Archive for the ‘Book Reviews and Such’ Category

The extended version of the Hunger Games Trailer is out.

Stanley Tucci is unrecognizable (and awesome) as Ceasar ANNNNNND Lenny Kravitz is apparently playing Cinna (nice!).

I am SOOOOO ready.  And I’m proud of Jennifer Lawrence.  She seems to convey Katniss really well.


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I have been so keyed up recently at the anticipation of upcoming movies born from great literary icons.

And, a little searching on IMDB (the great black hole of time-suckage) has revealed a great web of beautiful books-to-film awesomeness.  (Kind of like The Six Degrees of Bibliophile.) 

Let’s start with:

Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers:  I am quite familiar with this story.  I was reading the book when I discovered I was pregnant for the first time and, consequently, named my oldest son after Dumas. (And before you ask, no, I do not have a son named Dumas.  But.  That would be funny.)  The 1993 film adaptation with Oliver Platt (one of my all-time favorite actors) and Kiefer Southerland is one of those movies I had on tape and watched over and over again until my VCR eventually – out of fatigue – ate it.  The very thought of someone remaking this story and doing it any better is daunting. 

But!  After a little research, it seems the new film has a fighting chance.

Athos:  the heated, tortured soul was almost type-casted with Kiefer Southerland in the 1993 version.  But the newest adaptation will host Matthew Macfadyen in that role.  WHO, you say??  Well, I didn’t know either.  Except, his profile pic on IMDB was hauntingly familiar …  I knew those eyes …  that almost heartbreaking stare … so I looked at his past work and there it was – Macfadyen played Mr. Darcy in the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice … with Keira Knightley.  And talk about type-casting!  Macfadyen was brilliant as history’s most brooding literary character.  The transition to Athos should prove almost seamless.  OH – and, he’s playing Prince Oblonsky in a 2012 version of:

  • Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Kerenina:  Once again, Keira Kightley (Miss Elizabeth herself) will be standing up alongside Macfadyen, as she is taking on Anna.  And Jude Law is playing Alexei.  (Now that I have that vision firmly in my head, perhaps I should read that beast again.)  Making an appearance as Count Vronsky will be Aaron Johnson, who played the lead in Kick-Ass (not exactly a literary reference, but that film was based on a comic book … sooo …).  While Johnson was quite funny in Kick-Ass, I get the feeling that he would be great in a more serious role.  I’m interested to see how he translates as Vronsky.

Porthos:  Ray Stevenson is set to play Porthos.  The man has his hands full in convincing me to shift any love from Platt.  But I have high hopes.  His acting history includes a LOT of super hero movies, but he was also in King Arthur, with – surprise – Keira Knightley!  In that 2009 flick, he played Dagonet – the jester – promising!

Aramis:  Here’s where it gets interesting.  Luke Evans is set to play Aramis, the ladies man of the Musketeers.  While Evans’ acting history doesn’t reach back very far (or into many leading roles), his future is bright with literary reference.  Evans will be playing in two forthcoming bibliophile films:

  • The Raven:  This is not a movie based on the poem by Edgar Allen Poe, but rather a fictionalized account of the author himself – and someone who is committing murders based on the tragedies that take place in his body of work.  Evans will be a detective investigating these murders.  Playing Poe will be John Cusack – not exactly my first choice.  Just not … dark enough, I suppose.  But, we’ll see.   This one is set to come out in 2012.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit:  Evans is set to play Bard the Bowman in the two-part Hobbit films.  Soooooo looking forward to these!  I’ll have to admit, however, that I have not read Tolkien’s juvenile novel (the success of which spurred the writing of The Lord of the Rings).  I did snatch the book from my brother’s room as a child, but I put it down after reading the first chapter and returned to the adventures of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield – more my speed at the time.  I do have a mind to dive into this one again before the movies come out in 2012 and 2013.  And side note, the pretty pretty Richard Armitage – whom I loved in the 2004 mini-series North & South (if you are an Austen-era literature fan, you MUST see this – it’s currently on Netflix) – is playing Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Dwarves.

D’Artagnan:  Logan Lerman (born in 1992 – so he was learning how to walk when the 1993 version of the film came out – geez I’m old) is playing the young stubborn boy longing to be a Musketeer.  He’s also staring as Percy Jackson in the films based on that young adult series.

Milady de Winter:  Milla Jovovich (multipass!)

Duke of Buckingham:  Orlando Bloom.  This character doesn’t actually make an appearance in the 1993 film (he’s only referenced), but he must play a strong role in the newest version.  Cause Bloom’s head is the biggest one on the movie poster.  (Perhaps he just has a better publicist.)  And I don’t think it’s necessary to mention Bloom’s literary connection.  But I will.  He is, of course, the Elf Legolas Greenleaf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he will also be playing Legolas in the upcoming Hobbit films.  And, of course, Bloom played alongside Keira Knightley in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Cardinal Richelieu:  Christoph Walz.  Although I won’t discount Tim Curry’s brilliant performance in the 1993 film, this Walz guy just LOOKS the part.  His filmography is vast, but most of his work is in German.  It seems Quentin Tarantino introduced him to America in 2009 in Inglorious Basterds, and then he played August in Water for Elephants (still haven’t had the pleasure of seeing that one!).   

So, there it is.  An intricate weaving of characters.  But wait!  It’s not over!

Two other upcoming literary films I want to mention:

Anonymous:  much like a theme touched on in Jennifer Lee Carrell’s Interred with Their Bones, this film theorizes that it was not a man named Shakespeare who wrote the plays and sonnets we still pour into generations later, but that the Earl of Oxford instead was the true writer.  Interesting.  Can’t wait to see it.

And finally …

The Great Gatsby:  One of my all-time favorite books.  Baz Luhrmann is directing (think Moulin Rouge and the 1996 version of Romeo and Juliet) and Jay Gatsby will be played by Leonardo DiCaprio (also Luhrmann’s Romeo from ’96).  Carey Mulligan (love her!) will be playing Daisy.  Mulligan was also in the 2005 mini-series based on Charles Dickens’ Bleak House and – what do you know – she was also in Pride & Prejudice with … wait for it … Keira Knightley!

*sigh*  So many good things to come …

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Bill is alien

Image via Wikipedia

When I picked up my four-year-old from school yesterday, he was tightly grasping at a fistful of construction paper haphazardly adhered together with scotch tape.  When I asked what it was he said, “I wrote a book.”

Imagine my pride.

He could not wait until we got home (we live six minutes from the school), so he read the book to me from the backseat as we drove.

So, risking copyright infringement, I’ll share with you the contents:

The Alien that Sneaked

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was sniffing three beautiful flowers.  She was very happy.

All of a sudden, an alien sneaked up on her and jumped out from behind the flowers and said BOO.

The girl jumped!  She did not know the alien was there.

The End.

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The first pics of the Hunger Games movie are up on IMDB.

Check them out here.

I especially love the flaming Mockingjay poster.  Mmmm….niiiiicccceeee.


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I read a great short story today that drew me in and made me smile.

It’s about a girl who is a little different, trying to fit in to a new high school.  Who can’t relate to that?  But when I say different, I mean randomly-growing-new-appendages kinda different. 

And the writer is a Hill Country gal, so I thought I’d share.  Enjoy.

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I was working at the library today and saw some big sweaty dude reading yesterday’s copy of Entertainment Weekly.  One brief glance at the cover and I knew that was Katniss. 

The braid.  The bow and arrows.  The Mockingjay pin.

Can’t wait to read the article, once sweaty man gives it up. 

So. Excited.

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Cover of "Water for Elephants: A Novel"

Cover of Water for Elephants: A Novel

I have no interest in the circus.  Elephants, I dig, because they are immense in bulk and yet sweet in disposition, and I’m into that kind of contradiction.  But if you said, here’s a book about elephants, I’d likely raise an eyebrow at you and silently turn away.  Sans book.

So why did I read Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants?  More importantly, why did I stay up way past my bedtime last night glued to the last few chapters? 

Answer:  Because it was good.  It was just damn good.

Gruen opens the novel violently, with a scene that you anticipate throughout the read.  And – after you get to know the characters – you yearn for that part to come.  And when it does, it is surprising and awesome and better than you imagined it would be. 

Freaking brill.

The main character, Jacob, flees his ivy league college in a fight or flight response to a tragedy in his life.  He hops on a train car that happens to be chock full of circus men en route to their next destination.  And Jacob happens to be a vet.  Sort of.   The Depression-era circus is just what you would expect it to be – dark, dangerous, and delightful for the kiddos.   

Another thing I found amazing about Water for Elephants was the imagery.  Gruen has a way of describing a scene that really sucks the reader into it.  You are able to see what the main character experiences.  You are drawn into his world and you really feel present in it.  You can taste the lemonade.  You can hear the men pitching the big top tent.  It’s marvelous. 

If you choose to read this book, please please please also read the author’s note at the end.  Very interesting stuff about Thomas Edison killing an elephant in an electric chair.  A very big one.  Oh, and if you can stand it, Edison recorded this process, which you can see on youtube.  I’m not linking to it.  Cause I could not even think about watching it.  Poor elephant.  All he did was kill his trainer.  Who probably beat him anyway.  I’m sure he was just retaliating.  If you’re into that, you can Google it.

Personal note:  It’s interesting that I read this book right at this moment, because recently I’ve been struggling with imagery in my own writing.  I received a reject a few weeks ago for a piece I had submitted to a literary mag.  The very polite response indicated that I was so close to being done, but I was having trouble pulling the reader in to the scene.  The editor said he felt like he was pressed up against the story, but unable to penetrate it. 

Great comments, I thought.  And true, as well.  Now I just have to figure out how to penetrate.

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