Archive for the ‘Book Reviews and Such’ Category

Actress Saoirse Ronan at the premiere of City ...

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Yesterday, I exclaimed my excitement for The Hunger Games casting.

And today, I discovered the main role has been cast for another film adaptation I’m thrilled about.

The Host, which I reviewed in August 2009, is expected to hit the screen in 2012.  And though the buzz for this film seemed to have died down (apparently, there was a change in director, stalling the project), an article was published yesterday indicating that Saoirse Ronan will take on the role of Melanie/Wanderer.  Saoirse Ronan also played in the film adaptation of The Lovely Bones.  I looked forward to that one for a while after reading the haunting book by Alice Sebold.  (Directed by Peter Jackson and starring Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci, how could I possibly resist?) 

Now, I know there are some Stephenie Meyer-haters out there.  And I have to say, I’ve had my moments of wanting to smash some of the Twilight books against the wall.  One can only take so much Bella.  But you have to admit, something about Meyer’s storytelling keeps us coming back for more. 

AND, the main characters of Melanie and Wanderer in The Host are much stronger (read: less annoying) than Bella.  Melanie is a human unwillingly hosting the “soul” of an alien (Wanderer) in her body.  And you’d think that, as a human who has no desire to play the puppet of an alien form, you would dislike Wanderer.  And sometimes you do.  But, somehow, thanks to the way Meyer tells the story, sometimes you do not. 

Initially, Meyer was hoping to get the likes of Matt Damon and the Affleck brothers to play in the film.  But.  I have a hunch that’s not going to happen.  We’ll see how it goes.


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Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

I’ve been looking forward to The Hunger Games movie for a while now.   Naturally.  But today, I took a look at the casting list for the movie on IMDB.

And now I am totally, crazy, school-girl giddy.

Here’s a few highlights:

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss – this I knew already, and I have yet to see her in anything she’s done, but my first instinct – based on a few videos I’ve seen – is that she will do the part justice.  And I am SO looking forward to X-Men: First Class.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta – this was the first thing that got me going today.  I don’t often think of this guy, but he was in another movie adaptation that I waited a LONG time (like, over a DECADE) for – Bridge to Terabithia.  And he was so GOOD in that.  So I have high hopes for him.

Liam Hemsworth as Gale – Beh.  This guy I’m a little more worried about.  Though, I would be more worried if he were playing Peeta.  As Gale, he may be gold.

Wes Bently, as Seneca Crane – this one is just rumored (UPDATE – Entertainment Weekly article confirmed it!) but I like it.  This is the guy from American Beauty who talks passionately about the plastic bag flying in a circle.  And, while that scene is severely mocked (as it should be), the first time you saw it, didn’t you cry … just a little?  Be honest.

And this one is cool …

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch – yay!  LOVE that idea!  Personally, I was rooting for Javier Bardem.  But Woody works.  Ever see him in Zombieland?  Funny.  Entertaining.  Woody.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie – that could totally work.  I know she’s been in a lot, but I only ever think of her from Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which I enjoyed immensely.  So I’m good with that too.


Stanley Tucci as Caesar – OMG! (I just said OMG.)  I could seriously watch Stanley Tucci all day.  I especially loved his characters in Easy A and Julie & Julia.  I have a feeling, though, that his Caesar will top those parts in my esteem.

Oh – and, while IMDB does not list her, The Hunger Games movie site says Amanda Stenberg will play the role of Rue.  I don’t know this chick at all.  But she’s cute.  And we all love Rue so much already, this girl will likely not have to do much to win us over.

So.  Clearly, I am happy.  (I know you were concerned.)  I didn’t think it was possible for me to be any more in love with this story than I already am.  But apparently, it is.

Wanna see more?  Here is the IMDB page to explore.

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I have a note on my iphone called “Reading Lust.”  I initially typed in Reading List, but the auto-spelling corrector changed List to Lust.  And I left it.  Cause.  That’s appropriate, too.

I received an email today from a friend with whom I have a (sort of) book club.  She asked what we should read next and I consulted my Reading Lust for advice. 

I thought I’d share that list with all of you now.  Friend, if you are reading, here is the lust list:

Twin, by Allen Shawn

A Regular Guy, by Mona Simpson  (Little backstory here:  Simpson is the biological sister of Steve Jobs.  However, Jobs was put up for adoption by their then-unmarried parents and thus, did not actually meet his little sister until they were adults.  This is Simpson’s third novel, and this is the beginning of a synopsis from her website: 

Tom Owens dropped out of college to invent, right in his parents’ basement, a new kind of business. It was no time to suffer any distractions, much less to legitimize the family that he, in fact, had already started on his own. So he stayed on in the sleepy, Edenic valley town of his youth. It was here that Owens became famously successful (his charisma and peerless business acumen also creating a seductive, if aimless, political person), when a raggedy grade-schooler turned up smack in the middle of his hectic life, claiming to be his daughter.

So.  You can see why my interest is provoked.  Another little funny quirk to this story:  Mona Simpson married a man named Richard Appel.  Seriously.  Appel.  Appel is a writer for The Simpsons, and (per Wikipedia) named Homer’s mother after his wife.  Cute.)

Haywire, by Brooke Hayward  (Daughter of Hollywood agent Leland Hayward and actress Margaret Sullavan – this chick’s family was clinically crazy and Jimmy Stewart was her babysitter – don’t you want to read her book?)

1 Dead in Attic, a collection of stories by Chris Rose (Recounting life in New Orleans after Katrina.)

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster W. Cline, MD, and Jim Fay  (I like to read a parenting book every now and again.  To avoid screwing up the children.  Though, admittedly, some parenting books work against that endeavor.)

Room, by Emma Donoghue  (I really would like to read this one soon.  Heard lots of good things.)

The Millennium trilogy, by Stieg Larsson  (I’m currently reading the first book – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.)

Feed, by Mira Grant

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett  (I just read this one.  Review coming soon!)

Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay  (Just read this one, too.  Awesome.)

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford  (Recommended to me by my husband’s Granny, who also recommended Sarah’s Key, which I loved.)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows  (Another Granny recommendation.  She’s in an active book club.)

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, by Jim Fergus  (Also from Granny)

Hush, by Eishes Chayil  (Recommended by Kristin Cashore (on her blog), the author of the fabulous Graceling and Fire <another one for which I owe a review>.)

So, that’s what lies ahead for me.  Please feel free to leave additional suggestions.

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I wrote a VERY short story recently, and have been researching flash fiction markets for submission. 

And today I read a great short that I have to share with you. 

Banshee Lullabies, by Chazley Dotson.  The writer was able to create warm characters and a deep storyline in less than 1,000 words.  Great achievement.


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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is being adapted to the big screen.  See the article (and disturbing photo from the front of the book – I just can’t bear to post it on my own site) here.

You would think something of this … ahem … caliber would not merit a big enough budget to lure big-name actors.  Go figure.  I am typically a fan of Scarlett Johansson, so I’d like to think a project she’s involved in would not be as horrid as I think it’s going to be.  

I s’pose I’ll have to go see it, though I kind of throw up in my mouth a little every time I think about it.

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The genius currently going by the name of Suzanne Collins has released the third and final book in her Hunger Games series. 

Love love love!

After reading Catching Fire, I was truly eager to read the new installment.  And I gotta say – Mockingjay delivered. 

Just when you thought Katniss Everdeen was going to have an easy time of it – being rescued from oppression typically does that to someone – she is thrown into a new kind of horror.  And she has to go to war.  And she is forced to make difficult decisions that will affect the ones that she loves and is trying desperately to save.  And (slight spoiler alert) she will fail to save all of them.   


Collins writes suspense and action that makes me hold my breath at times.  Her writing is stimulating and rarely predictable.  I was truly enthralled.  And as a dear friend pointed out – “I miss that trilogy already.”

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It’s been a few weeks since I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling Eat, Pray, Love.  And I have to say, it’s been a while since I read something that was currently on the best-seller’s list.  While this book came out in 2006, the recent release of the movie starring Julia Roberts popularized the work once again (which is how I came upon it lingering in the paperback bin at the bookstore). 

And since the book was written in three sections (for very good reason), I too will follow the rule of threes and review it in that format, starting with …

Italy, where one woman proceeds to eat.  Anyone who knows me could guess that this would be my favorite part of the book.  Gilbert describes eating as one might describe their favorite piece of art.  I could almost taste the sweet peaches she ate for dessert, and I longed for the tiny asparagus and boiled eggs she devoured for lunch.  But here’s the danger with starting in Italy:  I never wanted to leave.  I was disappointed when the book moved on to the next section, and it took me while to warm up to …

India, where one woman proceeds to pray.  She nearly lost me here.  After going through the indolent landscape of Italy and the warm, gooey cheese dribbling off her pizza, the ashram in India – with its vegetarian food and 6 am chanting sessions – held very minimal appeal.  But then Richard from Texas shows up.  This character, with his cut-through-the-bull approach to life, was charming and warmed my heart.  And then, after a short encounter with God, we proceed to …

Indonesia, where one woman finds balance and love.  In Bali, Gilbert creates her own little miracle for an Indonesian woman, her daughter, and two little orphan girls.  This is the perfect ending to her journey of self-discovery.  While Gilbert started this project as a healing process, it ended as a way to give back – not just to an Indonesian medicine woman, but also to a slew of readers who may be struggling with their own demons. 

I recommend this book for anyone who has hit a wall; anyone who feels like they are stuck in a rut; anyone who doesn’t know how to climb out.  Or just anyone who likes pizza.  And if you read nothing else, you must at least take a look at the scene in Italy when Gilbert attends a football match.  Her translation of the passionate Italian man rooting for his team is unmistakably funny and lovable.

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