Category Archives: Book Reviews

East of Eden – January’s Book and Movie Review (And Giveaway!)

east of eden movie picQuick Book/Movie Summary:

Novel – 1952 – by John Steinbeck  (Summary From Amazon): Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

Movie – 1955Directed by Elia Kazan – Screenplay by Paul Osborn (Summary from IMDB): In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam.

Book/Movie Club Set Up:

Our group (women ages 23-47) pick a book that has been made into a movie. We read the book and then get together for thematic food, to discuss the book, and then to watch the movie.

On the menu:

Each of us are to bring either a drink, dessert and/or appetizer and it is fun to use the storyEast of eden book club spread for inspiration. This month, we changed it up a bit by doing a wine & cheese theme. Below is the spread.

Appetizers: We ended up with ten different cheeses including, Gouda, Asiago, goat cheese, Fromayer D’Affinois. Plus prosciutto, salami, sesame crackers, pita chips, crostini, fruit, and more.

Drinks: assortment of red and white wines

Dessert: French twist, brownies, cookies

Thoughts about the Book:

At 600 pages I was a little afraid of this book. But as it turns out, after the first chapter, it swept me away – however, it did take me up to the day before we met to finish reading it. And furthermore, only one other person in our group made it through the entire thing. A couple of people made it half way through, one made it to 100 pages, and one person couldn’t get very far at all because she kept falling asleep –

The two of us who did finish the book, loved it. Steinbeck is a master story teller. He created very vibrant characters on both ends of the good/bad spectrum. The story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were woven throughout the book and came full circle in the end. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and highly recommend it.

Thoughts about the Movie:

The movie was only inspired by the last part of East of Eden – One main important character, Lee, was removed and his inspirational speeches were given to other characters. The beauty and monstrousness of Steinbeck dynamic character Cathy/Kate was watered down. I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to the movie.

The highlight of the movie was, of course, James Dean. Although we all respected his acting because it was so James Dean (And the character he played in this movie was compared to the one in Rebel without a Cause), we also made fun of his overacting – his erratic movements and teenage angst were a bit amusing. So, you know, there was a lot of laughing during this drama.

Interesting Discoveries:

 It was the only film (major roll) that was released during James Dean’s lifetime. And he was nominated for best actor, academy awards 1956.

Other’s considered for the role of Cal (James Dean’s character) were Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Paul Newman.

There may be a new movie in the works and it will star Jennifer Lawrence as Cathy/Kate – There is word that it will be two movies so that it will have both generations – so excited to hear this! I will be waiting on this movie – I’m wondering who will play Cal – What big shoes to fill …

 The Girly Discussions:

east of eden book coversJames Dean, James Dean, James Dean …

We didn’t care for Abra’s bangs – (I didn’t care for Julie Harris as Abra at all.)

The actors who played the Trasks Twins (James Dean and Richard Davalos ) looked more like brothers than they were portrayed in the book. In the novel, they were complete opposites.

Some thought Aron was pretty handsome himself.

Was James Dean’s hair grey in this movie? It looked grey in several scenes.

 

The Group’s Average ratings:

Book: 4 glasses of wine out of 5

Movie: 2 glasses of wine out of 5

The bottom line:

Read the book, and, if you love it and decide to watch the movie, just be aware that it is not the same story, but I think it is still worth watching – the cinematic classic of the 50s won a lot of awards and James Dean’s performance is what made him a star.

Next month’s Book and Movie:

The Martian by Andy Weir

Extra:

I have decided to giveaway (US only) my copy of East of Eden (The middle book in the pic above) so someone else can experience this classic tale. If you would like to read it, comment on this post on my blog, and I’ll draw a name from all who commented on January 31, 2016 – I will post the winner on Feb 1st.

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

Drugstore Cowboy – December’s Book and Movie Review

 

drugstore cowboy book cover

Quick Book/Movie Summary:

Novel by James Fogle (Summary from Amazon): This rich and compelling story of four traveling junkies who lives revolve around looting drugstores was made into the movie voted best film of 1989 by the National Society of Film critics and is published here for the first time.

Movie: Screenplay by and directed by Gus Van Sant  :  (Summary from IMDB): A pharmacy-robbing dope fiend and his crew pop pills and evade the law.

Book/Movie Club set up:

Our group (women ages 22-47) pick a book that has been made into a movie. We read the book and then get together for thematic food, to discuss the book, and then to watch the movie.

On the menu:

Book and Movie Club

Our group with a table of fun food. (minus me – I took the picture)

Each of us are to bring either a drink, dessert and/or appetizer and it is fun to use the story for inspiration. Below is what we ended up with this month. (A lot of munchies lol)

Appetizers: layered dip, egg rolls, tortilla chips, Cheetos

Drinks: moscato, margaritas

Dessert: peanut butter cookies, pretzel cookies, sugar cookies, powered donuts, chocolate filled croissants dusted with powdered sugar

Thoughts about the Book: I personally liked the book. My individual rating was a 3.5. There was some amusing dark humor and clever shenanigans, and I thought the unique style of writing made the book seem more authentic.

However, the majority of the group didn’t care for it. The biggest complaint was that there were no chapters. And it did jump around a lot and sometimes difficult to keep up because of the head-hopping and sudden scene transitions – or, actually, the lack thereof.

Thoughts about the Movie:

It did stay very close to the book but it left out the wittiness of the narrator, which to me was the entertaining part of the book, and it also missed a couple of key points where if I hadn’t have read the book it would have been confusing. However, I doubt I would have made it that far (if I hadn’t read the book first) because the movie was slow and boring.

Side Note: I thought Dianne from the book was way cooler than the character in the movie.

Interesting Discoveries:

The author spent 35 of his 53 years in prison.

We were surprised that Natalie was played by Heather Graham.

The Girly Discussions:

We weren’t sure how graphic the movie would be because the book had some explicit content – but it was very toned down compared to the book – no nudity and even the adult gibes were omitted.

Before reading the book, some of us knew the actors who played the characters in the movie, so that was how we read them in our heads. For me, Bob was Matt Dillon.

Since it is Christmastime, we had a gift exchange – We each brought our favorite book and exchanged white elephant style. It was interesting having each person describe their pick and why it was one of their favs. I brought “The Haunting on Hill House” and received a coloring book for adults, which is really cool.

The Group’s Average ratings:

Book: 2.75 glasses of margaritas out of 5

two margarita glass rating

Movie: 1.5 glasses of margaritas out of 5

one margarita glass rating

The bottom line:

The book is different and there is a huge chance that you’re not going to like it, but I thought it was interesting, maybe not by normal genre standards, but interesting. But I don’t recommend the movie even though it does have Matt Dillon – just put him in your head as you read the book and, there, you have the movie but better.

Next month’s Book and Movie:

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

snowmen banner sept 18

Z for Zachariah – November’s Book and Movie Get-Together

Z for Zachariah

z for zachariah covers

Novel (1974): Written by Robert C. O’Brien

Movie (2015): Screenplay by Nissar Modi directed by Craig Zobel

The set up:

Our group (women ages 22-48) pick a book that has been made into a movie. We read the book and then get together for thematic food, to discuss the book, and then to watch the movie.

On the menu:

Each of us are to bring either a drink, dessert and/or appetizer and it is fun to use the story for inspiration. Below is what we ended up with this month.

Z for Zacharia food pic

Appetizers: mini chicken and waffles, hummus with pita chips, deviled eggs (2 people brought these)

Drinks: Red Rose wine, Pinot Noir, and Flip Flop wine

Dessert: Birthday Cake

Quick Book/Movie Summary:

Book (From Amazon): Ann Burden is sixteen years old and completely alone. The world as she once knew it is gone, ravaged by a nuclear war that has taken everyone from her.  Ann soon realizes there may be worse things than being the last person on Earth.

Movie (From IMDB): In the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, two men and a young woman find themselves in an emotionally charged love triangle as the last known survivors.

Thoughts about the Book:

A couple of us thought the story had a good build up to suspenseful scenes.

We all agreed that it was slow at times with the mundane work of the fields and milking cows and gathering eggs and cooking and working on a tractor and gas pumps …  but somehow it still ended up being a quick read.

We all felt that there were way too many conveniences – like the fully stocked store, the cane, her taking a class in school that taught her how to care for a person when they were sick.

I was not happy with the dog situation. I did like the overall idea and plot of the book.

I felt deceived as far as Edward’s sudden attitude. But others in the group pointed out places that did support the change. There was also talk of unreliable narrator because it was all from the girl’s point of view (her diary) and perhaps she was the crazy one …

The ending was pretty bad and so we came up with 4 alternate endings (If you haven’t read the book you might want to skip this part.)

She shoots him and is alone again in the valley as it was, reclaiming her house. The last line – There are worse things than being the last person on earth.

He kills her. The last line – After reading this journal, I guess you can call me Z for Zachariah. (Bringing that around full circle.)

Gone Girl Ending – She stays with him and they try to make it work.

The Truman Show Ending – She’s actually on a reality show. She wins because she escapes.

Thoughts about the Movie:

We all agreed it was really really Boring. This was a completely different story than the book. And that would have been fine if it had been a good story. The book was YA – the movie was not.  There was really no plot. There was no mention as to why the title was Z for Zachariah.

I did like how the setting from the book came to life. I really wish I could have watched the movie according to the book.

Interesting Discoveries:

Using his notes, Robert C. O’Brien’s wife and daughter actually wrote the book after his death.

The Girly Discussions:

The movie would have only received one wine glass but we all agreed to give it half a glass more because of Chris Pine’s blue eyes. Cheers!

We thought the casting of Margot Robbie was a little off. Since we read the book first and knew the main character Ann was 16 we thought Robbie was too old. I was shocked that she was the same actress from The Wolf of Wall Street and Focus. There were some thoughts about how they really had to change her look so she could fit the part.

 

The Group’s Average ratings:

3 wine glasses z

Book: 3.5 wine glasses out of 5

Movie: 1.5 wine glasses out of 5

Movie: 1.5 wine glasses out of 5

The bottom line:

These are two different stories. So much so I really can’t compare them. But individually, I liked the story from the book a lot more than the story from the movie. But they did have one thing in common – they both had disappointing endings.

Read the book, skip the move.

Next month’s Book and Movie:

Drug Store Cowboy

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

September Book and a Movie: Atonement

atonementBook: Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan

Movie: Atonement (2007) directed by Joe Wright Screenplay by: Christopher Hampton

The set up:

Each month four of us (women ages 20-45) pick a book that has been made into a movie. We read the book and then get together for thematic food and to watch the movie.

On the menu:

We don’t know what the others are bringing. All we know is our category: appetizer, entrée (2 of us get this), or dessert. We can take food items directly from the book or go more inspirational. Below is what we ended up with this month.

Appetizer: Roasted Cauliflower and Heirloom tomato salad

Entrée: Quiche Florentine and French Bread

Entrée: Only one this time, we had one person who couldn’t make it this week.

Dessert: Chocolate bread pudding

My Book Review:

I liked it. Here are the words I jotted down to the describe the book: Intense, boring, sad, excellent writing. It had its ups and downs. I skimmed a lot, especially the war chapters. The author was very descriptive and really wanted to give his readers insight into each character, which sometimes made me sleepy but still a very thought provoking book:  how young is too young to be responsible for your actions.

My Movie Review:

I didn’t like it very much. It was  boring, especially the war scenes (which I really didn’t see what they had to do with the main plot of the story – in the movie or the book for that matter) The beginning moved really quickly through the scenes, and if I wouldn’t have read the book, I don’t think I would have really understood what was going on – and I probably wouldn’t have watched the entire thing.

Interesting Discoveries:

We were really surprised to learn that the film was nominated and won a lot of awards. Including an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Dario Marianelli (which I guess the music was fine) Here is a link on IMDB that list all 27 nominations: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0783233/awards?ref_=tt_awd

The Girly Discussions:

There was some discussion about the casting of Lola and Emily (the mother). They didn’t fit what we thought they would look like.

The costumes were awesome.

Most of us (I’m not going to name any names – lol) didn’t finish the book, so the premovie discussion was mostly about how boring the book was. But we all read to at least the middle of the book and so we were disappointed with how rushed the beginning of the movie seemed. Also, the sequence of events (going back to redo a scene from another character’s POV) seemed disjointed.

My Rating:

Book: 4 out of 5 stars

Movie: 2 out of 5 stars

The Bottom Line:

The book had too many details … the movie didn’t have enough details in the first half. Read the book, skip the movie. However, if you do want to watch the movie, be sure and read the book first. But then again, maybe the people who gave the movie such high marks didn’t read the book and therefore appreciated it more… IDK

Next month’s Book and Movie:

Serena by Ron Rash

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

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