A Great and Terrible . . .Movie

Libba fans- A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels have movie options:

Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey’s Icon Productions has optioned the rights to a Libba Bray book trilogy to develop as a big-screen franchise and set helmer Charles Sturridge to direct the first installment, which centers on four rebel teens in Victorian England who gain power from access to a mysterious realm.

Of course it would have been better if this news hadn’t come to my attention the same day Mel got busted for a DUI.



I may have waited too long to write coherently about this book, but I needed time to digest it and let it percolate in my soul.

Antonio, 17 years old, has been arrested for murdering his father when the book opens.  Over the next ten years he corresponds with his girlfriend Natasha, and their stories unfold through the letters.

I went through a roller coaster of emotion and attachment to Natasha and Antonio.  I had this sinking feeling when the book began that there would be not only an unhappy ending, but a tragic one.  When Antonio accepts a plea bargain that puts him in prison for manslaughter I hated Natasha’s reaction.  Her letters seemed to be about her – an unexpected opportunity for a trip to Paris, a pregnant friend, fights with her step-father and it frustrated me because I felt for Antonio trying to cope with the very frightening and soul killing future of prison.  And I sort of hated that reaction to Natasha.  I wanted to give her a break.  I had the perspective of an adult viewing their  relationship as young love, certain to burn out and now even more so. So I knew it wasn’t the fairest reaction.  But I got over it.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot because it would give away the outcome, and this book ended up surprising me.  I became aware about two-thirds through that the ending would only be sad, not tragic.  And that there was more to the back-story than originally presented.

As a mentioned in an earlier post voice is very important to me and I thought the voices here were truly authentic, which is what led me to empathy with both characters, why I cared about them.

When I finished I heaved a sigh and floated around the house ruminating on it.  Kalisha Buchanan did a very fine job.

And I am proud of myself for sticking pretty close to the summer reading list, plus some.

Voices in my Head

I am not a fan of audio books. I have always attributed this to not being able to focus and pay attention to the story. I would be doing something else and miss large chunks of the story. Recently I learned something about myself regarding the way I read and audio books that I had never considered. While backpacking I took time to listen to an audio book with no distractions. I am not a visual reader, I don’t see pictures in my head when I read. Voice is probably the most important element in making me go WOW! about a book. So listening to an audio book of a series I have read over the past ten years was a big aha! experience. The voice of one of the main characters was COMPLETELY wrong. I hear voices when I read, I don’t see pictures. Oh I get it now. I finally understand why people get so upset over movie adaptations, casting issues, etc. It was so annoying! It is interesting to learn something about my reading process at this stage in my life, and from now on I am just going to accept that I don’t like audio books, and that is just fine. I don’t have to. HHMMPH! OK, maybe I don’t need to be quite so dramatic about that statement but I am done feeling like there might be something wrong with me because I haven’t climbed on the audio band wagon. Happy listening!

What Happened to Cass McBride

I have a confession – I often read the last few pages of a book before I finish (usually about a third of the way in). I don’t always have the patience to get to the end to find out what happened, and it doesn’t ruin the book for me. However one of the reasons Gail Giles rocks is I can read the last few pages of her book and I STILL don’t know what happened. Heck, I’ve finished the whole book and I am still not 100% sure what happened. This woman can write an ending! And sometimes that can be hard.

Cass McBride is a beautiful girl, cold, calculating, a “mean girl.” Kyle is going to make her pay for her sins. Neither character is particularly likable on the surface, but Giles manages to build empathy for both Cass and Kyle – despite the fact that Kyle has buried Cass alive with a walkie talkie so he can taunt her. He figures she deserves it, after all it was her note that caused his little brother to commit suicide – maybe. But Kyle has his own hell, and so does Cass- and frankly being buried alive isn’t the hell I am speaking of.

So even though I skipped ahead I wasn’t particularly sure of the outcome, and because I believe that people should read this book I have no intention of telling you how it ends – you must discover this for yourself.

Knowing When to Stop

So while I haven’t been writing – I have been reading.  I went on a backpacking trip and took 2 books with me – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (a title I can never get right without looking at) by Jonathan Safran Foer and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

I enjoyed the first book – in some ways it reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime because part of the book was the graphic design, the way the words were on the page, and the visual clues to the narrator. It was a fable as much as a story of grief, and healing. Oskar lost his father in the World Trade Towers on 9/11, and after finding a mysterious key he embarks upon a journey to discover what the key opens. This is another book where the plot is incidental in some ways, the story is in the journey, and there is no special Hollywood ending. For those who enjoyed Curious Incident, or Life of Pi, or Peace Like a River, this is an easy book to recommend.
The second book was Wicked. And this is where the knowing where to stop comes in. First as a disclaimer, I have never been a fan of the Wizard of Oz – book or movie (which I have never seen in its entirety). I did not like this book. I didn’t hate it with throw across the room vengeance, but I wasn’t necessarily enjoying it either. Here is how much: we left when I still had about 100 pages left. I didn’t finish it. When you have invested that much time in a book, usually you finish it. Nope, couldn’t bother. And I wouldn’t have kept reading past the first 50 pages if I had ANY other options, but I was limited. (I did have an audio book but that is a different post.) It wasn’t Maguire wither because I could recognize a well done story with quality writing, I just didn’t care. I am sure this is about my dislike of the original, and if you liked Wizard of Oz I think this is a worthy go around. But certainly not my taste. Convince me otherwise – what did I miss?

Calling all Twilight Fans

Yes, I have now had the opportunity to read the ARC of New Moon, Stephenie Meyer’s follow up to Twilight. I’d like to say you fans will all be happy, and I am quite sure you will. However you may also be disappointed – and this isn’t a huge spoiler so don’t get all fussy on me – Bella and Edward spend almost the entire book apart. Tragic. This is a worthy follow up, although it took me longer to get into. It didn’t move as fast as Twilight, and I think it missed some of the moody atmospherics of the first novel, but it is still fun. And the focus on Jacob was good, even if I figured it out much sooner than Bella, lordy can she be any more dense????? I don’t really want to say any more in case I give it away – wouldn’t want to do that. I know there are those out there who can barely wait, and I promise to have a minimum of two copies available as soon as the release date.

As Simple as Snow

 “It should have been simple but in the end it could not have been more complicated, and maybe that was the whole point to begin with, but if love is true and it still leaves you lonely, what good does it do?”

I had the opportunity to listen to Greg Galloway at a program at ALA.  He talked about the continuum of Windex to stained glass writing.  In simple terms, and not so beautifully rendered, he seemed to be talking about “show, don’t tell”  with Windex writing being the tell, and stained glass writing being the show.  I am oversimplifying, and not doing it justice which is unfortunate.

The book As Simple as Snow is an excellent example of stained glass writing.  The characters evolve, particularly the narrator throughout the story.  And the plot is shattered into many pieces of colored light.  At its heart there is mystery – what secrets is Anna hiding, who is she, and eventually – where did she go?  But there is also a coming of age story of a narrator who describes himself as bland changing and finding his own path.

I love the description the narrator describes his father

    “Maybe that’s why he likes numbers – they can be tamed, domesticated, they are pliable, dutiful, quiet.”

It tells you so much about his relationship with his father.

“Sometimes there’s more fun in the mystery of things than anything else.”

There are no answers other than what you as a reader can infer, piece together but that of course is the point, or should I say Anna’s point.

“Mysteries are the most interesting, the stuff in the shadows or underneath the surface.  Don’t you think?  I mean, certainty is worse than death.” 

A very good read.