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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading & Movie Monday

June 28, 2010

This weekly meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

We’re in the wake of my older daughter’s sixteenth birthday — the house is still full of balloons, streamers, gift bags, and other detritus of the festivities. Sixteen. Holy crap!

Books Read/Reviewed This Week:

The Handy Law Answer Book by David L. Hudson, Jr.

Female Nomad and Friends by Rita Golden Gelman

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork (review coming soon)


I watched one new movie this week: the adaptation of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. My daughter and I were enthralled with this novel when we read it several years ago. This author had a strong story to tell. While it delves into a tragic, violent death and experiences in the afterlife, it is really a story about human relationships, the connections we weave among ourselves, and how we respond to tragedy. However, the thing that really grabbed us was not the story but the lyrical writing.

I was curious about how director Peter Jackson was going to successfully adapt The Lovely Bones to the screen. After all you can capture compelling storytelling in a film adaptation but it can’t really convey beautiful prose. And the best parts of the book were conveyed subtly.

The movie did offer a powerful, though heart-wrenching, story of love and loss, and I thought the acting was marvelous. The movie itself? Hmmm … The director replaced Sebold’s lovely prose with a tremendous amount of lush, surreal imagery. Though I rather enjoyed the interesting film-making, I found all the larger-than-life visuals in Susie’s heaven over the top. It struck me as style over substance, and in the end, it felt a little hollow.

Does anyone else have an opinion about this book or movie?

Reading Now:

I picked up this noirish thriller on a sale table at Barnes and Noble.

From Publishers Weekly: Kellerman, the son of bestsellers Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, shows that his impressive debut, Sunstroke, was no fluke with this gripping psychological page-turner that echoes the best of Hitchcock. Jonah Stem, a young medical resident at St. Agatha’s, a midtown Manhattan teaching hospital, heroically intervenes when he encounters an attractive woman desperately fleeing a knife-wielding assailant early one morning on a street near Times Square. After Stem kills the man in self-defense, he enjoys a brief celebrity, but his life soon becomes complicated when the woman he rescued, Eve Gones, seeks him out and the two begin a frenzied affair. Taken aback by Gones’s masochism, Stem attempts to end the relationship, but soon finds himself stalked relentlessly. Kellerman artfully conveys Stem’s descent into near madness, making the step-by-step degradation of a decent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time plausible and chilling.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2010 1:36 am

    Never saw “The Lovely Bones,” but nice, positive mini-review of the film. I’m really looking forward to more of Sarah’s excellent reviews.

    “Trouble” sounds interesting, but it could be off-putting. I don’t read that many thrillers, and I’m not usually into the “stalking” and the “masochism,” but who knows? Could be a fascinating book.

    • June 28, 2010 2:08 am

      Hi Nick. 🙂 I’m not usually into stalking and masochism either — actually I didn’t know they were part of the plot when I picked up the book. I thought it was more of a conventional murder mystery. But I still want to give it a go and see how it plays out.

      I am looking forward to more of Sarah’s great movie reviews too! She hasn’t been feeling well for a while, and 90+ degree heat isn’t helping. 😉

      And as always, I’m looking forward to more of your reviews too. You’re an outstanding writer, and I glean a lot from your knowledge of movies. That’s one of the things I love about blogging — learning from each other. And it doesn’t make any difference if the person I’m learning from is younger than I. There are so many writers with so much talent and knowledge to share, and I’m absorbing all I can.

  2. June 28, 2010 4:56 am

    I rad teh Lovely Bones a few years back and enjoyed it. I tried the audio over this past winter and could not stand the narration. I am curious about the movie.

    You had a super reading week! I hope this one is as well for you! 🙂

    • June 28, 2010 12:40 pm

      The narrator can really make or break an audiobook, can’t it? When I worked for Talking Books for the Blind, we’d sometimes get requests for certain narrators rather than specific authors. 🙂

      • June 28, 2010 8:54 pm

        I am learning about the narrators. I too am going to start looking for certain narratots that i have enjoyed to see what else they have read. 🙂

  3. June 28, 2010 12:36 pm

    Happy Belated Birthday wishes for your daughter, doesn’t time fly.
    I read The Lovely Bones a few years ago and really enjoyed it and I do want to see the movie, maybe these school holidays will be a good time to get some dvd’s out.

    I used to read a lot of Jonathan Kellerman’s novels, and really liked them, but Faye Kellerman’s not quite as much. I didnt realise their son was also an author, hope it’s a good read.

    Have a wonderful week 🙂

    • June 28, 2010 12:39 pm

      I like Jonathan Kellerman’s novels better than Faye Kellerman’s too, though his books were a mixed experience for me. Some of the Alex Delaware novels are terrific, but I thought some of them were awful. It was almost like he was just trying to see how over-the-top he could get.

  4. June 28, 2010 12:53 pm

    I really loved The Lovely Bones, but I also haven’t read the book. It was a little much at times.

  5. June 28, 2010 1:00 pm

    It looks like you had a successful week. I keep meaning to read The Lovely Bones but just haven’t had a chance. If you want to, you can check out my week here. Happy reading!

  6. June 28, 2010 2:29 pm

    I’m happy to see you enjoyed Kafka on the Shore. I personally thought that one was excellent, and I’m a huge Murakami addict. Have you read his others? My favorite is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but I love them all.

    Thanks for your review, and happy reading!

    • June 30, 2010 12:51 pm

      I haven’t read any of Murkami’s other books; I’ve heard that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was, in many ways, the best. 🙂

  7. June 28, 2010 3:58 pm

    Happy birthday to your daughter! They grow up so fast, don’t they?

    I haven’t had any desire to see The Lovely Bones. I’ve seen a lot of reviews similar to yours, and I really liked the book.

  8. June 28, 2010 4:32 pm

    I’m looking forward to seeing “The Lovely Bones”, I enjoyed (if that is the right word!) the book.

    • June 30, 2010 12:53 pm

      I know what you mean. I’m not sure “enjoyed” is the right word, considering the subject matter. We really did enjoy the use of language and the character development, though.

  9. June 28, 2010 7:09 pm

    I agree with your assessment of The Lovely Bones movie. It seemed a bit lacking in substance compared to the book.

  10. June 28, 2010 7:57 pm

    Thanks for the movie review! I’m still in two minds about it. I think I will read the book first. Trouble sounds interesting! Have a good week!

    • June 30, 2010 12:55 pm

      Thanks, Aths! 🙂 I’d definitely read the novel The Lovely Bones before checking out the movie.

  11. June 28, 2010 8:55 pm

    I’m not sure if I’ll watch the Lovely Bones movie; the book affected me very much and although I found it well-written, it’s not something I would want to revisit.

    • June 30, 2010 12:56 pm

      I know what you mean, Stephanie. I wouldn’t re-read the novel either, though I thought the writing was lovely.

  12. June 28, 2010 9:42 pm

    I loved the Lovely Bones when I read and therefore have been very wary of the movie. I’m feeling the same way about The Time-Traveller’s Wife and, while not a huge fan of the book My Sister’s Keeper, really don’t want to watch the movie.
    My biggest annoyance with books to movies is when they change key events – like the ending!
    Check out my Monday at

    • June 30, 2010 12:56 pm

      I know what you mean, Kylie. I tend to be leery of movie adaptations of books that I really cared about.

  13. June 29, 2010 7:27 am

    Looking forward to your review of The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. And I hope your daughter had a lovely birthday!

  14. June 29, 2010 1:40 pm

    Happy Belated BDay wishes! 16th is such an exciting year 🙂
    I hve not heard of the Lovely Bones btu I sure will look for it. Thanks for the review 🙂

    And Trouble sounds good too 🙂

    • June 30, 2010 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Veens! 🙂 I love the profile picture with your beautiful little one. I miss those new mommy days.

  15. June 30, 2010 6:54 pm

    I really enjoyed The Lovely Bones, the book, and recently saw the movie and hated it. I thought Stanley Tucci was wonderful (he always is), but the random heaven sequences and major plot changes just ruined it for me.

  16. July 4, 2010 12:21 pm

    I enjoyed the Lovely Bones and think it’s something that can stand alone by itself without the audience having to have read the book. The good intentions were there and I liked Jackson’s directions but I think the movie simply lacked something overall. The acting was fantastic, particularly Saoraise Ronan.

    • July 4, 2010 1:58 pm

      I agree, Mae, about Jackson’s good intentions and about the terrific acting. Saoraise Ronan was wonderful, wasn’t she? I also saw her in Atonement. What a talented young lady!

  17. July 6, 2010 3:43 am

    Hi Stephanie,

    Like many other commentors, I read The Lovely Bones and was so enamoured by it, I simply couldn’t watch the movie. One of my work colleagues and my daughter watched it, and whilst they enjoyed it, they had the same reaction to Jackson’s depiction of heaven.

    Thanks for dropping by Desert Book Chick as part of the Monday meme.

  18. July 6, 2010 11:57 am

    I’m still haunted by the book Lovely Bones that I’m not sure I can see the movie – and to be honest the movies almost never life up to expectations do they? My book club read 3/4 books about rape back to back – we now have a no rape rule….Did you read Alice Sebold other book about her brutal rape? wow….

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