Monday, March 31, 2008

Book to Movie: The Nanny Diaries

Photobucket To be fair it's been ages since I've read The Nanny Diaries: A Novel but it seemed like the movie was pretty close to the book. I'm not a big Scarlet Johanssen fan (I think she's overrated) but she did Annie/Nannie justice. I enjoyed watching Laura Linney as Mrs. X and even more surprising to me was Paul Giammanti as Mr. X (I watched him more recently in The Illusionist). The little boy who played Grayer/Grover was adorable and it broke my heart when Mrs. X sent Annie away and he chased the car. I enjoyed seeing Alicia Keys on the big screen again as Annie's friend Lynette.

What I found pretty clever was how they worked in the Museum of Natural History into the opening credits as part of a display on societies of New York. I found that intriguing and humorous. As with all chick lit books and movies, it had a happy ending and I have to say I was happy to see her end up with "Harvard hottie". Someone needs to give Chris Evans more movie roles!!

Final Take Book to Movie: 3/5

Related: Lisa's Movie Review

Monday, March 24, 2008

Julie's Review: Remember Me?

Summary: After taking a nasty bump on the head, Lexi Smart awakens in a hospital convinced that it's 2004 and that she's just missed her father's funeral. It's actually three years later, and she no longer has crooked teeth, frizzy hair and a loser boyfriend. Initially wowed by what she's become—a gorgeous, cut-throat businesswoman—Lexi soon finds herself attempting to figure out how it happened. As her personality change and lost memory threaten her job, Lexi tries to dredge up some chemistry with her handsome albeit priggish husband, Eric, though the effort is unnecessary with Eric's colleague Jon, who tells Lexi that she was about to leave Eric for him. Amnesia tales may be old hat, but Kinsella keeps things fresh and frothy with workplace politicking, romantic intrigue and a vibrant (though sometimes caricatured) cast. Though the happy ending won't come as a surprise, readers will be rooting for Lexi all along. Weekly

Review: I admit it, when I hear that Sophie Kinsella is releasing a new book I get excited. I've loved her since my girlfriend gave me Confessions of a Shopaholic series, but I like her non Becky Bloomwood books more. So when I heard that she was coming out with a new book before there was even a summary, it was on my Wish List at I ended up buying the book at Target a few weeks ago and knew it would move to the top of my TBR pile because I knew that it would be a good, quick, light read and after some of the books I've read lately I needed that. Remember Me? is quite a funny book and Lexi is a great heroine to route for. I found myself wondering what I would do if I lost my memory and how I would handle it. The supporting cast of characters are interesting and fun but the story is pretty typical. There was a good twist that I didn't see coming but other than that it wasn't Ms. Kinsella's best book. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I recommend that you read it? Yes. Would I tell you it was the best "chick-lit" book I've read? No, but you will be entertained.

I expect Laugh out Loud moments from Ms. Kinsellas' books and while there were a few, there were less than in her previous books. The ending is predictible but nice just the same. It seems that amnesia is the illness dujour lately in tv and in books but that doesn't mean that it isn't refreshing for a subject matter.

If you haven't read Sophie Kinsella yet, I would recommend either Can You Keep a Secret? or The Undomestic Goddess to read first.

I'll keep reading Sophie Kinsella because I like her style of writing and her books typically don't disappoint. I don't ever feel like I've wasted time reading one of her books.

Final Take: 3.5/5

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Julie's Review: Things I Want My Daughters To Know

Summary: Noble (The Reading Group) hits her stride in her tearjerker fourth novel. Before Barbara Forbes, a mother of four, succumbs to terminal cancer, she leaves words of wisdom for her four daughters in the form of letters to each of them. In the year following Barbara's death, her daughters draw strength from her words and from each other as they move forward with their lives. Lisa, the eldest, is advised to "let someone look after [her]" for a change. Jennifer, "fragile and hard to reach," struggles with an unraveling marriage. Free-spirited Amanda is thrown for a loop by a family secret, and teenager Hannah, experiencing her first taste of rebellion, is reminded that she still has a lot of growing up to do. Though Barbara's life-is-short aphorisms are nothing new, her sharp wit and distinctive voice is a nice complement to the four nuanced stories of coping with death. Weekly

Review: Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Novel I received this Advance Readers Edition copy as a part of's Early Reviewers group and I'm glad I did. I had never heard of Elizabeth Noble before and was surprised she was a British author for some reason. The notion of the book isn't anything new, a mother leaving behind words of wisdom for her daughters but what is new to me was the way it was written. Not only did the mother, Barbara, write letters to each daughter but she kept a journal during her illness. I enjoyed the way Ms. Noble incorporated the journal into the story, it flowed into what was going on instead of interrupting it. While most of the life lessons she writes about in her journal are pretty standard, it's how they change her daughter's lives that had a few twists I did not see coming. I like how you saw each daughter change during the course of the year but yet remain true to the initial character you were introduced to.

The characters were flawed, real and not stereotypical, which meant I could see parts of myself in 3 out of the 4 daughters. This is refreshing because for me, it's either you identify with one and not the others. Besides Barbara being the moral compass, I also felt that Mark was a major centerpiece to the story, he was the rock.

If you are in the mood for a book about family, growing up even if you are a grown up, then pick up this book; I don't think you will be disappointed.

I will definitely be checking out Elizabeth Noble's other books and look forward to her next novel after this one.

Final Take: 4/5

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Book to Movie: The River King

At the beginning of the year I read The River King and throughly enjoyed it, My Review, so when I saw that our local ABC station was playing the movie on Sunday night I decided to DVR it. My friend had told me it was ok but wasn't great but I thought why not I can watch it and blog about it.

Well it wasn't a total waste of time because Ed Burns plays the main lead character, Abel, but I hate it when they completely change the story. They left out a few good secondary characters and messed up the ending IMHO. The girl who played Carlin wasn't nearly as luminecent as I thought she should be and Harry McKenna definitely could have been better looking. Jennifer Ehle played Betsy and did a decent job but they cut her part in the story down considerably. They did a lot of the story in flashback which I understand for time constraints but it didn't help the story.

I also think they lost the magical part of the book by turning it into a movie. The magic and mystical part of the book is what I found so enchanting and what is essential to an Alice Hoffman book.

Final Take Book to Movie: 2/5

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lisa's Review: The Sister

It's ten to two in the afternoon and I've been waiting for my little sister, Vivian since one-thirty. She's finally coming home at sixty-six years old, after an absence of over forty years."And so begins the tale of two sisters, Ginny and Vivian, reunited after a long estrangement. Ginny's been living in the family's sprawling Victorian home--now creaking and leaking, with a ghost of its lavish past lingering--and keeping mostly to herself. But Vivian's arrival shakes up her sister's carefully ordered world, bringing old memories and resentments to the surface. What dark, unspoken secrets are hiding in the family's past?We soon learn that Ginny and Vivian were born into a long line of distinguished lepidopterists, scientists who study moths and butterflies. Their eccentric father continued the family tradition, and was completely devoted to his work, spending long hours in the laboratory on the upper floor of the house and eventually apprenticing young Ginny as his assistant. As the years passed, his determination to make his mark in this elite field consumed the entire household. Ginny and Vivian's mother, lonely and neglected by her husband, descended into alcoholism and violent mood swings. And before long, rifts opened that may never be repaired. Now, so many years later, the sisters are drawn back into this stormy world of their childhood. But Ginny is ever observant of the present, wondering why her sister has returned, keeping track of her every move, refusing to accept Vivian's version of their past. As Ginny becomes more and more agitated, she turns to what she can understand and control: her beloved science. And, perhaps more like her father than anyoner ealizes, she finds herself tempted by the "most convenient solution." Told through Ginny's unforgettably eerie voice--both childlike and sinister--this is a haunting novel about passion, trust, betrayal, and a family that destroys itself in the name of love.

I have been done with this book for a couple of weeks and still I am unsure how I feel about it. Mostly I just am not sure how to review it. The above summary is magnificent in that it is really clear what this book about. I remained engaged to the end and I was left wanting more, however, not in a good way. There were some things that just didn't get answered. Not a good thing for a book that clearly has no chance for a sequel.

The science was a bit much for me, but I recognized its purpose as not only a methaphor for Ginny, but also as her family's profession and ultimately her safety net and one you understand that and an go with it, it's not so bad. At times, it's downright interesting. There are some interesting themes that get explored here, like alcoholism and co-dependence.

The narrative is a spooky and melancholy - no one reading this could ever expect a happy ending. I found this to be alternately, fascinating and depressing. Fascinating because, I was impressed by the author's ability to permeate the novel with the horrible feeling of foreboding throughout. Depressing because this horrible feeling of foreboding permeated the novel throughout.

Truly a unique novel, I can't recommend it highly, but it's not a waste of time either.

Final Take: 2.5/5

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Breaking Movie News: Deathly Hallows = Two Films

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be broken into two films (Story Here).

The international money machine that is the Harry Potter industry aside, I'm not sure how I feel about that... on one hand, it certainly has enough detail in it to be two movies, but I think Goblet of Fire did as well... and they've cut out so much detail out of the previous movies, how will they put it in now? I mean, they might actually have to go back and add some of the details that were skipped over in the other movies for everything to make sense.

Then there's the other small matter of where do you break it in half?

What do you think?

And the Winner is.....

Congratulations to Kierra & Sherry for winning a copy of Jodi Picoult's new book Change of Heart: A Novel

Want to know how I did it? I listed each commentor sequentially, with the second entry being the next in the sequence. Then I visited the handy dandy and voila!

Thank you all for participating in our giveaway! Surely there'll be more books to giveaway, so please keep your eyes peeled to this blog.

Kierra & Sherry, just send us an email and we'll sort out getting your book over to you ASAP!

Jenn's Review: 4th of July

Mega-bestseller Patterson teams up with journalist/novelist Paetro for a rousing fourth installment of the Women's Murder Club series. This time, bright, tough SFPD Lt. Lindsay Boxer is battling police brutality charges while chasing down a clan of murderers. When a botched police arrest of two gun-toting minors expands from a shaky preliminary hearing to what promises to be a nerve-rattling jury trial of Lindsay, she flees the pre-trial media frenzy for the serene haven of sister Cat's house in Half Moon Bay. But instead of finding relaxation and romance with her Homeland Security beau, Lindsay becomes embroiled in the ruthless crimes of a troika of killers who've been slashing and flogging victims all over town. With surprisingly little aid from the Murder Club, Lindsay performs her detective handiwork (and steps on the toes of Half Moon's police chief). As more bodies surface, sketchy suspects like a smitten grease monkey and a slimy porn star emerge, then the murderous threesome set their sights on Lindsay. Back in San Francisco, Lindsay is acquitted; she then rushes back to Half Moon Bay to apprehend the elusive villains and put to rest her unresolved first homicide case as well. Heroic super-sleuthing, a steadily gripping plot line and 146 snappy chapters add up to suspense fiction euphoria for Patterson's legion of fans. ~Publishers Weekly/

I have to agree with Crystal who commented on my last Patterson Review... this was very Lindsay-centric. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we do read Women's Murder Club for the Club, not just the murder. Although, after what happened in the last installment, I tend to see this as a way of gently introducing a new character to the club, something that may have otherwise been resented. Obviously, we couldn't have resumed business as usual.

I was slightly disappointed with the Half Moon Bay murders. Not only did I ID a murderer halfway into the book, I also empathized with the killer. Now I'm not saying I could go out and commit a murder, but I could certainly ally myself with the motive. There was an attempt to make the murderer seem less sympathetic, but it wasn't effective, in my estimation.

That said, this was a good transition book for the series, though probably my least favorite so far.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An Hour with Jodi Picoult

Today was the day when I got to meet Jodi Picoult. Granted it wasn't one on one but in a local auditorium with about 100 other fans. She is fantastic! She is very down to earth and real. She was there to promote her new book Change of Heart: A Novel.

I've never been to an author symposium before so this was fun for me. My sister came with me for a day without the kids (OK the 5 week old was with us but we were toddler free).

Jodi read an excerpt from Change of Heart, which was absolutely wonderful to hear an author read their own work. How personal the characters are for her makes the reading all that more intense. She then took questions from the audience about her books and research she does for each of her books.

I did find out that she and 3 friends do children's theatre in her hometown. She writes it and the lyrics for the music, her other friend writes the music and the
3rd friend directs it. She stated that there is more humor in her plays than in her books but they deal with issues that are important to kids. I thought this was awesome.

The audience was comprised off all ages but mainly women, although there were a few men there. There were some young adults there also, which speaks to her ability to grab an audience of all ages with her subject matters.

I was able to get my 5 copies of Change of Heart autographed and 2 of those copies will be given away tomorrow. It was originally 1 copy but due to the response, we decided to do 2.

In May they will be having Chris Bohjalian in to talk about his body of work and his new book Skeletons at the Feast. I might have to take a long lunch to go to that one.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Julie's Review: The Overlook

Summary: Bestseller Connelly's dazzling 13th Harry Bosch novel (after 2006's Echo Park) reunites Bosch with his former flame, FBI agent Rachel Walling. Bosch must break in a new partner, rookie Iggy Ferras, when they're called to look into the execution of physicist Stanley Kent on a Mulholland Drive overlook. When a special FBI unit, headed by Walling, arrives and tries to usurp his case, claiming it's a matter of national security, Bosch refuses to back down. Walling's focus on the potential theft of radioactive material from the hospital where Kent was lending his expertise to cancer treatment and her unwillingness to share information only make Bosch more determined to solve the case. This is a quick read, almost half the length of Connelly's previous novels, but he spares no punches when it comes to complexity and suspense. The scramble to investigate threats to national security, justified or otherwise, is a timely subject and one on which Connelly puts a brilliant new spin.

Review: This is my 3rd Michael Connelly book upon discovering him via my dad and I have to say I'm glad he turned me on to him since he weaves a good story together. In The Overlook (Harry Bosch), he takes current events and murder to create an interesting plot. It also makes you think "What if?" and also "When" which I think pretty darn scary.

Harry Bosch is a Detective for the LAPD and is quite the interesting character. He's a throw back to old school police work, doesn't know how to work a Blackberry and certainly doesn't trust or like the FBI which at times makes his job more difficult. He approaches this case as any other, it's a straight homocide, but then it becomes must bigger quickly and he must try to work with the FBI again. He's got a new partner who's not quite sure of Harry's methods (none that questionable IMHO) of solving the case. I like Harry's no nonsense way of trying to solve cases and his approach to life. The case has a good twist that I should have seen coming but didn't. You would think I would have figured it out because of all the crime/mystery books and tv shows I've absorbed over the years.

Now this is the 13th book with Harry Bosch as the main character and yet I don't feel that you need to read all of them to get who he is and his background. I read Echo Park (Harry Bosch) last year and didn't feel lost at all having not read the previous books.

Overall the book was solid and interesting but it wasn't fantastic. It did seem a little to easy to wrap up, but given the research that went into the book and the fresh topic, I'll give it a bit higher rating. If you want to read Michael Connelly though, I recommend starting with Echo Park (Harry Bosch), I feel it's a stronger story.

Final Take: 4/5

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Win a Copy of "Change of Heart"

We have a copy of Change of Heart to give away. Please leave a comment here by midnight EST time March 12, 2008 to be automaticaly entered.

There is a great possiblity that this copy will be autographed by the author herself seeing that I'm going to go and see her speak next week.

For an even better chance to win, post about this contest on your own blog (linking back to this post) and your name will be entered twice! The winner will be announced on March 13, 2008.

ETA: I was able to get 2 autographed copies of Change of Heart to giveaway. So there will be 2 winners in this contest!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Jenn's Review: 3rd Degree

From the start, Patterson's Women's Murder Club series (1st to Die; Second Chance) has felt like high-concept TV with a smart edge, featuring an appealing and reliable cast of four female crime busters (a cop, a prosecutor, a medical examiner, a reporter) who race along byzantine plot lines humming with blood and sex, romance and heartbreak. But Patterson is an author who will detonate readers' presumptions for the sake of story, and in the series' third installment, the prolific author, working with frequent collaborator Gross (The Jester, etc.), defies expectations in a shocking way. Readers will love him for it. San Francisco Homicide lieutenant Lindsay Boxer, who narrates most of the action, is jogging with assistant DA Jill Barnhardt when Lindsay notices two things: first, bruises on Jill's shoulder; then the explosion of a nearby townhouse, into which Lindsay rushes to save a child. With the juxtaposition of these two plotlines, Patterson jumpstarts this enjoyably convoluted tale. The townhouse, home to a greedy CEO and his family, was destroyed by members of a terrorist group calling itself "August Spies"; Lindsay's chase after the group, which commits further killings, brings her into close proximity to what promises to be a new series regular, Joe Molinari, deputy director of the Office of Homeland Security. Love blooms for Lindsay but, meanwhile, love has curdled at Jill's house, where Jill's husband is abusing her. Then comes the big surprise, and the story's remainder plays out at high emotion and warp speed. There's a calculated feel to all that happens, but clever manipulation of an audience serves Patterson as well as it served Hitchcock: his fans will only clamor for more. ~ Publishers Weekly,


It's funny that this review should mention that it has a TV feel... when I read Lindsay the only voice I hear is Angie Harmon. One could argue that this comes from falling in love with the TV show before starting the series, but I fell in love with Bones before reading Reichs and I can't say that about Emily Deschanel, though I love her in the role.

I am glad that Lindsay got a little romance back in her life; she certainly deserves it. I am also starting to see where many people fault Patterson in his portrayal of women. Like most men, he seems to see our emotional complexity as "going from zero to crazy" (as my husband would put it) in a matter of seconds, but he misses a few steps in our thought process and reasoning, as would most men who don't experience it. But let's give Patterson credit, at least he doesn't assume our behavior's irrational. There is one scene in particular where Lindsay goes after Jill's husband that stick out in particular as an example of this.

This one was a shocker. I never expected the story to go where it did, and I would be spoiling for those who haven't read it if I said much more than I am. Suffice it to say, I had to take a break from the series after reading this one to give myself ample time to digest it.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Book to Movie: The Other Boleyn Girl

I am sure that by now, we avid readers are well aware that the movie almost always decimates many elements in the book. Based on Julie's review, the summary included and the comments so far, I believe I can safely say that this statement holds true for this adaptation. There are some elements in the book that are most certainly missing from the book. I even overheard a fellow moviegoer remarking on how different the book was from the movie.

Anyway, since I can not fairly do a comparison review of the book versus the movie, this will be a review of the movie purely on its merits.

I never planned on reading this book, because I don't consider myself a fan of historical fiction. I sought this movie out simply based on the fact that I am a big Scarlett Johanssen fan and the previews made it look good.

I knew Julie was reading The Other Boleyn Girl and I remembered leaving the movie thinking that I couldn't wait to read her review because this was a pretty (excuse my language) damn good movie.

This movie is all about the relationship or rivalry (if you will) between the Boleyn sisters, who are vying for the King's affections to improve their family's status and wealth. Scarlett Johansson is brilliant as the sweet, good-natured Mary and Natalie Portman is delightful as the deliciously devious and desperate Anne. Let us not forget to mention Eric Bana, who is a very HOT (sorry-couldn't help it) King Henry, though his role is not as important here as I expected to to be. Since we all know how the story goes, it was rather interesting and quite plausible to see this take on what ultimately led to Anne's demise.

Filled with beautiful costumes and jewelry and of course beautiful people, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it's certainly a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Final Take: 4.25/5

P.S. Thinking about the summary of the book, though, I have to believe that this adaptation may have been better served as a mini-series. I'm going to put this book on my to be read list, but I'm a little disappointed, that I've already ruined the ending for myself.

Jenn's Review: 2nd Chance


2nd Chance reconvenes the Women's Murder Club, four friends (a detective, a reporter, an assistant district attorney, and a medical examiner) who used their networking skills, feminine intuition, and professional wiles to solve a baffling series of murders in 1st to Die. This time, the murders of two African Americans, a little girl and an old woman, bear all the signs of a serial killer for Lindsay Boxer, newly promoted to lieutenant of San Francisco's homicide squad. But there's an odd detail she finds even more disturbing: both victims were related to city cops. A symbol glimpsed at both murder scenes leads to a racist hate group, but the taunting killer strikes again and again, leaving deliberate clues and eluding the police ever more cleverly. In the meantime, each of the women has a personal stake at risk--and the killer knows who they are. --Barrie Trinkle,

Okay, I read this one a few months ago too, but this one doesn't need a re-read. I find Patterson's WMC book plots a good solid, twisty read and this one delivers as promised. I liked delving deeper into the characters and the introduction of Lindsey's father. It was great to get a little insight into what makes Lindsey tick. It was one of those difficult to put down reads for me, even with a newborn.


Julie's Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

Summary: Sisterly rivalry is the basis of this fresh, wonderfully vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn. Anne, her sister Mary and their brother George are all brought to the king's court at a young age, as players in their uncle's plans to advance the family's fortunes. Mary, the sweet, blond sister, wins King Henry VIII's favor when she is barely 14 and already married to one of his courtiers. Their affair lasts several years, and she gives Henry a daughter and a son. But her dark, clever, scheming sister, Anne, insinuates herself into Henry's graces, styling herself as his adviser and confidant. Soon she displaces Mary as his lover and begins her machinations to rid him of his wife, Katherine of Aragon. This is only the beginning of the intrigue that Gregory so handily chronicles, capturing beautifully the mingled hate and nearly incestuous love Anne, Mary and George ("kin and enemies all at once") feel for each other and the toll their family's ambition takes on them. Mary, the story's narrator, is the most sympathetic of the siblings, but even she is twisted by the demands of power and status; charming George, an able plotter, finally brings disaster on his own head by falling in love with a male courtier. Anne, most tormented of all, is ruthless in her drive to become queen, and then to give Henry a male heir. Rather than settling for a picturesque rendering of court life, Gregory conveys its claustrophobic, all-consuming nature with consummate skill. In the end, Anne's famous, tragic end is offset by Mary's happier fate, but the self-defeating folly of the quest for power lingers longest in the reader's mind.'s Weekly

Review: I know I'm a little obsessed with a book, movie or tv show when I dream about it every night and well in this case it was the wonderful, beautiful and enchanting The Other Boleyn Girl. I had put this book off for so long not sure if it was going to live up to the hype, but boy did it ever. I can't remember the last time that I read a 600+ page book and savored every single word the author wrote. This is the first time I've read Philippa Gregory and I can tell you it won't be the last.

I knew a little bit about this period in history but not a lot. Obviously I knew the major players, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn but that was about my extent of knowledge. I found the fact that the story is written with historical facts and figures but then fictional from the point of emotion and behind the scenes riveting. I knew how the story ended, with Anne being beheaded but how she got there was truly fascinating. Even more intriguing was her sister Mary and her rise from being a pawn to being her own woman. The Other Boleyn Girl is told from Mary's point of view and offers a fresh look at history but doesn't attempt to re-write it. I liked the supporting characters that surrounded Queen Anne's court and figured out early on that George wasn't into women and perhaps was a little too close to his sister Anne for their own good. Henry VIII is an interesting character and pretty much a power hungry jerk but there were many sides to him also.

This is yet another book that I'm sorry I put off reading for so long. It was truly a remarkable work of Historical Fiction and one that I will glad push onto anyone who hasn't read it. So if you were like me and have it on your bookshelf to read, pick it up and start it, I can guarantee you'll be enthralled immediately.

Now, I just need to decide if I want to see the movie. So if any of you ventured out this weekend and saw it and read the book, let me know your thoughts. I have limited time to get out and see a movie so I want to know if this book to movie adaptation is worth it. If not, I'll go and see Juno.

Final Take: 5/5