Review: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

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Ann Brashare’s new book The Whole Thing Together is about a family who is just about as dysfunctional as it gets. It all started when Lila married Robert, and together they had three daughters, Emma, Quinn, and Mattie. After Lila and Robert had an incredibly bitter and nasty divorce, Lila got remarried to Adam, and Robert got remarried to Evie. Adam had two children from his previous marriage, but they’re not part of this particularly complicated equation. Then Lila and Evie got pregnant at the exact same time. Born only weeks apart, Lila and Adam had Ray, and Robert and Evie had Sasha. Due to their inability to be at least somewhat cordial around each other under any circumstances, Lila and Robert split their time with their three daughters, and also their summer home on Long Island. It had belonged to Lila’s family but when Lila’s father almost lost it due to financial issues, Robert stepped up and saved the house from foreclosure. During their splitting of assets during their divorce negotiations, both Lila and Robert stubbornly refused to give up the Long Island house because they both felt as if they were the rightful owner. Finally, a truce was made and they agreed to split up their time in the house, rotating ownership by the week. The only family members who didn’t have rotate their time in the house were their three daughters, Quinn, Emma and Mattie. Since so much hostility remains between them, they have the turn around scheduled carefully so they don’t ever have to encounter one another. Because of Lila and Robert’s carefully choreographed routine of never being in the same place at the same time and having no contact with each other, Ray and Sasha have never actually met despite having three half-sisters in common and sharing the same room every other week, and also sharing the fact that they are the only members of the family who share no blood relation. They’ve shared a lot through the years, books, toys, and various other things including their summer job. Each of them have imagined how the other spent their time in their shared room, wondering about the curious stranger with whom they have so much in common. After a brief chance encounter between Sasha and Ray at a party where they finally see each other for the first time, they are now more curious about their counterpart than ever, leading them to start communicating via notes, texts, and emails through which they begin to get to know one another apart from just being the other sibling that their half-sisters split time and a home with.

When a family celebration is planned that gives Lila and Robert no choice but to be in the same space at the same time for the first time since their divorce, tensions that have bubbled under the surface all these years come to a head and chaos ensues. After the disastrous family party that was meant to be a joyous occasion is over, the entire family endures a heartbreaking and tragic loss. The animosity in the family is replaced by overwhelming grief, and the whole family comes together to mourn, putting aside their differences for the first time.
The book is a beautiful story about family, and all of the ups and downs that come with it. Ann Brashares is truly a gifted writer, and this book again proves how wonderful she is at letting you really get to know her characters, and eliciting imagery so well that you feel as though you’re right in the story with them. Her stories never fail to leave you feeling touched by the way she writes with such sincerity, and they manage to stick with you long after you’ve finished reading them.

This book is out April 25th! Seriously, do yourself a favor and pre-order a copy now!

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Review: It Happens All The Time by Amy Hatvany

it-happens-all-the-time-9781476704456_hrTRIGGER WARNING: If you are a sexual abuse survivor, the topics in this review and this book may be a trigger for you. I’d advise not reading this book until you’re far enough along in your recovery that you feel like reading about these topics will not have an adverse effect on your progress.

Amy Hatvany’s novel is one that stirs your emotions and grips you until long after you’ve finished reading. I loved the way she approached this story, and decided to look at from both sides – the man who committed the assault, and the victim. What made this story even more compelling was the fact that the two main characters were best friends through out most of their lives, and what becomes of their relationship after the night the assault takes place.

Amber and Tyler have gotten through the roughest times in their lives together. From Tyler’s parents volatile divorce, to Amber’s near-death caused by her eating disorder.  It seems like there’s nothing that can come between them. Amber has just finished college and is home for the summer, and for the first time in years, she and Tyler are spending significant amounts of time together. Amber has a serious boyfriend and big aspirations of becoming a trainer for a professional athletic team, putting her degree to work and eventually joining her boyfriend in Seattle where they will begin their lives together. Tyler is an EMT for the fire department, and has never really gotten over his feelings for Amber, although she has made it clear that she only wants to be friends. Tyler sees Amber’s return as an opportunity to make her see that he’s the perfect guy for her, despite the fact that she’s in a serious committed relationship.

When things with Amber’s college sweetheart start to make he reconsider her romantic choices, and lines begin to blur between Amber and Tyler, a night of heavy drinking leads to the unthinkable that will change the course of their lives forever.

Amy Hatvany expertly moves between Amber and Tyler’s point of view, navigating the murky waters of these heavily scrutinized subjects: rape and consent. Anyone who has ever been on either side of a situation where they felt taken advantage of or felt as though they may have pushed too far will identify with the characters in this book. There are some amazingly difficult topics discussed in this book, but in my opinion, a thorough discussion of topics like rape are what’s needed in today’s society. Blurred lines and arguments of whether or not someone has truly given consent aren’t easy topics, but it’s necessary to explore them in the way that Amy Hatvany has done in her novel. I implore women and men alike to read this novel, and think about your own experiences and explore your feelings and stance on these topics. This intensely gripping novel forces you to confront your previous judgements and biases on the subject of rape and then forces you to throw them out the window when you find yourself empathizing with the exquisitely written, human, and all-too relatable characters on both sides of this emotionally stirring story.

I personally applaud Amy Hatvany for her exquisitely written and incredibly important novel, It Happens All The Time. Everyone should read this book! Out on March 28th.

More reviews coming soon!

Happy reading,
Erin

 

Review: My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

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Hello again and sorry for the long hiatus! Being pregnant and very ill throws a wrench in all creative endeavors. However, being on bed rest provides ample time for reading! I’ve read all the books I had waiting for review, which leaves me without new ones to read, but I plan on trying to fix that ASAP!

I adore the way Sophie Kinsella writes. Her characters are lovable, flawed, but so damn relatable that you read their accounts of their lives and think to yourself, “We are practically the same person.” I personally stumbled on her books after watching the big screen adaptation of her Confessions Of A Shopaholic series starring Isla Fisher and found myself immediately drawn in by her hilarious characters and brilliant writing style. Her books really lend themselves to being adapted into films because she writes with such a vivid visual style that builds her character’s worlds so well.

Much like her previous novels, this book concentrates on a young female entrepreneur who has humble beginnings but lofty dreams and aspirations.
Katie Brenner is a country girl who grew up on her family’s farm, raised by a single father who tried his best after her mother’s untimely passing. Although she loves her father, she has dreams of being a glamorous, city living, business woman. After university, she moved from her small rural home town of Somerset and accepted a position in London at a marketing firm. The job is at the bottom of the corporate ladder, but at least she gets to work under and learn from her insanely successful and glamorous boss, Demeter. Demeter is the epitome of everything Katie, or Cat, dreams of being. She’s the head of a successful marketing firm, well respected and admired for the brilliant marketing campaigns she has spear-headed, married to an equally successful and glamorous husband with whom she shares two children and a gorgeous home that has been featured in magazines, always on top of the latest fashions, and basically the perfectly instagram-able, picturesque life. Katie tries desperately to impress Demeter with her ability to learn quickly and handle whatever is thrown at her, but Demeter is dismissive and too wrapped up in her own world to ever truly recognize Katie’s potential. Demeter’s harsh and arrogant attitude is a constant source of interoffice conflict and gossip, causing tension among the employees and leading them all to talk about her behind her back. Katie’s relationship with Demeter is complicated because as much as she loathes the way she and her colleagues are treated by her, she can’t help but begrudgingly admire her.

Despite the terrible pay she earns, her awful roommates she shares a flat with, and unglamorous lifestyle, she still tells her father how amazing her life is because he has never understood why she felt the need to leave home and pursue her dreams. Katie’s dad is a simple man who has spent her entire life trying to find the next big thing he can invest in that will bring him the great success that he strives for, despite his many failures. Katie’s desire to escape the world she grew up has strained her relationship with her father, and being honest with him about the current state of her life in London would just reinforce his belief that what he thinks is right and lead him to say “I told you so.” So, when Katie’s life begins to unravel when she’s fired by Demeter, she heads home to assist her father and his long-time girlfriend in their new business endeavor of turning their farm into a prime “glamping” destination under the ruse of being on a sabbatical from her job.
While desperately trying to find another job in London, she helps her father run his new business as it takes off, becoming a highly sought after destination for the city dwelling elite to escape their lives. Katie’s cover is at risk of being completely blown by the surprise arrival of Demeter and her family. As much as Katie would love to keep her secret from her family, she is also tempted to get Demeter back for the ruthless way she fired her.
Just as things seem to be the worst, Katie learns that although her life may not be as perfect as she wants it to be, she can still make it pretty great.

My (Not So) Perfect Life is a fun, engaging read, that never fails to keep you interested and cheering for the perfectly flawed heroine that every woman can identify with. Sophie Kinsella is a truly gifted writer that takes you on a fun journey with her characters that leaves you feeling as though you’ve lost a friend when you finish reading.

I highly recommend that everyone read her new book! No matter which genre you prefer, this book is a truly enjoyable escape from our (not so) perfect lives! (Too cheesy? Sorry!)

Stay tuned for more reviews, coming soon!

Happy reading,

Erin

Review: All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

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This book was SO good. It was one of those books that you want to blaze through so you can know how it all comes together, but I had to force myself to put it down at times because I also wanted to savor it. It was that good. The book is told in an incredibly unique and compelling format and draws you in from the very first page and weaves a gripping tale of first loves, friendship, and the cost of loyalty when it comes to those you care about most. Megan Miranda brilliant wrote the book in reverse chronological order, starting with day fifteen of Nic’s stay in Cooley Ridge and ending on day one

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her home town and put the trauma of the disappearance of her best friend, Corinne Prescott, in her past. After the grueling searches and the brutal investigation into Corinne’s disappearance that Nic, her brother Daniel, her boyfriend Tyler, her friend Bailey, and Corrinne’s boyfriend Jackson were at the center of, she could no longer remain in the town she grew up in and continue to be suffocated by the rumors, whispers, and stares she was constantly subjected to by the fellow inhabitants  of Cooley Ridge. Cooley Ridge was the type of town that no one ever left, they just grew up and settled there like the generations before them.
After Corinne disappeared, it felt like part of Nic had disappeared with her. She and Nic had been best friends for as long as she could remember, and Corinne was the type of person who drew you in, tested you, and was both toxic and intoxicating. She was constantly pulling stunts that pushed boundaries between Nic, Bailey, Tyler, Daniel, and Jackson. When she disappeared, the detectives picked apart her life and broke her sense of mystery wide open by interrogating those closest to her. Her family was questioned and the fact that Corinne’s father was abusive was made known, and all the secret details of her life were made public, and Nic and the rest of their group were heavily interrogated and suspected to be involved or have more knowledge about what happened to Corinne that they were unwilling to share with the police. The cops never formally charged any of their suspects and her disappearance remained unsolved. The secrets that surrounded the night she disappeared haunted Nic, and she felt somewhat guilty for the resentment she still feels toward Corinne for the things that happened that night. Corinne’s presence, despite being physically gone, still felt like it surrounded her the minute she stepped back into Cooley Ridge.

When Nic left behind her hometown, she became a new person, found a new love in her lawyer fiance Everett, and a good job that lets her feel like she has really moved past her childhood and what happened with Corinne. All is good in Nic’s life until she is obligated to come back home to help with her father’s estate and help him get used to living in a nursing home and fixing up his house to sell. She helps her brother Daniel out with the logistics and while going through her father’s things she finds things that trouble her, so she decided to start looking into things and trying to ask her father questions on his more lucid days. When she sees her ex-boyfriend and first love Tyler, she is transported back to being 17 and still feels the magnetic pull he has on her and even begins to feel jealous of the young girl he is dating. Things become incredibly complicated when the girl goes missing, and the town is thrown into another whirlwind of chaos, devastation and suspicion. People didn’t exactly miss the fact that as soon as Nic reappears in town, the young, beautiful girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend has gone missing with no details guiding the investigation except for the fact that she had inquired about Corinne’s case to the local police shortly before disappearing without a trace and she just happened to be Nic and the group’s only alibi the night of Corinne’s disappearance.
Suspicions run high and again, the town in embroiled in a search and investigation. Nic feels the pressure of trying to figure out what happened to this girl in order to protect Tyler, who was the last person seen with her. It’s also because after Corinne’s disappearance, she knows people can be capable of anything.
Together with her brother Daniel, his very pregnant wife Laura, Tyler, and other people she talks to along the way, Nic feels as though it’s up to her to find out what happened to Corinne and now Annalise to protect her family. The novel’s main idea stem’s from the question, “How far are we willing to go for the ones we love?” Megan Miranda answers that expertly in an incredibly entertaining fashion.

This book is so incredibly well written, and the suspense starts to build as soon as you read the first page. With complicated, intense characters and the way small-town rumors begin to turn into fact the longer they linger, Megan Miranda crafts one of the best mysteries I’ve read in recent years. I know a lot of people lauded “The Girl On The Train” for it’s drama and suspense, but this novel surpasses its’ level of intensity and brought more heart pounding suspense that will keep you enthralled, without any of the extra padding in the story other authors sometimes use to distract from getting to the big reveal. Every detail the reader is given to absorb is put there deliberately and expertly so by the author. I sincerely recommend this book to all lovers of thriller and mystery novels, and I cannot wait to see what else Megan Miranda has in store for us readers.

Hope you all enjoyed the review,  I didn’t want to spoil the story for anyone, so I didn’t go into as much detail as I usually do with my reviews and for good reason!

To never miss another post, subscribe below or follow my blog’s Facebook page, or find me on Twitter: @etoland16.

Happy New Year and happy reading!
Erin

 

 

 

 

What’s Playing Wednesdays!

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Since next week I am taking a break to finish up some reviews, I thought I’d share my favorite Christmas songs with you all!

Pentatonix is one of my favorite musical groups and their Christmas songs are SO good.
This year they put out an acapella version of one of my favorite songs ever, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and it is hauntingly beautiful. They also have a version of Mary, Did You Know? that will give you chills, as well as a version of Little Drummer Boy that is simply stunning.
My other favorites are:

O, Holy Night – N*SYNC did a version of this on their Christmas album that has been my favorite ever since, and I can’t forget their original Christmas song: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. I still listen to their Christmas album to this day. It never fails to take me back to my childhood when my cousins would come over and I would force them into learning dances I choreographed to the songs on the album and they’d get bored and say, “Can we go play Barbies now?” and I’d say no then they’d tell my parents and I’d get in trouble for imprisoning them in my room and forcing them to learn dances that were awful. Cousins, I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Carol Of The Bells is one of my favorite pieces of Christmas music as well, the strength of the music and the swells and and grand scheme of its score is just amazing.

This will surprise my friends and family members, but Taylor Swift has an original Christmas song I love called Christmases When You Were Mine that I loved immediately upon hearing it a few years ago.

I don’t even know which version of this song I like the most but Last Christmas has been covered so many times by so many people, I’ll just say, I love the song.

The newest of my favorite Christmas songs is by one of my absolute favorite artists, Kacey Musgraves called Present Without A Bow featuring Leon Bridges. I just love everything she does.

I’ve also always loved Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Who doesn’t? It’s such a fun song.
And I love love love Feliz Navidad. I was so happy when I took Spanish in school and actually learned the words and meanings. Now I just chuckle when I hear people trying to sing along to it while butchering the words. I was them once, too!

I’m sure I could go on naming Christmas songs I love for days, but I’ll stop here.

Check back here or on my Facebook Page or Twitter for more reviews coming next week, or possibly sooner!

Happy reading and Merry Christmas!
Erin

 

Movie Mondays: Book to Screen Adaptations!

I absolutely love Jonathan Tropper’s novels, and this one was the first one I read because I had seen the trailer for the movie and discovered that it was an adaptation so I had to read it. The novel is brilliant. Equal parts beautiful, hilarious, and tragic, Tropper takes us on a journey along with his main character Judd Foxman (changed to Altman in the movie) who has just had his life turned completely upside down. After finding his wife in bed with his boss, which leads to him losing his marriage and job in one fell swoop, he falls into a deep depression and isolates himself away from the world. He is happily ignoring the fact that’s life as he knows it is ending when a phone call changes everything.
He is informed by his sister, Wendy, that his father has just passed away after having been sick for months. He is also informed that it was the last wishes of his father that all of his children and his wife sit shiva, the Jewish tradition in which a family mourns for seven days and essentially put their lives on hold in order to mourn properly.
Coming home for Judd is always complicated, and this time it’s even more so because he hasn’t told anyone but Wendy about his impending divorce and must make up an excuse for his wife’s absence. Old tensions begin to arise as soon as Judd walks through the door of his childhood home and begins to interact with his siblings. His big sister Wendy has always been his closest sibling and confidante, and is never afraid to call Judd out on his bullshit. Paul, the oldest, was the one sibling who stayed home to help their father run the family business which has left him somewhat bitter, and his wife Annie used to date Judd prior to getting together with Paul, which is a fact that their baby brother Phillip loves to bring up because he finds it hilarious. Paul and Annie are having trouble having a baby, which is causing Annie a lot of heartache and she doesn’t feel like Paul cares as much about having a baby as she does. Phillip, the baby of the family, brings home a much older woman who obviously very wealthy which causes the family to question his motives, being that he is the family screw up. The siblings have all taken turns bailing Phillip out of his various schemes that go awry, but Phillip is desperate to show his family that he is a changed man who finally has his life together. Coming home isn’t just painful for Judd, it is more so for Wendy, who essentially lost the love of her life, Horry, when he suffered a terrible brain injury after an accident which caused him to turn into a person she no longer knew and would always have to care for like a child, leading her to leave home to pursue a life she’s not happy with. Horry is the son of their mother’s best friend and their next door neighbor, so avoiding him and the heartache seeing him brings is simply impossible. Despite loving her two children dearly, she knows that her marriage is nothing more than a marriage of convenience, affording her a lavish lifestyle which happens to include a largely absent husband.
Their mother Hilary is a well-known author, having written a non-fiction book on parenting by exploiting the childhoods of the four siblings, which is also a point of contention among the remaining members of the family. The more time the family is forced to spend together, the more they remember why they don’t see each other very often: they don’t get along. Tensions that have remained for years end up boiling over, causing intense fighting among the siblings.
While home, Judd runs into an old flame of his, Penny, who still lives in town and is still single and still very much in love with Judd. He finds himself having feelings for her again and they begin spending time together, and things are going extremely well until Judd finds out that his ex-wife Jen (Quinn in the book) is pregnant. He dismisses her and refuses to believe it’s his child, but as it turns out, his boss aka his wife’s lover is sterile and unable to have children.
Despite their dysfunction, when it comes down to it, they are always there for each other and they find comfort in the fact that even though by their respective ages they’re supposed to have their lives figured out, they each have their own issues that they need to work through and none of them have the perfect lives they so deeply wanted to prove they had.

The movie had the perfect cast, and the fact that Jonathan Tropper wrote the screenplay made it all the better. The director, Sean Levy, know for his comedic films, was able to really dig into the emotional turmoil Judd and the rest of the characters were experiencing and dealing with in their own ways. He was also able to pull the comedic moments from the dramatic scenes to make them still pack an emotional punch but also find the comedy that exists in even our most vulnerable and sad moments.
Jason Bateman was the perfect Judd and brought so much sincerity to the role, and the whole star studded cast did an amazing job bringing the characters to life.
Tina Fey as Wendy Altman was a perfect choice, and I think her ability to tap into her dramatic side as an actor surprised most people, but her comedic chops were still in full effect and brought levity to some of the heavier scenes. Corey Stoll as Paul, the bitter and somewhat cynical oldest sibling who felt like it was his duty to stay close to home and help their father run the family business who is also holding on to old grudges, was able to portray that perfectly and even show that despite his feelings he still loves his siblings. Kathryn Hahn as Annie, who played Paul wife, desperate to have a baby and that sadness and vulnerability came across the screen flawlessly. Rose Byrne as Penny was perfect as well, and she is a great actress and brought that character to life in the best way possible.
Adam Driver as Phillip was a revelation, he was genuine and he played the desperateness he feels in wanting to prove himself as something more than the family screw up. No one could have played Hilary Altman and brought the maternal presence, strength and love for her children to life the way she did.
The rest of the cast was just great, and although they cut out a few of the smaller storylines, the story didn’t suffer for it and in fact I think the movie was better because of it. I loved the movie and have watched it a ton of times, and I really hope they adapt more of Jonathan Tropper’s books and that Sean Levy directs it because he did such a great job creating the world of this film.

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Coming up, an interview with the amazing author of Dear Amy by Helen Calaghan, and reviews of All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

Happy reading, and Merry Christmas!
Erin

 

 

Throwback Thursday!

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Since I didn’t write my weekly installment of What’s Playing Wednesday because I have something special up my sleeve and would like to wait until next week to post it, I thought I’d introduce something new. This is a one time post, just to reminisce about the books I grew up reading and how they made me into the reader I am today. I spent many nights with a flashlight, reading under a sheet because it was long after my bedtime and I didn’t want to get in trouble for being up too late.

The first book I ever read by myself was Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak. I loved that book, and continued to read the Little Bear series and then watch the TV show when it came out. It was the first book I ever read to my daughter, and she has now read it and she has developed quite the fondness for reading and is considered advanced for her age. Seriously, every time there is a book fair at her school, my whole family eagerly hands her money because they know how much reading does for children and how important it is for their development, and if there is one thing my parents always encouraged us kids to do, it was read. She just had a book fair recently and she came home with not 1, not 5, but 23 books. She is so my child.
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Some of the other books were series like The Babysitter’s Club, which I often stole from my sister, and my favorite, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
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Their adventures seemed so magical to me and I ate them up. I also read some of R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps series, but I’ll admit they freaked me out. The librarian at my elementary school would give me the catalog for the book fair before it was passed out to the rest of the kids so I’d have time to pick out what I wanted and she could hold them for me. Every Christmas she’d give me a bookmark, and write a message on the back like, “Keep up your love for reading!” and I still have all of them. I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember her name, but her encouragement and her holding books for me and being such a cheerleader for my love of reading absolutely was a contributing factor that lead to my life long relationship with books.
My parents have always encouraged my reading habit as well. Any time we’d go to the mall, I’d request to go to the bookstore while my mom did her shopping and she’d find me in the bookstore after having finished her shopping with arms full of books and books being held for me at the counter. The people who worked there knew me by name and would laugh at the stack of books I’d rack up during my visits. My mom could come in, tell me to narrow it down to the ones I just HAD to have, which didn’t narrow the stacks down much, laugh and pay for the stacks of books and I’d walk out holding my mom’s hand, practically skipping and filled wth joy and excitement because I had books to read that would lead me on adventures, and take me on trips to magical worlds.

One of the first real YA authors I remember reading was Sarah Dessen. I read That Summer and was hooked. I’ve remained a loyal fan since and have read everything she’s ever written. I read it when I was about 9 or 10, and was taken by the way she told the story and how beautiful it was. I was probably a little young for it, but I was hungry for more and read Someone Like You and I knew I would read every word this woman would ever write.
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Sarah Dessen led me to discover Ann Brashares and her lovely books, which led to a love for Young Adult Fiction that I still, at age 28, have not been able to shake.
Sarah Dessen was where it all started, so from reader to author, THANK YOU!

Somewhere in there I started a love affair with Mary Higgins Clark books and I am still a loyal reader of hers as well. The first I ever read was Loves Music, Loves To Dance, which horrified and excited me at the same time and I knew I had to read more. I have every book she has ever written, aside from her Christmas novels, and am still amazed at her ability to write such amazing novels despite having written so many.
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There are so many authors who I have to thank for inspiring my love of books, but these are the main players. Thank you authors for your contribution to my childhood, adolescence, and now my continued love for books as an adult.

Hope you all enjoyed this little walk down memory lane, and continue to follow the blog, or leave comments telling me about your favorites as a kid. Be sure to follow my Books, Music, and All Things Written Facebook Page or follow me on Twitter to keep up with all my posts.

Happy reading, and Merry Christmas!
Erin

Movie Monday: Book to Screen Adaptations!

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This week’s Movie Monday belongs to one of the best adaptations of a book to movie I’ve ever seen and have always loved.

Quick story on my history with this book, first of all: I went to a private Christian school and we weren’t allowed to read this book as part of our curriculum because of the language and the subject matter. So, I took it upon myself to buy and read this book when I was in 8th grade. We were on a road trip to Louisiana, and of course I needed reading material. I read the book quickly, finishing it with tears in my eyes and with a new respect for a book I’d always heart about but never actually read. The brilliance of this book is that it’s told from a child’s perspective, so it gets away with saying some of the things it does and puts things in such simple terms that it’s impossible not to agree and see the powerful message the story holds. Harper Lee is a folk hero to most for her depiction of the era and how people of color were treated and how standing up for what you believe in is never wrong. There are so many strong and powerful thematic elements to this book, that you’d think a movie would never do it justice. When I told my dad that I had read the book, he told me there was a movie, and I scoffed but he encouraged me to see it.
Believing that there was no way the movie could even touch the book, I watched it, but was amazed at how well Gregory Peck played Atticus Finch and how well Scout was depicted, and just how well the movie as a whole was done. Sure, it’s not perfect, movie adaptations never are. However, given the current political and personal climate in our world today, the messages of this book and movie still hold up and has lessons to teach us.

I’m sure some disagree with me and don’t think the movie was all that great, but given the technology at the time, and the fact that a movie studio even decided to make it at the time they did, it’s pretty astounding.

I tried to read Go Set A Watchman but I didn’t like the Atticus that was portrayed, nor the way Scout looked at her father, basically, I wanted another To Kill A Mockingbird, but that isn’t what that book is. Harper Lee was an amazing writer, and her story has meant so much to many people, that I think we can just cherish Mockingbird and celebrate it as the wonderful piece of literature it is, and for the amazing movie it spawned.

Hope you all enjoyed!
Erin

 

What’s Playing Wednesdays!

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Today’s post is actually inspired by the fact that, Hamilton, my favorite musical I’ve never seen but have only heard’s creator, Lin Manuel-Miranda, is going to produce THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLES and provide the soundtrack which is SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO THE STORY! You’ll learn more about The Kingkiller Chronicles in this week’s installment of Favorite Titles Friday, but for now let me just say that it is news that actually made me pick the phone and CALL someone. (something I hate to do, I hate texting even. Just come see me face to face. I hate how technology has robbed us of everyday intimacies between humans. -Sorry for that. I’m so excited that my brain is like a pin-ball machine right now- thoughts bouncing around everywhere all willy nilly.) That someone being my brother, who thanks to me, owns a personally dedicated autographed copy of the first book in the series, The Name Of The Wind (because I’m an awesome sister who gives awesome birthday presents AND it was kind of a thank you for introducing me to the amazing books by Patrick Rothfuss) to tell him  about the news when it broke. I literally saw the new minutes after Variety posted it, and although I was home alone at the time, I screamed “OH MY GOD, ARE THEY SERIOUS? THIS IS SO AMAZING! NO ONE ELSE COULD DO THIS BETTER!” and then when my fiance walked in from work (I didn’t call him because I knew he was driving home and would arrive in minutes) – and I must mention, he ALSO has a personally dedicated autographed copy of The Name of The Wind because, well, I’m awesome, and he is so crazy about it, he keeps it locked in a safe. You’d think that these boys would realize how amazing of a gift it is to bestow on someone and get me one of my own, right? Nope. I refuse to buy my own, and will only get myself an autographed copy if I actually get the incredible opportunity to go to a signing and get the bearded, beloved, author himself to sign it for me in front of my very eyes.

Today’s post is dedicated to Lin Manuel-Miranda and what he is doing with his musical Hamilton, the amazing music he contributed to the new Disney movie Moana, the Hamilton Mixtape, which I’ve already pre-ordered (IT DROPS ON THE 2ND!), his involvement in the Kingkiller Chronicles, and basically Broadway in general.
I’ve only seen three live plays before in my life, the rest I’ve only seen through Tony performances or when they’ve been made into movies. Those three plays were: Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which I was too young to really absorb but loved it, I saw the high-school production of The Wizard of Oz put on by my sister & her castmates which blew my little 6th grade heart away (the school is somewhat known for their theater program, it was an amazing show) and the other was a play, not a musical, called Proof. It was a high school production also, but it was put on by my school who is constantly winning things for their amazing theater program, and I was so moved and impressed by the cast and how well they did in the show. Most of the kids who were in it went on to study theater and all work in some aspect of it, which is great because they’re insanely talented. I saw the movie they made of the play starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal with my brother who had also seen the play with me, and we both agreed that the kids who put on the show did a far superior job than Oscar-nominated actors.

Anyway, now let’s talk about my favorite songs from musicals! It’ll be more like, here’s my favorite musicals, here are my favorite songs from them.

Hamilton – The whole soundtrack is awesome and has opened up a whole new era in Broadway, but not having seen the show, my favorite songs are My Shot and Alexander Hamilton just because they are kind of the theme songs of the show.

Rent– Again, another brilliant soundtrack that shook up Broadway. La Vie Boheme, obviously, Would You Light My Candle?, and of course, Seasons of Love.

The Last Five Years– I only saw this because Anna Kendrick was in it, but my favorite song I don’t even know the name to and am not going to bother to look up because the whole show is great, but the argument they have when Jamie comes to see her at the camp is my favorite.

The Wizard of Oz– Over The Rainbow. One of the most beautiful songs ever, and has always been one of the best songs from a musical.

Les Miserables – I Dreamed A Dream. Anne Hathaway’s film version of this was beautiful. Admittedly though, I’ve never seen it.

Wicked – Defying Gravity. Idina Menzel is such an amazing actress and singer, and I love this song so much. I haven’t seen Wicked in any form, but it’s a show I’d seriously love to see.

The Book of Mormon – I Believe. I saw Andrew Rannells perform this song on the Tony’s and loved it. It was so well performed and was hilarious, and I want to see the musical so badly!

Hairspray – Welcome To The Sixties, and pretty much the whole thing. Such a great musical and message.

I’m sure I could think of more, but since my knowledge of musicals is very limited, please excuse my lack of range in musical experiences.

Hope you guys enjoyed my Broadway themed What’s Playing Wednesdays!

Happy reading and listening,
Erin

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Movie Mondays: Book To Screen Adaptations!

This week’s installment of Movie Mondays is about the screen adaptation of the Philip Roth novel Indignation, and the movie of the same name starring Logan Lerman, most known for his role as Percy Jackson in the Percy Jackson films and the role of Charlie in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. The film also stars Sarah Gadon, most known for her role as Princess Elizabeth in A Royal Night Out, her small roles in such films as Maps To The Stars, Ebba Sparre in The Girl King, and my personal favorite, her role as Sadie Dunhill in the Hulu Original mini-series 11.22.63 based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The role of Dean Hawes D. Caudwell is played by the brilliant playwright, screenwriter and actor Tracy Letts, the roles of Marcus’s parents are played by Danny Burstein and Linda Edmond. The casting was brilliantly done, and the actors were perfect for their roles, especially Logan Lerman as Marcus Messner, and Sarah Gadon as Olivia Hutton.

Both the novel and the film are told from the perspective of Marcus Messner, a brilliant young Jewish man and son of a Kosher Butcher. Due to his father’s increasingly paranoid behavior that’s causing him to spiral, Marcus decides to leave his home of Newark, New Jersey where he is attending Robert Treat College and transfer to Winesburg College in Ohio.
There a very few differences in the book and the movie, basically only minor changes are made but the story doesn’t suffer from it.

Finally able to be free of his father’s controlling behavior, Marcus tries to settle into his new home at Winesburg. He meets his new roommates, Bertram Flusser (played by Ben Rosenfield) and Ron Foxman (played by Philip Ettinger). He begins to get to know them little, and learns that Ron has a car that he is extremely proud of and somewhat obsessed with, and Flusser is a flamboyant theater major who gives Marcus a particularly hard time and takes pleasure in pressing Marcus’s buttons.

While studying in the library one evening, Marcus sees a girl studying not far from him and is immediately infatuated with her. He learns that her name is Olivia Hutton, the daughter of a doctor with divorced parents who was battled mental illness in the past. Despite all of this, he remains completely fascinated by her and asks her out on a date. Their relationship is complicated from the beginning and only becomes more so as time goes on.

Marcus’s time at Winesburg also becomes complicated after a heated confrontation with the Dean Caudwell over religion and Marcus’s attitude toward God and his limited and fraught interaction with other students. Marcus becomes more and more irate as the Dean questions his morals after Marcus states that he’s an atheist and criticizes his attitude. Despite being a brilliant student, his worldview and beliefs are at odds with that of the college and during the meeting with the Dean Caudwell, Marcus becomes extremely ill and is rushed to the hospital where he has his appendix removed.
Marcus learns from his mother that his father’s paranoia has become increasingly troubling and he worries for his mother, and she also disapproves of his relationship with Olivia causing Marcus to become even more stressed and troubled.
The decisions Marcus makes eventually lead to disastrous consequences and he is forced to face the repercussions.

As far as the adaptation goes, the director and screenwriter James Schamus did a brilliant job of bringing the themes and ideals of Philip Roth’s novel to life. The cast, especially Logan Lerman, is brilliant. He plays the role of Marcus flawlessly and is able to portray the brilliant yet naive character with amazing believability, depicting his flaws and characteristics just as Philip Roth had written them in the novel. Sarah Gadon played Olivia, the troubled, beautiful, and complicated girl beautifully and brought her vulnerability to life quite perfectly.

The adaptation is one of the best that I’ve ever seen, due to the work of the writer/director James Schamus and the cast bringing the novel and also the time period to life on screen in a remarkable fashion.

I encourage anyone who is a fan of Philip Roth’s novels, or just a fan of brilliant independent films to see it and enjoy it for yourself as much as I did.

Hope you enjoyed my take on Indignation, and feel free to comment below and subscribe so you never miss a post.
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Coming soon, my review of All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. Sorry for the wait on the review, but this isn’t the type of book you tear through, it’s the kind of book you savor and consider as you read and enjoy the twists and turns.

Happy reading,
Erin