Book vs. Movie – Charlie St. Cloud

Title: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, Author: Ben Sherwood vs Charlie st cloud poster.jpg

I read the book (with the longer title) last month and was happy to see that Netflix had the 2010 movie ready for me.  I actually had the copy of the book with Zac Ephron on the cover so was picturing him as I read and that wasn’t really a problem 🙂 Sometimes I don’t know which will come out on top until I work through the categories, but I know even before I start which one worked better here.  I’ve tried not to contain spoilers.

The Story/Plot Charlie St. Cloud is a young man who was going places before a crash in high school killed his little brother.  He made a promise to his brother not to leave him and to meet him in the woods every evening to practice baseball.  So, Charlie takes a job at the neighboring cemetery so that he can keep that promise.  Not only can he interact with his dead brother but also the other spirits who are dead but have not yet crossed over.  Enter Tess who catches Charlie’s eye and tests his commitment to his brother.

This framework is the same for both the book and movie.  There were fewer spirits in the movie (which I missed), his relationship with his brother was closer in the book, the stuff with Tess happened way out of order in the movie to the detriment of the story, and there was more discussion about life after death in the book.   Thumbs up…the book

The Visual  The New England Coast is a beautiful place and the movie held up its end, although I read that they filmed in Canada.  Either way, it was beautiful.   Thumbs up…the movie

Characters vs. Actors  Since I pictured Zac Ephron as Charlie while I was reading the book he became Charlie for me.  I thought that they would have someone else play his younger 15 year old self in the movie, but instead they made his younger self 18 so there wouldn’t be another actor.  I wasn’t a fan of the aging, but I liked Ephron in the role.  My husband’s favorite part of the movie was the younger brother, Sam, but that’s because he hadn’t read the book I think. The book Sam was a much happier spirit and I preferred him.  Kim Basinger was the mom who made a brief appearance in the movie, but the mom was never part of the action of the book.  She didn’t add much or serve any purpose.  For some reason they aged and changed the EMT who saved Charlie’s life so Ray Liotta could play him.  The only reason I can see that they did this was so they could get a big name in the movie even if only for a scene or two.  The movie messed with the second scene between these two characters so the big name was a wash for me.  Amanda Crew was fine as Tess.  There were additional secondary characters in the movie that were completely unnecessary.   Thumbs up…the book

The Ending  The end result was almost the same, but I could’ve skipped the extra melodrama of the movie.  Thumbs up…the book

And the winner is…the book!  If they had stuck with the simplicity of the book the movie would have been so much better.

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (Far From the Madding Crowd) (The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)

 

Top Ten Tuesday-

Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)  See what else bloggers are looking to read this year at the Broke & the Bookish.

Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Story of Arthur TruluvThe Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyHunger by Roxane Gay

Far from the Madding CrowdFar From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Anything for You (Blue Heron, #5)Anything for You by Kristan Higgins

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

How to Build a Piano BenchHow to Build a Piano Bench by Ruthi Postow Birch

The Salt HouseThe Salt House by Lisa Duffy

And there’s still time to enter my Blogiversary giveaway here.

 

 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Author: Erika L. SánchezI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Finished 1-6-18, 4.25/5, YA, pub, 2017

Unabridged audio read by Kyla Garcia. 9 hours 41 minutes.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?     from Goodreads

I don’t read a lot of YA books, but last year The Hate U Give ended up being a favorite and this one, a National Book Award for Young People Finalist, also satisfied my desire to learn about American lives so different from my own.  Julia, a Mexican-American teen in Chicago, lost her sister to a freak accident and she struggles in the aftermath.  Her sister was the perfect one, going to community college while living at home, and when she died Julia’s mother lost it.  Julia is trying to understand her older sister after the fact and it leads her to surprising answers.

Julia is a teenager with some issues and she was trying at times, yet she did grow on me.  I had sympathy for her cockroach infested apartment (been there and it was disgusting) and her embarrassment over being poor when she met a boy she was interested in, but it wasn’t until she was sent back to her family in Mexico for a visit that I began to really root for her.  Julia is a memorable teen and I have high hopes for her future as a writer and for a relationship with Connor, her first love 🙂  I wouldn’t mind a follow up book at all!

This is an immigrant story, Julia’s parents are undocumented and used a coyote to cross the border, a mystery when she discovers her perfect sister had a secret, and a coming of age story with a heroine full of angst and mental health issues.  This really is a relatively quick read that delves into many issues that will keep you engaged.  I really liked this one.

2017 Book Favorites and Stats

I read 74 books this year. That’s 6 more than last year.

42 Fiction and 32 Non-Fiction.  My non-fiction numbers are up this year because I made an effort to read memoirs in September.

Of those 42 fiction 23 were authors new to me.

30 male authors, 40 female authors and 4 that were both.

27 were audiobooks.

I continued with 2 series (Blue Heron 3&4, Kinsey Millhone 5) and started 2 new series (The Ravenels 1&2, Penn Cage 1).

I read 8 classics for the Classics Club (The Color Purple, 1984, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Three Men in a Boat, Winesburg Ohio, Cat’s Cradle, Frankenstein, Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman).

Oldest book read-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1818

Shortest novel-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 155 pages

Longest novel-The Quiet Game by Greg Iles, 559 pages

Most read authors with 2 books a piece – Kristan Higgins, Lisa Kleypas, DM Pulley, Nora Roberts

Most visited locales – England, New York City, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, Chicago

My 5 favorite books

Title: A Man Called Ove, Author: Fredrik Backman I fell in love with Ove and his collection of merry wo(men).  For every trouble he caused those surrounding him, at least one blessing was given out.  Ove was a man with a heart, who didn’t always play well with others.  His pregnant neighbor picked him up and kept him moving until, finally, he embraced the loving circle that surrounded him.

Title: Mariana, Author: Susanna Kearsley There is history, romance, and a perfect sense of place in all Kearsley books. Julia was sure she’d found her house and she packed up and moved from London to a small English village without a second thought.  She was a children’s book illustrator and was able to make a few friends right away just as she was being transported back in time.  It’s tricky when you are going back and forth between time periods and characters.  Inevitably, you are drawn more to one story than the other.  This one did a great job of tying the two together so I was invested in both.

Title: The Color Purple, Author: Alice Walker Abused by her father and then her husband, Celie relied on the love of her sister to get her through. When Nellie goes away and Celie doesn’t hear from her she begins writing letters to God. When her husband brings home his mistress to live with them, Celie finally starts to see herself in a new light.  This is not an easy read.  It’s emotional, sexually explicit and might wake you up in ways that you don’t like. Celie’s perseverance gives a voice to all the women who experience abuse and still manage to stay on their feet.  It exceeded expectations and now I’m anxious to get my hands on the movie.  Set in 1930’s Georgia it’s still relevant and addictingly readable.

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Author: Ernest J. Gaines Jane was a true survivor.  This fictional book, spanning her 110 year life really comes full circle in the end and I would have been happy to spend another 110 with Jane.  Jane was a little girl of 10 or 11 when Lincoln freed the slaves and she left her plantation with a small group hoping to walk their way north from Louisiana.  When something bad happens Jane is left in charge of 3 year old Ned and she must rely on her wits to keep them safe and free.  She eventually comes to raise him like her own son and find both happiness and heartache, never leaving her beloved Louisiana.  Jane is a warrior, a realist, and a trailblazer.

Title: Little Fires Everywhere, Author: Celeste NgShaker Heights is a real place and I love it.  Ng chose to show the Shaker that she grew up in and I think it’s fair, and even though it has changed over the years it does still remain a progressive hotspot with old mansions lining picturesque streets. The Richardson family embodies this perfectly.  I understood and felt for every one of the characters and even when I didn’t like them I understood them.  The story centers around not only the fight over a baby left at a fire station by a distraught mother but also the mysterious Mia.  So many layers to this story and they were all connected by mothers.  I loved this book because it is overflowing with gray area.

Did you do a list?  Leave a link in the comments so I can check it out.

 

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1)Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Finished 9-22-17, rating 4/5, children’s classic, pub. 1964

Unabridged audio performed by Douglas Hodge and enhanced with sound effects.

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!  from Goodreads

The audio was excellent and even had sound effects.  At only 3 1/2 hours I want to listen to it again with Gage because I think he would love it since he loves both of the movie adaptations, although I have a marked preference for Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka.  I loved the original and this took me right back there, to my childhood, excited every time one of the few channels on TV was showing the movie

Is Willy Wonka the best person to hold up as an example of all good things?  Nope.  But the story is so fantastical and fun that I can overlook that.  Charlie and his Grandpa have such a heartwarming relationship that the warmth and goodness coming from them makes up for the meanness of the others.  Already having the visual in mind when reading the book didn’t stop my imagination from adding more to the mix.  I can’t say enough good things about the audio production and am glad that I experienced the story that way for this one.

This was my 20th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Mariana, Author: Susanna KearsleyMariana. Finished 10-4-17, rating 5/5, historical time travel romance, 373 pages, pub. 1994

The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew that it was her house. And now that she’s at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason.

As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love.

Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past…until she realizes Mariana’s life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.   from Goodreads

Here were my first thoughts on Goodreads when I finished this one, “My love affair with Susanna Kearsley continues. This was one of her first books and it may be my favorite so far. I didn’t want it to end. I was worried that the ending would be all wrong. But it wasn’t. It was perfect.”  There is something so magical and romantic about her stories.  There is history, romance, and a perfect sense of place in all of her books.  This one also felt a little like a ghost story.

Julia was sure she’d found her house and she packed up and moved from London to a small English village without a second thought.  She was a children’s book illustrator and was able to make a few friends right away just as she was being transported back in time at unpredictable times.

It’s tricky when you are going back and forth between time periods and characters.  Inevitably, you are drawn more to one story than the other.  This one did a great job of tying the two together so I was invested in both.  Was this book, the first time she tried the time travel travel romance, perfect? No.  Was it perfect enough to have me rereading the last few chapters again and again because I wasn’t quite ready for it to end?  A resounding YES!

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J Gaines

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Author: Ernest J. GainesThe Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Finished 9-28-17, rating 5/5, classic, 246 pages, pub. 1971

“This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960’s. In this woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure, a woman equipped to stand beside William Faulkner’s Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury.” Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has ‘endured,’ has seen almost everything and foretold the rest. Gaines’ novel brings to mind other great works The Odyssey for the way his heroine’s travels manage to summarize the American history of her race, and Huckleberry Finn for the clarity of her voice, for her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years and things to find the one true story in it all.”  — Geoffrey Wolff, Newsweek.

I wish I had taken the time to write this soon after I read it in September because although I absolutely loved this book some of the details now allude me.  I loved Jane.  She is a true survivor.  This book, spanning her 110 year life really comes full circle in the end and I would have been happy to spend another 110 with Jane.

Jane was a little girl of 10 or 11  when Lincoln freed the slaves and she left her plantation with a small group hoping to walk their way north from Louisiana.  When something bad happens Jane is left in charge of 3 year old Ned and she must rely on her wits to keep them safe and free.  She eventually come to raise him like he was her own son and find both happiness and heartache, never leaving her beloved Louisiana.

Jane is a warrior, a realist, and a trailblazer.  This story, which spans the time between slavery and the beginning of the civil rights movement told the story with real events and people framing Jane’s experiences.  This is one worth reading.

This was my 18th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

 

The Classics Spin #16

Even though I’ve been in the Classics Club for a few years I haven’t participated in a Classics Spin yet, so I’m going to give it a try.  I have until January 1, 2020 to read 50 classics from a list of my own making.  I’ve read 20 so far.  This is my list of the next 20 I’d like to read.  On Friday the Classics Club will pick a number and that will be the book I finish by the  end of the year.  Fun!

  1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  3. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
  4. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  6. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  7. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  8. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
  9. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  10. Washington Square by Henry James
  11. Women in Love by DH Lawrence
  12. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
  13. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  14. The Sea Wolf by Jack London
  15. Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
  16. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
  17. The once and Future King by TH White
  18. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  19. Ada by Vladimir Nabokov
  20. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Which one of these have you read and loved?

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Title: Don't Let Go, Author: Harlan CobenDon’t Let Go. Finished 11-11-17, rating 4.25/5, thriller, 347 pages, pub. 2017

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for. 

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.   from Goodreads

No one can keep me turning pages long into the night like Harlan Coben.  The man has a gift and I look forward to his yearly contribution to my personal library.  I love his Myron Bolitar series and although this is a standalone Myron does make an appearance at a local pick-up basketball game.  There are a lot of similarities between Myron and Nap as far as geography and attitude.

Told exclusively from Nap’s point of view we learn about the worst night of his life when his twin brother was killed and the love of his young life disappeared.  Years later he’s a police detective who has been mentored by the father of his brother’s girlfriend who also died that night.  When Maura’s fingerprints show up at a murder scene, Nap finds himself involved in finding out what really went down 15 years ago.  Coben tells us at the beginning that this is based on rumors from where he grew up in New Jersey so you know that Nike missiles are going to show up.

I really liked this one.  As with all of Coben’s books it moves fast and has lots of moving parts so it keeps you on your toes.  My mom read my copy before I did and I found her reading it in the car when she was waiting to pick up Gage, so I knew it was going to be good.   I was a bit let down with the end for a few different reasons but that’s probably just me.  I’d still recommend it because, hey, it’s Harlan Coben!

1984 by George Orwell

Title: 1984, Author: George Orwell1984. Finished 9-18-17, rating 3.5/5, classic, pub. 1949

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.            from Goodreads

Unabridged audio read by Simon Prebble.  11.5 hours.

I listened to this almost two months ago, but these were my initial thoughts – “a book first published in 1949, has so much to say about today that it’s scary.  The Doublespeak coming from the White House everyday should scare the crap out of everyone, no exceptions.  As a story it wasn’t the best, but the world building and insight into human nature make this a worthy classic.”

Now that I’ve had some time to process, I can say that this should be read and discussed by everyone interested in being more watchful and wary of the powers that lead us.  Big Brother, Thought Police, Doublespeak are ideas we all understand because of Orwell and this warning of a book.  It is bleak and by the end you will feel as caught in the nightmare as Winston, especially in these times that prove Orwell a fortune teller.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake.  We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”

“War is Peace.  Freedom is Slavery.  Ignorance is Strength.”

Scary stuff.  A must read.

This was my 17th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!