecessaries" instead of keeping the novel as it is (as much as possible). I know everything doesn't adapt to screen well, but what is up with that spaceship?

Why????

I do however love the snapshots of the young woman telling them what's wrong with the society. Those will probably be powerful. I'll watch it to see Taylor as Rosemary. I think she'll be lovely. Jonas' encounters with the Giver are pretty cool.

But please...It just feels like Hollywood knows how much the world loves dystopian novels, and will now seek to bleed the genre dry.

What do you think of the trailer?

Hugs and Love,

Britta

3.23.2014

Glass House

 photo db72b65c-54b7-4e12-ae8c-9dbef60907e6_Nick-Lilah-1_zps359395f9.jpeg
{SOURCE}
Dear Blue,

If you're on Tumblr, I'm sure you might have scrolled past a picture of a looming glass house full of windows. I had for a long while, until I finally clicked the photo, which led me to an article on Yahoo as well as a documentary about the two artists, Nick Olsen and Lilah Horwitz, who decided to quit their day jobs and build a house on their family land. Not only did they succeed in making one of the dreamiest living spaces imaginable, they did it with only $500 and determination, hoarding old-fashioned window frames from antediluvian barns or yard sales they happened to come across.

Can you imagine driving up a long stretching lane, and parking your car in front of your own glass house, nestled in green, with only the sound of the wind and crickets to score your night? The artists' say that the house sets fire as the sun slides beneath the earth. To be sheathed in amber every evening and every morning; How lovely does that sound? They wanted to build a house that wouldn't isolate the sunset to one room. 

As much of a city dweller as I am, whenever I think of my future family, midnight's with the man who'll be my husband, or reading, or writing, my mind comes back to something natural. Something so pure is a little frightening, because it's free of distractions. Free of the constant *dinging* of our smart phones, or the temptation to keep yourself busy with Twitter or Tumblr or Apps galore. But purity is also a calling home. the exact place that God wants you so you can finally connect with Him, instead of all these things.

On an artistic side, these two insane people decided to build a huge house with their own hands. The thought of building a conventional house seems daunting, but to design and create your own house, it's own foundation that you used your own hands to lay? How brilliant! Lilah explained that that she never thought she could build something so massive, and in the act of building it, she realizes that she can do anything. 

I think that's what I'm learning about my novel, and my many fears that it won't amount to what I imagined it would. This life is about the process of things. The end result is wonderful, and there's a calming breeze that comes with succeeding. But you can't succeed without the doing. If Lilah and Nick thought about this house for years, but fought with themselves over how unconventional it is, they wouldn't have this beautiful dwelling, and we wouldn't be able to celebrate with them.

So as you move forward in all of your various projects, or even if this is the week you decide to get those newborn goals onto a sheet of paper, I encourage you to move childlike, push everything aside, and live in the process.

Loads of  Love,

Britta

P.S.- The books are coming, I promise. I've had the most distracted reading year ever. It's been very hard to get into one novel and stick to it, but I'm working on it. I'm in the middle of reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quinones, and 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Soon coming :-).


3.15.2014

Querencia

 photo DSC006762_zpsc4e9b00d.jpg
ND Tunes | Better Now by The Vespers
QUERENCIA | Spanish. A place from which one's strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self.

Dear Blue,

       I'm so excited, and do you know why? Two weeks ago I was offered a position in the Japanese bank that I've been temping at for almost two years. Yesterday, I received the first fruits of my labor that had me thanking God as I walked through Grand Central, Justin Timberlake's Take Back The Night blaring through my headphones.

    Whilst uploading this brand spankin' new layout, I caught a glimpse of my Google Profile. It hasn't been updated since I started at twenty four years old. Seeing your 'five years ago' self is always sentimental, a bit humorous with my bow headband and curved bob. I had just graduated college, and had my sights set on a small town in Wales, and taking the publishing world by storm with words that had been whirring through my mind like the wind in March where Winter's trying it's hardest to stay relevant. I tinkered with online presences back then, finding at times that I was open enough to be myself, and other times looking for a spoon-fed way to become famous off of my mental meanderings about God and dreams and books. 

Now I realize, I just wanted a home outside of my parent's house, a querencia, where I felt free to feel out of control on my crazy days, and confident on my best. Where I felt validated.

I'm my own cabinet of curiosities filled with new books, and an iPod full of music worlds apart. My heart still steeps in London, and I think of storytelling more than the one man who might walk in and change my life. I value love above all else, and seek after a romantic lifestyle filled with light flares and cinematic overtures. I sing, and I also keep my voice hidden a lot. I can be cheesy, and classic and old fashioned, and I've never been more confident about the quirky bits of myself than I am right now. And it is with all this in mind that I change the course of these letters in time for Spring.

I love books, and I'll continue to write love letters to my latest great read because I can't help it! But I'll include it with excerpts of short stories I've written, to get my confidence up enough to send work out into the world; Ecstatic moments to make you smile about life; Dabbles in Knitting and Cooking and whatever other splendid thing I try out. 

I love Jesus, and although I've gone through the growing pains that come with spiritual maturity, I want to talk to you about Him. The butterflies I feel in my stomach when I read Hosea 2, and realize that God isn't put off when I think I'm fine on my own--that only makes His chase fiercer; His love for you that much more powerful.

In his book, Show Your Work, Austin Kleon encourages us to document our lives, our loves, the things that inspire you to wake up every morning and make the best of what you've been given. I'd like to finish this journey I started when I was twenty-four, and I invite you to take the ride with me, Blue.

Hugs and love,

Britta

2.16.2014

Winter's Tale | In Defense of Sentimentality

 photo 20823568_winters_tale_2014-1280x720_zps7ee34ae7.jpg

Dear Blue,

I'm so sorry that I haven't written in a long while. It's really Winter's Tale' fault. When I first watched the trailer, I was stunned at the stark emotion flooding from Colin Farrell's eyes. I think it's rare to find this kind of unabashed emotion flowing from someone else, and it immediately drove me to discover more about the story. And then I discovered that Winter's Tale was adapted from a novel...don't tell me that a film was adapted from a novel, because I'll make it my mission. What I discovered was a 700+ page (exquisitely written) monolith that tells a simple (or not so simple) love story rooted to complex and even lofty ideas of love, justice, faith and purpose that really astounds me. But more on that later, as I haven't finished the novel yet.

I saw the film yesterday, and I thought I'd take a moment to write you about what has amazed me most (so far) about unabashed sentimentality.

If you decide to read Winter's Tale or watch the film (I do recommend both), you'll discover that the main protagonist, Peter Lake, has a heart the size of the Atlantic ocean. He's an orphan who has, unfortunately, been thrust into quite a few unsavory scenarios in a seeming unforgiving Edwardian New York City, via the crazed Pearly Somes. But his heart somehow remains pure, in that he wants what everyone wants: to discover his purpose, to love and be loved, and to stand up for the justice of the impoverished. When Peter meets Beverly, a young woman with consumption, his purpose cracks wide open in a split second, and they are unafraid to immediately plunge into the kind of love that can put off some in this generation. Perhaps, it's Beverly's precarious situation that renders them unwilling to be bothered with pretensions and games of their feelings. Peter and Beverly's love for each other, beautifully portrayed by Mr. Farrell and Ms. Findlay, is a wonder to behold. It immediately seems plausible that their love and care for each other's welfare is genuine. A few people have reviewed the love portrayed in the film as naive, unbelievable, or cliche. I don't argue against those, as everyone has their own preference. But my question is, what is real love, if not an unabashedly naked naivety that exposes all of the uncomfortable bits we've all been made to feel are childish?

I think that sometimes the world can seem so harrowing, that we retreat into a fortress within ourselves, where a voice says, "Stand Strong. Don't cry. Always be a step ahead of everyone else. Never show weakness. Never show them how you really feel." When we see the opposite of these emotions played out, it can feel absolutely ridiculous. It's all a risk. Every single layer of love seems as if it were designed to be the nuclear bomb to our defenses. It's sticky, warm, and shakes us out of our caricatures, and into our true selves, which can be unnerving. But consider that continuing to love, to be tender and open in a war zone of a world, holds more courage than artificial stoicism. When did we start believing that apathy is worth aspiring to? If love weren't like this, what would be worth the fight? If it didn't so expose who we think we are as lies, what would be the point?

In defense of sentimentality in storytelling, I say, yes, there are loads of manufactured stories of love at first sight. By all means, stay away from those. But there are some stories that are real. Some that are possible in real life with God fashioning it. Sometimes watching them, or reading about them may make you laugh, or roll your eyes. But even that doesn't make them any less possible.

If I've taken nothing else from this novel/film, it's that for all of us, truly awe inspiring things are possible, but the hard and even cliched answer is, you must have faith for any of these things to come true.

If you've seen or read Winter's Tale, what did you think of them (no spoilers, as I'm only 300 pages into the novel :-)?

Loads of Love,
Novel Days. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.