Saturday, September 26, 2009

children's book review: when you reach me by rebecca stead

I knew very little about this book when I started reading it, and I'm so glad I knew very little. The magic of the book comes from letting it unfold before your eyes. I'm offering a very abbreviated summary for this reason.

Summary:
Miranda is a delightful, funny and realistically insightful sixth-grader who lives in New York City in 1979. Her mother works as a paralegal and receives word she has been selected to appear on the $20,000 Pyramid. (For a longer summary, please visit the publisher's Web site.

Review: I loved this book. Miranda is a wonderful narrator, and the story in many ways is timeless. It's setting is 1979, but Stead does not beat it into readers' heads. The time setting is mentioned when it's relevant, and I found myself thinking of the setting as the year I was Miranda's age. Her situation is timeless. The story unfolds from a realistic fiction novel into a mystery and adventure tale. Miranda's favorite book is Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and she looks at the world honestly and with hope. I enjoyed each page, and as the mystery unfolded, I came to love each more than the last. When I finished the book, it stayed with me; the story was still unfolding in my mind. I fully expect this book to get some Newbery buzz.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5) - really loved it

Monday, September 21, 2009

book review: dead until dark and living dead in dallas by charlaine harris

I still haven't caught up on summer reviews, but I can't review a sequel until I've reviewed the first book.

The tv show:You've all heard of True Blood, HBO's increasingly popular series based on Charlaine Harris' series of vampire mysteries featuring cocktail waitress and telepath Sookie Stackhouse. What is unique about True Blood is that each season takes on one book. I'm also a huge fan of Gossip Girl, who took the more usual approach of bringing the characters rather than the storylines to life. I haven't seen True Blood yet, but there are some obvious additions and deletions of characters. Still, this model of scripting is the closest to the books of any series I'm aware of.

Dead Until Dark: Dead Until Dark grabbed me right away. Harris concocted a brilliant universe for BonTemps, Louisiana. Vampires are now legally recognized (partly due to the Japanese invention of synthetic blood that makes feeding on humans a joy rather than a means of survival. I realize it sounds ridiculous, but it's somewhat believable because the story covers so many logical bases. If vampires were to be accepted into society, this model actually makes sense. Sookie is not necessarily a character I would instantly relate to if I met her on the street, but I did grow to like her as much as I liked her world.

The bottom line: I am ambivalent about vampires and Southern fiction as a genre. There are plenty of books (and tv shows) about vampires I like, but I don't read books simply because they're about vampires. I feel similarly about Southern fiction. Of course there are books I enjoy that are set in the South, but the setting does not draw me to these books. What this book is about is less important to me than how enjoyable it is to read. The world of Bon Temps is delightful not because it's Southern or has vampires, but because it's well-rounded and well thought out. Dead Until Dark is not great literature, but it is immensely entertaining and thought provoking.

Rating: 4 stars (loved it)

Living Dead in Dallas:
Are sequels ever equally as good as the original? I tend to either like them less (if the novelty has worn off) or more (if the already established characters and setting allow the writer to do so much more). Thankfully, Living Dead in Dallas is the latter. As I have a weakness for episodic television, I love books in a series. The funniest, sweetest and saddest lines in tv and books always come from well-established characters. (spoiler alert) Harris takes the reality of vampires to a new level as they face off against a conservative church who preaches vampire hatred. The storyline is simultaneously a metaphor and a possible reality, and I loved it.

Rating: 4.25 stars (really loved it) - it's better than the first one

Overall:
Despite not being drawn to vampire fiction or Southern fiction, I am a huge fan of this series. I've got the first two discs of the series from Netflix, and I'm eagerly awaiting reading the third book, Club Dead. Also, I love discovering a series new to me that already has ten books in it. Perhaps I'll catch up before the eleventh appears!

Friday, September 18, 2009

airplane reading


I haven't done a good job of catching up on reviewing books I read this summer, and I haven't had much luck getting into books since I finished The Rossetti Letter either.

I'm about to set off on connecting flights to girls weekend, and I have the new Dan Brown, the new Oprah book (Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan) and a few others I've been meaning to read for too long. It should be a nice weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

an accidental presidential endorsement


I realize this particular story is most interesting to me, as both a huge supporter of Obama and a diehard Kansas basketball fan, but I think the issue of presidential endorsement is interesting. The always interesting Shelf Life blog at Entertainment Weekly has a fascinating post about the publisher pulling an Obama quote from cover of the upcoming memoir by Roy Williams.

(the backstory) First, I didn't know Roy had a memoir coming out in November. I will have to read it, and I will likely spend most of its 288 pages crying, if I don't throw it across the room. You see, my allegiance to Roy Williams goes back to my childhood. He was the last of my childhood heroes to fall. He was the one I thought would never lie. When he had the chance to go to UNC when Dean Smith retired, I would have let him go, understood, mourned and moved on. When he decided to stay, he promised he'd only leave when he got fired or when he died. He promised to be our coach forever. When he left three years later, I suffered the worst broken heart of my life. I know, it sounds silly. He was a basketball coach. I was a grown woman in 2003 when he left. Were I a grown woman when he became our coach, I probably could have let it go by now. Every time I watch a UNC basketball game, I still cry. It's been six years. I will never understand his decision to leave, but I usually don't begrudge him. I loved every minute of Kansas beating UNC in the Final Four last year. It was sweet revenge for me. I mostly don't begrudge Roy because I'm not angry; I'm sad. The picture of Roy walking through the Fieldhouse for the last time with his back to the camera was my desktop picture for years. Kansas basketball isn't the same for me. I'm never been a fan of Bill Self (it goes back to the Kansas-Illinois game in San Antonio in 2001 when he had six big men foul out for intentionally fouling. It worked; our big guys couldn't hit free throws, but it's not the way I want to win basketball games. I'm still not proud of the Memphis win in the national championship in 2008 because we got to overtime not only by the lucky talent of Mario Chalmers but by intentionally fouling at the two minute mark.) I still don't like Bill Self, and I don't have the same joy watching Kansas basketball. I still like watching Roy's teams play, but it breaks my heart. I'm sure I will love parts of the book, hate parts of the book, and I sincerely hope this memoir may bring me some sense of closure.

Clearly, this tale is quite personal for me, but I do find the legality of it fascinating. Obama did not mean the compliment to help sell books (I presume). I also presume the publisher sincerely thinks the Obama blurb would help sell books (North Carolina did swing for Obama, remember). The illegality seems quite clear, as Alongquin's legal department and the White House agree, but it didn't stop the latest edition of Netherland, Obama's famous vacation read from printing a quote on its latest covers.

The brilliant part, whether intentional or not, is the news about the quote being pulled will have a positive effect on consumer awareness of the book and its sales. Touche, Alongquin. Feel free to send me an ARC.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

around the blogs: shelf life on james patterson

Entertainment Weekly has a fantastic new book blog, Shelf Life. It's fantastic because there is so little book coverage in the magazine itself (space, advertising, timeliness, interest, I get it, but I don't like it).

There's a fantastic post about James Patterson's contract renewal today. I read James Patterson (Women's Murder Club), but I don't think he's a great writer. One could argue he's not even a writer anymore given everything he publishes is co-authored. I've read all eight WMC books, and the last one was an embarrassment. He's clearly a brilliant marketer or was smart enough to hire a brilliant marketer.

I know there are many, many people who not only love his books, but buy all of his books. There are those who would argue he's a good writer. The big question for me is if he is good for publishing. The librarian in me truly believes "as long as they're reading...," but the part-time literary snob in me wants to ensure a future for quality, independent literature as well as lighthearted fare. I want balance in an industry built on mass appeal. I want room in the bestseller lists for the undiscovered literary authors to make a surprise appearance. Is there room for both in modern publishing? Also, if Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts can crank out so many books by themselves, shouldn't Patterson have enough more if he employs others to write the first draft?

I hope Megan McCafferty weighs in on this one. I loved her tongue-in-cheek take on Bethany and her friends discussing Pat Jamison.

state of the blog

I've been a quiet blogger over the summer for many reasons. The biggest: I had the most amazing internship at a fantastic library. I worked forty hours a week, and I commuted 90 minutes each way, every day. I found myself craving NPR more than audiobooks, and I became the best informed person in my small circle of friends. Second, with all the news cursing through my brain, I found I didn't want to come home to read most nights. Instead, I longed for the simplicity of television. Thankfully, I gorged myself on So You Think You Can Dance, which had it's weakest season of the last three, but it was still the perfect antidote to my long, wonderful, exhilarating and exhausting days. Third, I'm in the midst of planning my wedding. I know many people do this each year, but I am not the traditional bride, and I don't want to be. Somehow it's a harder job to make it a unique day, as I have more ideas of what I don't want than what I do. I do have the dress (a lovely, simple, strapless, royal blue number) and the location (a library, naturally), but the rest of the details are tough. Deciding on the guest list, creating a budget, and making the hard decisions about what not to include bring down the euphoria level.

Most importantly, in terms of this blog, I did a lot of thinking (remember those three hours a day I spent in the car?), about what I want this blog to be. When I started it, I reviewed the books I read, tv shows and movies I watched and other things. Over time, it shifted into purely a book review blog. Last spring, there were as many posts promoting books as there were reviewing them. I was grateful for interested publishers and authors who wanted me to review their books. I love free books, but I began to notice the same books being reviewed by a whole community of book bloggers. The publishers didn't want me; they wanted anyone and everyone. I can't say I blame them; publishing is struggling, and the non-bestseller authors need all the press they can get. I also noticed that most of the books I was reading were published in 2009. One of the things that drew me to book blogging was finding lost gems. I loved the feeling of reading a book published ten years ago, loving it and whining about no one telling me how amazing and brilliant it is. I read a lot of magazines, and I'm aware of what books are coming out. I wanted to find and provide reviews of books from many years. With so many review books from publishers, my focus, and the focus of my fellow bloggers, is on the new. Why is it so thrilling to read a book a few weeks before it's publication? I carry it on the bus with pride, but no one else ever seems to be shocked or excited I'm reading a book that's not even published yet.

I'm making some changes to this blog.
1. Yes, I will still accept books for review, but I'm accepting far fewer. I'm only taking books I would normally request from the library immediately upon publication. For the most part, these books will include authors I've read before. I am certainly open to new authors, but I will do more research before accepting authors I haven't read before. I won't simply read a two-sentence synopsis and say yes. To this end, I will have a manageable number of review books, so I won't only be reading review books.
2. I'm not doing reading challenges. They are fun, but I found I actually read less because of them. I get into reading ruts very easily, and I want to read for enjoyment rather than obligation. Trying to find a book to read simply because I need the first letter of its title is more stressful than fun for me.
3. I'm not only covering books. I thought about creating an entire set of nomad blogs (nomadeats, nomadtv, etc.), but I simply don't have the time. I do hope to have a nomad network one day, but until then, I'm going back to posting more on tv here as well. I love tv, and I love to read, so I'm covering both.
4. I'm not hosting contests for books I haven't read. I'm grateful for publishers garnering attention for their books by donating copies to giveaway. The traffic giveaways bring to the blog is not real traffic. Most of those visitors don't hang around and comment or come back (I'm guilty of this trend too).
5. I'm making a conscious effort to read books not published this year. Yes, I love the new, especially when it's a new author or a new book by a favorite author. There's never enough time to read all the books I want to, but I do want to add more variety back into my reading. I want to read the classics I haven't read and read all of the books by my favorite authors.
6. I'm blogging again. My goal is to blog at least once a day, but I'll settle for five days a week. Help hold me accountable. I have a tendency to post five times one day, then not again for a week. I'm working on it.

Thanks for sticking around. There are some changes, but I think they'll make this blog more fun to read because at nomadreader you'll find books you may not see on other blogs, and those of you who missed my tv coverage, welcome back!

First step: catching up on reviews for the little summer reading I did.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

fall movie preview: december (part four)

Well, loyal readers, you've made it to the fourth installment of my literary analysis of Entertainment Weekly's fall move preview. Welcome to December, when the Oscar race heats up. This year, there will be ten (rather than the usual five) films up for Best Picture. It was hard to see five films before the Oscar telecast, but ten will be nearly impossible. It's more important than ever to be well read on the books being turned into films this awards season. Bring on December.

The highlight film for December is Peter Jackson's film, The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold's breakthrough novel of the same name. I read The Lovely Bones years ago, and I loved it. I can't imagine how it will translate to film, but if anyone can do it, my faith is in Peter Jackson. The cast also gives me hope. Saoirse Armstrong (will someone please tell me h0w to pronounce her name?) stars with Stanley Tucci (as her neighbor and rapist), Mark Wahlberg (!) plays her father, Rachel Weisz plays her mother, and Susan Sarandon plays her grandmother. Why have Susan and Rachel not been cast in a mother daughter role before? It's perfection. If you haven't read it, you must.

  • It's Complicated - The good: the cast includes Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as a divorced couple having an affair; Steve Martin plays Meryl's architect. The questionable: it's written and directed by Nancy Meyers. I've loved one movie (The Parent Trap, but it was a remake), hated one movie (What Women Want - so immensely unfunny, sexist and insulting - a bad trifecta), somewhat enjoyed one movie (The Holiday, which was likable despite not being well written), and been unable to form much of an opinion aside from 'it did not deserve to even be considered for the Oscars' (Something's Gotta Give). I have little faith in Meyers as a writer, and her films are usually full of cliches, especially those demeaning to women.
  • Sherlock Holmes - I admit it; I've never actually read any Sherlock Holmes books. I should, but as someone who pays attention to pop culture, I won't feel the need to do so before this film. I hope to see it Christmas Day. Guy Ritchie had the foresight to cast Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams and good and bad fortune to be filming it while Madonna publicly left him, which has only made people like me eager to see it for over a year already. Arthur Conan Doyle's books are available free online.
  • Up in the Air - Although I don't think it's a marketing strategy, I'm amused does not yet have a release date, even though it's slated for December. I take this information to mean it will be released in New York City and perhaps L.A. solely to be considered for Oscars this year, and it will actually open sometime in January or February. Remember last year's Golden Globe nominations? Half the films nominated had not been released yet. This trend will not go away. The film is based on Walter Kirn's novel, which I need to read. Jason Reitman directs it, so of course Jason Bateman has a role; George Clooney headlines the film. I expect Reitman to visually wow the audience to prove he deserved to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar for Juno. Most importantly, I've loved all of his movies that I've seen. Yes, both of them.
  • Invictus - If ever a movie were destined for Oscar nominations, it's one directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela (who gave his blessing). The film is based on John Carlin's book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, which focuses on the early days of Mandela's presidency and South Africa's experience in the 1995 rugby World Cup. Sports, politics, history, and two of the most revered people working in film will make this the art house favorite this season.
  • Did You Hear About the Morgans? - It's not based on a book, but it is written and directed by Marc Lawrence, a favorite of the romantic comedy genre. His credits include Music & Lyrics, Miss Congeniality (1 & 2), Two Weeks Notice (I really liked that movie for some reason), and 31 episodes of "Family Ties." He's hit or miss with me, and this one includes Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker.
  • Avatar - I have friends who already have tickets for this film. It will be huge. It's not based on a book; it's written and directed by James Cameron. If you don't know what it's about, you will soon, so I won't bore you.
  • Everybody's Fine - a remake of the 1990 Italian film of the same (albeit translated) name.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - While I haven't seen the first film, I am waiting for the day it happens to be on HBO when I am in the mood to watch whatever is on. I can't bring myself to add it to my Netflix queue, seek it out at Redbox, or check it out at the library. Still, the premise of the new one sounds amusing, if done right: Jason Lee enrolls the Chipmunks in high school, where they meet the Chipettes (sexist name aside, it could be funny or it could make me pull out my hair) and Zachary Levin plays Jason Lee's evil cousin who tries to control the Chipmunks. I need to find a child whose parents don't want to sit through this movie.
  • Brothers - This film is based on the Danish film Brodre. It stars Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal. It will be nominated for Oscars.
  • A Prophet - a French crime film set in an Arab prison. It has serious award potential, if only in foreign film categories.
  • Serious Moonlight - If you're a fan of posthumous Oscars, pay attention. This film was written by Adrienne Shelley a year before she was murdered. Her husband produced it. It's the directorial debut of her costar from Waitress.
  • The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick cast Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in the same movie. Plot details are being very closely guarded, but it's a 1950's period piece (at least partially). It's going to huge for film nerds.
  • The White Ribbon - it won the Palm D'or. It's a creepy German WWII mystery. It will be huge in art houses.
The film year seems to get better each month, and December looks amazing. Only two films based on books, however, so be sure to read The Lovely Bones (if you haven't already) and Up in the Air. I also plan to see Brodre, the Danish film. Let the Oscar handicapping begin....

fall movie preview: november (part three)

Welcome to part three of my literary (and often pop cultural) fall movie preview. I take all of the films featured in Entertainment Weekly's fall movie preview and tell you which ones are based on books. We can't all drop our lives everytime a new movie hits the theaters, but I can at least usually say, "I haven't seen it yet, but I did read the book."

November begins with a bang: Nine, written by Anthony Minghella, directed by Rob Marshall, and starring the pickiest (in a good way) actor in the business, Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, and Fergie. It's based on the 1982 Broadway musical of the same name, which was based on the Fellini classic 8 1/2. I love movie musicals, but I really love good ones. I need to rewatch 8 1/2, which I last saw in a film class in college. Plan around Thanksgiving now, folks.

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox - Wes Anderson made a stop-motion-animation version of a Roald Dahl book. I love fall. I don't remember reading this book as a kid, even though I loved Dahl. It's already waiting for me at the library.
  • Broken Embraces - Pedro Almodovar is back with another movie he wrote and directed. Yes, it stars Penelope Cruz too.
  • Planet 51 - a 3-D cartoon not based on a book.
  • The Box - Written and directed by Richard Kelly, but the script is based on Richard Matheson's short story, "Button, Button." I can easily read a short story before the film comes out.
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats - based on Jon Ronson's book of the same name. It's not a novel, but you might think it is. The cast is incredible: Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. I should read the book, but I will probably see the movie first.
  • A Christmas Carol - It's been done so many times, so what makes this version of the Dickens classic unique? It stars Jim Carrey, and Robert Zemeckis is making it with a more advanced technique than was available for The Polar Express or Beowulf. I'm perplexed why it's coming out so early in November. I love holiday movies, but Nov. 6 seems premature to me.
  • Precious - When I first heard Mo'Nique might win as Oscar for this film, I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it's based on Sapphire's novel, Push. I want to see this film, and I want to read the book first. Sadly, this novel has a tendency to be stolen from the library, so my turn to read it may not come in time. I may have to break down and buy it.
  • 2012 - This film features a brilliantly simple, yet ominous tagline: "we were warned." It's based on the famous Mayan prediction that the apocalypse comes around the winter solstice in 2012. I admit, I want to see it.
  • The Princess and the Frog - I first blogged about this film in March 2007. It's finally coming out. Disney welcomes a black princess. It's based on the Grimm fairy tale "The Frog Prince," which is well-known in pop culture. It's an old story, but it's a twist on an old story: Tiana, the princess character who is actually a waitress in 1920's New Orleans and voiced by the amazing Anika Noni Rose, turns into a frog when she kisses the cursed frog. Of course, I'm curious, and I love Anika Noni Rose, but I have very low expectations.
  • The Blind Side - Yes, it's based on the Michael Lewis bestseller I've been meaning to read since it came out in 2006. I'm adding it to my list.
  • Old Dogs - Bernie Mac's final movie is coming out. He plays a children's entertainer in what sounds like a predictable Disney film.
  • The Fourth Kind -Milla Jovovich continues her reign as sci-fi queen in this film based on true events about alien abductions.
  • Pirate Radio - also known as The Boat That Rocked in England, this film written and directed by Richard Curtis is about a fictitious illegal radio station (on a boat) in the 1960's. The cast is amazing, as per usual with Curtis.
  • Saint John of Las Vegas - This film is somehow based on part Dante's Inferno. Romany Malco plays Virgil. I'm there.
  • Dare- This film is based on the short film of the same name.
  • Red Cliff - This Chinese film is based on the Battle of the Red Cliffs, which occurred at the end of the Han dynasty (around 200). In China, the film was released as two two-hour features, but the international version has been cut to 2.5 hours. Most importantly, it was written, directed and produced by John Woo (there were co-writers and producers.)
  • Women in Trouble - not based on a book.
  • The Young Victoria - This film is a biopic of Queen Victoria. Julian Fellowes wrote the script. I'm thrilled to see Emily Blunt in a starring role.
  • Me and Orson Welles - It's based Robert Kaplow's novel of the same name. I haven't read the book yet, but I will because Richard Linklater directed the film, and it stars Zac Efron in what could be his breakout (of the teen genre) role and Clare Danes. My Thanksgiving weekend looks crowded.
  • Fix -Olivia Wilde stars in this film based on a true events. I like Olivia Wilde, and the premise is interesting. Two documentary filmmakers race around L.A. to take the younger brother of one of them from jail to rehab. They must raise $5000 around town and get him there by 8 p.m. or he goes to jail.
  • Patrik, Age 1,5 - This Swedish film is not based on a book.
I added four books to my pile for November: Roald Dahl's classic Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matheson's short story "Button, Button," the nonfiction book Men Who Stare at Goats, and the nonfiction Blind Side by Michael Lewis. I also plan to rewatch Fellini's classic film 8 1/2.

fall movie preview: october (part two)

Welcome to part two of my literary (and sometimes pop cultural) analysis of Entertainment Weekly's Fall Move Preview. The fall movie calendar is so full, I'm detailing the literary origins of fall movies one month at a time.

Sadly, October starts with bad news. The featured movie, Scorsese's sure to be a hit Shutter Island has been pushed back to early 2010 because the studio can't afford to publicize it. There were rumors about competing for an Oscar, but sadly, Oscar campaigns cost money, and the studio is short. Shutter Island is based on the book by Dennis Lehane and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams. I am in the minority of those who though the film version of Mystic River was underwhelming, so I will be first in line to read Shutter Island before I see the movie. I'm glad I have an extra six months.

  • Amelia - I have always had a fascination with Amelia Earhart. She's a famous, mysterious woman from my beloved home state of Kansas. I'm thrilled to see a biopic of her, but I am still trying to figure out why Hilary Swank got the role. I like Hilary Swank, sort of. She was brilliant in Boys Don't Cry, which was a mesmerizing, brilliant and troubling film; she deserved the Oscar. I couldn't sit through Million Dollar Baby; she didn't deserve that Oscar (in fact, she came in last in my assessment of nominees that year). Still, I'm excited for the film. It's written by Ronald Bass, who based the script on two biographies and one novel of Earhart. I'm curious to see how factual the film is.
  • Couples Retreat - Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau are back together, and they co-wrote the script with Dana Fox.
  • Gentlemen Broncos - the latest from Jared Hess, of the abysmal Napolean Dynamite (I know, it's a dissenting opinion).
  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant - based on the first novel in Darren Shan's young adult vampire series, The Vampire Blood Trilogy. I haven't read the books, and my vampire young adult fiction to read pile already overflows; I'll pass until I hear more amazing reviews.
  • A Serious Man - Joel and Ethan Coen are back! I've been underwhelmed by their last two films, No Country for Old Men (it couldn't possibly live up to its hype because I saw it so late) and Burn After Reading (it couldn't possibly live up to its cast), but this film excites me so much I might even see it in the theater.
  • Where the Wild Things Are - if you need me to tell you...yes, it's based on the book, but more importantly, it was written by Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze. I can't wait, and I don't even care for the book that much (backlash, I'm sure).
  • More Than a Game - a documentary following LeBron James from high school. Yes, please.
  • The Messenger - not based on a book.
  • New York, I Love You - The New York version of Paris, Je T'aime, this film features shorts from a wide variety of directors.
  • Whip It- Yes, the Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig roller derby is finally coming out! Shauna Cross wrote the screenplay based on her young adult novel, Derby Girl. I watched the A&E roller derby reality series, I adore the cast, and I will read the book. Also, in my quest to support female writers and directors of non-romantic comedy films, I will gladly pay $10 at my local independent cinema to see this film opening weekend.
  • This Is It - Unless you believe the Internet footage of Michael Jackson walking out of the ambulance, this is your last chance to see him perform. Kenny Ortega is directing the available footage of Jackson practicing for his now cancelled 50-date London concert series.
  • Zombieland - This sure to be fun film starring Woody Harrelson and Abigail Bresland as zombies is completely original and not based on a book.
  • The Road - based on Cormac McCarthy's book, which I somehow still have not read. Perhaps this film will be my impetus to do so.
  • The Stepfather - based on the not-so-classic-to-high-brow-folks 1987 film of the same name. Most importantly, Penn Badgley gets a juicy role.
  • Afterschool - not based on a book, but starring the enigmatic and should be a superstar character actress Rosemarie DeWitt.
  • Adventures of Power - Ari Gold wrote and directed this film.
  • Peter and Vandy - the first film from writer and director Jay DiPietro. EW describes it as "an indie romance told out of sequence," which sounds like a movie I will adore.
  • St. Trinian's - is the relaunching of a franchise; it's an update on The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954), which was based on the works of British cartoonist Ronald Searle. There have been five movies all together, but the most recent was in 1980. This version is somewhat of a sequel and a remake. St. Trinian's is an anarchic school for troubled girls (Mischa Barton, seriously) and stars Colin Firth, Lena Headley(!) and Rupert Everett. Yes, please.
  • Bronson - a biopic of the infamous British criminal.
  • Free Style - I'm not sure if I'm more amazed Corbin Bleu's motocross movie isn't airing on Disney or that someone managed to make another motocross movie after Supercross (yes, I saw it because I adore Sophia Bush).
  • Good Hair - Chris Rock explores the black hair industry; the film is part documentary, part comedy.
  • Trucker - not based on a book
  • Law Abiding Citizen - written by Kurt Wimmer, a screenwriter of several smarter action films, including one of my personal favorites, the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.
  • The Maid (La Nana) - winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, from Chilean writer/director Sebastian Silva
  • Motherhood - Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver together is awesome enough, but the film was also written and directed by Katherine Dieckmann, who made the music videos for both "Shiny Happy People" and "Stand". She even directed "The Adventures of Pete and Pete." Why have I never heard of her? She has two other movies? One of them (Diggers) stars Paul Rudd (from Kansas!) She must be from Athens, Georgia, and I will thus pay to see her movie.
  • Astro Boy - an animated 3-D version of the manga series, which also spawned an international anime series.
  • Ong Bak 2 - it's a prequel to Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, which I am not familiar with, but I never pretended to have knowledge of Thai martial arts movies.
  • Antichrist - Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark) is back with a horror film he wrote and directed.
  • The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - Rebecca Miller wrote the screenplay based on her novel of the same title; she also directed the film. The cast is amazing: Julianne Moore, Blake Lively, Maria Bello, Alan Arkin, Robin Wright Penn, Keanu Reeves & Winona Ryder. I will need to read this book soon.
  • Saw VI - Six? Really?
  • The House of the Devil - Ti West is making quite a career of horror movies I barely remember hearing about. The list includes The Wicked, The Roost, Trigger Man, and Cabin Fever 2 (2?)
  • Skin- based on the life of Sandra Laing, a South African woman who was labeled colored under apartheid, despite having white parents; it's not based on a book.
  • Mary and Max - a stopmotion claymation film based on a true story of pen pals.
Wow, October is another great month for films. I added four books to my list to read before then: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, Derby Girl by Shauna Cross, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Shannon Miller.

November is up next!