Archive for January, 2010

PBS’ Masterpiece Version of Emma: Familiar and Comforting

Last Sunday I had the pleasant surprise of stumbling across the new BBC version of Emma on “Masterpiece Classic”.  As most of you know, I adore watching adaptations of Jane Austen’s books.  Many Austen movies are among my favorites of all time.  I really liked the Gwenyth Paltrow version of Emma (mainly because Toni Collette and Jeremy Northam are A-MAZING), so I didn’t know what I was going to think about this new one.

Well, I have only seen the first episode (there are three all together) but I love it!!!!!  Romola Garai plays Emma and she is so adorable!  She does a great job of making Emma likable and relate-able.  As Laura Linney pointed out in her “Masterpiece Classic” introduction, Emma is not an easy character to like.  She is rather stuck up, meddlesome, and does not really listen when people tell her she is wrong.  But Romola makes Emma seem like a fun person to be around, and there is great chemistry between her and Johnny Lee Miller who plays Mr. Knightly.  I am really excited to watch it tonight (I have actually been looking forward to it all week!!)  I thought since there are only two hours left, that it would end tonight, but apparently they are playing one hour tonight and then the last hour next week.  Curses!  Those crafty PBS people are making me wait a whole nother week!!!  (Nother is a word I picked up after reading A Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup……very cool book, you should check it out.)

Emma and Mr. Knightly

One of my favorite things about watching BBC productions is that everyone is so familiar.  I always recognize some of the actors from other movies or tv shows.  The fun part is trying to guess where I saw them before.  Emma was a wonderful example of this because I recognized half the cast!!!  Here are the people I knew:

Johnny Lee Miller (Mr. Knightly)–okay, so I don’t think I have ever seen him in anything before, but hello! he was married to Angelina Jolie!  So, yeah, that’s how I know him.

Michael Gambon (Mr. Woodhouse)–Dumbledore the second, of course.

Dan Fredenburgh (the other Mr. Knightly)–otherwise known as Colin Firth’s skeezy brother from Love Actually.

Tamsin Greig (Miss Bates)–this was a tricky one…I didn’t actually guess this until I looked her up.  I thought maybe she had been in Persuasion with Sally Hawkins, but nope, she was Fran from Black Books!!!!!  That really threw me.

Jodhi May (Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston)–She is the sister of Madeleine Stowe in Last of the Mohicans.  The one who never talks, and always makes me cry buckets of tears at the end of the movie.  She hasn’t aged a day since then.

Robert Bathurst (Mr. Weston)–this was another one that totally threw me.  I just kept staring at him and thinking “man, where have I seen him before”???  I finally had to look it up and he was the evil dad from The Thief Lord!!!  I think I didn’t recognize him because he was smiling so much.  In The Thief Lord he just yells the whole time, so I didn’t know what he would look like as a happy person.

Christina Cole (Mrs. Elton)–aaaahhh Christina…she won’t show up until tonight’s episode, but I did have to mention her.  She is so perfect in the role of the romantic rival.  It is always in a slightly mean to very mean fashion.  She has played the “other woman” in Jane Eyre, What A Girl Wants, and Lost in Austen.  I bet she is the nicest person in real life, but she always plays beautiful British bitches.

So, am I the only person who does this while they are watching tv/movies?  I try not to point these things out when I am with other people, because I find it really annoying when my dad does it to me, but sometimes I can’t help it.  My cats don’t seem to mind when I tell them that it is weird to see Dumbledore playing Emma’s father.

Hopefully all of you Austen fans will check out Emma on PBS.  It is definitely worth it.  The first episode is available to watch here to get ready for tonight.


Have You Heard of Hachiko??

Wow, I have barely even started this post and there are already tears all over my keyboard.  That can’t be good for my computer.

Well, a few days ago I was innocently sitting down to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for the first time, (which is a really funny, cute movie by the way.  The ending drags on for 10 minutes too long, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it and how many shots were pulled directly from the illustrations of the book) when I was hit with this unexpected movie trailer.

Whoa.  I just tried to watch it again, but I only made it about a minute in before I lost it.  Anyway, the trailer is for the movie Hachiko: A Dog’s Story, which I had never heard of before.  Apparently it is being released straight to DVD, which is kind of sad considering it has Richard Gere and Joan Allen in it, who are pretty big names (not to mention a GORGEOUS dog).  Well, I cried like a baby the first time I saw it, and then tried to forget about it and move on with my life.

Then I saw this post on EW that talked about the trailer and I couldn’t help but think, “I wonder if that is based on Greyfriars Bobby?”  For those of you who don’t know, back in long ago Edinburgh a cute little dog named Bobby followed his owner (who happened to be a policeman) everywhere he went.  Then, when his owner died (sniffle, sniffle) he spent most of the next 14 YEARS sitting next to his owner’s grave.  The cemetery was named Grefriars Kirkyard and that is how he became known as Grefriars Bobby.  Well, you can imagine how my mom and I looked after our nice tour guide told us this story while standing in front of the statue dedicated to this loyal little guy.  Needless to say we were both sobbing hysterically enough that people were muttering “silly Americans.”  Here is my very own picture of the statue.  Luckily my tears did not interfere with the shot.

Greyfriars Bobby

Well, I looked into the movie Hachiko and it is not based on that story!!  It is based on a story from Japan where the dog went to the train station every day for 9 YEARS (or 10, there seem to be different numbers in different places) to wait for his owner and there is a statue at the train station in Japan of him.


As much as these stories make me cry like a little baby, I adore hearing them.  It so goes to show that anyone who says that animals don’t have feelings or emotions is just plain wrong (and pretty ignorant).  It totally reminds me of what happened when I went off to England for three weeks (obviously to take pictures of the Greyfriars Bobby statue) and left my cats with my parents.  Apparently Addie spent almost every afternoon staring at the front door, which was where she last saw me, just waiting for me to come back.  I will never forget how she jumped into my arms as soon as I got home.  Hermione (my other cat) just gave me a haughty look and turned her back to me, but that is pretty normal for her.

Oh pets……what would we do without them?  So, I hope that some of you guys will take the time to watch Hachiko.  I know that I would be emotionally ruined for days (and probably really dehydrated) if I sat down to watch it, but hopefully some of you will watch and enjoy it for me.


P.S.  Don’t you think the MPAA should have to put a warning before trailers that are really sad?  Something like, “this motion picture has been approved for all audiences, but you might want to grab a tissue.”  I haven’t cried this much at a trailer since Under the Same Moon played before Juno.

The Hugo Movie Is Going To Be A REAL Movie

I heard today that Martin Scorsese is going to direct the movie adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Whoa.  Now I will admit that I have never seen a Martin Scorsese movie.  His movies aren’t really my thing.  If he ever did a romantic comedy, raunchy teen comedy, or a kids movie……oh wait, I guess he’s doing a kids movie now.

I am not sure what to expect out of this movie.  When I first read the book, I thought it was amazing!  I was mesmerized by the pictures and the whole atmosphere that was created just by holding the book in my hands.  It was such a unique experience to sit and read it that I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterward.  I told everybody I saw how awesome it was.

Then I listened to the audiobook.  It might seem silly to listen to an audiobook so soon after reading the book, but I was intrigued by how they would do it and what kind of sound effects they would use.  Well, one thing I realized after listening to the audiobook was…….the story is not that great.  Seriously.  Also, the whole time I was listening to it, I thought, “man, did they add a bunch of words or something…..this book is so long…….and frankly, somewhat boring.”

I think the ONLY reason why that book is great is the format and the illustrations.  If it didn’t have that, I think it would have faded into obscurity.  So my big question is, how are they going to make the film special???  Obviously one of the ways is to hire a big time Oscar winning director.  I’m hoping that they incorporate a lot of action straight out of the book’s illustrations.  Other than that, I don’t know what to expect at all.

So, what do you guys think?  Will the movie be awesome?  Am I totally wrong about the story?  What would you like to see in the movie?


ngtjill: Book Review #3

I’m ready for another round of books read for the Countdown Challenge!  You can check my progress by taking a look at the list of books I’ve committed to read.  Since my last review, I’ve read three more books.

Our Eleanor by Candace Fleming

This one didn’t hold my attention as much as Fleming’s Lincoln biography, but I still learned a lot of things I didn’t know.  There were a few times I wished it were about Lou Hoover instead though.  🙂  If you’re a nonfiction reader or if you don’t know much about Eleanor Roosevelt, I’d recommend this one.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Marcus Yallow was just an average high schooler with an above average knowledge of how the Internet, computers, and technology work…until a terrorist attack hits his hometown of San Francisco. Suddenly he and his friends are believed to be terrorists and get picked up by the Department of Homeland Security. After finally gaining freedom from DHS custody, Marcus fights back against the paranoia and loss of rights as the government begins to carefully watch San Francisco citizens’ every move.

I had been wanting to read this for awhile, but honestly, it wasn’t as good as I was expecting.  I liked the idea, but it dragged on a little too long.  Plus, there is A LOT of tech-speak in it.  Most of it is explained, so it’s ok, but be prepared to either let stuff slide over your head or learn a lot.  It did make me more interested in reading 1984 since I never have.

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson

Another book  I had been wanting to read for awhile – which is why it was on my list.  I’m glad a graphic adaptation exists for the 9/11 Report.  It’s a great way for average Americans to find out more information on 9/11. (Hopefully that doesn’t offend anyone. Really, how many average people read 500+ page books?)  Anyway, this one fulfilled two goals of mine: learn more about the world/read more nonfiction and read more graphic novels.  Unless you’re planning on picking up the full 9/11 Report, I suggest reading this graphic adaptation.

Has anyone else read any of these? What did you think?

– Jill

My Review of Leap Year…A Startling Discovery!

I have now seen Leap Year many times (I am embarrassed to admit how many) and I loved, loved, loved it (to quote Mr. Darcy)!!!  It was everything I wanted it to be and more.  Amy Adams was precious, the scenery was mouthwateringly gorgeous and so was the leading man played by the fantastic Matthew Goode.  It also turned out to be rather funny, which is more than I can say for many romantic “comedies” I have seen lately.  It also turned out quite well in the end (obviously) and so I simply adored it.

But I couldn’t help thinking the whole time I was watching it (sorry, times I was watching it) that I have seen this before.  Not only have I seen it before, but I have seen Matthew Goode doing it before.  I realized that Leap Year (I keep wanting to call it Leap Day for some odd reason) is essentially the exact same movie as Chasing Liberty!!!  The only difference is that Leap Year is a movie for grown ups and Chasing Liberty is a movie for teens (and also, it rains a whole lot in Leap Year).  Those are basically the only real differences, everything else is the same.

Let me list for you a few of the similarities:  Some of these will be rather spoilery…but just about everything was already given away in the trailer

1.  Main character’s name is Anna

Hi, I'm Anna

Ummmm, no I'm Anna

2.  Takes place in beautiful scenic foreign country (or countries)

3.  Anna meets a dashing man and uses him for transportation

Fighting and walking

4.  Scene (or many scenes) where main characters wander along deserted country road arguing, with Anna walking ahead and Matthew trailing along behind

Walking and Fighting (with suitcase)

5.  Anna and the handsome stranger pretend to be married

6.  They are forced to share a tiny room with only one bed

Hmmm, I seem to be having deja vu...

7.  Their first kiss occurs under circumstances that are beyond their control

8.  They fall in love with each other over a matter of days (well, hours really)

9.  Matthew’s character wears the same clothes throughout the whole movie

10.  The ending is very very similar

Now I wonder if Mr. Goode noticed these things while he was reading the script or if he has completely blocked his first movie out of his memory and had no idea how similar the two were.

I adore both movies, but Leap Year is my favorite of the two.  I think it all comes down to me preferring Ireland to Europe, Amy Adams to Mandy Moore, and a scruffy, grumpy Matthew Goode to a clean-shaven, boyish one.

Clean-shaven and boyish

Scruffy and grumpy (and with curlier hair!)

So, if you haven’t already, go see Leap Year, it is really great.  The people that I have seen it with all really enjoyed it and I could tell that the rest of the audience did too.  But go see it fast, because I doubt it will be in theaters for very long.  With Avatar still dominating and more movies coming out all the time, I can see this one falling through the cracks very quickly.


Something To Give To My Architect

I already have a big list of things that have to be included in my future house (a Beauty and the Beast sized library with rolling ladders, cubby holes to hide the litter boxes, a garage, and a DECENT HEATER!!!) and now I have something else to add to it.

Although, I probably would make the slide a little wider…..For some reason it looks like it might be a little snug after many years of vegging out on the couch.  Also, I would want more support on it as well…..can you imagine if you were halfway down and it disconnected from the stairway…..Ouch!


Courtesy of Epic Win.  Thanks to @jpetroroy for tweeting about it!

A World where it is ALWAYS SNOWING!

So I am one of those snow bunnies* who totally LOVES snow (except driving in it. but I don’t like driving in any weather, not even Sunshine…) so imagine my glee when School Library Journal ran an article on create-your-own-snowflake websites!–Did you imagine it? Yeah, I know, my smile was HUGE. But don’t forget that I’m super lazy so I really only tried one of the websites; luckily it was THE BEST WEBSITE EVER! It is called SnowDays and here’s the link: and here’s the snowflake I made on my lunch break today:

Hurrah! Magic Fun! Enjoy!

*I wish I could ski because then I wouldn’t feel like such a liar when I call myself a snow bunny…


P.S. You can search for my snowflake! It is #9264324!

My Real Favorite Movies #4

I realize a lot of my taste in movies has been inherited from my parents.  I get my love of fantasy and screwball comedies from my dad and my love of musicals and romantic comedies from my mom.  Well, one of the movies that I have seen too many times to count (so many times that I could practically recite the whole thing to you) is The Harvey Girls.

The Harvey Girls is one of my mom’s favorite movies of all time, and it is one that we watch together on a regular basis.  But that just wasn’t enough for me because sometimes I just feel the need to watch it when I’m not with her, so I had to get my own copy.

The Harvey Girls is a big time production musical starring the wonderful and amazing Judy Garland.  It is about a group of women who worked in a Harvey House restaurant in the southwest in the 1800s (I should probably be a lot more precise about the year, but I am too lazy to look it up, and too much of a failed history major to be able to give a reasonable guess).  They move into a town and get in the way of the local saloon and the girls who work there.

Now there are a lot of awesome things about this movie….

THE MUSIC!!!  All of the songs are great (except for maybe “Great Big World…..I’ve never been fond of that one).  I LOVE  “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe.”  I used to think that they were speaking some kind of foreign language every time they got to the chorus…..I had no idea they were listing off town names.  Oh, and the song mentions Dubuque, Iowa, which is pretty awesome!

THE DANCING!!!  Lots of fun dancing, including a lovely demonstration of how to do the waltz.  I think that we need to have more town dances like the party in the movie…..I would totally go to those all the time.

THE COSTUMES!!!  Call me a giant nerd, but I adore the dresses in this movie.  It is pretty hilarious how the Harvey Girls have on all of these very wholesome dresses with pretty floral patterns and puffy sleeves, but the saloon girls have sequined dresses with shiny fabric and feathers.  Heehee…..when I was a girl I totally wanted to dress like the saloon girls… I have matured into a dowdy old lady and prefer the Harvey Girls more demure ensembles.

Mrs. Fletcher, I Presume?

ANGELA LANSBURY!!!!!  The best part about this whole movie is that Angela Lansbury (as in Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast and J.B. Fletcher from Murder She Wrote) plays the head bad girl Em.  She pouts around the saloon and bullies poor little Judy Garland’s character.  And the greatest thing is that she was only 19 when she made this movie!!!  AAAAACCCKKK!  That means she was almost 10 years younger than I am now!  It’s funny because she looks like she is 30, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  She just looks very mature and grown up even though she was still a teenager.

JOHN HODIAK!!!!  John Hodiak of course plays Judy Garland’s love interest.  I love his character in the film because he does not sing at all.  There is all this singing and dancing going on around him and he just plays the manly man and doesn’t get mixed up in it.  I kind of like that.  (Not that singing isn’t manly, but it just didn’t fit his character.)  Plus, he is the kind of guy that when you first see him you’re like, “Really??  This is the main guy??  He’s kind of ugly……no wait a minute…..there’s something about him……oh, I think I love him…..whoops, how did that happen?”

A HUGE GIRL FIGHT IN A BAR!!!!  The movie manages to do the impossible and have a fight where nobody actually hits each other.  There is a huge Harvey Girls vs. Saloon Girls battle royale where nobody seems to actually hit anybody, but there is lots of falling off tables and someone literally swings from the ceiling.

JUDY GARLAND HOLDS THE BAR AT GUNPOINT!!!!  This is my favorite scene in the movie…..Judy does a fantastic job of playing a woman who has absolutely no idea what to do with a gun (let alone two).

Be forewarned that even though this movie is awesome, it will not appeal to everyone.  It is a muscial.  From the forties.  If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I would probably avoid it.  But I love to have it on in the background and sing along to the songs.  It takes me back to my childhood and makes me think of my mom, which is also cool.

Here is a little video about the movie to give you a feel for what it is like.  It’s a little blurry, but you get the picture.  (I was going to post the trailer, but it is so hideously bad that I don’t want anyone to see it without giving the movie a chance.)


P.S.  Interesting Tidbit….I love Virginia O’Brien’s character of Alma.  She is a pretty important part of the movie and she even gets her own solo…..but then she disappears and isn’t in the second half at all.  Apparently she got pregnant and so they just cut her out of the movie……aaaahhhh Hollywood politics of the 40s.

Poor Knocked Up Alma (on the left)

Jill’s Reading Wrap-up 2009

Inspired by/Stealing from Jen’s previous post, here’s my wrap-up of the books I read in 2009.  I started off REALLY strong since I had just graduated and was unemployed.  Basically I went to ICPL like 3 times a week and it was the greatest half a year of my life thus far…but…then real life kicked in and I started my job and the reading dropped off.  All in all, I read 204 books and 27,484 pages.  My goal was 365 books, and clearly I failed that, but there’s always 2010!

Here’s my breakdown, since I am also a math nerd:

Adult fiction – 2

Adult nonfiction – 2     (what can I say, I’m not a fan of adult books)

Picture books, fiction – 65

Picture books, nonfiction – 22

Graphic novels – 5

Juvenile, fiction – 59

Juvenile, nonfiction – 8

Young Adult, fiction – 39

Young Adult, nonfiction – 2

I also read 1 book 2 times this year, which I think is pretty unusual for me.  It was The Hunger Games.  🙂  And I “re-read” aka listened to HP6, Judy Moody 1, The Westing Game, and Ella Enchanted and actually re-read HP7.

And finally, here are the books I rated 1 out of 5 — meaning I thought they were terrible (just so we’re clear).

  • The Astonishing Truth of Octavian Nothing, Book 1 – M. T. Anderson (I know, I know, everyone else disagrees.)
  • Cinderella (As If You Didn’t Already Know the Story) – Barbara Ensor
  • Coraline (graphic novel) – Neil Gaiman (I REALLY wanted to like it, but I just thought it was uber-creepy)
  • The Death Book – Pernilla Stalfelt
  • Robot Dreams – Sarah Varon (Oh man, this book was interesting…it landed in the disturbing pile for me.)
  • Fox – Margaret Wild
  • I Am the Messenger – Markus Zusak (I think I’m like the only person who hates Zusak’s writing style.)

Now some of my favorites!  Rated 5/5

  • The Pencil – Allan Ahlberg
  • Chains – Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Holiday: A Comedy in Three Acts – Philip Barry (the play version of my FAVORITE movie!)
  • Forever Princess (Princess Diaries #10) – Meg Cabot
  • Best Friends & Drama Queens (Allie Finkle #3) – Meg Cabot
  • Graceling – Kristin Cashore
  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson #1) – Rick Riordan
  • The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5) – Rick Riordan
  • The Wednesday Wars – Gary D. Schmidt
  • I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
  • Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie – Jordan Sonnenblick
  • When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead
  • Zorgamazoo – Robert Paul Weston

Here’s to reading awesome books in 2010!!

– Jill

Reading Roundup 2009

2009 was a pretty crazy year for me.  I changed jobs, moved to a new town…..well, I guess that’s all I really did, but that was a pretty big deal.  During the last 12 months, while I was working, visiting friends and family, going to Boston (woohoo LeakyCon!!), ALA, and other things, I read 397 books!  (That is not including the books that I re-read or read twice during the year like all of Stephenie Meyer’s books, the Princess Diaries series and Let it Snow…..yes, feel free to judge me).

Here is the breakdown of the books, since my mind still likes to revert back to high school and think like a math nerd:

Juvenile Fiction:  129

Young Adult:  88

NonFiction Picture Books:  10

Juvenile NonFiction:  53

Graphic Novels:  29 (wow!  That is much higher than I thought it would be….must be all the Babymouse)

Beginning Chapter Books:  21

Adult Fiction:  48

Adult NonFiction:  19

So, if I only count JFiction, YA, and the two adult categories, that is really only 284 “real” books.  So the actual number isn’t that impressive.  I’m actually surprised the YA number isn’t higher, because it felt like all I did was read YA books, but apparently that is not true.  My goal each year is to read 400 books.  I consider the goal achieved for 2009 because of the books I re-read.  I’ve met that goal the last two years, and hopefully I can do it again this year.

Now, with reading so many books, there are quite a few that I feel lukewarm about…..but there are others that I find to be so completely mind-blowingly awesome that I can’t help but think about them afterwards.  Here is a list of the books I read this year that were sooooooo good that I would pick them up again right now and read them all over again (in no particular order).  Now, be warned that these are books that I LOVED, not necessarily books that are destined to win awards or anything like that…..I tend to not be a fan of many of the “best books.”  Not that I want to insult any of the books on the list either…..oh well, just read it.

Chalice by Robin McKinley

Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass

Forever Princess by Meg Cabot (I actually feel this way about the whole series, but this is the one that really stands out….especially since I’ve read it 3 times this year!)

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (I keep wanting to type Crisco instead of Cristo…..teeheee)

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

The Magician’s Nephew by Kate Dicamillo

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice by Laura S. Scott (I don’t know if I would really read this book again, but it was really fantastic and totally reinforced my choice to never have kids.)

Since I am so passionate about books that I love…….I also feel the same force of passion about books that I do NOT love.  There were several books that I read this year that made me so mad and I disliked them so much that I wanted the book to end with a fiery explosion where all of the characters died (yes, I know that is completely outrageous, but when I hate a book, I REALLY hate it).  I’m not saying these books are bad…….I know at least a couple of them are really well-liked by some of my friends……but I couldn’t stand them.

Nightmare at the Book Fair by Dan Gutman

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher

The Twits by Roald Dahl  (I’ve read several of his books this year, and realized that I just don’t like his writing……sorry Amber!)

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (any of this series actually)

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington

Nerds by Michael Buckley

Well, that is my reading year in a nutshell… was a year where I discovered Meg Cabot, Agatha Christie, and Wendy Mass.  My goal for this year is to read more adult nonfiction and branch out and read a few more boy books.  I would also like to read more classics like Austen and Dickens…..we will see how that goes.

Happy Reading Everyone!!!


P.S.  Sorry I was too lazy to link to all the books, but I am still in vacation lazy mode.  Also too lazy to add pictures…