Books-to-Movies: Hit or Miss?

Trisha at eclectic / eccentric has a really fun post, Adaptations Lists and Giveaways, where she’s listed 5 books that she wishes were movies, and 5 books that she wishes never were.  I have to agree with her on Eragon, one of the worst travesties done to a book EVER, but not on a few of the others.  I enjoyed reading hers so much, I wanted to play to :-)  So here’s my 5 and 5.

FIVE books that I’d trade a body part to be movies:

  1. Nation by Terry Pratchett ~ It was fantastic, funny, had a great message, and it just lent itself to visualization.  AND it’d have gorgeous South Pacific scenery that would be breath-taking on a big screen.  I think that’d be worth a spleen, at least… I mean, what does that thing do, anyway?
  2. The Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich ~ I’d trade a kidney for a TV series of this.  Grandma Mazur, in my living room, every week.  Oh, that would almost make up for the end of LOST!
  3. Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng ~ It’d be worth a lung lobe just to watch a gummy Miss Adderstone use her false teeth like castanets.  And I think they could do a lot of fun stuff visually with the hypnotism.  Oh, any movie can be improved by throwing a pug dog in the story :-)
  4. Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham ~ Goblins.  SNOT. and it’s all underground.  It’d be a good cult classic.  Ok, so I LOVE movies like A Gnome Named Gnorm… and am apparently alone in that given it’s 4 out of 10 stars rating, Super Mario Bros, and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, and I think this one could be a cool movie.
  5. Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper ~  Okay, I’d trade a cornea for this one.  El Mochito, the Daredevil, the blind Wonder Cat who defends his mom from the burglar, and whose heart is so big that he enraptures everyone who ever meets him… well, except for Lawrence.  He was too smitten with Vashti.  It’d be way better than that Marley & Me movie, and BEST OF ALL, the cat would still be alive at the end.  Gawd, I hated the end of Marley.  I don’t want to think about my pets dying.  I know it’ll happen, but don’t put it in my “feel-good” movie.  Marley & Me was like being a manic/depressive for 110 minutes… and I still gave it 5 stars at Netflix. 

There should be a special place in HELL for the people who made thes FIVE books into movies:

  1. The Inheritance Cycle (or the movie Eragon) by Christopher Paolini, obviously.  A place in Hell where they’re forced to sit in front of a movie screen and endure inane details of a random person’s life, but NEVER get anything good or inspiring or accurate.  Every good part was cut from the books and then they watered down the surface story, left even more out, and called it a movie.  First off, ERAGON is the name of ONE book, and yet they made the whole book series in this one movie.  Nasuada is one of my favorite characters, and she’s an important character, but she’s no where in the movie.  What about Eragon’s training with the Elves?  and where’s Solombum, the were-cat?  Grr… horrible rendering.
  2. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards ~ That movie sucked so bad, I actually dropped my rating on the book after watching it.  The book was complex and had depth, but the movie was just weak.  Whoever made THAT drivel should be stripped of their sense of smell, have their taste buds seared off, be stricken color-blind and then spend eternity seated at a table loaded with all their favorite foods.
  3. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King ~ You know, the sad thing about this one is, SK himself approved the script.  The book itself has 2 novella stories to it, one centered around playing Hearts at college, and the second where the guy’s an alien hiding out and other aliens come looking for him.   But the movie has NONE of the Hearts to it, and what’s left of the Atlantis part is stripped of all the magic that made me love it.  In the end, it’s just another lousy Stephen King book-to-movie.
  4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini ~ Honestly, it’s not the movie makers fault that it was a bad book-to-movie.  There was NO WAY for them to translate all that goes on inside the narrator’s head, the nuances of the people, and the sense of fear/doom/loss/inadequacy that made up this book.  It wasn’t JUST about him not standing up for his friend and allowing him to be hurt, but it’s about how that one moment was the still point that his whole life and identity grew out of.  I think it’s fair to give the movie people a pardon on this one.
  5. The Hours by Michael Cunningham ~ Okay, I’ve never read the book, so I can’t say whether they did a bad job of making the movie, but here is what I can say:  After watching that movie, I would NEVER read the book.  What’s more, I don’t want to go near a Virgina Woolfe book because of it.  It gave me the impression that her books are very depressing and I’d want to kill myself after reading it.  I might’ve read one of her books before that, I think I even have Mrs. Dalloway somewhere, but every time I think about her books, I think about drowning myself in the bathtub and it’s all because of that movie.

A couple books being made into movies that I’m reserving space on my WORST movie adaptations EVER mental list are:

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry ~ right now, it’s set to come out 2011, but that’ll probably get pushed back.  It’s suppose to be done by the director who did the last few Harry Potter movies, so they’ve had to wait for those to wrap up. I just can’t see how this book could work as a movie for the same reasons The Kite Runner was a miss.  There’s so much going on mentally, how can they show that on the screen?
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy ~ Viggo Mortensen as the man… big, big plus.  It could really be another Mad Max or Blade Runner and be a raging success, but it could just as easily tank hard.  It’s another one of those mental books, though the scenery could be amazing.  They HAVE to have the cellar scene in it, though, or it’ll be a deal breaker.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ~ The book was perfection.  A movie will screw it up.  There’s NO WAY it can be done.

Oh, and by the way… Don’t forget to Trisha’s having a contest for this:

Giveaway:

If you make a post about this topic and leave a link in the comments section, I will 1) add you to the list below and 2) enter you into a giveaway for one of the following books:

1.  It’s Easy Being Green by Crissy Trask
2.  No Touch Monkey by Ayun Halliday
3.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
4.  The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The contest closes at midnight January 17.

So what books do you think would be a hit or were a miss?

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Title:  Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Hardback:  149 pages

published:  2002

ISBN:  9780312306328

My name is Stephanie Plum and I’ve got a strange man in my kitchen.  He appeared out of nowhere.  One minute I was sipping coffee, mentally planning out my day.  and then the next minute… poof, there he was.

He was over six feet, with wavy blond hair pulled into a ponytail, deep-set brown eyes, and an athlete’s body.  He looked to be late twenties, maybe thirty.  He was dressed in jeans, boots, a grungy white thermal shirt hanging loose over the jeans, and a beat-up black leather jacket hanging on broad shoulders.  He was sporting two days of beard growth, and he didn’t look happy.

“Well, isn’t this perfect,” he said, clearly disgusted, hands on hips, taking me in.

-Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich, page 1

I took up this little book just before Christmas as part of my dash to the 75-book finish line.  It only took a couple hours to read it, and it was rather amusing.  It was a quick, light, and fun read for the holiday times.  Much like the chocolate chip cookies Mags and I made, I quickly devoured the whole thing and barely remembered it a couple hours later.  But I do remember the tickly-happy-treat feeling from both :-)

Okay, so it’s not an instant classic that speaks from our generation to all generations (HaHa.. if you’ve ever read a Plum novel, that will be about the funniest joke you’ve read lately), but it’s still fun.  And since it was written later than the earlier books, the characters are much more developed than those in my most recent Plum foray, Three to Get Deadly.  Also, this is the book that introduces the read to Diesel, the third member in Stephanie hunk-buffet. 

The book opens up with Diesel popping into Stephanie’s kitchen, telling her he’s been assigned to her to teach her Christmas cheer.  He accompanies her as she tries to bring in Sandy Claws… sounds like a criminal caught stealing truckloads of cat litter, right?  LOL…  who is  a toymaker hiring elves to handmake product in a wharehouse converted from a daycare (hence the need for elves, as the potties and other equipment are just the right size).  Stephanie’s divorced and formerly-perfect sister has moved back in with mom and dad, and has found out she’s pregnant by her less-than-stellar boyfriend (who faints).  Add to all of this, Grandma Mazur has a new studmuffin, and there’s a supervillain with electrical powers trying to kill them.  It all adds up for some absolute craziness.

While I found it a fun and quit book, the super powers stuff kind of irked me.  Honestly, I felt it was a bit of cheating on Evanovich’s part.  I’ve always enjoyed the mystery-book aspect of the Plum books, but reaching for the paranormal makes me wonder if the next book will have aliens and spaceships to chase down her FTA’s on.

It’s quick, it’s fun, but it stretches credulity, so I’m giving Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich 3 out of 5 stars.

Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich

Title:  Three to Get Deadly:  A Stephanie Plum Novel

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Paperback:  321 pages

published:  1997

ISBN:  0312966091

“You’re ruining everything,” Stuart said to me.  “Why can’t you leave me alone?  Who’s going to be Mr. Cluck if you take me in?”

I pulled the cuffs out of my pocket.  “Don’t give me a hard time, Stuart.”

“You can’t put cuffs on Mr. Cluck!”  Stuart said.  “What will all these kids think?”

“Wouldn’t get my hopes up that they’d give a hello,” Lula said.  “Isn’t like you’re Santa Claus.  Truth is, you’re just some whiny little guy dressed up in a bad suit.”

“This isn’t a big deal,” I said to Stuart as calmly as possible.  “I’m going to cuff you and walk you out the door, and if we do it quickly and quietly no one will notice.”

I reached out to snap the cuffs on Stuart, and he batted me away with his chicken wing.  “Leave me alone,” Stuart said, knocking the cuffs out of my hand, sending them sailing across the room.  “I’m not going to jail!”  He grabbed the mustard and the special-sauce squirters off the condiment counter.  “Stand back!” he said.

I had pepper spray and a stun gun, but it seemed like the excessive force to use them against a chicken armed with special sauce.

-Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich, page 236

In this third book of Evonovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, Stephanie back in the Buick, even though she tried to replace it with a cute little truck that spends more time in the shop than on the road.  She’s caught what she’d thought was a couple easy skips, but have turned out to be like trying to find Jimmy Hoffa and capturing Dilinger.  What’s worse, Morelli is treating her diffidently, while Ranger seems to be a superhero, and Grandma Mazur keeps bringing men over (her studmuffins) who seem to want to move in with the family (some have all their original parts, while others plop their replacement parts on the dinner table while eating).  If that’s not bad enough, Stephanie gets a bad dye job making her look like Ronald McDonald’s Jersey cousin.  It’s all very hilarious and quite a fun read.

I give Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  It’s not the best Plum, but still quite fun to read. (Wow, that was about the shortest review EVER!.. at least, for me.)

The Sunday Salon ~ Jane Austen and Henry III in a throw down… who’d win?

The Sunday Salon.com

Read.  Read read read read read.  and then Read some more.  Having been distracted by life and video games, it would seem that the end of the year has snuck up on me.. again.  This is very familiar.  It seems that I was racing to the end of the year last December, as well, only Second Life was my distractor then… World of Warcraft has done it this year (the facebook games don’t help, either).  But I think I’ll make the 75-book goal this year.  I’ve already read more this year than last.  I ended with 63 last year, but I’ve read 71 already, and with only eleven more days to go, I’m confident I’ll hit 75.

This week I finished three books ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the fifth of the sixth Jane Austen novels.  Though it was written first, it was published, posthumously, next to last.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to admit that it’s my new Austen favorite.  I crushed harder on Henry Tilney than I did on Mr. Darcy, and that’s saying something.  Tilney has a bit of an edge over Darcy… Henry is actually a nice person, as well as being funny and smart.  Darcy, while sweet in his private way, was a bit of an ass.  I guess that went along well with Elizabeth, since she liked to jump to conclusions and was a bit proud herself, but it did a little to put one off.  Of course, the ingenue.. the innocent, country flower.. who is a blank slate and, therefore, non-threatening to Tilney’s intellectual authority, ready and willing to be molded by him, which suits his fancy, I think. 

All in all, I enjoyed Austen’s wit and sarcasm, as well as her parody of Gothic novels of her day.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a humorous walk through many schools of philosophy.  The authors, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, use jokes to illustrate what each school of thought is about.  Like with Teleology, the philosophy that all things exist for a purpose, one joke used to illustrate this is:

Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren.  A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.  She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

I also finished my appointment read, Three to Get Deadly, the third book in the Stephanie Plum numbers series by Janet Evanovich.  I’d been missing Stephanie lately, so I picked this, the next in the series for me, up to read when I was away from home.  I learned an important lesson with it.  Just because a book can fit in your coat pocket doesn’t mean it’s a good appointment book.  By the time I’d gotten to the end of the book, I’d forgotten some of the beginning.  Also, it lost a bit of it’s momentum this way.  In the future, I think I’ll stick to short stories for appointment books.

I’ll write up real reviews for these books later this week… I hope.  I’ve already jumped into my next book, and I’m about 40 pages in it already.  Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second of the Dune series.  I read the first book earlier this year, and I was in the mood for a good sci-fi book, so I picked this up.  I had forgotten how fascinating and fantastic the first book had been, and the second book is, so far, every bit as good.  It is also, however, as much a thinking book as the first.  My brain hurts after a while.   Trying to picture Edric, the fishy-humanoid Guildsman in his tank… picturing the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale manipulate his physical body to be one form one second, then turn into the ghola version of Duncan Idaho (also a mind-bender of a thought), then back again… it’s all an exercising of my imagination muscles… both enjoyable and tiring at the same time.

Reading may be a little easier to do here… but I won’t guarantee it.  Sam, my oldest, has gone to her dad’s for the two-week vacation, and Gwen will go closer to Christmas day, but only stay gone for a week.  Maggie, however, will be here throughout, as her dad has moved back to town.  She’s happy about this, but it has it’s downside, too.  He’s here more, which means he’s nit-picking about my housekeeping more… which means less time to read.   And it means that he no longer needs to take her home with him to spend time, since he can see her whenever he wants. 

LOL.. the remainder of my reading may be Magic Treehouse books with Maggie.

I’ve been watching the Tudors, also.  I got hooked on it when I was sick with the flu last month.  I watched Seasons 1 and 2 straight through on Netflix’s Instant thing.  When the third season came out on DVD this past week, it was on the top of my queue.  I watched the first two discs last night, but I’ll have to wait for the third to come on Monday.  Watching it reminds me how we tend to judge history with modern day values.  Henry VIII was quite a tyrant through 21st century eyes, but was he all that bad or different in his own time-frame?  Sure, he had the north of England hung without trial for rebellion, but the Catholic Church had the Inquisition.  I suppose it all balances out.

I have to admit to a bit of cheating.  I had forgotten which wife Henry took after Jane, so I watched this video.  Now the rest of this season’s lost all suspense for me! 

Happy Reading and have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!

BTT – Other Worlds


Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?
Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?
What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

Okay, I was just going to take a pass on BTT this week, but I couldn’t resist this question! In the few minutes between school shopping and registration, housecleaning, cooking dinner and reading, I want to tackle this question. :-D

Any particular worlds from books I would love to live in… There are several books that I’ve read that I can’t help fantasizing about living there. Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Eragon are some of the more fantastical worlds to live in. I would love to be Stephanie Plum, too. I’d love to have a Grandma Mazzur. And how can you not fantasize about being Elizabeth Bennett with Mr. Darcy (especially if he looks like Colin Firth)!

Where would I NOT want to live? I definately wouldn’t want to live in some of Palahniuk’s worlds, or Bentley Little’s…. or Stephen King. Pretty much any world a monster’s gonna eat me is a world I DON’T want to live in. But others less fantastical would be: Don’t want to live in the world of The Giver (too oppressive and controlled), Farenheit 451 (ditto),and any world created by the Marquis de Sade (no explanation necessary, I hope).

If I were a character who would I want to write me? Janet Evanovich could make my life fun and sexy, with just enough danger to keep life interesting. Jane Austen could make it romantic with a bit of satire. Maybe Andrew Davidson, he could make it epic and full of love, but I wouldn’t want to be crazy or burnt to a crisp to get it.

I know… Dr. Seuss could write it. He could make it fun and colorful with just enough of a hint of love without being porny with it, and I know there wouldn’t be any monsters to get me, because all his monsters are good :-D

Booking Through Thursday -Beginnings

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What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

The book I’m currently reading, Tan Lines by J.J. Salem, has a very memorable first line. St. Martin’s Press made up a little video where several people in a public park read the line on camera. It’s such a sensational first line, I can post it here without even looking:

There are eight thousand nerve endings in the clitoris, and this son of a bitch couldn’t find any of them.

I should have the review posted later today.

Most of the time I don’t really remember any lines from a book. I’m more of a “concept” reader than a “word” reader, so a particular line has to really be great or memorable to stick. Since blogging reviews, while I’m reading a book I keep an eye out for a quote to post with the review, but I don’t remember all of those, even.

Janet Evanovich’s books have a lot of sticking lines. The first two line of the first Stephanie Plum novel made me an instant Plum fan: There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me — not forever, but periodically.
Other lines that stick out are:

“Writers use lies to tell the truth” from V for Vendetta
“There is a way to be good again.” from The Kite Runner

Yeah, see… Like I said, I’m a concept reader, not so much with the words.

Booking Through Thursday -Flavor

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Think about your favorite authors, your favorite books . . . what is it about them that makes you love them above all the other authors you’ve read? The stories? The characters? The way they appear to relish the taste of words on the tongue? The way they’re unafraid to show the nitty-gritty of life? How they sweep you off to a new, distant place? What is it about those books and authors that makes them resonate with you in ways that other, perfectly good books and authors do not?

What sets an author apart for me is the style and imagitnation with which they write.  Whether it’s King or Evanovich, the author’s ability to convey the books events in a unique, verbally savory way makes or breaks my pleasure of the books I read.   What’s more, an author’s ability to paint word pictures on the back of my mind will always make me come back for more. 

Here are a few of my favorites and why I like them:

Stephen King   If you look at my LibraryThing catalog you’ll find I have 14 Stephen King books, making him my top author.  King is probably one of the most successful and prolific authors of our time, perhaps ever.  He is second only to J.K. Rowling on LibraryThing’s most popular author by number of copies found on Zeitgeist. (In fairness to King, she has only written 9 books, all relating to a single series.)  What I love about King is he is highly imagintative, writes on the edge of the accepted norm, and challenges people’s perception of what is real and “normal”.  His concepts are usually things I relate to as I mentioned  in my review of Lisey’s Story.  I particularly love the suprenatural flavor of most of his books.  I’m not very fond, however, of his books-to-movies.  Because so much of King takes place in the minds of his characters, the stories do not translate well to the film.  My 5 favorite King books are: Lisey’s Story (you guessed that, I’m sure),  Dead Zone, Hearts in Atlantis (probably THE worst film version of any King book), The Shining, and Pet Cemetary.

Bentley Little  I’ve actually only read one book of his so far, BUT he is one of Stephen King’s favorite authors, and what’s good for Sir Stevie is good for me!  The Store was a bizarre and terrifying story of Wal-mart’s effect on small towns… Oh, no… wait, it wasn’t called Wal-mart… it was just called “The Store”. In my very brief LT review I said this about it: “Think: Scientology-run Wal-mart from Hell owned by Howard Hughes and Satan’s love child! and Bentley Little reads like a mixture of Orwell, Bradbury, King and Brothers Grimm!” How can you not love an author like that?!

Janet Evanovich I am new to the Stephanie Plum novels, having started with Plum Lucky. I was an instant fan of Evanovich somewhere between Lula’s boob falling out on top and her thong disappearing out of sight into the dark crevice below while she bent over to pick up her spilled bucket of nickels, and the “Leprechaun” believing if he stripped naked he’d be invisible (The rottweiller told him so!). It is an absolutely crazy/fun/impossible/hilarious series, and I’m dying to read more! My favorite characters are: Grandma Mazur (When she shoots a chicken in the gumpy with Stephanie’s gun in book one, you know you’re in for a hilarious treat. I want a Grandma Mazur!), Lula (retired prostitute, files papers in Vincent’s office and is the Cagney to Stephanie’s Lacey… or the Lacey to her Cagney, did they ever solve that argument?) and Diesel (y’all can have Ranger, I’ll take Diesel).

Harlan Coben How could I not include Coben as one of my favorite authors? If it wasn’t for The Woods I’d still only be reading the classics, terrified to try anything contemporary. I’ve read three of his books so far, and have 5 others on Mt. TBR right now (more on the way from BookMooch). Hold Tight, his newest and best book so far, is a harrowing book for any parent to read. The thought of not being able to find your child, fearing his involvement in something dangerous and bad, was gut-wrenching for me. Coben’s writing is fluff-free, without the need to show off with an overload of details, and his language is easy to read and understand. He makes pop-culture references, I.E. McMansions, use of the word “ginormous”, and others, makes him a pleasure to read. He has a great balance of schtick and levity, which makes for a great coaster-ride of reading.

Other favorites include: Jane Austen (she made being a woman author a little more acceptable), William Shakespeare (one of the biggest Booya Moon pool drinkers), Lois Lowry (she made my kids think, and brought our family around the table to read The Giver) and so many more. 

Two For the Dough by Janet Evanovich

Two for the Dough cover art

Title: Two For the Dough: A Stephanie Plum Novel
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Pocket Books (div. of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
ISBN: 0671001795
Publication Date: September 1996

“…Sweetie pie, you are the worst bounty hunter in the history of the world.”

“That does it. I have better things to do than to stand here and take your insults.”

I pushed him out of my foyer, into the hall, slammed the door closed, and threw the bolt. I pressed my nose to the door and looked through the peephole.

Morelli grinned at me.

“This is war,” I yelled through the door.

“Lucky for me,” Morelli said. “I give good war.”

My first experience with Stephanie Plum was Plum Lucky. I had never read anything that hilarious for adults, and could only compare the experience to reading Junie B. books with my nine-year-old. Stephanie is a sassy, independant woman bounty hunter with a helicopter mother, crazy Grandma Mazur, and over-sexed reluctant partner Morelli.

In Two for the Dough, the second Stephanie Plum novel, Stephanie is still learning the ropes of the fugitive recovery business. Her car is stolen, forcing her to use an obtuse eyesore she lovingly refers to as “Big Blue”, making stakeouts and tailings near to impossible. What starts out as a simple recover turns into a mad murdering lunatic with his sights set on Stephanie AND Grandma Mazur. There are funeral homes, corpses’ body parts lurking for Stephanie to find (at one point an embalmed “Johnson” is overnighted to her, causing her father to announce his desire to be cremated so he’ll go out with all his parts). The coup de gras of the book is Morelli standing in a darken parking lot in nothing but his unbuttoned shirt and socks, Stephanie’s taillights disappearing into the night.

Janet Evanovich’s writing is sarcastic and playful, and gets down to business when appropriate. She turns on a dime, one minute laughing at the antics of Grandma Mazur, next minute a frantic search for her. At one point in this book, I literally laughed off my chair, hitting the floor with a thud, so I can say I was actually “ROFL”.

There’s a cat found trapped in Rex the Hamster’s cage, Rex no where to be found. A severed foot in the fridge. Stephanie hits Morelli’s car four times (Stephanie, Morelli and a car… never a good mix!). Grandma Mazur with a gun, AGAIN. Stephanie in the backseat of a ’53 Buick with Morelli. Gradma Mazur on the slab in the funeral home. All these ingredients make up a recipe for a fast and fun read!

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