May's Books to Film

The Avengers (PG-13) is based on the Marvel comic series by Stan Lee, first published in 1963 and remains a bestseller. A Super Hero team featuring iconic Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow must face an unexpected enemy that threatens global safety and security. With Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13) follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past. The script is based on a novel by Deborah Moggach, previously published in the UK as These Foolish Things.

Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith, it is my pick for our girls' night out.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (PG-13) is adapted from Arlene Eisenberg's (written with her daughters Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff and Sandee Eisenberg Hathaway) perennial bestseller. It is a hilarious and heartfelt big screen comedy about five couples whose intertwined lives are turned upside down by the challenges of impending parenthood. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker complete the cast.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #329

I have done nothing in the last 2 days except immersing myself in Beatriz Williams's Overseas, a rather puzzling title (the connection will be revealed in due course) for this most appealing romantic fantasy (or is it a paranormal romance?).

Independent, ambitious, smart Kate Wilson, an analyst at Sterling Bates (Bear Stearns, you think?) catches the eyes of British billionaire hedge fund mogel (and a 5-star client) Julian Laurence. The chemistry is undeniable and the flirty emails promise a whole lot more. Then Julian begs off. Kate is crushed. Months later, they finally connect, after a timely rescue at Central Park. (You get the picture, no violins but some nice Chopin, courtesy of Mr. there-is-nothing-he-can't do).

Of course disaster strikes, fast, furious, but not entirely out of the blue, though Julian did! Kate finds out that Julian is actually Julian Laurence Ashford, aristocratic WWI hero/poet, supposedly killed in 1916 in France. Now a mysterious and malevolent force is out to destroy them. It seems like Kate, with her 21st century sensibility and toughness is the only one who could travel back in time, reverse the course of history to save them.

This debut novel which won two Romance Writers of America awards already, is poised to become the sizzling read this summer. Comparison is being made to Diana Gabaldon and Anne Fortier. Fans of the movie Pretty Woman will delight in the frame of the novel - the Cinderella storyline, the Manhattan glitterati (a ruby necklace made an appearance here as well), and sometime, if we are lucky, love could rescue us.

Readers interested in the scenes set in World War I Amiens might check out historical notes at the author's website. The character Julian Laurence Ashford is actually based on biographical details from a number of historical figures. Amiens is also the setting for Sebastian Faulks' "intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic" Birdsong, recently adapted into a PBS Television Masterpiece Classic.

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #326

Absolutely, you won't get an argument from me that Unholy Night is not the first novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, but it is his first departure from zombies and vampires. Good enough reason for me.

Alright, it is another one of his "evolution in dark historical revisionism" but what fun. And thanks to that "brilliant and twisted mind", you will never look at The Nativity the same way again.

Did you ever wonder about the "Three Wise Men"? Who were they? Why the strange gifts? What happened to them? In Grahame-Smith's telling, they were infamous thieves dressed in borrowed finery, led by the charming, elusive and murderous Balthazar as they stumbled upon the Holy family in the famous manger after a daring escape from Herod's prison. Before they could make off with the gifts, Herod's men began to slaughter the first born in Judea, and they cast themselves, reluctantly at best, as the Holy Family's escort in their flight into Egypt. Thus began a heart-stopping, swashbuckling adventure.

The action, danger, intrigue, and humor is palpable but what impressed me most are the ingenious, unexpectedly poignant back stories he has created for the biblical figures - from the young, ambitious and secretly decent Pontius Pilate; Mary, the mouthy, sassy 15 year-old who is tough and surprisingly maternal; to the cruel, mad and diseased King Herod.

Film rights for Unholy sold ($2 million) to Warner Bros. before its publication. Seth Grahame-Smith wrote Tim Burton's film Dark Shadows (being released May 2012) and the screenplay for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a previous novel, in theaters June 2012.

Readalike: Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon ; illustrated by Gary Gianni.

April's Books to Film

Based on Nicholas Sparks' novel The Lucky One (PG-13), it follows U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault as he returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive --- a photograph he found of a woman he doesn’t even know. Learning her name and where she lives, he shows up at her door.

In Think Like a Man (PG-13) - the film adaptation of Steve Harvey's bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man : what men really think about love, relationships, intimacy, and commitment, 4 interconnected and diverse men whose love lives are shaken up after the ladies they are pursuing buy Harvey's book and start taking his advice to heart. When the band of brothers realize they have been betrayed by one of their own, they conspire using the book's insider information to turn the tables and teach the women a lesson of their own.

In The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG), Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain --- a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side, and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. We have Author Gideon Defoe to thank for his two adventurous tales in The Pirates! Band of Misfits : an adventure with scientists & an adventure with Ahab

In the film The Raven (R) when a serial killer who bases his methods of killing on Edgar Allan Poe’s stories (beginning with The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Pit and the Pendulum and working his way through other stories), Poe joins forces with a young Baltimore detective to solve the crime. The script is based on biographies of Edgar Allan Poe

War is Coming

Sunday, April 1st marks the return of the award winning HBO drama Game of Thrones. In this second season HBO takes eager fans back into the land of Westeros, picking up where the first season ended and what is to be considered the second book of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. If you have not caught up on the first season you can get in line for the regular or blu-ray versions which are available at AADL.

A Clash of Kings the second book in Martin’s series brings readers back into the land of Westeros where among all the other side stories that readers have come to love or hate, four kings are vying for power. Pick up the second book to find out what happens with the royal families as they continue playing the ever changing game of thrones.

AADL also carries A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. The third, fourth and fifth books respectively in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.

Be prepared for this season War is Coming April 1st on HBO.

The Hunger Games Book and Movie

With release this week of The Hunger Games movie, the Amazon Best Sellers for Teens list shows 11 of the top 15 books are from Suzanne Collins' mega blockbuster series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. That's amazing, to think of all those teens reading all those books.

Meanwhile the film is rated 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2 of 10 on IMDb. Entertainment Weekly has a piece called 'The Hunger Games': What the movie missed about the book. A young colleague who saw the movie last night said she liked the book better -- but enjoyed the film and appreciated that it was exciting but not gory, faithful to its PG-13 rating. What do you think?

March's Books to Film

The most anticipated feature film this spring is perhaps The Hunger Games (PG-13), to be release on March 23rd, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. In a bleak future, the United States has been reduced to a dictatorship with 12 districts. Every year, in order to prevent uprisings, the ruling Capitol forces one boy and one girl from each district to fight each other to the death in a nationally televised arena --- and only one will survive. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts and make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love if she's ever to return home.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is the 3D-CG adaptation of the classic tale of a forest guardian who shares the enduring power of hope. The animated adventure follows the journey of a 12-year-old as he searches for a real Truffula Tree, the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To get it, he must find the story of the Lorax, the acerbic yet charming character who fights to protect his world.

John Carter, a Disney production (PG-13) based on Sci-fi novel A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton, this sweeping action adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars) tells the story of John Carter, who is inexplicably embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, and discovers that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

Based on the fairy tale of Snow White by The Brothers Grimm, Mirror, Mirror (rated PG) retells a wicked enchantress's schemes and scrambles to control a spirited orphan's throne and the attention of a charming prince. A star-studded cast - with Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen; the fresh-faced Lily Collins as Snow White; gorgeous leading man Armie Hammer as the Prince, and the incomparable Nathan Lane as Brighton, the Queen’s right hand man.

THE MOVIE I AM MOST EAGER TO SEE :
Already out on the coasts but hopefully coming to theaters near us is Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring eye-candy Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, and the dynamicKristin Scott Thomas; directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat)

Based on the 2007 novel by Paul Torday, where a visionary sheik believes the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense in order to turn the dream into reality, he enlists Britain's leading fisheries expert and the Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary. This unlikely team will embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible. Check out the recent review and trailer in EW.

Nebula Award Nominees announced


The Nebula Awards are one of several prestigious prizes for writing granted within the scifi/fantasy genre. They are nominated by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. and this is the 47th year in doing so. Award winners will be announced on May 19th. Categories of awards include best adult novel as well as one for best young adult scifi/fantasy novel.

The nominees for best adult novel are:
Among Others, Jo Walton
Embassytown, China Miéville
Firebird, Jack McDevitt
God’s War, Kameron Hurley
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine
Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin

The nominees for best young adult novel are:
Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor
Chime, Franny Billingsley
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
Everybody Sees the Ants, A.S. King
Boy at the End of the World, Greg van Eekhout
The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman
Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson
Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #315

From Detroit native Saladin Ahmed, a finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of this year's most anticipated debuts:Throne of the Crescent Moon * * *, "a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights".

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to jinns and ghouls, holy warriors and heretics, are in the grip of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. At the same time, a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes fear in the hearts of the citizens of the great city of Dhamsawaat. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Chief among them, Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, an aged and weary ghoul (ghul) hunter drawn out of retirement by the murders. Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla's young assistant, a holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, that is until he crosses paths with the lion-shaped tribeswoman Zamia Badawi who lives to avenge her father's death.

As these warriors race against time to save the life of a vicious despot, they discover a far more sinister plot that would spell doom and threatens to turn Dhamsawaat and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

~ "Ahmed's debut masterfully paints a world both bright and terrible... Arab-influenced setting is full of vibrant description, characters, and religious expressions that will delight readers weary of pseudo-European epics."

~ "An arresting, sumptuous and thoroughly satisfying debut (of a projected trilogy)."

* * * = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #313

Rod Rees' highly imaginative The Demi-Monde : Winter * * kicks off a "brilliant, high concept series that blends science fiction and thriller, steampunk and dystopian vision. "

Demi-Monde, a computer-simulated military training virtual world is dominated by history’s most ruthless and bloodthirsty psychopaths—from Holocaust architect Reinhard Heydrich to Tomas de Torquemada, the Spanish Inquisition’s pitiless torturer, to Stalin’s bloodthirsty right-hand man/monster, the infamous Lavrentiy Beria.

When the U.S. President's daughter, Norma Williams, becomes trapped in the Demi-Monde, a young jazz singer named Ella Thomas accepts the assignment to enter the computer-generated world to rescue her. But when Ella stumbles upon a plot to merge the real world with the Demi-Monde, her mission suddenly expands from a simple retrieval to the survival of the real world.

Fans of The Matrix; Philip Jose Farmer's classic Riverworld series; and Tad William's Otherland series will find this "elegantly constructed, skillfully written" page-turner irresistible. As we move into the second week in February, could Spring be far behind?

* * = Starred reviews

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