Category Archives: Book Reviews

Drive – April’s Book and Movie Review

drive movie posterQuick Book/Movie Summary:

Novel (2006) – Author: James Sallis (Summary from Amazon) Drive is about a man who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night.

Movie (2011) – Screenwriter: Hossein Amini Director: Nicolas Winding Refn  (summary from imdb) A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself trouble when he helps out his neighbor.

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 storydrive food for inspiration. Below is the spread for this month.

Food: Pepperoni pizza (delivered of course), pineapple alfredo pizza, chocolate cupcakes, brownies, roasted Brussels sprouts, chips and dip, parmesan wings.

Drinks: red wine, beer

Thoughts about the Book: It was unanimous – nobody liked it. It was confusing and disjointed. I got lost a few times, but didn’t bother to go back and find out what I missed. I just kept reading so I could get to the end.

The style of the book kind of reminded me of an indie-film, but the problem is, it’s a book not a movie, so it didn’t quite work without a solid plot.

Several of us did like the character Doc and his cat. Those few chapters kept my attention for some reason.

driveThoughts about the Movie:

Everyone liked the movie better than the book, which is becoming (surprisingly) more of the norm for our group.

I think the screenwriter did a great job of bringing all the disjointed elements of the book together and creating a cohesive storyline while maintaining the stylistic vibe of the book. He also made the main character, Driver, more relatable (and likeable) by changing his quick tempered disposition to an only-violent-when-extremely-motivated one.

Some of us liked the soundtrack and others didn’t think it actually went with the movie. There was a lot of staring, which at times became distracting, which became silly & comical.

The Girly Discussions:

We thought the book and the movie were targeted for a male audience – especially the movie – car chases and stunts, hands-over-the-eyes gross violence – At one point in the movie, someone said, “The only thing missing are boobs.” And guess what the next scene was, lol.

We also thought the elevator scene was very strange …

Interesting Discoveries:

It was called “arthouse action” by Rotten Tomatoes which gave it 92% on their TOMATOMETER – I can see that.

The Group’s Average ratings:

Book: 1 glasses of wine out of 5

Movie: 3 glasses of wine out of 5

The bottom line:

I can’t recommend the book because I didn’t care for it. However, it is completely different than anything I’ve ever read, and it did provide the background of the character for the movie.

The movie is worth watching – I liked the music and the style – just know that it is going to turn gross-violent without warning … no time to look away! “Ewww …”

Next month’s Book and Movie:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (with a zombie garden party theme)

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

How to be Single – March’s Book and Movie Review

 

How to be Single CoverQuick Book/Movie Summary:

Novel – by Liz Tuccillo (summary from Amazon) How to Be Single is about one woman’s attempts to navigate a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love.

Movie – Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, and Dana Fox (Summary from Rotten Tomatoes) A young woman searches for love in New York City in this romantic comedy…

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 storyHow to be Single - Onion Creek2 for inspiration. This month, we changed it up a bit (again) by going to eat at Onion Creek in Houston to discuss the book, and then going to the movies to watch the film. We had cocktails afterwards – to discuss the movie, of course. Below is the spread for both pre-movie and post-movie.

Food: French Fries, Onion rings, cheese sticks, Chips and chile con queso, cheeseburger, chili dog, artichoke and feta pizza

Drinks: Craft Beer, Bud Light, Margaritas, Long Island Ice Tea

Thoughts about the Book:

The book was okay. It was kind of depressing, the characters were cliché, and one of the single women in our group called it total bullshit.

But there were some interesting parts and characters who we liked more than others. One person mentioned how she was glad that it wasn’t all tied up with a pretty bow at the end.

To me, it started out slow but picked up interest in the middle.

Oh, and we had some alternate titles:

“How to get Laid While Single”

“How to get Laid While Single, Around the World”

“Men are Jerks”

“How to Validate Yourself Based Solely on your Romantic Relationship”

“How to Validate Yourself Based Solely on your Romantic Relationship, Around the World”

Thoughts about the Movie:

Everyone liked the movie better than the book, which is really unusual.

Normally, we are trying to figure out the differences in the movie from the book but this time we had to rack our brains to come up with things that were the same – Completely different story. And we were trying to figure out why they would they even say it was inspired by the book – they didn’t even use the same characters. (I think it was just so they could use the names of her other bestsellers and movie hits.)

The movie was funny (laugh-out-loud parts), had a nice balance of sweet/sad scenes, and I think it had a deeper meaning of being single than the book had. I would call it a relationship comedy instead of a romantic comedy.

But of course, all movies have their issues – One lady from our group had an alternate title for the movie: “How to be Comfortable with Yourself if you’re Affluent, White, Educated, and Heterosexual.”

The Girly Discussions:

We thought how nice it would be to be able to jump up at any time and travel around the world just like the characters in the book. (The movie stayed in New York)

We wondered if Liz Tuccillo (author) really traveled around the world to research for the book or only used her creative license to make stuff up.

Some of us thought the men in the movie were a little too much on the sweet side (although we did like most of them), and the men in the book were complete jerks.

Interesting Discoveries:

Liz Tuccillo did do actual research! “For the research for this book, she traveled to eight different countries interviewing single men and woman. She had a really great time.”

Well, that makes the book even more depressing …

The Group’s Average ratings:

Book: 3.5 glasses of beer out of 5

Movie: 4 glasses of beer out of 5

The bottom line:

I saw the trailer for the movie before I read the book so I might have been expecting more of a comedy instead of a woman on a mission to find out how all the single women in the world are faring. And I was actually happy that the movie was nothing like the book.

Next month’s Book and Movie:

Drive by James Sallis

 

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

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

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