Super Psyched for Salinger!

Hey everyone! I can’t believe that June is over already! This is the first year that I don’t have the luxury of being a student on summer vacation, so needless to say, my slow progress through my to-read list has been getting me down. But I’ve got about 70 pages left of Catch-22, so I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

And as much as I’m enjoying Heller’s novel, it’ll be nice to spend the summer with some beach reads. Two of my favorite chick lit authors have released new works recently, Meg Cabot with Awaken and Sophie Kinsella with Wedding Night. I also have about five romance novels and three other pieces of fiction waiting for me on my shelf. So I’m motivated to enjoy the heat, throw on a swimsuit, and lay out by the pool with a good read!

Of course, when fall approaches I still have something to look forward to! I happened to catch this movie trailer in theaters before watching “The Bling Ring” (Side note: Terribly dull film! As much I like Emma Watson, this bust isn’t even worthy catching on Netflix. Save your money!).

This is a sneak peek into “Salinger,” a documentary on the mysterious author behind Catcher in the Rye, which will be released in theaters on September 6th:

Obviously, after reading Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey, and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” I’m super psyched for this film. I remember hearing the news of Salinger’s passing and I felt so despondent over the fact that he left the earth with such influence and yet so many secrets.

I hope that it reveals new insights about his life as a recluse, especially since the trailer has built up so much suspense. Fingers crossed!

So how many of you are also super psyched for this documentary? Share your love for Salinger in the comments!

My 200th Post!!!

Just after I completely re-designed my blog, I’ve hit another major milestone: my 200th post! Granted, it’s almost been two years since launching Book Club Babe, and I could have achieved this months ago, but meet my excuses: Moving Out, Full-Time Job, and Who-Am-I-Kidding-I’ve-Been-On-A-Game-Of-Thrones-Bender-Because-Brace-Yourselves-Winter-Is-Coming-In-Only-6-More-Days!!!

Damn right LotR cross-over meme! Tyrion Lannister FTW!

Can you tell I’m excited for Sunday?! (Seriously, though, I haven’t read the books–yet, but the HBO series is freaking fantastic! Jump onto the bandwagon!)

Anywho, I’d like to celebrate my 200th post with a haphazard list of links to literary stuff I’ve been interested in. Don’t think I haven’t been keeping up with the news–it’s just that “keeping up” and “blogging about” are more like long-lost cousins than identical twins.

First off, here’s a reminder of the book adaptation blockbusters, coming to a theater near you this year:

  1. May 10 – The Great Gatsby
  2. June 21 – World War Z
  3. Aug 10 – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
  4. Oct 18 – Carrie
  5. Nov 1 – Ender’s Game
  6. Nov 22 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  7. Dec 13 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Also, in non-Game-of-Thrones related TV news, I’ve given up on “The Carrie Diaries.” I was really excited before it premiered, because I’m obsessed with watching re-runs of “Sex and the City,” but now? Meh. Stopped watching after five or six episodes. Wide-eyed, innocent teenage Carrie is not nearly as much fun as sexy, confident 30-something Carrie, especially when her equally awesome friends aren’t in the picture yet.

Raise your hand if you’d rather be watching “Game of Thrones!”

Not to mention, the dialogue is stale, the plots are cliche, and the ‘bad boy’ is not hot enough to keep me interested, a la Chuck Bass in “Gossip Girl.” Granted, two of the executive producers of “The Carrie Diaries,” Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, were also behind the making of “Gossip Girl,” but in that show of NYC’s elite, they didn’t even attempt to follow the books, which sucked. “The Carrie Diaries” also kinda sucked, so tell me again why these two are attempting to adhere to it this time?

You know what would make this teeny-bopper show better? DRAGONS.

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Ok, ok, I’ll stop. Last two links:

Here’s a lovely post from Qwiklit on “50 Reasons You Should be a Bookworm.”

And here’s “A Brief History of Book Vending Machines” over at HuffPo. Seriously?! Book vending machines? Awesome!

Any other literary news you’d like to add? Just stopped by to reveal your GoT addiction? Anything goes today!

If Children’s Books were R-Rated Movies

Just popped in to share some laughs, courtesy of CollegeHumor. Using movie posters from action and horror flicks, they’ve re-imagined eight of our favorite kid’s books. Check out a few below, and then click the link to see the rest!

Any other stories you’d like to be edgier? What if The Giving Tree decided to take back what’s hers? How would you like to find out Where the Wild Things Are or Where the Sidewalk Ends? And whatever you do, don’t get caught in Charlotte’s Web! The possibilities for little league mayhem and destruction are endless!

My 2012 Recap!

2012 has been one of the most fantastically significant years of my life yet: I graduated with my Master’s in Mass Communication and Journalism, nailed a full-time marketing job at a super-computing company in the Bay Area, settled into my own apartment (twice!), and met more people and explored more places than ever before (including three getaways to Vegas and a two-week vacation in Tokyo). I feel like all my hard work and determination is paying off, as I’m adjusting to life as an independent adult with a flourishing career and a bright future ahead. I’m so excited to see what 2013 will hold!

This year I also upped the ante on my reading goal, from 20 to 25 books. With everyone going on that I listed above, it was a struggle to keep up, but I managed to finish in the nick of time. According to Goodreads, I read over 7,500 pages in 2012, the longest novel of which being I, Claudius at 468 pages. (Although, to be honest, “read” is defined loosely, since four were audiobooks). Most were contemporary fiction, but I also made room for a handful of classics.

To recap, here’s the list of the 25 books I read this year, sorted from highest to lowest rated:

A heartbreaking must-read

5 out of 5
1.  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)
2.  I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (2012)
3.  Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011)
4.  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (2011)

4.5 out of 5
5.  Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
6.  The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (2012)

4 out of 5
7.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2011)
8.  Underworld by Meg Cabot (2012)
9.  Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (2012)
10.  The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss (2012)
11.   Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (2011)
12.  Something About You by Julie James (2010)
13.  The Innocents by Francesca Segal (2012)
14.  Truly, Madly by Heather Webber (2010)
15.  Secrets of a Shoe Addict by Beth Harbison (2008)

3.5 out of 5
16.  Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon (2012)
17.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)
18.  Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler (2007)

3 out of 5
19.  The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)
20.  My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clark (Published in 2000, Based on events in 1956)
21.  I, Claudius by Robert Graves (1934)

2.5 out of 5
22.  Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell (2011)

2 out of 5
23.  Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1933)
24.  Crossed by Ally Condie (2011)
25.  The Trial by Franz Kafka (1924)

I also watched seven movies based off books or literary themes, five of which I personally read before seeing either in theaters or on DVD.

Again, they’re listed from highest to lowest rated:

Worth the wait!

4.5 out of 5
1.  “The Hobbit” (2012)
2.  “The Secret World of Arrietty” (2010 Japan, 2012 USA)
3.  “The Hunger Games” (2012)

4 out of 5
4.  “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012)
5.  “My Week with Marilyn” (2011)

3 out of 5
6.  “Midnight in Paris” (2011)

1 out of 5
7.  “Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1” (2011)

Although I didn’t accomplish as much as some book bloggers, I’m proud of this list because its diversity. I’ve experienced stories about everything from Roman emperors to famous celebrities, from corrupt farm animals to kids with special powers, from the Armenian genocide to the ancient Greek underworld. Sure, there were a few duds, but I also found tales that will remain at the top of my recommendations.

I hope my recap gives you some ideas for what to add to your own lists in 2013, and I wish you all a very happy new year! Here’s to 365 more days of books and blogging!

Love, Book Club Babe

Should books be given ratings like movies?

Oh my! That’s certainly one way to put it!

I’ve been knee-deep in the moving process again, this time to live closer to work and escape my hour-long commute. Sadly, I’ve realized that my books take up the majority of my packing boxes, so since I’ve run out of room on my bookcase anyway, I decided to purge part of my collection to make the moving process easier.

Which is how I found myself donating over 70 books to my local library. Most of them were Japanese manga series which I knew I wouldn’t read again, but I also sacrificed some young adult fiction as well. When I carried in all my bags, one distinct thing that I pointed out to the librarians was that the manga I brought in was “rated PG-13.”

I told them that because I knew the graphic novels had themes of sexuality. Two series by author Ken Akamatsu, Love Hina and A.I. Love You, are full of innuendos and gratuitous panty shots (for which is the author’s claim to fame). They’re hilarious stories about geeky guys trying to find love, but more often than not, falling into embarrassing situations.

Interestingly, manga do come with ratings: Everyone or All Ages (E or A), Youth, 10+ (Y), Teens, 13+ (T), Older Teens, 16+ (OT), and Mature, 18+ (M). The particularly mature manga, such as yaoi and yuri, which are genres of homosexual erotica, also frequently remain plastic-wrapped in bookstores to prevent minors from perusing their pages.

But what about every other book written? We have a vague idea of which audience is most suitable for a story, but no defined standards as seen in manga, film, and video games? I wonder…why is that?

You already know that I’m not a fan of artistic censorship, which I blogged about in my post about whether YA fiction was too “adult.” The Huffington Post also discussed this issue in May, comparing the differences between books and movies.

One point HuffPo made was that according to the Hays Code of 1930, movies are catered to the masses rather than niche audiences, so stricter guidelines need to be in place. Pretty patronizing to treat moviegoers like ignoramuses, but also disheartening that books are not considered popular enough for people to care about their psychological effects.

I have mixed feelings on giving books ratings. On one hand, it’s just another way for society to subjectively decide what is morally appropriate for children. Ratings often do not take educational value into consideration.

Using movies as examples, Schindler’s List and Saw are both rated “R,” but the former is one of the greatest adaptations of the Holocaust, a historical event which cannot be accurately depicted without graphic violence, and the latter is yet another ‘gore porn’ horror flick. Same rating, vastly different values of artistic merit. Ratings would tar every book with the same brush, and I would hate for Lord of the Flies or Invisible Man to be lumped in with the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey just because of some mature themes.

On the other hand, perhaps book ratings would save many stories from being banned outright. Place them into a separate section in libraries so that helicopter parents can’t dictate what classifies as forbidden. However, the question remains of who has the right to make these distinctions–not to mention the time and money it would take to implement and enforce ratings.

Weighing the arguments, I feel that ratings for all media are arbitrary and although I can see their intent, parents ultimately decide what is appropriate for their children. If we relinquish too much creative control, then we also give up individual freedoms. I’m not saying that it would snowball into an Orwellian state, but it’s vital not to lose personal autonomy.

I could ramble on about this topic all night, but I’d much rather hear what you all think! Are book ratings a good idea? Why or why not?

Movie Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Image copyrighted by Lionsgate

I’m sure you guys were dying to hear my thoughts on this movie, and I appreciate your patience! I was out of town for a business trip, but it sure feels good to blog. I’ve almost reached 20,000 overall views, so I’m psyched to meet that milestone!

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was released in limited theaters September 21, but more theaters have added the film to their line-up over time. Fortunately, it was directed, produced, and written by author Stephen Chbosky, so even if the movie’s not your cup of tea, at least Chbosky was in control of the creative process.

I was originally interested in the story because I was curious to see Emma Watson play someone other than Hermione Granger. She acted excellently as Sam, a misfit high school senior who suffers from a scandalous reputation. The film’s star Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) falls in love with Sam as he struggles with the deaths of his aunt and best friend. For a more complete summary of the novel, read my review here.

Moviegoers will recognize familiar faces, such as Paul Rudd, who plays Charlie’s supportive English teacher Mr. Anderson (known as Bill in the book). Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, and Melanie Lynskey play Charlie’s mother, father, and aunt, respectively.

But the real star, in my opinion, was Ezra Miller, who plays Sam’s step-brother Patrick. This role puts this relatively unknown 20-year-old actor in the spotlight, as his character faces hate and heartbreak after falling in love with the school’s quarterback. On the surface, he’s a witty wisecrack performing in Rocky Horror, but underneath he emotes the pain of a boy who just wants to be accepted for who he is. Miller has been open about his own queer identity with the press, and it’s nice to see this conversation about equality both on and off-screen.

My complaints about Charlie’s grating personality in the novel aren’t present in the film; because you’re not stuck in his head 24-7, you can better appreciate his emotional journey. I felt that the distance which usually creates a disconnect between mediums actually made the film more enjoyable than the book.

Granted, it is an “indie” character-driven story, full of teen angst and controversial social issues, so if you’d rather watch an action-packed thriller, I highly recommend “Looper” with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But if you want to witness some great acting from Hollywood’s rising stars and sink into the nostalgia of your youth, “Perks” has just enough–you guessed it, perks–to keep you entertained.

Movie Reviews: “My Week with Marilyn” and “Midnight in Paris”

This month I’ve watched a couple films with literary themes, and I’m finally getting around to letting you know what I think of them. Don’t worry, I’ve got two books to review in the near future, but let’s just say life has been throwing me so many curve-balls at once that they got put on the back-burner temporarily.

Image via Wikipedia

“My Week with Marilyn” (2011)

Rating: 4 out of 5

This British drama directed by Simon Curtis stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark, a young man yearning to become a filmmaker who has the chance to work with Monroe on her movie, “The Prince and the Showgirl” in 1956. This film was adapted from the real Clark’s tell-all book, titled The Prince, The Showgirl and Me.

The movie follows Clark’s infatuation with Monroe, as she struggles to make her mark in the acting world. She is portrayed as very capricious, reflective and insightful one moment, hysterical and popping pills the next. Williams does an excellent job depicting Monroe’s constant need for validation, and her inner turmoil which causes her to incite so many extramarital affairs (as she is married to third husband, playwright Arthur Miller, at the time).

Because of her fickle nature, Clark gets his heart broken and learns a valuable lesson about love. The movie’s production ends, and so does their short relationship. Actress Emma Watson is adorable playing a much more realistic love interest for Clark: It must have been hard watching men fall to the feet of Monroe on a daily basis!

And I think that’s the best part about this film. Even though I am not obsessed with Monroe like some young women, because I refuse to ignore her dark side, this movie highlights that juxtaposition between admired actress and disturbed young woman. She may have a screw loose at times, but you fall in love with her anyways, just like Clark.

Even if you’re not a Monroe fan, you’ll enjoy this film. (Rotten Tomatoes rating: 84%)

Image via Wikipedia

“Midnight in Paris” (2011)

Rating: 3 out of 5

I was more skeptical watching this film, because I don’t really like Woody Allen, but this romantic comedy directed by him wasn’t terrible. I liked the premise, which follows American Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) as he spends a vacation with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams) in Paris.

Pender’s a screenwriter who glorifies Paris in the 1920s, where literary expatriates reigned supreme. Then, after getting drunk one midnight, he finds himself actually in the ’20s meeting the same authors and artists he admires. It was fun watching Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and others shown on screen, and all the actors did a great job with their characters.

I just wish that I could’ve liked Pender more. Most of the time he comes off obnoxious, and I feel his fiancee’s frustration. It’s clear from the beginning that they’re very incompatible. However, I enjoyed Allen’s message that we shouldn’t dream of a “Golden Age,” because living in the past takes away from the present moment. And the people and places you may consider perfect might actually yearn for an even earlier time.

Again, Woody Allen’s not my cup of tea, but the film got rave reviews, so if you can’t get enough of this literary era, check it out for yourself (Rotten Tomatoes rating: 93%)