Category Archives: Book Reviews

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,


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:

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,


Psycho: Movie and a Book for August


Movie: Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock

Book: Psycho (1959) by Robert Bloch.

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:

pycho dinner

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: Pickles, Cheese, Summer sausage

Entrée: Sandwiches – an assortment of meats and cheeses, sour dough and rye bread.

Entrée: Cheese wrapped baked potatoes that had been cut and sliced.

Dessert: Coffee cake (decorated with shower curtain rings and a huge knife) and coffee ice cream

My Book Review:

Before I started reading the book, I already knew the twist (I watched the movie years ago) so there were no big surprises. I really enjoyed Bloch’s writing style. It was easy-going, and he really knows how to set a mood. By far, my favorite scene was the one at the end where Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin) are in the office – this, to me, was worth reading the entire book. The mood shifted and we got to see the darker side of Norman. Also it went from Sam feeling like he had the upper hand – to gradually realizing he did not. What an awesome suspenseful shift in reality.

My Movie Review:

I found the movie visually outstanding. Hitchcock used textures, lighting, and shading to really enhance the black and white movie.

It was a little slow in the beginning, and we were like, “Get on with it.” But once it did get going, and this might sound strange, the movie ended up being so much fun. We were cracking up laughing at so many of the “scary scenes” and were highly entertained.

Interesting Discoveries:

While watching the movie, Hitchcock was spotted and so were a lot of birds.

After watching the movie, we discovered something very interesting: Hitchcock actually intended the movie to be a comedy. He really was way before his time; it took a modern audience to really appreciate his sense of humor. Here’s the interview about it:

Hitchcock: Psycho meant to be a comedy

The Girly Discussions:

Half of us thought the sister, Lila Crane, played by Vera Miles looked younger than Janet Leigh and the other half thought she looked older.

We all agreed that Norman started out looking kind of cute in the beginning but then by the time we hit the end of the movie he was downright creepy. But Sam was way better looking.

My rating:

At first I thought the book was better than the movie. I thought Hitchcock left out the most suspenseful scene in the book (my favorite from above)  and wondered why he changed Norman’s appearance. And there were other things, too.  But it makes sense now: the book was horror, the movie was a comedy.

Book: 4 out of 5 stars

Movie: 5 out of 5 stars

The bottom line:

I’m really glad I read the book and watched the movie. If you haven’t watched Psycho in a while, grab a few friends and watch the movie in the frame of mind that you are about to watch a comedy.

Love and Laughter,


My thoughts on The Bad Girl & The Wolf Gift

I’m doing kind of a double book review here as well as a self analyses as a reader.  The two books,The Bad Girl: A Novelby Mario Vargas Llosa, and The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice, may seem like an unlikely duo. However, I reacted to both in the same way: I stopped reading them. I made it ¾ of the way in The Bad Girl but only ¼ of the way in The Wolf Gift.

I guess I’m a sensitive reader and a pretty empathic person – I don’t even watch the news. To me, things that are sad, depressing, disgusting, awful, especially if they happen to children, are not entertaining. The reason I read and/or watch movies is to be entertained; to escape for a little while into a fantasy world. I don’t mean that they all have to be happy-go-lucky. I like scary, I like mysteries, I love thrillers… but what I don’t like is to be upset. And both books made me upset (for different specific reasons), and so I stopped reading them.

I decided not to give them a rating because obviously this is a personal opinion that has nothing to do with the writing or even the story. Although, truthfully, there were so many reasons why I was disappointed with Rice’s newest paranormal book and the part that made me finally throw down the book was just the last straw.

Even though The Wolf Gift wasn’t for me, I will always be an Anne Rice fan. And I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet her and to get The Wolf Gift signed (along with a couple more of her novels I had on my shelf) at a quaint indie bookstore in Houston. Murder by the Book specializes in mystery, detective, fantasy, etc. types of books.  The store has a homey, warm ambiance. I enjoyed reading the little stick-it notes on the shelves with recommendations from the well-read staff. So the entire experience was very enjoyable.

The Bad Girl was the first book I have ever read by the 2010 Nobel Prize  in Literature winner,  Mario Vargas Llosa’s, and since there is no history, no expectations, it wasn’t as much as a disappointment. I must say that The Bad Girl was an interesting study on personalities/characterizations. I don’t regret reading up to the point that I did; things in the story just got a little much for me after awhile.

Love and Laughter,



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