Book vs. DVD: The Princess Bride

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until recently, I had no idea that the movie The Princess Bride was a book first.  So this is one of those rare instances where I saw the movie before I read the book.  Typically that hinders my enjoyment of the book, but I can solidly say that this wasn’t the case with The Princess Bride.

Everyone knows how the movie The Princess Bride goes:  Buttercup realizes she loves the farmboy Westley just as he is about to leave the country to make a name and fortune for himself.  After receiving word that he is dead, and knowing she will never love again, she agrees to marry the dreadful Prince Humperdink.  When Buttercup is kidnapped shortly after the announcement of their engagement, the story pushes forward with adventure, romance, and many surprises and beloved characters along the way.  It’s fun, romantic, and easily quotable.  I know I’m not the only person who at any mention of the movie must say, “Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.”

I’m happy to say that even though I saw the movie first, I found the book The Princess Bride by William Goldman even more enjoyable.  The movie followed the book’s plot very closely, but the book has lots of valuable extra detail and backstory that you miss out on in the movie.  The book also included many fun little asides by the author, who wrote the book as though it’s an abridgement of a classic tale.  His little notes peppered in about what parts were so dreadful he had to cut them out and what happened when the original tale was read to him as a child made the book such a fun read that I couldn’t put it down.  If you’re looking for a book with a little bit of everything (humor, adventure, sword fights, romance, and so much more), I highly recommend checking out this book and then watching the very faithful film adaptation.

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Cruise

submitted by Sarah W.

After the quickest courtship on record and one year of marriage, lonely Andie left workaholic North in Maybe This Time by Jennifer Cruise. Ten years later, she comes back with unwelcome news: she’s marrying someone who will appreciate her.

North wants Andie to be happy, so he stalls her by offering her a job while he investigates the new fiancé. She hasn’t touched any of her alimony, but maybe she’ll accept a paycheck. Besides, he really does need her help taking care of his recently orphaned niece and nephew, who have driven off every caretaker he’s found for them since the mysterious death of their aunt. And who knows…maybe this time she’ll stay.

Andie agrees to move into the remote and crumbling Archer House and prepare the kids to move into less Gothic surroundings. Two weeks, tops, and she’ll be planning her wedding to a man who won’t let her down. But when two implacable remnants, a nympho ghost and a soulless investigative reporter threaten her and the kids she’s starting to call her own, who’s she gonna call?

All signs point North…

DVDs for September

September 7

Solitary Man – Michael Douglas, Mary Louise Parker

Ben Kalmen, a fifty-something New Yorker, discovers that he is not the man he wanted to be. Through many business and romantic indiscretions he has lost his once-successful car dealership. Now he must make the decision to face the challenges of his not-so-youthful life.

September 14

Letters to Juliet – Amanda Seyfried,

In Verona, Italy, the beautiful city where Romeo first met Juliet, there is a place where the heartbroken leave notes asking Juliet for her help. It’s there that aspiring writer Sophie finds a 50-year-old letter that will change her life forever. She sets off on a romantic journey of the heart with the letter’s author, Claire, now a grandmother, and her handsome grandson. All three will discover that sometimes the greatest love story ever told is your own.

Prince of Persia – Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley

It’s a race against time when a rogue prince reluctantly teams up with a rival princess to safeguard a magical dagger that gives its possessor the power to reverse time and rule the world.

September 21

Robin Hood – Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett

In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. And whether thief or hero, one man from humble beginnings will become an eternal symbol of freedom for his people.

Secret in Their Eyes ( Spanish)

Recently retired criminal court investigator Benjamin decides to write a novel based on an unresolved rape and murder case which still haunts him. Ben shares his plans with Irene, a judge and former colleague he has secretly been in love with for years. But Benjamin’s search for the truth puts him at the center of a judicial nightmare, as the mystery of the heinous crime continues to unfold in the present, and tests the limits of a man who seeks justice and personal fulfillment at last.

September 28

Iron Man 2 -Robert Downey Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow

Now that the world knows billionaire inventor Tony Stark is the armored superhero Iron Man, his life has suddenly become even more intense. Everyone wants in on the Iron Man technology, whether for power or profit, but for Ivan Vanko, it’s revenge. With Pepper Potts and James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes at his side, Stark must once again suit up and face his most dangerous enemy yet.

also being released in September:

MacGruber, Killers, Just Wright, Babies, Get Him to the Greek

Cold Reads: Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Winter Solstice is a perfect book for a sweltering summer day.  Rosamund Pilcher does an amazing job of describing the quiet beauty of snow and the cold winter light. This is in contrast to the heartwarming style Pilcher is known for. Sometimes referred to as literary comfort food,the characters and the domestic settings are appealing  – people you’d like to know and places you’d like to live.

This is an unusual romance; a group of relative strangers who are all suffering in their own ways  end up together in an old house in Scotland. As they prepare to celebrate Christmas, they begin to heal and to care about each other.

Book vs. DVD: The Time Traveler’s Wife

For this installment of Book vs. DVD, I did something a little different.  Instead of reading a book, I listened to an audiobook.  The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger tells the story of a man who is, as Kurt Vonnegut so elegantly put once, “unstuck in time.”  Since the age of 9, Henry DeTamble regularly found himself naked in an unfamiliar place and time, visiting strangers, his loved ones, and occasionally himself, several years in the past or future.  When Henry is 28 and working as a librarian in Chicago, he meets Clare Abshire, a beautiful woman who tells him that they’ve met before, despite Henry not remembering.  As a man, Henry has time traveled to Clare’s childhood, and it is there that she first met him.  The book contains chapters alternately told by Henry and Clare detailing their stages of courtship and married life, including their attempts to find a cure for Henry’s condition and trying to have a baby.  This beautiful and at times heartbreaking story is well-told by audiobook readers William Hope and Laurel Lefkow, who evoke such emotion into their telling of the story that it’s hard not to feel like a part of Henry and Clare’s story.

The movie version of The Time Traveler’s Wife follows fairly closely with the storyline of the book.  Henry and Clare are played by Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, respectively, and both were very close to what I imagined when listening to the audiobook.  The two have beautiful chemistry that feels very true to Henry and Clare’s relationship in the book.  The only changes that are made to the story are certain scenes from the book being shortened or completely cut out.  This isn’t surprising, as the book is rather lengthy and a film true to that would have been several hours long.

After trying out both the book and the DVD, I have to say that I was left a little disappointed by the movie.  Though it is well-acted and the story is incredibly romantic to see unfold before your eyes, something just feels missing once you’ve read the book.  Parts of Clare and Henry’s story are left out or rushed over, and I was left longing for them.  I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to watch the movie check out the audiobook or the book version of The Time Traveler’s Wife first, because it helps to fill in those little details that you might be confused without.  But of course, no movie can be a perfect adaptation of a book, and I felt that this one did a fairly decent job.

DVDs for August

August 3

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn

The hysterically funny, best selling book comes to life in this smash-hit family comedy! Greg Heffley is headed for big things, but first he has to survive the scariest, most humiliating experience of any kid’s life: middle school! That won’t be easy, considering he’s surrounded by hairy-freckled morons, wedgie-loving bullies, and a moldy slice of cheese with nuclear cooties!

Ghost Writer – Pierce Bronsan, E wan MacGregor

When a gifted ghostwriter is hired to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, he quickly finds himself trapped in a web of political and sexual intrigue. Lang is implicated in a scandal over his administration’s harsh tactics, and as the ghostwriter digs into the politician’s past, he discovers secrets that threaten to jeopardize international relations forever.

August 17

Last Song –  Miley Cyrus, Kelly Preston

Seventeen, angry, and alienated from her estranged father, Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Miller’s life gets turned inside out when her mother forces her to spend the summer with him in the small Georgia beach town where he lives. Here, Ronnie finds salvation, friendship, second chances, and first love

August 31

Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? – Janet Jackson, Lou Gossett, Jr

Gathered together in the Bahamas for their annual one-week reunion, four close couples eagerly reconnect, sharing news about their lives and relationships. But their intimate week in paradise is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of Sheila’s ex-husband, Mike, who hopes to break up her new marriage with Troy and win her back. With their relationships hanging in the balance when they return home, each couple must choose between blame and forgiveness.

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby is the story of three people and their love of music and each other.  Duncan and Annie are a couple from England who have been together for 15 years, for reasons neither are really sure of.  Duncan is obsessed with musician Tucker Crowe, who abruptly gave up his music career two decades ago following the release of Duncan’s favorite Crowe album, titled Juliet.  When the book begins, Duncan and Annie (a much less enthusiastic Crowe fan) are on a trek through America visiting famous spots where Tucker Crowe spent time.  After disagreeing about the merits of Crowe’s comeback album (an acoustic work entitled Juliet, Naked), Duncan commits the ultimate betrayal, and he and Annie part ways.  But while working to mend her broken heart, Annie is contacted by the person she least expects:  the musician himself, Tucker Crowe.  The two forge a relationship that is completely unexpected, yet fitting when you finally see it come together.

I was drawn to this book for two reasons: I thought the cover was cool (yes, even librarians sometimes judge books by their covers), and the fact that it’s written by Nick Hornby.  This is the second book by Nick Hornby that I have read.  One of his earlier books, About A Boy, is another enjoyable read if you liked this book.  If you like books about musicians and their fans, Hornby’s books are for you; he is clearly very interested in music, with this book being focused on the fictitious Tucker Crowe and About A Boy carrying a large focus on one character’s fascination with Kurt Cobain.  It was interesting to see a sort of “behind the scenes” look at the life of the musician (even if he wasn’t real), and because of this, Tucker Crowe himself ended up being my favorite character.  The ending, while slightly open-ended, provided enough closure that I had high hopes for Annie and her new life.  Overall, I found this to be an interesting and enjoyable read.

One Day by David Nicholls

Here it is, the hot book of the summer! A sensation in England, the movie adaptation, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, is already in pre-production and is scheduled to hit the local multi-plex in 2011. Just published in the US, One Day by David Nicholls doesn’t disappoint.

Emma and Dexter meet on July 15, 1988, the day they’re graduating from university. While there’s an instant connection between them, they go their separate ways the next day. For the next 20 years on the anniversary of their first meeting, we take a look at their lives, how they’ve grown and changed (or not), the mistakes they’ve made and their triumphs. Through it all, they remain best friends, turning to each other in good times and bad, weathering disappointments and a falling-out. Dexter becomes a tv presenter, slips into a black hole of alcohol abuse and drugs and struggles to right himself. Emma endures dead-end jobs and unhealthy relationships until finally realizing her dream of becoming an author. The constant in each of their lives is the other, an extraordinary friendship that transcends time and distance. Finally, in the end, the true significance of July 15 is revealed.

Witty, thoughtful, somber, quirky, hilarious – this is a story that will bring you to tears and also make you laugh out loud. That movie has a lot to live up to.

Meg Cabot’s Mysteries

Size 12 is Not Fat and Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot, are the first two books featuring former teen queen and singing sensation Heather Wells.  Through an unfortunate series of events, Heather’s days of singing in shopping malls have come to a halt.  Her bad luck includes a mother who ran off with her entire fortune to Argentina and her father who currently resides in prison.  To get back on her feet she takes a job at the fictional New York College as the resident assistant in Fisher Hall, which is also known as “Death Dorm.”  In each of these mysteries, Heather plays an amateur sleuth and assistant to her landlord who, conveniently, is a private investigator and the two team up to solve the crimes that take place in Fisher Hall.

Whether she is trying to find out if her female residents are truly elevator surfing (or being thrown to their deaths) or attempting to seek out the wealthy New York College students who killed the star cheerleader for knowing too much, Heather Wells is a likeable character whose escapades will keep you laughing and guessing.  The third book featuring Heather Wells, Big Boned, completes this series.  Meg Cabot’s mysteries are full of humor, mayhem, murder and a little romance too. 

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

This sequel to Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine continues to follow custom shoemaker Valentine Roncalli and her vibrant Italian family.  Brava, Valentine opens with the romantic wedding of her 80-year-old grandmother in Tuscany, then segues back to their shop in Greenwich Village where Valentine must learn how to deal with her brother as a freshly-ordained business partner.

The most interesting scenes, however, take place in Buenos Aires, where Valentine discovers a long lost cousin who coincidentally operates a similar business.  At first cousin Roberta appears reticent and a bit defensive, actions which appear reasonable once the full, scandalous story is told.  Plus, Buenos Aires is where she passionately reunites with sexy Italian tanner, Gianluca.  True to Trigiani’s usual form, this new novel is both heartwarming and humorous.

The author, earlier known for her Big Stone Gap series, has also written an entertaining cookbook, Cooking with My Sisters, which includes many memorable anecdotes and photos of her colorful family.