Monday, August 04, 2014

Two Books Adapted to Movies, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, Mrs Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini, Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara and Norwegian Folk Tales of Anthon and Gurina Johnson by Jean Russell Larson

I am so excited about these two movies, I can hardly stand it! My son Nick and I both read "The Martian" and LOVED it, and now it will be made into a movie directed by the wonderful Ridley Scott, which is awesome. Also, I started reading the Dragonriders of Pern series back in the late 70s when I was in high school, and I LOVED them so dearly, I can only hope that they will do Anne McCaffrey proud in putting them up on the big or small screens. It is interesting that her estate, meaning her children, are allowing the books to be optioned, as I somehow think Anne wouldn't have allowed it while she was alive. But then, she hadn't seen what has been done to GRR Martin's Game of Thrones, so she might have been swayed to allowing an adaptation if she would have. At any rate, I am looking forward to both of these films or series with great anticipation.

Fox has announced that "the previous mystery date of March 4, 2016 has
now been moved ahead to November 25, 2015" for The Martian, adapted by Drew Goddard from the novel by Andy Weir, starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott," Indiewire reported.

Harry Potter, The Hobbit and now.... Dragonriders of Pern?
On an endless search to find big-scale fantasy books that lend
themselves to global franchises, Warner Bros has optioned the Pern book
series from the estate of American-Irish author Anne McCaffrey," reported. The first book in the 22-volume series was
published in 1968.

The deal was spearheaded by Drew Crevello, who joined Warner Bros. "a
couple of months ago after writing for two years." Warners' Julia Spiro
also is working on the project. 

 The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch was a recommendation of (I think, I am not certain) Patrick Rothfuss, and though I am not generally into swashbuckling adventure fantasy, this book was a heck of a ride from page one to page 722. Though it's a chubby paperback, this substantial story never wavers or bogs down in useless narration or speeches about politics/religion or any other subject. The story revolves around Locke Lamora, a grubby street orphan who is scooped up by the local Fagin, ala Dickens Oliver, who attempts to turn him into a pickpocket and regular street thief, only to discover that Locke has a talent for large-scale mischief, mainly because he's a smart kid with aspirations of becoming a criminal mastermind. So the Fagin sells Locke to the head of a local priesthood that is really just a front for a criminal gang who are educated and turned loose on the city to scam everyone. All the local gangs pay a percentage of their profits to the city's Mafia don, called a "capo" who has absolute authority over all of the crime in Camorr. Here's the blurb:An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.
  I was surprised by how much I loved this rather brutal world, and how hard I was rooting for Locke and the Gentlemen Bastards. After all, they are lying, cheating, thieves and murderers, but Locke tries to keep bloodshed out of his thievery, and he's got a soft spot for all his friends and his mentor. Perhaps it was because he is described as being small and runt-ish, and not good looking, but I found his ability to don theatrical costumes and scam the nobility without them realizing it to be most charming and great fun. I also loved his nickname, the Thorn of Camorr, because he's such a thorn in the side of the nobility and the constabulary. His encounter with the city's spymaster was brilliant, as was his dealings with the Gray King. Though one could hardly call the ending an HEA, it was still satisfying enough that I had to purchase the second book in the series, just to see how Locke fares in his new life. Note to readers, this book contains a lot of cursing, swearing, violence, death and crude rough-stuff, so it's not appropriate for kids under the age of 17. It grades a well-deserved A, and it recommended to adults who enjoy pirate-style adventure and charming thievery. 
Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara was another book that was recommended to me, as it has a theater in it and is about a woman's struggle to find her creative self in a small town, something I can certainly relate to. Here's the blurb:
During the 1930s in a small town fighting for its survival, a conflicted new wife seeks to reconcile her artistic ambitions with the binding promises she has made
  Fans of Richard Russo, Amor Towles, Sebastian Barry, and Paula McLain will devour this transporting novel about the eternal tug between our duties and our desires, set during in New York City and New England during the Depression and New Deal eras.
            It’s 1935, and Desdemona Hart Spaulding has sacrificed her plans to work as an artist in New York to care for her bankrupt, ailing father in Cascade, Massachusetts. When he dies, Dez finds herself caught in a marriage of convenience, bound to the promise she made to save her father’s Shakespeare Theater, even as her town may be flooded to create a reservoir for Boston. When she falls for artist Jacob Solomon, she sees a chance to escape and realize her New York ambitions, but is it morally possible to set herself free?
I found this to be an interesting book, but one that moved rather slowly at certain spots. I also found Des to be something of a ninny, because she couldn't seem to understand in a mature way, her feelings for Jacob the Jewish peddler and artist until it was too late. She also wanted to continue to hang onto her boring and blithering husband, though it was clear that she didn't really love him, just for the sake of what others thought and because it was easier and more secure. This made her somewhat morally bankrupt, and though she tried to speak out several times, she ended up making things worse because she couldn't commit to her real feelings or ideals. Still, late in the book she finally moved to New York to work at a newspaper, illustrating the downfall of the small towns on the East Coast. She also manages to save her father's Shakespearean theater, and has a good marriage and a good life in the end. But her waffling and wimpy ways grated on my nerves for the first half of the novel. I was glad to see that she did grow up and became an artist during the second half, and that did make the first half easier to take. So I'd give the novel a solid B, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in what life in a small town on the East Coast was like during the Great Depression.
Mrs Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini is this month's book group pick, and I was, therefore, compelled to read it. I have read way too many books about Lincoln and the Civil War in the past couple of years, because American history in general bores me to tears. I realize that there are a number of authors who want to write about what a huge deal the Emancipation Proclamation was, how grateful the slaves were, how they loved President Lincoln for setting them free, etc. I just grow weary of hearing about it over and over and over again. This novel focused on Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a black woman born into slavery who bought her freedom and that of her sons by dint of hard work as a talented seamstress. She sets up shop in Washington DC, where she eventually comes to the attention of Mary Todd Lincoln, the presidents wife, who is something of a spendthrift and a nutter, but since two of her beloved sons died, she has every right to be depressed and dysfunctional.
Here's the blurb: In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion. A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trials of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days.
I liked Elizabeth the dressmaker a great deal, and her voice and POV were a soothing counterpart to the strident and manic voice of Mary Lincoln, who comes off as a not-too-bright egomaniac who takes out her depression on shopping for things she doesn't need and running up huge bills that guarantee that she will die penniless. The prose was good, but stiff and a bit formal in parts, and that hampered the plot slightly, though it all started moving fast about halfway through the book as the war comes to a close and Lincoln's assassination draws near. I'd give the book a B, and recommend it to those who want a more intimate view of Lincoln, the Civil War and slavery.
Norwegian Folk Tales of Anthon and Gurina Johnson by Jean Russell Larson is her 7th book for children, and though it is a slender volume, it's filled with beautifully-illustrated stories that are somewhat like fables, from the memory of Mrs Larson, as told to her by her Norwegian grandparents. Larson passed these tales along to her children and grandchildren, (called "chimney corner tales") and has now put them in a book for future generations of children to enjoy. Larson is a noted folklorist and a brilliant author, so the gentle prose of each of these 8 tales is impeccable and evocative.  Herein we meet "The Sooner the Quicker" and Dumpling, Elsie, the miser, trolls and spotted pigs. Each tale has a moral center, and readers soon learn that the easiest way isn't the best, and that kindness and helping others is the best way to avoid getting gobbled up by something nasty. The tales are short enough for a quick bedtime read, and its certain that parents will find themselves reading these stories over and over to their little ones at night. A solid A, recommended to parents who enjoy folktales and fables for children.

No comments: