Push by Sapphire

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Push by Sapphire


I had only two words to say when I finished this book at four this morning… holy crap! (Okay, so those aren’t exactly the two words that I said but one of my most loyal blog followers is only 10 so edited myself a tad bit. Hi, Erik!)


Clarieece Precious Jones was only 12 years old when she gave birth to her first child.


At 16, Precious, she hates to be called Clarieece, is still in middle school and pregnant with her second child. Despite the fact that she can’t read, she goes to school every day and gets decent grades. Math is her favorite class. She’s been held back a few times but eventually the teachers pass her on to the next grade. But now, she is suspended from school for being pregnant.


Precious is an extremely lonely girl. She has been raised to believe that she is nothing. She has endured horrific abuse at the hands of both of her parents. She has no friends, no family to care for her, no one to love her. Sometimes she prays that she won’t wake up in the morning.


After being kicked out of school, she is accepted into an alternative pre-GED program where she finally has the courage to tell her teacher that every page in the book looks the same. Under the guidance of a caring teacher and the friendship of the other troubled girls in her class, Precious begins a difficult journey to freedom, as fleeting as it may be.


I bought this book a few years ago, right after the movie was released. And in that time it has lived on the bookcase in my bedroom. Every time I go to the shelf to pick a new book I passed over this one, the red spine staring out at me. So, when I had to choose a book that started with the letter P for my April reading challenge, I decided that I would finally get around to reading Push.


Last night, or this morning since it was 2am, I was getting ready for bed, and I decided to read the first few pages to see how I liked it. Big mistake.


Two hours later I was finished, it was 4am, and I was wide awake thinking about what I had just read.


Push is horrifying and amazing, heartbreaking and hopeful, all at the same time. Sapphire allows Precious to tell her own story, in her own words. As I read, I found that I was hearing the voice of Precious telling me the story. I forgot that Sapphire existed. I forgot that Precious was a figment of her imagination; that the entire story was make-believe. To me, that is the mark of an excellent story-teller.


At less than 200 pages, it’s a fast read, even for people who don’t read quite as quickly as I do. *wink*


It isn’t an easy story to read simply due to the subject matter. And it’s certainly not a happy story. Precious endures horrific abuse which made my heart hurt for her as I read. I will admit that I cried once or twice. But in the end, it was worth it.


Before reading the book I did want to see the movie. And while I can typically separate books from their cinematic counterparts, I’m not sure I want to see it anymore. Not just because of the abuse and violence that must be depicted in the film, but because I’m just not sure that a film could do the simplicity of the book the justice that it deserves.


5 stars

The Hunger Games Movie Trailer

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I cannot wait for this film to be released. The Hunger Games Trilogy are probably the best young adult books I’ve read since Harry Potter. Collins’ tells an amazing story with rich, beautiful, and sometimes painful, details. Her heroine is not the bravest or strongest but she has the greatest will. Collins also reminds us that there isn’t always a “happy” ending to every story, that sometimes you have to settle for good enough, which in and of itself, is kind of happy. I will definitely be re-reading the series before March. Check out all of the movie info at imdb.com and the official site.




A new twist on an old story

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Snow White and the Huntsman…


I will admit that I was not enthused to hear that Kristen Stewart was playing Snow White in this newest film adaptation of the famous fairy tale. But even then I knew I’d probably go see it anyway. (After all, I have seen all three Twilight movies so far.) And anyway, I loved Snow White when I was a kid; it was one of my favorite stories to read in my giant fairy tale book.


But now, having seen the first official trailer, it looks like it is really going to be a good movie and I’m actually looking forward to seeing it. And, Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen = fabulous! (Not to mention Chris Helmsworth…)


The premise sounds interesting too. I’m thrilled to see Snow White as a bad-ass, fighting her own battles (with some help of course), rather than a sweet, simpering thing that has to rely on a man (or seven) to save the day. Here is the blurby (yes, that’s the official word) from the official Universal Pictures site


In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart (Twilight) plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen (Oscar winner Charlize Theron) who is out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman (Chris Helmsworth, Thor) who was dispatched to kill her. Sam Clafin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) joins the cast as the prince long enchanted by Snow White’s beauty and power.


The film is currently set to release on June 1, 2012. Universal had originally planned for a December release but after Relativity announced that their film version of the tale, starring Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen and Lily Collins as Snow White, would release on June 29, Snow White and the Huntsman was moved to release almost seven months earlier than planned.


Update: Go here for info on Relativity’s Mirror, Mirror, release date March 16, 2012. It has Sean Bean!


Check out all the info on the movie here and here.


News from Janet Evanovich

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Usually you have to wait at least a full year for the next book in the Stephanie Plum series. But this year author Janet Evanovich is giving all Plum fans a special gift. Two Plums in one year!


Smokin’ Seventeen is released this coming Tuesday, June 21st. And according to the announcement made on Evanovich’s website and Facebook page earlier this week, we only have 5 more months to wait for the next Stephanie Plum adventure! Explosive Eighteen releases November 22, 2011.


And in other Stephanie Plum news, the current release date for One For the Money, starring Katherine Heigl, is January 27, 2012. Don’t pre-order your tickets just yet though, the release date has already been pushed back twice once. Lionsgate didn’t want to put the movie up against other summer releases like X-Men, Green Lantern and Harry Potter. Probably a good plan, Lionsgate.


The storyline will be changed somewhat from the book so don’t go in expecting Janet’s words to come alive. Evanovich sold the rights to the film years ago and did not work on the film.


Katherine Heigl plays Stephanie, “unemployed and newly-divorced, who lands a job at her cousin’s bail-bond business, where her first assignment puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past.” (source: imdb.com)


Morelli is played by Jason O’Mara (who has not been in anything I have ever seen), Ranger is played by Daniel Sunjata (he played a crime scene technician on several episodes of Law & Order: SVU), Lula is played by Sherri Shepard (who has been in a lot of things) and most importantly, Grandma Mazur is played by Debbie Reynolds (biggest star in the whole film as far as I’m concerned!).


I am looking forward to the film, but I’m keeping my hopes pretty low, just in case. But the news of two books in one year has me giddy with anticipation! Happy reading Plum-lovers!

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

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Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

“When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Escaping from his unbearable Muggle guardians to Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles into a sinister adventure when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous, or both.”

It was 2000 when I first read Harry Potter. My friend Super Suz recommended the series to me but I put off reading it for ages. I wasn’t into reading much young adult stuff back then and my argument for not reading them was that I wasn’t interested in reading children’s book. How book-snobbish of me.

It was around the time the first film was coming out and I was hearing a lot about the controversy that was being stirred up over witchcraft and censorship. Censorship and banning books is one of my pet issues so it piqued my interest in the books a bit more. I finally broke down and borrowed the first three books.

I read them all in less than a week! I couldn’t put them down. Didn’t want to put them down either! I was hooked from chapter one of the first book. I immediately told my mom that she needed to read them. After she read them, she and my daddy went to see the first movie. After they saw the movie Daddy decided to read the books as well. Now we’re all three addicted to the entire series.

I own several copies of all seven books. This edition of HP & TPS is a Bloomsbury edition that they put out to satisfy adult readers in the UK. Adults didn’t want to be seen on the train reading books with cartoon covers so they released these with adult covers to satisfy that audience. These editions are hard to find as they are only sold in the UK. I was able to get mine on eBay but even then they’re hard to find at a good price.

I read the entire series once a year. I always try to stretch it out and read one book a month so it’ll last for seven months, but I usually end up reading them all back to back and finishing them in a month or less.

Paperback
332 pages
Published July 10th 2004 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN13: 9780747574477
British Fantasy Award (1999), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adolescent Literature (2008), British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year (1998), Smarties Prize (1997), Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002)
Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (2000), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (2001), South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2001), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2000), Charlotte Award (2000), Nene Award (2000), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2000), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2001), Blue Hen Book Award for Chapter Book (2001), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Reader Category (2000), Sasquatch Reading Award (2000), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2000), Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2000), Carnegie Medal Nominee (1997), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)

5 stars

Adventures…

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So, I’ve been sick this week. I woke up Saturday morning having apparently come down with the plague (also known as pneumonia). I went to the doctor on Monday and was told to stay in the bed and rest, and that I couldn’t go to work until next Monday. Under normal circumstances I would probably have read several books in that time. However, that has not been the case this week.

First of all, I’ve barely slept until today. For days and days I couldn’t sleep more than an hour at a time; night, day, didn’t matter, couldn’t sleep. I was so tired that I couldn’t concentrate whenever I tried to pick up my book. I’ve read maybe two chapters of my book in the past five days. (And that is seriously depressing!) Secondly, I’ve just hurt too much to do anything but lay here and whimper. And blow my nose. And cough. And cough. And cough. And blow my nose. And… well, you get the point.

So, instead of getting any reading done, I’ve vegged in front of some really bad daytime television (and one really good Law & Order: Criminal Intent marathon. Yay Bobby Goren!). So, for the past few days, I decided to watch the four movies I own based on one of my favorite books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. And I thought I’d share the different versions, which I like for different reasons, with you all here. *Note: There are way more than four versions of Alice. Source: imdb.com


Alice in Wonderland (1933)
The screenplay for this film was pulled from both of Carroll’s Alice stories and was heavily influenced by Eva Le Gallienne’s and Florida Friebus’ Broadway version of the novel, which premiered onstage in 1932. Produced by Paramount Studios, the film was released on December 22, 1933 in hopes that it would revive the failing studio which was facing bankruptcy. However, the film was considered a box office failure despite it’s star-studded cast. The failure of the film at the box office was attributed to the fact that although a top-rank cast was used, many of them were virtually unrecognizable under their heavy makeup and costuming.
Over 7,000 actresses were screened over a five month period before Charlotte Henry was finally chosen to play Alice. Henry was relatively unknown in the film industry at that time, having only debuted on Broadway five years prior.
Some of the other stars in the film are W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Gary Cooper as the White Knight, and Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle.
It’s an old film, obviously. You can occasionally see some wires. The effects are hardly up to 2011 standards and the film is black and white. However, if you love old films, or even if you just have a love of Alice, you’ll probably like this movie. It was never legally released on any home viewing format prior to 2010. It was however shown on television and in schools in the 1950’s and 60’s. Thanks to the success of Tim Burton’s Alice last year, Universal (they bought the distribution rights from Paramount in 1958) released it for the first time on dvd.


Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Produced by Walt Disney Productions and released on July 28, 1951. Continuing the pattern of film versions of “Alice in Wonderland” not being commercially successful, this movie was a huge box office failure. However, it did become something of a cult film during the 1960s, where it was viewed as a “head film”.
The movie took five years to complete, but was in development for over ten years before it entered active production.
Alice was the first Disney theatrical film to be shown on television. In 1954 it was shown as the second installment of the “Disneyland” TV show, edited to fit into a one hour time slot. It is also the only Disney feature-length cartoon film to have its first theatrical re-release after it had already been shown on television.
This was the first feature film for which Walt Disney was able to use television for cross-promotion. Disney’s very first television program, One Hour in Wonderland (1950) (TV), which was broadcast on Christmas evening of 1950, was devoted to the production of this film. Naturally, the entire program, including the clips from the movie, were in black and white.
Early drafts of the script had Alice encounter the Jabberwock (to have been voiced by Stan Freberg), from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky”. The sequence was rejected, either because it slowed the story down, or because of concerns that it would be too frightening. Elements of “Jabberwocky” remain in the film, however: the Cheshire Cat’s song “T’was Brillig”, consisting of the opening stanza; and the Tulgey Wood sequence, which includes at least one of the creatures mentioned in the poem, “The Mome Raths”.
Disney also re-released this film on dvd after the success of Tim Burton’s Alice in 2010.
It’s Disney so I love it and it’s Alice so I love it even more. It’s not my favorite film version of the book, nor is it my favorite Disney film, but I do enjoy watching it from time to time. The characters and animations are cute and the songs are fun.


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972)
Released in the United States on November 20, 1972. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a 1972 British musical film based on the Lewis Carroll novel of the same name.
It had a star-filled cast including Fiona Fullerton as Alice, Michael Crawford as the White Rabbit, Sir Ralph Richardson as the Caterpillar, Sir Robert Helpmann as the Mad Hatter, Peter Sellers as the March Hare, Roy Kinnear as the Cheshire Cat, Dudley Moore as the Dormouse and Hywel Bennett as Robinson Duckworth (a part with no dialogue). John Barry composed the score.
In 1973, the film won the BAFTA Film Award at the BAFTA Awards Ceremony for Best Cinematography, won by Geoffrey Unsworth, and Best Costume Design, won by Anthony Mendleson.
Fiona Fullerton is best known for her part as Alice in this film and as KGB spy Pola Ivanova in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill.
Though it had previously been released on dvd it had not been properly restored. It was supposed to be restored and re-released on dvd after the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in 2010.
This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I watched it over and over and over again on HBO. This is the movie that first inspired me to read the book. It was also my favorite musical film, though at the time the only other musicals I had seen were The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz.


Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Walt Disney film, released March 5, 2010. The film was released on dvd just three months after it’s big screen debut. The film earned $116,101,023 on opening weekend in the US.
Casting auditions for 250 extras were held in the British city of Plymouth on 6th and 7th August 2008. Requirements were for people with a ‘Victorian look’ and for applicants to have no visible tattoos, piercings or dyed hair. Actress Mia Wasikowska beat out several candidates for the role of Alice, including Amanda Seyfried and Lindsay Lohan, who lobbied for the role. According to Tim Burton, it was Mia Wasikowska’s gravity that won her the role.
This film marks the 7th time Johnny Depp has worked under the direction of Tim Burton and the 6th time for Helena Bonham Carter.
Despite the fact that there have been many other Alice in Wonderland films, Tim Burton has said he never felt an emotional connection to it and always thought it was a series of some girl wandering around from one crazy character to another. (In fact, the original books are part of a once-popular fantasy genre in which the character does nothing except wander around from one crazy encounter to another. Those films which replicated this were being true to the spirit of the original books.) So with this, he attempted to create a framework, an emotional grounding, which he felt he never really had seen in any version before. Tim said that was the challenge for him – to make Alice feel like a story as opposed to a series of events.
Although Helena Bonham Carter’s character is named the Red Queen, and has a rivalry with the White Queen as does the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass, the character is in fact in all other ways based on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, incorporating her anger management issues, decapitation mania, and fondness for flamingo-and-hedgehog croquet. This is why while the White Queen’s army is chess-themed, the Red Queen’s army is playing-card themed. The battle scene at the end resembles a chess scene from afar to pay tribute to the chess game that Alice is playing all throughout the original text, “Through the Looking Glass”.
This is my favorite Alice movie. First, I love love love Tim Burton. Second, well, Johnny Depp… Need I say more? I like that Burton changed the story and made it something new and different that hadn’t been done before. It wasn’t just the same old jumble of characters spouting the same nonsense lines over and over again. It was rather refreshing in that way. I think that Burton’s dark method of storytelling was perfect for creating a “modern” Alice. If you haven’t seen it then I must assume you have been living under a rock for the past two years. And you should remedy that as soon as possible. Unless you’re nine, in which case, you should wait until your parents give you permission to watch it. 🙂