Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Snapshot - My Mum Enid during World War II

Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books.

Alyce says: "To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online."

This is a picture of my mother, Enid, back in her glory days. She was born in 1925 and was a teenager when this picture was taken during World War II. She was 16, possibly 17 at the time. I used to love her stories about how she used to run up and down the stairs on the doubledecker buses in London, collecting fares, during the war. And meeting young American soldiers for dates and how her brothers teased her. In the end, she married my dad, a British officer ten years her senior. There are no stories left anymore. He's been gone for 20 years. My mum is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's; she was admitted to hospital Thursday with pneumonia, dehydration and a uterine infection. It's pretty awful. People in the early stages of Alzheimers may look like Gena Rowlands in The Notebook but some 15 years in the diagnosis, they do not!
By the way, this is a wonderful and moving novel if you haven't read it. Lisa Genova is a neuro-scientist and paints the 50 year old Alice's descent into her disease with stark accuracy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Carrie Diaries gets a small screen adaptation

Do you blame them? All the people making bundles of money from our Sex and the City obsession?
A couple of years back Candace Bushnell wrote a 'pre-quel' so we could all see the young Carrie. And naturally they would want to make a tv show based on the book.
Judging from the pictures that started showing up last week, I have to say that Anna Sophia Robb does seem to be channeling Sarah Jessic Parker- er - I mean channeling Carrie. She did have a little help -- the costumes for the CW pilot are designed by Sex and the City and Gossip Girl's Emmy-winning Eric Daman) And she does completely capture the looks of the young fashionista! Young is the key word. Where Sex and the City appealed to a somewhat older 'girl', The Carrie Diaries which begin in Carrie's senior year of high school, seem to be aiming at a younger audience. "Carrie and the Kiddies" someboday snarked!
Here's how the book is described by the publisher at the Barnes and Noble site. Did any Young Adult fans read it? Would you want to watch this show? Seems like it's geared to viewers of  shows like The Hills, yes?

Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?
The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.
Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Should I read The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks? Answer the POLL on the right.

Vulture has a great little interview with Gillian Anderson about her take on Miss Havisham in the screen adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations coming to Masterpiece Theatre. The first installment is this Sunday, with number two the following week.

Here's a snippet...
Miss Havisham is a complicated woman. The way you play her, with that singsong voice, adds a beautiful lost-soul quality, as if she were a child who's never grown up.
That's an aspect of her. There's a certain amount of childish spitefulness, too. I didn't want her to be eaten away by resentment, because it's not clear that it's eaten her alive. There's a lot more poetry to her than that, and that's what I found in her voice after the first few readings. I thought of her like an addict. She was living vicariously through Estella. She fed on the information Estella would give her, jonesing for that fix, like it was a dose of heroin. And there was something about that state of craving, obsessing, jonesing, that makes her interesting.
Do you think she was playing a Victorian version of The Game? The way she teaches Estella to be a pickup artist of sorts, to always have the upper hand?
[Laughs.] That's absolutely it! I think it's all about how to break a man's heart — to be alluring and seductive and then completely frigid and insulting. I absolutely imagined all of those things — and simpler lessons that were more about not giving, not being generous, not being kind, making fun of people. I would imagine how she would teach Estella to master that kind of control over somebody, how to walk in a room and draw them in, make them fall in love, and then treat them like shit. And she taught her that love was death.

Read the rest here   Do you think Gillian (Agent Scully in XFiles) Anderson will make a good Miss Havisham?
Also don't forget to vote in my Nicholas Sparks The Lucky One poll.You'll find it in the upper right corner of this blog.

Welcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a utterly wonderful meme hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onions Weblog. The purpose is to share words that are new to us. This week I only have one word because the book I'm reading is pretty breezy; most of the words I didn't know were Indian like last week's punkahwallah (the person who operates the fan) or chowkidar (gate keeper) and they're not really words you'll be including in conversation.
My word of the week again comes from Deborah Moggach's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which you may have read under its original title, These Foolish Things.
The book has been rereleased to tie in with the film which has already been released in the UK and Ireland and gets relased here in the states in April. It stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson Bill Nighy and Dev  Patel and should be a lot of fun!

My word is footling. The character uses it in response to a song about love coming once in a life time. Moggach writes "When she was young she had thought this song the height of romance, but now she realized the words were footling. In fact, she could have fallen in love with any number of people."
From the context I can figure out that "footling" is an adjective that must mean her thought was untrue in some way but I've never heard of this word before. The real meaning of the word is shaded with nuance and I can't wait to use it! According to Merriam-Webster footling: 1) lacking judgment or ability; INEPT <footling amatueurs who understand nothing - E.R. Bentley.> 2) lacking use or value; TRIVIAL<footling matters>

CONGRATULATIONS! My Give Away Winner Announced

to all of you who played along in the
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Give Away and
to the winner Ron Oliver.
Ron wins a copy of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre
along with a notepad cube.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From Hugh Jackman filmed while shooting Les Miserables movie

This amateur or papparazzi type video posted at, from the Les Miserables set catches Hugh Jackman doing a couple of takes. Anyone have any idea what the tail end of the song he's singing is? I don't.

It's First Paragraph Tuesday

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph of a novel she decided to read based on that paragraph. That is definitely the case for me with the opening of Jeffrey Eugenides book The Marriage Plot. Here's my take on the book. I wasn't 100% sold but I'm working up the courage to tackle his Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex. Anyway, here's the opening of The Marriage Plot...pretty enticing, wouldn't you say?

To start with, look at all the books. There were her Edith Wharton novels, arranged not by title but date of publication; there was the complete Modern Library set of Henry James, a gift from her father on her twenty-first birthday; there were the dog-eared paperbacks assigned in her college courses, a lot of Dickens, a smidgen of Trollope, along with good helpings of Austen, George Eliot, and the redoubtable Bronte sisters. There were a whole lot of black-and-white New Directions paperbacks, mostly poetry by people like H.D. or Denise Levertov. There were the Colette novels she read on the sly. There was the first edition of Couples, belonging to her mother, which Madeleine had surreptitiously dipped into back in sixth grade and which she was using now to provide textual support in her English honors thesis on the marriage plot. There was, in short, this mid-sized but still portable library representing pretty much everything Madeleine had read in college, a collection of texts, seemingly chosen at random, whose focus slowly narrowed, like a personality test, a sophisticated one you couldn’t trick by anticipating the implications of its questions and finally got so lost in that your only recourse was to answer the simple truth. And then you waited for the result, hoping for “Artistic,” or “Passionate,” thinking you could live with “Sensitive,” secretly fearing “Narcissistic” and “Domestic,” but finally being presented with an outcome that cut both ways and made you feel different depending on the day, the hour, or the guy you happened to be dating: “Incurably Romantic.”

Does Hugh Jackman look miserable in Les Miserables?

Wow! The first pictures from the Les Miserables movie - no one seems to be calling it Les Miz yet - have started showing up on the net - I found mine on and I think Russell Crowe looks very Master and Commander as Javert while I found the first pictures of Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean shocking.

I don't know what I was expecting?! It makes sense that Valjean, before being released from prison would appear with shaved head (lice) and that there would be scarred gashes on his scalp. But if you're used to seeing Hugh looking loverly, these shots were a quick reminder that Jean Valjean might be the closest thing to a super-hero the musical theatre has,(forget Spiderman!) Jean Valjean is not exactly Jackman's Wolverine from X-Men!
Which may be why Jackman tweeted the first official picture of Valjean. It's a great shot, not quite as harsh and shocking! And we can see our inner Hunky Hugh hiding inside the noble Frenchman.
The movie, being directed by Tom (The Kings Speech) Hooper comes out December of this year.
Now all I want to know is where are the women?!

Monday, March 26, 2012

New pictures from the set of Lawless aka The Wettest County in the World


Shia La Boef and Tom Hardy costar in Lawless
based on the book The Wettest County in the World
When I first read that the book "The Wettest County in the World" written by Matt Bondurant was being adapted for the screen, I thought, hmmm that's a gloomy and depressing title for a movie. It turns out the "wettest" refers to alchohol and prohibition during the depression era, not the weather at all but it still sounds like a downer as well as being a mouthful for a movie marquee.
So the film is now going to be called Lawless - which means crime and probably guns and bad guys and sounds a lot more fun than my imaginary locale somewhere in the Pacific northwest where it just rains all the time!
If Lawless sounds familiar it's probably because you heard that Terence Mallick was making a movie this year with Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and possibly Natalie Portman called Lawless.
Imagine! Terrence Mallick is such a fan of director John Hillcoat that Mallick agreed to let Hillcoat use his Lawless title! I notice that Jessica Chastain is also in the new Lawless movie so who knows, maybe she put in a good word with the director when she worked with Mallick on Tree of Life.

Jessica Biel joins The Making of Psycho

Update: 3/26/2-12
According to Deadline Jessical Biel has committed to the second female lead in the Sacha Gervasi-directed Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho. Biel will play Vera Miles, who played Lila Crane in the 1960 classic.
It's got to be some  kind of tribute to the iconic status of Hitchcock that a 52 year old book about the making of Psycho is now being made as a film. And that there is such a buzz about it.

The book, The Making of Psycho, was reissued as a Nook book in 2010 so I will def be giving it a look.
Here's what the B& site says about it
A gripping behind-the-scenes look inside the classic suspense shocker—and the creative genius who revolutionized filmmaking
First released in June 1960, Psycho altered the landscape of horror films forever. But just as compelling as the movie itself is the story behind it.
Stephen Rebello brings to life the creation of one of Hollywood’s most iconic films, from the story of Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein, the real-life inspiration for the character of Norman Bates, to Hitchcock’s groundbreaking achievements in cinematography, sound, editing, and promotion. Packed with captivating insights from the film’s stars, writers, and crewmembers, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho is a riveting and definitive history of a signature Hitchcock cinematic masterpiece.
This inside view of the master director creating cinema's boldest thriller, Psycho "...helps readers comprehend the original shock of the film."--New York Times

While there are those who kvetch - "Oh no, not another 'making of' movie! We've already had Orson Welles and Me and My Week with Marilyn, what do we need with another one of these??"  -  I am thrilled at the idea of this icon joining their ranks. I was a tour guide at Universal Studios in the early 80's and there was always something unsettling about passing by the Psycho house and the Bates motel. They were just sets, paint and boards, nothing more but it was hard to ignore the chill as we passed, hard not to stare into that window and wonder. That's Hitchcock's power. A power that remains to this day.
I think it's notable that Hitchock, like Orson Welles, like Marilyn Monroe has reached mythic proportions in the public mind. These artists had become characters long before they were characters in films. I'm looking forward to seeing how this complex man and brilliant -if controversial - director is portrayed on film.
And I do think Anthony Hopkins is the right actor to do it. I know there are some Timothy Spall fans who are tee'd off and I agree, looks-wise, Spall is spot on. But filmmaking and acting isn't just about looks and while Spall is talented, and perhaps would do an outstanding job; he doesn't have the power to carry a film. No one is going to see a film because he's in it whereas, with the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins, that chance remains.
Although with the recent casting of Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, there's so much chatter about ScarJo naked in the shower that no one actually cares who Hitchock is right now!

My understanding is that the Janet Leigh role isn't quite as cental a part as that of the filmmaker's wife, Alma Reville.  Apparently she was the ultimate woman behind the man, creative, intelligent and powerful. Helen Mirren is on board for that part. But I bet when it comes to marketing much will be made of that shower scene!*
Poor Anthony Perkins - playing Norman Bates seems to have ruined his career - is played by James D'arcy, a perfect physical matchup! D'arcy has been steadily working for the past decade and a half but honestly,  I haven't seen him in anything. He was in Madonna's W.E. as Edward which I guess I will get around to seeing at some point.
The script is by John McGlaughlin of Black Swan fame.
The title The Making of Psycho  does sound like a documentary, which will probably scare most people away. I imagine a new title is in the works. Any ideas?

*When I was a Universal Studios tourguide we used to tell the story of how Alfred Hitchcock received thousands of fan letters. But not all of them were positive. One letter was from a frantic father who was very upset because his young daughter had seen the movie and was so traumatized she refused to take showers. Hitchock was reportedly unimpressed and wrote calmly back "My dear sir, Tell her to take baths instead."  True?  I couldn't say.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Being Flynn: My take on the movie starring Robert DeNiro, Paul Dano and Julianne Moore

About the Movie
Starring Robert De Niro, Paul Dano, Julianne Moore
Directed by Paul Wietz

This is a very belated 'take' on the memoir turned movie, Being Flynn, originally entitled Another Bullshit Night In Suck City written by poet Nick Flynn.

I am not sure why it's taken me so long to write this; I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago. I think initially I was just too raw and wrecked to write about it. It's a very compelling but very emotional movie. I might go so far as to say depressing but somehow it escapes that level of heartache.

Anyway, as the days passed my old memory forgot I hadn't committed anything to paper. But I was reminded when I saw someone else's review today, someone who said that despite the emotional roughness of the material, that it was at times a very humorous film.

Um, no, it's not. That's not how I recall it anyway.
Nick Flynn spent his childhood watching his mother go through a series of boyfriends while her husband, his father, Jonathan Flynn, was in jail. He would get letters from this father periodically claiming to be one of "the great American writers"  but he was never part of his son's life.

The father, played with rage and bravado and poignancy by Robert DeNiro, is an alchoholic, who ends up living on the streets then finding his way to the shelter where Nick, played by Paul Dano works.
Flynn has his issues with substance abuse too. And like his father - or at least like his father says he is - Nick wants to be a writer as well.
It is a movie full of insight into relationships and the people we keep at a distance...whether they are the homeless who wrap themselves in plastic to keep out the snow and the rain, or parents and children who wrap themselves up in the daily grind of the world to avoid each other. The fathers and sons who have great and completely unrealistic expectations of each other. We can try to save each other but in the end we can only take care of ourselves, and we are lucky if we can do that.



The Harbor Light mission where Dano's Nick Flynn works provides a bed and a meal in exchange for sober rule-following guests. When the father Jonathan Flynn loses it in a violent outburst, he ultimately loses his privileges and he's banned from the shelter. Flynn has to decide to help or disappear into his own life and his own problems.

This is not, let me repeat, not a humorous movie. Knowing it's a memoir makes the pain all the more real. Knowing, for instance, that the movie company used many actual homeless people as their background people, only enhances our shock, disgust, dismay and finally, understanding and hopefully, empathy. Don't we all want to stare when we see a homeless person in the street. Except that's the last thing we can actually do. If we give a handout, we do it quickly, as anonymously as possible; terrified what our connection may lead to. The close up look at the dirt, the sqaualor, the many many homeless people who have mental illness is tough to take. It's diffiuclt to fathom, and painful to consider. The director, Paul Weitz, who also directed the much lighter About A boy, very deftly has taken Nick Flynn's less constructed memoir and given it shape and an easier to follow storyline. Easier to follow but still difficult to take.

The performances are all fine, as is the score from Badly Drawn Boy. If you are lucky enough to find Being Flynn playing in a theater near you and if you are in the mood for a movie with depth that will make you think as well as feel, consider this well-made gem.

For more information on homeless shelters go to

The Hunger Games: My review or Sunday, Bloody Sunday

We went out in the rain on this Sunday morning to see the 9:50am showing of The Hunger Games. I didn't even know they ran movies before 10 o'clock in the morning! We were surprised to find the theatre at least 3/4 full.  Strange to say as we usually avoid the crowded and overhyped, but somehow we have ended up part of The Hunger Games record setting $155 million opening weekend! Would I be too crass if I were to say it was bloody good fun?
I think director Gary Ross did an excellent job of turning Suzanne Collin's best selling Young Adult novel into an exciting and emotional film. All 2 hours and 22 minutes of it!

He worked with both the novelist Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray on the screenplay adaptation.

Going in, you have to know that Collin's premise of 24 young people being forced to sacrifice themselves for the good of their nation, fighting each other to the death, down to the last one standing as their countrymen watch, is at once violent and disturbing.

Note despite the fact that there are tributes as young as 11 or 12 playing for their lives, the book is Young Adult; the film is PG-13. IMHO, parental guidance in this case should steer you away from bringing all but the most mature 10 and 11 year olds. It's not the violence quite so much (Ross's shaky camera work helps to soften some of the impact of the kills because you can't quite seem them clearly) as it is the fear factor.

For me, a very grown woman, my strings were completely manipulated by the relationship between Katniss and her younger sister, Prim. When Katniss volunteers and Prim has to be held back screaming, I was utterly moved. When Katniss befriends the youngest tribute in the arena, Rue, it is hard not to think of Prim.  Melodrama is barely avoided but it is avoided and when Rue dies and Katniss suffers, we do as well.
For a younger child this could be something of a traumatic nightmarish occurence. Think Bambi!
But kids aside, the movie moves. Ross has taken the action - so much of it that is just heard about in the book - and given it onscreen life. Scenes of the action in the control room as technicians play with the tribute's lives as though they were virtual chess pieces are juxtaposed with moments down in the arena as Katniss and Peeta fight to stay alive.

When one of the techinicians tells Seneca, the Hunger Games director, that Katniss is near the outer edge, 2 kilometres away from the rest of the action, he directs orders "Let's bring her back". And they create a fire and some frightening fireballs that have her running to a spot where she will have to engage with the rest of the group. Which of course makes for a much better show. Just like all the reality shows we're currently addicted to. Everyone wants to see them mix it up.
Of course Katniss, talented with her bow, never kills if she can help it. She's our hero therefore she is noble. Jennifer Lawrence, plays Katniss beautifully. The emotions that play across her features still softened with babyfat are at once real and authentic. She's strong - this is her games to win, her movie to be the star of. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta plays second fiddle as the goodlooking and sensitive bakery boy with a Katniss crush quite well while handsome Liam Hemsworth's Gale does little more than watch the star crossed lovers on the big screen. I hope his character has more to do than cast his eyes downward in Catching Fire the second in the series! I haven't read it yet.


I could take or leave Elizabeth Banks as the very silly Effie Trinkets; the over the top costume, makeup and accent  and zero character arc left me cold. None of which is Bank's fault, but I wonder why she bothered with the part. At the same time Woody Harrelson as Haymitch goes from the unlikeable drunkard to wise strategist and wins our hearts in the end. Lenny Kravitz turns in a warm performance as Cinna, Stanley Tucci is over the top in a good way as the game/talk show host. His false teethy and false toothy smile rivals that of Austin Powers. And last but not least by far, Donald Sutherland is wonderfully cold as the ruthless President Snow. He is truly not pleased with the outcome of this year's games. Poor Seneca, played by Wes Bentley bears the brunt of the blame which may be in part a winking acknowledgement from Gary Ross that if his movie based on the megaselling book had failed, the blame would fall on his directorial shoulders too.  The action ends on President Snow's figure departing and I coudn't help but thinking that in the next Hunger Games someone will catch fire and there will be hell to pay. I guess I'll just have to read the book.

I'm posting the trailer again but I'm hating how much of the film it shows. Just go see it. 

Sunday Snippets: Don't forget to enter the GIVE AWAY

You have a couple more days to enter my GIVEAWAY for a free copy of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY by John LeCarre and notepad cube.
You have until midnight March 27 to enter. I'll pick a random winner
on March 28th.

Variety reports that The Hunger Games is going to break $150 million - my husband Mark and I are heading out to a 10am showing. Unheard of us to do on a Sunday morning!

I've just started reading the first Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear. My friend Laura who recommended the book noted the similarities to Downton Abbey. After a strong beginning there's a bit of a slowdown as the question of her philosophical education via Maurice Blanche is examined. I hope the book gets back to the good stuff soon!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Saturday Snapshot is a Buddha's Hand

Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books. To participate post a photo that you have taken then leave a direct link there. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you.
According to an article in the L.A. Times,
"Shoppers usually stop in their tracks, jaws hanging down, the first time they see a Buddha's Hand"

That's exactly what I did when I saw this fruit in my local market! Ralph's I think. Not much of a gourmet, I hadn't seen it before. Apparently it's a citrus, its ancestor, "the ordinary citron, is one of the three original species of citrus and looks like a large, lumpy lemon; in the Buddha's Hand, the fruit splits at the end opposite the stem into segments that look somewhat like human fingers - whence the fruit's other name, fingered citron. This prodigy is a genetic mutation that arose many centuries ago somewhere in the citron's homeland, southwestern China and northeastern India."

It took me right back to a book I used to read to my son in his preschool days. The Witch's Hand is a
sweet and wonderful book that I highly recommend to anyone who still has small kids or grandkids they read to. It is not just for Halloween! This is what the publisher has to say about it.
"The power of stories to seem more true than reality is the theme of this clever first book from a British author/illustrator. To explain the appearance of "a horrible, brown crinkly thing pinned to the wall" of his art studio, George's father tells his son that in the middle of the night he heard the "slither-slither-pat-pat-cackle-cackle" of a witch coming to steal the children. Just as the witch was ready to stab George's father with a dagger of vipers, he was saved by George's mother, who cut off the witch's hand; his father has pinned it to the wall "to remind me to lock all the doors at night." When George's father admits that the "hand" is just a leaf and his tale of horror "just a story," George laughs and says, "Why, you rotten fibber!" Although the story's ending may seem unsatisfactorily abrupt, Utton's suitably silly text and slapdash watercolors skillfully blend fright and humor into a story that retains its excitement even when the reader, like George, knows it can't be true. Ages 3-up."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Welcome to Indie Book Store Friday

Welcome to "Post a Picture of an Independent Bookstore Friday" for lack of a better title! 

 To show our support for independent bookstores, I'm asking fellow bloggers to post a picture  of a bookstore with the store's website and/or contact info. After you've created your post, add your url to Mr. Linky so we can all sample various bookstores. The bookstore can be your own bookstore, the store where you work, your favorite place to buy books, or maybe it's a bookstore in a far away city that you've always wanted to visit. It can be in Toledo, Toronto or Timbuktu. It's totally up to youLibby at Libbysbookblog told me about this site called which lists indie bookstores if you need ideas. You also don't have to write as much as I've written but Libby got her post ready early and wrote so beautifully about Shakespeare & Company that I had to at least take up some page space!

Vroman's Bookstore 'Once Upon a Time'

Vroman's Books
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
I must admit I wish Vroman's Book Store in Pasadena looked a little more ramshackle and disorganized. I like the charm of teetering shelves. But Vromans, while stuffed to the gills with bookish goodies, is exceedingly well run and everything, in fact, is in its place. Which may be part of the reason why this bookstore which opened its doors in 1894 is still here over 118 years later!
Adam Clark Vroman, an avid book collector, sold his colection in order to open up his first bookstore. When things took off he started collecting again. He donated that extensive collection to the Pasadena City Library when he died. That's another thing ; just as Clark was concerned about his community Vroman's has a long  HISTORY of being involved in the community and giving back. There is a story in the Vroman history that once upon a time Clark loaned money to a rival so that he could open up a competing bookstore. That may or may not be true - I like to think it is - what is true is that in 2009 when the owner of Hollywood's Book Soup died and the store was in danger of closing, the Vroman stepped in and kept its doors open. And Book Soup does have the crazy tottering shelves that appeal to me.
It seems like independent book stores need to be pretty special places in order to survive these days. Vroman's has author readings and signings almost daily in their spacious upstairs space - and oh, I'm sorry to say I missed Jodi Picoult last week but hopefully I will catch Jacqueline Winspear who is going to be there April 9th reading from her new book in the Maisie series, Elegy for Eddie. They have friendly booksellers who love books, a blog, book groups, writing classes and even a knitting group.Of course they can ship books and you can also purchase google e books through Vromans.
Okay, show me what you've got!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's in The HUNGER GAMES name?

I couldn't resist! Whetting your appetite for The Hunger Games, Miriam Krule has an article in BrowBeat, what calls their 'culture blog'. It's all about the derivation of the names author Suzanne Collins uses in the book AND CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS!
There are many shocking elements in The Hunger Games, the dystopic young adult seriesby Suzanne Collins—it is, after all, about kids killing each other. Once you let that sink in, though, you can absorb the craziest part of the trilogy: the characters’ names. Katniss? Haymitch? Cinna? Collins has never explained how she came up with these names, leaving the books’ many fans to hatch their own theories. (One fansite even created an algorithm to figure out your Hunger Games name; mine is Rebmet G. Skiptulip, only slightly more ridiculous-sounding than any of the ones in the book.)
The names can be roughly divided into two groups: Characters from the poor, depleted districts are named after plants or other earthy items; those from the regal capital have a Roman influence. While the names may seem as random as the reaping, I think there’s order in them: The Roman-themed names play on Collins’ critique of imperialism—the nation of Panem gets its name from panem et circenses, or “bread and circuses”—while the plant names highlight the natural goodness of the books’ heroes.*
Below is my attempt to explain the names of some of the more important characters from the series. Note: there are spoilers ahead for those who have not read the books.
Katniss Everdeen: The heroine of the trilogy has what seems, at first, like a not-so-heroic moniker. (Her best friend, Gale, calls her Catnip.) But her name is one of the few that gets an explanation: In a flashback, her father—who is already dead when the book begins—tells her that “as long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”  The katniss plant has nourishing roots, and is also known as “arrowhead.” It belongs to the genus Sagittaria, and the constellation of the same name, Sagittarius, is also known as the archer—a fitting ode to her impressive bow-and-arrow skills.

Watch the first trailer for Cosmopolis with Robert Pattinson!

I just saw this trailer for Cosmopolis at!  It looks pretty intense. I posted about David Cronenberg's screen adaptation of the Don Delillo novel last November and vowed to put the book on my TBR list. But I didn't! I still have plenty o' time because the film starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche and Paul Giamatti doesn't come out until May 23.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's Wondrous Words Wednesday!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. I'm excited because this is my first time participating!
I've only encountered one unfamiliar word in the book I'm currently reading; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach. I will say I'm enjoying it so far, so much better, for what I'm currently in the mood for anyway, than her Tulip Fever.  Or maybe it's just because I am so looking forward to the film even if it is about a bunch of old codgers like Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Billy Nighy and Tom Wilkinson! The story takes place primarily in India and the word is part of the Indian vocabulary dating back aways!
The Wondrous Word I encountered is 
Punkah Wallah ... this is actually two Hindi words.  According to Merriam-Webster a 'wallah' is the person who operates the 'punkah'. The punkah is: a fan used especially in India that consists of a canvas-covered frame suspended from the ceiling and that is operated by a cord.
I hope there is not much call for a punkah wallah in modern day India! 

GIVE AWAY, Around the Networks, and more

Don't forget to enter my Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy GIVEAWAY!!!

I'm so honored that Alex Tucker asked me to write a column for his entertainment website,! The article is up today, I hope you'll take a minute to check it and the website out. Read my very short piece about Mark Harmon and Certain Prey,  A HUNGER FOR HARMON and visit Around the Networks. 

I hope you'll participate this Friday when I 'host'  Post a Picture of an Independent Bookstore.  To show our support for independent bookstores, I'm looking for fellow bloggers to post a picture on your site of a bookstore with the store's contact info. I'll be using Mr. Linky for the very first time ever and I hope you'll post your URL so we can all sample various bookstores. The bookstore can be your own bookstore, your favorite place to buy books, or maybe it's a bookstore in a far away city that you've always wanted to visit. It can be in Toledo, Toronto or Timbuktu. It's totally up to you. I just hope you'll come back and play on Friday!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy GIVEAWAY

Gosh, I almost forgot!
Two amazing films both out on DVD  and Blu Ray today. I saw them in the theatre last year so I will link to the reviews I posted back then. Remember it's usually only the BluRay editions that are carrying the extra features we've come to know and love.
I have one copy of the movie tie-in edition of the book, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre, plus a Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy notepad cube to give away.
see entry details below


Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch,Tom Hardy, Mark Strong and Toby Jones
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
"And so it began. And right off the bat, it was different from LeCarre's gentle start with Jim Prideaux arriving at the school in its bucolic setting. Instead we are taken to the Circus right away. If I thought for a moment that the film might be leaving LeCarre's quiet suspense behind in favor of a more modern taste for fast action I was wrong. The film moves slowly but steadily along, with frequent flashbacks from this spy or that to explain what they knew, when they knew it, and who they told, thereby explaining the intricasies of the plot."

THE GIRL W/ THE DRAGON TATTOO   Stars: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Starsgaard, Robin Wright.     Directed by: David Fincher  First, the credits including the score by Trent Rosner who, along with Atticus Rose, did the entire film score, were a work of art in their own right. In fact the transition from credits to opening frame was a little jarring but there he was, Daniel Craig, a sexy, grizzled, intelligent looking Mikael Blomquist.
Superficial stuff - loved his look. His black overcoat, dark jeans turned up at the bottom, messenger bag, the glasses he dangles off one ear (I have worn glasses for 50 years and never dangled them like that. BUT I'm going to start practicing ha ha!) he just exuded the vibe of a tres hip, intellectual journalist working for one of those uber cool oversized European magazines. Don't talk to me about his lack of Swedish accent; I didn't miss it. I could care less.
TO ENTER THE GIVE AWAY ... it's easy schmeazy
Please leave a comment below by midnight, Monday, March 27, telling me your favorite Daniel Craig movie and why.
If your entry is selected, I'll announce the winner Tuesday, March 28, so check back.
I'll also contact you as well, so winner need not be present, ha ha, to win.
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