An Interview with the MVBClub’s Susan K.

Recently I interviewed the MVBClub’s Susan K. It proved to be an entertaining as well as informative experience.

1. What are your favorite genres of books to read?

I absolutely love the 17/18th century English genre of books. Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters are by far my favorites. These young ladies were talented beyond their years and wrote only about a world they knew. Because of their literary works, I wanted to be a writer too and became an avid reader.

2. What do you enjoy most about reading books, plays etc?

I enjoy the mental escape of books, literature and theatre. They teach me to use my imagination, to increase my vocabulary and help me to look at the world and its people with an open mind.

3. Do you have a favorite author or authors? If so who are they?

My favorite authors female: Jane Austen, Bronte Sisters. Male: Shakespeare, CS Lewis, F.S Fitzgerald and the poetry of Maya Angelou

4. How has your favorite author or authors influenced your everyday life?

They have taught me propriety, social grace and even the proper interactions between the sexes. The relationships that we have between men and women have never changed. We all long for love and a balanced life.

5. Since you are an avid reader which do you prefer: paper books or ebooks?

I have a hard time reading books online or via ebooks. I find I cant get the feel of the book. I love the touch of paper and oh my do I eat my books. Don’t worry not literally but I always make notes, underlined, fold, flip and spill something on them. It’s why I buy all my books. I never borrow. They will never return the way they were originally given..haha

6. How did you become involved with the MVBCLUB?

I was invited by good friends that I met on Twitter. There was a guy that loved books but found that other men didn’t share his joy. So together, us girls and two men have come together to write and be apart of the club.

7. What is your favorite aspect of belonging to the MVBCLUB?

I love reading, so I enjoy reading the different aspects and views of each of the members. But I love the most, our friendship. We work well together and love how even though we live in different countries, we are the closest of friends.

8. What type of stories do you like to write?

I like young adult stories. I like to write stories where they use their imagination yet still learn valuable lessons and principles. I am not into stories that use profanity, sex or things that will frighten the youth. They have the news for that. I like to write stories that will give them a world that is always safe

9. Can you tell us more about your burgeoning writing career?

I have written a 10 part series of young adult short stories. They are like fables where lessons are learned and there is always a moral to the story. The book series are with editors and are being put together as we speak. I took some time off due some family circumstances. We hope to have the first series published by Winter 2014. I am so excited!

10. Lastly are there any book recommendations and/or writing tips you could offer to our readers?

1. Write what you know and love.

2. Carry a writing pad with you at all times.

3. Edit, edit, edit

The MVBClub would like to thank Susan for taking the time out of her busy schedule for our interview. As always it was a great time.

DP~MVBCLUB

The Great Gatsby: The Book, The Movie, & The Values by Prima Santika

When I heard that Baz Luhrmann was taking on this classic novel into his production, I was thrilled with great expectations. And to put a long story short, after seeing the movie at its first day screening in Indonesia, May 17th 2013, I walked out from the cinema with a GREAT satisfaction. Baz Luhrmann did a remarkable job! I do LOVE the movie!

Now, I understand that some critics might have opposite opinions about it, from the movie’s delayed release date on Christmas last year, the suspicions that Luhrmann’s adaptation MUST be “style over substance” especially with the use of 3D and hiphop music for this 1920s drama, to the recent event regarding the divided acceptance from the audience after seeing it as the opening film in The 66th Cannes Film Festival 2013. So, with all those stuffs [and even more] going on surrounding this movie, I personally can only say this: everybody is free to speak what they FEEL! After all, it’s ART! Just like books, or music, or paintings. You like it, you buy it. And if you don’t, that’s fine, everyone has preference. As simple as that, I think.

Anyhow, let’s now talk about THE GREAT GATSBY: the book, the movies, and the values. First of all, if you should know me, I’m a Jane Austen kind of guy. So this F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story is not really my cup of tea. It’s not heartwarming enough for my usual reading material. However, after seeing the movie, I had an urge to read it in order to get the original pattern of the story. And also, I looked back to my video collection, trying to find the 1974 adaptation of the novel, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. I found it, and then saw it again right away. So here’s what I FEEL.

THE BOOK

The book contains nine chapters. Set in New York, in the period so called “The Roaring Twenties” after the World War One, the book is narrated by a guy named Nick Carraway. He’s just moved to the area called West Egg in Long Island near New York city where he works selling bonds. He rents a small house just next door to the big house that belongs to a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who throws great parties all summer. Being new in New York way of living, throughout the book Nick has to experience things beyond his ordinary living theme. This will eventually be the implementation to the advice his father once gave him, written in the first page of the novel, that sets the character of Nick as a reliable person in keeping secrets, and not easily falls into judgment in observing people.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in the world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Among the things he experienced, is to see that for a guy named Gatsby, love indeed never dies. Gatsby was in love with his cousin Daisy five years earlier before the war. After a considerably long time of waiting, Daisy then married Tom. But Tom is a bad husband who cheats on her many times. Although she knows her husband’s bad habit, she still lives with him anyway in a big house at East Egg with their one little daughter. On the other hand, Gatsby has made his fortune and becomes a rich man. He deliberately buys a house at West Egg so that he can live across the bay from where Daisy lives, and he throws open parties hoping Daisy would come someday, but she never appears.

That’s just how much love Gatsby has in store for Daisy, from a penniless boy to becoming a rich man, just to be her equal in order to marry her someday. Nick then happens to be the bridge that reunites the two, where he witnesses the grand love they have for each other. But Gatsby wants too much love from Daisy that she can’t possibly give him. She can’t repeat the past, now that she’s married to Tom and can’t easily leave him. But Gatsby never gives up on his dream to marry Daisy APPROPRIATELY, until one tragic event happens to him and puts a stop at everything.

From Nick’s point of view, the world in New York where he lives is full of hypocrite people, from the party goers, to the public figures, and even to his cousin Daisy who can’t pay respect to Gatsby who loves her that much. Nick even has to loose Jordan, the woman he’s attracted to, only because he’s fed up with everything else that’s going on around him. On the other side, Gatsby is the only person he sees as kind and true. He may be doing dirty business and lying about who he really is, but Nick highly values the purity of Gatsby’s love to Daisy and how Gatsby treats Nick as a friend. At the end, he’s fed up with New York lifestyle and moves elsewhere.

THE MOVIES

Actually, I have seen three adaptations of the book. The 1974 movie starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, the 2000 telemovie starring Toby Stephens and Mira Sorvino and Paul Rudd as Nick, and then the latest piece in 2013 made by my favorite Director Baz Luhrmann, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. They probably shone in their own time, but of course for me the latest one is by far the brightest. I even can’t see the possibility in another decade or two, that one will do the remake of this book again – especially into the big screen – after the lavish adaptation Baz Luhrmann just did. It’s so over the top in both visual and character projection, that Hollywood will not dare to remake it back again into “just another drama movie”.

Now I’m not only talking about the use of 3D and the music from Jay-Z, which effectively marvel the whole package of the movie. No, not only that! It’s also about the cleverness of the screenplay to stay true to the book, yet it makes the most contrast coloring in every scene and character. The dramatization is fantastic! You don’t have to guess what they feel, it’s shown. When Baz wants a scene to be vulgar and disgusting yet contemplative to Nick, he made it clear that it is so, like the scene where there’s a small party in an apartment in New York. You can perfectly sense that Nick is not happy with the vulgarity, and to contrast his feeling, there’s a scene written in the book about his contemplation of the New York life that Baz delivers perfectly. This scene was not projected in 1974 adaptation. At the end of the movie you will “completely” understand the idea of how revolting New York life is for Nick. And when Baz wants an extravaganza party in a Long Island majestic house of Gatsby’s, you don’t question his capability of him doing so. It’s simply magnificent! And last but not least, the romance. It’s drop dead gorgeous! The glamor of the twenties, the big houses, the flying curtains, the white roses, everything is worked up to the most! It’s a perfect date-movie although it ends tragically.

Each character is given their scenes to show their parts. It’s a well-acted movie, especially for Leonardo DiCaprio who I think is born to play Gatsby. I don’t talk about Oscar potential here for any actor in this movie, but I assure you that nobody’s acting badly. And compared to other adaptations, I can understand Gatsby better in this movie. Leo and the screenplay and the cinematography, have made a clear vision to Gatsby’s foolishness, kindness, and obsession for love.

The only thing omitted from the book in this movie is the coming of Gatsby’s father towards the end of the book. From my personal point of view, it has little to do with the whole story. If any, it’s only adding to the greater Gatsby as we already know him to be, for he acknowledges his duty to his parents by making up to them while he’s all rich and successful. Baz’s decision to omit this part is fair enough, considering the movie runs already long enough for about 140 minutes without it. He also might consider to avoid the longer anticlimax after the story has reached it’s peak at the tragedy.

Given all the above splendors in every aspect, I think it’s a perfect movie in regard to understanding a classic literature. It’s certainly effective in conveying the old stuffy classic novel to the younger generation. And the fact that it was launched in summer among the big blockbuster movies like Ironman and Startrek, I think it shows the optimism that this “drama” movie is indeed fun to watch.

THE VALUES

In reading a book or seeing a movie, I think it’s important that we gain value out of them, the good ones or the bad ones. By doing that, we will enrich ourselves with more sensitivity to whatever happen in our lives and in the world. We can broaden our point of view and sharpen our judgment , that eventually lead to a better wisdom. I used to do it easily from Jane Austen books, so much so that I made a novel about it. Now, with this story that’s not very Austenesque, I will try to point out some pointers.

Love never dies, especially for Gatsby. Now, if I were seeing this movie in my twenties when I experienced my first love, I probably would’ve gone THAT far to claim back my love for a girl who got away. But seeing it in my age turning fourty, I can only say that it is a foolish act. What Gatsby lacks of is the ability of LETTING GO, although it’s clear that he is a kind and loving person. He believes that he can get Daisy’s love for him just as much as it used to be. He doesn’t count that life has happened for Daisy in the course of five years they’ve been parted. She’s married! And MARRIAGE is a whole different perspective compared to LOVE. Gatsby doesn’t understand that.

On the other hand, Daisy is a “beautiful little fool”, just like the phrase she uses in wishing her daughter someday would be. However, the mirror has two faces, the coin has a head and a tail. For her own good life, Daisy is the one who can easily do the LETTING GO of her despair. She loves Gatsby so terribly, and even almost cancels her wedding with Tom upon receiving a letter from Gatsby one day before it. But when she’s back from the honeymoon, she’s desperately in love with her husband. Now, as much as this sounds rude, fool and heartless of Daisy, to easily convert her love from Gatsby to Tom, I personally think that trying your best to love the one you’re married to is the wisest thing to do. Everybody has some past that sometimes we need to put aside. Not because we hate the past, but more importantly because we understand that sometimes what’s past has no consequence to the future we’re about to build. Unfortunately, Tom is a bad husband compared to Gatsby, so people will easily judge Daisy as a fool for staying with Tom, rather than a wise person who’s trying to save her marriage.

Well, everyone, that’s what I FEEL about THE GREAT GATSBY. The current movie is definitely a lovely sight to see, and the book is a classic you need to read. And at the end of the book, as also spoken in the movie, we all should learn one thing from Gatsby, that whatever happen you should never give up on your dream and regain happiness you once had in your past. Just make sure that you do it the right way and for a good purpose.

“…tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther, and one fine morning…so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Thank you to our good friend Prima Santika for guest blogging for us. Please make sure to leave a comment letting us know what you thought of his lovely post. Thank you in advance.

DP~MVBCLUB

The Great Gatsby Film Review

I saw The Great Gatsby last weekend. It was definitely worth the price of admission. Normally, I don’t read reviews, but I was curious to see what the film critics thought of it. And if it would do the F.Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece justice. Despite the mixed reviews I was thoroughly entertained and impressed that Baz Luhrmann was able to pull off such a visually stunning, lavish, fun movie without watering down the themes of the story.

Baz Luhrmann, whose previous films Moulin Rouge and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, showcased his ability to incorporate pop music with classic stories. This time Baz Luhrmann used hip hop music which caused a lot of controversy before the film opened. However I didn’t find the music to be the least bit distracting at all instead it worked well with the scenes in which they were placed.

When I first learned of this latest remake of The Great Gatsby, I was curious to see how Leonardo Di Caprio would be as the mysterious self made millionaire Jay Gatsby. Not surprisely Leonardo Di Caprio disappeared into the role of Jay Gatsby with such ease that it is almost easy to forget this was an actor playing a role. As a matter of fact I was quite happy with the casting choices for Daisy, Tom, Jordan, and Tobey. I felt they all worked well together. The only issues I had with the film were the underdevelopment of the relationship between Nick and Jordan as it was in the book, and the miscast of Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson. I am guessing that Baz Luhrmann was trying to save time by not further exploring the Nick/Jordan relationship any more than he did. As for the character of Myrtle Fisher, I thought that Christina Hendricks,from the tv series Mad Men, would have been a better choice in my opinion. Simply because Christina Hendricks fit the description from the book and could do the character better justice than Isla Fisher did.

Last but not least major kudos to Catherine Martin who was responsible for the costumes. She absolutely got every detail right. All the suits and dresses were elegant, flirty, and fun. Hopefully we will see more of Gatsby’s twenties fashions as the new trend in the upcoming months.

Have you seen The Great Gatsby? We would like to know. Please kind enough to leave a comment to let us know what you thought of it.

DP~MVBCLUB

Anticipation for The Great Gatsby Film Release

Happy Friday everyone. The Great Gatsby film is finally here. I have been excited to see this film since I saw the trailers last summer. So far I have been reading mixed reviews. However I am going to see it myself rather than relying just on the opinions of others. I must give a lot of credit to the Warner Bros marketing department for a fantastic promotional campaign. It has been great seeing all different adds highlighting The Great Gatsby film as well as the book. I won’t be seeing the film until tomorrow. I will definitely writing my review. Until I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend.

If anyone else is seeing it this weekend let us know what you think of the film and the book. Thanks

DP~MVBCLUB

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Looking for a great historical romance to read this spring? The American Heiress is the book for you. The story centers around Cora Cash- the richest girl in America. She has the charm, the beauty, and envy of her fellow socialites. All that is missing is the royal title. Cora’s mother is more than willing to ensure that Cora does get this title by any means necessary. Mrs Cash moves her daughter to England where through a series of unforeseen events Cora meets Ivo Maltravers the Duke of Wareham.

Quickly, Cora and Ivo marry. This is where the real story begins. Cora must learn the ways of English society as the new Duchess of Lulworth while trying to maintain her American identity. She encounters secrets from Ivo’s past regarding his family’s troubled history. Adding another wrinkle to the story is Cora’s ex boyfriend Teddy Van Der Leyden who has information that could forever change Cora’s new life in England.

The secondary story is about Cora’s personal maid Bertha as she transitions into servants’ hierarchy at Lulworth. Bertha finds romance with Jim the Duke of Wareham’s personal servant. They both have to keep their romance secret from everyone or risk losing their positions at Lulworth.

These are some of the intriguing details that made this book so much fun to read. I hope that you will read it. Please let us know what you think of it. All opinions are welcomed.

DP~MVBCLUB

Rebecca A Review by Traveling T

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier had been recommended to me before by MVB Club. I kept telling myself to read the book, but until it was chosen for my book
club- I had not found time to read it. I began looking for a copy- and managed to find one at my library (the copy wa so old, the pages so yellowed- this book had been passed around!) But, I took the book home and began to read it. The first line:” Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” That line had me anticipating something, something
that would grip me and make me stay interested.

Unfortunately, that line was just a tease. As I read, I began to feel this tiresome feeling of the main character- the character that we never learn a name of. The character was so naive, so insecure, how the constant thoughts of how poor and pitiful she is compared to Rebecca- it was just too much for me. However, I kept going because it was recommended to me and I wanted to see what would happen. Then, about half-way though the book gripped me, made me give it all my attention. When the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, began revealing things about Rebecca. When the true nature of Rebecca’s marriage to Maxim was revealed. And especially, when a twist came about what had really happened to Rebecca- I couldn’t put it down. I HAD to know what would happen next.

Then the ending. An ending that fit so perfectly in the overall picture of Rebecca.

Many people rave about this book- give it 5 stars. I would not; but that is simply because the book did not capture my attention to almost halfway through. I am glad I read it, though, and I do recommend others reading. My book club discussed it the other week, and an interesting comment was made. Most of the ladies in the club had read the book in their late teens to early 20’s. And all commented on how they thought the relationship between Maxim and his 2nd wife was so romantic; but stated that in this re-read of Rebecca- they did not find the relationship as romantic as they once thought.

We like to thank our good friend Tamara for sharing her review for Rebecca with us. Please make sure to visit Tamara’s wonderful blog at travelingwitht.wordpress.com