Monthly Archives: November 2013

Black Friday Deal: Get ‘LIFE 50 Years of James Bond’ for Half Price!

bondHere’s an early Black Friday deal for big James Bond fans! From the editors of LIFE magazine comes a book detailing the 50-year history of one of the most famous movie spies of all time: Bond, James Bond.

It’s been fifty years since Sean Connery took the role from Ian Fleming’s books to the big screen. Just last year, the 23rd James Bond movie, Skyfall, was released, starring Daniel Craig as Bond. This commemorative book details the history of the movies, including reminiscences by the stars, photos from LIFE photo shoots, artifacts, spoofs, and trivia.

And just in time for the holiday, the book is available in hardcover for half price.

Get LIFE 50 Years of James Bond in hardcover for $13.97.

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Movie vs. Book: Catching Fire

**Spoiler Alert: If you have only read my Hunger Games or Catching Fire reviews, and not the actual books, you might not want to read the following review. Spoilers are included.

Contributed by Gina Danza

“Tick, tock.” Time is precious to Katniss Everdeen. At the start of the movie version of the bestselling book Catching Fire, we find her doing what she loves — hunting in the woods with her only true friend, Gale. But after The Hunger Games, she’s a totally different person. She is faking her love for Peeta Mellark, the male co-victor of the Hunger Games. She is hurting, but everyone in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem is too. Districts are still angry about what Katniss and Peeta’s rebellious move in the last games, and the Capitol knows it. President Snow decides he isn’t going to let the system crash because Katniss and Peeta almost ate a few poisonous berries, in an attempt at suicide that would defy the Capitol. With President Snow watching very closely, Katniss must quickly convince the country that she is unconditionally in love with Peeta and her stunt was not an act of rebellion. If she fails, she could get herself and her loved ones killed.

During their first stop on The Victory Tour, an incident happens that scares them to the bone. They need to come up with new ideas to make the public believe in their love. Peeta truly loves Katniss and just wishes for her to feel the same but she has other plans. Gale is everything to her and she doesn’t have room to love anyone at the moment. The 75th Hunger Games approaches and there’s a wrinkle in the system. As part of the Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta must return to the arena to fight other previous victors. Sick and angry, they rush back to the Capitol to meet their opponents, who are experienced killers. Two tributes stick out: Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) and Finnick Odior (Sam Claflin). Johanna is a feisty beast and Sam, the Capitol sweetheart.

The victors have been through this before and they must remember who the real enemy is. As they prepare for battle, the tributes want these games stopped, especially Johanna and Peeta. Sadly, the games go on as planned. Katniss arrives in the arena to find salt water, tropical conditions, and extreme humidity. “This is no place for a girl on fire.”

Already at the edge of your seat? Well, let me hit you with this. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was better than the book. Director Francis Lawrence turned this second installment into a beautiful, soaring monster — something that words on a page can’t do justice. It followed the book very closely, only leaving out a few chapters and scenes. The budget was doubled for graphics but the acting and writing is what stood out the most. Jennifer Lawrence turned into Katniss 2.0. Josh Hutcherson gave Peeta a strong, handsome vibe, which adds to the Peeta-Katniss storyline that is also catching fire. The elimination of the debated ‘shaky cam’ also opened us to a new look at Panem. The PG-13 rating was pushed by language, but the blood shown was toned down.

If you read the books, you will not be disappointed. If you didn’t read the books, you’ll still have the time of your life. Hold on tight, because the last 10 minutes are the best.  In the end, you’ll want more but you’ll have to wait a year for Mocking Jay Part 1. So…KEEP CALM AND WAIT ON.

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‘Grey’s,’ ‘Scandal’ Creator To Pen Memoir

In my house, Thursday night is “Shonda Rhimes Night,” the weeknight I most look forward to — the night in which two of my favorite television shows, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, air back-to-back on ABC. And it’s all thanks to TV creator/producer/writer Shonda Rhimes.

Now there will be more goodies coming by way of Shonda Rhimes — a book! According to The Huffington Post, the acclaimed producer of some of TV’s biggest hits is writing a memoir that she says is “part inspiration, part prescription.”

The book will focus on her life as a single working mother and how her TV career blossomed. Simon & Schuster is publishing the book, which is expected to be released in 2015.

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Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Recap: First, we’re given a report card. Then, a letter. Next, some emails. A little dialogue mixed in. And suddenly, we’re piecing together a puzzle full of characters coming at the reader from a wide variety of sources. This is the organized chaos in which author Maria Semple tells the story of architect-turned-stay at home mom Bernadette Fox, her Microsoft whiz genius husband Elgin Branch, and their bright, ahead-of-her-years daughter Bee.

The report card is Bee’s. The letter was sent home to Bee’s parents by her established private school. The emails are between Bernadette Fox and her virtual personal assistant who lives in India and earns less than one dollar per hour. Yes, there’s something not quite right here.

So begins the story of Bernadette Fox, a woman who appears to have a serious case of neurosis, social anxiety, and a general fear of life — a woman who, initially, seems a little wacky. But as we learn more about her and her architectural experience, her award-winning work, we come to understand that maybe she’s a little unstable. Or maybe the instability is first, then the wackiness. The point is, it doesn’t matter.

This is a seemingly dark, but actually comical story about a woman who plans to take her family on a trip to Antarctica, until her husband confronts her about the information she’s been giving to her virtual assistant (a person who is so close to stealing everything from her that the FBI gets involved). Suddenly she escapes and is nowhere to be found, while Elgin and Bee attempt to deal with a number of other problems. So the question is, where’d you go, Bernadette?

Analysis: Again, the point is, it doesn’t matter. Where Bernadette went is probably the least important part of the book. It’s the funny, distracted telling of the story and the background of each character that hold far more significance. The scatterbrained format of the novel — a mixture of emails, letters, notes — helps move the book along in a fun way, and mirrors the scatterbrained mind that belongs to Bernadette.

The last few sections of the novel become a more straightforward narrative, told by Bee. She fills in the blanks for the reader and  gives us a glimpse into how she feels about everything that’s happened to her and her family. Ultimately, the book is more about the relationship between a mother and her daughter, between a mother and her family, than it is about anything else. That, and maybe the laughter to be had along the journey. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a mystery story that I never wanted to solve — because unraveling it all was just so much fun.

MVP: Bernadette. Though seemingly unstable, she is easily the strongest and most resourceful character in the book. Her oddities only make her fun to read and laugh about — and that’s never a bad thing.

Get Where’d You Go, Bernadette in paperback for $9.14.

Or get it on your Kindle for $8.59.

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‘What Does the Fox Say?’ Children’s Book On the Way

foxIf you ever wanted to know what the fox says, you’ll soon have the opportunity to read about it.

That’s right. According to Entertainment Weekly, the viral video of the song, “What Does the Fox Say?” by Norwegian comedy group Ylvis is getting published as a children’s book. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has acquired a picture book version of the song/video, which has gotten more than 230 million view on YouTube.

The book is due to be released on December 10 — a quick turnaround, and just in time for the holiday season.

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‘Glee’ Star Gets Three-Book Deal

Most of us who know actor Chris Colfer know him as “Kurt Hummel” on the hit Fox show, Glee, not as an author. But he is — and a bestselling author at that. And now he’s got a few more books on the way.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor-turned-author is working on the third and fourth books in his The Land of Stories series. The two books are expected to be released by Little, Brown’s children’s imprint in 2014 and 2015, continuing the stories that combine fairy tale and reality.

As if that weren’t enough, Colfer is also planning to write his first picture book, The Curvy Tree.

Sounds like a busy couple of years for Colfer, which might be good, considering there are talks there will only be a few more seasons left of Glee. What do you think of the actor’s book deal?


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DC Plans New Batman Comics Due This Spring

Alas, Batman returns! And no, I’m not talking about the movie from 1992.

According to the Associated Press, DC Entertainment is planning to bring back a weekly Batman comic book in honor of the superhero’s 75th anniversary. Due next spring, DC’s creative team says the comics will “take Batman into 2015.”

In addition to the new weekly comics, DC also plans to release a “retelling” of “Detective Comics” No. 27, the first comic book in which Bruce Wayne appears. The original was released in 1939. But DC is hoping to modernize it, as Brad Meltzer explains.

The issue, out Jan. 8, will also lay the framework for new creative team Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, who take over the book in the spring.”We want to bring him closer to his roots and be more of a street-level type of hero,” [Manapul said about their plans. “His super heroics will still be present, but the investigative part of Batman will be at the forefront.”

Thoughts on the new Batman comics?

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