Speculative Chic year-end roundup

If you aren’t a reader of Speculative Chic, the other blog I contribute to, here’s a run down of what I’ve posted there this year.

Ancillary Mercy by Ann LeckiMy review of Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

I reviewed Ancillary Mercy, the third and final installment of the Imperial Radch trilogy,  over at Speculative Chic as part of our series on 2016 Hugo nominees. I may not have reviewed Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword (books one and two) anywhere — and that needs to be rectified at some point, but I have read them. I’d say Ancillary Justice blew my mind, and the other two cemented Leckie as an author to keep reading.

super-extra-grande-by-yossMy review of Super Extra Grande by Yoss

Super Extra Grande was an impulse read picked up from the library based on the back blurb and the slim size (I can’t often commit to longer books anymore). It’s about a veterinarian that specializes on ginormous space animals, so of course I wanted to read it.

sff-geek-list1A Geekish Gift Guide – this year instead of posting my usual bookish gift guide, I created a “Geekish” one inspired by my fellow contributors over at Speculative Chic. From SFF movies and TV to gaming and banned books, we have a wide range of interests. This was a fun one to put together. Hope you enjoy!

Finally, I talked about a few of “My Favorite Things” over the year:

Guest post, Christmas stye, at Books Take You Places

In case you wondered if I was a giant dork, but you weren’t ENTIRELY sure, I reveal the proof in my guest post over at Alyssa’s blog, Books Take You Places, with a post entirely devoted to my November-to-December addiction: made-for-TV Christmas movies. They are my ultimate in guilty (but not really that guilty) pleasures.

My post is devoted to 10 holiday movies I’ve seen so far. Let it be said that I could have easily written about 10 more. Very easily. Something about this time of year makes me positively gleeful about my TV watching options and what’s going to be on on Lifetime, ABC Family, and the Hallmark Channel.

tv christmas montage

Books on Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Thanks to Michelle of See Michelle Read, I finally watched The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, an animated short up for an Oscar today. Let me tell you, if you are a bibliophile, it will be hard not to love this little gem. I may have teared up a bit at the end.

The short is up on full on youtube, although I don’t know for how long. If you have 15 minutes to sit down and watch it, I highly recommend you do.

I Have Found It / Kandukondain Kandukondain (film)

I Have Found It (Kandukondain Kandukondain), is an Indian adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. This film is in Tamil, and came out in 2000.

Two sisters
The story is about a wealthy family that live in the village of Poongudi. Their wealth is from their grandfather, who has been confined to his sickbed for many years. In his stead his daughter and granddaughters manage his huge house, temple, farm, and college.

Sowmya, the oldest of the three daughters, is the practical, responsible one, and acts as the Principal of her family’s college and teaches classes on computers. She also takes care of the temple and farm. Her first suitor died, and since then she’s been labeled ‘unlucky’, and new suitors don’t want to take a chance.

Her younger sister Meenakshi (nicknamed Meenu), is the impetuous one, determined to marry for love, not practicality. She wants a pure, strong love, and a man who can quote poetry. She doesn’t hold back from speaking her mind.

Manohar is a young man with dreams of becoming a film director. Sowmya mistakes him as a potential match (sent by the matchmaker), when he goes to her house looking to film there. Seeing her sadness, Manohar starts to fall for her, but wants to wait until he makes a name for himself.

Major Bala is a wounded soldier who has become somewhat bitter after the war. He is wealthy, thanks to his flower business, but drinks and is grouchy. When he meets Meenakshi for the first time, he is taken with her singing. He encourages her talent, even buying her a tambura from Tanjore, and in exchange for her taking lessons, he stops drinking. While he really cares for Meenu, he considers himself too old for her.

Any potiential hope Bala has of winning Meenu is crushed when Meenu meets young financial wizard Srikanth, who helps her when she twists her ankle, can quote her favorite poets, and is just as impulsive as she is.

Then their grandfather dies, leaving the house to his son, who hasn’t visited in 10 years. To add insult to injury, this son then turns his sister and her daughters out of the house, forcing them to move to Madras.

There, without much money, they can barely pay rent for a small place, and the girls struggle to find jobs. In the meantime, Srikanth’s company goes bankrupt, and he disappears for a while.

Slowly their fortunes change through hard work and the help of friends, and Sowmya and Meenu marry the right men.


Overall, this is a much more traditional (and conservative, no kissing!), Indian movie than the previous Bollywood Austen adaptions I’ve watched (Bride & Prejudice, Aisha). The style reminded me of the Indian movies of my childhood, where the music has classical Indian instruments and style, actors lip sync with the songs, and where the dance sequences have metaphorical meaning within the story. It wasn’t uncommon for two people to be talking, then transported to Egypt and convey their flirting in a dance with multiple costume changes (P.S. Indian movies play the WHOLE song).  The pageantry in I Have Found It may read as cheesy to some, but made me nostalgic, and with two beautiful leading actresses, there were some gorgeous moments.

In terms of following Jane Austen, I think that this movie does a very good job. With a running time of two and a half hours, it follows the story (adapted to India) as closely as some BBC adaptions I’ve seen. Although the two sisters were very beautiful, I didn’t really think the actors playing their suitors where that good looking, but they won me over, especially Major Bala. He’s played by major Indian film star Mammootty, and I think his acting was the stand out performance. This movie ended up feeling very romantic. I was invested in the stories and I felt like each character had a nice backstory and that their emotions were well conveyed, so I rooted for them to be happy.

The two screenshots above are from my favorite dance sequence of the movie, mostly for how pretty the pops of red looks against that desert backdrop (ETA: but ignore the subtitles on this youtube video, they are SO off and don’t match the subtitles on the DVD, which make much more sense):

Aisha (film)

Aisha (2010) is a Bollywood retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, in the same sort of vein as Clueless. It stars Sonam Kapoor as the gorgeous and spoiled Daddy’s girl, Aisha.

The story begins at the wedding of Aisha’s auntie Chitra to Col. Singh. Fresh from her success at matchmaking (for she introduced these two to each other), Aisha eyes the wedding guests for new matches..

…and she alights on Randhir, heir to a fortune (but a bit of a dork), and Shefali, a country mouse. So Aisha’s meddling begins

Aisha takes “poor Shefali” under her wing, giving her a makeover, while her cynical friend Pinky disapproves but goes along with it. Cue a lot of shopping at designer stores and a sleepover.

Arjun, the boy next door warns Aisha that she shouldn’t treat people like dolls (or something to that effect). Aisha finds him very irritating.

Aisha introduces Shefali to upper-crust Dehli society, where people watch polo matches and go on weekend rafting trips. Sometimes they help out at animal shelters. Shefali hangs on to Aisha’s every word and takes her advice as gospel, including whether she should accept the proposal of the hometown boy she likes.

Aisha dislikes Aarti, a returnee from New York (and Angelina Jolie look-alike), who seems way too cozy with Arjun.

On the other hand Arjun isn’t fond of Dhruv, Col. Singh’s prodigal son. Dhruv is very muscled and takes his shirt of a lot in this movie, and Aisha seems interested in him at first.

Because of her manipulation, eventually Aisha’s friends have had enough and leave her. Aisha is left alone to consider her sense of entitlement.

Of course everything turns out all right at the end.

I thought that Aisha was slickly produced with beautiful sets (I want to live in Aisha’s house) and gorgeous people, but while it’s a lot of eye candy, I had a problem with Aisha’s character. Rather than being a charming, well-meaning busy-body, this version of Emma came off as a spoiled snob who thinks she knows what’s best for everybody. She uses “middle class” as a real insult, and when her friends get mad at her for her judgmental views, Aisha truly deserves it. I understood why in the end she falls for the boy-next-door, but not why he falls for her. Otherwise this movie is very pretty, with the right dose of pageantry, and perfect music selections (I must download them all), but story-wise, it has an unlikable central character, which is too bad because the rest of it is rather cute. I particularly enjoyed the secondary romance with Pinky as one half of the couple. I’d say watch this for the pretty, not for the plot.

Aisha has a very nice website here.

Books on Film: Brick

Brick (2005) is a film with a modern twist on detective noir. Set in high school, it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan Frye who takes it upon himself to solve the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Emily. In the middle of the movie, Brendan goes to a party at a house that has THIS library. Oh how I would love to have an office that extended to the floor above via spiral staircase where my books waited for me. But I would turn on more lights.

Of presents and movie trailers

I think I may be back in business here. Finally. So hopefully posting won’t be so spotty. Some stuff I wanted to post about:

I’ve signed up for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap, which I did last year too. We just got our giftees assigned last week, and I’ve already bought some books. 😀 I really hope that this person likes at least one of the books I got her. She has very different tastes from mine so I’m a little worried. *crosses fingers*. Anyway, I still haven’t spent that much so I’m thinking I’ll throw more stuff in there. I love giving presents.

2) Angie from Angieville and Holly from The Book Harbinger posted about the new Jane Eyre movie last week:

“Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) and Michael Fassbender (“Inglourious Basterds”) star in the romantic drama based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, from acclaimed director Cary Fukunaga (“Sin Nombre”). In the story, Jane Eyre flees Thornfield House, where she works as a governess for wealthy Edward Rochester. As she reflects upon the people and emotions that have defined her, it is clear that the isolated and imposing residence — and Mr. Rochester’s coldness — have sorely tested the young woman’s resilience, forged years earlier when she was orphaned. She must now act decisively to secure her own future and come to terms with the past that haunts her — and the terrible secret that Mr. Rochester is hiding and that she has uncovered…”

Of course I want to watch this. I wasn’t that impressed by Mia Wasikowska in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, but then, that whole movie disappointed me, so I’m keeping an open mind, which isn’t hard because this trailer is hitting all the right notes.

3) Along with the Jane Eyre movie trailer I’ve stumbled upon a few others I wanted to mention:

Red Riding Hood:

“In “Red Riding Hood,” Seyfried plays Valerie, a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie’s older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. As panic grips the town, Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast-one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect… and bait.”

Eh. I watched this trailer and found it rather cheesy. Cheesy bad. I do like the red cloak and the music in the trailer, but I don’t expect much from this one.

From Prada to Nada

“A whimsical spin on Austen’s original, “From Prada to Nada” follows two spoiled sisters when they are left penniless after the sudden death of their father. Forced to move in with their estranged aunt in East Los Angeles, this is a fish-out-of-water story where the girls ultimately find romance, as well as a love for their culture.”

OK, this is Sense and Sensibility retold with a Mexican American spin. I’m iffy on whether this is going to turn out well. It looks a little too Disney-fied, but it could end up being fun. I am already a bit wary because the blurb calls both sisters spoiled.. I don’t really think that that’s what Sense and Sensibility was about! *is worried*.  Maybe I’m not supposed to compare the moral of the story of From Prada to Nada with the original, but I can’t help it.

Cowboys and Aliens

“In Silver City, Arizona, Apache Indians and Western settlers must lay their differences aside when an alien spaceship crash lands in their city.”

This has nothing to do with books, but I’ll include it here because I love seeing science fiction cross overs. AND. Cowboys. Versus. ALIENS! Harrison Ford is in it! And Jon Favreau directs! This looks cheesy good.

That is all.

Beastly movie trailer / Cheap kindle books

Beast form

I found out today through scifiwire that Alex Flinn’s book Beastly is coming out in movie form in July 2010. Looks like it could be a bit cheesy, but I may watch it on DVD. I like the Beauty and Beast retellings.. From hitfix.com:

Kyle Kingson (Alex Pettyfer) has it all – looks, intelligence, wealth and opportunity – and a wicked cruel streak. Prone to mocking and humiliating “aggressively unattractive” classmates, he zeroes in on Goth classmate Kendra, inviting her to the school’s extravagant environmental bash.  Kendra accepts, and, true to form, Kyle blows her off in a particularly savage fashion.  She retaliates by casting a spell that physically transforms him into everything he despises. Enraged by his horrible and unrecognizable appearance he confronts Kendra and learns that the only solution to the curse is to find someone that will love him as he is – a task he considers impossible.

Repulsed by his appearance, Kyle’s callous father banishes him to Brooklyn with a sympathetic housekeeper and blind tutor. As Kyle ponders how to overcome the curse and get his old life back, he chances upon a drug addict in the act of killing a threatening dealer.  Seizing the opportunity, Kyle promises the addict freedom and safety for his daughter, Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) if she will consent to live in Kyle’s Brooklyn home.  Thus begins Kyle’s journey to discover true love in this hyper-modern retelling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” story.

Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer star in “Beastly” Daniel Barnz (“Phoebe In Wonderland”) directs for CBS Films, the film division within CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS).  The project commenced principal photography in Montreal on June 13, 2009. Susan Cartsonis (“No Reservations,” “What Women Want”) is producing through her company, Storefront Pictures.  Roz Weisberg is co-producing.  In addition to his role as director, Barnz wrote the screenplay, which is based on the Alex Flinn novel of the same name.


In other news, Dear Author has posted about cheap kindle deals and how to search for them on Amazon. If you don’t have a kindle, don’t despair, because Amazon now has a Kindle for PC beta up. I downloaded it, and although it sometimes seems like they don’t have all the kinks out yet (like it made me come back later to register my Amazon account, and it’s having problems synching right now), it seems to do the job.

Some free books right now:
1)  The Wild’s Call by Jeri Smith-Ready (distant prequel to the Aspect of Crow trilogy)
The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, Book 1) by James Patterson
My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
4)  The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore
Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon
6)  A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
7)  Starfist: First to Fight by David Sherman
Plus I see all the free harlequins from their 60th anniversary celebration.

Ten upcoming movies based on books (in order of release)

1. The Time Traveler’s Wife based on the book by Audrey Niffenegger, comes out August 14th.

2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, based on the book by Judi Barrett  (illustrated by Ron Barrett), comes out September 18th.

3. Where the Wild Things Are, based on the book by Maurice Sendak, comes out October 16th

4. The Road, based on the book Cormac McCarthy, comes out October 16th

5. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, based on the series by Darren Shan comes out October 29th

6. New Moon, based on the second book by Stephenie Meyer comes out November 20th

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the book by Roald Dahl, comes out Thanksgiving (November 26th)

8. The Lovely Bones, based on the book by Alice Sebold, comes out December 11th

9. Sherlock Holmes, based on the books by Arthur Conan Doyle comes out Christmas

10. Alice in Wonderland, based on the books by Lewis Carroll, comes out 2010