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Showing posts from September, 2009

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

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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'…

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

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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 telepathSookieStackhouse. 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…

airplane reading

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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.

an accidental presidential endorsement

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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…

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…

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 lovel…

fall movie preview: december (part four)

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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 h…

fall movie preview: november (part three)

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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 rewatch8 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…

fall movie preview: october (part two)

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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 sta…