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Tag Archives: Books made into movies

National Book Festival 2014 (part 1)

my program from the festival

my program from the festival

Hello everyone!  It’s Elizabeth with your annual update from the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival in Washington, DC!  If it seems a little early for that, it is!  That’s just one of the big changes at the book festival this year.  In addition to moving to Labor Day weekend, the festival also changed locations to the Washington Convention Center.  And the festival is back down to one day, instead of two, but they added some new evening programs.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the changes.  The festival didn’t attract as many big name authors this year, and I suspect it’s because some of them didn’t want to give up their long weekend!  The Convention Center is huge, which allowed them to fit more people and have more programs happening at once, but it was hard to find my way around and took a lot longer to move between locations.  On the other hand, we didn’t have to worry about weather, which is definitely a plus.

Laura and Peter Zeranski, authors of Polish Classic Desserts

Laura and Peter Zeranski, authors of Polish Classic Desserts

There were some new categories added this year, and I got to check out two of them: Science and Culinary Arts.  I had mixed feelings about the Culinary Arts section, because I love cooking but don’t really read cookbooks.  However, all of the participants were really well-chosen.  They had a mix of author talks and demonstrations by chefs, and lots of different cuisines were represented.  I saw part of Laura and Peter Zeranski’s talk.  They write award-winning Polish cookbooks.  I’d love to try a few recipes, apparently they have a good collection of traditional holiday foods.

The science talk I saw was by Eric H. Cline, about his book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.  He started his talk by showing his book trailer, a great idea.  You can see the it here.  (More authors should make book trailers!)  Cline is a field archaeologist and a professor, and his book is about the end of the Bronze Age.

After complaining about the state of the book sales tent last year, I was happy to see that it is now being hosted by a local DC bookstore, Politics and Prose.  They also had a separate gift shop which sold t-shirts and other souvenirs.  I like this idea, but once again I was disappointed that only the author’s most recent book was for sale.  When I find a new author, especially one who has written a series, I want to start at the beginning!  I would be happy for more of my book money to go to a local bookstore or support the festival, but the poor selection means more than half of my booksale-related purchases will come from Amazon.

Overall, I had an excellent time at the book festival.  Although I missed being at the mall, it was great to have more space for this popular festival!  (Plus, I appreciated the air conditioning)  If you want to know more, check out Of Print and Prose’s Twitter page.  I tweeted live updates throughout the day.  I was able to see a lot of great authors this year!  I’ll write more about them tomorrow!



Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

For my Spring Break this year, Elizabeth and I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts .  I’ve never been (though my family was there when my mom was pregnant with me, so it almost counts) and have been dying to see the city for a very long time.  The trip was everything I expected and more, and you can expect some Reading on the Road and reviews of local coffee shops coming at you soon.  To prepare for my trip, I wanted to read some Boston-based books.  I haven’t read a mystery in a while, so I decided to try Dennis Lehane’s Gone, Baby, Gone mostly because I remember all the buzz it got a few years ago when it was made into a movie.

Before I go into specifics, Dennis Lehane, a Boston-area author must be most screenwriters go-to when they want to make a movie that will get people talking.  As I explored various websites for Boston-set books, I found quite a few that had been made into incredible movies, and nearly all of them were by Dennis Lehane.  Gone, Baby, Gone, Shutter Island, and Mystic River… all by Lehane!  This is an author I think I’ll have to read more of.  The movies didn’t disappoint – and everyone knows the book is always better than the movie!

Gone, Baby, Gone follows 2 private detectives (it’s part of a series, so I should have started with the first book for the full experience, but I didn’t feel like that I couldn’t follow the plot starting with this one) as they try to solve the mystery of a missing girl, alongside various branches of the police force.  The story depicts an area of Boston most tourists don’t see – or want to – one that is seedy with drugs, alcoholism, and poverty.  At times, the story was gritty and I wouldn’t recommend it to overly sensitive people, especially if violence against children is something that is difficult for you to read about.  Nonetheless, I didn’t feel that anything was gratuitous.  In fact, in the real world, there is violence against children, and it IS gritty.  I appreciate Lehane’s method of including it in a story without glorifying or sugar-coating what is all too frequent of an occurrence.  Patrick and Angela (the detectives) follow many wrong turns along the way, and the story has a lot of twists, none of which I was able to predict.  The story was a whirlwind, and while I’m thankful I didn’t see the Boston Lehane depicts – I still highly recommend it to realistic mystery lovers.  In fact, I think I’ll check out a few more books from the series!

I give Gone, Baby, Gone 4 stars.  This is the first novel by Dennis Lehane that I’ve read, but I can assure you that it will not be my last! ★★★★

– Becca

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I remember first hearing about Ender’s Game as an undergraduate.  Some English majors from my freshman dorm had been assigned the book for one of their classes, and they absolutely loved it.  I made a mental note about it, but since I wasn’t entirely sure what the book was about, I never followed through by actually reading it.  I had forgotten all about it until I started seeing advertisements for the movie last fall.  I wanted to see the movie without ruining the book, so I figured I had better start reading!

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game

Everyone on Earth knows that another war is coming with the Buggers, an alien race who have nearly destroyed humans twice before.  Someone comes up with a strategy of gathering child geniuses from all over the world and training them to become military leaders.  They hope to find a gifted general who can save Earth, despite the Buggers’ superior technology.  Ender is younger and smaller than his classmates, but even among his genius peers, his gifts for leadership and military strategy make him stand out.  At first, this creates problems with his classmates, but gradually he begins to find friends.  He learns to lead them, unaware of the constant supervision and guidance of the Battle School teachers.  Will Ender be able to become the general they need?  And will he be ready in time?

The best thing about this book is the characters.  The author has populated his story with many well-drawn, unique individuals.  In fact, getting to spend time with each of them is the main reason you should read the book and not just see the movie.  The plot has several surprising twists, and the characters face multiple challenges in multiple settings, which really held my interest as a reader.

While this book is not to be missed, I also highly recommend the movie!  So many film adaptations of books turn out to be a huge disappointment for readers, but they did an excellent job on this one!  The time constraints of a movie meant getting to see less of the minor characters, but the final product is still true to the original novel.  (And I think that is the highest praise for movies based on books.)

I give this book five stars.  I have already recommended it to other readers, and I know I will happily read it again in the future.  ★★★★★


I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Hello!  Sorry for the long silence-I have been busy moving to a new apartment!  Now that I’m (a little) settled in, it’s time to catch up on what I’ve been reading!

My book club’s book for April was I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.  It’s a collection of short stories, which feature the fictional company U.S. Robots and Dr. Susan Calvin, preeminent robopsychologist.  It chronicles the rise of robots, from their beginnings as household servants through a period where they were banned on earth and predominantly used to work at mines in space, and concludes with a world where much of the work and decision-making is entrusted to robots.

A main theme running through all of the stories is the Three Laws of Robotics.  These laws are designed to protect humans from robots, and they are arranged in a hierarchy, so that the second law overrides the third and the first overrides the second.  The laws are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human or allow a human to be harmed.
  2. A robot must obey orders (unless they conflict with the first law.)
  3. A robot must protect it’s own existence (unless to do so would violate either of the first two laws.)

These laws figured in each of the stories.  For me, they really set this book apart from other science fiction I have read, which tended to be much more negative and pessimistic about technology.  I can see why Asimov is such a highly respected author-this concept was extremely well thought out.

I would probably give this book four stars.  The book held my interest and I would definitely consider reading it again someday.  It is also an interesting book to discuss, so I was glad to have some friends that I could talk about it with.  ★★★★

I took a turn hosting the book club for April, and to be honest, I had a little trouble coming up with any ideas that would fit a robot theme.  I considered making this craft, but I could not find the small candy sizes at my grocery store.  (I guess they’re easier to find around Valentine’s day.)  I kept an eye out for references to food in the book, but they were scarce, and not terribly appetizing.  I did have a bowl of apples, as a reference to “Evidence,” the first story featuring the character Stephen Byerly.  Beyond that, a friend suggested wearing metallics to the book club meeting, and I decided to use the same idea in choosing our food.  I grilled sausage and vegetables in foil packets, to go with the metallic theme, using this recipe as a starting point.


Austenland, by Shannon Hale

I needed something light to read last week, and I found Austenland by Shannon Hale at my local library.  I’ve had my eye out for this book for ages, ever since Lauren Willig recommended it on her blog, but it was really hard to find!  And that’s a shame, because it is a very enjoyable book to read.

Jane Hayes is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice.  Specifically the BBC miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.  So much so, that she suspects it is keeping her from having a successful relationship of her own.  She’s beginning to think no modern man can measure up to Mr. Darcy.

Then her great aunt leaves Jane a vacation in Austenland in her will.  Austenland is a three-week Regency “experience” with costumed actors and strict Regency manners that culminates in a ball and probably a romance with one of the “characters.”  Jane hopes it will cure her Mr. Darcy obsession, but soon she is beginning to wonder.  Will living out her fantasy cure her or just make things worse?  And is it possible that while her character Miss Jane Erstwhile is being courted by the Darcy-like Mr. Nobley, the actor portraying him might actually be attracted to the real Jane?


So, you might be thinking, “Elizabeth, didn’t you recently write a post about not liking romance novels?”  And yes, that was me.  For some reason, I still like chick lit.  (And I’m sorry if that term offends someone-I can see why it would, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest a viable alternative.  If you know of one, please tell me!)  I think it has a lot to do with humor-chick lit usually has plenty of it and romance just doesn’t have enough.  The plot lines also tend to include plenty of character development, at least for the heroine, something that romance novels often lack.

I am giving this book four stars.  I enjoyed reading it.  If you’re an Austen fan, this would be a good book to put on  your summer reading list!  ★★★★


The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordin

Since I work with kids, I like to try to read a few of the books they are reading.  One series that is very popular (I taught a 4th grade class where every kid but one had read at least the first book) is the Percy Jackson books.  I recently read the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief.

Percy Jackson is a kid that has a lot of trouble at school.  He is usually in trouble, and he changes schools every year.  But this year has been different.  He finally makes a friend, finds a teacher that believes in him, and starts learning about Ancient Greece and Rome.  Then, he starts to have run-ins with monsters, one of which used to be his Algebra teacher…

When Percy’s mother and his new friend Grover find out what is going on, they insist that Percy go to a summer camp where he will be safe.  But Camp Halfblood is no ordinary summer camp.  Percy soon learns that it is a special camp for half human children born to the Greek gods, which means that Percy’s father must be a god as well.

One of the fun things about reading this book as an adult is that the mythological characters are probably familiar from high school or college English classes.  As a result, you might find that you recognize certain characters (especially the villains) before Percy and his friends do.

I enjoyed reading this book.  Although the target audience is children, it is an imaginative book that adults can enjoy.  It’s easy to see why so many kids are fans of the series.  I would give this book four stars, and I’m considering reading the next book in the series sometime.  ★★★★