Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Books on the Big Screen!

So the other day, not long after I posted about watching "Water for Elephants" and "Something Borrowed" at the theater, I was slaving away on the exericse bike in front of the TV when I saw a preview for a book-based movie that made me stop mid-pedal: "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. I thought "The Help" was phenomenal, and it really lended itself well for Hollywood. I bet the movie will be fantastic! It's scheduled for release on August 12 and stars Emma Stone as Skeeter.

And there are a few other movies coming out based on fabulous books that I neglected to mention in my previous post. The first segment of "Breaking Dawn" (of the "Twilight" saga) comes out November 18. And FINALLY, after apparently years in the works, the first movie based on the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, "One for the Money" releases January 27, 2012. Unfortunately, unlike "The Help," I'm afraid this movie might be a dud. The actors aren't exactly who I (or many of the readership, I believe) would have chosen. I like Katherine Heigl, but I just can't picture her at Stephanie.

Also this year, I'm also excited to see "The Three Musketeers" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (I LOVED the Swedish version of the trilogy, but I think Daniel Craig will make a great Mikael Blomkvist). I will definitely get "Jane Eyre" on Netlfix (I wasn't about to drag poor Jarrod to that; I don't think he's yet forgiven me for making him watch "Pride and Prejudice" on DVD with me), and I really enjoyed "The Lincoln Lawyer," which was based on a book of the same name by Michael Connelly.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Books on the Big Screen

In the past couple weeks, I've seen two movies based on books that I read and enjoyed, "Water for Elephants" by Sarah Gruen and "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin. Both movies were pretty good, although I definitely liked "Water for Elephants" better. I thought the actors did a great job and the on-screen depiction of the story, a romantic drama set against the backdrop of a Depression-era traveling circus that features a very special elephant, was not too far off from what I had pictured in my mind while reading.

"Something Borrowed" was not bad either, but the story itself is a bit more superficial than "Water for Elephants." The whole time I was watching it, I kept thinking two things. 1. How much the actor who plays Dex (Colin Egglesfield) resembled a young, slightly better-looking Tom Cruise. And 2. How anyone who really has a problem with cheating on significant others would probably be uncomfortable watching this movie. A couple months ago, I watched "Eat, Pray, Love" with two friends. At the beginning, Julia Roberts' character is sleeping with James Franco's character before she's officially divorced from her husband, and my friends were appalled by her behavior. In "Something Borrowed," Dex is carrying on a relationship with both Darcy (his fiancee) and Rachel (his fiancee's best friend) at the same time, and Dex, Rachel and their friend Ethan keep the affair from Darcy (who's a stuck-up, self-centered and unlikeable character, and arguably doesn't deserve Dex). So if my friends were upset about the actions of a near-divorced wife in "Eat, Pray, Love," the whole basis of "Something Borrowed" would likely be offensive to them. And somehow, the actions of the characters do seem a bit more sleazy and low when broadcast in living color right in front of your face than contained in the pages of a book.

The next book-based movie I'm excited to see is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2." A friend just asked me if I was planning to re-read the book before seeing the conclusion to the movie saga, and I explained to her that not long ago I finally came to the realization that I enjoy a movie so much more if I haven't read the book recently. I find that if I've read the book to close to the movie premiere, I sit there nit-picking every single change or discrepancy. By not re-reading the book, I can view the movie as a separate entity and have a much better movie-watching experience.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I love reading and I love writing, so I decided to start a blog about books and such!

Just last night I finished "Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult. She's one of my favorite authors; her novels are always so compelling and thought-provoking and relevant. "Change of Heart" has a slew of characters and the book -- very frequently at first -- jumps back and forth between their narratives. It took me awhile to get all the players straight in my mind. Once I got the gist of things, though, the plot took off and I was hooked!

The story deals with June Nealon, a mom whose adolescent daughter Claire desperately needs a heart transplant. But June is haunted by her past -- her first husband was killed in a car accident, and her second husband and daughter were murdered by a young man June had hired to do some work on the house. The only thing that kept her going after Kurt and Elizabeth were ripped away from her was the fact that she was pregnant with Claire.

The murderer, Shay Boure, is now about to executed after an 11-year wait on death row. And his last wish is to give his heart to Claire Nealon. Of course, this process is not as straightforward as it sounds and a legal battle ensues. Shay is ultimately the main character in the book, but we never actually hear the story from his point of view. Instead, we see through the eyes of June, Maggie Bloom (Shay's ACLU lawyer), Michael (his "spiritual advisor") and Lucius (his next-cell neighbor).

Religion plays an important role in the novel. While on death row, Shay appears to begin performing miracles; hundreds of people flock to the prison, believing he is the messiah. Further, Shay's lawyer uses religion as the cornerstone of her argument to allow Shay to donate his heart to Claire post-execution. Every character's story involves religion in some aspect, and Picoult brings up some interesting (and possibly controversial) points on the topic.

At one point in the novel is a very vivid depiction of death by lethal injection; at the end of the book Picoult writes that she got that info while doing research at an actual death row at an actual prison. While the components in the description are nothing I hadn't heard before, the visceral writing gave me a mental picture that will probably stay with me forever. The book forces readers to evaluate their position on the death penalty as the plot develops; I have mixed feelings on the topic, and I wonder how Picoult feels. I came away thinking that she is moderately against the death penalty, but it's hard to tell because she presents all sides of the issue.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, despite the fact that it left me feeling a bit depressed. After reading several of Picoult's books, though, I guess that's pretty much the norm. It was a page-turner with unique and well-developed characters, and an intriguing plot.

I give "Change of Heart" a score of 4/5.
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