Sunday, December 30, 2007

Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374309892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374309893
  • List Price: $16.99
  • I finished this book on Dec. 28
The title of this book comes from an Ovid quote: "Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you." I like the title, and I like the cover. It was one of the books in our new order and it intrigued me.
In this book our hero is James, who lives in NYC and works in his mother's gallery. He is a probably gay, antisocial genius. He's been accepted to Brown (didn't get into Yale) but of course he doesn't want to go. Supporting characters include his sister: Gillian (with a hard G) who is having an affair with a married professor, James' mother who is just coming off her third divorce and runs the gallery where James works. James' grandmother, Nanette, is the only family member who he can relate to. In fact, she is the only person who actually makes sense.
James has a crush on one of his older co-workers at the gallery and he sort of fakes the guy out and is accused of sexual harassment. Oh, and he's in therapy. And his therapist is kind of lame and the sessions don't seem to really go anywhere.
One neat thing about this book is that James is obsessed with vocabulary and proper usage of grammar. He is very concerned about expressing things properly, and I love this. (Remember how sexy I think good vocab is?)
Firstly: this book reminds me a lot of Catcher in the Rye. Young man has to face facts, make a decision regarding school. He has one family member whom he relates to and loves. And, accordingly, I feel about it the way I feel about that book. I liked it, I was on board. However, it was a quiet story and I am sort of looking for more in a book. Like explosions, you know? Or sex. Either way I liked the character and the prose, so all in all I'm a fan.
Anyway, here's Peter Cameron's site. I would definitely be interested in reading something else of his. If you want to read the first chapter of this book, go here. (Coincidentally, that's why I took this home like an eager puppy, because I peeked at the first few pages.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375844406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375844409
  • List Price: $16.99
  • I finished this book on Dec. 24
So, okay: this is the new to me book from David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, who wrote Nick and Norah and who fucking rock. I was very excited when this came in at my library right before Christmas. Also: remember last spring when I went to that young adult book fair and I saw Mr. Levithan speak? He read a chapter of this then, saying that he probly shouldn't because it wasn't published yet etc. and he read it substituting the word "frock" for "fuck" which is also awesome. So, yeah, I lurve him.
Anyway, try this on for size: Naomi and Ely are these hot toddies living in NYC and they have been best friends/soul mates for just about ever. Except, Naomi is in love with Ely who is gay (insert Nelson Muntz Ha Ha here). Anywho, the pair have a No Kiss List in place to ensure against a N and E breakup, which includes a few random hotties they both know. Naomi is currently dating Bruce the Second (cause he's the second boy she's dated named Bruce. God, I love them) but she's not really into him, she's more biding her time until Ely realizes maybe he wants her instead of the cock. Either way shenanigans ensue when Ely kisses Bruce the Second. Naomi is really more hurt because she realizes Ely will never love her that way than because of the adulterous making out. This starts a huge fight/drama/journey of awesomery.
This is written in alternating chapters as was N&N but the cool thing is: it's not just Ely and Naomi talking, it's lots of people. Aside from there being two Bruces (I always think of this Bruce when I hear that name, btw) there are two Robins (one is from Schenectady) a chihuahua and lots of insomniacs. Lots of different people have a say in this story and somehow all of their mini dramas and points of view add up to one very well told story. I totally didn't know which author was writing which chapter when I was reading it and was amazed that they both shared writing the same characters. Fucking rad. Naomi's chapters have these little symbols instead of words sometimes, which I thought was cooler in theory than in the execution.
To read an interview with the authors: go here. Or check out their websites go here for Levithan's and here for Cohn's.
The cool thing about this book is it speaks to so many different kinds of relationships and contains problems everyone can relate too. Also, the main characters share sparkly belts. I'm in frocking love :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (August 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307282279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307282279
  • List Price: $50.00
  • I finished listening to this audio book on Dec. 22
I always think it's funny when you listen to a book on tape read by a woman and they do the voices. Lynn Redgrave read this and she was amazing, her voices and accents were outstanding. However, many times, when women try to do men they sound like old men because the woman does the voice gruffly to distinguish it from her own. The reason I'm telling you this is because I imaged Mo to be much older than Brendan Frasier who will play him in the movie. You can see the trailer here.
Okay, so, Mo is a bookbinder and he has a secret: he can read things out of books. This is fucking awesome except he can't necessarily control the things he reads out. For example: 9 years ago Mo was reading his wife a story and he accidentally read out two really bad guys, one sort of good guy and read his wife into the story. Balls. I hate it when that happens. Anyway, this is all news to Meggie, his daughter, until the sort of good guy, Dustfinger, shows up and starts a kerfuffle. Turns out, the big bad, Capricorn, has an even bigger bad he wants Mo to read out (not to mention treasure and wenches) of his story while Dustfinger desperately wants to be read back in.
Then, the good guys do lots of stupid things, like get themselves caught, get themselves put into nets and get all their books burned. Double balls. Eventually, they come up with some pretty lame plans to save the day. I don't mean to make fun, it's just this: if I were ever caught by the bad guy I would be very docile and agreeable. Seriously, I feel like things work better if you are not so obviously trying to escape. Maybe play along. People in books never do that, especially pre-teen girls. Give me a break, I would be baking Capricorn and his creepy mother cookies and offering to do their laundry so as not to get myself kilt.
Oh! Dustfinger has a marten with horns. That's this kind of marten, and not Marten Broadcloak, in case you were wondering. P.S. I want to snuggle with a marten. Additionally: my new puppy's middle name is Marten. His first name is Viggo (as in the Carpatian)
So, one of the things I liked about this book was the complete reverence the characters had for books. It was funny to read this and the Thirteenth Tale at the same time because they were both bibliophile books.
I am excited about this movie, but I am worried that it will be cheesy and I can tell from the trailer that lots of made up extra stuff goes down. Either way, I have a crush on Paul Bettany and I hope to see lots of him breathing fire. I also have a crush on Helen Mirren, so that should be good too.
Anywho: this is part of a trilogy, and you can read more about it here. I shall be reading the second book at some point, that's a promise. In case you were wondering, if I could read things out of books I would read out Oy from the Dark Tower series. I would want to read out Edward from the Twilight Saga, or Roarke, from the ...In Death series, but the truth is: they wouldn't be into me so that would be a bummer. I like to think that Oy and I could have fun though. Oy! Un!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (October 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743298039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743298032
  • List Price: $15.00
  • I finished this book on Dec. 18
This book was recommended to me by an English teacher at my school, who said to me: "If you like Rebecca, you will like this." P.S. I effing love Rebecca. Lurve. Anyway, so I got the book, and I must say: I was not disappointed.
Okay: Margaret Lea loves books about as much as I do. She works in a family owned Antiquarian Bookshop and reads lots of history, and occasionally writes a biography of various crusty old dead men for fun. Vida Winter is a prolific author. She has written about a bajillion books and has an air of mystery, mostly due to the fact that she has never ever told the truth about her personal life. One day Miss Lea gets a letter from the mysterious Ms. Winter, requesting her services as a biographer. Best part? Lea has never read any of her books. Hee.
Margaret reluctantly signs on to a trial run with the author, but Ms. Winter insists on telling the story her way - as a story, in order without answering questions. So she proceeds to spin a yarn of such craziness, such gothic goodness, that Miss Lea cannot resist seeing the story through. Let me tell you my lovelies, this is some good shit. Insanity ensues. Ms. Winter tells the story of Angelfield, the place she grew up, otherwise known as nutbar central, or, the house that fucking crazies built.
There's a lot about twins and family and secrets. Very cool stuff. The parts where Mrs. Winter is telling the story are the best parts, and the parts where Margaret is researching are not as good at first, but totally get better. This is good rainy day reading, or good snowy weekend reading (as we have just had here). Okay, it's pretty much good reading regardless of the meteorological conditions.
I have not heard of Diane Setterfield, the author, before, but I can tell you she has fantastic hair. Beyond that, you'll have to look here. Also: the book has a rather dramatic, clunky website with little meat and lots of graphics, but A for effort, you know?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Film Review: I Am Legend

  • Based on the book: I Am Legend
  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence
  • Screenplay by: Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (2007)
  • PG-13
  • 101 min.
  • I watched this film on Dec. 14

Okay, so I'm not trying to be one of those asshats who's all: "Oh, the movie was sooo much better than the book!" because: fuck that noise, the are different things. But I will be the first to tell you if a movie is different. You may remember that I read this book and reviewed it: here. Also, here's more info on the book, but beware of spoilers in that link.
Anyway, Will "Parents Just Don't Understand" Smith is Robert Neville here and his name, the general scenario and the title are about the only similarities to the book. But let's put those facts aside for a moment and discuss the film.
Smith, as usual, is beautiful, strong and really an actor who deserves more credit. I would image it's pretty damn hard to carry an entire movie with only yourself, a dog to deal with (also some hungry girl at the end - eat a cookie!). He is entrancing as someone who is in this impossible situation, who is both fixed on survival and a bit mad. I actually teared up (just call me Weepy McEstrogen) at one part just because of his face. I literally couldn't watch he was emoting so believably.
So, you can imagine that the story of the last(ish) man on Earth is a fucking bummer, and that's true. But, it's also creepy. The vamp/sickies were creepy, though a little too CG at times. Either way, I do not want to get eaten by one of those guys.
Okay, now, the things they changed, ie: everything. They totally changed Skinny McHungrypants as a character which was lame and that in turn changed the whole effing ending and the reason for the title. Which is kind of lame. I'm not going to get into it, you should read it, but trust me, it's bizarre. Though, this ending gave a more sunshiny, lollipops kind of ending, unlike the book.
Once again, I really did like this movie. It was intense, it was creepy, there were some good jumps and there was lots of emotion (possibly even a chuckle). So, see it. know, read the book too.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Film Review: The Golden Compass

  • Based on the book: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • Directed by Chris Weitz
  • Screenplay by Chris Weitz
  • New Line Cinema (2007)
  • rated PG-13
  • 113 min.
  • I watched this film on Dec. 7
So, okay. Wow. Remember this? I have only gotten more excited to see this movie since then. And let me tell you, this movie did not disappoint.
So, right from the beginning to the very end the story adaptation is good, it doesn't make crazy shit up or leave out important things. It cuts our story off a bit before the end of the book, but I feel confident that they will include that all in the beginning of the next. And, if for some reason there is not a next, I will have to punch a bitch.
Either way, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel either about the little girl playing Lyra, or Nicole Kidman, and they both impressed me. Dakota Blue Richards is the girl, and this appears to be her first movie. She's very good and believable as Lyra, who, is really a great character. She's rude, she's a trouble-maker, and she's brave, and this girl did a fantastic accent - almost exactly what I imagined. Kidman played Mrs. Coulter like a goddamn crazy person and it was pretty cool. Who hits their own daemon?! Religious crazies who are cuckoo for cocoa puffs, that's who. She also looks beautiful (as always) and very, very thin and tall. Her costumes accentuate that. And, her golden monkey is effin creepy. You almost feel bad for it because it's clear that Coulter's craziness even freaks him out (and he's CG).
People's daemons are super cool. Lyra's Pan switches his form effortlessly and sometimes midair, which is super cool. Also, apparently, he's voiced by Freddie Highmore. And they look real and cuddly.
OMG - bear fight! First off, I didn't realize Gandalf was the voice of Iorek. The bears were super sweet and the fight was amazing. Seriously, it was crazy talk. They kept going for the money shot of the bear growling (howling? yelling? wtf noise do bears make?) and you'd think it got old, but man, it never did. Chills.
I feel like they are playing up the religious aspects a bit more than the first book really did, which is fine with me. I also think the ensuing kerfuffle about it is, of course, insane. It's like the stink they made over DaVinci Code, but the difference is, this movie is actually good.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

New Feature: Movie Trailers!

Hey my lovlies. So, because I review movies that are based on books, and because there are some I am excited about, and because I feel like it (and love run on sentences) I am adding a new sexy feature to the blog. Movie Trailers! I this will probly be rather haphazard and posted only when there is something I am really excited about. Either way: hope you enjoy!
First up is the new Chronicles of Narnia movie Prince Caspian. I will totally need to read this again before the release of the movie as my memory of it is very foggy. Sadly, none of the kids have gotten any cuter, but Prince Caspian is pretty good looking, despite having some awesomely bad layers. You only see it for a minute so I couldn't tell if it was more 80s or flat-ironed man shag. Either way: here you go:

Next up is Inkheart, which is a popular YA novel by Cornelia Funke. I am currently listening to this on tape, so I almost didn't want to watch the trailer, but it's very cool that it will be a movie. Also, Vanessa Redgrave is reading my version, so in my head, I thought the father was older than Brendan Frasier. (I should not want to make out with Moe, is my feeling.) Either way, be patient and you will have my book review for that soonish (I think the tape is something over 10 hours). Enjoy:

Update: I've finally finished the book and I've watched the trailer. I have some concerns, but hopefully it will be awesome. Also: huge crush on Paul Bettany. Especially if he plays with fire. *sigh*

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mister I by Lewis Trondheim

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing; English Ed edition (January 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561634867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561634866
  • List Price: $13. 95
  • I finished this book on Dec. 4
See that guy? He's Mister I. And...he's kind of a dick. Really. He's all about trying to steal food. Pies from windows, apples of trees, that kind of thing.
I'm not going to talk about this book much because it's something you really need to see to believe, but here's what I can tell you: Each page is a block of 60 postage stamp size pictures of Mister I's antics. He is usually trying to steal food and mostly ends up dead at the end (a la Kenny from South Park) Some of them are super funny. Some are sad and most are just really fucked up. Here's an example of a page:
So, yeah. If this were a cartoon it would be Don Hertzfeldt's Rejected. What? Please show another movie, bee? No problem my lovelies. I live to serve. P.S. if you think this cartoon is funny, you should probably find this book and read the hell out of it (also, no words! hello, visual literacy!)

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375836578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375836572
  • List Price: $8.95
  • I finished this book on Dec. 3
So, Mr. Levithan is the scribe of other booknerd reviewed books. One I really like, and another that got the coveted bee seal of approval.
Anywho: in addition to having a great title, and am amazing cover, this book is in free verse. Fucking rad. It is poems from a huge variety of high school students. It is a dozen stories from all different points of views. It is song lyrics, anguished cries for help, and love letters.
The books starts and ends with a poem about a young gay couple: Daniel and Jed. These couples are mentioned throughout the book in other people's poems, and the book finishes with them as well in a poem that makes me all mushy inside. Some of the other poems include a girl who retaliates by wailing a bully in the schnoz with a lunch tray and another from the bully in question. There is a girl with an eating disorder, a lesbian musician with unrequited love. My favorite is the girl who writes all the amazing phrases on desks, lockers and walls and then the reaction from others. Some of the choice phrases: YOU ARE HAPPY EVEN IF YOU ARE AFRAID TO ADMIT IT, YOU ARE FOOLISH IN YOUR UNHAPPINESS, and the ever popular: YOU ARE IMPLICATED
I confess that I'm not entirely sure how one is supposed to read some of these poems, and I often found myself sort of singing them to myself in my head (yeah, I know that makes me sound like a wacko. whatever, I stand by it.) There are four sections and they give different points of view. If you really pay attention, or maybe take notes, you can figure out who everyone is and how they are related. That is very cool, but even separate, each character is interesting.
Did I mention that I saw Mr. Levithan speak once and I thought he was dreamy? (Maybe I do think all intelligent gay men are dreamy, but that doesn't make him any less so.) Either way, this didn't disappoint and I can't wait to read more of his stuff.
I wouldn't suggest this for just anyone, but I am sad for those who wouldn't appreciate it. It is honest, sad, sweet, hopeful and beautiful.