Archive | January, 2012

It’s Awards Season! Movies Based on Books

30 Jan

Since the 2012 awards season is underway,  I looked to see which nominated movies were based on books.   It’s my little public service announcement to remember how influential and relevant a good story is, even as many as 94 years after it was written (as in the case of Albert Nobbs). 

There are 17 movies represented in the Best Picture, Leading Actor, Leading Actress and Best Director Categories this year.

Five are original screenplays:  Midnight in Paris, The Artist, The Tree of Life, A Better Life, and The Iron Lady.

A whopping eleven are adapted screenplays that were all originally books.  That might be a record!

Here they are:



Based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret.


The Descendants

Based on the The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Based on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.


The Help

Based on the book The Help by Katheryn Stockett.



Based on Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, a book by Michael Lewis.

   War Horse  

War Horse 

Based on War Horse, a children’s novel set before and during World War I, by British author Michael Morpurgo.


Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy

Based on Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy by John le Carré.


Albert Nobbs

Based on a short story entitled The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs in a story collection called Celibates by Irish novelist George Moore.  It was privately published in 1918 but Celibates was publicly published in 1927.


Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Based on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson


My Week with Marilyn

Based on two books by Colin Clark:  My Week with Marilyn and The Prince, Showgirl, and Me

Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

29 Jan

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionMy rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Louie Zamperini’s life is nearly unbelievable!  The WWII backdrop is fascinating.  I believe everyone should read this to get a real sense of America and Americans during WWII. 

This was the first non-fiction book I picked up since Devil in the White City.  If you recall my review of Devil, you’ll remember that I really struggled with the tediousness of the historical detail.   I was a bit nervous that this book would be the same way in honestly in some ways it was.  But as I always say, life is about expectations, right?  Since I was prepared to have to digest a bit of history with my story, it was much less painful for me to do so.

This book is about Louis Zamperini, Olympic gold medalist turned Air Force enlisted turned lost at sea turned POW turned religious nut turned old guy.  It’s really unbelievable the twist and turns of this guy’s story. 

I liked this book for two reasons.  First, Louis Zamperini’s story really is fascinating as is the overall time period and culture during World War II.  Secondly, I learned more about WWII  from this book than I have from any other source in my entire life.  I will spare you the details of my conversation about this with my husband, but the gist of it is that I am positive I was never taught WWII history in school, I never watch the history channel, and I don’t like war movies.  So my opinion is that I am lucky I knew ANYTHING about WWII.

Learning about WWII was not only just a good thing to have done, but it has a special place in my heart.  My grandfather was a machine gunner in Italy during World War II.  Not only did he survive, but he went on to raise a wonderful family and is still very much alive at 87!  The wonderful bonus is that he is a master storyteller who loves to talk about his experiences in the war.  He does this, ironically, in a completely light and rated G kind of way by focusing on the cooperation, camaraderie, and deep relationships he built with the men he shared this surreal experience with. 

This book makes an excellent Book Club read.  It is chock full of people and situations to discuss.

Book Review: Darkfever (Fever Series #1) by Karen Moning

29 Jan

Darkfever (Fever Series #1)My Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Total departure for me:  It is hard-core fantasy; parts are NC-17 but suprisingly, I really enjoyed it! 

I’ve heard hard-core readers talk about this series over and over and over (and over) again.  Everyone luvvvssss these books.  So it was just a matter of time before I picked them up myself. 

The writing is adequate, the story unusual (for me) and I loved the main character by the end of this book.  This is an extremely surprising reaction in my opinion because it has 3 things I absolutely NEVER thought I would tolerate in a book:

  1. it is hard-core fantasy.
  2. parts of it are NC-17.
  3. my copy (thankfully on my Nook) had a LOT of cleavage on the cover. 

Yet despite all of this, I really liked this book and will read the rest in the series.  I know, right?  ME!   This story is about a young 20 something from Atlanta whose sister is murdered in Dublin, Ireland while studying there.  She travels to Dublin to come to grips with the tragedy and hopefully find some information to lead to her sister’s killer when out of the blue she discovers she is ‘special’ and otherworldly.  Chaos ensues. 

I never, EVER thought I would like a book like this.  Never say never!

Book Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

28 Jan

BossypantsMy Review:  3 out of 5 stars

Meh.  I don’t get the hype about this book.  Parts are funny, but overall I found it kinda boring.

This book is funny.  Well, funny-ish.  Tina Fey’s road to fame is actually pretty uninteresting, but her satirical look at life and the ways she describes her life’s milestones are humorous-to a point.

Where I got a bit bored was when the book took a turn from being a quirky autobiography to being more of a Management for Dummies thing.  The last quarter of a book had a very, “now that I’m in charge, here’s what I do as a woman who has to manage people so they like me and do what I say” sort of tone.  It was surprising.   And useless.  Obviously you offer favors.  Everyone knows that.  I AM JUST KIDDING.  Holy cow. 

Anyways, the more ‘managerial’ it became the less funny it was.  I still love Tina Fey, but I’m not looking to get leadership advice from her.

Book Review: The Phoenix Apostles (A Seneca Hunt Mystery) by Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore

27 Jan

The Phoenix ApostlesMy Rating:  1.5 out of 5 stars

EDIT:  thank you to Candice who read my review and pointed out a mistake in my historical facts.  I’ve edited my post with the correct information.

This book is extremely formulaic.  It follows a similar plot outline as many of the popular crime series with a recurring character:  Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich), Cotton Malone (Steve Barry), Alex Cross (James Patterson), you get the picture. 

Believe it or not, the use of a well-worn plot is not a criticism.  I enjoy these types of books and I chose this book specifically because I was in the mood for this formula. 

This story has the typical elements:  young, intelligent woman with a non-detective job who gets innocently wrapped up in solving a mystery to save her own life, narrowly escaping death and meeting interesting friends along the way.   

It’s the details that killed me here.  Spoiler Alert (highlight with your cursor over the next section – it’s in white text): There is a guy living in present times who is Montezuma who never died because he had the shroud of Turin the Veil of Veronica and is now digging up the graves of world history’s ‘mass murders’ (think Hitler and the like) and using their ground up bones and some smart doctors to  bring them back to life.  Which worked. Why is he doing this you ask?  So these killers can all do their bidding at the same time again now and ‘cleanse’ the earth which will make the sun-god happy and Montezuma will become a god. 

In-SANE.  When I said I liked formulaic, I should have also said that BEING REMOTELY FEASIBLE must be part of the formula I’ll read.  This is just nonsense.

Sale at Barnes & Noble Online

18 Jan

Some Good Books Starting at $2.99!
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My Top 5: Winter Reads

8 Jan

Here are 5 great books to read curled up with a blanket during these cold winter months. 

Product DetailsFaithful Place by Tana French

Modern day Ireland. Rain. Murder and mystery.  More rain.  Awesome.

Product DetailsThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This book is so long that winter comes and goes several times.  It  literally spans one man’s lifetime during the very tumultuous times in 12th century England.   It’s over 1000 pages but don’t be intimidated –  you have several months until spring.

Product DetailsThe Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

A cold and drafty castle in England setting is a great start.  Add in a power-hungry king and several women bidding for his affections, along with the state of the country in the 16th century and you have a perfect book to get cozy with. 

Product DetailsI Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

This is also a long book but SO Good. 

Product DetailsHarry Potter (any and all) by J.K. Rowlings 

Okay so there’s some magic and you think fantasy may not be your bag.  I am asking, no, begging you to trust me on this.   I don’t like fantasy at all and these are my favorite books.  It’s not all dragon-y or time warp-y.  And there’s a castle and lots of snow and fireplaces!  And one of the best written stories ever.  If you haven’t read them yet, now is the time.  If you have read them, it’s time to read them again.  Seriously.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Movie is Intoxicating!

6 Jan

It. Was. So. Good.

I have read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson.  At this point many people have.  I’ve also seen the Swedish adaptation of the movie which was made in 2010. 

The U.S. version of the movie came out about a month ago and stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.  Here is a link to the trailer.  I saw it just after Christmas.  A part of me was questioning how well this U.S. movie would end up.  There’s already a book and another movie.  It seems as if it would be difficult to be original with all of that precedence.   Additionally, there was a part of me who wanted to like the foreign version more than the American. Perhaps that sounds unpatriotic but it’s not meant to be.  I simply like the cinematography style and artsiness of the Swedish version and I sort of wanted that to be the more potent of the two movies.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The U.S. version of this movie is extremely powerful and potent.  All aspects of it appealed to my senses and left me, well, sort of cinematically buzzed!

The cast was well-chosen, and seemed very authentic!  This is in spite of the accents being fabricated in some cases and simply not from the right country in most cases.  But it worked somehow! My favorite casting selection, Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vangar, who I thought played this role flawlessly.  Daniel Craig as Mikael (he’s really cute, by the way), Robin Wright as his boss/partner/lover/friend and Rooney Mara was a great Lisbeth Salander. Beautiful and cool beautiful for the movie except for the bleached eyebrows – WHY?!

For you football fans:  Rooney Mara, who played Lisbeth Salander, is the great-granddaughter of N.Y. Giants founder, Tim Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers founder, Art Rooney, Sr.  Her full name is Patricia Rooney Mara. 

The movie is a bit long but the pacing is great.  The scenery is vivid and  rich.  And the music (Trent Reznor) is almost another character itself although I have to say the Nine Inch Nail ‘sound’ got a little redundant after a bit.  The movie opens with an intro which was very artsy and unique – you don’t see intros very often with movies anymore and that was nice bonus.

They did take some liberties with the plot that surprised me; both things were left out and put in that I wasn’t expecting.  But overall I’m not going to criticize there – the book is stuffed with details that required some editing to bring to screen. 

This is a good movie to watch in the theater but would also be a great movie to watch with wine, a blanket, and someone who looks like Daniel Craig.  Just kidding!